Hollier, Denis. Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Batailles. Translated by Betsy Wing. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1989. xxii-xxiii:
Louis XVI was executed in January and Carnival is a winter celebration. This conjunction interested Bataille enough so that, when he was involved in the College of Sociology, he had a project for a book on the carnival origins of democracy. However, Bataille’s carnival had not much in common with the one Bakhtin was celebrating almost simultaneously in his 1940 book on Rabelais. “Carnival,” according to a recent book on Bakhtin, “is not time wasted but time filled with profound and rich experience.” There is no Et in Arcadia ego to be heard, but this is above all because there is no one to say “I” anymore in Bakhtin’s carnival, because the first person has disappeared, a joyful purge has swept subjects away in the great anonymous, or dialogic, sewer: the grammar of the irreplaceable has been excluded from the festivities. Bataille’s carnival, on the contrary, is the moment in which the I lives its loss, lives itself as loss. This is not a time of plenitude, it is, on the contrary, the time when time’s emptiness is experienced. This is not innocence rediscovered, but bottomless guilt. If carnival is a “gap” in the fabric of society, if it is a celebration of the “gaps and holes” in both the individual and the social body, does one celebrate these holes by filling them in, by plugging them up? – Can the celebration of a gap as gap result in plenitude? Bataille’s Acephalus does not merely represent a grotesque celebration of upside downs and bottoms up, but the more abysmal image of a topless bottom. The concept of heterology, a neologism invented by Bataille, does not simply indicate a warm, euphoric relationship to otherness. Otherness, in other words, is not simply a matter of pleasure and enjoyment. There is no carnival without loss. No Luna Park without a slaughterhouse.