Georges Bataille

Georges Bataille (1897-1962) was a French writer, essayist, and philosopher whose works include The Story of the Eye, The Blue of Noon, The Accursed Share, and Theory of Religion.

  • The Cradle of Humanity

    The Cradle of Humanity

    Prehistoric Art and Culture

    Georges Bataille and Stuart Kendall

    A radically interdisciplinary inquiry into the origins of human consciousness, community, and potential.

    The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture collects essays and lectures by Georges Bataille spanning 30 years of research in anthropology, comparative religion, aesthetics, and philosophy. These were neither idle nor idyllic years; the discovery of Lascaux in 1940 coincides with the bloodiest war in history—with new machines of death, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima. Bataille's reflections on the possible origins of humanity coincide with the intensified threat of its possible extinction. For Bataille, prehistory is universal history; it is the history of a human community prior to its fall into separation, into nations and races. The art of prehistory offers the earliest traces of nascent yet fully human consciousness—of consciousness not yet fully separated from natural flora and fauna, or from the energetic forces of the universe. A play of identities, the art of prehistory is the art of a consciousness struggling against itself, of a human spirit struggling against brute animal physicality. Prehistory is the cradle of humanity, the birth of tragedy. Bataille reaches beyond disciplinary specializations to imagine a moment when thought was universal. Bataille's work provides a model for interdisciplinary inquiry in our own day, a universal imagination and thought for our own potential community. The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture speaks to philosophers and historians of thought, to anthropologists interested in the history of their discipline and in new methodologies, to theologians and religious comparatists interested in the origins and nature of man's encounter with the sacred, and to art historians and aestheticians grappling with the place of prehistory in the canons of art.

    • Hardcover $22.95 £17.99
    • Paperback $22.95 £17.99
  • The Accursed Share, Volume 2

    The Accursed Share, Volume 2

    Volumes II and III: The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty

    Georges Bataille

    The three volumes of The Accursed Share address what Georges Bataille sees as the paradox of utility: namely, if being useful means serving a further end, then the ultimate end of utility can only be uselessness. The first volume of The Accursed Share, the only one published before Bataille's death, treated this paradox in economic terms, showing that "it is not necessity but its contrary, luxury, that presents living matter and mankind with their fundamental problems." This Zone edition includes in a single volume a reconstruction, based on the versions published in Bataille's posthumous collected works, of his intended continuation of The Accursed Share.

    In the second and third volumes, The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty, Bataille explores the same paradox of utility, respectively from an anthropological and an ethical perspective. He first analyzes the fears and fascination, the prohibitions and the transgressions attached to the realm of eroticism as so many expressions of the "uselessness" of erotic life. It is just this expenditure of excess energy that demarcates the realm of human autonomy, of independence relative to "useful" ends. The study of eroticism therefore leads naturally to the examination of human sovereignty, in which Bataille defines the sovereign individual as one who consumes and does not labor, creating a life beyond the realm of utility.

    Georges Bataille, a philosopher and novelist sui generis, died in 1962.

    • Hardcover $44.95
    • Paperback $29.95 £24.00
  • Theory of Religion

    Theory of Religion

    Georges Bataille

    Theory of Religion brings to philosophy what Bataille's earlier book, The Accursed Share, brought to anthropology and history; namely, an analysis based on notions of excess and expenditure. Bataille brilliantly defines religion as so many different attempts to respond to the universe's relentless generosity. Framed within his original theory of generalized economics and based on his masterly reading of archaic religious activity, Theory of Religion constitutes, along with The Accursed Share, the most important articulation of Bataille's work.

    Georges Bataille (1897-1962), founder of the French review Critique, wrote fiction and essays on a wide range of topics. His books in English translation include Story of the Eye, Blue of Noon, Literature and Evil, Manet and Erotism.

    Robert Hurley is the translator of The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault and cotranslator of Anti Oedipus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Distributed for Zone Books.

    • Hardcover $34.95 £24.95
    • Paperback $27.95 £22.00
  • The Accursed Share, Volume 1

    The Accursed Share, Volume 1

    Volume 1: Consumption

    Georges Bataille

    Most Anglo-American readers know Bataille as a novelist. The Accursed Share provides an excellent introduction to Bataille the philosopher. Here he uses his unique economic theory as the basis for an incisive inquiry into the very nature of civilization. Unlike conventional economic models based on notions of scarcity, Bataille's theory develops the concept of excess: a civilization, he argues, reveals its order most clearly in the treatment of its surplus energy. The result is a brilliant blend of ethics, aesthetics, and cultural anthropology that challenges both mainstream economics and ethnology.

    • Hardcover $29.95
    • Paperback $22.95 £17.99

Contributor

  • Hatred of Capitalism

    Hatred of Capitalism

    A Semiotext(e) Reader

    Chris Kraus and Sylvère Lotringer

    Jean Baudrillard meets Cookie Mueller in this gathering of French theory and new American fiction.

    Compiled in 2001 to commemorate the passing of an era, Hatred of Capitalism brings together highlights of Semiotext(e)'s most beloved and prescient works. Semiotext(e)'s three-decade history mirrors the history of American thought. Founded by French theorist and critic Sylvere Lotringer as a scholarly journal in 1974, Semiotext(e) quickly took on the mission of melding French theory with the American art world and punk underground. Its Foreign Agents, Native Agents, Active Agents and Double Agents imprints have brought together thinkers and writers as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Assata Shakur, Bob Flanagan, Paul Virillio, Kate Millet, Jean Baudrillard, Michelle Tea, William S. Burroughs, Eileen Myles, Ulrike Meinhof, and Fanny Howe. In Hatred of Capitalism, editors Kraus and Lotringer bring these people together in the same volume for the first time.

    • Paperback $19.95 £14.99
  • More & Less 2

    More & Less 2

    Sylvère Lotringer

    Contributors: Todd Alden, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, David Brown, Gilles Deleuze, Craig Ellwood, Bob Flanagan, Michel Foucault, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Mike Kelley, Joseph Kosuth, Chris Kraus, Julia Kristeva, Don Kubly, Sylvère Lotringer, Deran Ludd, John Miller, Eileen Myles, Darcy Jo Paley, Ann Rower, Sue Spaid, Frances Stark, Mark Stritzel, James Tyler.

    Contributors Todd Alden, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, David Brown, Gilles Deleuze, Craig Ellwood, Bob Flanagan, Michel Foucault, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Mike Kelley, Joseph Kosuth, Chris Kraus, Julia Kristeva, Don Kubly, Sylvère Lotringer, Deran Ludd, John Miller, Eileen Myles, Darcy Jo Paley, Ann Rower, Sue Spaid, Frances Stark, Mark Stritzel, James Tyler.

    • Paperback $16.95 £11.95
  • Polysexuality

    Polysexuality

    François Peraldi

    Mixing documents, interviews, fiction, theory, poetry, psychiatry and anthropology, "Polysexuality" became the encyclopedia sexualis of a continent that is still emerging.

    Originally conceived as a special Semiotext(e) issue on homosexuality at the end of the 70s, “Polysexuality" quickly evolved into a more complex and iconoclastic project whose intent was to do away with recognized genders altogether, considered far too limitative. The project landed somewhere between humor, anarchy, science-fiction, utopia and apocalypse. In the few years that it took to put it together, it also evolved from a joyous schizo concept to a darker, neo-Lacanian elaboration on the impossibility of sexuality. The tension between the two, occasionally perceptible, is the theoretical subtext of the issue. Upping the ante on gender distinctions, "Polysexuality" started by blowing wide open all sexual classifications, inventing unheard-of categories, regrouping singular features into often original configurations, like Corporate Sex, Alimentary Sex, Soft or Violent Sex, Discursive Sex, Self- Sex, Animal Sex, Child Sex, Morbid Sex, or Sex of the Gaze. Mixing documents, interviews, fiction, theory, poetry, psychiatry and anthropology, "Polysexuality" became the encyclopedia sexualis of a continent that is still emerging. What it displayed in all its forms could be called, broadly speaking, the Sexuality of Capital. (Actually the issue being rather hot, it was decided to cool it off somewhat by only using “capitals” throughout the issue. It was also the first issue for which we used the computer). The "Polysexuality" issue was attacked in Congress for its alleged advocation of animal sex. Includes work by Alain Robbe-Grillet, Félix Guattari, Paul Verlaine, William S. Burroughs, Georges Bataille, Pierre Klossowski, Roland Barthes, Paul Virilio, Peter Lamborn Wilson, and more.

    • Paperback $19.95 £14.99