Monday, December 17, 2007

Excessive Religion, Part 8: Dramatization and Mysticism

Part 7

In Inner Experience, Bataille describes inner experience as being like mysticism, but without any particular confession. Confession implies knowledge, and it must cling to this knowledge in a limiting way. Because Bataille is striving for a moment of non-knowledge, an unrepeatable experience, knowledge only limits horizons.

Knowledge seems, in fact, to have no temporal or cause and effect relationship with inner experience at all. Bataille says that, in terms of knowledge, inner experience “reveals nothing and cannot found nor sets out from it.” Knowledge, beliefs and propositions are unconnected to the experience of non-knowledge. Inner experience is only the unknown, not a variation on the known.

This prohibition on the value of knowledge seems to bring into question the value of both faith and fidelity. Faith seems to be especially susceptible here; is it not synonymous with the idea of the “particular confession” Bataille has already derided? This would be a hasty conclusion; faith does not so much concern encyclopedic knowledge about an object as it does the place of the object within a particular symbolic position. Neither is fidelity concerned with a body of knowledge; it is a relationship to one’s own desire. Both faith and fidelity are defined by their relationships to object a, not the body of knowledge that arises around this.

It is dramatization in which faith and fidelity can be seen as analogous. Bataille offers the opportunity for such a suggestion when he says “one reaches the states of ecstasy or of rapture only be dramatizing existence in general.” This is the mechanism that pushes one forward: the surge of libidinal energy that pushes to useless expenditure and excess begins with dramatization. Dramatization rallies energies around a particular object; it “necessarily has a key, in the form of an uncontested (deciding) element, of a value such that without it there can exist no drama, but indifference.” What other object could this key be than object a? Dramatization is a surge of desire, encourage and provoked by an external object. If one is dominated by indifference or a neurotic continual questioning, inner experience will forever remain beyond one’s life.

Dramatization and the either/or pair of faith and fidelity do not map perfectly onto each other, however. Faith, in particular, will suffer at the hands of Bataille. Drama needs a key, certainly, but this key must “exist in us.” Desire is always desire for the desire of the other; sublimation and fantasy are always a relationship with this other. The dramatization of faith is always external. This is where Bataille finds the limit of traditional religion; the focus on finding one’s desire outside of one’s self is limits even while it pushes forward.

Dramatization is also the will to not be satisfied with discourse; it adds itself to discourse and goes beyond what is stated. The will to move beyond what is stated is a major incompatibility with faith. Because faith involves sublimation - which sets an object into a particular position in the symbolic and therefore in a particular linguistic position - faith is necessarily tied to discourse. The libidinal investment of faith finds part of its limit at the edge of the symbolic position of God, as both object a and barred Other. Faith is the dramatization with only a sickly (if partially effective) will to move beyond what is stated.

Fidelity, however, is capable of willing to move beyond what is stated in the traversal of fantasy. The spirit of wo es war, soll ich werden is that of becoming one’s own cause. A constitutive element of this is the recognition that one says more than one means. The slips and bursts are the elements of the real that appear in language. Language exists because of a lack; the simply surface meaning lacks the recognition of the excess of meaning. What is said is not all there is.

It is that recognition of such a lack and the implied relationship of the unconscious that helps eliminate the cause and effect problem surrounding the limit experience. This problem is that of the principle “of inner experience: to emerge through project from the realm of project.” Projects are the praxis of calculative reason, and have the temporal nature of always putting off life until “later.” Reason and project, Bataille says, are essential; “without the support of reason we don’t reach dark ‘dark incandescence.’” It is this shift from project to non-project, knowledge to non-knowledge that is the fundamental problem. How can one lead to the other? How can knowledge condition non-knowledge? Is there a temporal cause and effect relationship?

2 comments:

Unsane said...

On the matter of knowledge conditioning non-knowledge, have you ever come across M-Brane theory?

It seems there are other dimensions......

Mike said...

Nah, physics leave me cold. It's a whole other vocabulary, and I'm basically too apathetic about it to learn it.