Story of the Eye

It is not expected that a book which is deemed pornographic will leave anyone depressed. The book may have its faults in the way it progresses but the accomplished objective of such a book is to leave one on a high and not feel depressed.

'Story of Eye' by Georges Bataille is supposed to be a book what, in literary circles, is called a 'Transgressive fiction'. It runs through the sexual exploits of the narrator (who remains unnamed) and Simone, a girl with an insatiable(if it can be called that!) and perverse sexual desire. It can also be called a pornographic fiction (as it was called multiple times after its publication).

It took me about two and a half hours to finish reading it. More intrigued by the 'adventures' of the couple across varied locations it was simply a page-turner. And it is only about 100 pages long and starts off with Simone reaching her orgasm in the midst of a thunderstorm, in the middle of the road, beside the corpse of a cyclist they ran over. Simone just has a fetish for pain, humiliation, bodily fluids and what not. It is transgressive, of course.

Transgression, as a word, does not imply all that that can be made to be called such. Dostoevsky's 'Crime and punishment' is transgressive. It details the life of the people living on the edge in the metropolis and tells the tale without any word plays or gimmicks. It does not preach any morals but leaves that to the reader to deign the meaning of the tale.

'Story of Eye' does not pretend to be something it is not. It does not try. It is impossible to read it  purely because of the impossible situations in which Simone finds herself in and derives pleasure from, without putting oneself in that same place. The book immerses one in the situations, however improbable and impossible it may be. It is difficult to stand aside and watch the goings on .

What the Eye in the title refers to, is the obsession Simone has with all objects associated with Eye and the shape it represents. There are repeated references to the Eye, Sun, Moon, Testicles. What it represent is left to one's conjecture.They represent the almost mad-in-the-world eyes fetish Simone has with all things that relate to it. Or is it Simone?

Georges Bataille's epilogue explains a bit. He grew up with a blind father who urinates wherever he is and suspects his wife of adultery with his doctor. That may be the obsession with the eyes.

But the way Simone approaches it, it becomes a deeply personal experience. The eye (or the bull's testicle) as the case may be, becomes a ball/sphere once it detaches from the socket or the bull. Is it still an eye if it is not attached to the body? The de-humanization this brings into the novel is deeply disturbing and relieving at once. After all, Simone is not getting her orgasm with an eyeball stuck in her vagina, it is only a spherical fleshy-mush.

This was supposed to be a pornographic novel. An average Tamil movie will titillate you more than this book. For me, the intensity of the experience is not in the sex but the revolting nature of it all around. An egg becomes a potent symbol of all the transgressions in the book from absolute orgy to murder.

And the book is not for the prude and squeamish. The absolutely pervert nature of sex as in this book does not titillate but depresses mind. The focus is on the search for an explanation to the multiple violations of the sanctity of the life and death and the imagery of it all with eggs broken, testicles served in platter reaching the crescendo in the final act of Simone murdering the curate slowly while having sex. Nothing explains it more than human nature.

Or otherwise, you can just skip all the explanations and read it.

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