Week 3 Response


Week 3: September 13/15th readings

Georges Bataille, “The Big Toe” (1929)

About Georges Bataille: “French essayist, philosophical theorist and novelist, often called the “metaphysician of evil.” Bataille was interested in sex, death, degradation, and the power and potential of the obscene. He rejected traditional literature and considered that the ultimate aim of all intellectual, artistic, or religious activity should be the annihilation of the rational individual in a violent, transcendental act of communion.” Good Reads

Bataille makes the case in this piece that the “big toe” is essentially a testament to human evolution and defines us as humans.

  • Since we don’t use our big toe in the way that apes do, we have outgrown that trait through evolution, stood up straight like a tree, as he mentions, and we use the big toe for balance, so we can stand up straight (ecect) as humans do.

The art of seduction through the myth of the big toe.

  • The human in “erection” based himself on his feet. When straight, he becomes strong, powerful and seductive.The feet represent both the ground that he is walking on but it is also the strength of standing straight.
  • There is a duality in the seduction of the big toe: it is dirty and it is hidden from our view. Through history, the gaze of the foot got completely distorted. It belongs to the realm of Fetichism.
  • It offers the “pain”, which is the self consciousness that is given to the foot, the unspoken. But it can also offer the pleasure from the revealing of the foot to the gaze. “AN INTIMATE REVOLT” (Julia Kristeva)
  • Kissing the feet of jesus on the cross?? The relationship or intimacy of it ? Religion ???

Julia Kristeva, Intimate Revolt (2002)

About Julia Kristeva: She is a French-Bulgarian writer, philosopher, feminist, psychoanalyst, and was also involved in the 1968 student riot in Paris.

Question: How do we think of revolt now? Stemming from the French Revolution we think of it as a great opposition, what is it now?

  • Kristeva is concerned about how our current culture will not cultivate us to think critically or rebel/revolt..
  • “Against whom can we revolt if power is vacant and values corrupt?” vs. the idea of who can revolt if we are apathetic creatures who belong to the patrimony. (Kristeva, pg. 4)

Kristeva wrote a detective novel entitled Possessions, to which she believes she is performing a low level of revolt- also believes that detective novels are the defense against the “banality of evil”. (pg. 4) Furthermore, as a woman Kristeva believes that she can bring more to the lackluster state of revolt- she introduces her idea of sensory intimacy.

  • Undertones of feminist writing and themes as she is alluding to the idea of women both in her novel, herself as a writer, and her approach to revolt.
  • Women have revamped the sensory experience “at the forefront of the social and ethical scene” (5) Furthermore, revolt is less about the future (to which she is unsure of its existence) but about questioning the past, which will then pave the way for the “future”.

In order for her to revolt, she thinks of her own writing as vehicle towards that. According to her theories on what revolt means; thinking critically, questioning the retrospective, stirring intellectual activity, and overall not standing still in the face of everything around her, that’s what she is categorizing herself as participating in- on a “low level”.

The sense of revolt, the power of revolt (doubt and critique) is slowly disappearing/ its moral and aesthetic (its power) “ this moral and aesthetic dimension finds itself marginalized and exists only as a decorative alibi tolerated by the society of the spectacle, when it is not simply submerged, made impossible by entertainment culture, performance culture, and show culture” / present culture.

“Revolt is distinguished from this notably by the fact that the tension toward unity, being, or the authority of the law (although always at work in modern revolt) is accompanied by centrifugal forces of dissolution and dispersion”

Intimate : human experience. It’s proximity with the organic body as well as by preverbal sensations. (A theme she explores throughout her writing)

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