Death and the Community of Lovers

Bataille is notoriously difficult, or at least I’ll keep telling myself that because I often don’t understand shit of what he’s saying. Well, I did fail at every academic endeavor so I just absorb what I can understand, what resonates with me and what is compelling. There’s a reason Bataille is difficult that goes beyond academics: his writing is complex and esoteric. He is talking about things that because of their secretive and experiential nature, often cannot be put into words. Yet it are these very things he and his contemporaries have tackled. Bataille’s observations of social formations aren’t just based on some abstract philosophical theories, although that is definitely part of it. He practiced and experimented wildly with ways of being. Acéphale and the College of Sociology are just two examples.

The story of the Community of Lovers obviously goes beyond Bataille, as it is a conversation between multiple people. His interest was in dissolving the individual, but not into an abstract political formulation. For someone who is influenced by individualist anarchism and egoism, I had to check my assumptions about these “communities of those who are without community.” Or as Maurice Blanchot called them, unavowable communities. These communities aren’t a positive project of building, but intimate experiences between people, particularly death, which produces an excess of emotion, such as anguish. This is different than the blabbering of politicians pandering to whoever is going to get them votes. Using the concepts of the profane and the sacred Bataille separates the Community of Lovers from abstract communities that are based around objects, politics, consumerism, work and bureaucracy.

What can anarchists take from these discussions about the project of Battaille’s community? These questions get to the core of the tension between the individual and the collective. What brings together the Community of Lovers is chance, not the forcing together of beings because of nationality, political ideology and other artificially created identities made to create and build. Embracing the sacred, esoteric nature of this unavowable community destined for failure and unable to be co-opted  also means rejecting the ‘big tent’ way of thinking that is being especially preached for at a time when there is a real fear of fascism throughout the left and unity is stressed. Anarchists should not shy away from being hated, there is no need to proselytize to the masses. Who despises those that would rather be idle? People who preach the profane world of progress. Unfortunately, too many anarchists also believe in the future of humanity. Let all skyscrapers tumble. Onward, to death!



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