Mysticism, Trauma, and Catastrophe in Angela of Foligno's <i>Book</i> and Bataille's <i>Atheological Summa</i>

in Sensible Ecstasy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780226349510
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226349466 | DOI:
Mysticism, Trauma, and Catastrophe in Angela of Foligno's Book and Bataille's Atheological Summa

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This chapter describes how masochistic self-shattering is both ethical and religious, and is modeled directly on the meditative practices of late medieval mysticism. Bataille suggests that the Christian mystical tradition is double in his three-volume Atheological Summa, written during the Second World War. The mystic desires to be “everything/all/whole” and thus, to find a place within a scheme of salvation that redeems human suffering and renders the body immortal. The very strength of the mystic's desire and her insistence on apprehending death and mortality in the figure of Christ mark the mystical as the site in which the human being recognizes that she cannot and never will be “everything.” Bataille links his work to that of the Christian mystical tradition and insists on his difference from that tradition (in that it returns to salvation), for he seeks an “inner experience” without God and without hope of redemption.

Keywords: masochistic self-shattering; Bataille; Atheological Summa; inner experience; Christian mystical tradition

Chapter.  11643 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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