The shoe of a dead woman at the bottom of a cupboard


The Critical Dictionary (French: Dictionnaire critique) was a regular section of the journal Documents. It offered short essays by Georges Bataille and his colleagues on such subjects as “Absolute“, “Eye“, “Factory Chimney”, and “Keaton (Buster)“.

In the entry for aesthete one finds the following sentence:

“When it comes down to it, these words have the power to disturb and to nauseate: after fifteen years, one finds the shoe of a dead woman at the bottom of a cupboard; one throws it in the rubbish bin.” […] The unfortunate who says that art no longer works, because that way one remains disengaged from the ‘dangers of action’, says something deserving of the same attention as the dead woman’s shoe.” (translation by Art in Theory).

Bataille never fails to intrigue me. I must confess – and I always do – that I do not understand one iota of what he means by the image of a dead woman’s shoe in relation to art and aesthetes, but not understanding is a very big part of the attraction. As I stated before, I like my philosophy poetic and incomprehensible.

5 thoughts on “The shoe of a dead woman at the bottom of a cupboard

  1. lichanos

    …I do not understand one iota of what he means…

    It seems you are more honest than many. I read only one of his books, The Illusion of the End, and concluded that it could only be digested as weird poetry of questionable value. But if it keeps you entertained…

  2. jahsonic


    The quote was by Bataille, not Baudrillard. I do not feel much for Baudrillard nor Derrida except for the sound bites. Bataille is different, endless enigmatic intrigue to me. Much like Deleuze, Debord (my third fave is more concrete).


  3. lichanos

    Ah, Bataille, not Baudrillard…I said I wasn’t a serious student of these guys…

    I have a soft spot for Debord and the Situationists, but only as rhetoricians.

  4. jahsonic

    It’s the rhetoric that counts, less than the content. The content is what it is, it’s how it’s interpreted, what you make of it.


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