Distributed for Zone Books. Most Anglo-American readers know Bataille as a novelist. The Accursed Share provides an excellent introduction to Bataille the philosopher. Here he uses his unique economic theory as the basis for an incisive inquiry into the very nature of civilization. Unlike conventional economic models based on notions of scarcity, Bataille's theory develops the concept of excess: a civilization, he argues, reveals its order most clearly in the treatment of its surplus energy.
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Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Robert Hurley Translator. The three volumes of The Accursed Share address what Georges Bataille sees as the paradox of utility: namely, if being useful means serving a further end, then the ultimate end of utility can only be uselessness. In the second and third volumes, The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty, Bataille explores the same paradox of utility from an anthropological and an ethical pe The three volumes of The Accursed Share address what Georges Bataille sees as the paradox of utility: namely, if being useful means serving a further end, then the ultimate end of utility can only be uselessness.
In the second and third volumes, The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty, Bataille explores the same paradox of utility from an anthropological and an ethical perspective, respectively. The History of Eroticism analyzes the fears and fascination, the prohibitions and transgressions attached to the realm of eroticism as so many expressions of the "uselessness" of erotic life.
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To ask other readers questions about The Accursed Share , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. This book is generally acknowledged as an attempt at articulating a major theory of political economy out of Nietzsche's ideas with a lethal dose of clarity. First, however, this is a very "Heideggerian" Nietzsche though, no surprise as Heidegger's work was the only major systematic apprehension of Nietzsche's philosophy at the time.
Heidegger's claim that for Nietzsche, nihilism defines some kind of a-historical key to understanding all of Western history seems to me to be reproduced in its e This book is generally acknowledged as an attempt at articulating a major theory of political economy out of Nietzsche's ideas with a lethal dose of clarity.
Heidegger's claim that for Nietzsche, nihilism defines some kind of a-historical key to understanding all of Western history seems to me to be reproduced in its entirety and fallibility , by suggesting that the economy has its own 'will to nothingness'. Some of the most interesting ideas, further explored in volumes II and III is a kind of positing of Heidegger's 'cleared' stage of authentic, pre-metaphysical knowledge as refigured through the Hegelian concept of totality, certainly used in a much more "french" way, thus building up a kind of historical ontology of the material world, as dependent on the symbolic order of the economy.
What is less Heideggerian is a setting up of a dialectic of production and consumption that is materialized in the concept of 'excess' that comes up with its own historical and peculiar incarnations.
I'd say that as much as Mick Dillon's book "Security" uses the concept of security to suggest there is a much richer 'lifeworld' of politics that we can start to see if we handle that is, deconstruct the term properly, here the same could count with respect to the use of 'excess' that as well borders on the now somewhat deflated concept of 'affect' as a key to our economic imagination.
EDIT: Having read more Bataille, I no longer think this is really the case, and I no longer think based on texts prior to the Accursed Share, where some of the differences are stated [for example, a footnote to Method on Meditation] that Heidegger marks as much influence on his thought as I did before.
I actually think that the Nietzsche here is quite different from Heidegger's interpretation on some major and important points I don't think any more that Bataille's thinking is nihilistic in terms of the usual binary of 'active' and 'passive' nihilism, but it can be refigured as a kind of 'radical' or 'perfect' nihilism.
I think that comparison to Dillon's book "politics of security" I've made before are however quite correct, as indeed, the book gives us a richer, deeper and nuanced i. The nicest thing about Bataille, however, is , that despite his fallacies and his own 'brand' of nihilism , this conceptual system allows for its own broadening and corrections without a need of falsifying. A major and badly 'overlooked' book. View all 5 comments.
Nov 30, Maxwell rated it really liked it. We receive more energy from the sun than can be spent productively; so it must be expelled unproductively. And this ritual euthanasia of unspent energy is not merely primary to our survival; disbursal of the explosive plethora of solar residue flows into joy, art, eroticism and transcendence.
Still, for all its research, The Accursed Share will never be taught in an economics class and cannot be arbitrated except by the stiffest criteria of falsifiability--which would be seriously missing the point. Bataille brought this to speed with the contemporary post-war environment and you could continue to do so long after his death.
Think of our depraved piracy of smaller nations, seizing the glut of resources interred there; energy sources converted into a surfeit of corpulent exuberance which are binged to resource our next imperial adventure.
My only gripe is stylistic. The sentences are really choppy in some places, flip flopping between clauses arbitrarily, an infelicity which frustrated me with Eroticism and Literature and Evil.
So what gives? View all 4 comments. Dec 29, sologdin rated it liked it Shelves: dilectio-sapientiae. This sounds promising: The living organism, in a situation determined by the play of energy on the surface of the globe, ordinarily receives more energy than is necessary for maintaining life; the excess energy wealth can be used for growth of a system e. As it turns out, war is only the most obvious form of the necessary waste of surplus, and the remainder of the book details different solutions to the problem of excess.
That is, if a part of wealth subject to a rough estimate is doomed to destruction or at least to unproductive use without any possible profit, it is logical, even inescapable, to surrender commodities without return. Henceforth, leaving aside pure and simple dissipation, analogous to the construction of the Pyramids, the possibility of pursuing growth is itself subordinated to giving: The industrial development of the entire world demands of Americans that they lucidly grasp the necessity, for an economy such as theirs, of having a margin of profitless operations.
The argument proceeds through chapters that analyze paired mechanisms of handling a general surplus. The first pair is Native American sacrifice versus potlatch. Horkheimer in Eclipse of Reason. And he can only be withdrawn from it in order to be consumed profitlessly, and therefore utterly destroyed. Why would it have thought in the beginning a mode of acquisition such as exchange had not answered the need to lose or squander?
The next pair is Islam versus Buddhism. Of that amount, the budget of the army was , That of the administration was , Of the remainder, an appreciable share was set aside by the Dalai Lama for the religious expenditures of the government. But in addition to these government expenditures, […] the revenues spent yearly by the clergy income from property holdings of the monasteries, gifts, and payments for religious services was well over 1,, Thus in theory the total budget of the Church would have been twice as large as that of the state, eight times that of the army.
The third set of opposed pairs is Calvinism versus Marxism. The final opposition is Stalinism versus the Marshall Plan. And yet the wheel is come full circle, insofar as capitalists are bound together to sacrifice against their own apocalypse. Apr 28, Michael A.
Everything in this book seems to build off these ideas and it goes in pretty bizarre directions. The chapters on the Aztecs and Soviet Industrialization were very good. The last section of the last chapter talks about "self-consciousness" and how it is a different kind of consciousness because it is not a consciousness OF anything, but of "pure interiority". He likens this not yet realized development as the equivalent of the transition from animality to humanity. He also admits it associates him with mysticism.
It was a very strange ending and I can't say I totally understood where he was going with it or if I'm even interpreting it right!
Still a really enjoyable read and I'm interested to read volumes 2 and 3. View 1 comment. Nov 04, Tosh rated it really liked it Shelves: books-bought. A combination of the Erotic with the Economic. How does Georges Bataille combine the two.
One of the most original thinkers in contemporary 20th Century literature. Bataille not only sees economy as a means to exchange goods but also the the extras that are there and how one uses the 'extras'. The excess of power, exchange, and perhaps love itself. Difficult at times, but also incredibly rewarding. A good introduction to Bataille's work is for sure his fiction The Story of the Eye, etc. It is like reading just the noir novels of Boris Vian - you need to read everything by this man to get a complete picture of who and what he is.
And that is a very rewarding journey my friends. Mar 06, Aung Sett Kyaw Min rated it liked it. This is a somewhat paradoxical book of speculative anthropology.
Bataille warns us right from the start that acquisition of knowledge can only consummate itself in the annihilation of the object of knowledge. From th This is a somewhat paradoxical book of speculative anthropology.
From the viewpoint of general economy, the founding axiom is excess, not scarcity. The Sun is the model for this economy.
The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy, Volume I: Consumption
We will send you occasional emails about our books and the "irregular ideas" they contain. Please tick at least one field of interest above. Thank you. Author Information. The accursed share is what Georges Bataille called the waste and excess generated by any economy or society — that part of any economy which is destined either to be spent luxuriously and without gain in the arts, in non-procreative sexuality, in spectacles and sumptuous monuments , or in outrageous and catastrophic outpourings war, sacrifice and religion. Bataille was the champion of this human truth. Our ancestors lived fairly pleasant lives.
Touchstone Terms: The Accursed Share
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The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy French : La Part maudite is a book about political economy by the French intellectual Georges Bataille , in which the author presents a new economic theory which he calls "general economy". It is considered one of the most important of Bataille's books. According to Bataille's theory of consumption, the accursed share is that excessive and non-recuperable part of any economy which must either be spent luxuriously and knowingly without gain in the arts, in non-procreative sexuality, in spectacles and sumptuous monuments, or it is obliviously destined to an outrageous and catastrophic outpouring, in the contemporary age most often in war, or in former ages as destructive and ruinous acts of giving or sacrifice, but always in a manner that threatens the prevailing system. The notion of "excess" energy is central to Bataille's thinking. Bataille's inquiry takes the superabundance of energy, beginning from the outpouring of solar energy or the surpluses produced by life's basic chemical reactions, as the norm for organisms.