Why were there tigers?
[extract] Among the litany of philosophical metaphors intended to relay the experience of loss related to the fleeting condition of meaningfulness, Georges Bataille, in his theoretical introduction to The Accursed Share (La Part maudite), offers an exemplary, halting simile: tigers are to space what sex is to time. If Bataille's metaphoric riddle seems in opposition to the more perspicuously argued claims of traditional economists, this is no doubt because his intention is to destroy, with his theory of general economy, the ubiquitous presumptions of traditional economic logic. As with nearly all of his literary works, in even this most abstract and philosophical text Bataille captures our attention with descriptions of the flesh, all the better to entangle our desire with matters of conceptual concern. A third pair of terms further implicates the sociality of bodies: for Bataille, as sex is to time, and as tigers are to space, potlatch is to society-a prolific arena for a flourishing of extremity and expenditure.
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