Erection, orgasm and reproduction form part of a long cycle, in which people partially fade into the background as they pass on their life to their descendants. In the last analysis we live not only for ourselves, but partly also for previous and succeeding generations. Seen in this light, intercourse, having an orgasm and fathering descendants is experiencing a thousand centuries in an instant. The most innovative presentation of the significance of all this was that of Georges Bataille (1897-1962), one of the founder-members of the Surrealist movement. In Bataille’s view mankind’s whole journey, from a monocellular micro­organism to Homo sapiens erectus, is actually an erection in itself. Yet he sees that erection as incomplete, since man’s eyes are parallel to the earth and are still not able to withstand the sight of their ultimate goal, the dazzling sun.

Bataille was obsessed by atheism, eroticism and mysticism. He engaged in psychoanalysis, economics, philosophy and sociology. He wrote poetry, novels, studies on ethnology, the visual arts and literature. God, sex and death remained his principal themes. In Visions of Excess Bataille explains that mankind’s mission will have been fulfilled when the pineal gland in the front of our forebrain opens and the content of the human body pours out in an ejaculation towards the sun. In his view this will be the logical conclusion of human evolution. The link that Bataille makes between the sun and sexuality is not totally ridiculous. When in spring the days grow longer and blossoms appear all over, many hearts beat faster. More sunshine has a particular effect on the brain: the production of melatonin, a hormone that inhibits sexuality, is reduced.