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The Cradle of Humanity: Prehistoric Art and Culture (Zone Books)
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For readers who have not comprehended the nuances of Georges Bataille's fascination with prehistoric art, and the role it plays in his conception of the erotic, this new collection of translations is a vital addition to one's library.―Consciousness, Literature, and the Arts (Reviews)
it's terrific as a kind of poetics of prehistory―Publisher's Weekly Online (Reviews)
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There may come a day I will dance on your grave,
or, unable to dance I will crawl.
Bataille analyzed societies as examples of The Accursed Share, in which what was produced in abundance was taken for distribution to a carefully chosen few or squandered. Prehistory can be understood as having theriomorphic gods progressively eliminating their animal natures, which we can see in La Fontaine's fables of former days, in which animals spoke. Death is beyond the understanding of the living, and much more frightening than the time before we were born, when we did not fear the apperception of spasmodic disintegration in which everything distinct becomes extinct.
Our times are blessed with cheaper sand for fracking, but history is most exciting as the mud volcanoes reacting to a fringe around the upper crust trying to decide how everybody else is going to run out of money when cycles of easy credit now and future bankruptcies can disrupt anything shredding what a big accounting firm did for Enron. Bataille's expertise in thinkers like Nietzsche provides many opportunities to reflect on how a society raised on entertainment values is always falling back on how long we can juggle this much confusion for large numbers that great imaginations have produced like animals in cave drawings.
Standing in front of an audience to deliver lectures is a tame activity compared to the literary works of George Bataille. Critics of culture in France formed some intellectual communities which could have given the unabomber the impression that friends put up with all kinds of everything when institutional thinking is not taking the commanding position in space, time, people, and money. For 400 centuries, followers who thought they were the greatest flock of sheep went deep in the ground to see sudden apparitions of a magic created by stone torches burning animal fat to animate images of animals in a pit, or an abyss. Take your pick.