[-empyre-] more on "who can become imperceptible?"

Zach Blas zachblas at gmail.com
Tue Nov 17 08:47:04 EST 2009

ricardo, so glad you started with this point!

as much as i am interested in the tactics of nonexistence. i am quite
critical of it too. i know i keep slamming you all with long texts,
but i've actually been working on a critique of this tactic. and based
on what ricardo has written, i feel compelled to share it. this is
very rough section from the paper:

Re-facialized Existence as Responsibility

	What of nonexistence? The term confuses in its divergence: to
not-exist (absence) or to nonexist (fullness of existence). Yet, is
there not a more pressing concern with the term “nonexistence”? As it
suggests, if nonexistence is absence to the sovereign, then existence
must be visibility to the sovereign. Therefore, must a person be in a
previous state of existence to perform nonexistence? If at birth we
are locked within the sovereignties of discourse, one cannot start at
nonexistence. Thus, what of those who reside in the limbo of excluded
existence? Can they ever nonexist? That is, if sovereignty includes
these persons into visibility by only visualizing them as that which
is always excluded, then must they not re-inscribe their visibility
first to then escape into nonexistence? I am thinking, for instance,
of migrants, illegal immigrants, those of questionable citizenry:
might these people desire the very reassurements of citizenship in
sovereignty, like documented papers of their existence and rights? A
visibility that at a fundamental level categorizes them within certain
human rights, regardless of their ethical responsibilities. These
excluded others appear to work against Galloway and Thacker’s
nonexistence, at least in part, because it is necessary for their
survival. Make no doubt, these people most certainly desire something
akin to nonexistence—a full life outside sovereignty—but would these
persons name it as such, as “nonexistence”? As they struggle and fight
between multiplicities of abandonments and visibilities, does not the
suggestion of “nonexistence” resound as a negation to their battles
(whether it really is or not)? Does the term “nonexistence” exclude?
Surely, “future” and “avant-garde” are two qualifiers that privilege
the few.
	Those others that have become de-faced by sovereignty still remain an
interface to enmity, but their faciality faces the imminent threat of
effacement—not a becoming or an escape but a deletion, a killing. The
interface operates only between the sovereign and death, refusing the
compassionate facings of people. Take the torture victims at
Guantanamo Bay. Their bodies—subjected to a totality of abandonment,
stripped of their senses, covered over in a sovereign
materiality—hover on the threshold of utter extinction. They remain in
a suspended formation, a frozen face, in the camp, that
placeless-place offering a nonexistence that is annihilation. In the
legal glitch of the exceptional sovereign, these persons have the
programmed faciality of sovereignty—their own is nowhere to be seen or
not seen. Where have these faces gone?
	As Judith Butler tells us, “in some way we come to exist, as it were,
in the moment of being addressed, and something about our existence
proves precarious when that address fails.” For those de-faced at
Guantanamo, the face that is the addressing of existence is evacuated.
The absence of these persons’ calls to accountability, calls to global
responsibility remain encrypted in forced nonaction. Yet, even though
the surfaces of faciality vanquish, the depths of their bodies implore
the compassion that recognizes the human—to be addressed and permitted
to exist as human (once again).
	The face, Butler writes, “is not exclusively a human face, and yet it
is a condition for humanization.” Do not these persons need a
re-facialization into the total visibility of the human (existence)?:
a re-facialization that maps as human, a re-facialization that
addresses the calls of responsibility between self and other, an
interface that takes into account its facing of the world and its
people. Is it not only after the moment of existence that we can take
to the challenge of abandoning into nonexistence if we desire? Would
not the fullness of political love aid in sustaining an ethical facing
in the world only then to transform the possibilities of how
(inter)faces can exist?
	The initial question has broken down, escaped itself, and
re-facializes for the ethical responsibilities of the present. Not:
“Future avant-garde practices will be those of nonexistence.” But:
Present political practices must exist fully to design facialities
that unite in a love that can offer escapings from sovereignty.

hope this aids productively to the conversation.

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