Recent Text & Excerpts

I would like to call attention to, and to give some context for, a recent book that I did in collaboration with the artist Davis Rhodes. The book consists of two (physically discrete) parts, each of which includes my text in relay with images of Rhodes’ work. This is not a catalog essay — there is no attempt to provide theoretical meaning for the artworks, nor is there any attempt to pose these artworks as exemplifications of my theoretical efforts. I understand the writing that I do for this book to be no different than my customary mode of writing, with the essential qualification that I have here written under a condition constructed by the works of Rhodes (and my longstanding conversation with him).

The argument I make in this book is a central condensation of my ongoing project on conversion (which is also partially indexed by “Nonrelation and Metarelation” and an upcoming essay in Rhizomes 28). More specifically, the interest of my text in this book is to articulate an immanence of the porosity of non-being (essential disequilibrium) and the construction of form. The text draws on various sources: Deleuze’s difference in-itself; Laruelle’s One, which I read as N(o-)one; Sharpe’s wake; Wilderson’s objective vertigo; Bersani’s anegoic shattering. Selected passages from the text are found below. 

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Difference in-itself does not simply call into question the stability of the lines of division, the boundaries of being; rather it eviscerates each and every being, it is a negativity towards all being. This negativity extends to the standard operations by which being is constituted—division and its figural synthesis—as well as to the more plural, mobile operations of division. Even hybridity, in its innovative mobility, fails to supply levees adequate to the force of differential material; the levees themselves are constituted by breaks.

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As difference in-itself indexed by non-being, the force of absence must be turned against the signifier and its world. The marks of absence are ineffaceable and irreversible, yet the signifier that made these marks can be shattered. This is the case, however, only insofar as the matter of non-being constructs itself, for it is only artifice that is adequate to absence. Every mark borne by non-being must be an artifice, a facelessly fabulated mask. The marks put on to absence are put on by absence: absence in drag. This is not to contest signs. It is to drag marks from the topology of the world back to no-where.

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The search for an outside presupposes and enacts a division: the elsewhere from which leverage would be possible is divided from the here on which leverage would be gained. And what is the world—what is its means of making and reproduction—if not division? This is to say that the investment in a ground of critique, in an invocation of the figure, is ultimately an investment in the world. Or, more precisely, the divisions essential to such investment—between figure and ground, world and outside, here and elsewhere—are constituted by the world itself. In this sense, the search for an outside is actually the means by which the world—recognizing and surviving its critiques—expands and extends itself. The capacitation of critique is thus the capacitation of the world.

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The constituent power of the multitude, the impotentiality of Bartleby … these are just some of the exemplary figures for a freedom-to-come. Such figures inscribe within themselves that the fulfillment of what they promise is not-yet-arrived, but the effect of such awareness is to affirm that freedom is already here—in the figure. Christ has come, Christ will return, and now is the time suspended, delayed, waiting for a freedom that is supposed to already be possessed. These figures of freedom are so many incarnation, so many faces of Christ. God may be dead, but the catharsis of salvation—disguised in the figure of the outside—survives.

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The yellow paintings draw on yet intensify this principle. They do not express multimodal relation as unity or One, nor do they constitute a whole with a center that would mediate the relation. Rather, they are structured according to difference in-itself, the zero-point of N(o-)one; they revolve around a void that indexes the break, the NO to relation. It is this NO that gives force to non-relation. Refusing any center, the modalities are groundlessly superpositional, they cannot be unified into the resolution of a whole. Instead of any such release of tension, there is an essential irresolvability—a non-relationality—that oscillates without need of or concern for unification.

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This presence, this encounter of porosity with porosity, is an index of autoeroticism. Material differentiality “without” and material differentiality “within” encounter each other, and in such a way that the division between subject and outside cannot survive. There is only exteriority, an excess whose tautological insistence is too intense and overwhelming to be delimited by a distinct, coherent ego. To describe the intimate presence of porosity with porosity in this way is to shift emphasis: from the excitation and enjoyment of incoherence to the terror of the ego before incoherence. In the gaze of the embattled ego, “reciprocal” (autoerotic) porosity is nothing but abjection. Yellow is terror, the “burning” threshold of suicidal non-relation.

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The immanence of form and porosity articulates an energy that is distinct from that of fixation. There is, with fixation, always a “remainder,” for energy cannot ultimately be “used up” by object investment. Such unfixated energy will need to be released, again and again. The painting of non-relational form constructs a different kind of energy: because form is never divided from groundlessness, energy is never encountered as the remainder to form; form has nothing to do with release, for it is not bound to fixation, to the object, in the first place. The energy does not go anywhere, its constructive force is its being gratuitously shattered by the fissures that are at its essence. Form is the autoeroticism, or non-relationality, of material differentiality: the non-relationality of difference in-itself, which intrinsically shatters every being, is the very material of the form. As material differentiality is oscillative, so is the painting.

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