From “Bataille and Mysticism: A “Dazzling Dissolution”, by Amy Hollywood, in Diacritics (summer 1996)

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After evoking the radical nothingness and unthinkableness of my death, Bataille writes that “[t]o write is to go elsewhere. The bird who sings and the man who writes deliver themselves.” They deliver themselves to death in the going elsewhere and yet also attempt to escape death through the act of writing, the inscription of an always already absent presence. The one who will receive this writing is no longer a man who can be imagined (pissing and shitting);

 I do not write for this world (surviving-intentionally-that world from which war has emerged), I write for a different world, a world without respect. I don’t desire to impose myself on it, I imagine myself being silent there, as if absent. The necessity of effacement to the point of transparency. I do not oppose real strengths or necessary connections: idealism alone (hypocrisy, lies) has the virtue to condemn the real world-to ignore its physical truth.

Bataille is caught here in his own paradox: how to reject idealism, which refuses the real world and its physical truth, while speaking to a world different from that one full of idealism, lies, and hypocrisy in which world war is inevitable (according to Bataille’s political analysis throughout the 1930s). Bataille’s strategy, like that of the mystics, is not to avoid the paradox, nor to attempt to resolve it, but to embrace it and force the reader to think it in all its contradiction. Only in this way, the text suggests, can the physical world be that other world to which Bataille speaks silence.

[…]

I am inhabited by a mania to speak, and a mania for exactitude. I imagine myself to be precise, capable, ambitious. I should have been silent and I spoke. I laugh at the fear of death: it keeps me awake! Battling against it (against fear and death). //
I write, I do not want to die.
For me, the words “I will be dead” aren’t breathable. My absence is the wind from outside. It is comical: pain is comical. I am, for my protection, in my room. But the tomb? already so near, the thought of it envelops me from head to toe. // “

From “Bataille and Mysticism: A “Dazzling Dissolution”, by Amy Hollywood, in Diacritics (summer 1996)

From ‘Review: George Bataille’s Religion without Religion’, by Jeffrey Kosky

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” Like Friedrich Nietzsche, Bataille was disillusioned with the emancipatory aims of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century liberalism and sought a liberation beyond that promised by liberal modernity. The liberal world, according to Bataille, was the bourgeois, workaday world of modern individualism, a world that degrades man by rendering all of human activity subordinate to some end outside that activity itself. In this sense, modernity determined human life in terms of action governed by what Bataille called “project.” Project makes every moment of life servile by valuing it solely in relation to its usefulness in producing a desired end. It finds an ally or mirror, according to Bataille, in the forms of knowledge and rationality promoted by Hegelian systematic philosophy.

[…]

The Hegelian spirit, which for Bataille expressed the spirit of modernity, belongs therefore to a sad, servile, and serious culture, a culture that is always on the job, one that has no time for errant moments of laughter, tears, drunkenness, or ecstasy. These nonproductive instances of useless nonknowledge suppressed by the workaday logic of the workaday world are indices pointing to modernity’s lack of lack, its lack of the meaningless amid the fullness and completion of meaning achieved by the modern world. There is, in the modern world, no rose that grows without why.”

From ‘Review: George Bataille’s Religion without Religion’, by Jeffrey Kosky

Karaniya Metta Sutta (Sutta Nipata 18)

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What should be done by one skillful in good
So as to gain the State of Peace is this:

Let him be able, and upright and straight,
Easy to speak to, gentle, and not proud,
Contented too, supported easily,
With few tasks, and living very lightly;
His faculties serene, prudent, and modest,
Unswayed by the emotions of the clans;
And let him never do the slightest thing
That other wise men might hold blamable.

(And let him think:) “In safety and in bliss
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Whatever breathing beings there may be.
No matter whether they are frail or firm,
With none excepted, be they long or big
Or middle-sized, or be they short or small
Or thick, as well as those seen or unseen,
Or whether they are dwelling far or near,
Existing or yet seeking to exist.
May creatures all be of a blissful heart.
Let no one work another one’s undoing
Or even slight him at all anywhere:
And never let them wish each other ill
Through provocation or resentful thought.”
And just as might a mother with her life
Protect the son that was her only child,
So let him then for every living thing
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being;

And let him too with love for all the world
Maintain unbounded consciousness in being
Above, below, and all round in between,
Untroubled, with no enemy or foe.
And while he stands or walks or while he sits
Or while he lies down, free from drowsiness,
Let him resolve upon this mindfulness:
This is Divine Abiding here, they say.

But when he has no trafficking with views,
Is virtuous, and has perfected seeing,
And purges greed for sensual desires,
He surely comes no more to any womb.

Karaniya Metta Sutta (Sutta Nipata 18)

From the Udana 80, in the Khuddaka Nikaya

‘There exists, monks, that sphere where there is neither solidity, cohesion, heat, nor motion; nor the spheres of infinite space, infinite [consciousness], nothingness. . . . neither this world, nor a world beyond, nor both. . . . there, monks, I say there is no coming, nor going, nor maintenance, nor falling away, nor arising; that, surely, is without support, non-functioning, objectless.’

[translation by Peter Harvey]

From the Udana 80, in the Khuddaka Nikaya

From ‘The myth of meritocracy’, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, in the New York Review of Books

” the capacity for hard work is itself the result of natural endowments and upbringing. So neither talent nor effort, the two things that would determine rewards in the world of the meritocracy, is itself something earned. People who have, as The Rise of the Meritocracy bluntly put it, been repeatedly “labelled ‘dunce’” still have capacities and the challenge of making a meaningful life. The lives of the less successful are not less worthy than those of others, but not because they are as worthy or more worthy. There is simply no sensible way of comparing the worth of human lives.

Put aside the vexed notion of “merit”, and a simpler picture emerges. Money and status are rewards that can encourage people to do the things that need doing. A well-designed society will elicit and deploy developed talent efficiently. The social rewards of wealth and honour are inevitably going to be unequally shared, because that is the only way they can serve their function as incentives for human behaviour. But we go wrong when we deny not only the merit but the dignity of those whose luck in the genetic lottery and in the historical contingencies of their situation has left them less rewarded.

Yes, people will inevitably want to share both money and status with those they love, seeking to get their children financial and social rewards. But we should not secure our children’s advantages in a way that denies a decent life to the children of others. Each child should have access to a decent education, suitable to her talents and her choices; each should be able to regard him- or herself with self-respect. Further democratising the opportunities for advancement is something we know how to do, even if the state of current politics in Britain and the US has made it increasingly unlikely that it will be done anytime soon. But such measures were envisaged in Young’s meritocratic dystopia, where inheritance was to hold little sway. His deeper point was that we also need to apply ourselves to something we do not yet quite know how to do: to eradicate contempt for those who are disfavoured by the ethic of effortful competition.

“It is good sense to appoint individual people to jobs on their merit,” Young wrote. “It is the opposite when those who are judged to have merit of a particular kind harden into a new social class without room in it for others.” The goal is not to eradicate hierarchy and to turn every mountain into a salt flat; we live in a plenitude of incommensurable hierarchies, and the circulation of social esteem will always benefit the better novelist, the more important mathematician, the savvier businessman, the faster runner, the more effective social entrepreneur. We cannot fully control the distribution of economic, social and human capital, or eradicate the intricate patterns that emerge from these overlaid grids. But class identities do not have to internalise those injuries of class. It remains an urgent collective endeavour to revise the ways we think about human worth in the service of moral equality.”

From ‘The myth of meritocracy’, by Kwame Anthony Appiah, in the New York Review of Books