"We receive these hazy illusions like a narcotic necessary to bear life. But what happens to us when, disintoxicated, we learn what we are? Lost among babblers in a night in which we can only hate the appearance of light which comes from babbling. The self-acknowledged suffering of the disintoxicated is the subject of this book." -- Georges Bataille, from the Preface His is a journey marked by the questioning of experience itself, until what is reached is sovereign laughter, non-knowledge, and a Presence in no way distinct from Absence, where "The mind moves in a strange world where anguish and ecstasy coexist."
Bataille’s laughter is a laughter he shared with Nietzsche and it is a laughter that shakes us with spasms of joy that bring tears: 'The ambiguity of this human life is really that of mad laughter and of sobbing tears'. Bataille begins laughing when he reads Nietzsche; he begins to laugh at politicians, at philosophers and at all those readers of Nietzsche who presume to have understood him.
Inner experience transports us to 'an elusive beyond' where all forms of external authority, like religion or philosophy, are 'dissolved'. This experience is by no means passive and it cannot be correlated with a lack of action as such, except that it challenges any action that is oriented to external aims. Inner experience is another form of 'action': 'Experience, its authority, its method, do not distinguish themselves from the contestation'. Most of all experience is a contestation of 'the law of language', the law that remains untouched in calls to political action, which depend on and exploit the power of language. Bataille contests the power of the law of language by
what operates within language as its heterogeneous moment, 'the silent, elusive, ungraspable part' of ourselves. The law of language supposes its dominance over all of language but within language words like silence, which name an experience outside of
language, fracture the dominance of language. Inner experience reaches out to these heterogeneous impossible moments that are already 'within' us.
Inner experience offers neither salvation nor hope of salvation; it is a finite experience that promises nothing outside itself. This is why it is an experience with its own authority, without any external support or telos. The result of this experience which explores itself to its limits is a contestation of those limits, of the language, of the subject, and wherever limits try to limit this experience.
The world is now recognizing Bataille's profound influence on a number of the most important contemporary French thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, and Julia Kristeva.