Working notes from the Scandinavian Institute for Computational Vandalism

like four-eye machines made of elementary faces linked together two by two


[…] The face is not a universal. It is not even that of the white man; it is White Man himself, with his broad white cheeks and the black hole of his eyes. The face is Christ. The face is the typical European, what Ezra Pound called the average sensual man, in short, the ordinary everyday Erotomaniac (nineteenth-century psychiatrists were right to say that erotomania, unlike nymphomania, often remains pure and chaste; this is because it operates through the face and facialization). Not a univer­sal, but facies totius universi. Jesus Christ superstar: he invented the facialization of the entire body and spread it everywhere (the Passion of Joan of Arc, in close-up). Thus the face is by nature an entirely specific idea, which did not preclude its acquiring and exercising the most general offunctions: the function of biunivocalization, or binarization. It has two aspects: the abstract machine of faciality, insofar as it is composed by a black hole/white wall system, functions in two ways, one of which concerns the units or elements, the other the choices. Under the first aspect, the black hole acts as a central computer, Christ, the third eye that moves across the wall or the white screen serving as general surface of reference. Regardless of the content one gives it, the machine constitutes a facial unit, an elementary face in biunivocal relation with another: it is a man or a woman, a rich person or a poor one, an adult or a child, a leader or a subject, “an x or a y.” The movement of the black hole across the screen, the trajec­tory of the third eye over the surface of reference, constitutes so many dichotomies or arborescences, like four-eye machines made of elementary faces linked together two by two. The face of a teacher and a student, father and son, worker and boss, cop and citizen, accused and judge (“the judge had a stern expression, his eyes were horizonless . . . “): concrete individu­alized faces are produced and transformed on the basis of these units, these combinations of units-like the face of a rich child in which a military calling is already discernible, that West Point chin. You don’t so much have a face as slide into one.

G. Deleuze, F. Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Under the second aspect, the abstract machine of faciality assumes a role of selective response, or choice: given a concrete face, the machine judges whether it passes or not, whether it goes or not, on the basis of the elementary facial units. This time, the binary relation is of the “yes-no” type. The empty eye or black hole absorbs or rejects, like a half-doddering despot who can still give a signal of acquiescence or refusal. The face of a given teacher is contorted by tics and bathed in an anxiety that makes it “no go.” A defendant, a subject, displays an overaffected submission that turns into insolence. Or someone is too polite to be honest. A given face is neither a man’s nor a woman’s. Or it is neither a poor person’s nor a rich person’s. Is it someone who lost his fortune? At every moment, the machine rejects faces that do not conform, or seem suspicious. But only at a given level of choice. For it is necessary to produce successive divergence-types of devi­ance for everything that eludes biunivocal relationships, and to establish binary relations between what is accepted on first choice and what is only tolerated on second, third choice, etc. The white wall is always expanding, and the black hole functions repeatedly. The teacher has gone mad, but madness is a face conforming to the nth choice (not the last, however, since there are mad faces that do not conform to what one assumes madness should be). A hal It’s not a man and it’s not a woman, so it must be a trans­vestite: The binary relation is between the “no” of the first category and the “yes” of the following category, which under certain conditions may just as easily mark a tolerance as indicate an enemy to be mowed down at all costs. At any rate, you’ve been recognized, the abstract machine has you inscribed in its overall grid. It is clear that in its new role as deviance detector, the faciality machine does not restrict itself to individual cases but operates injust as general a fashion as it did in its first role, the compu­tation of normalities. If the face is in fact Christ, in other words, your aver­age ordinary White Man, then the first deviances, the first divergence­ types, are racial: yellow man, black man, men in the second or third category. They are also inscribed on the wall, distributed by the hole. They must be Christianized, in other words, facialized. European racism as the white man’s claim has never operated by exclusion, or by the designation of someone as Other: it is instead in primitive societies that the stranger is grasped as an “other.” 1 2 Racism operates by the determination of degrees of deviance in relation to the White-Man face, which endeavors to inte­grate nonconforming traits into increasingly eccentric and backward waves, sometimes tolerating them at given places under given conditions, in a given ghetto, sometimes erasing them from the wall, which never abides alterity (it’s a Jew, it’s an Arab, it’s a Negro, it’s a lunatic . . . ). From the viewpoint of racism, there is no exterior, there are no people on the out­side. There are only people who should be like us and whose crime it is not to be. The dividing line is not between inside and outside but rather is internal to simultaneous signifying chains and successive subjective choices. Racism never detects the particles of the other; it propagates waves of sameness until those who resist identification have been wiped out (or those who only allow themselves to be identified at a given degree of divergence). Its cruelty is equaled only by its incompetence and naIvete.

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