An aphorism, found in Emil Cioran's 1973 book "The Trouble With Being Born", touches on the subject of the previous post:
"One cannot do a writer a greater service than to forbid him to work for some time. One should establish short-lived tyrannies, during which all intellectual work should be halted. Freedom of expression without any limit exposes talented people to a deadly danger, forces them to go beyond their means and stops them from accumulating sensations and experiences. Unlimited freedom is an attack on the spirit".
The aphorism proposes, like Bataille, that literature thrives on (socio-political) circumstances that deny it the right to exist. Like Bataille, Cioran proposes that literature feeds on impossibility. But where Bataille accents the left-handed side of this paradox (revolt, childishness, transgression), Cioran stresses its right-handed side (authority, safety, teleology, limits).
This characterization of these two perspectives on literature, is derived from the work of Robert M. Hertz. Hertz (1881-1915), a French ethnologist, pupil and close friend to Marcel Mauss, wrote a systematic study of the symbolic meaning of the left hand and the right hand: 'La Prominence de la Main Droite' (published in 1928). The symbolic meaning of the two hands is dichotomous. The right hand was associated with authority, adulthood, virtue, faith, limits, truthfulness; the left hand with revolt, defilement, childishness, transgression, crime, fraud and treachery. This dichotomy is applied to the least detail in ritual, in the practice of divination, in customs and beliefs. Hertz' study was a major influence on the thought of Roger Caillois, a French thinker who co-founded the Collège de Sociologie with Georges Bataille.
I must underline that more is at stake here than mere static, cognitive signification: this 'language-game' is as serious as Russian roulette! The symbols of the left and right hand are - as all symbols - metaphoric expressions and dramatizations of (contradictory, paradoxical, tense) social forces in a given society. Furthermore, symbols such as these are dynamic and actively shape events and passions in friendship, sexuality, art and politics.
I interpret the symbol of the artist as a creator who desires a society that denies his right to exist, as a dynamic symbol. I see it as an expression of social and symbolic tensions in the early-nineties Norwegian Black Metal community (and wider Norwegian society), which gave shape to the dramatic relation between Mayhem's Øystein 'Euronymous' Aarseth and Burzum's Kristian 'Varg' Vikernes.
The artist as a creator who desires a society that denies his right to exist, is a paradoxical symbol. An artist embodying the left-handed side of this paradox was murdered by a fellow artist who embodies the right-handed side of the paradox: the drama which unfolded in the Dream Time of Norwegian Black Metal certainly had a "...strange processual inevitability overriding questions of interest, expediency, or even morality" (Turner). The murder of Mayhem's Aarseth by Burzum's Vikernes was not only a tragedy in the Classical sense of the word. It was and is more than that: it is the frozen image of a configuration pregnant with tensions between opposing but interdependent socio-cultural forces, a configuration that was shocked into crystallization into a monad, not by the thought of the dialectical critic (Benjamin), but by the violence of the act.