The proposition most essential to what Bataille calls his “general economy” is that the quantity of energy produced by a given system is always greater than the energy that is necessary for the maintenance of that system. A system is, by definition, unable to contain itself; it is unable to hold itself within itself or to circumscribe itself; it exceeds itself. A system is condemned to go beyond its own self-given boundaries; it is condemned to secrete a margin that is both endogenous and inassimilable, in an experience of the external that is anterior to any empirical experience of exteriority; it is the experience of an outside that emanates fundamentally from within, an otherness that is anterior to the meeting with an external other.

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