Bataille's Peak: Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability

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Overview

As the price of oil climbs toward $100 a barrel, our impending post-fossil fuel future appears to offer two alternatives: a bleak existence defined by scarcity and sacrifice or one in which humanity places its faith in technological solutions with unforeseen consequences. Are there other ways to imagine life in an era that will be characterized by resource depletion?

 

The French intellectual Georges Bataille saw energy as the basis of all human activity—the essence of the human—and he envisioned a society that, instead of renouncing profligate spending, would embrace a more radical type of energy expenditure: la dépense, or “spending without return.” In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Bataille—in the wake of Giordano Bruno and the Marquis de Sade— can help us rethink not only energy and consumption, but also such related topics as the city, the body, eroticism, and religion. Through these cases, Stoekl identifies the differences between waste, which Bataille condemned, and expenditure, which he celebrated.

 

The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend—without recourse to austerity and self-denial—the inevitable and necessary shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure.

 

Allan Stoekl is professor of French and comparative literature at Penn State University. He is the author of Agonies of the Intellectual: Commitment, Subjectivity, and the Performative in the Twentieth-Century French Tradition and translator of Bataille’s Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939 (Minnesota, 1985).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816648184
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
  • Publication date: 10/8/2007
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     VII
Introduction: On Shortage, Excess, and Expenditure     IX
Rereading Bataille
Bruno, Sade, Bataille: Matter and Energy, Death and Generosity     3
Bataille's Ethics: Mechanized Waste and Intimate Expenditure     32
Bataille's Religion: The Counter-Book and the Death of God     60
Bataille's City: Elevation, Divine Eroticism, and the Mortal Fall     93
Expenditure and Depletion
Orgiastic Recycling: Expenditure and Postsustainability     115
The Atheological Text: Ecology, Law, and the Collapse of Literalism     150
An Unknowable Future?: Expenditure in a Time of Depletion     180
Notes     207
Bibliography     235
Index     243
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