The Accursed Share is a brilliant product of [Bataille’s] loony-tunes coupling of critical genres: pseudo/antisurrealist manifestos, leftist political treatises, erotics. This essay addresses Georges Bataille as a historical thinker by concentrating on The Accursed Share (three volumes, ), the text. In George Bataille’s three volume The Accursed Share, he imagines a primitive subsistence society that gathers just a little more food or other.

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Bataille consciously construes an epistemic totality that aims not at the isolated particularity of individual economic events, but one that is always regulated by an idea that all organic behaviour is based upon similar principles, in this case a superabundance of energy. In the Accursed Share this is a natural biological reality of our eco-sphere, all things try to grow, where this growth is limited, an excess of energy is produced.

This excess serves as the primary ontological consideration in the treatment of economic behaviour that is to be considered in unison with the erotic and the sacred.

The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, Volume I: Consumption

For Bataille, ‘the sexual act is what the tiger is in space’. What societies do with the surplus of energy is fundamentally constituted by their religious and economic realities.

The pre-modern world is characterised by the ‘unproductive consumption of the surplus’. Hence the gift economy, or potlatch a crucial concept in Debord and Baudrillardwere events of religious, erotic and economic significance — in the ancient world the building of cathedrals, shage pyramids or the sacrifice of animals should be seen as the economic norm of which capitalist productivity is the abberation.

With echoes of Marx, the modern Bourgeois world inaugurates the separation of these spheres alongside the transition whereby the surplus product becomes redirected back into into production itself and not squandered but used to further multitply production.

Touchstone Terms: The Accursed Share – anotherpanacea

Bataille represents a very different example of problem of the use of a materialist totality. Scientistic – though not sshare the sense of the illegitimate seperation of phenomena – but understanding them in their unity in their interaction with the general. The text of the accursed share and the study of eroticism, are characteristically interlaced with consciousness of the method.


Bataille offers some curious anecdotal discussions baatille this…. I wanted to avoid redoing the work of the economists, and I confined myself to relating the problem that is posed in economics to the general problem of nature.

The movement…’that of excess energy, translated into the shae of life’. Throughout much of Volume 1 we are largely expected to accept the concept of energy surplus and growth as, until it can be elaborated more concretely as he deals with its particular instances.

But as a lesson in the totality there is definitely the coincidence of the desire for totality and its discovery in the science. That is to say, totality is simultaneously the norm of procedure as well as the instrumental result of our social desires. Totality is at once; the attempt to recapture lost intimacy, the orgasm, death as offering continuity after a discontinuous existence.

In Eroticism shre is intimately related to violence and ultimately death, a connection Bataille explores, literally in Blue of Noon and The Dead Man and analytically in his writings on surrealism and the sacred e. War, Philosophy and the Sacred.

There is an axcursed treatment bataile De Sade in eroticism. What Bataille tries to show is that Sade takes eroticism to its own conclusion, we might be repulsed by the acts, but they are to be viewed as an excess rather than completely abnormal and abberant.

But although described as a C20th Sade himself, Bataille has, as Richardson has pointed out, quite a different view of the erotic and of man. Whereas the Marquis saw society as an imposition and limited on a sovereign being, Bataille’s thinks man within society and its current limits. Science studies one question by itself. It accumulates the results of specialised research. I believe that eroticism has a signiicance for mankind that the scientific bwtaille cannot reach. Eroticism cannot be discusses unless man too is discussed in the process….

Science always abstracts the object it studies from the totality of the world. It detaches, it separates the atom or the cell and studies them in a detache way, and if it reintegrates these objects into greater wholes, it must still amintain their isolation; they are objects of sceince only to the extent that they can be considered separately.

Touchstone Terms: The Accursed Share

It mght in turn be pointed out that the sacred can just as easily be envisaged on its own. Possibly it can, and the results obtained may support such a proposition. The writings of sociologists have a power not only over those that read them, but also – and perhaps even stonger – over those whoe write them. But a question remains; suppose that the sacred, far from being, like the other objects of science, sbject to separation, is defined as the exact opposite of abstract objects things, tools, and clearly definable elementsprecisely as the concrete totality itself is resistant to it.


Certainly, at first sight, this seems false.

The sacred cannot be identified with concrete totality, at least to the extent that the profane itself must comprise part of the totality we ust propose if we are to define the sacred. But when one looks closer, what is the profane if batailld the sum of objects abstracted from the totality?

The sacred world is a world of communciation or contagion, where nothing is seperated and a special effort is required to remain outside the undetermined fusion. It could even be said that the profane state is the necessary prerequisite for abstraction of the object from the totality of being. War and bataill philosophy of the sacred [review of Roger Callois, L’homme et le sacre Bataille subscribes in part to the Weberian idea of the ethic of capitalism, as thrift, profitable investment and accumulation for its own sake.

However these forms have undergone something of a transition in contemporary consumerist society. Moreover, two world wars and Vietnam have demonstrated a necessity internal too capitalisms expansionist drive for extremely unprofitable military expenditure. On Bataille [continued from here ] Erik Empson, Totality is at once; the attempt to recapture lost intimacy, the orgasm, death as offering continuity after a discontinuous existence In Eroticism transgression bataiole intimately related to violence and ultimately death, a connection Bataille explores, literally in Blue of Noon and The Dead Man and analytically in his writings on surrealism and the sacred e.

The erotic and the sacred can not be studied anyless in isolation that man and his society.

Batailles theory of general economy has been problematised in the following way: