Monday, July 09, 2007

ToR 7: Conclusion

Part 6

Bataille references the idea of salvation by faith alone - attaining the sacred by destroying the value of these works. This is an improvement over the utilitarian mediation, but only a marginal one. Salvation by faith alone pushes off intimacy into the next world It is this deferral to the next world that the final separation between the divine world, the beyond, and the real world, the here below, occurs. The divine order can never be brought into a world that is entirely thing-ish, as it once was with festivals.

With the radical separation of the real world from the divine, the reign of autonomous things begins - industry. Non-productive destruction has long been subordinated to production by the military order, so production grows more and more - kind of a snowball effect. Everything is given over to production, including man. And, of course, large quantities of consumption.

The reduction of all things to thing hood actually allows intimacy to affirm itself in this vast expenditure; the macro development of the means of production reveals the meaning of production - that is, the non-productive consumption of wealth. That revelation is the fulfillment of self consciousness in outbursts of the intimate order. When consciousness reflects back on itself, reveals itself to itself in that self-consciousness and sees production as something to be consumed is the point at which the world of production no longer knows what to do with itself.

The condition for achieving this self consciousness - that is, consciousness that can reflect back on itself - is science - that is, a clear consciousness of the real world of objects. As science developed itself, it was turned onto the intimate order - but of course the sacred is unreal, and in order to translate it into scientifically understandable terms, it had to be calculated into the real.

If the intimate order is to be restored, it must be restored by clear consciousness; intimacy will appear to be given in that distinct knowledge discussed at the beginning of the book. The problem with the seeming appearance of the intimate in knowledge is that knowledge and intimacy have different temporal modes. As we said all the way back at the beginning, knowledge is always incomplete and differed into the future, while intimacy is immediate.

So, we may only speak of non-knowledge. If clear consciousness is going to be involved in this at all, there must be a recognition of the obscure nature of divine life. Intimacy is then the limit of clear consciousness; we cannot know anything distinct about intimacy except for the modifications of things that are linked to it. Intimacy is the shore we must stop at lest we drown in the ocean. And it is, of course, the weakness of traditional religion that it attempts to make intimacy a matter of knowledge.

Self consciousness doesn’t really need to destroy things; that would be futile anyways. Neither order can destroy the other. What consciousness can do is “reclaim its own operations,” placing them into reverse, cancelling out these operations and discursive thought with them; ultimately encountering intimacy in a kind of darkness.

The finale of the book proper is just such a reversal of operations. Clear consciousness of objects makes their destruction possible, and overflowing production makes that destruction necessary.

Bataille sits in his room, and looks around at the tools there which are a result of labor. Labor is an act that exists for the future; all work is done for a future goal. The tools Bataille has are used for his own labor. Labor produced his tools, and he will use the tools for further labor.

BUT! The booze, it ruins the productive value of the table/tool. It negates the productive value of the table *and* the labor that created the table. This negation is quite temporal, quite retro-active. All the work leading up to the moment is negated, in that brief moment.

This negation of past work and production offers a basis of self consciousness; it is a return to the state of the animal that eats another. Insofar as the productive tool is destroyed in consciousness, the tool and the profane world dissolves around me. The tool can’t be destroyed in consciousness unless there are consequences in the real order; the real reduction of the real order is a fundamental reversal of the economic order. There will always be a point in any economy when production will be negated, that is, it will flow outside. This could be done without any human thought at all, but then the expenditure turns to war; this is not inevitable. War is not the conscious, human form of expenditure.

*****

And there you have it, a seven part summary of Georges Bataille's Theory of Religion.

1 comment:

Mike B) said...

What we consume is the product of our labour and the things which exist by themselves as Nature/the Earth outside of our labour. Labour involves applied time to goods and services. Within class societies a surplus is created over and above the needs perceived by the community. This surplus is actually a surplus of labour time which is consumed as free-time. What we do with our free-time in class society is to consume religious rituals and pursue other activities as directed by our ruling classes. Our free-time is the realm of the *sacred*, the realm of possible play, of imagination and artistic endeavour, indeed, of genuine lovemaking, frolic and joy. Our free-time is our freedom from the socially necessary commitments of labour time carried out within the productive/homogenius sphere. Religion takes up our free-time: it is the class/priestly domination/mediation of the sacred.