2022 Abstracts Stage 2

The Appeal of Violence and Suffering in Marina Abramović’s Performance Art

The use of pain, violence and suffering is a huge pattern in the performance artwork of Marina Abramović. She pushes herself to physical and mental extremes, creating shocking self-sacrificial performances. Despite this, she is one of the most renowned artists in the world, and audiences of thousands gather to see her perform. This project will investigate the reasons for this great appeal of violence and aim to demonstrate that there is a more profound experience occurring during the observation of Abramović’s suffering. The particular philosophers I am using to investigate this are Georges Bataille, with major works Theory of Religion and Erotism: Death and Sensuality. Also Julia Kristeva, with her work Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection.

2022 Abstracts Stage 2

Is it worthwhile to use drugs for aesthetic production?

Aesthetic production is an innovative and important part of humanity that holds value. Using psychedelic drugs can increase human potential and possibilities in aesthetic production but outdated moral views on drug use are holding us back. Psychedelic drug use should not be dismissed as a means to facilitate creativity. The hermeneutic-interpretative approach is appropriate to develop this claim due to analysing Friedrich Nietzsche and George Bataille’s primary texts and secondary interpretations of them to formulate an argument. I shall critique the norms and axiology of contemporary culture to assess the moral views on drugs because it is an endeavour into what is worthwhile. This methodological approach is favourable over a historical contrastive method because this project is interested in the concepts of transgression and enhancing creativity not in changing attitudes towards drugs over time. For clarification psychedelic drugs can be defined as a group of substances that can change or enhance thought processes, sensory perceptions and energy levels. They are known informally as hallucinogenic drugs and are used recreationally to heighten one’s state of awareness and induce mind-altering experiences. The most common psychedelic drugs used are Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD/ Acid), Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), Mescaline and Psilocybin (magic mushrooms), these will be referred to in abbreviated form. All of which are naturally occurring substances found in specific plant species, fungi or mould.
It is crucial to certify that aesthetics is a fundamentally important element of existence that is worth enhancing. Aesthetics attends to the nature of beauty, artistic experimentation and an extensive list of art forms that embody free creative human expression. Different modes of being and doing manifest themselves in aesthetic creation along with diverse ways of thinking that encompass emotion. Art is a precious component of human existence, and the process of aesthetic experience should have room to transcend and realize itself beyond the sphere of human understanding, if we can enhance it further, we ought to.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

Can Music Be Transgressive?

An application of Nietzschean and Bataillean philosophy to the music of Lana del Rey and The Stooges, in order to investigate whether music has the capacity to be transgressive. Specific use of Nietzsche’s concepts of the Apolline and Dionysiac with Bataille’s philosophy of transgression which includes erotism and expenditure.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Excessive Expenditure. An investigation into ‘the student experience’. Is university an opportunity for rebellion or another cultural norm?

Using Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and Philosophy of Mind, I have established the theory of Sittlichkeit and the State. The Sittlichkeit is the moral fabric of a society, founded on the historical development of social norms. Within a state, it is the basis of personal and societal morality. If we look at the student experience, it could be seen as part of modern society’s Sittlichkeit, a social norm in itself based around mutual interests and community.

The student experience: excessive drinking, late nights, unhealthy food, promiscuity.

We have urges for sacrifice and ritual not supported by society. Bataille says we must release these need through non-productive expenditure, concerned only with destruction and sacrifice. Bataille’s general economy is this cycle of production and destruction: both equally necessary. Applied to the student lifestyle, excessive behaviours are nothing more than a release of these urges through action for its own sake: non-productive.

2012 Abstracts Stage 2

Is it Edifying to Reject the Moral Boundaries Implicit in Everyday Life in Order to Place Oneself in an Environment where Excess, Ecstasy and Self-Expression are Accessible?


Notion of festival: general and restricted economy, non-productive expenditure, taboo and transgression, sacrifice, the sacred and profane, and joy before death…

The Burning Man…

Smith and Kelley’s artistic interpretation of carnivalism…

Apollonian and Dionysian: Greek Attic tragedy and Wagner…

2010 Abstracts Stage 2

Glastonbury Festival and the Festivals of the Cherokee Tribe of Indian America

Aim: I intend to explore, in depth, both the Glastonbury festival and the festivals of the Cherokee Indian American tribe. I will compare and contrast their methods of celebration and their traditional customs.

Territory: I will be looking through the history of Glastonbury festival; how it has changed and developed through its forty-year span, including its transformation through commerce, charity and attendees. Conversely, I will focus on the Cherokee festivals through their very broad historical traditions; establishing the reasons behind their elaborate celebrations and the methods used to do so.

Philosophers and Concepts: I will mainly focus on Bataille’s philosophy, with particular reference to The Accursed Share and amongst his other writings; looking at his notions of unproductive expenditure, potlatch and the sacred. In addition, I will use a variety of resources, such as film, literature and internet sites to illustrate these notions and apply them to my aim.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Student Search for the Sacred: a Study into Bataillean Transgression and Time-Wasting Amongst Newcastle Undergraduates

For George Bataille, human beings have a natural desire to both create and destroy. This dualism can be considered a balance of time spent productively and time wasted. Modern Capitalist culture gives less room than ever for destruction and time‐wasting. As a result of this, the modern human being finds strange new ways to accommodate his desire to transgress the social dogma of spending time usefully. Could binge drinking and drug abuse be examples of such transgression? The Newcastle undergraduate, newly expected to manage his time effectively, is a fascinating example to study under the Bataillean spotlight. My Stage 2 Project shall take the concepts of radical French thinker George Bataille, and assess to what extent his theory can account for alcohol and drug abuse within Newcastle University students. This aspect of student behaviour will be examined under the Bataillean spotlight of transgression and taboos.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The “Punk” Trend by Vivienne Westwood and the Philosophy of Bataille

My key point is to look into the fashion trends of Vivienne Westwood, I shall concentrate on the era of ‘Punk’ where Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren played a vital role. I shall compare this with the Philosophy of Georges Bataille who had an obsession with obscene things such as Human Sacrifice. Concentrating mainly on his Base Materialism and his writing’s Eroticism and Story of the Eye. Punk……. • Punk first emerged in the mid 1970s in London as an anarchic and aggressive movement. About 200 young people defined themselves as an anti-fashion urban youth street culture. Vivienne Westwood is often cited as punk’s creator, but the complex genesis of punk is also found in England’s depressed economic and socio-political conditions of the mid-1970s. Punk was as much a youthful reaction against older generations, considered oppressive and outdated, as a product of the newly recognized and influential youth culture. Creative and entrepreneurial people, such as Westwood, often contribute to an aesthetic that brings a sub cultural style to the forefront of fashion. Bataille…. This image of a torture victim from Taiwan fascinated Georges Bataille. He thought that “the expression on the man’s face is the ecstasy of sexual pleasure”. Georges Bataille believed, as Hegel did, that ‘history is dead’ that we need to come up with new and exciting ways to take society forward to a new way of living because as it is now it is boring. He believed that the key to this was through art, shocking people into change.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Sacrifice, Martyrdom and the Sacred

In my project, I wanted to explore the notion of sacrifice in relation to Christianity, specifically looking at the idea of martyrdom. I wanted to contrast this with Bataille’s ideas on religious sacrifices and his notions of the sacred. My aim for my project was so that I could understand the reason as to why people are willing to sacrifice their lives for their beliefs. To understand martyrdom in Christianity, I decided to look at their beliefs and values that they uphold and teach. I then looked at the meaning of martyrdom, and how it has changed from meaning martus, ‘to witness’ to die for a purpose or a cause.
To illustrate this point, I looked at Simone Weil as an example. She starved herself to death as a protest to the treatment of French citizens under Nazi-Germany. I wanted to explore her biography and her philosophy so I could understand her values and her beliefs. I then wanted to contrast Christian thoughts, with Bataille. He argued that sacrifice is religion portraying the heterogeneous. It breaks the means-end lifestyle for those who witness it, however, for the person martyring their self, he argued that they want to do it to break away from ‘things’. After looking at Bataille, I wanted to finally look at Yukio Mishima. I wanted to see whether his death was for a greater ‘good’ or belief he supported, or whether it was an attraction to the heterogeneous.

Key Books for my Project
Christian Beliefs and Martyrdom— “Christian Beliefs and Modern Questions” by O.Quick-Chase and “Martyrdom—The Psychology, Theology, and Politics of Self-sacrifice” by R.M Fields.
Simone Weil—”Simone Weil” by S. Pétrement and “Gravity and Grace” by S. Weil
Bataille—”Theory of Religion” by G. Bataille and “After Bataille – Sacrifice, Exposure, Community” by P. Ffrench
Mishima— “Life and Death of Yukio Mishima” by H. ScottStokes and “The Sea of Fertility” by Y. Mishima

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

The Truth Behind the Jonestown Massacre – Insight into the Character of Jim Jones in Light of Bataille’s Thought

Territory: In the autumn of 1978 in a rural area of Guyana, South America, a tragic event occurred, making headlines and remaining in the minds of many for years to come. A religious leader known as Rev. Jim Jones orchestrated a mass ‘suicide’ of over 900 people in a remote area known as Jonestown. Aims: To uncover the truth behind such an unusual event and really focus my attention upon the character of Jim Jones to see what led him to such an unfortunate end. I shall aim to do this by looking at the works of George Bataille. I intend to unmask not only the character of Jim Jones’ character and his followers, but also that of Bataille. I shall focus on Bataille’s own thought to see how it sheds light on the Jonestown massacre. Concepts: Bataille’s notion of homogeneity versus heterogeneity. Bataille’s views on religion in relation to Jim Jones’. Bataille’s on fascism versus Jones’ on socialism Georges Bataille versus Jim Jones. Research: Bataille: Visions of Excess, Gemerchak, The Sunday of the Negative, Tim Reiterman, Raven-The untold story of the People’s Temple.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Advertising. A Study into the Causes and Consequences of Advertising with Reference to Bataille and Schopenhauer

Advertising and consumerism is undeniably significant in modern society and this study takes an alternative philosophical approach towards the issue as well as considering modern thinkers that have discussed the medium previously.
Schopenhauer argued that an individual is controlled by their will and this leads them to live a life of dissatisfaction and suffering. This study shows that advertising does not produce this suffering but intensifies negative feelings because it forces desires on individuals. Schopenhauer argues that to discover metaphysical truth is a temporary release from this cycle and so this study also considers its applicability to contemporary society. The texts used will be ‘The World as Will and Representation volume I and II’.
Bataille considers how a homogenous society seeks to remove unproductive elements from this sphere but I argue that because modern society is dominated by capitalism and homogeneity, it seeks to remove unproductive behaviour from all of society. This study then examines how advertising could be used as a tool to remove unproductive or heterogeneous behaviour by shaping our desires. The negative consequence is that heterogeneous behaviour is inseparable from productive behaviour. This insight is taken from a collection of essays by Bataille.

2009 Abstracts Stage 2

Addiction …. Mill and Bataille

My territory is addiction; I chose addiction as it is a contemporary issue of concern today! I have examined most areas of addiction, such as; Drug/ alcohol abuse, gambling, sex and eating disorders. Essentially it is not about what addiction one has; rather why one is addicted in the first place. Thus, I have explored contemporary answers. The two concepts of Philosophy I have  chosen are that of Mill and Bataille. 

Bataille is related to my topic of addiction because he blames Society!!! Due to the Rise of Capitalism All time is spent on useful means leaving no  time for useless expenditure…addiction is a way of escaping  this monotonous regimented lifestyle!!! 

The methodology: The method I have used throughout my project is the hermeneutic interpretive, as I attained all my information from books and the internet.

Mill is associated with my territory because his philosophy is based on Hedonism: Addiction is based on pleasure and addicts do it to release pain. This is also following Mill’s principle of Utilitarianism. Also, I have explored Mill’s work on education; his basic doctrine related to addiction would be that a good education from a young age would prevent behaviours like addiction occurring. He distinguishes higher and lower pleasures, higher pleasures being things such as; theatre and literature. Thus an alternative for addiction, for Mill, could be through art.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

An Investigation into the Origins and Implications of Football Related Violence

• My aim in my project is to give a detailed discussion into the origins and implications of football related violence. In doing this I want to emphasise certain aspects of football related violence which make it such a serious problem. In researching this topic it became apparent that football violence is seen by most as being nothing more than physical outburst between alcohol induced ‘thugs’, I want to show that football related violence is much more than this. • In doing this I will give a detailed discussion on the origins and how the world wide problem of football related violence is seen as an ‘English disease’. From this point I will look at the implications of football related violence, for example, fascism and racism and related them to the work of George Bataille. This project will establish that acts of football related violence are much more than a ‘thugs’ battle.

2007 Abstracts Stage 2

SODOMISE ME: And other erotic transgressions

The philosophical basis of this project will be focused predominantly on the works of Bataille and Sade including Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom and Bataille’s Eroticism. This project aims to investigate eroticism and taboo in terms of the sexually grotesque in order to explore the place of erotic transgression in past and present society. I will do this by elaborating on key themes such as death, sexual perversion and cruelty. Chuck Palahniuk’s Guts represents a modern comparison to Sade’s text, using Bataille’s reflections from Eroticism I will conclude by assessing the significance and purpose of taboos within our society today.

2004 Abstracts Stage 3

The Surpassing of the Shattered Attitude

This philosophy project will evaluate the notion of science, technology and capitalism as an abstract organising mechanism. It will attempt to show the turn in philosophy in ways to redeem the primacy of bodily life and creativity and its influence on the order of things. Abstract: Topic and Key Concepts Capitalism is conceived by production and efficiency. Bataille and Deleuze and Guattari show that one is compelled to participate as a producer in society via the economic infrastructure, and as a consumer via cultural mediation. In essence the human condition is confined by an ‘abstract order’, being that of capitalism. The project will evaluate the shift in consciousness, perception and communication. It will assess the ability to understand and absorb the impact of technological and other changes, how basic human ‘drives’ are related, for example, to a well-functioning economic system, to a balance of conversation and change, and to the production of functionally useful patterns of society. . An evaluation on the various means and manifestations denying such abstract representative systems in society: – Through Transgressions – Drugs. Stimulants and Dampeners – Idleness – Counter-Institutions – Revolution – Terrorism It will evaluate political, economic and media examples of representative systems evaluating the ways in which technology has been imagined and theorised during recent history exploring its impact on the producing and consuming individual. It will assess the propagation of ‘events’ and will assess the manifestations of the rejection of functionally useful patterns of society, i.e. the intensification of the working day. Sources: Heidegger: ‘On the Question Concerning Technology’, Deleuze and Guattari’s: ‘Anti Oedipus’, Bataille: The Accursed Share, Baudrillard Jean: The Mirror of Production and Simulations, Beck U: Reflexive Modernisation

2004 Abstracts Stage 2

Religion, Religiosity and Trainspotting

Religion as a particular system of faith or worship. A system of beliefs. A belief in a higher power, a belief in spirits, Mana, Darshan. A development from primitive culture. A direct relationship with God, or with an unseen higher power. George Bataille, Theory of Religion. A destruction of the world of immanence, a destruction of the vague intimacy of man. The creation of tools, the turning of everything, man, animal and tool in to a thing. The thing, a symbol of duration, of utility, of productivity, that which destroys intimacy and immanence. The Sacrifice, is the only way to restore things to the realm of the sacred, make a thing no longer a thing, to return it to what it once was “The thing – only the thing – is what sacrifice means to destroy in the victim.” The Festival is that which offers a release from the problem of being human, it is not the perfect solution, but it is the only one. It allows man to break free, but only as free as his consciousness deems useful. Intoxication, Drugs, Alcohol, Raves, Clubbing. Various forms of release in our society, ways which match the Bataillean idea of festival as being the only way for man to get in touch with his lost self, a return to immanence. All these things are depicted in the work of the contemporary author Irvine Welsh, as he describes the exploits of his characters in working class Edinburgh, whether they are on psychoactive drugs, or in the lost world of heroin.