The three volumes of The Accursed Share address what Georges Bataille sees as theparadox of utility: namely, if being useful means serving a further end, then the ultimate end ofutility can only be uselessness. The first volume of The Accursed Share, the only one publishedbefore Bataille's death, treated this paradox in economic terms, showing that "it is not necessitybut its contrary, luxury, that presents living matter and mankind with their fundamental problems."This Zone edition includes in a single volume a reconstruction, based on the versions published inBataille's posthumous collected works, of his intended continuation of The Accursed Share.In thesecond and third volumes, The History of Eroticism and Sovereignty, Bataille explores the sameparadox of utility, respectively from an anthropological and an ethical perspective. He firstanalyzes the fears and fascination, the prohibitions and the transgressions attached to the realm oferoticism as so many expressions of the "uselessness" of erotic life. It is just this expenditure ofexcess energy that demarcates the realm of human autonomy, of independence relative to.useful" ends.The study of eroticism therefore leads naturally to the examination of human sovereignty, in whichBataille defines the sovereign individual as one who consumes and does not labor, creating a lifebeyond the realm of utility.Georges Bataille, a philosopher and novelist sui generis, died in1962.
Author: Georges Bataille
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