The sacred and profane

sacred and profane ‘Story of the Eye is in fact a narrative the episodes of which remain predetermined by the different stations of the double metaphor. The narrative is simply a kind of flow of matter enshrining the precious metaphorical substance: if we are in a park at night it is in order that the moon can emerge from the clouds to shine on the wet stain in the middle of Marcelle’s sheet as it flaps from the window; if we visit Madrid it is in order that there shall be a bullfight, with the offering of the bull’s raw balls and the putting out of Granero’s eye; if we go onto to Seville it is in order that the sky shall exude the yellowish, liquid luminosity whose metaphorical nature we are familiar with from the rest of the chain. So if only within each series the narrative is very much a form, the restrictive character of which is as stimulating as the old rules of metre or tragedy, making it possible to bring out the terms of the metaphor from their essential virtuality’.

-From Roland Barthes’ essay, ‘The Metaphor of the Eye’, on Bataille’s infamous novella.

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