Date of Submission

Spring 2015

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Literature

Project Advisor 1

Bradford Morrow

Abstract/Artist's Statement

The barren labyrinth of metonymy is the site where the autogenous objects of Georges Bataille’s “pornographic” Story of the Eye, and the first of Samuel Beckett’s trilogy, Molloy, converge. Crippled, and blindly conceived, both “objects” aimlessly seek primordial reunion with an impossible Urheimat.[1] Both Bataille and Beckett seek, and perpetually fail to find, continuity between inherently discontinuous and displaced subjects and objects. The futile meanderings lapse into the ground—into the dusty funerary complex of silence. The alienating endeavor of seeking out one’s true origin, of life and of words, has become thematic in contemporary intellectual thought. In his introduction to Twentieth Century Interpretations of Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable, J.D. O’Hara describes the work of twentieth century psychology, science, and philosophy in relation to its alienating effect on the individual. The determinate truths found by the methods of psychology and science undermine the indeterminacy of the mutable, subjective, object. Our perception of the world is discrepant: “Most works of literature reflect their age, and it is not surprising that in this abominable century literature is didactic and escapist. It offers us, separately or simultaneously, lectures on the state of our worlds and flights from them into religion, pornography, nostalgia, or utopia” (I).[2] Haunted by these compulsions toward filthy utopias, the worlds Beckett and Bataille put forth are neither didactic nor escapist; their stories remain bound to the traumatic chimera of narrative force, compelled forward by the unending force of time, invariably moving further away from its beginning until it finally terminates in silence. The world slips away behind the disguise of each word, and the stories of the “Eye” and the “I” are continuously broken off and recovered through a series of doomed visions trapped in the uncertainty of language. Bataille’s theoretical work describes the erotic experience as a cyclical displacement of objects attempting to recover a “self” through its dissolution from the “other.” The object’s inability to recover a “self” from two discontinuous beings starts with the primal climax, generating the object’s initial conception, in which two discrete beings have been briefly made contiguous in le petit mort: the event from which the child will forever be estranged, haunting further by the successive trauma of birth.

[1] Urheimat: “The place of origin of a people or of a language”

[2] O’Hara, J.D., ed. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1970. Print.

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Creative Commons License
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