A Hitherto Unrecognized Sublime Photographer: The Universe

Jalal Toufic

"[Paul Gsell:] 'Well, then, when in the interpretation of movement he [the artist] completely contradicts photography, which is an unimpeachable mechanical testimony, he evidently alters truth.' 'No,' replied Rodin, 'it is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop, and if the artist succeeds in producing the impression of a movement which takes several moments for accomplishment, his work is certainly much less conventional than the scientific image, where time is abruptly suspended.'"1 While I tend to concur with this Rodin view generally, I do not agree with his assertion that "in reality time does not stop." To disagree with this assertion, I do not have to invoke the freezing in dance and undeath, under diegetic silence-over;2 I can invoke relativity. The Schwarzschild membrane of a black hole is an event horizon not only because once an entity crosses it, that entity can no longer communicate back with us this side of it; but also because from our reference frame the entities at the horizon do not undergo any events, being frozen due to the infinite dilation of time produced by the overwhelming gravity in the vicinity of the black hole. Was photography invented not so much to assuage some urge to arrest the moment, but partly owing to an intuition that it already existed in the universe, in the form of the immobilization and flattening at the event horizon? Photography with gamma rays at the border of a black hole would be the "basic" indexical representation. Had my former lover responded to my qualms about allowing photographs to be taken of me, and thus of us—the one exception in the one and a half years we lived together is the photograph of us that is part of the artistic triptych specifically done for the jacket of Distracted—with: "By superimposing the reference frame of the outside observer and that of the astronaut approaching the black hole, one has at the event horizon a flattening and a suspension of motion—a "photograph"—of the still moving three-dimensional person who crossed the black hole's membrane. The universe automatically takes the cosmonaut's photograph as he crosses its border, the event horizon, in a sort of paradigmatic farewell. So allow me to take a farewell photograph, Jalal, for this may be our last meeting. Don't begrudge me what you grant to the universe," I would have acquiesced to her request. Do photographs exude such nostalgia because they show a moment that has vanished? Relativity, with its space-time, and Zen master Dogen, with his time-being (uji), tell us that that moment has not vanished. I rather think that this gloomy nostalgia is connected to an intuition of the resonance of the human-made photographs with the aforementioned naturally-occurring photographs that signal the irretrievable loss to the universe of the one who has been thus photographed. From a local reference frame, an artistic rendering in the Rodin manner of the astronaut at the event horizon is probably less conventional, more truthful, than a photograph of him; but from the reference frame of the outside observer, the photograph is less conventional than the Rodin-like artwork, for at the event horizon not only is the person flattened, but also time is so slowed it comes to a standstill.

If the radical closure work presents only one frame of reference, then, with rare exceptions, the crossing into such a closure happens in a lapse, is missed, one finding "oneself" to the other side without having been introduced there; but if two reference frames are provided, then the crossing both does not happen and is continuous! From the reference frame of an outside observer, those at the black hole's event horizon are flattened and frozen, turning into quasi photographs; but from their local reference frame they have crossed that boundary as three-dimensional, changing persons. In Robbe-Grillet's universe, from one perspective, exterior to the radical closure, the protagonists and the buildings are frozen, flat; but from another perspective, interior to the radical closure, they have depth, undergo events. The description that opens La Maison de Rendez-vous is initially from the perspective of someone outside the radical closure: the scene is in the form of a frieze on the frame of a door. This frieze was made by no one, but shows the immobilization and flattening of objects and people at the event horizon. Then there is a furtive switch, and things are rendered from the perspective of someone who crossed the event horizon, so that once again the reader is dealing with movement and three-dimensional entities. If there is a subsequent freezing that is again accompanied by a flattening, the reader would be once again looking from outside the radical closure. This would indicate that the fiction writer has not relinquished the omniscience and ubiquity of the traditional novelist, but truly accomplished it: what could be a clearer sign of an omniscience of the narrator than to be able to report on what is happening to either side of the event horizon! But if this subsequent freezing is not accompanied by a flattening—being the effect of a diegetic silence-over, or the result of an irruption in a photograph (The Shining) or in a painting in a radical closure—then the novelist may have relinquished such omniscience and ubiquity.

There are two sorts of possible photographs that are specific to a radical closure, including the astronomical black hole: the freezing and flattening at its threshold; and the irruptions of photographs "in" it (by objective chance the "photograph" of the astronaut frozen and flattened at the event horizon may irrupt inside the black hole). Were one to want to list the photographic works of Lynch, one should incorporate not only those that were included in exhibitions of his works and subsequently published in museum catalogues,3 but also Lost Highway's photograph of the two look-alike women, and Fire Walk with Me's photograph handed by the old woman and the child, who suddenly irrupt on the sidewalk, to Laura Palmer, and in which she later irrupts. Similarly, in order to complement one's view of Robbe-Grillet the writer and filmmaker by Robbe-Grillet the draftsman, painter, and photographer, it is not enough, as in issue 16-17 of the journal Obliques, dedicated to his work, to show paintings he did; one has also to show and include as part of his oeuvre as an artist the paintings, supposedly by others (Magritte...), that irrupt in his novels,4 as well as the photographs that irrupt in his films. How tedious is all the photograph-taking from the aisles lining fashion catwalks when set against the becoming-photographs (but also paintings) of the protagonists in Robbe-Grillet's novels, and the irruption of photographs in the radical closures of both Robbe-Grillet's and Lynch's films:5 the photograph the woman's suitor hands to her to convince her that they did meet the previous year at Marienbad was taken by no one, not even "the third who walks always beside you" (T. S. Eliot)—her husband?—but possibly irrupted inside the radical closure.6 These irrupted photographs fit and do not fit in the film, making it a mixed media work. The absence of any mention of, let alone a separate section on the photographs in Robbe-Grillet's Last Year at Marienbad, L'Immortelle, and The Man Who Lies; in Lynch's Lost Highway; and in Kubrick's The Shining is a major omission in historical surveys of photography.7 Paintings such as Three Portraits: Posthumous Portrait of George Dyer, Self Portrait, Portrait of Lucian Freud, 1973, and Triptych March 1974, where the figure is shown holding a camera next to its face, presumably in the act of taking a photograph, are exceptional in Bacon's work. In most instances where the face is set against a frame on the wall in such a manner as to appear to belong to it, we are witnessing the flattening and freezing at the event horizon. Bacon used as models photographs taken by other, camera-wielding humans, but in order to allow, from a reference frame external to the radical closure, the turning into a photograph at that closure's border, as in Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus, 1981, and Study from the Human Body, 1981, where the figure is three-dimensional in the left panel, but already two-dimensional in the right one8 (what is consecutive in Robbe-Grillet's novelistic radical closures is simultaneous in Bacon's artistic radical closures); or the irruption in the radical closure of a photograph not taken by anyone, often in the form of a hung photographic portrait on the wall.

The scientists had programmed the main computer on the spaceship to factor in the slowing-down of time from the perspective of the outside observer and to both inform the astronaut of that so he would take the right pose once he has reached the event horizon; and provide him inside his spaceship that had gone beyond the Schwarzschild radius with a convincing simulation of his photograph at the event horizon. Some perverse engineer had even arranged for the click of a camera to be suddenly audible as the spaceship crosses the event horizon. Supposedly, by looking at this photograph, he would still feel himself to be virtually outside the event horizon. A few psychiatrists and writers cautioned him that it would be unsettling to look at a photograph that uncannily reproduced one that could exist only in a frame of reference from which he was excluded, warning him that he would have the impression of being at two places or even three places at the same time: in the spaceship inside the black hole's horizon, where he actually was; back at the event horizon; and in the reference frame, at a distance from the event horizon, from which his freezing and flattening would be observable.9 They cautioned him that by seeing this photograph in his spaceship beyond the event horizon, indeed by merely knowing of its existence in his spaceship, he would feel like a somnambulist. But was such a warning really necessary in this peculiar case? If memory is not localized and preserved in the brain, but, as Bergson avers, presupposes the subsistence of the past, and if the act of memory entails displacing oneself to the region of the past where the virtual memory of the event can be found,10 how can the person who crosses the event horizon continue to have his memory if by crossing it he is disconnected from his past to the other side? According to Kip S. Thorne, Paul Davies, and other physicists, setting aside the intensifying gravitational tidal forces, hypothetically the astronaut would not feel anything special at the Schwarzschild membrane or just after he crosses it. But, since the space-time outside the event horizon is no longer available to the astronaut who crossed that boundary, my contention is that starting at the event horizon the astronaut suffers an automatic, instantaneous loss of memory. There is thus a memorable difference between the traditional photograph taken by a human using a camera, and this other photograph into which we turn at the edge of the universe, a difference that goes a long way toward accounting for why I do not have qualms about the latter photograph while having them about the former: while we would still have our memories when photographed by humans, the person whose photograph is being taken at the event horizon, as it were by the universe, constitutionally loses memory. To the other side of the gateless gate, a photograph showing the astronaut does not elicit any nostalgia from him or her, partly because such a photograph is an unworldly, ahistorical irruption, partly because the astronaut has become amnesiac. Isn't the woman of Resnais' Last Year at Marienbad, who is unable to remember what happened because she is divested from the space-time outside the radical closure of the hotel, such a figure of amnesia? Regarding what happens to memory inside a massive black hole, I will follow Resnais and Robbe-Grillet's film rather than Kip Thorne's book Black Holes and Time Warps. Is it accidental that many physicists resort to robots in their portrayal of what may happen to the entity that crosses the event horizon? Is that merely to spare the reader's sensibility by saving the human astronaut from death by gravitational shredding? Or is it possibly because they intuit that only one of the two kinds of memory that Bergson differentiates, the one reduced to the sensory-motor mechanism to respond to a situation—the only one available to the robot, indeed the one that the robot embodies as such—continues to be available to the entity that crosses the event horizon? Convinced by Bergson's views, the astronaut was less apprehensive of being shredded by the gravitational tidal effects or the singularity to the other side of the event horizon of a gargantuan black hole, than of suddenly becoming amnesiac just as he crossed the event horizon. To appease him some scientists explained to him that since the brain is the locus where the traces of the past are preserved through a series of modifications to the circuits of that complex biological organ, the entity that passes to the other side of the event horizon maintains its memory up to its death by enormous tidal forces; and a number of philosophers of science told him that there was a conflict between the largely spatialized time of relativity, especially in its Minkowski rendition, and the unextended time of Bergson, and that he had to choose between the two: "If time is unextended, then you cannot be separated from it by a border in space—especially a mathematical one." He was not convinced, exclaiming: "Can one cross beyond the end of the universe and conserve one's memory intact?!" Deleuze on Bergson: "The present changes or passes. We can always say that it becomes past when it no longer is, when a new present replaces it. But this is meaningless. It is clearly necessary for it to pass on for the new present to arrive, and it is clearly necessary for it to pass at the same time as it is present, at the moment that it is the present. Thus the image has to be present and past, still present and already past, at once and at the same time. If it was not already past at the same time as present, the present would never pass on."11 This situation precisely occurs at the black hole's event horizon. There, the astronaut, as well as any object whatever, is immobilized, with no passage of the present, and as such this no passage of the present indicates its separation from a general past, the space-time to the universe's side of the event horizon. The two different frames of reference with regards to the black hole manifest the two consequences of this present divested from the virtual past that is preserved in itself and preserves, and that allows the present to pass: at the border of the black hole, and from the reference frame of the outside observer, the present that does not pass; inside the black hole, from the reference frame of the astronaut who crossed the horizon, the present that is not preserved, thus an astronaut that is amnesiac not only at the epistemological level, but also at the ontological level, an irruption, ahistorical, so that if he does not at some point suddenly perceptibly disappear, it would be only because of a renewed creation.

What about a monadological perspective? While aware that contemporary physics is not Leibnizian, since it contains many absolute borders, for example relativity's light cone—which establishes the set of all the other objects in the universe that can affect a particular object—and event horizon, both deducible from the finiteness of the speed of light; and since it contradicts the Leibnizian law of indiscernibles with quantum physics' Bose-Einstein condensate, the astronaut wondered what would happen to him at the border of the black hole in case he were a monad, in whom all the events that happened to it are internal to it. One could consider the world delimited by the event horizons of all the black holes as the expression of monads. What is outside the incorporeal monad is not the world, which is enveloped in it, but what is external to the world, what borders it: invisible black holes. This side of the event horizon, there is no world out there, only the incorporeal monads' expression through percepts and apperceptions; to the other side, there is an external world, but one that can be detected this side of the event horizon only indirectly, through its gravitational effects, since the black holes do not allow what renders visible, light, to escape. At the event horizon, there is an abrupt change from one extreme closure to another: from a monad, which has "no windows, by which anything could come in or go out" (Monadology #7), to the black hole, a space-time region that is radically-closed. One can survey much more of a monadic object not by coming too close to it by means of a magnifying machine (such as a microscope), but by having it come too close to an event horizon. What we have around the event horizon is the ever-increasing unfoldings of the monad, which contains all the information in the universe, past, present and future ("each created monad represents the whole universe," Monadology #62). In this case too, a portrait is as much of the artist/photographer as of the model: at the event horizon, we have a photograph of the astronaut, or, to be more accurate, the astronaut turned through flattening and freezing into a photograph; but also, through the infinite unfolding of what he, as a monad, envelops, the baroque "photograph" of the universe. This portrait of the universe would nonetheless take an infinite time to be developed since the wavelengths of the electromagnetic signal, which are Doppler-shifted and undergo gravitational redshift, keep rapidly increasing as the astronaut comes ever closer to the horizon, with the consequence that some of them "take forever to climb out of the hole's gravitational grip," reaching an outside observer only by the end of the world, at which point the event horizon becomes a clear mirror of the universe. While in the last moments before one's death, one's whole life reportedly flashes before one, at the universe's end, at the event horizon, all the universe's events unfold. From this perspective, any monadic entity that crosses the event horizon, but certainly a human being is an apocalyptic event. Indeed, when does the astronaut cross the event horizon? From his local reference, when the rest of the universe has speeded up to its temporal end; from the reference frame of the outside observer, by that time the universe has reached its temporal end since the astronaut is going to take an infinite time to reach the event horizon. Taking into consideration both frames, the astronaut approaching the event horizon to cross it is truly a figure of death (and not mainly in the sense that he will soon be shredded by the gravitational field).

He had first seen her in a cafeteria at the space program. She turned when someone called: "Shanna!" A couple of days later, he wrote the following letter: "Is the French Vice-Consul in Lahore Leibnizian or enunciating a Leibnizian truth during his conversation, in voice-over, with Anne-Marie Stretter in Duras' India Song: 'I didn't need to dance with you to know you. You know that.' 'Yes.' 'There's no need for us to go any further, you and I. We haven't anything to say to each other. We are the same.' 'I believe you.' 'Love affairs you have with others. We don't need that...'? It is not any woman who can make one feel this way. Sitting at adjoining but separate tables at the cafeteria, he felt they were two monads, windowless, and that not only all that had happened or would ever happen to her is plicated in him, albeit as quite confused perceptions, but also that all that would ever happen to him was folded in her who might refuse his advances. Which did he prefer: to meet her in a world where one learns about others through observations, a writing that receives through creation the aparté, lip-readings, slips of the tongue, French kisses, in short: intercourse? Or rather to live in a Leibnizian world without ever possibly meeting her, a world where each monad, Gilles included, expresses the universe, Shanna included, past, present, and future? Which did he prefer: to meet her in the former kind of world and know that whole zones of her life will remain totally unknown to him? Or else never to meet her but to be in a universe where he expressed her past, present and future, though in a confused, unconscious manner? The Vice-Consul (continuing): 'I wanted to know the smell of your hair...' Why, if the smell of her hair is also enveloped in him? What is this attraction to the body? While the immaterial monad can express the other, indeed all others, without any external interaction ('the natural changes of monads come from an internal principle'), since they all conspire to envelop the same universe; extended bodies can affect each other only through interactions. Feeling such intense attraction to you, I will advance two or three things I know about bodies' attraction to each other. Bodies are basically attractive to bodies, not consequently of perceptions that one would have through one's body's interactions with them, for perceptions are already in the monad; but because bodies affect each other through interaction. Bodies are basically attractive to bodies: even a body that induces in me revulsion, and that I consequently shun, is nonetheless inside me: 'Each portion of matter may be conceived as a garden full of plants, and as a pond full of fish. But every branch of each plant, every member of each animal, and every drop of their liquid parts is itself likewise a similar garden or pond.' (Monadology #67). Bodies are basically attractive to bodies: there is no void in Leibniz's monadology." He did not end up forwarding or giving in person the letter to her. They were soon after chosen for the first mission to a black hole. Along the training process, they became lovers. They quickly came to view that trip into the black hole as a double suicide. She began avidly reading any biographies and letters of Kleist she could find, as well as Christa Wolf's No Place on Earth. He surrounded himself with reproductions of Francis Bacon paintings, since for him that painter's work made gravity visible. He was particularly attracted to Bacon's triptych Three Studies for a Crucifixion. Like Bacon, he was not interested in crucifixion from a religious point of view. He was fascinated by it as the fate awaiting him consequent of the quick increase in the differential gravitational pull on his body that he would suffer as his spaceship approached the black hole. Standing before Bacon's triptych Crucifixion, he told her: "We will be together forever." And indeed at the event horizon, they were together "forever, and ever, and ever," until the end of the world. There, at last, he could not refuse her a photograph with him: they both became a photograph. But one second "later" they were separated from each other as no two sane living humans have ever been separated. The only kind of separation that might be equivalent would be between oneself and one's double, who is oneself divested from all the others with whom and with which one is usually intermingled.12 Falling in love is not a felicitous expression, since in the exemplary situation of the fall, in the vicinity of a black hole, where whatever is closer to the black hole's center is falling in relation to the rest (the astronaut's feet resting on the floor are falling in relation to his head), the other is experienced as totally alien. Since the world enveloped in the monad reaches only to the event horizon, within the black hole either the monad would no longer have any perceptions or apperceptions, and thus for all practical purposes would not have crossed the event horizon—that is how things appear, have to appear, from the reference frame of the world; or the astronaut will no longer be a monad, but an entity that changes through interaction with other figures; or else he or she will thenceforth be the result of a creation, and if he or she happens to seem to continue in existence, this would be the result of a renewed creation. He was preparing himself to possibly encounter alien beings and exotic kinds of matter to the other side of the event horizon, but the first things that he encountered as alien were the other astronauts in his spaceship. The one who crosses the event horizon is divested of the world, not only because he can no longer cross to the other side, but also because he or she is no longer a monad, no longer envelops the world. In which case, no information is lost to the black hole, because the astronaut as monad never crosses the event horizon, and because anyway all the information is encoded in each of the other monads. The other side of the event horizon is doubly the outside: crossing the event horizon we exit this universe, but also the universe itself exits us, in the sense that it is no longer enveloped in us. The separation he had to accept was not only with the universe to the other side of the event horizon, but also with the other travelers on the spaceship, no longer feeling any affinity with them: they presently had the tonality of, indeed were possibly, ahistorical irruptions. That we do not perceive irruptions in a world that physics tells us has absolute ends (in the form of the singularities of the big bang and black holes) could be either because the irruptions are localized in black holes, or else because we are what Leibniz considered us, monads, and the irruptions do not belong to the world all monads conspire to express. As monads, enveloping the same world, at the most basic level we are always only in our own company.13 The gazes of the four human figures in Bacon's triptych Two Figures Lying on a Bed with Attendants, 1968, the left panel's seated figure looking right, the center panel's recumbent couple, and the right panel's seated figure looking left, although sharply separated by the panels' frames, are aligned, suggesting that the figures perceive each other or at least are aware of each other. Triptychs or diptychs with figures whose gazes or gestures are aligned across the various panels suggest a monadic quality. Triptychs and diptychs have in this monadic quality one of their main functions and motifs. The left panel's human figure does not at all perceive the bird-like creature visible to us in the same panel, for the latter is an unworldly irruption, thus incompossible with the world expressed by the monad, but allowed by that expressed world's radical closure. Bacon's paintings are a preparation for what one may encounter to the other side of black holes' horizons. There is intra-action among the monadic figures; there is no relation between the monadic figure and the irrupted unworldly entity; and there is interaction between the irrupted unworldly entities. Very few art and fiction works show a universe of interaction; an interactional universe presupposes figures that do not envelop all others, the whole world. One of the main interests of black holes for artists is therefore that they provide the best context to show interaction. Intra-action seems pale compared to interaction. While making figures that "come across directly onto the nervous system" does not reach to interaction, it is the closest to it that Bacon can achieve as a form of monadic intra-action. Now that the astronaut was no longer a monad, he could notice all the irruptions that were happening to the other side of the event horizon. The beloved woman with whom he had decided to venture this "double suicide" was, the event horizon crossed, far more alien to him than any other human he had encountered to the other side of that horizon. As they, monads, ever so closely approached the event horizon, unfolding ever more, it became increasingly manifest from the outside reference frame that they are indistinguishable, since they both mirrored the whole universe; but to the other side of the event horizon, and from their local frame of reference, they had already turned absolutely different. Some time after they had crossed into the massive black hole, he was again gradually getting acquainted with her, but the intimacy was gone.14 He realized now which of the two alternatives he had listed in his Leibnizian letter to her he preferred—by far. Looking at his beloved as they crossed to the other side of the event horizon, he felt that she is as alien as a sphinx, that she is a sphinx (Bacon's Sphinx—Portrait of Muriel Belcher, 1979). I envision the sphinx of Bacon's Oedipus and the Sphinx after Ingres, 1983, asking a twenty-first century Oedipus, now an astronaut, a different riddle: "What is it that conjointly crosses a gateless gate and doesn't, is two dimensional and three dimensional, and although the same totally alien?" The three figures in Bacon's triptychs of portraits and self-portraits present the following three different modes. One figure is the compaction of the model to a concentrate that would come across directly onto the nervous system, short-circuiting illustration. The second figure is Bacon's illustration of the portrait made by the universe at the event horizon: production-wise, Bacon starts by deforming the photograph of the model taken by a human using a camera, and arrives at illustrating the photograph of the model taken by the universe, at its border. The third figure is Bacon's illustration of the becoming similar of the "body snatcher"/imposter who irrupted in the radical closure, or of the figures that crossed the event horizon and thus are alien because no longer enveloped in each other as monads. A model who not only cannot recognize herself in the latter sort of figure, but even feels repulsion toward it, is not to be criticized as of limited aesthetic judgment.

From Jalal Toufic's Forthcoming (Berkeley, CA: Atelos, 2000), pp. 226-239.


  1. Auguste Rodin, Rodin on Art, translated from the French of Paul Gsell by Romilly Fedden (New York: Horizon, 1971), pp. 75-76.

  2. Rodin does not take into consideration the turning into sculptures through freezing in certain altered states of consciousness (schizophrenia) and body (dance: Fokine's Firebird)—for more recent examples of such turning into sculptures through freezing, one can peruse the novels of Robbe-Grillet or view Maya Deren's Ritual in Transfigured Time.

  3. David Lynch, Sala Parpalló, Palau Dels Scala, May-June 1992, Diputación Provincial De Valencia (Edicions Alfons El Magnanim, 1992); David Lynch, Paintings and Drawings, Touko Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan, 12-27 January 1991.

  4. The artist as producer: Warhol, who simply turned on the camera and let it shoot whatever was in front of it until the end of the film roll, or else assigned others to make the films or the silkscreens; Robbe-Grillet, who produced radical closures in which works that are ostensibly those of others irrupted.

  5. In Lost Highway, the circumstance that Fred Madison and his wife had twice not set the alarm system on the day preceding their reception of the anonymous video tape with shots of the interior of their house leaves open the possibility that they are dealing with a traditional unlawful entry through the door or window by someone who then took these shots with a camera. The two policemen who come to investigate the case ask Fred to thenceforth activate his alarm system. Therefore we can assume that—unlike in the script, where he again fails to activate the alarm—he did so, and moreover, since the couple does not hear the alarm sound but nonetheless receive another videotape with new shots of the interior of their house, that no entry took place through any of the entrances of the house. In experimental cinema the issue of whether a camera is required in order to make a film was early on raised and settled—No, it is not a necessity—resulting in such films as Len Lye's Colour Box, 1935, and Free Radicals, 1958, with their painted or scratched film stock, and Stan Brakhage's Mothlight, 1963. In the diegesis of Lost Highway too, we are to assume that no camera served to take the video shots of the inside of the house—except in this case the shots were moreover produced by no one, but rather irrupted as such. Similarly, it is quite possible that the tracking shot of the highway at night, its yellow strips illuminated by the headlights of a moving car, which is first seen in Blue Velvet, 1986, and which accompanies the opening credits sequence and the ending of Lost Highway, 1997, was not filmed for the latter film but irrupted in it from the earlier one. In this respect, it is premonitory that in Blue Velvet the shot where Frank enjoins his companions at Ben's joint to head for the road, a shot that thus announces the highway tracking one, ends abruptly with the sudden disappearance of Frank and his cohorts. Since the highway is a cinematic shot from an earlier film rather than a road, it cannot be used to flee somewhere else—unless the person flees his pursuers not farther along the highway but through (his double's?) irruption into the shot of the highway. That is why, while being unsettled, I am not surprised that when the Mystery Man, standing next to Fred Madison, hands the wounded man on the desert sand a little TV watchman, that monitor shows, in a Magritte kind of simultaneity (The Fair Captive, 1948), the Mystery Man handing a monitor while standing next to Madison.

  6. One did not have to wait for digital technology (with the absence of generation loss it makes possible) to question the veracity and historicity of photographs, their indexical function.

  7. Why would a writer or artist have so much affinity for such entities? Because writing and art in general are interested in entities that fit and do not fit.

  8. In Francis Bacon's work, painting deals with, and foregrounds its being a two-dimensional medium not so much in a self-reflexive manner, but through dealing with the flattening of the figure at the border of the black hole.

  9. While the figure divided into two at the juncture of the door or the panel in Bacon's Seated Figure is not actually dislocated but just represented and viewed from two reference frames, the spectator has to manage the impossible feat of being in two reference frames simultaneously: outside the radical closure to see the two dimensional figure, but inside it to see the three-dimensional figure.

  10. The great documentarists and filmmakers of memory and preservation have the intuition and convey the sensation that the past is already preserved: they give the feeling that they remember on the basis of this fundamental memory, that they preserve on the basis of this prior preservation.

  11. Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), p. 79.

  12. Cf. "Composites" in (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film, revised and expanded edition (Sausalito, CA: The Post-Apollo Press, 2003), pp. 102-103.

  13. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science #166.

  14. Cf. "Composites" in (Vampires), pp. 102-103.