By Georges Bataille

Such a lot Anglo-American readers recognize Bataille as a novelist. The Accursed proportion offers a very good creation to Bataille the thinker. right here he makes use of his detailed fiscal thought because the foundation for an incisive inquiry into the very nature of civilization. in contrast to traditional monetary versions in line with notions of shortage, Bataille's concept develops the concept that of extra: a civilization, he argues, finds its order so much truly within the remedy of its surplus power. the result's a super mixture of ethics, aesthetics, and cultural anthropology that demanding situations either mainstream economics and ethnology.

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Extra resources for Accursed Share: Consumption

Example text

Potlatch, still practiced by the Indians of the Northwest Coast of America, is its typical form. Ethnographers now employ this term to designate institutions functioning on a similar principle; they find traces of it in all societies. Among the Tlingit, the Haida, the Tsimshian, the Kwakiutl, potlatch is of prime importance in social life. The least adyajijcedof these small tribes give potlatches in ceremonies markinga gersoiVschange of condition, at the time of initiations, marriages, funerals.

In reality a positive determination is involved. The Nepalese, whose race, location and material culture are quite similar, have on the contrary a large military capability (they even invaded Tibet various times). At first sight, it is easy to give a reason for this peaceableness: Its origin is Buddhism, which forbids its adherents to kill. War­ like Nepal is dominated politically by the Hindu military aristoc­ racy of the Gurkhas. But the Buddhist Tibetans are very pious: Their sovereign is a high dignitary of the clergy.

And especially at a time when the only foreigners allowed into Tibet were Chi­ nese having neither the desire nor the possibility of informing. What distinguished this thirteenth Dalai Lama is that having survived, he acquired the experience of power — though under Slowly, but steadily and sagaciously, the thirteenth Dalai Lama discovered the world. He turned his years of exile to account, never missing an opportunity to acquire knowledge useful to the con­ duct of the government. During a visit to Calcutta he became acquainted with the resources of advanced civilizations.

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