Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Story of the Eye
Having just read Georges Bataille's surrealist fuckfest, I can't say I was much moved by anything but the priest's murder. Three images however struck me as beautifully shocking and profound.
Marcelle hanging herself in the wardrobe begs for a reading of the scene through the eyes of Bachelard. Bataille resituated this real life event, enacting it not in the attic (where he found his Mother hanged) but rather in the bedroom. It's an interesting trading of space, placing Marcelle's suicidal corpse inside a closet.
The image of Simone and the nameless narrator cycling naked through the countryside likewise brings to mind another French stalwart, in that the whole scene seems reminiscent of a Godard movie. That freedom, lightness of spirit, birth of the teenager, rush of emotion, only Bataille prefigures all of this by three decades and his romance is decidedly less romantic.
Finally, the dead priest's eyeball staring out of Simone's vagina is a vision, not entirely unexpected but all the same, startling. I suppose it is the culmination of the book's concerns and fixations, its framing is as weird and rich as anything De Sade (whom Bataille was clearly very familiar with) ever cooked up. It's beyond obscene, it borders on absurd, but yet strangely mesmerising in it's appearance.
Beyond all of the blaspehmies and scenic perversions, which inevitably seem old hat in this jaded world of Pussy Cat Doll's pop videos (where a person practically has to masturbate with a crucifix to get shown on MTV), is the book's best line (which actually comes in the Preface). Bataille writes that he comes from something like horror, something beyond horror, much more complicated and overwhelming, "terror reveals itself," he says. This I think is the crux of everything that really holds power over us, it's why death, the dark and loneliness are so fearful. Not because they remind us of our own mortality, but rather because they can't be explained away, as terror can. If you're afraid of sharks you can always stay out of the water. What is truly awful is what is incomprehensible, you can't fight what you can't see.
Eggs, eyes and piss fill the book, standing in for each other and very real memories from Bataille's own life, though transfigured into something far lewder than the original only to be rediscovered upon completion, by the author, as recompositions of past startling events. Bataille's own postmortem of his process and product has a distinct feel of The Turn of The Screw to it; everything has its double, yet it all reveals itself to be something else, a ghost from the past, unsettling, hallucinogenic and cold (in spite of all the wet cunts and hard cocks). Story of the Eye is a whole new way of seeing and not.