story of the eye
by Georges Bataille
"My father having conceived me when blind (absolutely blind), I cannot tear out my eyes like Oedipus."
"The name Lord Auch refers to a habit of a friend of mine; when vexed, instead of saying "aux chiottes!" [to the shithouse], he would shorten it to "aux ch'". Lord is English for God (in the scriptures): Lord Auch is God relieving himself."
'She took my hand wordlessly and led me to an outer courtyard of the filthy arena, where the stench of equine and human urine was suffocating because of the great heat.'
'I stretched out in the grass, my skull on a large, flat rock and my eyes staring straight up at the Milky Way, that strange breach of astral sperm and heavenly urine across the cranial vault formed by the ring of constellations: that open crack at the summit of the sky, apparently made of ammoniacal vapours shining in the immensity (in empty space, where they burst forth absurdly like a rooster's crow in total silence), a broken egg, a broken eye, or my own dazzled skull weighing down the rock, bouncing symmetrical images back to infinity.'
'Sir Edmund deployed his ingenuity at providing us with obscene spectacles at random, but Simone still preferred bullfights.'
'Simone, being truly incapable of conceiving death such as one normally considers it, was frightened and furious, but in no way awe-struck.'
"The doctor had withdrawn to the next room with my mother and I had remained with the blind lunatic, when he shrieked in a stentorian voice: "Doctor, let me know when you're done fucking my wife!" For me, that utterance... left me with something like a steady obligation, unconscious and unwilled: the necessity of finding an equivalent to that sentence in any situation I happen to be in; and this largely explains Story of the Eye."
'My kind of debauchery soils not only my body and my thoughts, but also anything I may conceive in its course, that is to say, the vast starry universe, which merely serves as a backdrop.'
'Upon my asking what the word urinate reminded her of, she replied: terminate, the eyes, with a razor, something red, the sun. And egg? A calf's eye, because of the colour of the head (the calf's head) and also because the white of the egg was the white of the eye, and the yolk the eyeball. The eye, she said, was egg-shaped.'
Bataille, noting the proximity of seduction and horror, wrote:
"... the eye could be compared to the blade, the sight of which equally provokes sharp and contradictory reactions: that is just what the makers of Un Chien Andalou must have felt, so atrociously and darkly, when at the very first images of the film, they determined the bloody sexual encounters of these two beings. The razor blade slicing right through the dazzling eye of a young and charming woman drives the young man watching to the point of frenzy, as he himself is watched by a little cat lying beside him. Holding, by chance, a teaspoon, he is suddenly consumed by a desire to catch an eye in the spoon. A very peculiar desire, obviously, on the part of the white man, from whom the eyes of the oxen, the lambs and the pigs he eats have always been hidden. For the eye, such a cannibalistic delicacy in Stevenson's exquisite expression, is so upsetting to us that we will never bite into it."
From: Dora Maar with and without Picasso - Mary Ann Caws