ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
DOI : http://dx.doi.org/10.14354/yjk.2006.25.119
Sacrificial Ritual and a Vision to the Intimate Order: W. B. Yeats and Georges Bataille
We may get a new meaning of the ritual sacrifice if read in Georges Bataille'sperspective. While classical economic thought emphasized the need for an efficientutilization of resources to fight the ravages of the scarcity of economic resources,Bataille analyzes economic history in terms of the expenditure of excess energy andproduction. It is within this general economic context that Bataille begins anexplication of the expenditure which first of all fundamentally is related to thesacrificial ritual. Symbolically, the victim, the one who offers the sacrifice, and itsparticipants are all seen as removed from the demands of utility and consequentlyas possibly a sovereign subject. An immense symbolic tie was created between thevictim of the sacrifice and those for whom the victim was a substitute. They enterthe realm of the sacred, of the free subject who is not subordinated to the demandsof useful production. Sacrifice is the means of dissolution, of ceasing to be separateindividuals caused by the demands of utility.
Like Bataille, Yeats often clearly sees and evokes the effects of sacrifice toensure symbolize the transcendental vision of whole beyond ordinary experience orexpression. He inclines to consider the sacrificial ritual as the ultimate act of transcendence over the anarchy of world, civil, and personal conflict. In "Two SongsFrom a Play," it is revealed that the ritual is fed by the "resinous heart" of man,who enacts his awareness of death and his yearning for rebirth in his identificationwith the risen god. In the second section of "Vacillation," Yeats also presents aritual ceremony in which "Attis' image" is hung between the two parts, unitingdeath with eternal life, assuring immortality. He who performs this rite "May knownot what he knows but knows not grief." In "Parnell's Funeral," where he associatesthe dead Parnell with an ancient god, Yeats evokes the rite to exalt the hero onlyto exposes the extremity of the need for godlike qualities and the impossibility offulfilling this need in a barbaric time. It does not allow for the kind of expressionof personal power and subjecthood found in the sacrifice.