Update from Hell

This update from Hell is brought to you as a footnote to Georges Bataille’s book “Erotism.”

The day will come when the measured approach betrays you. You’ll want to do violence to something: violence itself will prove unsuppressible, insufferable. And yet you will not know what it means, or what it looks like, for that violence to break out, for it’s the silence of the immobile, the inert, the fixed. It’s the violence of silence as such. And this day is silence’s day– silence you deem immeasurable to restore a sense of hope to your approach. But to proclaim silence immeasurable is not violent enough. You are not happy with your love.

On that day you will struggle, not for the first time, to say “I” and know what you say. And when you do say it, you won’t only say it without certainty, but with terror. The terror that befalls anyone who says “I” (though we hardly know it). Not only terror at the silence that comes afterwards, but the silence that rides under the words, the silence between syllables. You’ll feel your own enunciation doing violence to you and the others — a violence that you, however, do not wield. A violence you can only call “immeasurable,” because silent. A violence that we not without frenzy and confusion misname “death.”

On such a day, you would not be surprised by Syrian or American violence. You would know precisely what it was after: continuity where none could be appliedAll of this you would feel in yourself; and you would feel that, somehow, you yourself were at stake in all struggles. Throughout all of time: this you would know. Silence of the dead, silence of violence, silence of excess and the untouched: these would be your monikers, your exchange. You’d want to lash out against your work and your approach, for seeming to deny these variables, sensing your profound solidarity with all that goes on in America and Syria when you lie to others in such ways — when you use language. But it would lash right back at you with silence either way. All of it would remind you of your own high aspiration: no one cares. Your very intention to assuage the violated would be struck down by the violence of such a message. Your message of love: it would mean nothing but more disorder for them. And yet: this alone you chose to bear.

On this day it would be clear to you: this day is like no other. You’d be convinced of the fact of irrevocable change for the better, which, in terms of your work, your Syria, can only mean turning for the worse. You’d be disgusted by the drama in the voice; but urging it to die down, to be quiet, you would only incite its rage further, until it encroached so deeply into the territory of your individual personality that things themselves crumbled apart. You’d laugh at that god-awful term “entropy” and those who employed it in explanations. What’s worse, you’d sense an overarching order, you’d sense an actual continuity, where to the conscious mind there could only be madness, disruption, war, and “ingenuity.” But when you’d go to share and show that disruption, never doubting that your madness was never to be alleviated or exalted now, you would in fact say nothing, and you would know this. The very productivity of your silence would be negated through the truth it expressed; and the one listening to you — or watching — would be left with one option: to hate you. Not wanting them to hate you, but nevertheless, you would know: this admits of no discussion. The cover of the casket must be closed. Only the peace of the graveyard buries me over; and this, more than anything, is the peace we all must run from. While running helplessly, inexorably toward it. You’d hear a voice say: you can’t run from it, you coward, you tool! Impenetrable, you’d submit. Nothing, I tell you, would happen.

This day of all days annihilates the calender. Unity bears itself out as dissolution, and the dissolution that leads to unity lies just there, beyond your tongue, enticing you to intensity like tears at a funeral. You want unity — that is, you want it to be your funeral, if only because this is the only thing whose meaning you cannot knowBecause on this day, swear God to tell it, you are tired of knowing the god-awful meaning of everything. You are tired of knowing that this meaning was never bestowed upon you, it was nothing you learned, it was no gift, and that all along it was just you in your wretched and shameless way who was realizing it for yourself. And you are tired of asserting all this everything, this realization for no one and nothing. And as the level of your voice escalates, the silence that makes your heart stop pumping, the inertia at the center of an unmoved universe, the eagerness that overcomes you from everywhere, would lead you to scream silence, to try to prove silence, and so inanity, and thus to manifest the most absurd of all things: to make desireable the undoing of the subject of desire AND his universe; to make dissolve the unity that would speak, hear, touch, feel, and love; and to do so to degrade this very “everything,” and for the sake of it!, this impure impetus that comes and keeps coming quite literally from nowhere now — this pure impurity that is your DEAD FACE!

Already you can feel the reality of your chemical approaching: it will not be purged away; but already it leaves you silent — indifferent. You can’t regret your own living because, obvious now to say it, you hadn’t — or at least, you hadn’t in any legible way. The joke would be on you and you alone, because somehow, in the stupidity of this silent and final moment, you would have united yourself with “forever,” and “eternal life” will have become yours, but for nothing: you’d no longer be there to have it. You’d realize the eternity of a chemical. But what’s worse: you’d go on living in spite of yourself, hidden underneath your name, retaining some semblance of discourse and meaning, according to the servile calendar yet, and thus submit to the grand farce of “humanity” and its “history,” which inevitably denies its own perilous truths, which you, all in vain, stripped nude to show. And with good cause, too, are their denials, with good intentions. You know your proletarian speech was not suited for this world.

On this day of the end-of-days, you’d realize that the game in which you staked your life had only one outcome: horrid, moribund laughter. You’d realize that learning to play the game well took you square out of it. You’d realize that your superiority at playing the game meant the denial and destruction of your own being; and that it meant the same for whoever could really hear you. You’d realize that only the one who listens — he who has no identity, he who comes ahead — could justify your position and your game; and that he would do so, not just by listening, but by forgetting you — forgetting that you (or anyone else for that matter) had ever played this game before. He’d justify your high stakes by ignoring them and taking up his own. Only in this way was it to be glorious. And what else could you say to him anyway, but go, don’t come back, there’s nothing for you here? “You’ve got to do it all on your own.” –But based on your wry testament, who would want it? Who in their right mind would want this? –Then again, who could be so naive, to think they could avoid it?

On this day-of-last-days, there’d be no room for truth and lies. What else could we do but hide the body away, bury it so none could see? There would be no more room for “me”; and whatever was left would strike terror and send you running. Because of all those who have dared to come this way, believe this: I am the most cunning and contagiousI’ll make you fatally ill if you let me, because I, more than anyone, knew what it was to be afraid. I knew what it was to be prohibited. 

I want to pull away, to forgive the God who breathes life into me for making it so putrid, for hanging His ugly corpse upon my throat. I want to ask for your forgiveness, for making you stammer and decay. I want to apologize for all this controversy, for everything I may have caused. But I cannot, because I cannot live with illusions. Despite it all: I’ve got to take myself seriously. So I don’t dare apologize for my nausea; and I don’t dare take credit for inducing it.

Who are you, anyway? What do you think you’re doing? Don’t tarry, don’t dilly-dally, don’t pray. Don’t be a coward. This voice you hear, you can’t hear it. The nudity I offer you does nothing to denude you. Whatever the phenomenon is, it’s tentative: in the end, it’s but silence, dreadful silence, like the universe itself — and violent like a monkey with no grave. Go figure out something better to say, if you can. Or better yet, do what I do on such days: say nothing. Better yet: go figure.

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