Chris(tie) Schultz and Bryce Goebel: After Effect: On Bataille's Visions of Excess
Articles » February 2001

Introduction

The "After Effect"s that follow are narrative responses to George Bataille's works collected in the volume Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927-39. An introduction to Bataille might note that he has been considered a pornographer, has been called an "excremental philosopher," and has embraced the heterogeneous-big toes ("The Big Toe"), excrement and anuses ("The Pineal Eye"), plant genitalia ("The Language of Flowers"). Bataille is filthy while invoking and interrogating the political, the spiritual, the sexual. As such, and because of Bataille's mode of discourse evidenced in some of the Visions of Excess, narrative response seems appropriate.

Schultz's text employs Bataillian imagery central to Visions of Excess-her rendering has been aptly described as a 'modern grotesque'-and connects the narrative to some streams of (Lacanian) psychoanalytic theory by drawing attention to, for example, absence and the body. In doing so, she reflects intensely on Bataille's notions of the heterogeneous-that which is left out, that which we are usually more comfortable leaving out. Rats, piss, shit, and rotting flowers are central to her vision.

Goebel's piece plays off Schultz's (as hers thus comes to play off his) as it responds to Bataille's texts by superimposing an additional system/method/principle of interrogation, altering it by failing to cling strictly to it; and writing explicitly what, at times, seems implicit in Bataille. As such, Goebel looks at Bataille through the "Kino-Eye" of Dziga Vertov and his constructivist approach to documentary film. The intention is to take a vertical conception (Vertov) and map it onto a horizontal conception (Bataille) and, in the process, disrupt both. Goebel focuses on ordinary people "caught unawares" in everyday situations, cinematographic projection, the formal structure of a work, and the cinematic rebuilding of the everyday.

The bold may wish to read more on Bataille. A quality Internet site is "George Bataille in America," http://www.phreebyrd.com/~sisyphus/bataille/.

I dream during illness, while reading Bataille. Those are not the rats I ordered! I said brown. BROWN! These rats are black and this will not do. Please. I am trying to heal. You evidently do not understand. My tonsils are white. I am trying to heal. (Screams are heard by neighbours still awake-the screams are not loud enough to wake sleeping neighbours. Screaming cannot possibly aid the weak and whitened tonsil.)

I find that a pair of pliers are coming towards me, reaching for my face, held by certain hands that were about to turn on my brother. I screamed for him to be saved and now these pliers are coming towards me, hands hairied and brown. They are reaching for my face, but I cannot tell if they aim to tear off my nose or pluck out my eye. It is quite certain, though, that they are not aiming for my teeth, despite the dent-esque feel of their aim.

A piercing sensation in the side of my throat and the left tonsil is gushing. The puss, as I assume it must be the puss that was meant to be my own healing fluid, is dribbling out the side of my mouth. As much falls behind making its way to my digestive processes. I can only feel this stuff. I feel it; I cannot taste it as it is too far behind my tongue. Which part of the tongue tastes salt? The puss should be salty.

I am watching the droplets of white as they reach my birch table. Each drop refuses to spread out or meld into one another. Each drop is precisely spherical, but somehow balancing and still. Still, though, only insofar as they are not rolling. They shudder. The ones just now falling are more still than the ones that fell first. I am watching the first one, as I am wont to do. It stops. I expect it to crack open, as if an egg, but instead, between one frame, eyed, and the next, it has sprouted legs, eight, and eyes, I think. There are eight ejected tendrils, four on each side, all white, and two tiny black dots on the top. Too soon, it is mobile and I scream, not waking the neighbours who are already sleeping, but alerting the one in the hallway, disposing of his trash (I can smell the rotting egg shells) at three in the morning.

These that I thought were droplets of healing puss are most certainly spiders dropped from my tonsil. The pliers are back, but this time, I open my mouth and direct them to the right tonsil, unsatisfied by the imbalance that the piercing of the first created. A pinch and a new flow erupts. The first puss spider has disappeared-it has left me for someone else or it has camouflaged itself as one of the others. There are, perhaps, a few hundred now, forming or formed. I thought that I might leave them here, but they are still dripping out of my mouth, forming faster now, emerging fully formed. I feel their legs upon my tongue. I am convinced that the legs are sweet, but I am tasting them on the tip of my tongue. The tip is not for sweetness.

I swallow a few, sending them to meet the ones that must be forming below. But, before I have even a moment to contemplate the formation of spiders inside my organs, I realize that they are acting as either small pincers, clinging to my intestines, or they are acting like whole grains, and some, somehow, like a diuretic. I am leaving a trail of spiders behind me as I rush out of my apartment and onto my balcony-is this an effort to let them be free?-and as I watch the piss and the excrement leave me, a few more spiders still trickling out of my mouth rush to join those meshed with my former interiors. I would say that they were overjoyed to meet, but I can not tell anymore-I was stepping in my excreted materials and worried that I would track this through the apartment, my feet the carriers of all that they touch.

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Bryce Goebel has been led to believe he is a graduate student in Sociology at the University of Alberta. Let us not disturb his beliefs...

When she's not lifting heavy things at the gym, Chris(tie) Schultz plays the role of a graduate student in English at the University of Alberta.




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