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Embracing death is the best approach – all knowledge is formed in how we determine the noumenon

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Embracing death is the best approach – all knowledge is formed in how we determine the noumenon

Land 92 a lecturer in Continental Philosophy at Warwick University [Nick, “The thirst for annihilation Georges Bataille and virulent nihilism (an essay in atheistic religion”, Routledge, Print.]

Bataille writes that ‘a sort of rupture—in anguish—leaves us at the limit of tears: thus we lose ourselves, we forget ourselves and communicate with an ungraspable beyond’ [V 23]. When he adds that ‘the sole truth of man, finally glimpsed, is to be a supplication without response’ [V 25], it is not being suggested that a reference to alterity is inherent to experience in a phenomenological fashion, but rather, that experience is immanent to the trajectory of loss or sacrifice, in terms of which it is a real modification or limitation. The relation of the known to the unknown is unilateral not reciprocal, following the pattern of the difference between restricted and general economy. Zero is exploded into general economy, in which ‘[d]eath is in a sense a deception’ [V 83] because there is no privacy at zero, only the undifferentiable cosmic desert, impersonal silence, a landscape touched upon only in the deepest abysses of inhuman affect. ‘Despair is simple’ Bataille writes, ‘it is the absence of all hope, of every lure. It is the state of desolate expanses and—I can imagine—of the sun’ [V 51]. This is the terrain of immanence or the unknown; positive death as zero-intensity, unilaterally differentiated from ecstasy or naked sensation. It is the whole ramshackle complex associated with the taste of death in Bataille’s writings, leading him to remark in Inner Experience, for instance: ‘I remain in intolerable unknowing, which has no issue other than ecstasy itself’ [V 25]. Throughout his writings Bataille implicitly or explicitly repeats a deft materialist gesture, indicating that transcendent dogma does not lie in the positing of an outside to experience, but rather, in the positing of experience as dissociated from its slide into oblivion. Experience can never comprehend or define dissolvant immanence, and the claim that it might can be symptomatologically interpreted as the consequence of a utilitarian reconstruction into objectivity. It is thus that Bataille reiterates Nietzsche’s diagnosis concerning the moral basis of epistemology. The very possibility of a problem about the relation between experience and the real—requiring a theory of representation—presupposes the deformation of experience in terms of the ‘good’, or, in other words, the stable, isolated, and determinate, correlated to the caging of noumenon in the form of the object. In wild variance to the basic presupposition of overt or cunning idealism, experience is not given in reality as knowledge, but as collapse. Just as Kant domesticates the noumenon by defining it as an object, so he domesticates zero-intensity by conceiving it as pure consciousness. The vestigial traces of the subject/object relationi.e. of epistemology—constrain the movement of inner experience by substantializing a pole of knowing and a pole known, even at ‘pure intuition=0’ [K III 208–9]. It is to refuse such constraint that Bataille insists that: ‘[e]xperience finishes by attaining the fusion of subject and object, being unknowing subject, like unknown object’ [V 21], and remarks of‘oneself’ that ‘this is not the subject isolated from the world, but a place of communication, fusion of subject and object’ [V 21].

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