The Labyrinth: Toward Bataille's ”Extremist Surrealism“

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:
The Labyrinth: Toward Bataille's             ”Extremist Surrealism“

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This chapter focuses on Georges Bataille's unexpected embrace of Bretonian language, which he uses to critique André Breton and develop a sinister brand of surrealism. In doing so, he relies on an unexpected source of inspiration: Simone Weil. The chapter addresses opposing notions of reality in Breton and Bataille, arguing that for Bataille reality is ineluctably contradictory and base, whereas for Breton it is baseness itself that must be transfigured in the productions of surrealism. Particular attention is paid to the concept of the marvelous—central to the surrealist lexicon—as used by Breton and Bataille. Bataille's contradictions are a component of his notion of a counter-surrealism—or what he at one point calls “extremist surrealism”. An examination of the symbol of the labyrinth in the work of Bataille and Breton provides further grounds for demarcating the important differences between the two thinkers, while also setting the stage for a discussion of Bataille's vision of Simone Weil.

Keywords: surrealism; Bretonian language; Breton; extremist surrealism; labyrinth; Simone Weil; reality; baseness; marvelous

Chapter.  9580 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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