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Negative EcstasiesGeorges Bataille and the Study of Religion$
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Jeremy Biles and Kent Brintnall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823265190

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823265190.001.0001

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Sovereignty and Cruelty

Sovereignty and Cruelty

Self-Affirmation, Self-Dissolution, and the Bataillean Subject

(p.38) Sovereignty and Cruelty
Negative Ecstasies

Stephen S. Bush

Fordham University Press

Two problems confront the attempt to develop an ethical perspective from Georges Bataille’s writings. First, he employs representations of cruelty frequently, and he seems to think there is some benefit to attending to spectacles of cruelty. Second, he has a focus on self-dissolution, which seemingly comes at the expense of appropriate self-assertion. This chapter argues that Bataille enjoins self-assertion, not just self-dissolution. Further, his use of cruel imagery is part of his strategy of fostering self-assertiveness. In apprehending representations of cruelty, Bataille’s idea is that subjects can endorse the drive in themselves to be free of external constraints while recognizing that this drive can lead to victimization. Paradoxically, self-assertion ultimately leads to self-dissolution, however.

Keywords:   Georges Bataille, Cruelty, Violence, Ethics, ecstasy

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