'The simple sexual act is different from eroticism; the former is found in animal life, whereas human life alone admits of an activity defined perhaps by a “diabolical” aspect, aptly described by the word eroticism.
   The word “diabolical”, it is true, refers to Christianity. It would appear, however, that even when Christianity was still far off, the most ancient form of humanity knew eroticism. the documents from our prehistory are striking: the first images of man, painted on the walls of caves, show him with his sex erect. there is nothing exactly “diabolical” about these images: they are prehistoric, and the devil in those days, in spite of everything...
   If it is true that “diabolical” means essentially the coincidence of death and eroticism, and if the devil is in the end only our own madness, if we come to tears, if we shudder in sorrow-or if we are seized by fits of laughter-can we fail to perceive, linked to this nascent eroticism, the preoccupation with, the haunting fear of death (of a tragic death, in a sense, even though laughable in spite of everything)? These people, who in the images the left of themselves on the walls of caves chose to represent themselves most often with an erection, differed from animals not just on account of the desire thereby associated, in principle, with the essence of their being. What we know about them enables us to say that they knew what animals do not know: that they would die.'

  '[...] limited to its own domain, eroticism could never have achieved this fundamental truth divulged in religious eroticism, the identity of horror and the religious. Religion in its entirety was founded upon sacrifice. But only an interminable detour allows us to reach that instant where the contraries seem visibly conjoined, where the religious horror disclosed in sacrifice becomes linked to the abyss of eroticism, to the last shuddering tears that eroticism alone can illuminate.'

Georges Bataille, The Tears of Eros, translator: Peter Connor, publisher: City Lights Books

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