Un siècle d'écrivains (1995–…): Season 1, Episode 122 - Georges Bataille - À perte de vue - full transcript

How to talk about Georges Bataille in a film when we know that film to be impossible.

We know for certain

that our planet,
at its origins,

was subject to an intense
bombardment by meteorites.

We know that these meteorites,

originating at the time of the
formation of the solar system,

consisted of complex
organic molecules.

And we also know that
some of those molecules

were able to survive
their brutal fall to earth.

- How?s it going?

- I don?t know. Stop.

- Can I take off my dress?

- No, no, do it later.

Jean-Claude, why don?t you
read that Bataille quote.

We?ll take it from the top.

- Go ahead, Jean

- ?I?ll repeat it in
all tones of voice;

the world is only inhabitable on the
condition that nothing in it is respected.?

- OK, and now the news.

- Shall I undress ?

- No, do it later.

- Go ahead, Jean

- Radio France
Building, May 1996:

fragment number 1,

recorded December 10th, 1954.

?After a certain point there?s

a need for sensibility
to call up disturbance.

No one is really touched emotionally
unless there?s some disturbance involved.?

Flashback ? We are in Reims, at
the very beginning of the century;

Georges Bataille is 5
or 7 or 10 years old.

In this photo he?s 33, and

has already been the anonymous author of
a scandalous book: ?The story of the Eye.?

He?d already learned of
misfortune long before this.

Fragment 2?: recorded
May 20th, 1951.

- I had a brother that
was 7 years older than me.

My dad was blind, my mom was
not a very cheerful person,

and the house was
a sad place to be.

- Was your dad always
blind your whole life?

- Yes, always.

- Do you remember
the earliest memory

you have of being a child and

that your father
couldn?t see??

Do you remember
what that was like ?

- Yeah, basically; what happened was my
dad would always just sit there in the dark,

since it was meaningless to
him to turn on the lights.

If no one else was
there besides me,

nobody would turn the lamp
on and so I?d just sit there,

I remember, prostrate,

and deeply sickened, even.

I remember quite clearly sitting
for hours in feeble light,

and how they were some of the
most painful hours of my life..

-Well, you must have
had the impression,

as a little kid, that your dad
couldn?t really give himself

any kind of a
definite goal in life,

since a blind man is separate
from the outside world,

and has to walk
along tapping his way.

I suppose it?s possible
that, unconsciously,

you already had the feeling
that there was something inane

about directing and focusing
effort on a particular goal,

since your father wasn?t
capable of doing that.

-Well and that?s maybe
even more true since

you just said something
that struck me;

you talked about my father
walking along tapping his way,

but he didn?t do
anything of the sort

because he was
actually also paralyzed.

How sweet terror is,
wrote Georges Bataille.

?not a single line, or
a ray of morning sunlight

fails to contain the
sweetness of anguish.?

And as if misfortune attracted
more misfortune, in 1914

in 1914 war broke out,

darkening the
tableau even more.

Georges, who had just
converted to catholicism,

left Reims with his mother,

leaving his paralyzed father

to be taken care
of by a housekeeper.

Four years later,

this edifying booklet
devoted to Our Lady of Reims

would bring those apocalyptic
images up once more.

On the 19th of September,

a terrible
shelling took place,

killing children,
women, and the elderly.

The blazing inferno crackled
and raged from street to street.

Houses collapsed, and
people died crushed

under the wreckage
or were burned alive.

Then the Germans burned
down the cathedral.

Upon Georges? return to Reims,

his father was dead.

It was an image that
would obsess him forever:

?I left my father there alone,

blind, paralytic, insane,

crying and flailing
about in pain,

fastened to his
armchair dead.?

Over the ten years that
followed the death of his father,

Bataille worked to reverse
the meaning of his misery.

Not to erase its

but just to
reverse its meaning.

He would find clear
light there underneath it.

?My misery devastated me;

my internal irony was my answer
to so many predestined horrors.?

In less than ten years,

his faith was turned
inside out like a glove

? but it remained
the same glove.

Quickly he established
the string of metaphors

that would flourish
in infinite variations

in short, volcanic stories,

spitting out a burning lava
that would for a long while

keep poets, philosophers,

and all professionals
of thought at a distance.

?It is said,? he
wrote, for instance,

?that on the sabbath the
sorcerers would lift their

naked buttocks towards the
sun and would put a flaming

sheet of toilet paper in their
assholes to cast some light on Mass.?

He also mentioned Van Gogh,

staring at the sun

and gluing a crown of
lit candles around his hat

so that he?d be able
to walk around at night.

In 1928, the
?Story of the Eye,?

illustrated by Andr?
Masson?came out:

??Put it up my
ass, Sir Edmond,?

cried Simone, and Sir
Edmond would delicately

slip the eye between
her ass cheeks.

But in the end Simone
withdrew from me

wrenched the beautiful eyeball
out of the tall Englishman?s hands,

and with a steady and consistent
effort of her two hands,

she inserted it into her
dripping flesh, amid the fur.?

To fully understand
the tragic scope

of this joyous,
blasphemous book,

one must refer

to the Granero
episode, page 67.

The episode is borrowed from a
miscellaneous, bloody news piece

that Bataille himself was present
for on the 7th of May 1922.

On that day, in Madrid,

a bull?s horn popped
out the right eye

of bullfighter Manuel Granero,

a providential footnote, which
allowed the theme of the eye,

which up to this point in the story
had been withheld from the plot,

to dominate the story
until its denouement.

Granero?s torn out eye

represents the dead
gaze of his father,

which Bataille scrutinized
until he became nauseous.

?I, like Oedipus,
have seen the enigma,?

he declared; ?no one
has seen further than I.?

To the night that the dead
gaze of his father inspired,

Bataille counterposed
the sunlight;

?The act of staring at
the sun,? he remarked,

?has been considered a
symptom of incurable dementia,

and psychiatrists
have likened it

to eating one?s own shit.?

There we are.

Everything in Bataille -who
had read Freud, Nietzsche,

Dostoyevski, Proust, Sade ?

everything came from the
hallucinatory exploration

of this inventory of ideas.

Shit, rot, sexuality,

death, and
unrequited discharge,

for which the sun
is the major metaphor

?The sun, which
gives constantly

and never receives
?says Bataille.

This sun,? he adds,

?which now lends its
brilliance to death,

has buried all existence
in the stench of night.?

Bataille had an
analysis session

with doctor Adrien Borel.

On that occasion, doctor Borel

had shown him a photo
of a Chinese torture

called the ?torture
of a hundred cuts,?

an image that would haunt
him the rest of his life

and in which he found an
infinite value of reversal.

?I?m haunted,? he wrote,

?by the image of the executioner
working to cut his victim?s leg off

at the knee, with the
victim bound upright,

his eyes contorted, the
grimace on his face pulling back

his lips and
showing his teeth."

In 1928, ?The Story of the
Eye? was like a story in code.

Today it is like testimony,
full of biographical indications,

as if Bataille?s replacement
of his own name by the pseudonym

Lord Auch had revealed the
documentary aspect of the work,

which up to now had masked the
extravagance of the fiction content.

We now know, for example,
that the ruins discussed

in the final chapter
are the ruins seen here:

the ruins of Apchon castle.

As a child, Bataille had made
a place of pilgrimage out of it,

and he went back there numerous
times over the course of his life.

This old photo shows it.

Here he is, accompanied by

wo young women that time
has erased the memory of.

How old is he here? 27? 28?

A few kilometers
from Apchon castle,

his lost village in Auvergne,
also mentioned by Bataille,

is actually

His mother?s
family?s hometown,

where Georges spent
a number of vacations.

Endless summer days;
solitary meditation;

aimless meandering in the
area on foot or on bicycle.

Bataille, who hardly
knew his birthplace

- at Billom in
Puy-de-D?me ?

never forgot

?It?s the only place that
still has any attachment

to anything from my
childhood,? he wrote.

The family home is in
the heart of the village,

within earshot of the
voices of the faithful,

who go to Mass at the
neighboring church.

It is said that little Georges

shut himself up in here
one night, all night long.

And in 1914, when the war
had chased him from Reims,

he took refuge
behind those walls

enrolling in the little
Saint Flour seminary.

Bataille lost his
faith at the moment

that he discovered the
destabilizing force of laughter,

a decisive,
dizzying discovery.

Hell itself could
not resist it.

Bataille insisted:

How ridiculous the
carvings of Hell

on church fa?ades
ought to look to us!

Hell is the feeble idea

god involuntarily
gives us of himself.?

One year before his death, he
confided to Madeleine Chapsal

that the thing he
was most proud of

was having switched
up the cards,

that is, that he had
associated the most scandalous

kind of laughter with the
most profound religious spirit.

In fact nothing that Bataille
wrote can be understood

without in some way or another
seeing how laughter is part of it.

While ?The Story of the Eye?

remained an underground work,

Bataille came out into the open in
1929 with his work in ?Documents,?

an abundantly illustrated
magazine dedicated to archeology,

the fine arts, ethnography,
and popular culture.

There Bataille wrote his
first, puzzling articles

on themes that were themselves
not very commonly dealt with:

the academic horse, the
language of flowers, the big toe.

Bataille disturbed the
orthodoxy of the avant-gardes.

At a time when Breton
and his surrealist friends

were putting beautiful rot-proof
creatures into circulation,

Bataille preferred to
investigate the terrifying secret

people have at their feet.

In Breton?s opinion,

Bataille was an
obsessive who only saw

the most vile,

discouraging, and corrupt
aspects of the world.

Well played!

Who could be proud of such
an irrefutable diagnosis?

But life goes on.

Well, what we call life?

On January 15, 1930,
Bataille?s mother died,

at 85 Reine street,

up there, behind
those closed shutters.

And it was an inconceivable
scene, which Bataille

retold many times
in a veiled manner,

but that he finally put
down on paper 13 years later

with all the dryness
of a police report.

?I jacked off that night standing
naked in front of my mother?s corpse.?

Provocation, necrophilia,
filial homage,

parody of the last sacraments.

Behind those closed shutters,

imagine that night of terror,
where a man, perfectly ordinary,

but guilty of
every crime, decided

to make his guilt into the
instrument of an intimate,

atrocious, intolerable
kind of surgery...

But on January 30th, 1933,

Hitler took over Germany.

Over the course of these years,
haunted by the specter of fascism,

Concorde square was the
stage for violent unrest.

Night and day,

the shadows of revolution
wandered among the cars.

For Bataille, Concorde square
is a place of pure terror.

?The people have
every right,? he wrote.

?The people even has the right

to ignore the suffering
that it demands.?

When ?Documents?
ceased to exist,

Bataille joined up with
Souvarine?s ?Social Critique,?

where he published texts
that pushed his thinking

even further in its
analysis of the human animal.

Looking at Bataille,
you really do have to

see him as a
political thinker.

After the Popular
Front failed to

gather the left avant-garde
around its project

of a united force
against fascism,

he invented a new
magazine, called Acephale,

and gathered around himself a few
convinced and dedicated friends:

Andr? Masson, Roger
Caillois, Pierre Klossowski.

-Acephale was a way of speaking
and living against fascism,

against the falsifying
exploitation of Nietzsche,

a restoration,

a strike back against the
politicization of Nietzsche

that was coming out of
Germany at the time, you know?

We started off by talking
about the real Nietzsche,

from all perspectives.

It was very valuable,

really extremely
valuable work.

Not just in Germany,
but in France,

there was an extremely narrow
way of understanding Nietzsche.

We had those three first issues,
which were really quite interesting.

We also had a whole revolutionary
side to the whole thing.

In the psychic night
enveloping the era,

Ac?phale shone with an
incomparable brightness;

a handful of collaborators,

5 issues published under the
aegis of a tutelary triad:

Sade, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche.

The cover art was
done by Andr? Masson.

Bataille gave it its tone.

?Human life is tortured
by having to serve

as the brain and
reasoning of the universe.

This headless monster
fills me with anguish

because it?s made of
innocence and crime.?

Urged on by Nietzsche,
Bataille overturned

the heavens to dump out
the values surrounding them.

Fragment number 3, recorded
December 10th, 1954.

Really it?s quite a blessing and
a curse to have to point it out:

aying atop everything is this heaven
of chance, the heaven of innocence,

heaven close at hand,
foolhardy heaven.

And randomly it happens that is the
most ancient nobility of the world;

I?ve given it to everything,

I?ve delivered it from
servitude to goals.

You see,

it?s essentially a question
of delivering things,

that is, existence and the
world, from goals and aims.

And Nietzsche always, always
worked in that same direction.

He protested against the
assignment of purpose to things,

the assignment of a
purpose to the world.

For him, the world
has no purpose,

no goal, and consequently
what?s left to us is

to laugh at what it is.

But not to laugh like the
banal laughter you get when

people realize that they?re superior
to the thing they?re laughing at,

but another kind of laughter,
a definitive laughter,

a laughter in Nietzschean
conditions; a tragic laughter.

Starting from Nietzsche?s
understanding and knowledge,

there?s no possibility of laughter
that doesn?t go all the way,

taking it to the limit of
laughter?s possibilities.

That is, to laugh tragically, to laugh
as if laughing in the face of a crucifix.

?It?s necessary,?
Bataille said,

?to put the whole ridiculous
universe on the same level

with a naked woman
and a torture device.

There?s a kind of identity
between a woman, a torture device,

and the whole
ridiculous universe.

They all make me
want to lose myself.?

Was the forest of

perhaps one of those places
where he would go to lose himself?

Perhaps, if it?s true that a
human sacrifice was envisioned

by the members of Acephale
to seal their complicity

as a secret society.

An unspeakable secret that
Bataille, refrained from revealing.

?I?d have to go run
around in the rain naked,

with a blindfold over
my eyes, and eat dirt."

- (Pierre Klossowski) No,
you can?t take that seriously.

We had some meetings in the middle
of the forest, in front of a tree

that?d been struck by lightning, and
we would kind of pray to ourselves.

Kaiva was really
interested in all that,

but no, it wasn?t
really like that.

There was a lot of things we would
stage, a whole lot of staged acts!

?Unspeakable secret,
these lips open up to

a kiss like a soft marsh,

like a creek silently flowing,

and their big eyes
drowned in pleasure open up

to a scene full of madness.

Cries and whispers,
endless horror.?

Fragment number 4,
recorded May 20th, 1951

- It seems that happiness, for
you, the greatest happiness,

is associated with
the greatest intensity

of perceived sensations.

- Well, let me just explain
my thinking on that quickly:

intense sensation is
what destroys order,

and I don?t think it has to
do with anything but that.

It?s essential that
people manage to totally

destroy the servile
state they?re kept in,

due to the fact that
they built their world,

the human world,
a world I live in?

er, a world that I live off, but which
either way has a kind of charge to it,

something infinitely heavy

that is found in
all our anxieties

and that needs to be
removed some way or other.

Certainly, I?d much more
prefer to hear a sonata

than have a gun fired
right next to my ear.

The intensity is
however even greater

if I get an enormous
noise like that in my ear,

on purpose, just to annoy me.

It appears to me then that
it?s something invariable

that extremely
intense sensations

are very valuable as long
as we can tolerate them.

In the life of debauchery
that Bataille lived,

from which he drew his
most powerful questions,

certain women counted
more than others.

Sylvia, Colette,
Denise, Diane.

Nowl, Colette Peignot, who?d
decided to call herself Laure,

died at the age of 35, at
the end of November 1938,

in this house, which
she shared with Bataille

near Saint-Nom-La-Bret?che

?I won?t say exactly how
she died,? wrote Bataille,

?although I feel the
need to say it inside me

in the most terrible way.?

Here too there is
much left unclear,

which we can only guess at:
pain, shock, tears, delirium,

orgies, madness, death:
a secret kept forever.

One year later, on
September 5th, 1939,

two days after
war was declared,

he began to write ?Guilty.?

Fragment 5?:
recorded February 1961

- I must say that ?Guilty? is

the first of my books that gave
me a kind of real satisfaction,

an anxious one, though,

like no other book had
ever given me before

or since.

It is perhaps the book
where I am the most myself,

the book that
most resembles me,

because I wrote
it in a kind of

a rapid and
continuous explosion.

?Naked girls, half undressed
girls, like a hiccup,

like a floor cracking
open.? And further on:

?the preceding lines were not
written in possession of myself.?

May 1940, lightning
trip to Riom-?s-Montagne.

?Arriving here,?
wrote Bataille,

?I feel like the
far-off parts of my life

have merged with what
is in my heart today.

Nothing would stop me right
now from kicking the stair

f a hotel to where I might
even make myself bleed.?

In effect, nothing would
prevent him, in September

? October ?41,

from writing a brilliant
tale which appeared

under the pseudonym
Madame Edwarda.

?Madame Edwarda fascinated me,

I?d never seen such a pretty
little girl ? or a more naked one.

Never taking her eyes off me,

she pulled a white silk
stocking out of a drawer,

sat down on the bed,
and slipped them on.

The delirium of her
nudity possessed her.

Again she spread her legs
and opened up her slit.?

Here we are at the heart
of the Bataillean moment,

where everything pales before the horrors
authorized by the darkness of night.

Bataille who wrote
?the Torture Device?

while at the same time
writing ?Madame Edwarda,?

clearly had to remark that he couldn?t
have written ?the Torture Device?

if he hadn?t first given himself
the lewd central key to it,

and that key is Edwarda,
nude, sticking out her tongue

in the middle of a packed
hall full of men and women

?Madame Edwarda?s
voice was obscene;

do you want to see
my twat? She said.

Sitting down now, now,
she lifted up a spread leg,

so as to better
open up her slit,

and pulled back her
hood with her two hands.

And so Edwarda?s
twat gazed up at me,

hairy and red, full of life
like some disgusting squid.

I stammered softly:
?why are you doing this??

?You see,? she said,
?I?m GOD; I?m nuts!

No, don?t turn away;
you have to look; look!?

Friday April 26, 1996;

a traveler and his
shadow arrive in V?zelay,

?walk in these steps,
recommends the shadow,

and look at the
mountains behind you;

the sun is going down.?

The traveler smiles
and wanders off.

In 1943, stricken
with tuberculosis,

Bataille took refuge here,
in this narrow building

sitting on a
long strip of land

dividing a
boxwood-lined walkway.

At the other end
of the walkway,

the garden forms
a kind of terrace.

In V?zelay, Bataille found
Diane Kotchoubey de Beauharnais,

who was his last girlfriend.

Here she is, on the terrace that looks
out over the walls of the village.

She?s smiling at
the camera lens;

everything seems to indicate

that it?s probably summer.

Bataille laughs beside her;

it?s an instant of pure
happiness ? outside of time.

The war is far away.
What time is it here?

?As the day fell into
night? Bataille wrote,

?the anguished agitation ended
and I went out onto the terrace

to lay in my long chair.

The sky was pure,
and growing pale;

undulating waves
stretched out far beyond

the calm of the valleys.?

Arriving here a
half century later,

the traveler made inquiries.

What was Bataille writing
in this blessed era?

What did he expect of himself?

The least we can say
is that his thinking

and his obsessions
did not let up;

that?s plain just by
reading his writing.

Here we have an attempt at an
autobiography, the Ecole des Chartes

which led him to
the National Library,

to religion, to Huysmans.

?I loved Huysmans? he wrote,

and went on: ?I wanted to
get to know the Middle Ages

so as to be no longer
trapped in the present.?

Over the course of these years, Bataille
filled up numerous journal books:

journal books: intimate
diaries, logbooks,

poems, essays, stories,
miscellaneous fragments.

Some of them would eventually
be gathered together into books:

The Inner Experience,? ?On
Nietzsche,? ?History of Rats,?

?The Accursed
Share,? ?Hallelujah?

? a kind of catechism,
doubtless intended for Diane.

?You must know, first
of all, also has a

that everything that
has a manifest side

also has a hidden side.

Your face is quite noble,

there?s a truth in your eyes
with which you grasp the world,

but your hairy parts
underneath your dress

are no less a truth
than your mouth is.?

1946, Bataille reflected on whether
anyone would be interested in a magazine

discussing the essential
aspects of human thought

captured in the great books,
and so invented ?Critiques,?

a monthly magazine published

by ?Midnight Editions?
4 years later.

Like ?Documents,? from 1929,

or like ?Acephale? in 1936,

like ?The College of
Sociology? in 1937,

?Critique? satisfied Bataille?s
need to break the isolation

that the deepening profundity of
his thinking was keeping him in.

However we need to go
back to that thinking

of his which was never
so active or crucifying

as it was during the war years
and immediately after them.

Gazing out on the forest of
stones in the V?zelay basilica,

the traveler has no
trouble imagining the worst.

Bataille in Saint J?r?me,
meditating in front of a horse skull,

impregnating himself the point
of madness with the burning pages

of Ang?le de Foligno and
dictating his writing:

?thumb up the pussy,
cigar on naked breasts,

my ass dirties the
hotel?s tablecloth.?

Blasphemy, black Mass,
sorcerer?s Sabbath;

the traveler recalls it all:

?I wanted to get to
know the Middle Ages

so as to be no longer
trapped in the present,?

an image comes back to him suddenly,
obsessive and grotesque : in the middle

of a swarm of of girls, Madame
Edwarda, nude, stuck out her tongue.

?The Lucky Position,?
April, June 1944.

V?zelay, 1-24-43; how boring
it is to reflect all the time

on the whole of what?s possible,
on the phenomenology of mind.

Starry sky ? my
sister ? accursed men ?

?star, you are death?
the light of a great chill

? the solitude of thunder ?
the absence of man, in sum ?

?I empty myself of all memory?a
deserted sun?erase the name.

13/14 April ?44, Samois.

I'm ashamed of myself, I?ll go soft,
totally impressionable; I?m getting old.

In 1943, his illness
obliged Bataille

to leave his
position as librarian.

In 1949, his lack of money
obliged him to go back to work

first in Carpentras,
where he got bored,

and then in Orleans,
where he moved in 1951.

Tuesday, April 23rd, 1996; the
traveler arrives at Orleans.

or Bataille, after
two years of purgatory,

Orleans was like
a peaceful haven:

close to Paris,

a free apartment granted
him by his job, a new dawn.

Like always, in Orleans, the
painful freedom of his thought

was accompanied by an
effort of conceptualization

that would for a long
while be misunderstood.

?I am not a philosopher,?
he clarified, however.

?I am a Saint,
maybe a madman.?

Fragment 6, recorded
December 10th, 1954

Obviously, in what I have to
say, the manner of expression

is more important to
me than the content.

Philosophy in general
is about content,

but I for my part call
upon sensibility more

than upon intelligence
and from that moment on

it?s the expression of it in all its
sensitive character that counts the most.

Moreover, my philosophy
could in no way

be expressed in an
unfeeling manner,

there?d be absolutely
nothing left.

It is only from the
moment when I give it form

that it can be passed
off as passionate,

and could even be passed
off as something dark,

but I don?t think my work is any
darker than that of Nietzsche.

Around ten AM, the traveler
discovers a library,

fallen to the ravages of time,

and wandering mute
memories come to him

that emanate a
vague stench of rats.

Here?s the reading
room as it once was,

and here is Bataille
as he once was,

and here?s the storeroom
where the works were kept,

now overrun by rats.

These rats, wrote Bataille,
that run out of our eyes

as if we ourselves were tombs.

Faced with this perfectly
ordinary disaster, the traveler

feels himself overtaken by
the dizziness of his reading.

?The part of girls between
their thighs and waists,

which responds so violently to
attack, indeed responds to it

as it would to a rat
elusively scurrying by.?

Towards the end
of the afternoon,

the traveler hastens
to the end of his hike,

passes across the unchanged
garden overlooked by the windows

on the reading room and takes
a leap 35 years back in time.

In February 1961, one year before
the death of Georges Bataille,

a young journalist
followed the same path:

the garden, the entry hall,
the somber little corridor.

She was received by Bataille
in his ground floor office,

leaning out a bit,

one can see the cheviot
of the Cath?drale.

Moments stolen from
time as it passes.

The young woman?s name
was Madeleine Chapsal;

she was accompanied
by a photographer,

and recorded the interview
on a portable tape recorder.

For a number of years
already, it should be remarked,

Bataille had been suffering
from cerebral arteriosclerosis.

Fragment number
7?: recorded by

Madeleine Chapsal
in February 1961

Well, in sum, everybody
knows quite well

what God represents for
the people that believe

in God and what place
God has in their thoughts,

and I think that by taking the
God character out of that place,

there?s still
something there anyway,

an empty space,

and that space is what
I want to talk about.

At bottom it?s
basically the same thing

as what happens when
you become aware of

what death means,

what death implies,
for the first time.

That is, the fact
that everything we are?

everything that we are
is fragile and perishable.

Consequently we are doomed
to seeing everything that

we base the self-interest
of our existence

on dissolve into a kind
of inconsistent haze.

Was that a complete sentence?

Well, even if it isn?t,

I suppose it expresses pretty
well what I wanted to say.

What?s valuable
about religions

is whatever is contrary
to good sense about them.

The life of a christian mystic
runs contrary to good sense

to the extent that it doesn?t
admit im?ahem, mortality.

Wait, I?m afraid
I?m getting mixed up?

Uh, yeah, well, I?m definitely
getting mixed up here

because I feel like
I?ve forgotten something,

some link in the chain? ah,
I?m like one of those old ladies

that sit around knitting
and then leave out a stitch;

you know; my mind still works

but there are some
seams getting loose

and I guess that just has
to do with the state it?s in.

Basically, there?s? for
example when I have a seizure

it?s like a really big
stitch coming undone.

Because at bottom I like to
talk like a materialist a lot.

I really do; I
feel like I agree

with everything materialist,

on one condition: that is,

I also agree with a lot that
people think is not materialist,

and I think there?s a whole wealth
there, for example the emotions,

which are not entirely
different from madness,

but which are not in any
case totally different

from love for example.

Leaving the library,

the traveler is suddenly
stricken by a mortal cramp,

and pushes his
shadow in front of him

in the direction
opposite to the sunrays

rotting on the horizon.

Further on, at the end of the
garden, there are children playing.

The traveler
hadn?t noticed them.

Where are we going, he asks?
The shadow remains silent;

could it be that its response
merely came too late to be heard?

Once again the
traveler remembers:

?In the middle of
the road of our life

I found myself
in a dark forest,

because I?d lost
the straight path.

Ah, how difficult it is to say what
this ferocious forest really was,

this bitter and powerful forest that
awakens the fear in one?s thought.?

The traveler salutes
the poet, and opens

for one last time his copy
of ?The Story of the Eye?:

chapter one, the cat?s eye.

?She had black silk stockings

that went up above her knees;

I?d never been able to see
them all the way up to her cunt.

I?d always used that
word for it around Simone,

and for me it?s the most
beautiful word for the genitals.

In the corner of the
hallway there was a saucer

with some milk for the cat.

?the saucer is for pussy,
isn?t it?? Said Simone.

?Do you dare me to
sit on the saucer??

?I dare you,? I replied,
nearly breathless.

Simone placed the
saucer on a little bench,

stood in front of me, and,
never looking away from my eyes,

she sat in it, without me being
able to see her burning buttocks,

dipping into the cool
milk under her skirt.

I lay down at her feet
without her moving at all,

and for the first time I
saw her red and black flesh,

cooling off in
the white milk.?

March first 1962,

Georges Bataille
moved to Paris,

Saint Sulpice street.

July 8th, he
vomited out his soul

in the presence of a
friend, Jacques Pimpanneau:

?Diane had left
to go to England,

so I?d invited some friends
to add a little excitement

I?d invited my
friends to supper,

just like that, I still remember;
it was a Saturday evening.

After dinner everything
went very well,

it was all in very
good form, I should say.

And unfortunately,
after dinner,

my friend said
that he felt tired,

and went to go lay down; in
his sleep he fell into a coma,

and when I realized that
all was definitely not well,

I called out: ?Frankel,
Frankel, the doctor?s here?;

and we took him to the
AENEC, but it was too late;

he never came out of the coma,

and he died at night
between Sunday and Monday.

And only on Sunday Frankel
said that we?d have to call

Diane right away on the phone,

and so she came over
Monday in the daytime.

He was buried in Vezelay;

Diane didn?t want anyone there,
and so there were only the Leiris,

who?d taken us
there in their car,

Jean Piel, Diane and me.

I don?t know whether they?ll
see this broadcast or not,

but there was a young
couple who very discreetly

stood at the top of the hill that
dominates the V?zelay cemetery;

then when we went
back up to leave

we wanted to go up to them,

you know, to ask them who
they were, to see them,

to say hello, but they
ran away. We never knew who

they were. They weren?t just
people from around V?zelay?

On July 8th, 1962,

Georges Bataille hence
finally rejoined his old lady,

his faithful darling
with the frozen belly

and jackal?s teeth ? death.

Finally, and forever,
he can now run naked,

a blindfold over his
eyes, and eat the dirt.

And for a long while he
had been aware of the things

that go along with such a
hardly significant event.

The gravediggers; the
pit; the caddisflies,

the wind, the sun ?and
the boundless horror.

Flashback to May 1935:

Bataille puts the
finishing touch,

on a book haunted by the era,

Spain, Germany,
fascism, death.

?Troppman and Dirty
arrived in Tr?ves,

in Germany; it was
nighttime, an electric night

that would soon
embrace all Europe.

The earth under Dirty?s body

was open like a tomb;

Troppman spoke.

His stomach opened up to me

like fresh grave;

we were stricken by a stupor,

making love beneath a
starry sky in the cemetery.

Each of the lights in the sky was like the
announcement of another skeleton in its grave.

Our bodies trembled
like two rows of teeth

chattering together.? .

The book was called
?The Blue of the Sky,?

and stands out prominently
like a twin tomb,

built with all the piety
appropriate for the garden

of universal memory.

But how can we not
admire the dark irony

that an ensemble of texts
whose every page celebrates

the triumph of the incomplete
is now called ?complete works?!

Thank god, this tomb
doesn?t quite fully close.