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Bataille’s Peak

Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability

2007
Author:

Allan Stoekl

Bataille’s Peak

An audacious exploration of Bataille’s philosophy of energy within current conservation debates

In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Georges Bataille can help us rethink not only energy and consumption but also such related topics as the city, eroticism, and religion. The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend the inevitable shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure.

Bataille’s Peak is a wonderfully original and insightful reflection on the relevance of Bataille’s understanding of expenditure for contemporary ecological ethics and politics.

Amy Hollywood, author of Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History

As the price of oil climbs toward 100 dollars a barrel, our impending post-fossil fuel future appears to offer two alternatives: a bleak existence defined by scarcity and sacrifice or one in which humanity places its faith in technological solutions with unforeseen consequences. Are there other ways to imagine life in an era that will be characterized by resource depletion?

The French intellectual Georges Bataille saw energy as the basis of all human activity—the essence of the human—and he envisioned a society that, instead of renouncing profligate spending, would embrace a more radical type of energy expenditure: la dépense, or “spending without return.” In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Bataille—in the wake of Giordano Bruno and the Marquis de Sade—can help us rethink not only energy and consumption but also such related topics as the city, the body, eroticism, and religion. Through these cases, Stoekl identifies the differences between waste, which Bataille condemned, and expenditure, which he celebrated.

The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend-without recourse to austerity and self-denial—the inevitable and necessary shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure.

Bataille’s Peak

Bataille’s Peak is a wonderfully original and insightful reflection on the relevance of Bataille’s understanding of expenditure for contemporary ecological ethics and politics.

Amy Hollywood, author of Sensible Ecstasy: Mysticism, Sexual Difference, and the Demands of History

Allan Stoekl has crafted a remarkable work of philosophy and new ecological theory—Bataille's Peak is a fascinating, inventive, and articulate exploration of the Bataille that no one has quite understood.

Peter C. van Wyck, Communication Studies, Concordia University, Montréal

This book is further evidence that Bataille is now getting the attention he deserves.

Choice

Bataille’s Peak remains among the most significant books about Bataille to have been published in recent years.

SubStance

Bataille’s Peak raises interesting questions on the subjectivities, theoretical positions, and everyday practices that are bound up with, and are crucial to, the development of environmental ethical sensibilities.

Environment and Planning D

Bataille’s Peak is refreshing both in its ambition and its approach. This book accomplishes a great deal indeed. It is a book that deserves to be read, both by those interested in Bataille, and by those in whatever field concerned to think about the relation between ethics, politics, religion and the current environmental crisis. It will be interesting to see if others respond to Stoekl’s challenge by extending still further the fertile line of thinking that Bataille’s Peak has powerfully set on its way.

Topia

Stoeckl makes a strong case that some elements of Bataille’s thought are even more relevant in the twenty-first century than they were in his own era.

American Book Review

About This Book