Education Defined

| November 17, 2010

Le Da Costa EncyclopédiqueEducation— To applaud, to exalt revolt in all its forms, and more particularly that of child against its own family;…to pride oneself on having personally broken some shackles…. Enough of this complicity in degradation which welds the generations, one with another; enough of tacit understandings, of shameful solutions, of a rendezvous fixed for ultimate ruination. Enough of this long-term speculation, of this age-old pension-scheme that goes by the name of education. Cease to address, by way of the child that confronts you, the humiliation and degraded man he must finally become. Enough of this ‘When you’re grown-up,’ to the person in whose eyes, at this very moment, and irremediably, you are degrading yourself.

Le Da Costa Encyclopédique, Fascicule VII, Vol. II (Bataille, 1995, p.112)

The Le Da Costa Encyclopédique, Fascicule VII, Volume II, appearing without comment in 1947, begins mid-sentence, and somewhat more oddly, no prior or later volumes ever existed. This fragment differs from the everyday familiarity of the encyclopedia format in at least one other significant way: rather than imagining itself for the reader as an ordinary account of things worth knowing, it proffers “definitions” of those things that are already taken as known, releasing their sense from constraints of the format. Given this turning of  the acquisition, archiving, and transmission of knowledge against itself, we are perhaps fortunate, therefore, that Fascicule VII, Volume II covers Echecs—Extase, if for no other reason than it may then include the briefest of entries for Ecole, devastating more for what it doesn’t deem worth including of such a typically over-determined place. The entry reads, in its entirety:

An establishment where people are taught that it is forbidden to make use of both hands, the left having no right, even when it is more adroit than the right.