Chapter

Introduction

Jeremy Biles

in Ecce Monstrum

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227785
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235193 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823227785.003.0001
Introduction

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In the 1930s, French writer Georges Bataille established a secret society known as Acéphale. Bataille sets the mood for this obscure “headless” organization, heralding the acéphale deity that embodies this fierce religious sensibility. Bataille insists on the contradictory nature of this headless being. The acéphale is thus neither merely man nor solely god, because he is both man and god. This conjunction of opposites is what endows the headless being with its aura of fascination, and what makes of it a sacred “monster” Bataille's insistent conjunction of the monstrous and the sacred is the subject of this book. It specifies some of the ways in which Bataille evokes monstrosity to elicit in himself and his audience an experience of simultaneous anguish and joy—an experience that he calls sacred. In particular, Bataille is fascinated with the “left-hand” sacred. It is in beholding the monster that one might experience the combination of ecstasy and horror that characterizes Bataille's notion of the sacred.

Keywords: Georges Bataille; headless being; monster; monstrosity; ecstasy; horror

Chapter.  2613 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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