Working through Bataille I conclude through an exploration of an aneconomic

Working through bataille i conclude through an

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luxury, Georges Bataille, and his concepts of the accursed share, consumption, eroticism, sovereignty, and atheological mysticism. Working through Bataille, I conclude through an exploration of an aneconomic understanding of luxury that has previously been understood economically on the borderline of need. This is where my reference to the Freudian (2001) notion of thanatology, or the word of death, comes into view, because I want to suggest that the principal significance of the state and experience of luxury resides in an attempt to escape the passage of time through either the simulation of death or—in the real experience of the luxurious—the flatline itself. In my view, luxury and the luxurious are, therefore, about escape from the thingness, and the temporality of life . Thus I conclude with the claim that luxury—and this is the case for the experience of luxury in contemporary capitalism—should be understood in terms of the sacred and cannot be thought through in profane, instrumental terms, even though today, in the global, capitalist, secular world, the luxurious is hidden inside the profane economy of things. In this way, my final point is that contemporary luxury represents the sacred unconscious of the profane world and, as a consequence, a kind of religiosity without religion, which has the potential to tip over into what Eugene Thacker (2011) calls Bataille’s “divine darkness,” a kind of transcendental materialism, where things suddenly lose their value and the empire of economy collapses toward a new sustainable future where humans live in intimacy and sympathy with their environment. However, before I turn to this thesis, and my line through Seneca, Nero, Freud, and Bataille, I want to contextualize my discussion and explain the relationship between luxury and contemporary social and political thought. In his classic work on the idea, Berry (1994) points out that luxury resides on the borderline of need and necessity. Here, luxury is understood in the context of the shift from ancients to moderns, and the related move from a closed to open conception of the universe. In the modern, open world, the dynamism of desire becomes a positive attribute, and the endlessness of luxury predicated on shifts in understandings of need is recognized as essential to growth. Although Berry’s story takes in the de-moralization of luxury, so that the Socratic-Platonic, Stoic vision of the evil of the passions no longer holds in the modern world, I would suggest that the moral critique of luxury remained a force in Marxism, neo- Marxism, and psychoanalysis, where Freud and Jacques Lacan explained the necessity of Oedipus and repression. In the case of psychoanalysis, the tendency to the de-moralization of luxury really took effect in the late 1960s when Lacan came into conflict with Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari over the fate of Oedipus (Dosse, 2010). Against the classic Freudian figure of necessary repression, Deleuze and Guattari (1983) celebrated anti-Oedipus and the “useless” figure of the schizophrenic, whose principal characteristic was transgression. Following the same
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