Faciality

Abstract:

This paper will explore the system, or ‘machine’ of faciality, according to Deleuze and Guattari, where humanity as signifier is made possible in the face through the annihilation of humanity as valid, material other. It will utilise the ethics of Benhabib in examining the un-ethicality of faciality from the stamps of Australia to the political mergers of Europe. The face is traditionally configured as the marker of the ‘human’. However the face stands as an opposite to embodiment, as the possibility of subjectivity based on simple binary markers such as male/female and black/white. In 1998 Australia launched a ‘faces of Australia’ stamp series which featured the faces of ‘ordinary’ people in order to represent what defined subjectivity for Australian people. Such use of faces along an apparently democratic consistency hides the hierarchical signifiers found primarily in faces which locates certain colours and especially genders of faciality as other and even sacrificial – the racial other face of the civil violence victim (especially Aboriginal death-in-custody), the sexual alterity in the face of the high fashion model and the victim of sexual violence. Benetton has made the use of alterity in faciality an advertised art form, currently seen in the ‘faces of death row’ series of photographs. The merged EU, to an extent, mimetically forces a politic of what Australia’s ‘multiculturalism’ seen in the stamp series, insinuates is both a plausible and democratic representation of ‘faces’ of a nation – where facial signifiers replace ethical consideration of real bodies.

At the end of 1998 a call was made for ordinary Australians to photograph other ordinary Australians for a commemorative stamp series, the Face of Australia. Australia Post states "The aim was to reflect the Australian community as closely as possible, with respect to age groups, ethnicity, gender balance, national distribution and so on, while at the same time creating an interesting, balanced sheetlet.1 In a country larger than all Europe, with a population smaller than just the Netherlands, with 23% of the population born overseas, 27% second generation white Australian and 2% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the project would seem to encompass a wide array of subject types. Statistically this was not the case. Nineteen of the twenty-seven faces chosen were white Australian, three Asian, three European, (although only one ambiguously from an EU country, the other two Lebanese and Turkish) and two Aboriginal. More than half were women, yet two of the men claimed the most appealing and significant element of Australian culture is the masculinist phantasy, born during World War 1, of ‘mateship’ which John Howard himself (our right-wing Prime-minister) wanted to place in the constitution’s preamble. Almost all of the faces asked to respond to why Australia is such a wonderful place articulated ‘triumph in the face of adversity’ expressions, such as: "it’s free" (Wadad Dennaoui); "the Australian attitude of ‘giving it a go’ despite obstacles" (Edith Dizon-Fitzsimmons); "reflecting the quintessential happy-go-lucky Australian nature"(Rachel Thomson); "we as a country, develop and recognise all Australians regardless of age, colour, creed or background. We are all Australian."(John Thurgar); "such a diverse accepting country"(Philippa Weir).

More than the statistics of the stamps, the choice of utilising faces to represent a general happiness in being Australian creates a certain juridical acceptance of the political state of affairs. Like a jury of twelve average, everyday citizens, these eighteen adults and nine children are the jury voting ‘not guilty’ to two hundred years of colonisation and a current climate of terror for many minoritarians. From the Aboriginals who are currently victims of mandatory sentencing and suspicious death in custody, to women who still get paid less, reach high powered positions infrequently and live in a country with an extraordinarily high rate of domestic abuse, sexual crime and gender-related murder, the question the ‘happy-go-lucky’ Australia of the stamps makes me ask is ‘happy for whom?’ But why the face?

Emmanuel Levinas suggests that the face is representative of pure alterity. It is in turning toward the face of an other that we hear the command to ethical consideration: "The face is what one cannot kill, or, at least it is that whose meaning consists in saying: ‘thou shalt not kill." 2 Murder is not what the face prevents here, but the absence of ethics in considering the annihilation of an other. The grave comprehension there is something outside of me that demands the right to exist, for Levinas as for much of popular culture, can be found in looking at the face of another human. Key in Levinas’ thought, however, is the important distinction he makes between looking at and knowing (re-cognition) a face, and simply considering that another has a face. "So too I wonder if one can speak of a look turned toward the face, for the look is knowledge, perception. I think rather that access to the face is straightway ethical. You turn yourself toward the face."(My emphasis)3 The emphatic element of such ethics is that I must turn toward the face. What the facial machine assures is the perception, the knowledge I achieve when my turn is complete, will present as majoritarian knowledge, perception available on my terms, in comparison to my face. It is not an other that is found in the face, but the recognition of an other’s potential or failure to be me, that the face mimics. Popular traditions and culture feed this idea of faciality as pure signifier of selfhood in the other, conflating the enemy into his/her own potential to be a ‘me’. Deleuze and Guattari, in ‘Year Zero: Faciality’ examine the face as the opposite end of this spectrum which could be described as passing through identification, empathy, sympathy and finally, alien-ness.4 They describe the face as the black-hole/white-wall system of signification that territorializes the potential becomings of the proprioceptive body. Rather than reading the face as a multi-plateaued material expression of the need to treat a body ethically, the face according to Deleuze & Guattari represents a system. This system works like a machine, constantly making and re-making its own significations and the subject it presents. The body is not coded or able to be read through the face. The body is not in conformance with the face or expressed by the face. The face is not a natural extension of the flesh. Rather, the body is overcoded and annihilated through the system of the face. Traditionally the flesh of the other5 is a site that demands compassion in popular imagination. When the flesh of the other is visually compromised we are outraged. The breaking or destruction of the flesh marks a tangible and visceral fissure in both the body of an other and of a system of human ethics, by which the other has a right to be. This system creates a body that mimics the face as pure surface, it is when the skin or the fully facialised body of an other is ruptured, deranged, to use a forensic term, that the demand for intervention occurs. A split thorax in a soldier allows the intact face to demand outrage while the thorax is the proof that such outrage is needed. Because the face is intact the demand may still be heard. When the face is damaged or broken the demand is more repugnant, harder to look at and harder to hear. However such an extreme image6 is simply a furthering of already extreme faces that defy the majoritarian machine – the black face, the female face, the minoritarian face - whose cries for ethical consideration are as hard to hear in majoritarian culture as the broken-faced soldier. This paper will deal with the phantasy culture has of respecting the flesh of the other, where the flesh and its right to exist is most often represented through a face ‘like my own’. While ethics demands we allow the other to exist without assimilation, the face, I will argue, utilising Deleuze and Guattari, performs the opposite function. It is the system which refuses an other the ability exist outside of dominant culture. The face is not the site of ethics in this paper, but the vindication of anti-ethics performed in white phallocratic Western society. Where the face differs is why the face fails, not because certain genders or races are destined to fail but because certain bodies are wrenched into a facial assemblage destined to fail them.

Seyla Benhabib identifies three primary features needed in theorising a universal ethics. These features are that the ethics be: "interactive not legislative, cognisant of gender [all] difference not gender [difference] blind, contextually sensitive and not situated indifferent."(My parentheses)7 Ethics here does not predict its moral conclusion by claiming to be good or bad, rather ethics simply demands an interactive consideration that predicts nothing about the situation before it is considered. Ethics is straightforward in its ability to consider and be accountable for action based on the particularity of any situation. In this way there is as much potential for a bad ethics as good, but there is no space for a blanket or legislative ethics which can divine its own future. The flesh of the other(s) must be considered to create an ethics of the other. Faciality adamantly refutes such an ethic by forcing the flesh of the other into the machine of majoritarian subjectification and stratification. The other is given a subjectivity that the majoritarian can identify; the other’s body is legislated against by the facial machine of the dominant. The others subjectivity is then placed, again legislatively, in the strata, where the strata position, not the flesh of the other, proscribes the future of this minoritarian. A refusal to give an other a material body is no ethics at all, because ethics must insist on the reality, rather than the imaginary or repudiated, flesh of an other. Such an ethic does not demand assimilation, empathy or sympathy but merely and at the least a willingness or openness to an impactful and grave belief in another’s flesh as having the right to exist. Such an ethic considers the body of another without a need to know it. Moira Gatens’ imaginary bodies encompass this idea, where she calls for

Not only a politics of difference – which seems the obvious register in which to analyse class, race and sex differences – but also for an ethics of difference – which would be capable of acknowledging that different forms of embodiment are themselves historical and open to change.8

I would add to this that an ethics of difference demands an acknowledgement that different forms of embodiment are exactly that, different, not only to our own bodies but to the systems by which dominant culture understands a body. Acknowledgement here is adamantly not knowledge. Any acknowledgement of bodies that calls for recognition, even of difference, is no ethics at all but simply the first step toward co-option. It risks what Gatens herself claims is wrong with politics as opposed to ethics, "in contemporary times body politics more commonly attempt to incorporate ‘others’ by assimilation."(98) Any demand for recognition risks assimilation. Deleuze and Guattari’s call to becoming, especially becoming-imperceptible makes such a demand impossible, but, at the other end of the spectrum their horror of faciality is precisely due to its forceful assimilation of all bodies to the dominant, in order that the face may or may not pass. Facialisation is the politics of assimilation Gatens refuses as an ethic. The face does not implant or cover over the real body of an other. It does not act like a Western dominant mask. The face is what brings the body of the other into existence at all for dominant culture – without this re-cognitive tool culture cannot ‘see’ the other at all. When the other is facialised s/he is made visible only within the dominant system and in the only manner the dominant system will allow. Deleuze and Guattari state, "When the faciality machine translates formed contents of whatever kind into a single substance of expression, it already subjugates them to the exclusive form of signifying and subjective expression."(179-80) The face subjugates the body and the self, to a singular mode of comprehension and knowledge, and as a singular type of passable or un-passable subject. These two axes of signifier and subjectifier are the pistons and cogs of the facial machine. The signifier is the white wall or screen of the face and the subjectifier is in the black holes of the face. Either can foreground and either be in the background however they are not available individually or separately. They work as a machine.

The white wall of signification is pierced and probed by back holes of subjectification until an assemblage of a face is evident. This assemblage entirely repudiates any potential for a body to be unique, different or even itself. Rather, the body is hijacked into the face, and the face is hijacked into dominant, what Deleuze and Guattari call ‘majoritarian’ ("a state of domination" 291) culture. No pure difference or remarkable subjectivity exists, only variants on the majoritarian white-wall black-hole system. Some variants are minoritarian, marginalised through a failure in one or another of the indices available, such as black instead of white or female instead of male. Such variants decide where the face will be in the strata. Some faces may be sacrificed. Others are beyond the capacity or scope of the majoritarian system and are unrecognisable. Deleuze and Guattari state: "Faces are not basically individual: they define zones of frequency or probability, delimit a field that neutralises in advance any expressions or connections unnameable to the appropriate significations."(168) Hence the individuality of the faces in the Faces of Australia series are not included for their individuality. The urge to statistically tally up the amount of ‘ethnic’ faces, of ‘female’ faces is redundant due to the clustering of majoritarian zones of frequency the faces assemble around. Like a series of magnets, the white walls and black holes congress into what may appear an aboriginal or female face but is really an absolutely predicted and predictable convergence of a possible subject. This is how we recognise the face. We re-cognise, re-comprehend what we have always known to be potential in our introduction to new faces. All of the faces of Australia affirm their likeness to the majoritarian face rather than their difference. They must have a face, this face, in order to speak their little narratives about themselves. They must be facialised in order to enunciate. All of the stamp faces, black, white, child or adult, male or female, are firstly divergent majoritarian faces. These are all white male majoritarian faces divided off or made minoritarian by their singular indices of dividuation from the Christ face. Deleuze and Guattari point to historical representations of the Christ face as the prime facial organiser. Christ inhabits the space between God and Man, but has less of a body than a fully facialised flesh. The face, penis and wounds of Christ refuse to become flesh but rather remain signifying white-wall, black-hole machine. The shroud of Turin, the pierced hands, the pierced brow adding new black-holes of subjectivity to the gossamer white wall affirm Christ as impossible but absolutely mandatory. Elaine Scarry writes "The place of man and the place of God in the human generation that so dominates Genesis are easy to separate from one another: the place of man is in the body; the place of God is in the voice."9 Where Levinas takes God as the demand for ethical treatment of alterity, Deleuze and Guattari see "every stratum is a judgement of God."10 Judgement refutes ethics by predicting signification. Whether judgement is of a body or a war, ‘God’ for Deleuze and Guattari will identify the item by its stratum not its specificity. Such judgement not only denies difference based on its unique value rather than its paradigmatic value, but also refutes the possibility of change.

Like subjectivity, the face must be singular, however its singular representation occurs through the usually binary options available to it. Its singularity will then be stratafiable. Although the options fall most often into two, the access to their definition and value remains isomorphic – they always exist in comparison with the Christ face. Hence the signification of black-or-white skin, of female-or-male face, of intellectual-or-retarded capacity is read in the faces white walls, cemented and affirmed in the subject’s black holes so that the face informs on the subject rather than the subject belying the face. A face’s unity is only available through binaries, a white gay woman, a black straight man, a sane healthy male, a sick insane female. Binary choices converge into the ‘individual’ face.

The assemblage of the face reflects the cementations of strata, which is why it is so akin to landscape. The landscape of the face is rigid, changeable only in relation to a set of predictable variances. The landscape is also toiled by a certain set of people, who own run and map the land. The land is recognised in a certain way. Nowhere is this metaphor more clear than in the example of the use of two aboriginal faces in the stamp series. The landscape, like the face, of Australia, was entirely reterritorialised by white settlement. In the eighteenth century the Australian landscape was altered by the new majoritarians, the white colonisers, simultaneous with the alteration of the facial strata. Back in the 1780s the black face was more akin to Levinas’ animal snout, a face of sorts but not a human one. By giving Aboriginals a face, indeed two faces in a stamp series, the Government of Australia and the Australian people are claiming that incorporation equals justice and that an Aboriginal has a face in the same way as a white coloniser. What the Aboriginal is left with is a colonisation of the propulsive body by the majoritarian order of reason, which creates a face that is human but is emphatically non-dominant. Like the face of all minoritarians, the faces of the Aboriginals in the stamps is a system only, forcing meaning out from between the teeth of the smiles. Cyril Watson is a "typical Aussie boy"11. Like his name, his face has been created through majoritarian univocality,

encompassing what he is and what he should but never will be. As a child Cyril is phantasmatically placed at a level zero of potential to be like every other successful Australian, while the statistics for Aboriginal men prove that this majoritarian potential is simply another ruse of the facial machine. "Racism never detects the particles of the other" state Deleuze and Guattari, "it propagates waves of sameness until those who resist identification have been wiped out…its cruelty is equalled only by its incompetence and naïveté." (178) Cyril’s smiling face is territorialised by two particular ‘waves of sameness’. The first is found in the mud smeared over his body that blurs the marker between face and clothes (another univocal binary choice). Cyril’s face becomes ‘savage’ despite the fact he is simply playing in mud. He is at once mischievous boy and threatening Aboriginal activist/land right claimant/savage. His smile and his age are the second waves of sameness. This year in Australia there has been an uproar over Aboriginal mandatory sentencing, which has resulted in even more Aboriginal male deaths in custody than the usually alarming rate.12 Mandatory sentencing in the Northern Territory and Western Australia means that after three crimes, of any degree, violence or severity, youths are sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years. D&G: "From the viewpoint of racism, there is no exterior, there are no people on the outside. There are only people who are not like us and whose crime it is not to be."(178) On the back sleeve cover of Daniel McNeill’s popular-academic book The Face McNeill’s editor lures us into purchasing the book by a series of quirky information titbits, the final piece of which reads "Judges give good-looking people lighter penalties."13 Although I am (as yet) unable to produce any photographs, the most common forensic photography of Aboriginals for 1999 and 2000, in popular imagination and probably statistically, would be the young male found dead in custody. The marked juxtaposition between Cyril’s smiling face and passive pose made pure by his youth, and the bloated, ravaged face of a dead young Aboriginal in a police file or forensic pathology textbook is extreme. Cyril’s face poses purity and a hope that fictionally places him in the same space as the majoritarian for his life to unfurl. However the Australian attitude of ‘Giving it a go despite the obstacles’ means very different things to Aboriginals, to women and to many other minoritarians than it does to the majoritarian. With the face, the expectation of the minoritarian is territorialised so that when the minoritarian fails or is done violence s/he is responsible only for her/his own downfall. The Aboriginal face in Australia is the sacrificial face of Australian nationality. Another form of sacrificial face is currently being used by Benetton in their newest advertising series.

"We, on Death Row" is the 2000 advertising campaign from Benetton. Benetton’s photographer, Oliviero Toscani’s, continues his obsession with faces and the supposed democratising truths they present in homogenising ‘humanity’ if not human-ness. The series shows six men on death row, three white, three black. In the advertising blurb Benetton spokesman Ken Shulman emphasises the faces of each "human life, helpless before a well armed, faceless, vindictive state."(My emphasis)14 The face here somehow proves itself and its right to live in being majoritarian. In the ways the face fulfils the dominant face, by reflecting the dominant face the face saves itself – saving face is about saving up your black holes and white wall to mimic the majoritarian so that he does not kill you. The ethics of Levinas confirm the mass homogenising project of saving face Benetton perpetrates. Although Levinas seeks an accountable and ‘real’ ethics for thinking an other, his use of the face as the vindication, reason and very site of possibility for the other retains the other in the significations of the dominant. "But that face" he states "facing me, in its expression – in its mortality – summons me, demands me, requires me: as if the invisible death faced by the face of the other – pure alterity, separate, somehow from any whole – were ‘my business’."15 Levinas does not sufficiently account for the facial machine at work in facing the other. The very existence of an other may be enough of a call to ethics, but the facial machine, perception and knowledge which Levinas refuted earlier, teem in the ability (and desire) to look someone in the eye. How can that face be my business when its condition of possibility is that it will never be or reflect the majoritarian face? The racially other face, these criminal faces, feminised faces all exist absolutely on the condition that they are minoritarian and irreconcilably so. It is precisely because they are minoritarian, because their biunivocalisation has failed in some way, they are no longer ‘my business’. Like the miniaturisation of biology, the face is a dermic representation that certain people can appear majoritarian/normal but there is something essentially other about these faces, (these genes, these seratonic trails).

In Benetton’s death row series, in the Face of Australia series, the face is only our business on the condition that two axes be fulfilled. These two paradigms are:

1. The face is at least passably signifiable enough to be a subject. To be our business this face must potentially be us while simultaneously not being us, or being a failed us. If we perform violence on this face it is precisely because of the ways such a face refuses to conform to our own. The tribal face, the Aboriginal face are at once worthy of our sympathy (though not our identity) and precariously close to not being worthy. The Vietnamese face of the Vietnam War is a good example of the sliding nature of the face of the other. Napalm children, like Cyril in the Face of Australia, deserve pity because they are other and potentially we, they are young, and their faces still pose a potential (but never really available) plasticity to be moulded to obey the white majoritarian facial machine. Like an aboriginal in custody, photographed hanging in a cell, the famous (nameless) protester shot in the head, reproduced photographically as Eddie Adam's photo "Guerrilla Dies." and in film in The Killing of America (Sheldon Renan, USA, 1981) is the irreconcilably other face. This murder, shown on American television in 1968, is ascribed to General Loan who is himself Vietnamese. The horror of this sequence is set up to evince the brutality of even the American-sided Asian, who cannot be trusted to find the other in the face of his own. Even to a Vietnamese the suspected VC ‘looks the same as all the other Viets’; hence General Loan places a VC armband on the corpse. The armband places the protester as unfacialisable within a majoritarian context – he must be sacrificed so the becoming-American executioner is not. The armband is placed on the dead protester, the image rendered forensic, majoritarian knowledge of the truth the body is had and the political spatialising of the body stands in for the impossibility of this Vietnamese face ever ‘passing’.16 The majoritarian facial machine, while orchestrating everything in this scene, is responsible for nothing except the perpetration of the myth of savages killing their own. While General Loan violently and literally flies in the face of Levinasian ethics, by defying the humanity of the face’s "extreme exposure, before all human aim – as in a ‘point blank’ shot"17 the majoritarian viewer, supporting the majoritarian war, sees nothing of his own face in the scene while his facial machine territorialises every moment.

2. The face must always be far enough from our own to be irreconcilable even if it is recognisable. This is what Camilla Griggers calls the sacrificial face. She states "The body of the sacrifice by definition is perpetually losing face – undergoing a process of effacement, a trial of humiliation, exile or victimization…"18 The death row faces are criminal, the Vietnamese protester racially other, the rape victim in film or photography unmistakably female or feminised. The passable face of point one must be passable in order to be sacrificial. A faceless thing does not pass and therefore cannot stand as the sacrifice. The sacrifice is the condition of possibility of the majoritarian not being the sacrifice. As I have explicated above, the sacrific-er is often also minoritarian: General Loan, the ‘crazed’ rapist, the Aboriginal who (allegedly) suicides thus becoming his own executioner, the death row inmate who is both sacrifice and sacrificer at once, subjected to and by his own criminality.

Benetton have used faces since their inception as a global company, to represent the sameness-yet-specificity of the world’s people whom they clothe. Happy looking faces beaming despite their colo(u)r and sex (Benetton here use the American spelling of color) gave way to human stories of dignity despite difference: Young pop culture fashion enthusiasts in Tokyo (1999); Disabled German youngsters (1998) Jews and Arabs living in harmony despite civil turmoil (1997) Chinese faces (1996) Sicilian faces (1996) AIDS victims (1992).19 Such ‘diverse’ faces mirror the divergent, yet singular, faces that come to represent nations after Europe was conflated into one state. When each country is part of a unified union, the differences within countries are repudiated for the simulacra of ‘Germanity’ or ‘Frenchness’ or ‘Italianness’ that replaces consideration for each country's specificity and teeming different faces. This does not even begin to address the issues that simultaneously prevent non-EU countries from entering the EU. Oliviero Toscani says of his role as photographer for Benetton: "But we know this death happened. This is the thing. And the more real the thing is, the less people want to see it. It has always intrigued me how fakes have been accepted and reality is rejected."20 When it comes to death, only the face of the minoritarian will do. Benetton’s ads read like mondo films21, although they sell clothes instead of video rental. When they are not showing the civil-violence sacrificial other, they are showing the facial machine at work in the majoritarian West.

One key advertising campaign that does not include faces is the poster of 56 genitals, male and female, young and old. While this may seem out of character with Benetton’s aim to show and dress everyone in its "openness-to-the-world in a parade of faces, gestures, attitudes and colours" 22such a poster conforms completely to Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the inhuman-ness of faciality. When the bloodied head of an ethnic other is absent, the facialisation of Western flesh is substituted. ‘Genitals’ (which appears and disappears from the Benetton website from day to day) may appear to be outrageous in its brave presentation of genitals in a campaign to sell clothes whose primary function is to not make these objects visible. Genitals are, however, the prime location of facialisation after the face. These genitals are absolutely readable; there are no hermaphrodites, transgenders or even open vulvas in the photographs. Sealed smooth mons verenis and penises of all shapes and colours (except all the shapes are passably normal shapes) offer themselves as simple signification. They are easily stratafiable primarily because of their gender and then their colour and age. They are pure translatability – the univocality of each genital set is easily found in the images. D&G: "Translatability of any kind requires a single substance of expression."(179) Despite female genitals, even so-called ‘normal’ ones, being unto themselves non-singular, they are expressed here as immediately and ‘obviously’ comparable to male genitalia and hence it is the female genitals, more than the black or young genitals, which are forcefully facialised at the lowest level of stratification. The binarity of univocality is made extreme here, where biunivocality comes to refer no longer to many points made up of more than one binary choice that we find in the face. The machine that comes from black-or-white + male-or-female + sane-or-mad + straight-or-gay is reduced to only male or female. The gender issues pertinent to faciality are presented in their most simplified form on this poster. The encroaching effect of the facialising machine on the rest of the body is evinced here. Proof of the dehumanising effect of facialisation is realised when we see these genitals and understand that we may as well only look at them as the face because they speak the same totalising legislation of whether a body will or will not pass. So it is at this poster that I will try to pose a future for faciality, based on Deleuze and Guattari’s desire for the polyvocal face. (179)

Facial Futures?

Where can the face go? It cannot be un-faced or defacialised. The face is not a palimpsest with a pure and ethically vindictive alterity underneath. Because the majoritarian Christ face stands as the only face thus far, we should look to difference to offer us a way out of this isomorphic topography. We cannot rid ourselves of faces, so Deleuze and Guattari suggest we rid ourselves of the arborescent facial system and take each faciality trait, free it in order that it become a rhizome. If the traits of faciality are taken out of their strata "there are no more concentrically organised strata, no more black holes around which lines coil to form borders, no more walls to which dichotomies, binaries and bipolar values cling."(D&G, 190) Instead of asking to which binary does a faciality trait belong, and does it pass, we should ask where is that trait going now, how fast and in what way, what other things is it producing and connecting to? The face thrives on its (formerly) minoritarian traits which travel further and make more connections because minoritarian traits escape from the strata so easily (the further down you are, the closer to the exit). Deleuze and Guattari call such freed traits ‘probe-heads’. How can we relate this or even see its possibility based on the media representations in this article? Recall the Benetton ‘Genitals’ ad. The genitals in the ad are aligned with the Christ-face of the white, adult, male, able-bodied penis. The white penis here stands for the only form of faciality (but here the faciality of the groin) which could pass. Too much like the model of the tree, the white penis exists on its own potential to grow straight up and down, without the ability to lose its integrity by connecting with anything else. The power of this penis/tree is in the inability of anything else to be like it, to connect with it or to change its form. The white penis not only sits atop the arboreal strata, it is the arboreal strata. Essential to the recognition of this penis is the visual perception of it that makes available knowledge of its existence. Levinas adamantly refused knowledge or perception as valid in ethical consideration. Phallomorphic culture adamantly demands it. Luce Irigaray critiques this form of knowing, seeing and being defined through the image of the phallus. She states

The ‘differentiation’ into two sexes derives from the a priori assumption of the same, since the little man that the little girl is, must become a man minus certain attributes whose paradigm is morphological – attributes capable of determining, of assuring, the reproduction - specularisation of the same. A man minus the possibility of (re)presenting oneself as a man = a normal woman. In this proliferating desire of the same, death will be the only representative of an outside, of a heterogeneity, of an other: woman will assume the function of representing death…23

The equivalencies between the penis and woman and the majoritarian face and minoritarians are prolific. It seems, however, that the major commonality is the sacrificial nature of the woman/minoritarian is assured, so that they must both be sacrificed in order for the majoritarian to be. Toscani, Griggers, Levinas all identify that s/he who does not pass will be sacrificed, and the breadth spanned between Benetton’s ‘real’ ads, war photography and transcendental philosophy is evidence that such sacrifice affects real bodies as much as ideas. Like the un-passable face, woman is forced into a stratum and fails based on the binary options she is allowed. But what happens when woman’s body becomes what Deleuze and Guattari call freed faciality traits – probe heads? Irigaray identifies the fear phallocratic culture has in identifying female sexual organs due to women’s genitals belonging to "a different economy more than anything else, one that upsets the linearity of a project, undermines the goal object of a desire, diffuses the polarization toward a single pleasure, disconcerts fidelity to a single discourse." 24 Women’s genitals do not belong to phallocratic economy because they may be (or may not be, their options are never closed off) volume rather than surface, body rather than penis/face, rhizomatic rather than arboreal, alternatively visualisable rather than face-frontal visible. (It is important that the visual economy that Irigaray critiques is that which presents genitals as only visible when the face is also visible in an upright, pro-evolution stance.) Because women’s genitals/sexuality/desire belong to the rhizomatic realm, they may already be on their way to becoming probe-heads. Women’s genitals have to present themselves differently than the majoritarian penis-face if they are to exist at all, and so their connections rather than their correspondences to the penis are emphasised, their potentials and futures are their only hope. Certainly women’s bodies, like minoritarian facial traits, are yet to have their day. Their future may recall Marilyn Chambers in Rabid, (David Cronenberg, Canada, 1977) or the tribality of primitive heads. Their potentiality for connections is what matters. The main feature of the female body and the probe-head which makes both so hopeful for futuring faciality and body theory is the reliance of both being something-else-altogether based on the logic of sameness and passability/non-passability. The history of the face/woman’s body cannot be undone, and it is vital that Deleuze and Guattari point this out in order that futuring is both a historically accountable and gender and difference cognisant (returning to Benhabib) project, rather than a free-for-all po-mo future without any recognition of the literal and figurative sacrifices that enabled a future at all. By figuring the minoritarian and woman as on the precipice of becoming-other-than-facial-machine, we open "a rhizomatic realm of possibility effecting the potentialisation of the possible, as opposed to arborescent possibility, which marks a closure, an impotence."(D&G, 190) This realm will be limited only by infinity, the span of which each probe-head will desire. Levinas ends his work on the face with such a sentiment, "For my part, I think that the relation to the Infinite is not a knowledge, but a Desire." 25Perhaps the next stamp series and the next Benetton campaign will present us with a potentially infinite collective of probe-heads, fantastic female genitalia and perhaps only one dinosaur Christ-face.

Patricia MacCormack



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notes

1. Australia Post Stamp Shop website,
http://www.austpost.com.au/faces/sfa.htm
Last hit 4/06/00.
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2. Levinas, Emmanuel Ethics and Infinity: Conversations with Philippe Nemo. Trans. Richard Cohen. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. 1985, p. 87. Levinas claims that it is in the face that "You are You" p.86. Deleuze and Guattari on faciality express the face along an entirely different axes to Levinas. Where Deleuze and Guattari see the face as representative of the inhuman machine of pure signification, Levinas sees in the face consideration of pure alterity and of God, and the face is therefore the prime site of ethics.
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3. Levinas, 1985, p.85.
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4. Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Félix, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1987, pp.167-191.
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5. I am not here talking about an other in Lacanian terms. Here the term 'other' simply denotes anything available for consideration. This includes many plateaus of other, in the self, in the world and as and at many levels between these.
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6. One of which may be seen in the final image of the mondo film Executions, (1995, GB, David Herman, Arun Kumar and David Monaghan) where a victim of a lebanese mob is shot in the face and dies in close up.
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7. Benhabib, Seyla. Situating the Self: Gender, Community and Postmodernism in Contemporary Ethics. Cambridge: Polity Press. 1992, p.3.
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8. Gatens, Moira. Imaginary Bodies: Ethics, Power and Corporeality. London and New York: Routledge. 1996, p. 104.
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9. Scarry, Elaine. The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1985, p.192.
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10. 1987, p.44 and "A stratum always has a dimension of the expressible or of expression serving as the basis for a relative invariance," p. 43. Levinas points to "Fascism itself [,] never glorified crime" (Alterity and Transcendence. Trans. Michael B. Smith. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999, p. 176) that is the danger of violent discourse, where fascism considers itself ethical because it has a fully 'stratified' language which identifies 'good' and 'best'. He cites Psalms 12:4 as an example.
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11. http://www.austpost.com.au/faces/sfa.htm , author not given.
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12. From 1989 to December 1999 in Western Australia the number of non-aboriginal deaths in custody was 61. Aboriginal deaths in custody numbered 39, which is massive considering the Aboriginal population of 2%. Statistics from the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee http://www.omen.net.au/~dicwc/windex.html last hit 14/7/00.
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13. McNeill, Daniel. The Face: A Guided Tour. London: Hamish Hamilton. 1998, back sleevecover of hardback edition. McNeill writes: "A 1987 note in the Harvard Law Review urged that judges construe the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to bar discrimination based on 'largely immutable aspects of bodily and facial appearance,' which would include beauty. Such an interpretation is unlikely, since it would lead to spectacular wrangles, but the attractive clearly receive preference in personnel decisions," p. 283.
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14. Introduction: Death Row: United Colors of Benetton. http://www.benetton.com/deathrow/introduction.html Last hit 4/6/00.
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15. Levinas, 1999, p.24.
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16. My thanks go to Chris McAuliffe here for these ideas which he offered me in response to a paper I gave at The University of Melbourne, March 2000.
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Levinas, 1999, p. 24.
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18. Griggers, Camilla. Becoming Woman. Theory Out of Bounds Volume 8. Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press. 1997.
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19. http://www.benetton.com/wws/aboutyou/peopleplaces/index.html last hit 3/7/00
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20. http://www.benetton.com/wws/aboutyou/ucdo/index.html click 'Toscani on Advertising', last hit 5/7/00.
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21. A mondo film is a film which utilises documentary footage (ranging from real to fake) for the express purpose of entertainment. Rather than presenting factual footage to educate, mondo films present footage to titillate. I do not see anything particularly unethical or wrong about such films. Indeed I find what mondo films tell us about genre and intent to be far richer than any other film genre. For more see my article "Faciality: Forensics and Film". In Harper, Graeme and Mendik, Xavier, eds. Violated Bodies: Extreme Film. Creation Books in association with the University of Wales. Forthcoming 2000.
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22. http://www.benetton.com last hit 4/6/00
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23. Irigaray, Luce. Speculum of the Other Woman. Trans. Gillian Gill. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985, p. 27.
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Irigaray, Luce. This Sex Which Is Not One. Trans. Gillian Gill. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985, pp. 29 - 30.
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Levinas, 1985, p. 92.
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