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Record Type: Review   ID: 828

Inner Experience

Bataille, Georges

This translation of a French work that has inspired many French postmodernists (Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Kristeva) is very difficult to understand, but it appears throughout the book that he is moved by exceptional experience, which makes sense in that he defines "inner experience" as "mystical experience" (p. 3), or states of rapture and ecstasy. His treatise is about humans living at their limits, which is often associated with exceptional experience. Bataille is heavily influenced by Nietzsche, who announced the death of God, and by mystics who write of their experience of the dark night. In essence, he writes about finding God in the process of sacrifice—of giving away. The translator summarizes the book as follows: "Inner Experience, as a volume of La Somme Athéologique, is a work in which the Judeo-Christian notions of God, of a transcendent, unlimited "beyond," are sacrificed. These discursive notions are violated in a catastrophic opening of the sacred into which the communicant is lost as into the continuity of NIGHT. The summit of discourse for Hegel—identity with the totality of "what is" and the culmination of the Sage's voyage to the possible of man—is itself a discursive notion which, like all others, is sacrificed in this text. Inner Experience is, then, a "comprehensive treatise" to the extent that it records the exhaustion of the Speakable as consciousness fails. Chirping, babbling, discontinuous notions are silenced—the pyramid of discourse is overturned in a capitulation to the Unspeakable.

The site of a "clear and indeterminable death," the solar desert—the dissolution of knowledge into the blind spot, where ipse is lost in an unknown "whole"—is the culmination of Bataille's voyage to the extreme limit" (p. xxiii).

Publisher Information:Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988. 209p
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