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Ecce MonstrumGeorges Bataille and the Sacrifice of Form$
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Jeremy Biles

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227785

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823227785.001.0001

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Ecstatic and Intolerable: The Provocations of Friendship

Ecstatic and Intolerable: The Provocations of Friendship

Chapter:
(p.9) One Ecstatic and Intolerable: The Provocations of Friendship
Source:
Ecce Monstrum
Author(s):

Jeremy Biles

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fso/9780823227785.003.0002

In poor health, Georges Bataille, with the assistance of his friend J. M. Lo Duca, wrote the text that would accompany the images he had collected and arranged with scrupulous care during the previous two years. Among the dozens of images comprised in this book are four photos of a man undergoing the punitive process known as the lingchi, translated as “death by a thousand cuts” or the “hundred pieces”. This mode of torture and execution entails the dismemberment and evisceration of its victim. It is worth inquiring into the question mark that punctuates Bataille's description of the victim in this photo as “ecstatic” and “intolerable”. Despite the inability to decide upon the victim's inner state—which is, of course, unknowable—the horror of the photo gives rise to an ecstatic experience, for it is in the “violence of the image” that Bataille discerns “an infinite capacity for reversal” between antinomies, a revelation of the “fundamental connection” between “divine ecstasy and its opposite, extreme horror”.

Keywords:   Lo Duca, divine ecstasy, reversal, violence, lingchi, extreme horror, torture

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