Georges Bataille: Method of meditation

The servile intelligence serves folly, but folly is sovereign: I can change nothing without it.


The idea of silence (the inaccessible) is disarming!
I am unable to speak of an absence of meaning without giving it a meaning it doesn’t have. /…/
In the end, being is offered to us as impossible!


Every problem is in a certain sense a problem of the use of time.


Scientific work is more than servile, crippled. The needs to which it responds are foreign to knowledge. They are:
1. The curiosity of those who do crossword puzzles /…/
2. The needs of the collector (to accumulate and organize curiosities);
3. Love of work, intense output;
4. The taste for a rigorous honesty;
5. The worries of an academic (career, honour, money).
At its origin, often enough, a desire for sovereign knowledge, to go as far as one can go, a desire so quickly born, nullifies itself, by accepting subordinate tasks. /…/ Science is practiced by men in whom the desire to know is dead.


One must choose: one is unable to subordinate oneself to some ulterior result and “to be sovereignly” at the same time. (Because “to be sovereignly” means “not being able to wait”.)


If I lead being to the extreme limit of reflection, to its misunderstanding of itself, like the infinite, starry expanse of the night, I FALL ASLEEP.


Often enough, sufficient leisure is left for me to order my thought, in obedience to the rules. But today I express this movement: “Sleep invades me…”: It is more difficult! In other words, I arrive at the sovereign operation, wherein thought accepts no subordinate object and losing itself in a sovereign object, annihilates the demand for thought within itself.


When I am laughing or having an orgasm, the impossible is before me. I am happy but every thing is impossible.

The simple truth:
Servile activity is possible (on the condition of remaining enslaved, subordinate – to other men, to principles, or even to the necessity of production – human existence has a possibility in front of itself).

But sovereign existence is in no way, for even an instant, separated from the impossible; I will live sovereignly only at the heights of the impossible and what does this book mean if not:



Part II
Decisive Position

1. If I wish it, to laugh is to think, but this is a sovereign moment.


Not only does the sovereign operation not subordinate itself to anything, it is indifferent to the effects that might result;


knowledge relating objects to the sovereign moment in the end risks being confounded with this moment itself.
This knowledge that one could call free (but that I prefer to call neutral) is the use of a function detached (free) from the servitude that is its principle: the function related the unknown to the known (to the solid), whereas dating it from the moment when it detaches itself, it relates the known to the unknown.

13. What I’ve just said seems to oppose itself to the fact that without a sketch, at least, of neutral knowledge, a sovereign operation could not be represented. /…/
The sovereign operation engages these developments: they are the residue of a trace left in the memory and of the subsistence of these functions, but, insofar as it takes place, it is indifferent to and mocks this residue.


16. In order to describe it better, I would like to situate it in an ensemble of apparently sovereign behaviors. Other than ecstacy, these are:
* intoxication;
* erotic effusion;
* laughter;
* sacrificial effusion;
* poetic effusion.


18. The behaviors I have just listed are effusive in that they demand muscular movements of little importance and consume energy without any other effect than a kind of interior illumination /…/

19. Previously, I designated the sovereign operation under the names of inner experience or the extreme of the possible. And now I designate it under the name meditation. Changing words signifies the boredom of using whatever word it should be (sovereign operation is, of all the names, the most fastidious: comic operation, in a sense, would be less misleading). I like meditation better despite its pioous appearence.

20. In laughter, sacrifice, or poetry, even partly in eroticism, effusion is obtained through a modification, willing or not, in the order of objects: poetry makes use of changes on the level of images; sacrifice, in general, destroys beings; laughter results from diverse changes.
In drunkenness, on the contrary, and willingly, the subject himself is modified: it is the same in meditation.


22. In meditation, the overwrought subject looks for himself.
He refuses himself the right to remain enclosed in the sphere of activity.
Still, he refuses exterior means: toxins, erotic partners, or alterations in objects (comic, sacrificial, poetic).


35. I am writing in order to nullify a game of subordinate operations (it is, when all is said and done, superflous).

36. The sovereign operation, whose authority results only from itself – expiates this authority at the same time. If it atoned for it, it would have some point of application, it would look for an empire, for duration. But authenticity refuses this: it is only powerlessness, absence of duration, hateful (or gay) destruction of itself, dissatisfaction.


In the end everyting puts me at risk, I remain suspended, stripped, in a definitive solitude: before the impenetrable simplicity of what is; and the depths of the world opened, what I see and what I know no longer has any meaning, any limits, and I will stop myself only after having advanced the furthest that I can.


But the smallest activity or the least project puts an end to the game – and I am, lacking play, brought back into the prison of useful objects, loaded with meaning.

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. this is still, the instant .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. . . . . . . . . . . this, presently, neither my absence nor me, neither death nor light – and my absence and me, death and light – a light laugh rises in me like the sea, fills the absence immensely. All that is – IS TOO MUCH.


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