Limit experience  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A limit-experience is a type of action or experience which approaches the edge of living in terms of its intensity and its seeming impossibility. This approach has been lead to the seeking of limit experiences as a sort of mysticism. A limit experience breaks the subject from itself. The idea is associated with Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, and Michel Foucault.

Foucault and the 'limit experience'

Foucault credits Nietzsche, via Bataille, Blanchot, Klossowski with the motivating theme of the "limit-experience." This is the attempt to reach the other, the outside, by an experience that rewires the body and restructures the categories. The two are related: a centrally organized and hierarchized body--obedient and docile, "clean"--will produce arborific, State, categories centered on unity and presence. In general, bodily constitution conditions thought processes AND vice versa: "the soul is the prison of the body" writes Foucault in Discipline and Punish: a certain conception of the body (that it is the prison of the soul) arises from and in turn structures bodily practices (enforced self-observation to detect flaws and internalize norms) that limit body potentials along predictable ("normal") pathways ("we do not yet know what a body is capable of," says Spinoza in the Ethics.) --John Protevi via [Sept 2006]

See also

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