Simon Critchley, “Cult of Memory: Simon Critchley Interviewed” by Daniel Fraser, The Quietus 2 November 2014
Bataille is of particular interest to me because you could see Bataille condemning the memory theatre and in particular the memory theatre that is Hegel’s fantasy of absolute knowledge, the closed economy of the theatrical space in the book, and opposing that in the name of what he calls throughout his work ‘sovereignty’. Sovereignty is an odd word to use in many ways, because what Bataille was interested in wasn’t sovereignty as the capacity to make a decision or act in a certain way but rather to engage in an experience where you give up who you were and be free of that fantasy of a closed economy.
So in Bataille you’ve got this cultivation of a series of experiences: eroticism, squandering, sacrifice and so on and so forth which are about staging something which would let that memory theatre go in a way; would let go of the delusion of absolute knowledge.
In many ways you can read the book as a negative moral: the point of the book is what’s not in it in many ways. I wrote the book in order to try to correct that tendency in myself which of course you fail to do but nonetheless you have to try.
To write at all is to construct some kind of delusional memory theatre which so often leads to you becoming like some machine which just produces words, like Zizek, just saying the same things over and over again. How do you stop doing that? Does it mean stopping writing? Maybe. Maybe it means writing in a different way such as writing collaboratively, something I’ve tried to do over the years to try and give up the authority of the voice.