Georges Bataille (1897–1962) is a renegade scholar. His ‘literature of transgression’ transcends its pornographic reputation. It ruptures the normative notion of a linear relationship between agent, objects, functionality, cause and event. Rather, Bataille envisions a world with agents, objects and limitless possibilites for future events. He writes a bridge between the human imagination, the materialised world and the future that we project. In Bataille’s The Story of the Eye, we witness a teenage couple’s perversions manifested through sexual transgressions – even to the extent of necrophilia. The reader assumes the role of the embodied eye. And the embodied eye is not limited to the visual. Through a series of spherical and visceral metaphors we physically – and with a full range of senses – enter the characters’ disturbing world. And what we find most earth shattering is the echo of our own world.
The story takes place in a land called X. And it is just that: a variable world akin to our own. The human imagination consists of the same objects, spaces and beings that we experience in the materialised world; we just rearrange them through memory and imagination. Through written words, Bataille’s imagination becomes materialised. He creates a spatio-temporal landscape that the reader can navigate.
The same objects – eggs, eyes, taurine testicles – that the characters employ in their sexual acts are of our own world. Here, however, they have been arranged in an unconventional way. And the visceral traces they leave on the architectural landscape of the story are also of our own world: yolk, blood and semen. And we produce the same bodily fluids that also paint the story. These metaphors make us aware of a borderland that we occupy: a fragile interstice between life and death.
As we occupy this interstice, we become increasingly aware of the nuanced frailty of each life. We see within ourselves an extraordinary capacity to be productive – or even reproductive – but an equally extraordinary capacity to be destructive.
Experience constitutes the collision between the inner mental world and the external world. Through being, we occupy a borderland: somewhere between this world and another. The unreality of reality: we create our world through what we imagine it to be.
So we are all agents in this borderland between the imagination and the materialised world: a hinge between this world and another.