'The human spirit is dominated by a demand that makes bliss intolerable. Bliss suddenly provokes a greater desire, one more demanding than the desire to be happy: the desire to break up and destroy one’s own bliss. In this action, which presupposes happiness and strength begin with, man achieves in himself “that which makes him a man.” The greatest and worst calm naturally serves as an avenue leading to “joy in the face of death.” Romantic images would give a wrong notion of this action, witch necessarily leaves one bare and sends one naked into the desert. There, there is a great simplicity that causes objections to collapse on their own when they claim that, since one does not die, it is fraudulent to speak of “joy in the face of death.” It is not a question of dying at all but of being transported “to the level of death.” Vertigo and laughter with no bitterness, a sort of power that grows but is painfully swallowed up in itself to arrive at a suppliant fierceness, that is something accomplished in great silence.'

Georges Bataille, 'Joy in the Face of Death', in The College of Sociology (1937-39), edited by Denis Hollier, translated by Betsy Wing, publisher: University of Minnesota Press

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