Sham-Transgression — The Supreme Mundanity of BDSM


 Georges Bataille (1897-1962) was a man entrenched reverence dictates deference to as “writer and philosopher,” though “Man” seems plenty suitable, whose work I confess to reading extensively during a period in my life when I was basically an idiot. By which I mean during my phase of being an adolescent girl who, engulfed in self-disgust, did not want to grow to be a woman but clung to the male voice I knew as the voice of the artist as if I could be real like Him instead. As a wannabe Bad Boy I studied Bataille to internalize the blood-black rapture of his rhythms and I would cite him among my influences if anyone asked, grasping after the ephemeral cool of carnal dissidence he cast as aura, to make it mine. Always with latent unease, since my love affair with Bataille was complicated by the fact that I considered him for the most part to be full of shit. No doubt I treasured his style but as re: his ideas, I tried to ignore them. Unlike his writing his ideas were ugly. The ideological surmise that rules Bataille’s writings is this, in brief: the body dies and in dying drags with it into darkness the (male) mind, meaning that all experiences which immerse the mind in bodily feeling, as with sexual arousal, are tainted in their proximity to the nonstop decay which is the body’s true nature, as substance – degeneration being nature’s true nature – and since patriarchy assigns heterosexuality as convention it is a woman imagined as the male mind’s object of sexual desire, the female is anxiously transmuted to meat-entity whose material reality dooms the male “I” to suffocate inside his own flesh he senses decomposing in her company, women thus are hollowed as vessels for death and sex, fused to a single force that exists to overthrow the male//mind; a physical being with physical needs despite himself the man cannot extinguish the body’s sensibility wholly and so he longs for the femme-death of sexual release even as he is repulsed by the ruin it promises, thus sexuality becomes a trauma, and horror its incitement: sex is ghastly, as an abyss which burbles stench and roils, a crisis, dissociated from all emotion but abject dread + disgust; when man stands at the precipice of sexual putrefaction to salvage himself he submits a sacrifice to the churn, and that sacrifice of course is the female body, an object uncannily akin to the abyss itself: it belongs there. And her death spasm will be sublime. If this brutal neurosis sounds familiar to you, good, because it is an approach to eros Bataille shares w/ BDSM’s # 1 Daddy, the Marquis de Sade, the subject of the last study in this series, and w/ the pornographic ethos in general.

Bataille read Sade and loved him and was perhaps the principal force in establishing the artistic + philosophical “value” of Sade’s works in the 20th century, I’ve read him termed “neo-Sadean”—this alone should cue our bile rising. In his 1930 essay “The Use-Value of D.A.F. Sade (An open letter to my current comrades)” Bataille disparaged the Surrealists as sapless for idolizing Sade in such a way that isolated his violence to the theoretical realms of art and literature. Bataille meanwhile aspired to put into practice what he saw as Sade’s call for “revolution” against morality, giving life to Sade’s theory, tasting the blood siphoned through his own teeth, sinking rapturous into the smolder of anti-ethical entropy, et cetera, et cetera. Bataille often appeals to Sade’s authority as culture-arbiter to defend his own assertions that sex is fundamentally a violent force, linked to sadism and squalor, culminating in murder. That sex is exciting despite being disgusting because it’s criminal. As in Sadean eroticism, supposed deviance (apparently the sole course to freedom) replaces sensuality as the pleasure of sex. Like Sade, Bataille identified “sovereignty” in the reduction of other beings, particularly women, to victim-objects. So, in his veneration of Sade and the marriage of sex to death Bataille comes into focus as a predictable misogynistic creep, marked conventionally masculine by his nihilistic self-involvement and fetish for cruelty, supremacy, and sex murder. Bataille wrote more beautifully than Sade, point conceded, but philosophically he has equally nought to offer us if we want not to be vectors of cultural virulence. Continue reading “Sham-Transgression — The Supreme Mundanity of BDSM”