It requires only the most passing knowledge of human life to know that religion is one of the most powerful and vital forces we experience. All too often, religion is dismissed as a speculative cosmology or fundamentalist ideology. Against these dismissals, one should insist that elements of the sacred are deeply ingrained in human life as such; the only question is how to articulate these elements.
Georges Bataille describes religion as a search for a lost intimacy. Achieving this intimacy involves intense personal experience in which the concerns of daily life are left behind. What this amounts to is a description of long periods of common time, otherwise known as secular time, punctuated by extraordinary flashes of immanence and intimacy that can be described as a sacred time. Reason and knowledge give way to an ecstatic non-knowledge. A question left open here is the relationship between sacred and secular time. If they operate as opposites, how can one be expressed in the other? How can there be any sort of cause and effect relationship between the two? I would argue that a certain common ground must be found between the sacred and the secular, a ground that exists prior to any particular dogma or practice.
It is Jacques Lacan that offers an opportunity to see how the sacred and the secular are expressed in one another. The psychoanalytic notion of desire and its metonymic movement through time provides an adequate explanation for both the intensity of religious experience that Bataille describes an for how reason can produce non-reason. The concept of desire also offers hints as to how the sacred can be expressed in our own lives. It also offers an alternate view of the subject’s relation to the general economy of Bataille. What I hope to find here is an experience that one may move towards in the future and experience, but that dissolves in the past, again leaving over the need for the metonymic movement of desire.