Thursday, 7 January 2010

George Bataille on TV!

George Bataille being interviewed by Pierre Dumayet on "Lectures Pour Tous", May 1958. This is the only footage I have ever seen of Bataille. It may be the only footage that exists, for all I know (it's certainly the only TV footage).

It is fascinating to me to watch the man speak, to read his body language. I know I'm generally given to hyperbole here, but this is the greatest thing I've stumbled across in a long, long time.

From Michel Surya's excellent biography -

"In [the interview], Bataille appeared relaxed and handsome, and scandalous (for the times) beneath an absolutely serene exterior (his way of saying the worst of things with an air of innocence was all his own). He talked about literature and what was 'essentially childish' and infantile about it. It is a childishness that literature has in common with eroticism: 'It seems to me to be very important to perceive the infantile nature of eroticism.' Evidently Bataille was little concerned about demonstrating that eroticism was innocent in the sense that morality would like to understand it. It has the cruel, black innocence of childhood. To understand it, we must reflect on what Bataille said of Gilles de Rais: 'We could not deny the monstrosity of childhood. How often would children, if they could, be a Gilles de Rais.' It is a monstrously happy childhood that Bataille was thinking of, a childhood that has no limits except those imposed by law (by authority). And literature is dangerous because it is linked to childhood; because it is the element within us that is open to childhood that it is essential for us to 'confront the danger' in it, and that it is essential, through it, to 'perceive the worst'.

It was Bataille's first and last television appearance. He was too tired to remember what he had found to say (though in fact he had been clear to a fault); leaving the studio, he only recalled having talked about polygamy, and this was enough to send him into raptures."

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