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Life: A Fusion Of Pleasure And Pain

A mixture of joy and sorrow; a beautiful blending of light and deep. Human existence is comprised of an interweaving web of pleasure and despair; an online from which we can not escape. Many of the works that we have read in class think about this "fusion" that people call "life. "

Maurice Blanchot properly summarizes the fact of human lifetime as quoted from "The Infinite Conversation:"

"The man of the world lives in nuance and by certifications, he lives in a mixture of light and shadow, in mixed up enchantment or irresolute mediocrity: in the centre. Tragic man lives in the extreme stress between contraries, heading from a it depends confusedly merged back again to a yes and a no that are obvious and clearly preserved in their opposition. He does not see man as a passable mixture of middling attributes and genuine failings, but as an endurable meeting of extreme grandeur and extreme destitution, an incongruous nothingness where the two infinities collide. "1

Essentially, ambivalence defines our life: the tragic world. Humans are unique in the actual fact that we can be wounded, not merely in the physical sense, however in the truth that someone or something can shatter our integrity. Georges Bataille claims that "man differs from pet in that the guy can experience certain feelings that wound him and melt him to the key. " 2 This undeniable reality is why is us vunerable to the ambivalence of life; the certainty that emotional anguish can be inflicted onto us by others.

In "Madame Edwarda, " Georges Bataille ironically refers to the prostitutes' vagina as a wound; 3 inferring the fusion of pleasure and pain for the narrator. Initially, one might think that her wound should bring nothing but sexual joy to the narrator, however her wound ultimately causes him psychological distress in many ways. Madame Edwarda identifies herself as God, attracting the narrator further into her seductive hypnotism. By delivering the idea of God in the form of a good, yet tainted prostitute, Bataille addresses the sacred's amazing mother nature, with her mixture of interest and terror.

As Madame Edwarda is ranking under the Porte Saint-Denis, the narrator is enjoying from a distance (as she actually is losing her mind. ) He soon accepts the actual fact that "She hadn't lied, that She was GOD. " 4 This landscape could also be considered Madame Edwarda playing the role of God and guarding the gates of heaven. The narrators clear apprehension when approaching her clues at his concern with entering into Purgatory and acquiring his "Final View. " Underneath the arch, he's used with emptiness and allows any suffering that he might go through. The narrator "lusts for her hidden knowledge" 5 a great deal that he would tolerate any amount of pain to get answers and acquire the reality. These frightened, yet hopeful feelings that the narrator activities are induced by Madame Edwarda and her "wound;" the same personality who had previously provided him with outstanding sexual pleasure. It could therefore be said that Madame Edwarda symbolizes our ambivalent life: an opposing balance of pain and pleasure.

Sigmund Freud also explores the idea of human being life as a fusion of joy and sorrow in his essay called "The Uncanny. " Uncanny is the English translation of the German term unheimlich, which is the key focus of this essay. Freud supplies the explanation of unheimlich in 8 different languages, carefully demonstrating the contradictory meaning of the term. He summarizes these descriptions stating:

"the term 'heimlich' is not unambiguous, but belongs to two models of ideas. . . similarly it means what is familiar and agreeable, and on the other, what's concealed and placed out of view [. . uncomfortable]. " 6

Investigating this classification further, it is easy to observe how an uncanny experience can evoke both pleasure and pain. A nice experience is one which is "familiar and agreeable, " and humans make an effort to keep painful experience "out of look" and out of mind [a function of the pleasure theory]. Since the uncanny is that which is new on the grounds that it's too familiar, it is good to say that an uncanny experience evokes both pain [in the eeriness of the given situation] and pleasure [feelings of familiarity and homeyness] to whoever is experiencing it.

Freud presumed that the ego uses body's defence mechanism when threatened, including the repression of agonizing memories deep in to the unconscious brain. The uncanny is actually a defense device that unconsciously reminds us of our very own identification, our forbidden and therefore repressed impulses that are stored "out of look" because our super-ego perceives them to be intimidating. 7 The reemergence of these repressed memories are those experience which we consider as uncanny. Freud further identifies the idea of the uncanny as a defense mechanism by proclaiming:

". . [the] uncanny is the truth is nothing new or alien, but something is familiar and old-established in your brain and which has become alienated from it only through the procedure of repression. " 8

As advised by this quote, the uncanny can be an example of a situation in which the pleasure concept cannot adequately deal because it is does not keep repressed impulses out of your conscious. This price also relates back again to Freud's theory of human being drives which were mentioned in another Freudian work that people researched called "Beyond the Pleasure Concept. " In this essay, Freud reevaluates his preceding theoretical beliefs regarding his theory of individual drives. Previously, he had suggested that the individuals psyche could be divided into three parts: the identification, the superego, and the ego. He identified the id as the impulsive section that performs on the "pleasure theory;" the superego as the moral element; and the ego as the logical balance between the superego and the id.

Freud shows that the pleasure basic principle is deficient as a result of general compulsion to duplicate. This compulsion to replicate un-pleasurable experiences talks about why distressing nightmares take place in dreams. 9 He argues that the unconscious repeats unwanted experiences in order to desensitize your body.

Using this thought process, Freud proposed his new theory, stating that humans are motivated by two conflicting central dreams: the life drive and the fatality drive. The life drive is concerned with preserving life by seeking pleasure and steering clear of pain. Contrastingly, the death drive is the instinctual desire in all living things to return to less state that been around before we were created. Freud reasons that living organisms desire to be deceased because theoretically we were all inactive before we were alive. He talks about how real human drives contain a balance between pleasure [life drive] and pain [loss of life drive] when he declares:

"It is plain that the majority of what's revived by the repetition-compulsion cannot but bring pain to the ego, for it promotes the taking to light of the actions of repressed impulses; but that is clearly a discomfort we have already considered and without subversion of the pleasure-principle, since it is 'pain' in respect of 1 system and at exactly the same time satisfaction for the other. " 10

As summarized by this price, every experience or stimulus that we encounter is providing satisfaction for one drive while all together inducing distress on the other. Thus reiterating the fact that our life contains an intricate blending of pain and pleasure. On webpage 24 of "Beyond the Pleasure Process, " Freud claims further comments on this theory by declaring that "the repetition-compulsion [death drive] and direct pleasurable satisfaction [life drive] seem to be inextricably intertwined. " As indicated by this offer, it is impossible to obtain one impulse without the other because they can be found concurrently. Freud firmly believed that the life span and death drives in our head are locked in an eternal battle; therefore insinuating that our human life is made up of a mixture of pain and pleasure.

In his preface to "Madame Edwarda, " Georges Bataille nicely amounts up this common theme seen throughout various works we've studied:

"A combo of both conditions [pleasure and pain] leads us to entertain an image of mankind as is should be, and in that picture man appears at no less great a remove from extreme pleasure as from extreme pain. . " 11

It is not hard to recognize the ambivalent characteristics of our existence. Pain and pleasure intertwine in unstable relations throughout the discourse of this human lifetime. You can not exist with no occurrence of the other. This fusion of pleasure and pain is referred to as life.


1. Maurice Blanchot, The Infinite Talk. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 99

2. Georges Bataille, Madame Edwarda. (New York: Marion Boyars, 2003), 140

3. Bataille, 150

4. Bataille, 152

5. Bataille, 153

6. Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny. 224-25

7. Wikipedia. "The Uncanny. " Previous modified October 21, 2010. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Uncanny

8. Freud, 241

9. Wikipedia. "Sigmund Freud. " Previous modified October 23, 2010. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Sigmund_Freud

10. Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Process. (Mansfield Centre: Martino Posting, 2010), 20

11. Bataille, 137

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