For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

On Nietzsche

by Bataille, Georges (1992)


A poetic, philosophical, and political account of Nietzsche’s importance to Bataille, and of Bataille’s experience in Nazi-occupied France.Georges Bataille wrote On Nietzsche in the final months of the Nazi occupation of France in order to cleanse the German philosopher of the “stain of Nazism.” More than merely a treatise on Nietzsche, the book is as much a work of ethics in which thought is put to the test of experience and experience pushed to its limits. At once personal and political, it was written as an act of war, its publication contingent upon the German retreat. The result is a poetic and philosophical—and occasionally harrowing—record of life during wartime.Following Inner Experience and Guilty, On Nietzsche is the third volume of Bataille’s Summa Atheologica. Haunted by the recognition that “existence cannot be at once autonomous and viable,” herein the author yearns for community from the depths of personal isolation and transforms Nietzsche’s will to power into his own will to chance.This new translation includes Memorandum, a selection of 280 passages from Nietzsche’s works edited and introduced by Bataille. Originally published separately, Bataille planned to include the text in future editions of On Nietzsche. This edition also features the full notes and annotations from the French edition of Bataille’s Oeuvres Complètes, as well as an incisive introductory essay by Stuart Kendall that situates the work historically, biographically, and philosophically.

Key Passage

II I refuse to  limit my ends, I act without relating my acts to  the good-­and without preserving or enriching given beings. To aim at  the  beyond, and not at  a givenness of  beings, signifies not closing up but leaving open all possibility. "It's in our nature to create supermen. To  create what surpasses us! This is the reproductive instinct, the instinct for action and work. Because a will always supposes some end, humanity assumes an existence that is not yet in existence but one that's the end of  our existence. That's the real meaning of free will!  In this end are summed  up love,  respect, and glimpses of perfection and ardent hopes.' (The Will to  Power). In his ideas on children, Nietzsche expressed the principle of open­ended  play* where occurrence exceeds the given. "Why,"  said Zarathustra, "should the lion become a  child?" A child is  innocence and forgetfulness, a new beginning and game, a wheel turning on itself. a first impulse, the sacred .. yes .... The will to power is the lion: but isn't the child the will to chance? (p.145)


Nietzsche, Bataille, German, Political Theory, War, Nazism, National Socialism, Wartime


On Nietzsche, Bataille Citations

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