SOLE AUTHORITY-SOLE VALUE

BATAILLE

 

 

 

 

 

Inner experience not being able to have principles either in a dogma (a moral attitude), or in science (knowledge can be neither its goal nor its origin), or in a search for enriching states (an experimental, aesthetic attitude), it cannat have any other cancern nor other goal than itself.

Opening myself to inner experience, I have placed in it all value and authority. Henceforth 1 can have no other value, no other authority” .

Value and authority imply the discipline of a method, the existence of a community.

 

I call experience a voyage ta the end of the possible of man. Anyone may not embark on this voyage, but if he does embark on it, this supposes the negation of the authorities, the existing vah,les which limit the possible. By virtue of the fact that it is negation of other values, other authorities, experience, having a positive existence, becomes itself positively value and authority .. .. .

 

Inner experience has always had objectives other than itself wherein one placed value and authority-God in Islam or in the Christian Church; in the Buddhist Church this negative goal: the suppression of pain (it was also possible to subordinate it to knowledge as does the ontology of Heidegger …. ·). But were Gad, knowledge, the suppression of pain ta cease ta be in my eyes convincing objectives, if the pleasure to be drawn from a rapture were ta annoy me, even shock me, must inner experience from that moment seem empty to me, henceforth impossible, without justification?

 

The question is in no way idIe. The absence of a formaI response (which up to that point I had gone without) finished by leaving me with a great uneasiness.

Experience itself had torn me to shreds, and my powerlessness to respond finished tearing them. I received the answer of others: it requîres a solidity which at that moment I had lost. I asked the question of several friends, letting them see part of my disarray: one of them .. .. • .. stated simply this principle, that experience itself is authority (but that authority expiates itself).

 

From that moment, this answer calmed me, barely leaving me (like the scar of a wound long in closing) a residue of anguish. I measured the extent of it the da, that I worked out the plan for an introduction. I then saw that it put an end to the entire debate on religious existence, that it even had the galilean effect of a reversai in the exercise of thought, that it substituted itself-for philosophies as weil as for the tradition of the Churches.

For some time now, the only philosophy which lives-that of the German school-tended to make of the highest knowledge an extension of inner experience. But this phenomenology lends to knowledge the value of a goal which one attains through experience. This is an ilI-assorted match: the measure given to experience is at once too much and not great enough. Those who provide this place for it must feel that it overfiows, by an immense “possible”, the use to which they Iimit themselves.

 

What appears to preserve philosophy is the little acuity of the experience from which the phenomenologists set out. This lack of balance docs not weather the putting into play of experience prooeeding to the end the possible, when going to the end means at least this: that the Iimit, which is knowledge as a goal, be crossed.

 

On the philosophical side, it is a matter of putting to rest the analytic division of operations, of escaping by this from the feeling of the emptiness of intelligent questions. On the religious side, the solved problem is weightier. Traditional authorities and values have for a long time no longer had meaning for a good Many.

And those whose interest is the extreme limit of the possible cannot he indifferent to the criticism to which tradition has succumbed. It is tied to movements of intelligence wanting to extend its Iimits. But-it is undeniable-the advance of intelligence diminished, as a secondary consequence, the “possible” in a realm which appeared foreign to intelligence: that of Inner experience.

 

To say “diminished” is even to say too Iittle. The development of intelligence leads to a drying up of Iife which, in retum, has narrowed intelligence. It is only if I state this principle: “inner experience itself is authority”, that I emerge from this impotence. Intelligence had destroyed the authority necessary for experience: by deciding the issue in this way, man has once again at his disposal his “possible” and what is no longer the old, the limited, but the extreme Iimit of the possible.

 

These statements have an obscure theoretical appearance, and I see no remedy for this other than to say: “One must grasp the meaning from the inside.” They are not logical1y demonstrable. One must live experience.

 

It is not easily accessible and, viewed from the outside by intelligence, it wou Id even be necessary to see in it a sum of distinct operations, sorne intellectual, others aesthetic, yet others moral, and the whole problem must be taken up again. It is only from within, lived to the point of terror, that it appears to unify that which discursive thought must separate.

 

But it does not unite any less than do those forms-aesthetic, intellectual, moral-the various contents of past experience (like God and his passion) into a fusion leaving outside only the discourse by which one tried to separate these objects (making of them answers to the difficulties of morality).

 

Experience attains in the end the fusion of object and subject, being as subject non-knowledge, as object the unknown. It can let the agitation of intelligence break up on that account: repeated failures don’t serve it any less than the final docility which one can expect.

 

This attained as an extremity of the possible, it stands to reason that philosophy properly speaking is absorbed-that being already separated from the simple attempt at the cohesion of knowledge that is the philosophy of sciences, it is dissolved. And being dissolved into this new way of thinking, it finds itself to be no longer anything but the heir to a fabulous mystical theology, but missing a God and wiping the slate clean.

 

It is the separation of terror from the realms of knowledge, of feeling, of moral life, which obliges one to construct values uniting on the outside the elements of these realms in the forms of authoritative entities, when it was necessary not to look afar; on the contrary, to reenter oneself in order to find there what was missing from the day when one contested the constructions. “Oneself’ is not the subject isolating itself from the world, but a place of communication, of fusion of the subject and the object.

 

 

image_pdfScaricare PDFimage_printStampare testo
(Visited 63 times, 1 visits today)