Whe War in the Head. Meditating with Bataille

Whe War in the Head. Meditating with Bataille

365 pages


Genre: Essay, Religion, Nonfiction
"Words only imperfectly reach inner states" – Georges Bataille

In a rainy and grey September, Knut Ebeling embarks on a Vipassana meditation. He wants to find peace, stop the flow of thoughts and overcome depression. It is not his first meditation and, like the others, it is characterised by silence, breathing exercises and complete abstinence from writing. However, he soon begins to take notes with the only thing he has at his disposal, a dripping biros and toilet paper, thus superimposing his experience on another: a good ninety years before him, Georges Bataille also meditated. This is how the philosopher got through the war years and published Method of Meditation in 1947, a volume that has hardly been received to date – a seemingly esoteric aberration in Bataille's boundary-breaking work. And yet in it, the radical experience of being-in-the-world becomes a method, namely of thinking.

In his autotheoretical writing, Knut Ebeling looks through his own experience of meditation to the shared practice that transcends the boundaries of the thinkable through sensual experience: breathing, sensations and their absence, the asceticism of the gaze, pain and the passing of time become guiding points of a reflection that decentres philosophising. Knut Ebeling thus reveals an intimate view of another Bataille, which leads right into the crises of the contemporary self and our time: is it possible to meditate through a war?

German title: Der Krieg im Kopf - Meditieren mit Bataille
ISBN: 978-3-7518-6500-5
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2024
Series: Theologische Brocken Vol. 003



Markus Knut Ebeling, born in Hamburg in 1970, is a German philosopher, media theorist and art critic. Since 2009, he has held a professorship for media theory and aesthetics in the Department of Theory and History at the Berlin-Weißensee School of Art. He lives in Berlin.