Weil salutes Luxemburg's "virile atti tude toward affliction [malheur]" (300). Troppmann rarely loses an opportunity to put his absence of virility on display. While Rosa Luxemburg exults, " 'I smile at life in the shadow of my cell' " (301), Troppmann weeps at life in the burning sunlight of theBarcelonastreets,wherehefeelshimselfas "impotent[impuis sant] as a young child" (BOC III, 449). Criticizing Bataille's notion of the revolution as a value in itself, Weil had stated in her notes on La Condition humaine that "Nothing has value from the mo menthumanlifehasnone" (WOC2.1,319).Describinghisown mental condition, Troppmann remarks: " I hoped to nish o my health, maybe even to nish a life with no reason for being. [ . . . ] For the moment, nothing had any importance" (BOC III, 414). Troppmann repeatedly and insistently describes himself a s " un happy" [malheureux].Indeed,thenounandadjectivemalheurand malheureux return under his pen with obsessive regularity. In the opening sentence of "Le Mauvais Presage," the rst chapter of the "Second Part," Troppmann describes the events he is about to relate as having taken place " during the period of my life when I was the most unhappy [malheureux]" (BOC III, 401). The com panion Troppmann seeks out as often as possible in this period, the only person who can stir him from his lethargy and dejection, is Lazare, whom he describes as a "bird of ill omen [oiseau de mal heur]" (401). Lazare's "absurd aspect" (401) irritates Troppmann but at the same time exerts a compelling power over him . Troppmann's bombastic language of spiritual and physical suf fering has a clear parodic thrust. Bataille plays with the image of a Don Juan as far removed from the luminous insouciance of the Mozartean/Kierkegaardean hero as possible: an impotent and miserable seducer whose "constantly reiterated unhappi ness is manifested in Herculean bouts of drinking, crying, and vomiting." 22 Yet Troppmann's misery may also have a more "serious" side. "Unhappy consciousness" has for Bataille, of course, primarily Hegelian associations. In "The Problem of the State," he suggests
that the revolutionary consciousness of the embattled proletariat can be nothing else than "conscience dechiree et conscience mal heureuse" (BOC I, 3 3 2). Yet the term malheur was also central to the mature thought of Simone Weil. When Bataille wrote his original draft of Le Bleu du ciel in 193 5, the concept (rendered by Weil's English translators as "af iction") had not yet taken on the importance it was to acquire in Weil's later writings. But by the time of his reworking of the novel's manuscript for publication in l 957, Bataille was quite familiar with the prominence of malheur in Weil's posthumously published journals and essays, as his 1949 review of L'Enracinement makes clear (BOC XI, 542-43). Ba taille was alert to the distinctive sense that the term had in Weil's lexicon: designating a form of suffering that simultaneously in cludes physical, psychological, and social components, and whose particular corrosive power derives from the conjunction of these different aspects. Bataille was also aware that for Weil malheur possessed a sacred - and thus a double - character.
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- Winter '16
- Jeff Hannan
- organic life, Bataille