The Story of the Eye On the Hinge between This World and Another
j. harley nalley 2013
“We do not live separately in material and mental worlds; these experiential dimensions are fully intertwined. Neither do we live in an objective world. We live in mental worlds, in which the experienced, remembered and imagined, as well as the past, present and future are inseparably intermixed.”1 In Georges Bataille’s The Story of the Eye, we witness a teenage couple’s perversions manifested through sexual transgressions—even to the extent of necrophilia. The reader assumes the role of the embodied eye. And the embodied eye is not limited to the visual. Through a series of spherical and visceral metaphors we physically—and with a full range of senses—enter the characters’ disturbing world. And what we find most earth shattering is the echo of our own world. The story takes place in a land called X. And it is just that: a variable world akin to our own. The human imagination consists of the same objects, spaces, and beings that we experience in the materialized world; we just rearrange them through memory and imagination. Through written words, Bataille’s imagination becomes materialized. He creates a spatio-temporal landscape that the reader can navigate. The same objects—eggs, eyes, taurine testicles—that the characters employ in their sexual acts are of our own world. Here, however, they have been arranged in an unconventional way. And the visceral traces they leave on the architectural landscape of the story are also of our own world: yolk, blood, and semen. And we produce the same urine, milk, and vaginal discharge that also paint the story. These metaphors make us aware of a borderland that we occupy: a fragile interstice between life and death. As we occupy this interstice, we become increasingly aware of the nuanced frailty of each life. We see within ourselves an extaordinary capacity to be productive—or even reproductive—but an equally extraordinary capacity to be destructive. Experience constitutes the collission between the inner mental world and the external world. Through being, we occupy a borderland: somewhere between this world and another. The unreality of reality: we create our world through what we imagine it to be.
Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Architecture of Image: Existential Space in Cinema (Helsinki, Finland: Rakennustieto Publishing, 2007).
So we are all agents in this borderland between the imagination and the materialized world: a hinge between this world and another.