Pornography is too simplistic a word to describe Story of the Eye, it is a religious book built from excess and excrement, like Simon on his pillar of shit. Bataille asserts the sacredness of the profane – Mystics have their erotic ecstasy, saints have their bleeding wounds, Jesus died and offered his body and blood for feasting on.
If something is really holy, really really holy, it is so holy that it goes beyond ugly and beautiful and clean and unclean and attractive and repulsive. Holy is gross and God is “terrible” to look at. It would kill you.
All the fucking that goes on in this book, the objects inserted in vaginas, the tasting and smelling and bleeding and dripping, the pulling out of eyeballs and pissing on corpses and the fucking that happens after that, the fucking in empty eye sockets of dead priests - these things are less likely to turn you on than to make you die and die and die and maybe roll on the floor and cry and wonder "Why is he doing this to me, this horrible man, this Bataille?" and yet you have felt that way before, haven't you? Haven't you felt that clenching in your stomach or ribcage and that pain of how it's just not enough, whatever you're doing it's not enough. Maybe you're fucking your boy and there is this feeling in you that makes you want to say "love" "love" and "I want" and makes you want to kiss and be tender and small and petting, but there is also this desire to crush and to maim and destroy, like a fragile bird in your hand, you can feel its heart beating and you can crush it. Are they the same? These two feelings? This is what Bataille asks us. And you are wanting to be destroyed yourself. You are wanting that boy you are fucking or that girl or that painting you are painting or that book you are writing - you are wanting it to take you in it's fist like a small fluttering bird, and crush you so that all you can feel is the pain and constriction and it will snuff you out and in this extinguishing, this self-cancellation you can disperse through the air and the light and the joy of being bodiless, timeless, faster than light and eternal.
Is there peace in exhaustion? Is there pain there? What happens when you transgress every taboo you can conceive of? Is suffering bad or good? Why do we think that some things are "bad for us"? What does that mean? Bataille questions the natures of sin and sacrifice, he experiments with the idea of giving oneself up as fully as possible, giving oneself up to desire, to pain, to disgust. The humility of abjection; in giving oneself cause for remorse, one enables oneself to be humbled, lowly, wretched and undeserving. What happens next after that?
You know what it's like to want to destroy something beautiful, to profane it and blaspheme against it, even as you love it and worship it. You know what it's like to see the holiness in something repulsive and ugly.
How does it feel to be the victim of cruelty? How does it feel to have everything taken away from you? Everything, until there's nothing left. What does it feel like to have nothing? Can we feel that?
Georges Bataille was born in Billon, Puy-de-Dôme, France, in 1897. He died in 1962.
His mother tried to kill herself repeatedly.
His father was paralyzed from syphilis (according to Bataille).
Bataille converted to Catholicism at the beginning of WWI, intending to become a priest, but eventually left the church due to a loss of faith. He fought in the war but was discharged due to tuberculosis. “I myself am war,” said Bataille.
He was involved with the Surrealist movement until excommunicated by Andre Breton.
There is more.