Bataille Now: A transdisciplinary conference on the contemporary application of Georges Bataille’s thought
Georges Bataille’s work, a century after his texts were first published, has always been vested in controversy. Initially exiled from academic discourse and confined to titillating the imaginations of land-deprived sailors, Georges Bataille’s textual corpus has become the reluctant womb of post-modernity. Bataille’s influence can be found in a milieu of key thinkers from Foucault and Deleuze onto Giorgio Agamben and Jean Baudrillard.
At surface level, Bataille emerges as disturbing and impenetrable, as a wanton urge for violence. A violence that expands from the sexual towards the existential. A leitmotif of excess and transgression. Texts that voice an attraction for what the world of utility, work, and rationalisation, has placed under the taboo. Bataille reserves a welcome embrace for the monster that stares back from the abyss. An embrace which signals an ultra-rigour that refuses to abstract, a refusal to accept the castration of our eyes and minds. A regard, which following Nietzsche, asserts that life and existence should be embraced in its totality, and to the point of death. Yet, Bataille’s transgressions only serve to support life at the summit. A life nourished by the sun rays, overflowing with exuberance: Life as a glorious excess.
Bataille’s disregard for boundaries, his stern insistence to see life as a continuity not as a fragment, cast him as a proto-transdisciplinarian. Bataille’s texts, when read in our contemporary times, become the fertile ground on which artists, authors, and academics, enter into discourse with each other as poets. This is a discourse, which seamlessly transverses the narrow confines of academic disciplines and seems to speak with crystalline clarity about the contemporary human condition and of its purpose: Bataille speaks of what being human is, or rather has become, in the now.
Following his re-discovery and rising influence within Anglophone academia, we thus seek to explore themes that interrogate Bataille’s ideas in the absolute now.
- Does the cosmos of superabundant energy that Bataille urges us to navigate, still hold meaning in the scarcity laden now?
- What constitutes transgression today? A today in which our retinas are oversaturated with extremity for sale. Is the corporeal as site of transgression still relevant?
- Do Bataille’s ideas of noise and becoming formless still hold any revolutionary potential, or did they ever? How do these translate within the rising ‘politics of the one’ frame, we are presently witnessing?
- Can his ideas of a headless-leaderless society, be realised within the posthuman framework? And if so, what form of the human do they include?
- And what does Bataille tell us about love? What was love for Bataille and how is it relevant or even revolutionary today?
- As the digital becomes increasingly interwoven in our daily lives, how can we translate Bataille’s concept of the sacrifice of utility, of rendering things un-useful, in areas such as UX design, or in the metaverse?
- How do Bataille’s conception of base materialism fit into contemporary discussions of materiality (new materialism, historical materialism etc)?
What to Send:
Pertaining, but not exclusive to the above, we welcome papers from all disciplines: spanning politics and affect, onto digital humanities, sustainability, art, literature, ecology, or design. Surprise us!
We would also be grateful to receive artworks or performance suggestions inspired by relevant themes.
Authors should prepare a proposal for a 20 min presentation. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words along with a brief biographical statement, including academic affiliation and contact details to bataillenowconference[at]gmail.com – Subject line should be Bataille Abstract.
In the case of Art/performance suggestions, please send a short description of the work, along with any special requirements you might have.
Where and When:
The conference will be a one-day event on the 22nd of September 2023, and will take place in Athens Greece, in the space of the French institute.
We see this event as a space where we can exchange ideas, so we invite in-person presentations only, but as the current epoch is filled with uncertainty, we will finalise this closer to the date.
There is no participation fee, and we will make all efforts to publish selected papers that will stem from the grounds of the conference, either in book format or as part of a special issue journal. Keynote speakers will be announced in due course, so as to better match the overarching theme that the received papers explore.
Deadline for Abstract submissions 15 March 2023
You will be notified by 01 April 2023
Conference site: https://bataillenow.wordpress.com/