Those dark sounds are the mystery, the roots that cling to the mire that we all know, that we all ignore, but from which comes the very substance of art. ‘Dark sounds’ said the man of the Spanish people, agreeing with Goethe, who in speaking of Paganini hit on a definition of the duende: ‘A mysterious force that everyone feels and no philosopher has explained.’From Georges Bataille, "The Cruel Practice of Art":
So, then, the duende is a force not a labour, a struggle not a thought. I heard an old maestro of the guitar say: ‘The duende is not in the throat: the duende surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.’ Meaning, it’s not a question of skill, but of a style that’s truly alive: meaning, it’s in the veins: meaning, it’s of the most ancient culture of immediate creation.
Only a few of us, amid the great fabrications of society, hang on to our really childish reactions, still wonder naively what we are doing on the earth and what sort of joke is being played on us. We want to decipher skies and paintings, go behind these starry backgrounds or these painted canvases and, like kids trying to find a gap in a fence, try to look through the cracks in the world. One of these cracks is the cruel custom of sacrifice..
Caught in the trap of life, man is moved by a field of attraction determined by a flash point where solid forms are destroyed, where the various objects that constitute the world are consumed as in a furnace of light.From Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share:
I will simply state, without further ado, that the extension of economic growth itself requires the overturning of economic principles—the overturning of the ethics that grounds them. Changing from the perspectives of restrictive economy to those of general economy actually accomplishes a Copernican transformation: a reversal of thinking—and of ethics. If a part of wealth (subject to a rough estimate) is doomed to destruction or at least to unproductive use without any possible profit, it is logical, even inescapable, to surrender commodities without return. Henceforth, leaving aside pure and simple dissipation, analogous to the construction of the Pyramids, the possibility of pursuing growth is itself subordinated to giving: The industrial development of the entire world demands of Americans that they lucidly grasp the necessity, for an economy such as theirs, of having a margin of profitless operations. An immense industrial network cannot be managed in the same way that one changes a tire... It expresses a circuit of cosmic energy on which it depends, which it cannot limit, and whose laws it cannot ignore without consequences. Woe to those who, to the very end, insist on regulating the movement that exceeds them with the narrow mind of the mechanic who changes a tire.From Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place: Economic Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure, by Mayfair Mei‐hui Yang:
What [Bataille] proposed in his enigmatic and mesmerizing book The Accursed Share was that, in our modern capitalist productivism, we have lost sight of this fundamental law of physics and material existence: that the surplus energy and wealth left over after the basic conditions for subsistence, reproduction, and growth have been satisfied must be expended. If this energy is not destroyed, it will erupt of its own in an uncontrolled explosion such as war. Given the tremendous productive power of modern industrial society and the fact that its productivist ethos has cut off virtually all traditional avenues of ritual and festive expenditures, energy surpluses have been redirected to military expenditures for modern warfare on a scale unknown in traditional societies. Bataille thought that the incessant growth machine that is the post-World War II U.S. economy could be deflected from a catastrophic expenditure on violent warfare only by potlatching the entire national economy. In giving away its excess wealth to poorer nations, as in the Marshall Plan to rebuild war-torn Europe, the United States could engage in a nonmilitary rivalry for prestige and influence with the Soviet Union, that other center of industrial modernity’s radical reduction of nonproductive expenditure.14 Thus, Bataille wished to resuscitate an important dimension of the economy, nonproductive expenditure, that has all but disappeared in both capitalist and state socialist modernity.