rhizomes.06 spring 2003

Textual Surveillance: The Double Eyes (and I's) of George Bataille's Story of the Eye
A.R. Roughley

Surveillance: Watch or guard kept over a person, esp. over a suspected person, a prisoner, or the like; often, spying, supervision; less commonly, superintendence. Surveillant: [ad. F., f. surveiller, f. sur- above, over + veiller (:-L. vigilare) to watch.] One who exercises surveillance; a person who keeps watch over another or others; a superintendent, e.g. of a prison. OED

[1] The concept of the prison need not concern us here, unless we conceive of the watch kept by the self over the other as a form of imprisonment: the self regarding, keeping guard over, the other: The nameless, narrative "I" of Bataille's Story of the Eye operates as Simone's surveillant: the position through which he-and the complicit reader-keeps a watchful "eye" upon her as she invaginates the "eye" of the dead priest in the scene for which a mimetic reading invites censorship and a judgement of obscenity, even though the invagination is clearly placed "on stage" for all eyes to witness. At work, as always, is the question of Hegel's dialectic. This dialectic accounts for the structure in which the self maintains a surveillance of its own other in the process of coming to self-consciousness in, through and by, its dialectic relationship with that other: "Self-consciousness exists in and for itself when, and by the fact that, it so exists for another: that is, it exists only in being acknowledged [als ein Anerkanntes]" (Hegel, 2001: 630). The narrating, and narrated, "I" of Story is the "eye" through which any reading of the text is focused. This narrative "I" occupies a phallic position, not only through the sexual obsession with the phallus to which the "I" keeps returning, but also in the attempt to maintain a psycho-sexual surveillance over Simone, with whom "I" exists in a psychic, emotional and sexual dialectic. Simone comes to occupy the maternal position relinquished by her mother, and from this textual position, she simultaneously functions as the objet a of the narratorial "I" (and later of Lord Auch) and as the phallus, in relationship to which, the "I" "posits himself" (Kristeva, 1980: 191).

[2] This complex, double, psycho-sexual and emotional relationship between "I" and Simone is the double position from which the narrative of Story of the Eye is generated, and its marking, and remarking, is the ground for all of the dialectic play between the nameless narrator and Simone from the textual point that feigns their first meeting: "a love life started between the girl and myself, and it was so intimate and so intense that we could hardly let a week go by without meeting" (Bataille, 2001: 10). What is this "myself" that speaks to us from the double position that is initially marked as the positions of solitude and fear: "I grew up very much alone, and as far back as I recall I was frightened of anything sexual" (Bataille, 2001: 10)? This phantom, double and doubling, "I" pronounces its own solitude and fear in the face of "anything sexual," marking a sexuality that will concern us as both the echo of a forgotten past and the remarking of a distance between the mechanical operations of mimesis and the textual play of language. To recite a reading of this distance within a sacred text, one "has at times the impression that a revenant proclaims to us the terrifying return of a ghost" (Derrida, 2002: 191). Within the textual space where Bataille stages the warfare between the desire of writing and the mimetic attempts to mirror and sustain the bourgeoisie familial and theological surveillance and regulation of desire, a number of ghosts return to haunt and disturb such surveillance and regulation

Historical Contexts for Discursive Surveillance

[3] The surface narrative of Story of the Eye unfolds according to a socio-theological discourse with historical roots in the monasticism and asceticism mapped out by Michel Foucault. The historical contexts for Bataille's narrative can be discovered in the Seventeenth-century discourses of confession which made the simple naming of sex "more difficult and more costly," the discourses that also provided the historical contexts for Bataille's predecessor, De Sade. The simple process of attaching names to body parts and the sexual activities with which they can be associated became caught up in the attempt to "gain mastery" over sexual activity by first subjugating it "at the level of language" and then instituting and maintaining a censorial surveillance that aimed to "control its free circulation in speech, expunge it from the things that were said, and extinguish the words that rendered it too visibly present" (Foucault, 1987: 17). Paradoxically, both the injunctions of censorship and the surveillance which attempted to ensure their successful enforcement caused the "discourses concerned with sex" to proliferate. This proliferation marks a violent and powerful return of the forces of theologically repressed desire. Its eruption in the figures of Eighteenth-century, Classical discourse can, perhaps, be more clearly demarcated against the "expurgation-and a very rigorous one-of the authorised vocabulary" (Foucault, 1987: 17).

[4] The classical, socio-theological surveillance of discourse aiming to censor language and purge it of any uncoded naming of sexuality was founded upon this attempt at expurgation: "new rules of propriety screened out some words: there was a policing of statements [and a] control over enunciation." This surveillance aiming to ensure the success of this censorship of discourse took numerous forms. A strict definition aimed to regulate "where and when it was not possible to talk about such things" that signified or connoted sexual activity. Censorship and surveillance of social discourse manifested themselves in a further definition and regulation of existing familial and other social relationships. Censorship and surveillance proscribed "in which circumstances, among which speakers, and within which social relationships" certain matters could be discussed." Social discourse was censored, and surveillance attempted to regulate discursive interaction in both private and public domains. Social and familial areas "were thus established, if not of utter silence, at least of tact and discretion: between parents and children...teachers and pupils, or masters and domestic servants." The class divisions and other social relationships developed and defined during the Eighteenth Century were part of the "social redistributions of the Classical period", and such redistributions were intricately bound up with the censorship and surveillance of private and public discourse. Together they "almost certainly constituted a whole restrictive economy, one that incorporated into that politics of language and speech-spontaneous on one hand, concerted on the other-which accompanied the social redistributions" (Foucault, 1987: 18).

Subversive Surveillance

[5] Even at the surface level of its linguistic, textual operations, Story of the Eye can be read in the terms of its subversive strategies against such familial, political and theological censorship and surveillance. These gestures begin, in the English version of the text, with a pun that plays on the colloquial name for "cat" and "pussy," the slang term, and a substitute, for "vagina," the signifier of that passage from the natural realm that opens into the cultural. The Story's nameless, adolescent narrator expresses the desire to gaze upon Simone's "private parts": "by slightly lifting the pinafore from behind, I might see her private parts unveiled" (Bataille: 10). Here the narrative remarks the differences between a surveillance that aims to guard and watch and a gaze that desires to watch in order to re-gard its own object a. This narrative is partly structured by the dialectical relationship between erotic gaze and censorial surveillance. In the opening episodes, the narrator's desire operates in the gaze focused upon Simone's "private parts": "I lay down at her feet without her stirring, and for the first time, I saw her 'pink and dark' flesh cooling in the white milk" (Story: 10); and Simone's gaze focuses upon the 'egg' ("She would sit for a long time, gazing at the eggs" [33]) that operates in the metaphoric chain by which it becomes a substitute for the 'eye', 'ball' and 'sun'. When Simone's mother "catch[es] us in our unusual act," and witnesses the orgasms of her daughter as the narrator's "come...trickled down her [daughter's] eyes," the censorial outrage that reason would lead us to expect from this "fine woman," who has led an "exemplary life," is sublated in, and by, Simone's negation of the mother's maternal power and her own appropriating "regression under the aegis of the same Phallic mother-screen" (Kristeva, 1980: 242).

[6] Simone's mother is deprived of the power of speech and the expression of maternal desire by Simone's appropriation of the phallic and maternal positions. She "gape[s] wordlessly": the "sad widow...gazed at us with such dismal eyes and such a desperate expression that she egged us on" (Story: 14-15). Simone's response to her mother's discovery reinforces her domination of the positions of both the maternal and the phallic. She commands the narrative "I" to "Pretend there's no one there" and continues "wiping her behind." When Simone inadvertently urinates upon her mother, who is passing beneath the rafters where Simone and the "I" are "doing gymnastics," the mother's "dismal" sadness and desperation "egg" on Simone and the narrator. Simone expresses a complete disregard for her mother by "bursting into laughter, crouching on all fours...and exposing her cunt" (Story: 15) Her dominating, phallic control of the narrative "I" continues as her genital exposure demands the attention of the narrator's gaze and provokes him to masturbate: "I uncovered that cunt completely and masturbated while looking at it" (Story: 15).

[7] Setting aside, for the moment, Bataille's secular refiguring of the sacred "unveiling," in the narrator's desire "to see [Simone's] private parts unveiled," we can remark how Simone's initial question--"Milk is for the pussy, isn't it?"--triggers the operations of the paronomasia "pussy," an operation pun sustained by the play between Simone's words and the title of this initial episode: "The Cat's Eye." The paronomasia destabilises the term, working against the establishment of any univocal signified for "pussy" and triggers off a play between 'vagina' and 'cat' that sets the discourse to work on either side of the division between nature and culture. It also triggers off the play of the signifying metonymic and metaphoric chains sustaining the contiguous configurations of the eye and the vagina that systematically recur throughout the text. One mode of the Story's narrative operates on the borders between Phusis and nomos, or nature and culture: the founding categories of the Western thought on which the distinction between the civil and the natural are grounder. In this narrative mode, Bataille's Story reconfigures familiar, familial relationships, subverting the traditional authority of the parental positions, depriving them of any power for either guardianship or surveillance and refiguring this power with the adolescent positions of the anonymous, narratorial "I" and its textual other, Simone.

[8] Bataille: The proper name of the signatory of Story of the Eye is appended to a writing practice that exceeds the signifying power of that name. Deprived of its proper-ness, the sign "bataille," nevertheless continues to signify a certain power that makes its presence felt within both the specific writing of Story of the Eye and the practice of writing in general: Writing as a "battle" and a declaration of the war in which its battles are staged. Even the title of this text that is "signed" with the proper name, Bataille, is ruined by the specific practice of writing that its title (but in what sense can we say that a specific writing practice 'owns' its title, its own signifying proper name?) is supposed to signify. Robbed of its capital power, or "caps evered," as Joyce's text expresses it, "Story of the Eye" becomes, through this deceptively simple gesture, "any" 'story of the eye' and gains an ability to signify the double operations of reading and writing in general. There is, however, at least one caveat for this reading of 'a story of the eye' as a signifier of reading and writing in general: "If reading and writing are one, as is easily thought these days, if reading is writing, this oneness designates neither undifferentiated (con)fusion nor identity at perfect rest: the is that couples reading with writing must rip apart" (Derrida, 1981, 63-64).

[9] The translation of Histoire de l'Oeil into Story of the Eye triggers the operations of a paronomasian play in English, the "other" language of the so-called "original" text: the phonetic relationships between the English homophones "I" and "eye" echo, if only faintly (and feint-ly), the play between the "je" and "jeux" and the partial pun of oeuf and oeil of the French version of the text. Such feigning is characteristic of the play of all language when it is released from the surveillance of the mimetic machine identified by Jacques Derrida as the machine which, "according to a complex but implacable law," "deals out all the clichés of criticism to come" (Derrida, 1981: 187 n.14). It is between the various narrative positions of the pronominal "I" and the multiple positions of the metaphoric "eyes"--a "between" structured by, and simultaneously remarking, the Hegelian dialectic of the self and the other--that the play of the mimetic (and erotic or so-called obscene) narrative and its self-reflective, discursive and figurative "other" can be observed at its playful, yet deadly serious, work in Story of the Eye.

[10] Story of the Eye is Bataille's 'story' of both writing in general and a specific practice of writing that maintains a strict surveillance upon the history and limits of writing. Its surveillance of certain structures of theology, as well as those familial structures which duplicate theological, tripartite patterns, is an intrinsic part of the text's battle against the ideological forces of those structures and patterns. Traces of the paternal and phallic power of those structures echo throughout Story, either through the surveillance of absent figures who nevertheless continue to make their past presence felt, or, as in the case of Simone, in the appropriation of their functions. The "I" and "eyes" in Bataille's warring inscription maintain a surveillance over the phallic, theological and familial positions in order to remark their lack of any power with which to regulate the signifying operations of the writing. The "I" of the text maintains a surveillance of the familial structures in his father's house as well as the dwelling of his, other, Simone. The nameless, phallic "I" of the text appropriates the positions of the absent father in a dialectical reflection of Simone's appropriation of the power of the phallic mother and the desire to sustain the gaze of the "I" upon itself as the objet a of that gaze and the desire to absorb that "I" through the invagination of the "eye" that the mimetic surveillance of the text pronounces as erotic and/or obscene.

The I's of the Sun: Barthes' Reading of Eggs, Eyes and Testes

[11] Dominating the various figures of "bodies and spaces" that Bataille reproduces as "graspable, masterable objects" are the eye, the egg and the teste (Kristeva, 1980: 246). Using the term "avatar" Roland Barthes traces the formal level of signification in Bataille's text as a sequence of images. Investigating how an object, as opposed to a character, can "have a story," Barthes suggests that each object can "pass from image to image." The narrative movement, or the 'story', of such a transmission of images is "that of a migration, the cycle of the avatars it passes through, far removed from its original being, down the path of a particular imagination that distorts but never drops it. This is the case with Bataille's book" (Barthes, 2001: 118). Barthes engages Story by reading against its mimetic operations in order to attend to the semantic relationships generated within the text itself.

[12] Attending not to the figures who are supposed to offer a mimetic mirroring of so-called "real" human figures but to the images that structure Story as a "poem," he focuses upon the linguistic figures from which Story's metaphors and metonyms are generated and classifies the images of Story into two chains of metaphors. The primary chain is generated from the image of the eye itself, and the "Eye seems to be the matrix of a run of objects that are like different 'stations' of the ocular metaphor." From this primary chain, linguistic and metonymic variations allow a further generation of this matrix. The first variation occurs between 'eye" and 'egg', affecting both the formal and semantic aspects of the terms. As we noted earlier, these terms demonstrate both similar and different features in French (oeil; oeuf); in English the phonetic similarity is less but still present. The semantic similarities--"although absolutely distinct, the two objects are globular and white"--hold in both languages (Barthes, 2001: 121).

[13] Once the semantic values of "whiteness and roundness" are established as textual constants, they "open the way to fresh metaphorical extensions: that of the saucer of milk, for example." When the "whiteness" that is a semantic feature of 'egg', 'eye' and 'milk' "assumes a pearly quality it invites a further development of the metaphor" (Barthes, 2001: 121). In French, this development is "sanctioned by current French usage, which refers to the testicles of animals as eggs"; in English it operates through the term "ball," which can be grafted onto the term "eye" and also serves as a term for "testicle." Together, these terms serve as what Barthes describes as the "sphere of the metaphor within which the whole of Story of the Eye moves, from the cat's saucer of milk, to the putting-out of Granero's eye and the castration of the bull (producing 'glands the size and shape of eggs, and of a pearly whiteness, faintly bloodshot, like that of the globe of the eye')" (Barthes, 2001: 121).

[14] Barthes reading of the text as a poem traces a secondary series of metaphors generated from this primary chain of "globular" terms. The terms of this chain intersect with those of the first chain. It is "made up of all the atavars of liquid, an image linked equally with eye, egg and ball." This chain includes such terms as "tears, milk...the yolk of a soft-boiled egg, sperm or urine," but it is a more complex chain because its signifying play can also account for the various states in which such liquids exist. It can signify "the manner of the appearance of moisture." The metaphors generated by this secondary chain are "much richer than in the case of the globular: from 'damp' to 'streaming', all the varieties of 'making wet' complement the original metaphor of the globe" (Barthes, 2001: 121). Using an associative logic, Barthes reads across the two chains of metaphors to demonstrate how their terms will eventually coincide: "the sun need only become a disc and then a globe for its light to flow like a liquid and join up, via the idea of 'soft luminosity' or a 'urinary liquefaction of the sky', with the eye, egg, and testicle theme" (Barthes, 2001: 122). [15] Barthes' consideration of Story as a poem reads against the possibility of Bataille's text as a novel: Bataille is "not in any way getting involved in the novel, a form that by definition makes do with a partial, derived, impure make-believe (mixed up with reality); on the contrary, he is moving within a kind of essence of make-believe. The I's, eyes, eggs, suns and testes can be read mimetically, but their figurative play disrupts their operations as signifiers of so-called "real" objects. They function as poetic figures or tropes rather than novelistic, mimetic signifiers. Barthes' comments mark the limitations of a mimetic reading of Story as a novel: "Perhaps this type of composition should be called a 'poem'." He contends that the distinction between a novel and Story "needs to be made" because the novelist's imagination is "probable," the language of the novelist grounds itself in a mimetic writing practice that sustains itself in the security of relationships with the real: "The novelist's imagination is 'probable'; a novel is something that might happen, all things considered. It is a diffident sort of imagination...daring to declare itself only against the security of the real" (Barthes, 2001: 120).

[15] Reading Story as if it operated in only a novelistic and mimetic mode limits that reading to tracing the poorly described adventures of those "characters" signified with the pronominal I of the narrative or the so-called "proper names" of Simone, Marcelle and Lord Auch. A mimetic reading and a thematic surveillance of Story can produce such a reading, but it will be extremely limited in its comprehension of Story's textual operations qua text and unable to deal with Bataille's writing as anything more than an exercise in pornography or eroticism by a very limited imagination. Barthes' reading of the text as a poem, rather than a novel, opens the possibility of attending to the metaphoric and metonymic textual operations of the eye as a textual term that is "varied through a certain number of substitute objects standing in a strict relationship to it" (Barthes, 2001:120). Such a "poetic" reading of Story as a "metaphorical composition" works towards liberating it from the mimetic, thematic surveillance that would attempt to limit its signifying play to the sexual arena. Barthes investigates this problem and concludes that the sexual signification of the various terms in the narrative's metaphoric matrix is not privileged over any other signification: "if the chain does have a beginning, if the metaphor does have a generative...term on the basis of which the paradigm takes shape by degree, we should at least recognize that Story of the Eye in no way nominates the sexual as the first term in the chain" (Barthes, 2001: 122).

Reconfiguring the Familial

[16] The family that Bataille creates around the maternal, phallic figure of Simone is little more than a spectral family. Simone's mother is a widow. Her father and the even the name of her father are absences; the mother lacks most, if not all, traditional, maternal attributes. She expresses nothing except a silent, dismal sadness: no love, tenderness, care, watchfulness or solicitude. Bataille's war against the bourgeois family structure reduces the maternal position to one of silent indifference, and the maternal becomes little more than an empty cipher: "Very soon, of course, her mother, who might enter the villa parlour at any moment, did catch us in our unusual act. But still, the first time this fine woman stumbled upon us, she was content, despite having led an exemplary life, to gape wordlessly, so that we did not notice a thing" (Story: 14-15). At the same time that it marginalises this particular, maternal position of Simone's mother, Story simultaneously reinforces the double positions of the text's battling signatory and his pronominal substitute as positions subservient to the maternal phallus. As a writer and artist, Bataille's vision in Story is precisely defined in the words of Kristeva. Like the vision of "Western man" in general, Bataille's is determined by the "major segments" of the "very economy of representation." These segments are "fitted into place by virtue of the themes of motherhood, the woman's body or the mother." Although Bataille's text wages war on bourgeois concepts of motherhood, it remains a servant of the power of the "maternal phallus" that such concepts conceal. Bataille's Story reveals his particular, idiosyncratic and frequently obscene but "always and everywhere unaccomplished art of reproducing bodies and spaces as graspable, masterable objects, within reach of his eye and hand" (Kristeva, 1980: 246).

[17] The maternal powers of Simone's mother are re-marked by their very absence as well as by Simone's appropriation of them. The nameless narrator's lack of a name is also the lack of the name of the father that would also be the name of the narrator. On a mimetic level, this "I" on whom, and through whom, the text demands that its reader keep his or her eyes focused, should share the familial patronymic, but this proper name, as well as the father it should signify, appear only in absentia: "My own parents had not turned up that evening with the pack. Nevertheless, I judged it prudent to decamp and elude the wrath of an awful father, the epitome of a senile Catholic general." In a move that echoes the strategy of The Purloined Letter, our textual "I"--itself no more, nor less, than a deceptively simple letter--conceals himself by placing himself in a location that is simultaneously the most and least obvious location for the gaze of the 'wrathful' father to discover his son: "quite convinced they would look for me everywhere but there, I took a bath in my father's bedroom." Hiding from the father in the place-of-the-father, the "I" of the text takes the place of the father both literally and metaphorically. The eyes of our textual "I" can survey the most intimate and personal room of his father's from the vantage point of the father's bath, and when he leaves the house of the "senile Catholic general," he metaphorically appropriate his father's paternal, phallic power as he "pocket[s]" his "father's pistol" (Story: 19-20).

Secularising the Sacred

[18] The mythemes with which Bataille's wages war against the classic and theological, censorial surveillance that created the contexts for both his and De Sade's erotic subversion of discursive and artistic realism are too numerous to be recounted here with any detail, but among the spectral powers haunting Story are the phallic mother or Magna Mater of the Phrygian mother goddess, Cybele; the Egyptian god Ammon-Ra, who, in his "capacity as origin of everything...is also the origin of the egg" and the tripartite figures of the Christian trinity. The ecstatic ferocity of a phallic mother figure like Cybele is remarked by the lustful power with which Simone consumes one of the bull's testes and inserts the other into her vulva while watching the death of the bullfighter, Granero. It is remarked again, perhaps with even more force, when the "utterly intoxicated" Simone follows Lord Auch's instructions to strangle the priest Don Aminado while experiencing the double, literal and metaphoric, sexual death (the priest's and her own) in a "tempest of joy."

[19] The spectre of the Egyptian god, Ammon Ra, haunts the text through his identification with the figure of the egg and through what Derrida terms the "configurative unity" of the significations of the "power of speech, the creation of being and life, the sun (which is also...the eye) [and]... self concealment" (Derrida, 1981: 87). It is in the sixth of Story's thirteen episodes, the one "signed" with the "proper name" of Simone for its title, that the metaphoric and metonymic chains explored by Barthes are consolidated. The power of the proper name, Simone, regulates this consolidation, and her power as the phallic mother to whom the subject of "I" posits himself structures the narrative. Simone extracts various promises from "I" and has him "throw eggs into the toilet bowl" for her delight. In a double writing strategy that completes the identification of "egg," "eye" and "I," Simone "virtually drink[s] my left eye between her lips." This double "eye" of the "I" is metaphorically translated into a breast as it is "sucked as obstinately as a breast," but Simone asserts her power over "I" by "wrenching [his] head toward her on the seat." Simone's playful game of word association is also the linguistic, metaphoric and metonymic power of the text to subvert and transcend the limitations of representational reason. The creation of the imagist matrix traced by Barthes is "signed" by Simone: "she replied: terminate, the eyes, with a razor, something red, the sun. And egg? A calf's eye...because the white of the egg was the white of the eye and the yolk of the eyeball. The eye, she said, was egg-shaped." The signifying play of the text is Simone's game: "She played gaily with words, speaking about broken eggs, and then broken eyes, and her arguments became more unreasonable" (Story: 34).

[20] It is, perhaps, a coincidence that the first part of Story of the Eye has thirteen episodes, and that this is also the traditional number of Christ and his apostles. There is much less doubt that the two triads that mirror each other across these thirteen episodes sustain a steady surveillance of the sacred trinity of Father, Son and Holy spirit of which they are a subversive, dialectic re-writing, nor that the absent name-of-the-father who is "the epitome of a senile Catholic general" is the name of the same Catholic God represented by Father Don Aminado. Simone, the "I" and Marcelle comprise the first trinity; Simone, "I" and Lord Auch, the second. As a powerful figure of the phallic mother, Simone dominates both of these triads. The first triad is linked with the "Antique Wardrobe" that functions as the title of the second episode. This is the "antique bridal wardrobe where Marcelle "shut herself in" (Story: 17). The second triad is linked with the confessional in the Church of Don Juan where Simone confesses to Don Aminado that she is masturbating while confessing to him. Like the types and anti-types of biblical narrative which they refigure, these two items help to sustain the subversive, narrative structure of Story on a secular, typological level.

[21] The subversive parody of Catholicism and the theological trinity on which it is founded is sustained by the inversion of the traditional role of the priest as a theological, pastoral guardian whose role is to forgive and sustain spiritual life. In Story the priest's role is one of perverse, secular, sexual surveillance linked with sexual orgasm and physical death. The role of Don Aminado as a corrupt spiritual confessor is mirrored and prefigured in the image of the "I" as the Cardinal figure who terrifies Marcelle, and "I" as the phantom Cardinal exists in a secular, typological relationship with Don Aminado. Marcelle confuses "I" with a "cardinal, a priest of the guillotine, with the blood-smeared executioner wearing a liberty cap" when he releases her from the wardrobe. I recalls that he had been wearing a blinding red carnival novelty, a Jacobine liberty cap; furthermore, because of the deep cuts in a girl I had raped, my face, clothes, hands-all parts of me were stained with blood" (Story: 40).

[22] The third triad with which Story of the Eye completes its trinity of trinities is the trinity of the three physical deaths that punctuate the narrative: the suicide of Marcelle, the goring of Granero and the murder of Don Aminado. Ironically, Marcelle commits suicide after she is driven to a state of mental instability by the spectral image of the Cardinal whom she confuses with the figure of an executioner, and this confusion of a traditional spiritual leader with an executioner ironically remarks the relationships between theological surveillance and censorship, sexual repression, mental instability and suicide. This final, secular trinity is an anti-trinity that is negatively marked as a male, phallic trinity of death: Granero is gored by the bull whose horn "plunge[s] into [his] right eye and through [his] head" while attempting to kill it with his sword (Story: 53); Don Aminado is strangled by Simone who "squeeze[s] his throat while copulating with him, and he dies while simultaneously ejaculating (Story: 65). Marcelle is female but her death is caused by the phallic "I" of the text. She commits suicide after being driven to a state of mental instability from the textual position of this "I": "she instantly realised...I was the Cardinal, and when she began shrieking, there was no other way for me to stop that desperate howling than to leave the room. By the time Simone and I returned she was hanging inside the wardrobe" (Story: 43). Together, this trinity of deaths mark one of the limits to the Story of the Eye's battle against the repressive, Classical, socio-theological surveillance and censorship of discourse that paradoxically created the need for the counter-, and contra- writing of both De Sade and Bataille.



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Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Harmondsworth; Penguin Books, 1987.

Hegel, GWF. "The Master Slave Dialectic" from "Phenomenology of Spirit." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B Leitch. New York and London; WW Norton, 2001.

Kristeva, Julia. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Art and Literature. New York; Columbia UP, 1980.