December 22nd, 2009 / 6:48 pm
Craft Notes & Random

Some Notes on Affect

A lot that’s happening on this site right now, in posts and in comments, has somehow coalesced around a few themes and texts that I first explored seriously in a college course I took, called Excess, that focused on, well, the literature of excess, or transgression: Sade, Bataille, Sacher-Masoch, and films like Irreversible. It was taught by Paul Mann, poet and author of Masocriticism, which, as its title suggests, radically exposes the viscera gaping from the act of reading and interpreting texts. He writes,

The text never recognizes us. It neither assents to nor dissents from our reading, our desire. Whatever validations we establish, it remains silent throughout our reading.

At the end of each reading, it returns as a Greek.

At the end of each masocritical scene, one is abandoned to the absolutely otherness of the other. One suffers an utter loss of agency, out of and against which a new scene or new reading must be projected.

This formulation of the text recalls Bataille’s vision of the sun burning itself up with no consideration for the life that its combustion nurtures, a concept that is central to much of Bataille’s work (including the essay whose title I stole for the reading series I run w/ Blake and Jamie Iredell in Atlanta, Solar Anus). The way Mann equates the sun with the text deepens this idea of reading asĀ  hyper-sensory experience.

The first or second class session, Mann told us that he would be asking us to think about affect as we read. That is, he’d ask us how we felt. He recognized how squishy it sounds to ask someone, “How does this poem make you feel?” but requested that we forbear and consider the possibility that an engagement with affect can transform the critical enterprise (and of course, an act of reading is in itself an act of criticism, even if it’s never articulated). After we read the first part of 120 Days of Sodom, he asked us if we were disgusted/aroused/bored/afraid/annoyed, and it was a great discussion starter.

He referred us to Barthes, who argues in The Pleasure of the Text that Sade wrote and redistributed language to death, or at least attempted to. Insofar as sex and death are the original friends-with-benefits, the best kind of text flirts with us, Barthes says: “The text you write must prove to me that it desires me” [emphasis his]. And “these terrible texts are all the same flirtatious texts.”

For Mann, sometimes the proper response to these language incubi is silence. Thus after watching Irreversible we did not discuss it; we sat in some silence. And if Sade’s destructive project involves a kind of relentless expenditure of language, our only mode of resistance–and submission–may be to refuse to utter, both to accept and to block Sade’s limiltess ejaculation with a soundless, languageless, porous wall.

We’ve talked about writing prompts; these are, perhaps, reading prompts. For Barthes, the reader participates in the extreme. Lots of people say the reader is a participant, though; the point here is that the participation isn’t just mental or even psychological, though it is those things too (Barthes was particularly interested in the idea of neurosis–not sanity or madness–as the cite of the language act for writers like Bataille and Sade). Our participation must be emotional and bodily as well.

This isn’t a metaphor (nod to Blake). Barthes and Mann both focus on texts that draw forth these reactions in a kind of extreme or at least noticeable way, and that’s a great place to start. But affect could always be useful to consider, not just when reading the transgressive text.

We always have a mood, and we always feel a certain way. A text may change our mood or the way our body feels; if it changes neither, that is kind of interesting too. A lot of criticism happens well after reading, in reflection, when we collate and shape our thoughts about what we’ve read. Thinking about affect is quite a lot more immediate, in terms of time and space.

It’s hard to think about affect and language–at least for me. Most of my emotions register physically, and not consciously, so that when I have stomach pain, for instance, I try to figure out what I’m sad/confused/anxious about–but then realize that it could just be something I ate. So it’s difficult to sort out whether emotions and sensations originate from what I’m reading or from some other source entirely. But it’s perhaps all the more necessary for the difficulty.

(nb if you’re not as into the sex and death part of affect, there’s always the $$ side of Sade and Bataille’s notions of expenditure)

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146 Comments

  1. David

      Amy, this was a really, really wonderful post. It has me thinking a lot. At the moment, I’m just finishing up an essay on horror film and spectatorship that touches on some of these issues: particularly, that of affective register and the interaction of immersion and abstraction. I’ve not read Masocriticism and will absolutely have to get ahold of it, sounds really fabulous. But from the clip here it reminds me somewhat of Steven Shaviro’s The Cinematic Body which seems to mount a very similar claim – esp. “One suffers an utter loss of agency, out of and against which a new scene or new reading must be projected” – in relation to film. Two things strike me: the first has to do with a wonderful phrasing Blake has coined (or which I first read via him ages ago and which he still uses) which is “brain ate”. To speak of a text ‘eating’ your brain is to assert both a visceral and an abstract reaction to it at once and as one and the same thing, I think. To say the brain has been devoured by a textual encounter (as opposed to having devoured the text itself) is to also say that the brain has become the meal of an exterior hunger, has been gulped or swallowed or chewed or portioned, yes, but also sourced for nutrition, absorbed for energy and fat and kept excess, even excreted, turned to waste. In all of this, the metaphor matters not because it’s ‘only’ metaphor (because the leg of the chair is, indeed, a leg, as Blake says) but because the metaphor is what the experience of the brain itself becomes. The other thing that strikes me is that I don’t think the work of criticism can be said to have a history that comes later. More often that not, it has a history that precedes reading, in ways we’ve been made ‘ready’ (or unready, or misled or overprepared etc.) for a text. I’ve tended to think of the intuitive – that complex nodality of how and what we feel as we feel – as itself a type of capillary criticism that channels both the known and the not known in us through the circuitry of the text that is our extra-sensory organ for the time of reading (and, beyond, to the time of ‘digestion’ of the reading). For that reason, I don’t find language counterpoised to the emotivity that comes over in the time of reading but rather that affect the very sign of critical language’s instantiation in and as our being. Having said that, I don’t mean that being itself is thereby ‘linguistic’; rather, I mean that ontology is critically oriented all the way down, so that it has no experiential basis without critical process. Instead of silence, in short, I think there’s always a type of interrogative chatter going on. And what I think transgressive texts do (although not only transgressive texts; perhaps a better term would be conceptual texts) is not so much elicit silence from us as invent it in us. They instill silence as an affective reactor, as the structure of feeling, a kind of artificial affective outer space, in which we tack across the abstraction of message’s exterior like astronauts on the outside of dysfunctional space stations, and from which we recoup all the many things to be ‘said’ about a text (our view of the whole earth) but which also allows is an enduring sense of the unsaid or the unsayable, of its openness to impact, essentially (the other side of the earth we cannot see from any one place in its orbit and the space around and infinitely beyond it). For Bataille, the sun burning itself up without concern for the life its combustion nutures does not just burn indifferently but burns all the way through: there is literally no darkness in reason’s blindspot, which is, of course, the darkness of its blindspot. That impossible aim of being able to think life from the perspective of the dark cavity that is not in the sun – the solar anus – is the type of critical conceptualism transgressive texts will tend to aim for. In doing so, it works on that tie between the heart in our skulls (the facticity of ourselves that informs our critical consciousness) and the brain in our chests (the criticality that informs our facticity).

  2. David

      Amy, this was a really, really wonderful post. It has me thinking a lot. At the moment, I’m just finishing up an essay on horror film and spectatorship that touches on some of these issues: particularly, that of affective register and the interaction of immersion and abstraction. I’ve not read Masocriticism and will absolutely have to get ahold of it, sounds really fabulous. But from the clip here it reminds me somewhat of Steven Shaviro’s The Cinematic Body which seems to mount a very similar claim – esp. “One suffers an utter loss of agency, out of and against which a new scene or new reading must be projected” – in relation to film. Two things strike me: the first has to do with a wonderful phrasing Blake has coined (or which I first read via him ages ago and which he still uses) which is “brain ate”. To speak of a text ‘eating’ your brain is to assert both a visceral and an abstract reaction to it at once and as one and the same thing, I think. To say the brain has been devoured by a textual encounter (as opposed to having devoured the text itself) is to also say that the brain has become the meal of an exterior hunger, has been gulped or swallowed or chewed or portioned, yes, but also sourced for nutrition, absorbed for energy and fat and kept excess, even excreted, turned to waste. In all of this, the metaphor matters not because it’s ‘only’ metaphor (because the leg of the chair is, indeed, a leg, as Blake says) but because the metaphor is what the experience of the brain itself becomes. The other thing that strikes me is that I don’t think the work of criticism can be said to have a history that comes later. More often that not, it has a history that precedes reading, in ways we’ve been made ‘ready’ (or unready, or misled or overprepared etc.) for a text. I’ve tended to think of the intuitive – that complex nodality of how and what we feel as we feel – as itself a type of capillary criticism that channels both the known and the not known in us through the circuitry of the text that is our extra-sensory organ for the time of reading (and, beyond, to the time of ‘digestion’ of the reading). For that reason, I don’t find language counterpoised to the emotivity that comes over in the time of reading but rather that affect the very sign of critical language’s instantiation in and as our being. Having said that, I don’t mean that being itself is thereby ‘linguistic’; rather, I mean that ontology is critically oriented all the way down, so that it has no experiential basis without critical process. Instead of silence, in short, I think there’s always a type of interrogative chatter going on. And what I think transgressive texts do (although not only transgressive texts; perhaps a better term would be conceptual texts) is not so much elicit silence from us as invent it in us. They instill silence as an affective reactor, as the structure of feeling, a kind of artificial affective outer space, in which we tack across the abstraction of message’s exterior like astronauts on the outside of dysfunctional space stations, and from which we recoup all the many things to be ‘said’ about a text (our view of the whole earth) but which also allows is an enduring sense of the unsaid or the unsayable, of its openness to impact, essentially (the other side of the earth we cannot see from any one place in its orbit and the space around and infinitely beyond it). For Bataille, the sun burning itself up without concern for the life its combustion nutures does not just burn indifferently but burns all the way through: there is literally no darkness in reason’s blindspot, which is, of course, the darkness of its blindspot. That impossible aim of being able to think life from the perspective of the dark cavity that is not in the sun – the solar anus – is the type of critical conceptualism transgressive texts will tend to aim for. In doing so, it works on that tie between the heart in our skulls (the facticity of ourselves that informs our critical consciousness) and the brain in our chests (the criticality that informs our facticity).

  3. David

      Oh Blake, would it be entirely obnoxious if I emailed you with a couple of things I was thinking about lucid dreaming? I noticed you called for input on that topic on your blog but that call was for direct experiences and this is to do with some thinking that happened when I was watching (of all things) The Lawnmower Man the other day. So I didn’t want to just interpose. Also, you might know about this already but have you come across a book called Insomnia by Gayle Greene? It’s published by Uni of California Press. Pretty great book, kind of authoritative, a cross between medical reference and lit-philsophy. Greene’s a professor of Literature and Women’s Studies and an insomnia sufferer. From what I’ve gleaned of your (entirely awesome sounding) book, it may provide some helpful data fodder for your no sleep explorations.

  4. David

      Oh Blake, would it be entirely obnoxious if I emailed you with a couple of things I was thinking about lucid dreaming? I noticed you called for input on that topic on your blog but that call was for direct experiences and this is to do with some thinking that happened when I was watching (of all things) The Lawnmower Man the other day. So I didn’t want to just interpose. Also, you might know about this already but have you come across a book called Insomnia by Gayle Greene? It’s published by Uni of California Press. Pretty great book, kind of authoritative, a cross between medical reference and lit-philsophy. Greene’s a professor of Literature and Women’s Studies and an insomnia sufferer. From what I’ve gleaned of your (entirely awesome sounding) book, it may provide some helpful data fodder for your no sleep explorations.

  5. Jesse Hudson

      I’ve had the same problem, Mike. I tried to read Visions of Excess and most of it just went right over my head. But I know something’s there and, fuck it, I want to learn it!! I want to fully grasp Bataille. So I should read them in order sometime soon. I just have to get the rest of them. I love his novels but I feel that the key to everything lies within his theories.

  6. Jesse Hudson

      I’ve had the same problem, Mike. I tried to read Visions of Excess and most of it just went right over my head. But I know something’s there and, fuck it, I want to learn it!! I want to fully grasp Bataille. So I should read them in order sometime soon. I just have to get the rest of them. I love his novels but I feel that the key to everything lies within his theories.

  7. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      ha, thing was the thing was the thing was the thing… (I kinda dig it)

  8. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      ha, thing was the thing was the thing was the thing… (I kinda dig it)

  9. Jeroen Nieuwland

      Just want to add to all the positive feedback ; great post! I’ve also been thinking about affective reading and tomes and Twitter:

      http://tinyurl.com/y9xbnge

      Damn, now I feel like reading Bataille, but my to-read pile is about to collapse

  10. Jeroen Nieuwland

      Just want to add to all the positive feedback ; great post! I’ve also been thinking about affective reading and tomes and Twitter:

      http://tinyurl.com/y9xbnge

      Damn, now I feel like reading Bataille, but my to-read pile is about to collapse

  11. Amy McDaniel

      alan, i think there’s plenty to argue against in what i’m saying, and i’m positive that i’m not simply making an ideological gesture. nor was the silence “ritualized.” i’ll start by arguing against what you are saying. 1) why couldn’t the attempt to resist discourse be part of the critical act? 2) if you have to say “critical discourse” then it seems you are either being redundant, or that criticism is NOT by definition discourse or else why not just say criticism? 3) as to “if reading is ‘itself an act…’ that’s only because..” well, i’d say yes–it IS criticism because there IS critical thought. i guess be your “that’s only because” you are implying that is…obvious? dull? maybe so, i said it because i wanted to show the usefulness of thinking about affect even for those readers who don’t think of themselves as critics qua criticism, or who don’t like the idea of being involved in literary criticism. 4) but the silence thing is different. silence is just one critical method that i am talking about here. whether you want to call it critical or not (i think it is, but the meat of what i’m saying is not about how you label it), it is a response that engages with what is happening in the text. i don’t think it makes sense as a response to every text, just texts like 120 Days that force their will on the reader by expending words ceaselessly. perhaps then silence works as a kind of foil, a contrasting background via which we can better discern the text.

  12. Amy McDaniel

      alan, i think there’s plenty to argue against in what i’m saying, and i’m positive that i’m not simply making an ideological gesture. nor was the silence “ritualized.” i’ll start by arguing against what you are saying. 1) why couldn’t the attempt to resist discourse be part of the critical act? 2) if you have to say “critical discourse” then it seems you are either being redundant, or that criticism is NOT by definition discourse or else why not just say criticism? 3) as to “if reading is ‘itself an act…’ that’s only because..” well, i’d say yes–it IS criticism because there IS critical thought. i guess be your “that’s only because” you are implying that is…obvious? dull? maybe so, i said it because i wanted to show the usefulness of thinking about affect even for those readers who don’t think of themselves as critics qua criticism, or who don’t like the idea of being involved in literary criticism. 4) but the silence thing is different. silence is just one critical method that i am talking about here. whether you want to call it critical or not (i think it is, but the meat of what i’m saying is not about how you label it), it is a response that engages with what is happening in the text. i don’t think it makes sense as a response to every text, just texts like 120 Days that force their will on the reader by expending words ceaselessly. perhaps then silence works as a kind of foil, a contrasting background via which we can better discern the text.

  13. Amy McDaniel

      oops, i guess BY your “that’s only…”

  14. Amy McDaniel

      oops, i guess BY your “that’s only…”

  15. Amy McDaniel

      David, thanks so much for reading and for your commentary. Your reading of Bataille here is so welcome, for I’m always getting mixed up about what exactly the solar anus is, esp. in comparison to the pineal eye, but now I think I’ve got it. Also, I’d love to read your horror essay, any chance you’d send it my way when it’s done? my first and last name at gmail.

      i think what you say about silence and being is probably right on. It makes me wonder if Mann knew that silence was ultimately unrealizable, but that it is something to at least struggle toward, even if always futilely, maybe if only to recognize the interrogative chatter’s permanence.

  16. Amy McDaniel

      David, thanks so much for reading and for your commentary. Your reading of Bataille here is so welcome, for I’m always getting mixed up about what exactly the solar anus is, esp. in comparison to the pineal eye, but now I think I’ve got it. Also, I’d love to read your horror essay, any chance you’d send it my way when it’s done? my first and last name at gmail.

      i think what you say about silence and being is probably right on. It makes me wonder if Mann knew that silence was ultimately unrealizable, but that it is something to at least struggle toward, even if always futilely, maybe if only to recognize the interrogative chatter’s permanence.

  17. Amy McDaniel

      Thanks, Jeroen. Right back at you–I like what you are doing w/ a trans-formal look at affect.

  18. Amy McDaniel

      Thanks, Jeroen. Right back at you–I like what you are doing w/ a trans-formal look at affect.

  19. Christopher Higgs

      Cool. I look forward to that discussion!

  20. Christopher Higgs

      Cool. I look forward to that discussion!

  21. Christopher Higgs

      Hey Justin, I’ll try to put together some thoughts and do a post on that Mann book, The Theory-Death of the Avant Garde.

  22. Christopher Higgs

      Hey Justin, I’ll try to put together some thoughts and do a post on that Mann book, The Theory-Death of the Avant Garde.

  23. Christopher Higgs

      Yes! Massumi rocks! He’s the fella who translated D&G’s 1000 Plateaus, Lyotard’s Postmodern Condition, and Soshana Feldman’s Writing & Madness, among other things. I’ve only encountered snippets of the book in question, but would very much be interested in a Massumi & Malbec reading group.

  24. Christopher Higgs

      Yes! Massumi rocks! He’s the fella who translated D&G’s 1000 Plateaus, Lyotard’s Postmodern Condition, and Soshana Feldman’s Writing & Madness, among other things. I’ve only encountered snippets of the book in question, but would very much be interested in a Massumi & Malbec reading group.

  25. David

      I’d love to be in on that too, really great idea.

  26. David

      I’d love to be in on that too, really great idea.

  27. alan

      No, I don’t think I was being redundant, because in that sentence I was contrasting critical discourse with another kind of discourse. All criticism is discourse, but not the reverse.

      I used the word “ritualized” because you’re describing a situation where someone says “I am being silent” or a class is told to sit in silence, rather than one where someone simply doesn’t say anything without calling attention to the fact.

      I know reading involves thought and is therefore a kind of criticism. That’s what I’m saying too. So there’s really no point that’s prior to reflection. And further thought and discussion need not distance one’s affective appreciation of a work but can enhance it, among other aims.

      If all you’re saying in the post is that in thinking about a work of literature people should take account of how it makes them feel, I don’t know who would disagree.

      The idea that Sade in particular and in that work especially leaves the reader with nothing to say is an interesting one. One I might like to see further discussed. But not enacted.

      I don’t know why I feel compelled to argue with your posts, I really do like them.

  28. alan

      No, I don’t think I was being redundant, because in that sentence I was contrasting critical discourse with another kind of discourse. All criticism is discourse, but not the reverse.

      I used the word “ritualized” because you’re describing a situation where someone says “I am being silent” or a class is told to sit in silence, rather than one where someone simply doesn’t say anything without calling attention to the fact.

      I know reading involves thought and is therefore a kind of criticism. That’s what I’m saying too. So there’s really no point that’s prior to reflection. And further thought and discussion need not distance one’s affective appreciation of a work but can enhance it, among other aims.

      If all you’re saying in the post is that in thinking about a work of literature people should take account of how it makes them feel, I don’t know who would disagree.

      The idea that Sade in particular and in that work especially leaves the reader with nothing to say is an interesting one. One I might like to see further discussed. But not enacted.

      I don’t know why I feel compelled to argue with your posts, I really do like them.

  29. Blake Butler

      David, yes yes please do email me. all input would be hugely helpful. i will check out that greene, sounds perfect

  30. Blake Butler

      David, yes yes please do email me. all input would be hugely helpful. i will check out that greene, sounds perfect

  31. Matt K

      Maybe… I think I’m still affected by metaphor, though, even knowing, or believing, that everything is a metaphor. Maybe extracting metaphor, it’s just the language, but I still think language (through metaphor) can be powerful, but maybe what I’m saying is that language is powerful. I will think about this some more.

  32. Matt K

      Maybe… I think I’m still affected by metaphor, though, even knowing, or believing, that everything is a metaphor. Maybe extracting metaphor, it’s just the language, but I still think language (through metaphor) can be powerful, but maybe what I’m saying is that language is powerful. I will think about this some more.

  33. magick mike

      here’s the order i’ve gone in so far (including some ancillary texts)

      -Story of the Eye (if you’ve read it before, reread it until you have it memorized, and think of it throughout everything you read by Bataille)

      -Visions of Excess (a lot of this is sort of opaque, but becomes clearer in retrospect, if that makes sense. it’s also a really good corner stone for the Somme Atheologique, which I think is a necessary cornerstone for Bataille’s fiction)

      -Madame Edwarda (I read this between parts II & III of Visions of Excess)

      (-Encyclopedia Acephalica [I didn’t read this here but I wish I would have])

      -Inner Experience (this is hard, really hard. but it’s also poetic. so read it for how it sounds, but try to let it wash over you so when you’re reading parts II & III of the Somme Atheologique it can come back)

      -Guilty (this is, thus far, my favorite of Bataille’s non-fiction stuff. It’s a weird document, it’s the center piece to the Somme Atheologique in terms of theory [it certainly clarifies some of Inner Experience], it’s a memoir-esque document of war torn France, and how Bataille responds to that [with his whole body], plus some poetry, fictional fragments, the assemblage stylistics here are amazing. this is out of print, but cheaply available)

      -Dirty (a mediocre translation of this is included in Creation’s Divine Filth slightly retitled, I think [I’m not at home to check right now], and Harry Mathews translation [the better one] is ostensibly the opening to the Marion Boyars Blue of Noon. I went ahead and read all of Divine Filth at this time, despite the fact that I know it’s just various ephemera throughout his entire ouevre.)

      -Blue of Noon (I guess I should point out, at this point, that something that is extremely helpful is to intersperse the fiction with the non-fiction, in chronology, to see how the theory works in the fiction: this, I think, is key to aiding understanding. I had already read all of Bataille’s fiction [a lot multiple times], but rereading in a larger context is more rewarding)

      -On Nietzsche (The final part of the Somme Atheologique, not actually “about” Nietzsche, but rather Bataille responding to Nietzschean ideas, further helps to clarify the ideas of inner experience & the practice of joy before death)

      -Orestia (this is the final section of what was published as The Impossible)

      -Dianus (the middle section of The Impossible)

      -The Accursed Share Part I(after somme atheologique, the second major “area” of Bataille’s thought is the part maudite, which helps to cement his economics of excess that he began exploring in Visions of Excess [which is of course just collected articles from Documents & stuff]. This is hard at the beginning, but Bataille actually brings in concrete examples to illustrate what’s going on)

      -Story of Rats (the first part of The Impossible)

      And that’s where I am in terms of straight up Bataille chronology. Here’s the order I have lined up to finish:

      Accursed Share Vol. 2 & 3
      Theory of Religion
      L’Abbe C
      Lascaux / Cradle of Humanity
      Manet
      Erotism
      Literature and Evil
      Tears of Eros
      Trial of Gilles de Rais
      My Mother
      The Dead Man

      Then these I don’t really know for sure where they sit in terms of chronology, so they’re going at the end:

      [Encyclopedia Acephalica: though I might move this up]
      Absence of Myth
      Unfinished System of Nonknowledge

      Then when I’m done with all the Bataille texts, I will read Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography as a summation, and Denis Hollier’s Against Architecture, which is, from my understanding, an essential cornerstone of applying Bataille’s thought to practice/further theory.

      After reading Accursed Share & Story of Rats I read Nick Land’s The Thirst of Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism, which is remarkably intense and difficult, but really amazing, and sort of brought a heightened understanding of where I’m at so far. I’m currently, before returning to the primary texts, reading Formless: A User’s Guide, which is ostensibly an art historical approach to Bataille’s concept of the formless (informe) as expressed in the Encyclopaedia Acephalica.

      Hope this helps!?

  34. magick mike

      here’s the order i’ve gone in so far (including some ancillary texts)

      -Story of the Eye (if you’ve read it before, reread it until you have it memorized, and think of it throughout everything you read by Bataille)

      -Visions of Excess (a lot of this is sort of opaque, but becomes clearer in retrospect, if that makes sense. it’s also a really good corner stone for the Somme Atheologique, which I think is a necessary cornerstone for Bataille’s fiction)

      -Madame Edwarda (I read this between parts II & III of Visions of Excess)

      (-Encyclopedia Acephalica [I didn’t read this here but I wish I would have])

      -Inner Experience (this is hard, really hard. but it’s also poetic. so read it for how it sounds, but try to let it wash over you so when you’re reading parts II & III of the Somme Atheologique it can come back)

      -Guilty (this is, thus far, my favorite of Bataille’s non-fiction stuff. It’s a weird document, it’s the center piece to the Somme Atheologique in terms of theory [it certainly clarifies some of Inner Experience], it’s a memoir-esque document of war torn France, and how Bataille responds to that [with his whole body], plus some poetry, fictional fragments, the assemblage stylistics here are amazing. this is out of print, but cheaply available)

      -Dirty (a mediocre translation of this is included in Creation’s Divine Filth slightly retitled, I think [I’m not at home to check right now], and Harry Mathews translation [the better one] is ostensibly the opening to the Marion Boyars Blue of Noon. I went ahead and read all of Divine Filth at this time, despite the fact that I know it’s just various ephemera throughout his entire ouevre.)

      -Blue of Noon (I guess I should point out, at this point, that something that is extremely helpful is to intersperse the fiction with the non-fiction, in chronology, to see how the theory works in the fiction: this, I think, is key to aiding understanding. I had already read all of Bataille’s fiction [a lot multiple times], but rereading in a larger context is more rewarding)

      -On Nietzsche (The final part of the Somme Atheologique, not actually “about” Nietzsche, but rather Bataille responding to Nietzschean ideas, further helps to clarify the ideas of inner experience & the practice of joy before death)

      -Orestia (this is the final section of what was published as The Impossible)

      -Dianus (the middle section of The Impossible)

      -The Accursed Share Part I(after somme atheologique, the second major “area” of Bataille’s thought is the part maudite, which helps to cement his economics of excess that he began exploring in Visions of Excess [which is of course just collected articles from Documents & stuff]. This is hard at the beginning, but Bataille actually brings in concrete examples to illustrate what’s going on)

      -Story of Rats (the first part of The Impossible)

      And that’s where I am in terms of straight up Bataille chronology. Here’s the order I have lined up to finish:

      Accursed Share Vol. 2 & 3
      Theory of Religion
      L’Abbe C
      Lascaux / Cradle of Humanity
      Manet
      Erotism
      Literature and Evil
      Tears of Eros
      Trial of Gilles de Rais
      My Mother
      The Dead Man

      Then these I don’t really know for sure where they sit in terms of chronology, so they’re going at the end:

      [Encyclopedia Acephalica: though I might move this up]
      Absence of Myth
      Unfinished System of Nonknowledge

      Then when I’m done with all the Bataille texts, I will read Georges Bataille: An Intellectual Biography as a summation, and Denis Hollier’s Against Architecture, which is, from my understanding, an essential cornerstone of applying Bataille’s thought to practice/further theory.

      After reading Accursed Share & Story of Rats I read Nick Land’s The Thirst of Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism, which is remarkably intense and difficult, but really amazing, and sort of brought a heightened understanding of where I’m at so far. I’m currently, before returning to the primary texts, reading Formless: A User’s Guide, which is ostensibly an art historical approach to Bataille’s concept of the formless (informe) as expressed in the Encyclopaedia Acephalica.

      Hope this helps!?

  35. magick mike

      i will look forward to this as well

  36. magick mike

      i will look forward to this as well

  37. David

      Amy, I’d love to send it to you when I finish it, absolutely. It’s pretty much done atm but I’m in protracted tinkering mode. Anyway, thanks so much for your interest! And again, wonderful post, I think yes, the creation of silence is a way to phase out noise (and all things can be noise, I don’t implicitly mean whatever we’d call ‘junk’, but rather the noise of the informational more broadly) and in so doing create an environment for feeling and thinking in. But nothing sculptural necessarily, like Brooks’s well wrought urn, more like a hemispherics of the text, in which said environment could, of course, itself be “noisy” or fractious but which would work and develop the specific noisiness it works and develops by virtue of the silence – something like the semi-detached world – of the text itself.

  38. David

      Amy, I’d love to send it to you when I finish it, absolutely. It’s pretty much done atm but I’m in protracted tinkering mode. Anyway, thanks so much for your interest! And again, wonderful post, I think yes, the creation of silence is a way to phase out noise (and all things can be noise, I don’t implicitly mean whatever we’d call ‘junk’, but rather the noise of the informational more broadly) and in so doing create an environment for feeling and thinking in. But nothing sculptural necessarily, like Brooks’s well wrought urn, more like a hemispherics of the text, in which said environment could, of course, itself be “noisy” or fractious but which would work and develop the specific noisiness it works and develops by virtue of the silence – something like the semi-detached world – of the text itself.

  39. David

      Awesome! Will email soonishly. Thanks, Blake!

  40. David

      Awesome! Will email soonishly. Thanks, Blake!

  41. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Thanks for the link to the essay, Alec, I just finished reading it.

  42. Tim Jones-Yelvington

      Thanks for the link to the essay, Alec, I just finished reading it.

  43. alec niedenthal

      No problem, Tim. Some interesting ideas in there. Thanks to Mike for putting it out there. And for the wonderful list. I have a lot of brain-eating ahead.

  44. alec niedenthal

      No problem, Tim. Some interesting ideas in there. Thanks to Mike for putting it out there. And for the wonderful list. I have a lot of brain-eating ahead.

  45. Ken Baumann

      Phenomenal post! Thanks, Amy.

      Shit. I should go sleep now, but this has me zoned and locked in my current mss again… damn you. ;)

  46. Ken Baumann

      Phenomenal post! Thanks, Amy.

      Shit. I should go sleep now, but this has me zoned and locked in my current mss again… damn you. ;)