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Instructions for the "Encounter" in the Forest

Georges Bataille

Purchase a return ticket from a suburban ticket office for Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche. The train leaves at 8 pm.

Do not acknowledge anyone, do not speak to anybody, and find a seat away from the others.

At Saint-Nom, leave the station, taking the left-hand exit when facing in the direction the train is going.

Without asking any questions, follow our colleague who will be waiting by the road, and walk in a group of two or three at most still without speaking, until you reach the path, from which point you will walk in a single file, each person keeping a few metres between himself and the person in front.

Back on the road again, walk as before in small groups so as to attract as little attention as possible should there be anyone else around.

Once you have arrived at the place of the encounter, stop and wait to be led individually to the spot where you must stand motionless and remain silent until the end.

When the encounter is over, follow the others who will leave keeping to the same conditions as when they arrived.

Once back on the train, find a seat away from the others and, when you arrive in Paris, go your separate ways.

There is no need to adopt a dour or gloomy expression, but it is out of the question to speak at any point, and that should come naturally to us.

Afterwards, all conversation on the subject of the “encounter” is forbidden, under any circumstances whatsoever. If there is something any of us wishes to express it may only take the form of a written text for the internal journal.

  1. Regarding the appointed area in the forest, each of us must become acquainted with where its boundaries lie. Ambrosino will go first, together with one or two of the rest of us at most. They will be followed by one, then another, and so on, until its extent becomes apparent to everyone.
  2. Sulphur is a substance produced in the bowels of the earth and only escapes through the mouths of volcanoes. That clearly has certain meaning in terms of the chthonic character of the mythical reality we are seeking. It also has meaning in relation to the roots of a tree that push deep down into the earth.

On an area of marshy ground, in the middle of a forest, where it appears that disturbances have occurred in the familiar order of things, there stands a tree that has been struck by lightning.

It is possible to recognise in this tree the silent presence of that which has taken the name of Acéphale, and which is expressed by these arms without a head. The desire to seek out and encounter a presence that infuses our lives with purpose is what gives our proceedings a meaning that sets them apart from those undertaken by others. This ENCOUNTER which is attempted in the forest will take place in reality only when death manifests itself there. To anticipate that presence is to seek to cast off the vestments that veil our own death.


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