1989 \ . Theory of Religion Georges Bataille Translated by Robert Hurley ZONE BOOKS’ NEW YORK 39 HUMANITY AND THE PROFANE WORLD THE BASIC DATA Within the limits of continuity, everything is spiritual; there is no opposition of the mind and the body. But the positing of a world of mythical spirits and the supreme value it receives are natural1y linked to the definition of the mortal body as being opposed to the mind. The dif- ference between the mind and the body is by no means the same as that between continuity (immanence) and the object. In the first immanence, no difference is possible before the positing of the manufactured tool. Likewise, with the positing of the subject on the plane of objects (of the subject-object), the mind is not yet distinct from the body. Only starting from the mythical representation of autonomous spirits does the body find itself on the side of things, insofar as it is not present in sovereign spirits. The real world remains as a residuum of the birth of the divine world: real animals and plants separated from their spiritual truth slowly rejoin the empty objectivity of tools; the mortal body is gradually assimilated to the mass of things. Insofar as it is spirit, the human reality is holy, but it is profane insofar as it is real. Animals, plants, tools, and other controllable things form a real world with the bodies that control them, a world subject to and traversed by divine forces, but fallen. The Eaten Animal, the Corpse, and the Thing The definition of the animal as a thing has become a basic human given. The animal has lost its status as man’s fel- low creature, and man, perceiving the animality in him- self, regards it as a defect. There is undoubtedly a measure of falsity in the fact of regarding the animal as a thing. An animal exists for itself and in order to be a thing it must be dead or domesticated. Thus the eaten animal can be posited as an object only provided it is eaten dead. Indeed it is fully a thing only in a roasted, grilled, or boiled form. Moreover, the preparation of meat is not primarily con- nected with a gastronomical pursuit: before that it has to do with the fact that man does not eat anything before he has made an object of it. At least in ordinary circum- , stances, man is an animal that does not have a part in that which he eats. But to kill the animal and alter it as one pleases is not merely to change into a thing that which doubtless was not a thing from the start; it is to define the animal as a thing beforehand. Concerning that which I kill, which I cut up, which I cook, I implicitly affirm that that has never been anything but a thing. To cut up, cook, and eat a man is on the contrary abominable. It does no harm to anyone; in fact it is often unreasonable not to do something with man. Yet the study of anatomy ceased to be scandalous only a short time ago. And despite appear- 38 THE BASIC DATA ances, even hardened materialists are still so religious that in their eyes it is always a crime to make a man into a thing – a roast, a stew. . . . In any case, the human atti- tude toward the body is formidably complex. Insofar as he is spirit, it is man’s misfortune to have the body of an animal and thus to be like a thing, but it is the glory of the human body to be the substratum of a spirit. And the spirit is so closely linked to the body as a thing that the body never ceases to be haunted, is never a thing except virtually, so much so that if death reduces it to the con- dition of a thing, the spirit is more present than ever: the body that has betrayed it reveals it more clearly than when it served it. In a sense the corpse is the most com- plete affirmation of the spirit. What death’s definitive impotence and absence reveals is the very essence of the spirit, just as the scream of the one that is killed is the supreme affirmation of life. Conversely, man’s corpse reveals the complete reduction of the animal body, and therefore the living animal, to thinghood. In theory the body is a strictly subordinate element, which is of no con- sequence for itseJf – a utility of the same nature as canvas, iron, or lumber. 40 HUMANITY AND THE PROFANE WORLD The Worker and the Tool Generally speaking, the world of things is perceived as a fallen world. It entails the alienation of the one who created it. This is the basic principle: to subordinate is not only to alter the subordinated element but to be altered oneself. The tool changes nature and man at the same time: it subjugates nature to man, who makes and uses it, but it ties man to subjugated nature. Nature becomes man’s property but it ceases to be immanent to him. It is his on condition that it is closed to him. If he places the world in his power, this is to the extent that he forgets that he is himself the world: he denies the world but it is himself that he denies. Everything in my power declares that I have compelled that which is equal to me no longer to exist for its ow~ purpose but rather for a purpose that is alien to it. The purpose of a plow is alien to the reality that constitutes it; and with greater reason, the same is true of a grain of wheat or a calf. If I ate the wheat or the calf in an animal way, they would also be diverted from their own purpose, but they would be suddenly destroyed as wheat and as calf. At no time would the wheat and the calf be the thjnBs that they are from the start. The grain of wheat js a unit of agricultural production; the cow is a head of livestock, and the one who cultivates the wheat is a farmer; the one who raises the steer is a stock raiser. Now, during the time when he is cultivating, the farmer’s 41 42 43 THE BASIC DATA purpose is not his own purpose, and during the time when he is tending the stock, the purpose of the stock raiser is not his own purpose. The agricultural product and the livestock are things, and the farmer or the stock raiser, during the time they are working, are also things. All this is foreign to the immanent immensity, where there are neither separations nor limits. In the degree that he is the immanent immensity, that he is being, that he is if the world, man is a stranger for himself. The farmer is not a man: he is the plow of the one who eats the bread. At the limit, the act of the eater himself is already agricul- tural labor, to which he furnishes the energy. CHAPTER III Sacrifice, the Festival, and the P r i n c i pie s of the Sac red W 0 rid ” The Need That Is Met by Sacrifice and Its Principle The first fruits of the harvest or a head of livestock are sacrificed in order to remove the plant and the animal, to- gether with the farmer and the stock raiser, from the world of things. The principle of sacrifice is destruction,’but though it sometimes goes so far as to destroy completely (as in a holocaust), the destruction that sacrifice is intended to bring about is not annihilation. The thing – only the thing – is what sacrifice means to destroy in the victim. Sac- rifice destroys an object’s real ties of subordination; it draws the victim out of the world of utility and restores it to that of unintelligible caprice. When the offered ani- mal enters the circle in which the priest wiJ] immolate it, it passes from the world of things which are closed to 44 45 THE BASIC DATA SAC R I F ICE. THE FE S T I V A L. THE SAC RED ,W 0 R L D man and are nothing to him, which he knows from the outside – to the world that is immanent to it, intimate, known as the wife is known in sexual consumption (con- sumation charnelle). This assumes that it has ceased to be separated from its own intimacy, as it is in the subordi- nation of labor. The sacrificer’s prior separation from the world of things is necessary for the return to intimacy, of immanence between man and the world, between the subject and the object. The sacrificer needs the sacrifice in order to separate himself from the world of things and the victim could not be separated from it in turn if the sacrificer was not already separated in advance. The sac-I rificer declares: “Intimately, I belong to the sovereign world of the gods and myths, to the world of violent and uncalculated generosity, just as my wife belongs to my desires. I withdraw you, victim, from the world in which you were and could only be reduced to the condition of a thing, having a meaning that was foreign to your inti- mate nature. I call you back to the intimacy of the divine world, of the profound immanence of all that is.” that world of things on which distinct reality is founded. It could not destroy the animal as a thing without denying the animal’s objective reality. This is what gives the world of sacrifice an appearance of puerile gratuitousness. But one cannot at the same time destroy the values that found reality and accept their limits. The return to immanent intimacy implies a beclouded consciousness: conscious- ness is tied to the positing of objects as such, grasped directly, apart from a vague perception, beyond the always unreal images of a thinking based on participation. The Unreality of the Divine World Of course this is a monologue and the victim can neither understand nor reply. Sacrifice essentially turns its back on real relations. If it took them into account, it would go against its own nature, which is precisely the opposite of The Ordinary Association of Death and. Sacrifice The puerile unconsciousness of sacrifice even goes so far that killing appears as a way of redressing the wrong don~ to the animal, miserably reduced to the condition of a thing. As a matter of fact, killing in the litera] sense is not necessary. But the greatest negation of the real order is the one most favorable to the appearance of the mythical order. Moreover, sacrificial killing resolves the painful antinomy of life and death by means of a reversal. In fact death is nothing in immanence, but because it is nothing, a being is never truly separated from it. Because death has no meaning, because there is no difference between it and life, and there is no fear of it or defense against it, it invades everything without giving rise to any resistance.
46 47 THE BASIC DATA SACRIFICE THE FESTIVAL THE SACRED WORLD Duration ceases to have any value, or it is there only in order to produce the morbid delectation of anguish. On the contrary, the objective and in a sense transcendent (relative to the subject) positing of the world of things has duration as its foundation: no thina in fact has a separate existence, has a meaning, unless a subsequent time is posited, in view of which it is constituted as an object. The object is defined as an operative power only if its duration is implicitly understood. If it is destroyed as food or fuel is, the eater or the manufactured object preserves its value in duration; it has a lasting purpose like coal or bread. Future time constitutes this real world to such a degree that death no longer has a place in it. But it is for this very reason that death means everything to it. The weakness (the contradiction) of the world of things is that it imparts an unreal character to death even though man’s membership in this world is tied to the positing of the body as a thing insofar as it is mortal. As a matter of fact, that is a superficial view. What has no place in the world of things, what is unreal in the real world is not exactly death. Death actually discloses the imposture of reality, not only in that the absence of dura- tion gives the lie to it, but above alJ because death is the great affirmer, the wonder-struck cry of life. The real order does not so much reject the negation of life that is death as it rejects the affirmation of intimate life, whose .’ measureless violence is a danger to the stability of things, an affirmation that is fulJy revealed only in death. The real order must annul – neutralize – that intimate life and replace it with the thing that the individual is in the society of labor. But it cannot prevent life’s disappearance in death from revealing the invisible brilJiance of life that is not a thina The power of death signifies that this real world can only have a neutral image of life, that life’s intimacy does not reveal its dazzling consumption until the moment it gives out. No one knew it was there when it was; it was overlooked in favor of real things: death was one real thing among others. But death suddenly shows that the real society was lying. Then it is not the loss of the thing, of the useful member, that is taken into consid- eration. What the real society has lost is not a member but rather its truth. That intimate life, which had lost the ability to fulJy reach me, which I regarded primarily as a thing, is fulJy restored to my sensibility through its absence. Death revea1s life in its plenitude and dissolves the real order. Henceforth it matters very little that this real order is the need for the duration of that which no longer exists. When an element escapes its demands, what remains is not an entity that suffers bereavement; all at once that entity, the real order, has completely dissipated There is no more q uestion of it and what death brinas in b tears is the useless consumption of the intimate order, 48 49 THE BASIC DATA SACRIFICE. THE FESTIVAL. THE SACRED WORLD It is a naive opinion that links death closely to sorrow. The tears of the living, which respond to its coming, are themselves far from having a meaning opposite to joy. Far from being sorrowful, the tears are the expression of a keen awareness of shared life grasped in its intimacy. It is true that this awareness is never keener than at the moment when absence suddenly replaces presence, as in death or mere separation. And in this case, the con- solation (in the strong sense the word has in the “conso- lations” of the mystics) is in a sense bitterly tied to the fact that it cannot last, but it is precisely the disappear- ance of duration, and of the neutral behaviors associated with it, that uncovers a ground of things that is dazzlingly bright (in other words, it is clear that the need for dura- tion conceals life from us, and that, only in theory, the impossibility of duration frees us). In other cases the tears respond instead to unexpected triumph, to good fortune that makes us exult, but always madly, far beyond the concern for a future time. not to kill but to relinquish and to give. Killing is only the exhibition of a deep meaning. What is important is to pass from a lasting order, in which all consumption of resources is subordinated to the need for duration, to the violence of an unconditional consumption; what is impor- tant is to leave a world of real things, whose reality derives from a long term operation and never resides in the moment – a world that creates and preserves (that creates for the benefit of a lasting reality). Sacrifice is the antithesis of production, which is accomplished with a view to the future; it is consumption that is concerned only with the moment. This is the sense in which it is gift and relinquishment, but what is given cannot be an object of preservation for the receiver: the gift of an offering makes it pass precisely into the world of abrupt consumption. This is the meaning of “sacrificing to the deity,” whose sacred essence is comparable to a fire. To sacrifice is to give as one gives coal to the furnace. But the furnace ordinarily has an undeniable utility, to which the coal is subordinated, whereas in sacrifice the offering is rescued from all utility. This is so clearly the precise meaning of sacrifice, that one sacrifices what is usiful; one does not sacrifice luxuri- ous objects. There could be no sacrifice if the offering were destroyed beforehand. Now, depriving the labor of The Consummation of Sacrifice The power that death generally has illuminates the mean- ing of sacrifice, which functions like death in that it restores a lost value through a relinquishment of that value. But death is not necessarily linked to it, and the most solemn sacrifice may not be bloody. To sacrifice is THE BASIC DATA manufacture of its usefulness at the outset, luxury has already destroyed that labor; it has dissipated it in vain- glory; in the very moment, it has lost it for good. To sac- rifice a lu’xury object would be to sacrifice the same ob- ject twice. But neither could one sacrifice that which was not first withdrawn from immanence, that which, never hav- ing belonged to immanence, would not have been second- arily subjugated, domesticated, and reduced to being a thing. Sacrifice is made of objects that could have been spirits, such as animals or plant substances, but that have become things and that need to be restored to the imma- nence whence they come, to the vague sphere of lost intimacy.
The Individual, Anguish, and Sacrifice Intimacy cannot be expressed discursively. The swelling to the bursting point, the malice that breaks out with clenched teeth and weeps; the sinking feeling that doesn’t know where it comes from or what it’s about; the fear that sings its head off in the dark; the white-eyed pallor, the sweet sadness, the rage and the vomiting. . . are so many evasIons. What is intimate, in the strong sense, is what has the passion of an absence of individuality, the imperceptible sonority of a river, the empty limpidity of the sky: this is 50 SACRIFICE, THE FESTIVAL. THE SACRED WORLD still a negative definition, from which the essential is missing. These statements have the vague quality of inaccessi- ble distances, but on the other hand articulated definitions substitute the tree for the forest, the distinct articulation for that which is articulated. I will resort to articulation nevertheless. Paradoxically, intimacy is violence, and it is destruc- tion, because it is not compatible with the positing of the separate individual. If one describes the individua] in the operation of sacrifice, he is defined by anguish. But if sac- rifice is distressing, the reason is that the individual takes part in it. The individual identifies with the victim in the sudden movement that restores it to immanence (to inti- macy), but the assimilation that is linked to the return to immanence is nonetheless based on the fact that the vic- tim is the thing, just as the sacrificer is the individual. The separate individual is of the same nature as the thing, or rather the anxiousness to remain personally alive that establishes the person’s individuality is linked to the inte- gration of existence into the world of things. To put it differently, work and the fear of dying are interdepen- dent; the former implies the thing and vice versa. In fact it is not even necessary to work in order to be the thing of fear: man is an individual to the extent that his appre- hension ties him to the results of labor. But man is not, 51 THE BASIC DATA as one might think, a thing because he is afraid. He would have no anguish if he were not the individual (the thing), and it is essentially the fact of being an individual that fuels his anguish. It is in order to satisfy the demands of the thing, it is insofar as the world of things has posited his duration as the basic condition of his worth, that he learns anguish. He is afraid of death as soon as he enters the system of projects that is the order of things. Death disturbs the order of things and the order of things holds us. Man is afraid of the intimate order that is not recon- cilable with the order of things. Otherwise there would be no sacrifice, and there would be no mankind either. The intimate order would not reveal itself in the destruc- tion and the sacred anguish of the individual. Because man is not squarely within that order, but only partakes of it through a thing that is threatened in its nature (in the projects that constitute it), intimacy, in the trembling of the individual, is holy, sacred, and suffused with anguish.
The Festival The sacred is that prodigious effervescence of life that, for the sake of duration, the order of things holds in check, and that this holding changes into a breaking loose, that is, into violence. It constantly threatens to break the dikes, to confront productive activity with the precipitate 52 SACRIFICE. THE FESTIVAL. THE SACRED WORLD and contagious movement of a purely glorious consump- tion. The sacred is exactly comparable to the flame that destroys the wood by consuming it. It is that opposite of a thing which an unlimited fire is; it spreads, it radiates heat and light, it suddenly inflames and blinds in turn. Sacrifice burns like the sun that slowly dies of the prodigi- ous radiation whose brilliance our eyes cannot bear, but it is never isolated and, in a world of individuals, it calls for the general negation of individuals as such. The divine world is contagious and its contagion is dangerous. In theory, what is started in the operation of sacrifice is like the action of lightning: in theory there is no limit to the conflagration. It favors human life and not animality; the resistance to immanence is what regulates its resurgence, so poignant in tears and so strong in the unavowable pleasure of anguish. But if man surrendered unreservedly to iinmanence, he would fall short of human- ity; he would achieve it only to lose it and eventually life would return to the unconscious intimacy of animals. The constant problem posed by the impossibility of being human without being a thing and of escaping the limits of things without returning to animal slumber receives the limited solution of the festival. The initial movement of the festival is given in elementary humanity, but it reaches the plenitude of an effusion only if the anguished concentration of sacrifice 53 THE BASIC DATA sets it loose. The festival assembles men whom the con- sumption of the contagious offering (communion) opens up to a conflagration, but one that is limited by a counter- vailing prudence: there is an aspiration for destruction that breaks out in the festival, but there is a conservative prudence that regulates and limits it. On the one hand, all the possibilities of consumption are brought together: dance and poetry, music and the different arts contribute to making the festival the place and the time of a spec- tacular letting loose. But consciousness, awake in anguish, is disposed, in a reversal commanded by an inability to go along with the letting loose, to subordinate it to the need that the order of things has – being fettered by nature and self-paralyzed – to receive an impetus from the outside. Thus the letting loose of the festival is finally, jf not fet- tered, then at least confined to the limits of a reality of which it is the negation. The festival is tolerated to the extent that it reserves the necessities of the profane world.
Limitation, the Utilitarian Interpretation of the Festival, and the Positing of the Group The festival is the fusion of human life. For the thing and the individual, it is the crucible where distinctions melt in the intense heat of intimate life. But its intimacy is dis- solved in the real and individualized positing of the 54 SACRIFICE. THE FESTIVAL. THE SACRED WORLD ensemble that is at stake in the rituals. For the sake of a real community, of a social fact that is given as a thing – of a common operation in view of a future time – the fes- tival is limited: it is itself integrated as a link in the con- catenation of useful works. As drunkenness, chaos, sexual orgy, that which it tends to be, it drowns everything in immanence in a sense; it then even exceeds the limits of the hybrid world of spirits, but its ritual movements slip into the world of immanence only through the mediation of spirits. To the spirits borne by the festival, to whom the sacrifice is offered, and to whose intimacy the victims are restored, an operative power is attributed in the same way it is attributed to things. In the end the festival itself is viewed as an operation and its effectiveness is not gues- tioned. The possibility of producing, of fecundating the fields and the herds is given to rites whose least servile operative forms are aimed, through a concession, at cut- ting the losses from the dreadful violence of the divine world. In any case, positively in fecundation, negatively in propitiation, the community first appears in the festival as a thing, a definite individualization and a shared project with a view to duration. The festival is not a true return to immanence but rather an amicable reconciliation, full of anguish, between the incompatible necessities. Of course the community in the festival is not posited simply as an object, but more genera]]y as a spirit (as a 55 THE BASIC DATA subject-object), but its positing has the value of a limit to the immanence of the festival and, for this reason, the thing aspect is accentuated. If the festival is not yet, or no longer, under way, the community link to the festival is given in operative forms, whose chief ends are the prod- ucts of labor, the crops, and the herds. There is no clear consciousness of what the festival actually is (of what it is at the moment of its letting loose) and the festival is not situated distinctly in consciousness except as it is inte- grated into the duration of the community. This is what the festival (incendiary sacrifice and the outbreak of fire) is consciously (subordinated to that duration of the com- mon thing, which prevents it from enduring), but this shows the festival’s peculiar impossibility and man’s limit, tied as he is to clear consciousness. So it is not human- ity – insofar as clear consciousness rightly opposes it to animality – restored to immanence. The virtue of the fes- tival is not integrated into its nature and conversely the letting loose of the festival has been possible only because of this powerlessness of consciousness to take it for what it is. The basic problem of religion is given in this fatal misunderstanding of sacrifice. Man is the being that has lost, and even rejected, that which he obscurely is, a vague intimacy. Consciousness could not have become clear in the course of time if it had not turned away from its awkward contents, but clear consciousness is itself 56 SACRIFICE, THE FESTIVAL, THE SACRED WORLD looking for what it has itself lost, and what it must lose again as it draws near to it. Of course what it has Jost is I not outside it; consciousness turns away from the obscure ,intimacy of consciousness itself. Religion, whose essence IS the search for lost intimacy, comes down to the effort of clear cohsciousness which wants to be a com- plete self-consciousness: but this effort is futile, since consciousness of intimacy is possible only at a level where consciousness is no longer an operation whose outcome implies duration, that is, at the level where clarity, which is the effect of the operation, is no longer given.
War: The Illusions of the Unleashing of Violence to the Outside A society’s individuality, which the fusion of the festival dissolves, is defined first of all in terms of real works – of agrarian production – that integrate sacrifice into the world of things. But the unity of a group thus has the ability to direct destructive violence to the outside. As a matter of fact, external violence is antithetical to sacrifice or the festival, whose violence works havoc within. Only religion ensures a consumption that destroys the very substance of those whom it moves. Armed action destroys others or the wealth of others. I t can be exerted individually, within a group, but the constituted group 57 THE BASIC DATA can bring it to bear on the outside and it is then that it begins to develop its consequences. In deadly battles, in massacres and pillages, it has a meaning akin to that of festivals, in that the enemy is not treated as a thing. But war is not limited to these explo- sive forces and, within these very limits, it is not a slow action as sacrifice is, conducted with a view to a return to lost intimacy. It is a disorderly eruption whose external direction robs the warrior of the intimacy he attains. And if it is true that warfare tends in its own way to dissolve the individual through a negative wagering of the value of his own life, it cannot help but enhance his value in the course of time by making the surviving individual the beneficiary of the wager. War determines the development of the individual beyond the individual-as-thing in the glorious individual- ity of the warrior. The glorious individual introduces, through a first negation of individuality, the divine order into the category of the individual (which expresses the order of things in a basic way). He has the contradictory will to make the negation of duration durable. Thus his strength is in part a strength to lie. War represents a bold advance but it is the crudest kind of advance: one needs , as much na’ivete – or stupidity – as strength to be indif- ferent to that which one overvalues and to take pride in having deemed oneself of no value. 58 SACRIFI’CE. THE FESTIVAL. THE SACRED WORLD From the Unfettered Violence of Wars to the Fettering of Man-as-Commodity This false and superficial character has serious conse- quences. War is not limited to forms of uncalculated havoc. Although he remains dimly aware of a calling that rules out the self-seeking behavior of work, the warrior reduces his fellow men to servitude. He thus subordinates violence to the most complete reducti~n of mankind to the order of things. Doubtless the warrior is not the initiator of the reduction. The operation that makes the slave a thing presupposed the prior institution of work. But the free ,«orker was a thing voluntarily and for a given time. Only the slave, whom the military order has made a commodity, draws out the complete conse- quences of the reduction. (Indeed, it is necessary to specify that without slavery the world of things would not have achieved its plenitude.) Thus the crude unconscious- ness of the warrior mainly works in favor of a predomi- nance of the real order. The sacred prestige he arrogates to himself is the false pretense of a world brought down to the weight of utility. The warrior’s nobility is like a prostitute’s smile, the truth of which is self-interest. Human Sacrifice The sacrifices of slaves illustrate the principle according to which what is useful is destined for sacrifice. Sacrifice 59 61 THE BASIC DATA SACRIFICE. THE FESTIVAL. THE SACRED WORLD surrenders the slave, whose servitude accentuates the degradation of the human order, to the baleful intimacy of unfettered violence. In general, human sacrifice is the acute stage of a dis- pute setting the movement of a measureless violence against the real order and duration. It is the most radical contestation of the primacy of utility. It is at the same time the highest degree of an unleashing of internal vio- lence. The society in which this sacrifice rages mainly affirms the rejection of a disequilibrium of the two vio- lences. He who unleashes his forces of destruction on the outside cannot be sparing of his resources. If he reduces the enemy to slavery, he must, in a spectacular fashion, make a glorious use of this new source of wealth. He must partly destroy these things that serve him, for there is nothing useful around him that can fail to satisfY, first of all, the mythical order’s demand for consumption. Thus a continual surpassing toward destruction denies, at the same time that it affirms, the individual status of the group. But this demand for consumption is brought to bear on the slave insofar as the latter is his property and his thing. It should not be confused with the movements of violence that have the outside, the enemy, as their object. In this respect the sacrifice of a slave is far from being pure. In a sense it is an extension of military combat, and internal violence, the essence of sacrifice, is not satisfied by it. Intense consumption requires victims at the top who are not only the useful wealth of a people, but this people itself; or at least, elements that signify it and that wiJI be destined for sacrifice, this time not owing to an alienation from the sacred world – a fall – but, quite the contrary, owing to an exceptional proximity, such as the sovereign or the children (whose kiJJing finally realizes the performance of a sacrifice twice over). One could not go further in the desire to consume the life substance. Indeed, one could not go more recklessly than this. Such an intense movery1ent of consumption re- sponds to a movement of malaise by creating a greater malaise. It is not the apogee of a religious system, but rather the moment when it condemns itself: when the old forms have lost part of their virtue, it can maintain itself only through excesses, through innovations that are too onerous. Numerous signs indicate that these cruel demands were not easily tolerated. Trickery replaced the king with a slave on whom a temporary royalty was conferred. The primacy of consumption could not resist that of military force. 60