Georges Bataille – The Inner Experience

Door Bram Vreeswijk

26 okt 2009
22 feb 2010

In his main work ‘The Inner Experience’ Georges Bataille reports on his search for, and describes his methods for achieving, the ‘inner experience’. What the ‘inner experience’ is, is hard to describe. One could say that it is ‘the experience of experiencing’ (without experiencing something specific), or one could say that it is ‘simply’ ‘to be’. For sure is that the ‘inner experience’ cannot be put in words (otherwise it would be the experience of something).


flyer-w139-voorkant.jpg - Joris Lindhout

The situation that Bataille wants to describe something that cannot be put in words, brings him in an interesting conflict as a writer. In his book he works with fragmenting different genres of writing. His writing is a series of strategies against language, to bring (I would say) the reader in a physical position facing the ‘inner experience’.

For artists, I believe, ‘The Inner Experience’ is relevant because it raises questions on ‘being itself’, and the proces of experiencing (which also could be the experience of a work of art). Further I think it is interesting that to bring the reader in a position facing ‘the inner experience’, Bataille develops a language against language. This raises question on how to do something similar in different art-froms. How to develop a dance against dance, images against images or music against music?

Topics we will discus are; the structure of Bataille’s writing, his definitions of the ‘inner experience’, his ideas on sacrifice and community, his hatred against eastern traditions (meditation), and the possibility of ‘translating’ his strategies against language to other media.

Apart from ‘The Inner Experience’ we will read some short additional texts of Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, and probably Jacques Lacan.

It could be interesting to follow this reading group together with the group of Arthur d’Ansembourg on Lyotard.

We will read and discuss in english unless there are no none-dutch speaking participants.

Bram Vreeswijk is an Amsterdam based artist, who studied photography and Cultural Antropology. He concludede the latter with a research investigating similarities between Western advertising and magical/religious practises in so called ‘primitive’ societies (as described in anthropological literature).

His artistic research goes almost always hand in hand with studying philosophical literature. At the moment he is particularly interested in the issue of watching a moving body versus watching an ‘image’ (whatever that may be). A source of inspiration for this research is the work on ‘the split between the eye and the gaze’ of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Jacques Lacan.

He reads their discussion of vision as an extension in the scopic field of Georges Bataille’s fight with language in the ‘Inner Experience’. A book that has kept him busy for years.