Georges Bataille (1897-1962) was by profession a librarian at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. In his off hours, however, he was also a fringe Surrealist, vanguard intellectual, and writer of a wide-ranging body of work that includes philosophy, economics, poetry, and pornography. In all of these writings, Bataille was concerned to articulate a "science of the heterogeneous," a philosophy of everything repudiated by civil society: shit, blood, sacrifice, deviance, violence. The wellsprings of this philosophy apparently lay in personal experience — in particular his childhood with a suicidal mother and a blind, syphilitic father — and yet his ideas resonated deeply with other mid-century philosophy (for example, shit in Bataille's system was analogous to the "other" in Phenomenology and Existentialism) and helped to pave the way to contemporary critical theory.
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