THE SACRED CONSPIRACY

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: The Internal Papers of the Secret Society of Acéphale and Lectures to the College of Sociology

by Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois (Contributor), Pierre Klossowski (Contributor), Michel Leiris (Contributor), Marina Galletti (Editor), Alastair Brotchie (Editor), Natasha Lehrer (Translator), John Harman (Translator) , etc.

Hardback, 480 pages.

This book collects together, for the first time in any language, a representative selection of texts by Georges Bataille, and the writers associated with him, in the years leading up to the Second World War. At a pivotal moment of history when an enormous catastrophe was obviously inevitable, Bataille confronted the most intractable problems of human existence head-on. How to live an integrated existence in a ruthless, absurd and indifferent universe? How to oppose repressive social structures given the failure of the democracies, the political left, and with the rise of the Nazi ideology?

The texts in this book comprise lectures given to the "College of Sociology" by Bataille, Roger Caillois and Michel Leiris, and a large cache of the internal papers of the secret society of Acéphale founded by Bataille in 1937.

The College of Sociology was a semi-public reading and discussion group attended by the cream of Parisian intelligentsia in the ominous atmosphere of the oncoming war. Bataille and Caillois produced some of their greatest texts for these sessions. Acéphale was its "dark", occulted side, a genuine secret society that conducted torch-lit rituals in a forest at night intended to confront death itself. Until the remarkable discovery a few years ago of its internal papers — which include theoretical texts, meditations, minutes of meetings, rules and interdictions and even a membership list — almost nothing was known of its activities. This book reveals the history of one of the strangest associations in "literary", or any other history.

In these texts the narrative of a desperate adventure unfolds, of a wholly unreasonable quest: "What we are starting is a war." Bataille risked all in this undertaking, and death was not absent from it; with a few fellow travellers he undertook what he later described as a "journey out of this world."