Earlier, we encountered two axes, signifiance and subjectification. We saw that they were two very different semiotic systems, or even two strata. Signifiance is never without a white wall upon which it inscribes its signs and redundancies. Subjectification is never without a black hole in which it lodges its consciousness, passion, and redundancies. Since all semiotics are mixed and strata come at least in twos, it should come as no surprise that a very special mechanism is situated at their intersection. Oddly enough, it is a face: the white wall/black hole system. A broad face with white cheeks, a chalk face with eyes cut in for a black hole. Clown head, white clown, moon-white mime, angel of death, Holy Shroud. The face is not an envelope exterior to the person who speaks, thinks, or feels. The form of the signifier in language, even its units, would remain indeterminate if the potential listener did not use the face of the speaker to guide his or her choices ("Hey, he seems angry ..."; "He couldn't say it..."; "You see my face when I'm talking to you ..."; "look at me carefully..."). A child, woman, mother, man, father, boss, teacher, police officer, does not speak a general language but one whose signifying traits are indexed to specific faciality traits. Faces are not basically individual; they define zones of frequency or probability, delimit a field that neutralizes in advance any expressions or connections unamenable to the appropriate significations. Similarly, the form of subjectivity, whether consciousness or passion, would remain absolutely empty if faces did not form loci of resonance that select the sensed or mental reality and make it conform in advance to a dominant reality. The face itself is redundancy. It is itself in redundancy with the redundancies of signifiance or frequency, and those of resonance or subjectivity. The face constructs the wall that the signifier needs in order to bounce off of; it constitutes the wall of the signifier, the frame or screen. The face digs the hole that subjectification needs in order to break through; it constitutes the black hole of subjectivity as consciousness or passion, the camera, the third eye.
Or should we say things differently? It is not exactly the face that constitutes the wall of the signifier or the hole of subjectivity. The face, at least the concrete face, vaguely begins to take shape on the white wall. It vaguely begins to appear in the black hole. In film, the close-up of the face can be said to have two poles: make the face reflect light or, on the contrary, emphasize its shadows to the point of engulfing it "in pitiless darkness." A psychologist once said that the face is a visual percept that crystallizes out of "different varieties of vague luminosity without form or dimension." A suggestive whiteness, a hole that captures, a face. According to this account, the dimensionless black hole and formless white wall are already there to begin with. And there are already a number of possible combinations in the system: either black holes distribute themselves on the white wall, or the white wall unravels and moves toward a black hole combining all black holes, hurtling them together or making them "crest." Sometimes faces appear on the wall, with their holes; sometimes they appear in the hole, with their linearized, rolled-up wall. A horror story, the face is a horror story. It is certain that the signifier does not construct the wall that it needs all by itself; it is certain that subjectivity does not dig its hole all alone. Concrete faces cannot be assumed to come ready-made. They are engendered by an abstract machine of faciality (visageite), which produces them at the same time as it gives the signifier its white wall and subjectivity its black hole. Thus the black hole/white wall system is, to begin with, not a face but the abstract machine that produces faces according to the changeable combinations of its cogwheels. Do not expect the abstract machine to resemble what it produces, or will produce.
The abstract machine crops up when you least expect it, at a chance juncture when you are just falling asleep, or into a twilight state or hallucinating, or doing an amusing physics experiment ... Kafka's novella, "Blumfeld":2 the bachelor returns home in the evening to find two little ping-pong balls jumping around by themselves on the "wall" constituted by the floor. They bounce everywhere and even try to hit him in the face. They apparently contain other, still smaller, electric balls. Blumfeld finally manages to lock them up in the black hole of a wardrobe. The scene continues the next day when Blumfeld tries to give the balls to a small, feebleminded boy and two grimacing little girls, and then at the office, where he encounters his two grimacing and feebleminded assistants, who want to make off with a broom. In a wonderful ballet by Debussy and Nijinsky, a little tennis ball comes bouncing onto the stage at dusk, and at the end another ball appears in a similar fashion. This time, between the two balls, two girls and a boy who watches them develop passional dance and facial traits in vague luminosities (curiosity, spite, irony, ecstasy. . .).3 There is nothing to explain, nothing to interpret. It is the pure abstract machine of a twilight state. White wall/black hole? But depending on the combinations, the wall could just as well be black, and the hole white. The balls can bounce off of a wall or spin into a black hole. Even upon impact they can have the relative role of a hole in relation to the wall, just as when they are rolling straight ahead they can have the relative role of a wall in relation to the hole they are heading for. They circulate in the white wall/black hole system. Nothing in all of this resembles a face, yet throughout the system faces are distributed and faciality traits organized. Nevertheless, the abstract machine can be effectuated in other things besides faces, but not in any order, and not without the necessary foundation (raisons).
The face has been a major concern of American psychology, in particular the relation between the mother and the child through eye-to-eye contact. Four-eye machine? Let us recall certain stages in the research: (1) Isakower's studies on falling asleep, in which so-called proprioceptive sensations of a manual, buccal, cutaneous, or even vaguely visual nature recall the infantile mouth-breast relation. (2)Lewin's discovery of a white screen of the dream, which is ordinarily covered by visual contents but remains white when the only dream contents are proprioceptive sensations (this screen or white wall, once again, is the breast as it approaches, getting larger and then pressing flat). (3) Spitz's interpretation according to which the white screen, rather than being a representation of the breast itself as an object of tactile sensation or contact, is a visual percept implying a minimum of distance and upon which the mother's face appears for the child to use as a guide in finding the breast. Thus there is a combination of two very different kinds of elements: manual, buccal, or cutaneous proprioceptive sensations; and the visual perception of the face seen from the front against the white screen, with the shape of the eyes drawn in for black holes. This visual perception very quickly assumes decisive importance for the act of eating, in relation to the breast as a volume and the mouth as a cavity, both experienced through touch.
We can now propose the following distinction: the face is part of a surface-holes, holey surface, system. This system should under no circumstances be confused with the volume-cavity system proper to the (proprioceptive) body. The head is included in the body, but the face is not. The face is a surface: facial traits, lines, wrinkles; long face, square face, triangular face; the face is a map, even when it is applied to and wraps a volume, even when it surrounds and borders cavities that are now no more than holes. The head, even the human head, is not necessarily a face. The face is produced only when the head ceases to be a part of the body, when it ceases to be coded by the body, when it ceases to have a multidimensional, polyvocal corporeal code—when the body, head included, has been decoded and has to be overcoded'by something we shall call the Face. This amounts to saying that the head, all the volume-cavity elements of the head, have to be facialized. What accomplishes this is the screen with holes, the white wall/black hole, the abstract machine producing faciality. But the operation does not end there: if the head and its elements are facialized, the entire body also can be facialized, comes to be facialized as part of an inevitable process. When the mouth and nose, but first the eyes, become a holey surface, all the other volumes and cavities of the body follow. An operation worthy of Doctor Moreau: horrible and magnificent. Hand, breast, stomach, penis and vagina, thigh, leg and foot, all come to be facialized. Fetishism, erotomania, etc., are inseparable from these processes of facializa-tion. It is not at all a question of taking a part of the body and making it resemble a face, or making a dream-face dance in a cloud. No anthropomorphism here. Facialization operates not by resemblance but by an order of reasons. It is a much more unconscious and machinic operation that draws the entire body across the holey surface, and in which the role of the face is not as a model or image, but as an overcoding of all of the decoded parts. Everything remains sexual; there is no sublimation, but there are new coordinates. It is precisely because the face depends on an abstract machine that it is not content to cover the head, but touches all other parts of the body, and even, if necessary, other objects without resemblance. The question then becomes what circumstances trigger the machine that produces the face and facialization. Although the head, even the human head, is not necessarily a face, the face is produced in humanity. But it is produced by a necessity that does not apply to human beings "in general." The face is not animal, but neither is it human in general; there is even something absolutely inhuman about the face. It would be an error to proceed as though the face became inhuman only beyond a certain threshold: close-up, extreme magnification, recondite expression, etc. The inhuman in human beings: that is what the face is from the start. It is by nature a close-up, with its inanimate white surfaces, its shining black holes, its emptiness and boredom. Bunker-face. To the point that if human beings have a destiny, it is rather to escape the face, to dismantle the face and facializations, to become imperceptible, to become clandestine, not by returning to animality, nor even by returning to the head, but by quite spiritual and special becomings-animal, by strange true becomings that get past the wall and get out of the black holes, that make faciality traits themselves finally elude the organization of the face—freckles dashing toward the horizon, hair carried off by the wind, eyes you traverse instead of seeing yourself in or gazing into in those glum face-to-face encounters between signifying subjectivities. "I no longer look into the eyes of the woman I hold in my arms but I swim through, head and arms and legs, and I see that behind the sockets of the eyes there is a region unexplored, the world of futurity, and here there is no logic whatsoever. ... I have broken the wall. . .. My eyes are useless, for they render back only the image of the known. My whole body must become a constant beam of light, moving with an ever greater rapidity, never arrested, never looking back, never dwindling.... Therefore I close my ears, my eyes, my mouth."5 BwO. Yes, the face has a great future, but only if it is destroyed, dismantled. On the road to the asignifying and asubjective. But so far we have explained nothing of what we sense.
The move from the body-head system to the face system has nothing to do with an evolution or genetic stages. Nor with phenomenological positions. Nor with integrations of part-objects, or structural or structuring systems. Nor can there be any appeal to a preexisting subject, or one brought into existence, except by this machine specific to faciality. In the literature of the face, Sartre's text on the look and Lacan's on the mirror make the error of appealing to a form of subjectivity or humanity reflected in a phenomenological field or split in a structural field. The gaze is but secondary in relation to thegazeless eyes, to the black hole of faciality. The mirror is but secondary in relation to the white wall of faciality. Neither will we speak of a genetic axis, or the integration of part-objects. Any approach based on stages in ontogenesis is arbitrary: it is thought that what is fastest is primary, or even serves as a foundation or springboard for what comes next. An approach based on part-objects is even worse; it is the approach of a demented experimenter who flays, slices, and anatomizes everything in sight, and then proceeds to sew things randomly back together again. You can make any list of part-objects you want: hand, breast, mouth, eyes... It's still Frankenstein. What we need to consider is not fundamentally organs without bodies, or the fragmented body; it is the body without organs, animated by various intensive movements that determine the nature and emplacement of the organs in question and make that body an organism, or even a system of strata of which the organism is only a part. It becomes apparent that the slowest of movements, or the last to occur or arrive, is not the least intense. And the fastest may already have converged with it, connected with it, in the disequilibrium of a nonsynchronic development of strata that have different speeds and lack a sequence of stages but are nevertheless simultaneous. The question of the body is not one of part-objects but of differential speeds.
These movements are movements of deterritorialization. They are what "make" the body an animal or human organism. For example, the prehensile hand implies a relative deterritorialization not only of the front paw but also of the locomotor hand. It has a correlate, the use-object or tool: the club is a deterritorialized branch. The breast of the woman, with her upright posture, indicates a deterritorialization of the animal's mammary gland; the mouth of the child, adorned with lips by an outfolding of the mucous membranes, marks a deterritorialization of the snout and mouth of the animal. Lips-breast: each serves as a correlate of the other.6 The human head implies a deterritorialization in relation to the animal and has as its correlate the organization of a world, in other words, a milieu that has itself been deterritorialized (the steppe is the first "world," in contrast to the forest milieu). But the face represents a far more intense, if slower, deterritorialization. We could say that it is an absolute deterritorialization: it is no longer relative because it removes the head from the stratum of the organism, human or animal, and connects it to other strata, such as signi-fiance and subjectification. Now the face has a correlate of great importance: the landscape, which is not just a milieu but a deterritorialized world. There are a number of face-landscape correlations, on this "higher" level. Christian education exerts spiritual control over both faciality and landscapity (paysageit'e): Compose them both, color them in, complete them, arrange them according to a complementarity linking landscapes to faces.7 Face and landscape manuals formed a pedagogy, a strict discipline, and were an inspiration to the arts as much as the arts were an inspiration to them. Architecture positions its ensembles—houses, towns or cities, monuments or factories—to function like faces in the landscape they transform. Painting takes up the same movement but also reverses it, positioning a landscape as a face, treating one like the other: "treatise on the face and the landscape." The close-up in film treats the face primarily as a landscape; that is the definition of film, black hole and white wall, screen and camera. But the same goes for the earlier arts, architecture, painting, even the novel: close-ups animate and invent all of their correlations. So, is your mother a landscape or a face? A face or a factory? (Godard.) All faces envelop an unknown, unexplored landscape; all landscapes are populated by a loved or dreamed-of face, develop a face to come or already past. What face has not called upon the landscapes it amalgamated, sea and hill; what landscape has not evoked the face that would have completed it, providing an unexpected complement for its lines and traits? Even when painting becomes abstract, all it does is rediscover the black hole and white wall, the great composition of the white canvas and black slash. Tearing, but also stretching of the canvas along an axis of escape (fuite), at a vanishing point (point defuite), along a diagonal, by a knife slice, slash, or hole: the machine is already in place that always functions to produce faces and landscapes, however abstract. Titian began his paintings in black and white, not to make outlines to fill in, but as the matrix for each of the colors to come.
The novel--A flock of geese flew which the snow had dazzled. [Perceval] saw them and heard them, for they were going away noisily because of a falcon which came drawing after them at a great rate until he found abandoned one separated from the flock, and he struck it so and bruised it that he knockedit down to earth.... When Perceval saw the trampled snow on which the goose had lain, and the blood which appeared around, he leaned upon his lance and looked at that image, for the blood and the snow together seemed to him like the fresh color which was on the face of his friend, and he thinks until he forgets himself; for the vermilion seated on white was on her face just the same as these three drops of blood on the white snow.... We have seen a knight who is dozing on his charger. Everything is there: the redundancy specific to the face and landscape, the snowy white wall of the landscape-face, the black hole of the falcon and the three drops distributed on the wall; and, simultaneously, the silvery line of the landscape-face spinning toward the black hole of the knight deep in catatonia. Cannot the knight, at certain times and under certain conditions, push the movement further still, crossing the black hole, breaking through the white wall, dismantling the face— even if the attempt may backfire?8 All of this is in no way characteristic of the genre of the novel only at the end of its history; it is there from the beginning, it is an essential part of the genre. It is false to see Don Quixote as the end of the chivalric novel, invoking the hero's hallucinations, harebrained ideas, and hypnotic or cataleptic states. It is false to see novels such as Beckett's as the end of the novel in general, invoking the black holes, the characters' line of deterritorialization, the schizophrenic promenades of Molloy or the Unnameable, their loss of their names, memory, or purpose. The novel does have an evolution, but that is surely not it. The novel has always been defined by the adventure of lost characters who no longer know their name, what they are looking for, or what they are doing, amnesiacs, ataxics, catatonics. They differentiate the genre of the novel from the genres of epic or drama (when the dramatic or epic hero is stricken with folly or forgetting, etc., it is in an entirely different way). La princesse de Cleves is a novel precisely by virtue of what seemed paradoxical to the people of the time: the states of absence or "rest," the sleep that overtakes the characters. There is always a Christian education in the novel. Molloy is the beginning of the genre of the novel. When the novel began, with Chretien de Troyes, for example, the essential character that would accompany it over the entire course of its history was already there: The knight of the novel of courtly love spends his time forgetting his name, what he is doing, what people say to him, he doesn't know where he is going or to whom he is speaking, he is continually drawing a line of absolute deterritorialization, but also losing his way, stopping, and falling into black holes. "He awaits chivalry and adventure." Open Chretien de Troyes to any page and you will find a catatonic knight seated on his steed, leaning on his lance, waiting, seeing the face of his loved one in the landscape; you have to hit him to make him respond. Lancelot, in the presence of the queen's white face, doesn't notice his horse plunge into the river; or he gets into a passing cart and it turns out to be the cart of disgrace. There is a face-landscape aggregate proper to the novel, in which black holes sometimes distribute themselves on a white wall, and the white line of the horizon sometimes spins toward a black hole, or both simultaneously.
excerpt from the book A Thousand Plateaus (Capitalism and Schizophrenia), Deleuze and Guattari
Achim Szepanski - BAUDRILLARD: WHEN HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY BEGAN TO CIRCULATE LIKE OIL AND CAPITAL
Speculating Freedom: Addiction, Control and Rescriptive Subjectivity in the Work of William S. Burroughs
Joshua Carswell - EVALUATING DELEUZE’S “THE IMAGE OF THOUGHT” (1968) AS A PRECURSOR OF HYPERSTITION // PART 1
Joshua Carswell - Evaluating Deleuze’s “The Image of Thought” (1968) as a Precursor of Hyperstition // Part 2
Jose Rosales - ON THE END OF HISTORY & THE DEATH OF DESIRE (NOTES ON TIME AND NEGATIVITY IN BATAILLE’S ‘LETTRE Á X.’)
Jose Rosales - BERGSONIAN SCIENCE-FICTION: KODWO ESHUN, GILLES DELEUZE, & THINKING THE REALITY OF TIME
GILLES DELEUZE - Capitalism, flows, the decoding of flows, capitalism and schizophrenia, psychoanalysis, Spinoza.
Obsolete Capitalism - THE STRONG OF THE FUTURE. NIETZSCHE’S ACCELERATIONIST FRAGMENT IN DELEUZE AND GUATTARI’S ANTI-OEDIPUS
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 1)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 2)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 3)
Obsolete Capitalism - Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 4)
Obsolete Capitalism: Acceleration, Revolution and Money in Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-OEdipus (Part 5)
Stephen Zepke - “THIS WORLD OF WILD PRODUCTION AND EXPLOSIVE DESIRE” – THE UNCONSCIOUS AND THE FUTURE IN FELIX GUATTARI
Steven Craig Hickman - David Roden and the Posthuman Dilemma: Anti-Essentialism and the Question of Humanity
Steven Craig Hickman - The Intelligence of Capital: The Collapse of Politics in Contemporary Society
Steven Craig Hickman - The Carnival of Globalisation: Hyperstition, Surveillance, and the Empire of Reason
Steven Craig Hickman - Shaviro On The Neoliberal Strategy: Transgression and Accelerationist Aesthetics
Steven Craig Hickman - Hyperstition: Technorevisionism – Influencing, Modifying and Updating Reality
Terence Blake - CONCEPTS OUT OF THE SHADOWS: Notes on Deleuze and Guattari’s “What is Philosophy?” (2)
Terence Blake - GUATTARI’S LINES OF FLIGHT (2): transversal vs transferential approaches to the reading contract
Himanshu Damle - Games and Virtual Environments: Playing in the Dark. Could These be Havens for Criminal Networks?
Himanshu Damle - Hegelian Marxism of Lukács: Philosophy as Systematization of Ideology and Politics as Manipulation of Ideology.