Sovereign’ in this pompous title is not the sovereign. The sovereign is the supreme authority, God, Emperor, King, People. But Georges Bataille, in Literature and Evil (1997) or Inner Experience (2014), calls sovereign an experience which is not authorised and which does not appeal to any authority; an experience or an existence which appears, happens, without relation to any law by which it could claim or demand to be ‘what it is’.
A writer writes without being authorised to do so; a painter paints, a filmmaker [cinéaste] films like this. This is not to say that they are in rebellion against authority. The case is more serious: they expect nothing from authority, they ask nothing of it. The real offence which they can suffer (but this suffering is not necessary) is not to be in conflict with the figure of authority, but to find themselves elsewhere, to start to write, to paint or to film, to start to phrase in language, in colour or in the image – without waiting for the right to do so.
This situation would be nothing but a case, would be only marginal, if, still following Bataille, this sovereign indifference to authority could not sometimes (because nothing here is certain, guaranteed, authorised…) give rise to a ‘communication’ (the word is Bataille's), to a communion incomparable to all exchange of signs. A sort of communication between the reader of the book and the writer, or the viewer of the painting and the artist, or the spectator and the filmmaker, one that is not subject to the rules of exchange (you tell me this and I hear it and I respond that (interlocutory exchange); you give me this, I receive it and I give you that (socio-economic contractual exchange)). Sovereignty exchanges nothing. The literary, pictorial or filmic work – Kafka's or Beckett's, Staël's, Robert Flaherty's, Yasujirō Ozu's or Federico Fellini's – communicates intense instants, temporal spasms, which are only transcendents because they emanate from immanence, that is to say from a realist experience and existence – as one says in filmography: neo-realist.