Luck in life is defined by the suffering within it. The chance we have to surpass the limit and acquire relief however momentary. The Bravery to take the risk for pleasure and to ante up the necessary sacrifice for victory. All of which is to say that suffering breeds desire the force which births all action.
One of the greatest sufferings in life is our state of isolation. Divided from every other being through an infinite void of separation, a barrier of self as a requisite distinction. Defining the self from the void and the other is a requirement of individual existence, and so forms the desire to connect and communicate as an attempt toward relief of the situation. Where infinite suffering exists, infinite love is proposed as a solution. Though love itself has its origins in a violence sufficient to cross the void and break the barriers of self creating a successful communication. An intimate violation which annihilates what was and produces a change. A desire to destroy and be destroyed. A lust for a loss of self and thus a chance to be renewed. Violence as the positive term which brings us towards loss and death which is connection. At the core of life is death, the endstate which unites us all. Each moment we fall through a small one, what was falls away to become what is, which falls away to become what will be. Death is the center 0f being as becoming, change which creates the possibility of the observation of time, the flow of life.
In Christian theology there is understandably significant preoccupation with the origin of evil in our world. Legend has it there existed a state of divine oneness before the fall of man. A grand state of absolute static perfection. One of complete and imprisoning knowledge. Edgeless unending life in paradise and unity. An eternal and closed system abruptly vanquished when Eve ate the fruit of knowledge at the seduction of the serpent. The Resulting expulsion of Eve and adam from the garden into the material plane introduced death into their universe. Humanity was thereafter cursed by god to slave away on the earth from which they were spawned. A life of punishment for devouring the fruits of knowledge¹. Utility becomes the lord and master which society must appease before anything else may be done.
Rousseau offers us a conception of a Foreign Founder in his Social Contract. One who takes on the necessary taint of violating the social codes in order to found a new nation, a new order. Such a new nation benefits in two ways from the Foreign nature of the founder. The founder arriving from the outside means that they do not already have a stake in the struggle to shift power, opening them up to a perceived neutrality and a possibility of implementing blind justice. Further, their departure allows the new nation not to take responsibility for the sins required for its creation. As these sins must be disavowed for it to continue and be perceived as establishing legitimate laws without contradiction². An idea which is known well enough to be present in the ending of Akame Ga Kill. After Akame kills Esdeath³, the general of the disputed countries armed forces, the rebel commander saddles her with the blame for the catastrophes of the battles and casts her into exile. A sacrificial lamb to cultivate a respectable reputation for the newly formed rebel controlled government. (&_&)
These myths of scapegoating contrast oddly with the myth of Prometheus. Where such a myth places the active sin, the theft of fire from the gods, the divine spark of life and death itself, in the defiance of the divine as an honorable position, even as virtue itself. The act of transgression represented heroism. A sin which they chose to keep for themselves rather than casting those traits upon women as is the case in the semitic myth.
Interestingly the Serpent has the same value as messiah in literal Quaballic Gematria
MESSIAH (M40, Sh300, I10, CH8)=358
NOCHESCH [serpent] (N5, Ch8, Sh300)=358⁴
Though the history of the serpent itself is under some debate. In the most widely known version of the fall, either Satan or Lucifer is the tempter who entices Eve to partake of the fruit. While in some versions the Serpent was assigned as a protector to tend to the outer edge of the garden, whose entrance iin is a violation of the barrier and role that it was assigned to protect. Yet another places the Serpent's identity as Lilith the first wife of Adam who was banished from the garden as she refused to submit to lying under him.⁵ The Serpent's identity changes depending on the tale, but what remains consitent is that the serpent is always a transgressor, a temptor, and a bringer of knowledge, death, sexual awareness, and change. Perhaps we can then take this to mean that the serpent is the savior bringing these blessings to the stagnant garden ruled over by gods timeless order.
Chronologically then the first violation in the garden lies with Lilith who would dare dispute who will top between adam and herself. She is forced to use blasphemy to evade gods wrath and escape the garden. God is then forced into the creation of the submissive eve from adams rib. Mythologically displayed are not just the seeds of a dominant female sexuality, but the presence of a suppressed submissive male sexuality as well. An inherent transexual sexuality in both sexes then. A repression established when the serpent enters the garden and tempts eve with the fruit of knowledge. Eve is then used to bind all the good traits as of humanity in women as sin, as seduction and desire. Traping her in the role of devouree, but conversely trapping men in the role of devourer. A splitting and isolation of both drives which are initially present.
Rin Daughter of Mnemosyne illustrates the supposed dynamic in a dramatic fashion. A tear in space exists where time/soul fruits fall from the tree of yggdrasil through the sky and by chance may enter an individual. Females who receive one of these fruits are rendered virtually immortal, while males are turned into angels overcome with an insatiable desire to hunt and consume immortals. Finding angels sexually irresistible, being devoured by them is one of the few ways in which immortals can die (the other being destruction or removal of their fruits). The antagonist of the series is a hermaphrodite, Apos, whom exhibits both immortality and the irresistible devouring aura of the angels. Apos aims to overthrow the ancient order of the tree of yggdrasil by becoming the permanent guardian. Actively stalking Rin, their mother figure, to this end. Unsurprisingly their plans are thwarted. Rin is able to acquire an angelic essence through impregnation by apos father. This essence puts Apos on their knees in submission with Rin dealing the final blow to Apos' rebellion by feeding them "the holy white blood of their father". A substance which could hardly be interpreted as anything but his semen. Rin then gives birth to the new guardian and the cycle continues. Seeking union with their mother is what damns Apos, and in submission receiving the fluid that marks their mother as the property of their father through the utilitarian progression of the cycle of child birth is their final punishment and what ultimately does them in.
The incest taboo is reflected in the semitic creation myth's domination of the feminine, but exists in virtually all societies. It places women as property resulting in a utilitarian enslavement to sexual reproduction. This taboo on incest functionally places children in a position where their first affections must be denied and they must make a clear distinction between emotional and sexual love. To not do so is to be found in an inappropriate relation and be punished by the property owner, their father. Eliminating the incest taboo removes the need for children to fall into the social roles of man and woman and frees both dominate female and submissive male sexualities. Allowing for a healthy transexual polyamouros pan sexuality to flourish. The abolishment of the need for a distinction between genitals is on its way here, but for a true liberation from utility children would need to be born from both sexes equally or artificial wombs would need to become accessible.⁶
Left Hand of Darkness provides a useful example of a society approaching this. One where each individual can become the giving or receiving partner. Each can be the one to give birth, and sex is not seen as something shameful, and while not done in public, it it seen simply as an enjoyable aspect of life. On their planet, Gethen, a form of polyamory is the established norm through a public institution where individuals can meet for the explicit purpose of relieving the torments of their physical desire. While they may have a primary partner for life, they are still open to having additional partners as each sees fit. These aliens in Left hand of darkness are not usually sexed but have the capacity to become either sex by chance upon a schedule of cyclical arousal mirroring the phases of their moon. A phenomenon that plays well with the realization of an unrepressed sexual desire. Some people make you want to top, some make you want to bottom, some people make you want to do both and it's often a matter of context. That gentle touch on your neck that makes you blush and shyly flinch away suddenly tingling from head to toe. The way they hold themselves and take that tone with you that makes you red hot and demands that you flip them over. over simplified as the sky is really the limit for the possibilities and partners, two or more needn't be paired as consumed and consumer either though it tends to be helpful even if just in that moment.
Before the fall man and the garden which he inhabited were a perfect reflection of the highest plane. It is speculated that Lucifer and the angels had sexual desire for man as he was the exact reflection of god. By releasing sexual energy man can reach knowledge previously only accessible by god.⁷ Sexual activity makes man a creator.
‘’"The best and highest blessing mankind can attain was won through sacrilege and man must now take the consequences"’’⁸
Where then does the Serpent acquire these transgressive gifts which it brings into the garden but from the initial catastrophe still not mentioned; the breaking of the vessels.
The initial Tree of life had 11 sephirot and was perfectly balanced. Da'ath the black sun of knowledge was placed on the middle pillar of the tree of life between Keter and Tiphareth.⁹However, At the first catastrophe knowledge becomes incomplete, resolving into the status of desire and constant pursuit as Da'ath falls from the tree into the abyss. ''"perhaps the desire to know has just one meaning-as a motivation for the desire to question.... knowledge finally appears as a deception in comparison to the questioning that impels it. By leaving such questions open in me like a wound... I keep luck, and I maintain possible access to these questions."¹⁰ Which is to say that knowledge itself falls into a state of chance, the wound crafts desire, agony of not knowing births a possibility of relief through knowing, the shape of chance, which creates push to further knowledge.
Ein Soph creates Adam Kadamon as the first man¹¹who beams divine light of complete unity. This light was captured by the top three vessels of the sephirot and directed down the tree. Upon capture the force o the light shatters vessels dropping 288 divine sparks into the abyss¹² Death, that which divides, is the spark of life that falls into the abyss allowing change to take place and time to flow. Life existed in dark worlds between the initial catastrophe and creation of Adam. It is the introduction of chance and choice, ‘’Death’’, which allows life to exist there. It is said that Sins of humans create more sparks which nourish the dark world of Sitra Ahara or it would die. Upon the fall of humanity from the garden Adam Kadamon becomes Adam Belliyyal (Belial) worthless and lawless¹³, a deity free from utility, plummeting from beyond the tree to the material plane of malkuth where they become subject to all limits of that realm. Actively worshiped in both Sodom and Gomorrah.¹⁴ The worthless sons and daughters of Belial who would oppose christ.¹⁵
Evil then is the creative and destructive force we must turn to for both individual existence and connection. Evil is a force that breaks in where it does not belong. Evil is division when things leave their predestined paths. Sin and transgression give evil independence as they separate from the established.¹⁶The serpent violates divine order by entering into the garden and leaving its place as the protector of the outside, knowingly creating evil by penetrating into where it should not go. After falling to the temptation of the fruit of knowledge eve knows death, a distinction which then creates separation from god, and a separation from her pre destined path of unending stagnation.¹⁷ Sin is dependent upon law and norms so as to be perceived as violation of taboo and is always in relation to this. Transgression then is the only way to change trajectory, to advance in any divergent direction. To not transgress is to follow the assigned path of destiny, that of approval and least resistance to the apparent order, to accept the possible.
‘’"He required the new humankind that it possess a capacity to withstand adversity while recognizing its right to trample on norms."’’¹⁸
Founding myths and the incest taboo are tool to suppress transgression, evil, which allows for creation to take place. How then can we found a way of associating that recognizes transgression and evil as the foundation of creation and relation? The very objects by which life flourishes. One which honors ...Dionoysian values... Infinite intoxication? One which advances new unheard of sexualities, attractions, obsessions, and enthusiasms? Only through love and annihilation.
To begin, the Messiah is death, that which the divine dropped into the abyss; separation is itself connection, change exists as the only stability. There exist two symbols that best embody the essence of the serpent, the Ouroboros and the Onniont. In the ouroboros we find the self devourer uniting renewal and death in the cycle of time.¹⁹ All of which come together to form the foundation from which creation takes place. While the Onnoint is an object, found by chance and often a stone, embodying a serpent which allows the bearer to pierce any obstacle to reach their desires.²⁰ The violation which defies the destined order in pursuit of desire as defined in relation to chance.
“‘’for those who grasp what chance is the idea of god seems insipid and suspicious, like being crippled.”’’²¹
A wound opens in our being which brings definition to chance in the form of perceived relief, desire. To this end Bataille offers us a conception of two suns. An Ideal sun which calls us towards itself as a source of relief, and the Rotten sun which does not meet expectations of the ideal.²² A catastrophe which causes dip/fall/death/renewal of cycle toward new altered shifted ideal. Micheal the yellow common sun, Lucifer the fallen black sun. The desire for relief in the yellow sun is desire for annihilation by the black sun. Salvation unto death.
⁷(Karlsson 2019) Lucifer's own fall into the abyss brought the sepherit of sexuality, Yesod, into its active state.
⁸(Nietzsche 2003) 49
¹⁰ (Bataille 2004) 47
¹¹ Hermaphroditism implied by the splitting Kadamon’s attributes in Lilith and Adam (all positive attributes in Adam)
¹⁴(Karlsson 2019; Belanger 2010)
¹⁵2 Corinthians 6:14-15
¹⁸(Bataille 2004) 171
¹⁹(Nozedar 2010)119-20 a common symbol across cultures, spanning from ancient egypt to norse mythology.
²⁰(Nozedar 2010) 119
²²(Bataille 1985) 57-8
Bataille, Georges. 1985. Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939. U of Minnesota Press.
———. 1986. Erotism: Death and Sensuality. City Lights Books.
———. 2004. On Nietzsche. A&C Black.
Belanger, Michelle. 2010. The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned. Llewellyn Worldwide.
Firestone, Shulamith. 2003. The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Honig, Bonnie. 2009. Democracy and the Foreigner. Princeton University Press.
Karlsson, Thomas. 2019. Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2003. The Birth of Tragedy: Out of the Spirit of Music. Penguin UK.
Nozedar, Adele. 2010. The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook: An A to Z Compendium of Over 1000 Designs.
At the base of the tension of existence is its discontinuity, the fundamental isolation of the individual from the other. When I eat you stay hungry, when I work you do not tire, when you die I persist. We exist in a paradoxical state where we are not only compelled to seek our own preservation, but also to seek union in continuity. The primal suffering of experience is this isolation which defines each individual. However, this isolation is also the means by which everyone is connected, touching through the void, the nothingness, the common denominator of experience which is loss or death. As time passes I die and am born anew in the current moment as a continuous process that only ceases when I do. A process highlighted and reflected in the ambiguous death of an amoeba. Here the movement of splitting is easy enough to observe. And while the instant of its death is hard to place, it can not be denied. The first which gives birth to the two dissipates, but provides a means of continuity between them. Death the disjunctive conjunction, through which I too exist emerging from an infinitesimal series of gaps across time.¹ A phenomena generally imperceptible in society and one which cannot be fully appreciated with logical thought. As the experience of loss itself is something that happens in action rather than through deduction, an event lived through demonstration. Communication is an act like this. A violence which cuts through the exterior layers of self, necessarily erected to differentiate from the environment, to lay a small death inside another. An event intentioned and oriented to reach emotional continuity through a shared conception or idea. An action to which I am driven by a festering wound which opens upon my being demanding homage paid through activity. Itself facilitated through the empty positivity which loss embodies.
’”The Mystical state, elsewhere identified with power, is more properly seen as the desire to give”²
It is easy enough to split the search for continuity in 3³. Emotional, mystical, and physical; 3 means through which we seek release via infliction and affliction of violation giving rise to the annihilation of self. First Emotional continuity, sought through communication of ideas or concepts, conversation, art, all of that which falls into the category of wishing give something penetrating to be understood or give oneself to violation to understand. Second Mystical continuity; the pursuit of continuity in something beyond the physical self by giving yourself over to it through openness. This can be attempted through communion with the world itself, love of god(s) or the other worldly, enlightenment, ritual, sacrifice, prayer, meditation all of which peel away the discontinuous shell of self exposing a positive gap which fills with creation. Finally Physical continuity, sex violence & death; to touch, to be held, to strike to disappear. That which cant be refused arises through the sensibility of the body beyond sight and smell and vision. An attack of the Up close and personal.
Each carries risk and loss within it. Each event destroys us. Loss an inevitability, but one that may not give rise to that which we would chase again. An event deemed worse than not making an attempt towards relief. This risk exists in reception, interpretation and selection. What I try to pass across the void is subject to loss, and is therefore interpreted as something other than what was intended. There is necessarily some element of this, but this loss is both the risk and the creative pleasure of success. Success is a matter of resonance rather than bare replication, and can only ever occur though properly receptive sensibility.
What then are the conditions for successful communication? One which is carried by loss as a term but produces resonance upon reception? First Sufficient violence for a mutual laceration, and second that it arrives with a properly crafted sensibility. Violence is sufficient if it can cut through the layers of the self which were erected inorder to differentiate from the void, the self constructed for preservation must be destroyed, forced to think. Here the receptiveness or emotional nakedness of each individual plays a significant role. That is, the more we are willing to expose and disrobe ourselves, the more vulnerable we are willing to become, the greater the risk we are willing to take on, the higher our affirmation of it, the greater the possibility of success. Similarly of consequence; both positive and negative. Communication is a mutually desired connection in which separation is suspended solely for the person you choose. The force of violence necessary is reduced by this receptivity. To fail at this is to enter into a blunting of the senses, a willful stupidity and disinterestedness in reception. Even upon a sufficiently violent eruption the result is a lack of resonance in interpretation, and likely a failed selection. Here realized as a dwindling of desire for future connection.
Crafting of Sensibility then is the aspect that determines a successful reception, as sensibility is that in which the violence can be received. Its shape, the quality, influences its interpretation which determines its selection. Is this hurting the way I want it to?⁴A properly inflicted torment which I would submit myself to? Does it pluck the string of history to resonate with a desire I would love to lose myself inside? A boiling demand which splits my very being when it escapes into action?
Chance is the interaction of forces, the throw of the dice, their dance and play, illustrated in lust and combat, sex and death as the ends; love and hate. Each flows into the other incessantly, relentlessly, and necessarily. Ideas arise forcibly through sensation which is interpreted by the faculties. Decision as selection exists in the process of adjunction and condensation into ideas. We exist and think as a series process in iteration, each affecting the next.⁵
The beloved arises on the horizon of my sensibilities, and I am accosted by the violence of their existence. The way they move, the hang of their hair, fabrics in which they drape themselves, their scent, the texture of their skin, the look in their eyes, and passions that can be read through them. Innumerable impacts upon my being which can never be exhausted not fully represent them as the unspeakable element which attracts us Birthing and enhancing the agony
of separation from them, ratcheting to a peak where we can help ourselves no longer.
This agony of separation gives birth to desire which allows for the pleasure in annihilation.
Carnal divinity arises through resonance of a search for the 3 continuities in conjunction, realized through a shared death of self. Loss of self through desire for violence in communication. Openness as a loss of self with regard to mystical, giving self up to a world awareness and loss of self in physical sensation and the secrets held in the flesh. Carnal divinity is a communicative spiritual physical act. A worship through the giving of self to desire with a lover. The animating element of life placed back in its center where it belongs.
Love itself is a violent force actualized on the whims of a chance encounter. That we come into proximity, that our forces interact, that desire produces our intention to remain entwined. we fall into love against our will and are driven mad by it. The light of our reason is blotted out as if the eyes had been plucked from our skull. Love is the affirmation of suffering, to love is to suffer, it is the love of suffering. For love is a torment without which life would be a bland empty husk. A languid placation toward a shallow unmarked grave remit of any horror. A complete lack of excitement at our imminent demise. The kind of attitude that could offer neither a no nor a yes to the prospect of hell, but instead poffers a damply tepid acceptance. We do not suffer for love, we suffer as love.
It should come as no surprise that Love and Hate are Synonymous, two sides of the same brutal coin. “Must we not first hate ourselves before we can love ourselves?”⁶ inquiries Dionysus of Ariadne . In life⁷ love flows easily into hate and vice versa. Both emotions are at the height of intensity and passion. The psychic equivalent of a black hole, an inescapable and overwhelming obsession that eclipses logic. One which forcibly draws in and relentlessly occupies the mind. Many a lover has feverishly brooded over striking down their beloved in preference to the thought of anyone else possessing them. Though certainly fewer have acted upon the impulse, it is anything but uncommon.
Hatred functions as a selection against something as below everything else, a wish for its total destruction. While love the selection of one thing above all else even to the absolute detriment of that which is not chosen. To devour and to be consumed. In either case the result is a blissfully violent annihilation. Death and love are then the same movement. As love brings together in creation of the new it is ejected in a continuous murder into the past.⁸ This opens a gap, a rupture, the positively creative space of loss which is filled by love desire as movement, Onniont. The loss between two heterogeneous series of individuals is the communication between them, in that the loss is itself what gives rise to the interrelation.⁹
“It is always in this gap… that creatures weave their repetition and receive at the same time the gift of living and dying.”¹⁰
The gap is where creation comes from. The annihilation of self. This is why sex and death are related and why sexual activity which separates from god, rather than procreation, is what makes a creator.¹¹ It is where we touch active forces, through carnal divinity. A communion and creatin of an erotic body between through the engagement of forces, greater than either on its own. In this gap arises interpretation of communication as creation. Maintaining the discontinuous nature of the series which doubles as its ability to create resonance.
“... we must never imagine existence except in terms of these passions.”¹²
Every love is real for a person who is unreal. We only ever approach another whose reality is always a dubious projection. A differential simulacrum of constant movement and revisionary iteration by extension of series.¹³ One which resonates, returns, and survives or falls away with a sour projection unworthily named reality. Such a projection only earning such a title by acquiring the lamest of fatalities, an exhausted and withered will slothfully drifting into a numb state of rigor mortis.
The power of the resonance that is relationships, a creative violence that flashes through the loss of individuation. The vibrational bolts which cross the emptiness are what determines its value, it's desirability to return, it's strength. The value of such a glorious violence giving rise to the new body is determined by its apprehension. It's survival depends on complementary sensibility, to be perceived and affirmatively selected. The active force of the beloved elicits a reaction from myself, the strongest kind of reaction possible, one in which I throw away that which keeps me alive for something I would not only stay alive for but lustfully suffer to protect. An interpretive creation that crosses between both of us. I destroy myself to move toward them, to eject or or be penetrated by additions to our series, and in return I receive that which sustains beyond bare life. A reemergence of will to be despite suffering, rather than a fear of death producing a resentful persistence. To find one, or many, whom we can love to death in the most literal of senses as well as the most figurative is to be blessed. A set of complementarily iterative sensibilities for an endless spiral of mutual obliterations, facilitated by our own isolation, for however long it shall last. A new body, a union at a distance. A celebration of the entirety of existence rejuvenated through the gaps we create in each other. To live is to die more than a million deaths, to love is to enjoy each of them.
¹(Bataille 1986) 13-4
²(Bataille 2004) 176
³The distinctions of course can be muddied and are necessarily overlapping in places. Hearing being a physical phenomena, touch having mental aspects that can be dampened with drugs or dissociation etc.
⁴similar to agony, erotic desire is often a reflection of trauma. The wounds oozing into the shapes of what we'd like to fill them. The sightless eyes of his father, his piss, and his mothers attempted suicides fueling batailles erotic obsessions in the eye. you will seek affection from those who hurt you just right
⁵(Deleuze and Patton 2004)191-208
⁶Deleuze 2006) 173
⁷ as in dating sims
⁸ Serial killing as history.
⁹ (Deleuze and Patton 2004) 104-28
¹⁰ (Deleuze and Patton 2004) 21
¹¹“Erotism is a sterile principle representing Evil and the diabolical.” (Bataille 2011) 230
¹³Knowledge itself only exists through, loss the forgetting of the difference between so many distinct impression to give rise recognition and familiarity
Bataille, Georges. 1986. Erotism: Death and Sensuality. City Lights Books.
———. 2004. On Nietzsche. A&C Black.
———. 2011. Death and Sensuality: A Study of Eroticism and the Taboo.
Deleuze, Gilles. 2006. Nietzsche and Philosophy. Columbia University Press.
Deleuze, Gilles, and Paul Patton. 2004. Difference and Repetition. A&C Black.
⁰Susan Sontag sits in a position of one of the more influential tastemakers of the last century. A collection of essays ‘’Against Interpretation’’ plays host to some of her most well known work. The first entry, bearing the same title, is geared towards the goal of among other things abolishing the distinction between form and content, thereby liberating the sensuous nature of art from the grasp of stifling influences which seek to tame it by splitting it in two. For Sontag art is entirely inseparable from our sensory experience of it. ‘’Real art has the capacity to make us nervous.’’¹ Inspired by this end a stand is taken against interpretation. Spearing it as ‘’...the revenge of the intellect upon art’’.²
In the essay Sontag finds art on the run. A flight from the utilitarian demands of justification placed upon it by Plato’s theory of mimesis into an era of modern and intentional obscurity, parody, and pop apparantism.³ ‘’From now until the end of consciousness we are stuck with the task of defending art’’.⁴ Dancing across examples from multiple pieces⁵ she criticizes the formulaic approach which digs through and designates elements with drab and recognizable movements, the theories of Marx and Freud; everything a metaphor for class struggle or a cock. All of it reinforcing familiar truths at the expense of actively distancing the audience from what it is they are encountering. Reducing a work to analysable containers of content places the witness in a safety blanket, domesticating art and protecting from what we might otherwise feel. In place of this hermeneutics she desires to erect an erotics. ‘’We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.’’⁶
The artist's job then is to be a mixer of new sensations⁷, a summoner of phenomenology (the phenomenological?). Sensibilities of course extend beyond mere sensory input, there is a history to them which informs their manifestation, and thus, what is apprehendable through them.⁸ Art itself being part of forming, or informing, said sensibility which is, ofcourse, inspired by however many other pieces which it is perceived to be in orientation to.
The most interesting works of contemporary art are full of references to the history of the medium; so far as they comment on past art, they demand knowledge of at least the recent past. As Harold Rosenberg has pointed out, contemporary paintings are themselves acts of criticism as much as creation.⁹
A post Industrial Revolution trend identifies two cultures in opposition. As defined by Sontag: The fist a literary and artistic culture centered around cultivation, and the other a scientific culture dedicated to comprehension. A commonly commented on conflict which places art and artists, once lauded for their role as creators of unique objects that provide pleasure while conditioning conscience and sensibility, as boarding on uselessness in an automated society. A perception due in large part to the ease of mass reproduction of objects.¹⁰ Though Sontag sees the situation less as a conflict and more as the creation of a new culture, a new sensibility. One in which art has fallen away from its magical-religious origins, crossed through a period of perceived utility as depiction or commentary on secular reality and into a new era of modifying consciousness by creating and organising new sensibilities. Exemplified, for example, in that of speed. A sensation facilitated by means of the mass reproduction of art objects.¹¹ ‘’Such art is also notably apolitical and undidactic, or, rather infra-didactic.’’¹²
It does not mean the renunciation of standards… there are new standards … of beauty and style and taste. … defiantly pluralistic … dedicated both to an excruciating seriousness and fun and nostalgia. … very high-speed and hectic. From the vantage point of this new sensibility, the beauty of a machine or of the solution to a mathematical problem, of a painting by Jasper Johns, of a film by Jean-Luc Godard, and of the personalities and music of the Beatles is [are] equally accessible.¹³
A dissolving of the distinction between high and low cultures feared by those invested in art as a defense for an ever receding humanism. A fear born through then propagated by a general ignorance in literary culture and of those inhabiting the scientific with no interest in art. Matthew Arnold illustrates this when he advances the idea that the highest purpose of culture is creation of a critique of that culture through the vehicle of literature.¹⁴ Sontag proceeds alternatively, offering us Marshall McLuhans definition of human history. Which can summarily be presented as the extension of human technological capacity which works radical change on their surrounding environment, ways of thinking, feeling, and valuing. Going on to say that while the ”More timid people prefer to accept the … previous environment's values as the continuing reality of their time…” … Only in terms of … the old ethical order does the problem of ‘two cultures’ appear.¹⁵ Remarking that “... music, films, dance, architecture, painting, and sculpture….all… draw, profusely, naturally, and without embarrassment, upon science and technology-’’¹⁶ while only literature has stayed behind in a refusal to adapt adequately to the technologic age.
So if this dissolution of boundaries between scientific and the literary-artistic, high and low cultures, art and non art, form and content¹⁷ had taken hold and people have come around to the idea that ‘’works of art, psychological forms, and social forms all reflect each other.’’¹⁸ On what grounds, in her 1996 afterword, is Sontag to find this cultural product botched?
To call for an “erotics of art’ did not mean to disparage the role of the critical intellect. To laud work condescended to then as “popular” did not mean to conspire in the repudiation of high culture and its complexities¹⁹ Though this is exactly what she is demanding when she makes the call to trim back content in her correct appeal to its inseparability from form. The movement away from creating works that were purposefully intricate as both advice and her noted movement of arts retreat. Perhaps something will be revealed if we look at Sontag's opinion on an author of erotica.
“Bataille’s works… indicated the aesthetic possibilities of pornography as an art form: Story of the Eye being the most accomplished artistically of all pornographic prose I’ve read’’ -Susan Sontag²⁰
Bataille is an interesting case because in his philosophy, as well as his erotica, he combines elements of Marx, Freud and Nietzsche²¹. The Story Eye itself, as testified to by the psychoanalytic afterword of its author, is engorged with the complexities of the latent content which Sontag finger wags. None of which could be seen to distance the reader from their visceral connection to the protagonists’ colourful string of murders and rapes which joyously decorate its pages. In fact²² these elements serve as a piece of the works form, seducing the reader to sink further down into the dark sea of unacceptable and inhuman urges that comprise each of us. For Bataille ‘’Erotism … is the assenting to life up to death… a formula which gives the meaning of erotism better than any other.’’²³ A whole business devoted to the excesses of violence and violation directed at the annihilation of the self contained within its participants as they are in their daily lives.²⁴ A religious sensibility which ...always links desire closely with terror, intense pleasure, and anguish.²⁵
This religious sensibility, all hope of the mythic, is something Sontag has abandoned only to her detriment. When analyzing the movement of the two cultures she completely ignores the driving action of culture. Something Shulamith firestone captures exquisitely with her definition of “Culture is the attempt by man to realize the conceivable in the possible’’²⁶. Noting in her own two modes the religious, feminine, and unrelenting destructive nature of the artistic mode. Even identifying its affinity with madness and suicide.²⁷ By removal of this essential piece Sontag mires herself in a utilitarian system of evaluation and justification. One which she cannot even fathom any form of liberation from. A fate which she hand delivers to art in a bizarrely facile capitulation to a challenge Plato issued thousands of years prior. All on the heels of her opening sentence “The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual.’’²⁸
“The judgments of taste expressed in these essays may have prevailed. The values underlying those judgments did not.”²⁹
Urging readers not to lose sight of the larger contexts in which she had penned, we are reminded The World in which these essays were written no longer exists. Instead of a utopian moment, we live in a time which is experienced as the end – more exactly, just past the end- of every ideal.³⁰ In a somewhat sarcastic call to ... that now mythic era known as the Sixties.’’³¹she summons her recollection of that time to the pages. An era where old hierarchies were toppled, new masterpieces were produced every month, and new art experiences such as happenings were conceived. The constructors of this new sensibility, art as an extension of life, were notably drawing on texts by Nietzche, Antonin Artaud, and Andre Breton.³² Artists were insolent again as they were after WWI until the rise of fascism.''³³ Both Breton and Artuad were involved in the movement of surrealism that existed between the two world wars. A movement of which Bataille was seen both to be a part and an outside agitator. Some placing him in a position of rivalry with Breton, who seemed to be at the fore. The two of them came together briefly to form the group Contre-Attaque in 1935. Of Course it managed to do little more than display the left's ineptitude at both opposing fascism and cooperating amongst themselves.³⁴
A discouraged Bataille found fault in Breton’s prudishness; a man who frowned at sexual depictions, both drinking and the smoking of opium, never allowing his delirium to get the better of his reason.³⁵ Bataille found fascism, with its appeal to the mythic, to be an overwhelmingly seductive force, shipping his self inset Tropman with its clad in swastika red embodyment Dirty in his fiction ‘’Blue of Noon’’.³⁶ Smelling of wet earth with breasts of lunar whiteness and the beauty of a ghost, she leaves him yearning in the pouring rain. They copulate in a cemetery where the earth falls away beneath them becoming countless graves in the sky. Try as he might to resist her, the death and violence she embodies, the awesome and terrifying military might – backed by a call to destiny as absolute devotion, all leave him helplessly possessed with desire. Upon departing from Dirty and exiting the train, Tropman encounters a mild mannered worker whom he finds wholly unattractive.³⁷ Why ought this be the case he wonders³⁸, the man also has an ass to grab and a mouth to kiss, but it's one one he’d rather enjoy hitting.
The commonly conceived consequences of the postmodern are often thought to be a direct result of the rise of fascism and modern atrocities. Any ideal leading to them as an inevitability.
The ever more triumphant values of consumer capitalism promote - indeed, impose - the cultural mixes and insolence and defense of pleasure that I was advocating for quite different reasons. … Something was operating to make these marginal views more acceptable, something of which if I had an inkling - and, had I understood better … would have made me more cautious. … [a] sea-change in … culture, a transvaluation of values… Let us use Nietzsche’s term: we had entered, really entered, the age of nihilism.³⁹
Basing large portions of his thought on Nietzche, Bataille finds that ... he happened to set forth principles for an aristocracy of “masters of the world”⁴⁰ Denouncing all limits and morality The will to power remains equivocal. In a sense it is the will to Evil, amounting to the will to expenditure or risk.⁴¹ Bataille makes an effort to distinguish risk from the attitude of speculation; which subordinates the present completely to the past; intending to be unchangeable. Where risk maintains an undefined goal in that it brings forth that which does not yet exist.⁴² To will the future is to recognize the known as to be surpassed.⁴³ Risk and the chance it entails are what set life ablaze, they allow us not just to live but to be alive. In Bataille’s eyes this manifests most clearly in the world of lovers. The place in the modern world which most clearly unleashes the image of destiny, the seductive and dangerous myth. A full existence is only one which arouses both hope and terror. The illusory character of the loved one accosts us from the horizon of the sensibilities, pitching us into a feverish disequilibrium which violently snuffs out the light of our reason that would otherwise prevent us from taking the risks involved in pursuit. Their intangible quality places in us an anguish which only the refreshment of their being can quelch. A madness that drives us through a series of chances and expenditures that can produce the random movement which is demanded by obscure passion. An act upon the fortuitous appearance of a series which can approach the impossibility of the luck embodied in their first encounter. The result of the dance cannot be determined by decisions or intentions held in advance. Neither one knowing the cards or hidden motives held by the other; an endless and nuanced flirtation of frauds, which ends only with either a miracle beyond any possibility, or ruin. Any commitment less than this is failed before it begins. ... the world of lovers is still more the realm of trickery than is the world of gambling.⁴⁴ Love, like myth, enters as a force of ascension demanding the submission of any inferior reality, even unto death.
...lovers are temporarily freed from the burden of isolation that every individual bears⁴⁵ – Shulamith Firestone
You that are lonely today, you who live apart, one day you will be a people. From those who have thus chosen themselves there will one day come a chosen people – and it is from this people that the superman will be born. – Nietzche⁴⁶
Deciding to make use of fictions, I dramatize being, I lacerate its solitude, and in this laceration I communicate.⁴⁷ – Bataille
Love, art, and the mythic each offer us seductive pulls, ecstatic drives, and delightful ruptures of self. They make us nervous, agitated, terrified and in so doing ask us, require us, to suspend reason, and walk down closer into the experience of life; conditioning us to want more.
“... purpose of art … to give pleasure-’’⁴⁸
There is another writer, a philosopher, penning books in the mythic era of the 60’s who draws from many the same waters as Bataille, including both Nietzche and a man who based his entire affair on the creativity of nothing, who has something to offer us on the order of why this kind of experience is so infectious.
What fearful power, awesome divinity is repetition! It is the pull of the void that drags us deeper and deeper down like the ever widening gullet of a whirlpool … For we know it well all along: it was none other than the deep and sinful fall into a world where repetition drags one down lower with each step… – Musil, Man Without Qualities⁴⁹
Deleuze offers us the concept of the Tropical Man⁵⁰, the one who frequents tropical zones, places of thought, rather than the temperate zones of the moral, methodical or moderate. Thinking depends on coordinates, where we are carrying our existence to, and the elements we frequent. No thought occurs which is not forced, and so, we do not think unless we are forced to go to places where forces that make thought something active and affirmative are made use of. Culture is both a record, a history, of the series of violence undergone by thought, and a process of the formation of thought through the action of selective forces which draws upon the entire unconscious of the thinker.⁵¹ The continual destruction and reformation of sensibility across time. The Tropical man goes toward danger in order to be and be strongly, because the pull toward annihilation is that which forces adaptation. The creation on the other side of destruction. All action is the result of reaction, but not all reaction seeks active destruction. No, not all reaction is strong enough to see its own undoing, its own overthrow – a production of a new sensibility.
Interpretation itself must be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness.⁵²
Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense in which Nietzche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretation.”⁵³ What Sontag truly desires is not the banishment of interpretation, but a method of selection of interpretations that are sufficiently reactive. Ones that force thought, rather than ones that stifle and reinforce the moral order. She correctly diagnoses the split between form and content, but misunderstands her role as critic; seeing it as something other than destroyer. She lacks a proper commitment to the corruption and decay which births all creation. Lamenting, “The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can't admit to doing this’’⁵⁴ An act in which she abandons her weapon and is forced into a position of backtracking throughout the essay. She lacks a sufficient affinity with the will to falsity, the attempt to realize the conceivable in the possible, a realization of a new sensibility. She hopes that the re-publication will inspire new readers to ‘’...contribute to the quixotic task of shoring up the values out of which these essays and reviews were written.”⁵⁵ In her search for “...the luminousness of the thing in itself…’’⁵⁶ she becomes Socrates in his search for the good. A man at whose feet Nietzsche lays the blame of both the spirit of christianity as well as the death of tragedy. The Apology recounts the trial of Socrates for the crime of corrupting the youth. Charged with making the weaker argument the stronger he proceeds by trying to expose contradictions in the arguments of his accusers. The oracle says that he is the wisest, and so, in the service of the god he pesters fellow citizens to follow the good; utilizing his method of inquiry and declaring it is the highest of blessings for Athens. Finding logically that he could not corrupt the youth, for then he would risk harming himself. Upon his conviction he is offered an attempt to escape from prison, to return to the pursuit of what he loves most, of giving the blessings he believes he is destined to bestow. Unwilling to commit, he instead chooses to die at the hands of the state rather than be dishonorable. Corrupting the youth, of course, is exactly what Socrates was doing by agitating others and forcing them to think, but he cannot get beyond contradiction because for him truth is something universal, something to be uncovered rather than something which is generated or changing. And while he knows that his actions are those necessary for the health of Athens, the constant over turning of what was, he loses his appetite at the idea of being a criminal and drifts calmly into death, rather than going to the limit of what he can do.
To burn is one thing, to grovel and beg to burn is quite another.⁵⁷
A nation that is already old and corrupt, that bravely shakes off the yoke of its monarchical government so as to adopt a republican one instead, can only survive by committing countless criminal acts; this is because it already exists in a state of crime, and if it wished to pass from a state of crime to virtue, that is from a violent state to a peaceful one, it would fall into a state of inertia the outcome of which would be its imminent and certain ruin.⁵⁸ – Sade
Deleuze offers us a different interpretation of the passage in which Sontag’s reading divides interpretation in two Nietzche opposes the free spirit to the free thinker, the spirit of interpretation itself which judges from the standpoint of origins and quality: “There are no facts, nothing but interpretations”⁵⁹ The free spirit risks while the free thinker speculates. The free thinker exists in a limited space seeking to maintain or to acquire what is, but the free spirit throws dice knowing that they must be thrown again, that being is becoming, and knowing that nothing fully to their expectation can return; what returns must be different and it must be changing. This leaves them open to possibility, to affirmation of what differs, to an adaptable sensibility beyond that of utility.
We must find for each thing in turn the special means by which it is affirmed, by which it ceases to be negative⁶⁰
So no, hierarchy then? Certainly there’s a hierarchy.⁶¹
The empirical feeling of difference, in short hierarchy, is the essential motor of the concept, deeper and more effective than all thought about contradiction.⁶²
Culture, the series which is evaluated against on the basis of its sense and value. The sensibility with which it is apprehended judges its qualities on the basis of affinity and aesthetic, a delightful discordant resonance with the series, rather than evaluating value based on utility. The mechanism by which this is achieved could hardly arrive as anything less than mythic.
”The intensity of my feelings make me both tremble and laugh…I had cried too much… these were not tears of tenderness, but tears of jubilation… That day walking through the woods, along the lake of Silvaplana; at a powerful pyramidal rock not far from Surli I stopped…” Nietzche’s thought resulted in the sudden ecstatic vision of the eternal return… the object exceeds the categories in which it can be represented to the point where as soon as it is represented it becomes an object of ecstasy…tears… laughter…⁶³
A ecstatic rupture of self revealing an eternal structure of time, of life the being which is always becoming. Nietzche had touched active forces, met with a cosmic love which granted him a new sensibility; turning his tears into an ecstatic joy, a laughter which transmutes the low into the high.
What is better and better absolutely is that which returns, that which can bear returning, that which wills its return.⁶⁴
Selection exists as repetition the eternal return, that without affinity does not return, and what does return changes its nature through a transmutive adaptation. Sufficient nihilism is its own undoing. A will towards nothingness, a death brought to renewal through creation. A will to falsity with a double nature of negation which becomes affirmation; negation of the true any world but this, to affirmation of what falsity is created as true in the moment of being a sensibility in which what is can be loved. Art is the stimulant to the will to power… the power of falsehood…the "world as error", it sanctifies the lie;... a superior ideal… to be brought into effect… selected, redoubled, or repeated and thus to elevated to a higher power… the will to deceive…⁶⁵
The aim of commentary on art now should be to make works of art… more … real to us.⁶⁶
Art is not just an extension of life, art is life. A scream to go beyond what is possible, a rupture which expends in a way unbound by necessity and adamantly disinterested in utility, a piece of the self thrown out in an effort to communicate, to express, to relive the primal isolation that divides us all. An unrelenting accent to the point of death. A miracle which can cross the void and stimulate a reaction in another. To be is to destroy and create, to critique, to become an experience, an encounter for another. A convulsing innocence of violence and aggression inseparable from the simple event that you exist.
¹P.8 (Sontag 1966)
²P.7 (Sontag 1966)
³White canvas, Scary Movie, bananas taped to walls.
⁴P.5 (Sontag 1966)
⁵ “What i dont like… my pedagogic impulse… Those lists, those recommendations.” p. 309 (Sontag 1966)
⁶ P.14 (Sontag 1966)
⁷ P.300 (Sontag 1966)
⁸ “But it is important to realize that human sensory awareness has not merely biology but a specific history, each culture placing a premium on certain senses and inhibiting others. (The same is true fo the range of primary human emotions)”P.302 (Sontag 1966)
⁹ p.295(Sontag 1966)
¹⁰ P.295, 297 “The distinction between high and low culture beng based in part on an elevation of the difference between unique and mass produced objects”(Sontag 1966)
¹¹ p.296(Sontag 1966)
¹² p.300(Sontag 1966)
¹³ p.303-4(Sontag 1966)
¹⁴ (Sontag 1966)p.298-9
¹⁵ (Sontag 1966) 299
¹⁶ p.299(Sontag 1966)
¹⁷ p.297(Sontag 1966)
¹⁹ P.312 (Sontag 1966)
²⁰ (back of story of the eye city lights)(Bataille 1989)
²¹ Perhaps even one of the first sample this now classic trifecta
²² read ‘interpretation’
²³ (Bataille 1986) p.11
²⁴ (Bataille 1986)p.16-7
²⁵ (Bataille 1986)p.39
²⁶ (Firestone 1993)p.154
²⁷ (Bataille 1986; Firestone 1993)p.168
²⁸ (Sontag 1966)p.3 a claim about the Lascaux cave paintings which Bataille ascribes to a religious orientation around the death of the hunted animal. Its killing a transgression which brings the participants beings into continuity in witnessing their shared ambiguity of life. He bases this on a practice of expiation featured in the artists depiction of the hunter as also having expired (Bataille 1986) p.74-5
²⁹ p.312(Sontag 1966)
³⁰ (Sontag 1966)p.311
³¹ (Sontag 1966)p.308
³² (Sontag 1966)p.298
³³ (Sontag 1966)p.310
³⁴ (Bataille 2018)p.24
³⁵ (Surya 2002)p.73-5
³⁶ Written in 1935 it remained unpublished for nearly a decade after the conclusion of the war.
³⁷ (Bataille 2015)p.99,102-4
³⁸ The lack of attraction isn't about sex. Bataille states men can be just as beautiful and desirable as women in erotism. Its rather a matter of presenting as something to be desired. Tropman has to leave the room because of his attraction to the crossdressers in Blue of Noon.(Bataille 1998, 1986, 2015)
³⁹ p.311(Sontag 1966)
⁴⁰ (Bataille 1998)p.169
⁴¹ (Bataille 1998)p.151, 169-1
⁴² (Bataille 1998)p.150
⁴³ (Bataille 1998)p.170
⁴⁴ (Bataille 1985)p.228-233(Bataille 1998) “Taking risks, going looking for chance – this requires patience, love, and total letting go. p.111
⁴⁵ (Firestone 1993)p.115
⁴⁶ (Bataille 2018)p.123
⁴⁷ (Bataille 1998)p.110
⁴⁸ p.303(Sontag 1966)
⁴⁹ (Bataille 1998; Deleuze and von Sacher-Masoch 1989)p.114 ‘’this passage is not included in the english translation’’
⁵⁰ The Tropical man comes from the freudian tropical hypothesis (Deleuze 2006)p.112-4
⁵¹ (Deleuze 2006) p.108-10
⁵² p.7(Sontag 1966)
⁵³ (Sontag 1966)p.5
⁵⁴ (Sontag 1966)p.6
⁵⁵ p.312(Sontag 1966) “Thirty years later, the undermining of standards of seriousness is almost complete…”
⁵⁶ (Sontag 1966)p.13
⁵⁷ (Land 2011)p.634
⁵⁸ (Bataille 2018)p.123
⁵⁹ p.60(Deleuze 2006)
⁶⁰ p.17(Deleuze 2006)
⁶¹ p.310(Sontag 1966)
⁶² p.9(Deleuze 2006)
⁶³ (Bataille 1985)p.220
⁶⁴ (Bataille 2018; Deleuze 2006)p.86
⁶⁵ (Deleuze 2006)p.102-3
⁶⁶ p.14(Sontag 1966)
Bataille, Georges. 1985. Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-1939. U of Minnesota Press.
———. 1986. Erotism: Death and Sensuality. City Lights Books.
———. 1989. Story of the Eye.
———. 1998. On Nietzsche. Paragon House.
———. 2015. Blue of Noon. Penguin UK.
———. 2018. The Sacred Conspiracy: The Internal Papers of the Secret Society of Acephale and Lecturers to the College of Sociology. Atlas Press (GB).
Deleuze, Gilles. 2006. Nietzsche and Philosophy. Columbia University Press.
Deleuze, Gilles, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch. 1989. Masochism.
Firestone, Shulamith. 1993. The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution.
Land, Nick. 2011. Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007. MIT Press.
Sontag, Susan. 1966. Against Interpretation and Other Essays.
Surya, Michel. 2002. Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography. Verso.