Head Chop: Acéphale and community in the works of Bataille, Blanchot, and Nancy.
Fletcher, Joseph Daniel
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Head Chop is a practice-led research project exploring the thinking of community found within the works of Georges Bataille, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Maurice Blanchot. Using the central exchange between Nancy and Blanchot, as found in the triple intersection of texts composed of Nancy’s Inoperative Community, Blanchot’s The Unavowable Community, and finally Nancy’s recent The Disavowed Community, Head Chop draws upon the interfaces of these three works to develop a reading of community. Utilising the concept of fictioning, an imaging of possible worlds, as its primary methodology, Head Chop develops a narrativised analysis of community. The story of Acéphale, Bataille’s secret society, provides the structuring fiction of the work. This story is developed from a synthesis of fragmentary accounts of the Acéphale group’s sacrificial ambition, and the illustrations of the Acéphale journal. The result is a tale of a human sacrifice from which the being Acéphale subsequently arises. In tracing the relation of the work of Nancy and Blanchot to the work of Bataille, Head Chop draws attention to the role of the figure of Acéphale for Bataille, and its subsequent insinuation in the work of Nancy and Blanchot. The figure of Acéphale operates as an editorial device that structures and informs the readings of these works as a common grounding and central problematic. This situates the readings of Bataille, Nancy and Blanchot in a contested frame of reference by attempting to accommodate an alternate version of the sacrificial event. Head Chop finds a basis for its methodological investigation in Deleuze and Guattari’s work What is Philosophy? Excising and developing a series of figures and conceptual tools from the works of Nancy, Blanchot and Bataille, Head Chop develops a crossing of these figures and concepts as characters within the broader narrative of Acéphale. Following this methodological approach, Head Chop traces series of connected concepts in the works of Nancy and Blanchot. In developing these connections in relation to the Acéphale narrative, conceptual structures engaged in the thinking of community are drawn out into the broader contexts of Nancy and Blanchot’s work. These connections are traced in Nancy through addressing such notions as the deconstruction of the subject, the question of authenticity in Heidegger, a re-reading of Heideggeran ontology that privileges Mitsein, and the singular plural. In Blanchot conceptual connections are similarly traced, beginning from the foundational role of the other, the challenging passion of lovers, through to death, unworking, and the question of testimony. In developing a narrativised analysis of the figure of Acéphale, Head Chop aims to open new channels of inquiry into the concept of community as it arises between the works of Bataille, Blanchot and Nancy. Research questions: How does a re-imaging of the Acéphale story, in which Acéphale is begotten, engage with Bataille, Nancy and Blanchot’s readings of community? What is to be gained from the use of a re-imagined Acéphale story in a thinking of community?