piece on Rimbaud was found in the notes of Bataille. When Bataille
refers to "the following text," he is most likely referring to the
last section of "Etre Oreste," a section of his book L'Impossible.
Man's direction in life, as far as nature is concerned, is essentially
negative. It goes from argument to argument and is made of rapid,
quickly broken movements, exhilaration, and depression.
The movement of poetry arises from
the known and leads to the unknown. If it is achieved, it touches
on madness. But at the approach of madness, the tide recedes. Poetry
is almost entirely a receding tide: the movement towards poetry,
or towards madness, aspires to remain within the limits of the possible.
At any rate, poetry is a negation of itself: it denies itself as
it preserves itself and surpasses itself.
However, negation surpassing poetry
comes from consequences other than receding tides. In approaching
madness, the poet sinks into darkness. Still, madness does not have
the means to maintain itself by itself any more than poetry does.
Since there are poets and madmen--as there are monkeys of one type
or another--poets and madmen exist only during certain moments.
The limit of the poet is similar to that of the madman in that it
affects one's personal life but not human life in general. These
fixed points in time give shipwrecks the means to maintain themselves
on their own. Thus, the movement of water around such shipwrecks
is only a belated instant.
The following text indicates an awareness
of personal collapse as well as the impersonal movements that follow
it. It expresses poetry engaged in its own negation. But what touches
on knowledge of one's self is simply desire, evocation; it's the
void, the chaos, leftover from poetry. Any distinction can be made
between madness (to which poetry succumbs) and the rational exhaustion
of the possibilities of the being. Madness is masked by the appearance
of a will for experience, and this will is disguised by a derangement.
The inability to survive comes from excess of desire, which goes
in many directions at the same time. The collapse felt during exhaustion
keeps the mind from surpassing desire, and exacerbates it.
Failure is the measure of the wager.
Exhilaration is the promise of depression. Poetry is denied by displacement.
The poet is no longer destroyed language reshaping a false world
through deconstructed symbols, but is the man, who, weary of the
game, wants to make a real conquest from this realm of madness.
What collapsed through anticipation, which the seer cannot
see, is the difference between enduring collapse (madness, or its
equivalent, pure negation) and searching for the possible beyond
that collapse. These two moments merge into one, as with poetry.
Rimbaud's greatness is having led
poetry to its own failure. Poetry is not a knowledge of one's self.