For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Violence and Heterogeneity: A Response to Habermas'“Between Eroticism and General Economics: Georges Bataille”"

by Igrek, A Z (2004)


This article begins with a response to Habermas’ critique of Bataille. Habermas argues that the realm of heterogeneity/transgression is only opened up in moments of shock which overwhelm the subject. The rational categories of thought which maintain a useful relationship with the outside (i.e., with anything construed as unfamiliar) are fragmented in the excess and horror of Bataille’s communication. Hence it is impossible to bring together under one theoretical umbrella the antitheses of subjectivity and its excluded other: by definition the other ought to be marginalized in its very objectification by the subject, normativity, rationality, etc. My response is that the two opposed terms/ antitheses are indeed opposed, but they are not therefore abstract opposites. That is to say, the subject is always already an equivocation of terms, a kind of sacrilege which cannot be assimilated to an ideal completion. The law is itself a transgression.

Key Passage

Insofar as the contradiction of work cannot be resolved for transcendent individuals, it is argued that humanity is inherently alienated, that work is nothing but anguish, contradiction, and play. Because of work, we bothanticipate and protect ourselves from death. (p.419)


Bataille, Violence, Heterogeneity, Habermas, General Economics, Eroticism


On Bataille

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