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<eyebeam><blast> Beauty and Trauma

Thank you Jordan for inviting me as a guest. I hesitate to discuss
'beauty' for the reasons you mentioned, and also because this entails
using concepts that I was developping for many years in artworks and was
theorizing them in the context of psychoanalysis, which I wouldn't be
able to introduce here sufficiently. Concepts like: matrixial
borderspace; metramorphosis; metramorphic borderlinks; wit(h)nessing;
Thing-encounter; archaic m/Other; Thing-event; wit(h)ness-Thing;
distance-in-proximity; seveality; differentiation-in-co-emergence;
borderlinking; separation-in-jointness; matrixial affects;
relations-without-relating, matrixial trans-subjectivity; the
impossibility of not-sharing; etc., -- all highly specific. I will also
be unable to properly  refer to authors to whom I feel both indebted and
critical (Freud in "The Uncanny", Lacan in "The four Concepts" and
"L'ethique", Winnicott, Varela, Levinas, Lyotard, to mention just few).
However, I'll jump.

I am articulating 'Beauty and Trauma' with what I see as a passage, in
contemporary art, to Trauma and Transference in a matrixial sphere. This
sphere makes possible the passage from the subject as separate (Freud,
Lacan) (on the one hand) or the infinitely multiplied subject
(Guattari/Deleuze) (on the other hand), on to trans-subjectivity in
severality. In a matrixial borderspace, painting realizes an encounter
with trauma that is affectively shared. [My thoughts emerged with-in my
work and were first expressed in Notes on Painting from 1985 onawrds
(printed by MOMA, Oxford, 1993), but I use 'painting' here also as a
metaphore for other artistic operations]. I see this moving in the work
of certain artists and in specific artworks. [and I emphesize artists
and artworks - not Art or a certain kind of technological tendency,
because it is a question of specific medium or technologies, or even of
conscious intention like in conceptual art, and certainly it doesn't
concern "all" Art in general]. The tableau that enacts what is otherwise
an almost-impossible rapport (connection) between trauma and phantasm, I
and non-I, realizes the passage, onto a matrixial screen of vision, of
interwoven psychic imprints, traces and waves, from what is otherwise
either irremediably lost -- 'too late', or a potentiality, not-yet-born 
-- 'too early'. The artist captures, produces and re-distributes, by
event, procedure or object, a phantasm filtered inside trauma to appear
as its trace, and this assemblage is not private, nor individual. Some
artists are imprinted by, operating on and produce traces of the trauma
of the world and of others, at the same instant that they are realizing
a work as beauty and wound, tableau and cicatrice, in a sphere which
with-in the artist is from the outset transgressive. I propose that
archaic psychic matrixial borderspace and metramorphic borderlinks
between partial and shared subjectivity and trans-subjective-objects
open aesthetic channels for transmissions, exchange and inscriptions via
artworks, but it is artworking that offers this sphere the means for
seizing itself.

[For me the matrixial non-conscious lanes are opened towards and from
originary feminine difference - a difference not limited to women only
though it carries a special resonance with female's bodily vibrations.
But this will be a whole different matter - the matter of sexual
difference we were not discussing in the list -- though some recent
posts by Yukiko Shikata, Marina Grzinic, Eve Andree Laramee and others
hinted at problematics of of sex differences. I will limit myself to
saying that the matrixial as a feminine difference emerges not as
"essential" nor as a social construct. A tans-subjective figure is
interlaced, whose psyche is not confined to one-body but is a weaving of
links between several partial-subjects and objects. [Those who want to
follow this direction of the feminine difference van look in:
Differences 4(3), 1992, or in: Rethinking Borders, Macmillan (or
Minnesotta UP), 1996).]

In order to articulate here beauty with trauma I will need to share some
ideas concerning the matrixial sphere first. I have named matrixial
sphere a borderspace for channeling waves, cross-scpriting imprints and
exchanging traces from traumatic and enjoying encounters of I(s) with
non-I(s). These are mounted on unconscious lanes opened by these archaic
events: by originary Thing-encounter with my m/Other, where imprints of
Thing-event -- imprints of traumatic encounters not of me, but of my
non-I(s) which are transmitted to me, are cross-scribed as well and
repressed. These traces and imprints are experienced by I and non-I as
fragmented and assembled partial subjects. They are uncognized by "me"
as an entire subject in self-identity. In a matrixial rapport, traces of
trauma in me are not "purely" mine. Not only am I concerned by my own
wound, and not only the encounter with the Other is to me traumatic, but
I am also concerned by the wound of the Other. The matrixial unconscious
sphere is a borderspace of simultaneous co-emergence and co-fading in
neither fusion nor rejection. Composite partial subjectivity produces,
shares and transmits assembled, hybrid and diffracted objects (and objet
a) via conductible borderlinks. It treasures psychic capacity for
sharability and for differentiation-in-co-emergence and
separation-in-jointness, where distance-in-proximity is continuously
reattuned. I(s) and non-I(s) interlace their borderlinks in
metramorphosis, created by, and further creating -- together with, and
by matrixial affects -- relations-without-relating on the borders of
presence and absence, subject and object, among subjects and partial
subjects, between me and the stranger, and between some partial subjects
and trans-subjective-objects.Traces circulate in a trans-subjective zone
by matrixial affects and by waves -- that I have named erotic antennae
of the psyche -- that disperse different aspects of traumatic events
between me and several others (to begin with, between I and my m/Other).
Thus, as I cannot fully handle events that concern me profoundly, they
are fading-in-transformation while my non-I becomes wit(h)ness to them.
"My" imprints will be trans-scribed as traces in the other, such that my
others will process traumatic events for me, like my archaic m/Other had
metabolized archaic events for my premature and fragile partial

[This, I believe, can connect with problematics of transference brought
up in the list by Greg Ulmer, Carlos Basualdo, Ricrdo Basbaum, Jordan
Crandall and Brian Holmes. Griselda Pollock is working a lot on the
question of trauma in women's art after the second world war (see:
Generations and Geographies, Routledge, or catalogue of Face a
l'Historie, Pompidou Center, 1996)].

Metramorphosis is the originary human potentiality for reciprocal yet
asymmetrical crossing of borderlines between phantasm and trauma, and
between I and non-I. It induces instances of co-emergence and co-fading
as meaning of trans-subjectivity, and trans-scription as inoubliable
memory of oblivion, a treasuring of events one can't recollect because
they have been treated by one's own originary repression and also
trans-scribed in the m/Other. The idea of trans-scription which is
pluri- (of several) and cross-scription is a mean for thinking the
enigma of the imprints of the world on the artist, of the artist's
potentiality to transform the world's hieroglyphs, and of the viewer's
capacity to join in this process via beauty. Metramorphosis is a process
of affective swerve and rapport and inscriptive exchange,
between/with-in several matrixial entities. In a marginal awareness,
perceived borderlines dissolve to become new boundaries; forms are
transgressed; borderlines surpassed and transformed to become
thresholds; conductible borderlinks are conceived, transformed and
dissolved. Metramorphosis is a co-naissance -- knowledge of
being-born-together -- of which we receive sense by inventing or joining
the invisible screen of vision, which thus becomes to some extent
visible. Engravings of affected events of Other and of the world are
unknowingly inscribed in me and mine are inscribed in others, known or
anonymous, in an asymmetrical exchange that creates and then transforms
the junction and assemblage. Matrixial memory of event, paradoxically
both in/of oblivion and inoubliable, a memory charged with a freight
that a linear story can't tell, is transmitted and cross-inscribed. 
This memory affects our erotic antennae, our com-passioning and
languishing "eyes" -- or scopic desire. It also carries dispersed
signifiers to be elaborated in further rapports. Fragmented traces of
the event's complexity, from inside and outside and out of time, compose
fractured and diffracted unforgettable memory of oblivion that can't be
entirely inscribed in either me or others but only trans-scribed and be
transmitted when transformed via artwork. Such a trans-scription of
intimate yet anonymous encounter concerns artists and viewers facing the
tableau in different ways, times and sites. Such encounter is a
transgression which transforms the frontiers itself between I and non-I.

The matrixial gaze (which in some aspects propose an alternative to
Lacan's objet (a) of the gaze which is a phallic construction) becomes
an erotic antennae embedded with-in co-affectation, whose wave makes
sense as transformation on the level of this borderline. Such an
impossibility of not-sharing with the other is profoundly fragilizing;
it demands its price and originates its beauty. Matrixial awareness
channels the subject's desire toward the wounds of other who by
definition is never here a total stranger-Other if affectively
borderlinked to. In the same way that my awareness can't master you via
your traces in my psyche, there is no joining in the matrixial gaze
which would be without separation. The desire to join-in-differentiating
with the painting like with the Other doesn't promise any harmony,
because joining is first of all  with-in the other's wound that echoes
backwards to my archaic traumas, and therefore provokes a risk of
fragmentation and dispersal. A matrixial gaze upsurges a desire for
dangerous encounters. Metramorphic rapport is an erotic
co-response-ability: a Eurydician tuning of the erotic antennae of the
psyche, always in dangerous proximity to Thanatos.

[This, in short, is the theoretical field which I developed and in which
I will in a moment weave the idea of Beauty, but this field and this
idea get out of the clouds first in and by a long artworking process.
Working on few tableaux in parallel, each takes me some years.]

If there is to beauty no other origin then the wound, as Jean Genet puts
it, I have asked myself: inside the matrixial field, whose wound is it?
And what can we call today Beauty? Genet talked about the artist's
wounds. But we are carrying in this second half of the twentieth century
enormous traumatic weight and we are living it through its massive
transitive effects. Certain artworks bring this to the surface of
culture. The beautiful accessed via such art proposes new possibilities
for affective apprehension of this transitivity while producing new
effects of the impossibility of not-sharing. In metramorphosing with
such a tableau, you find yourself swerving in dangerous proximity to an
event, as if you have always been potentially sliding on its margins.
You are threatened by this swerve and rapport yet also attracted by a
mysterious "promise of happiness" which is beauty (Nietzsche), by a
promise to re-find what faded away and got dispersed, on condition of
fragilizing yourself since this beauty is the effect of borderlinking to
a wound and co-emerging with an-other.

[This, I believe, may connect with ideas brought up in the list by
Clifford Duffy and Attila Sohar].

The matrixial gaze conducts wit(h)nessing. The viewer will embrace
traces of the almost-missing event while transforming it - and itself -
by weaving via the tableau its own metramorphosis to others, present and
archaic, cognized and uncognized, future and past. The viewer is
challenged by the tableau to join a specific anonymous intimate
encounter. Its gaze is carried by an event s/he did not experience, and
through the matrixial web an unexpected  affective reaction to it
arises. New artistic effects emerge, where Aesthetics approaches Ethics
not necessrily as an intended message and not by any particular theme.
Wit(h)nessing transgresses the domain of the aesthetic. I therefore
believe that certain art today, from different fields and unclassified
by formal or technical means is leading the transformation of the scope
of aesthetics itself, in a bending towards an in-between borderspace:
between aesthetics and ethics. [and I repeat what I have said on this
list before: neither net-art, nor any other art, automatically grants
such effect. In spite of its technological potentiality and inspite of
the artists intentions, net-art doesn't necessarily produce a matrixial
affect; from my experience it is even very rare; I find the effects I
have been exposed to by art-net up till now mostly in resonance with
conceptual art mingled in graphics, while] The beautiful is whatever
succeeds -- as object or event, process or operation -- to offer
reaffectation-as-redistribution of affected traces and absorbency of
traumatic  imprints of Thing-event, Thing-encounter and
wit(h)ness-Thing, diffracted and in bribes (Rosi Huhn, 1992, talked on
absorbance of traces in the works of few artists). The tableau is an
offering of possibility to capture in/via art vibrations of
wit(h)ness-Thing folded in matrixial screens. Beauty becomes then the
access via metramorphosis to the trauma of the Other. The possibility to
attain or arise this has therapeutic consequences.

[-- to answer by this, in a way, I hope, your question, Greg Ulmer, but
more on this question in the context of transference I have developped

A matrixial trail, skirting on sensation's edges is vibrating at the
edges of visibility when a passion based on marks of shareability
becomes affectively transgressive again and labors anew in com-passion,
to perforate the screen of vision. When a world, internal and external,
from which the artist has to transfer and to which she has to transmit,
is shared with-in-difference via the tableau, this world is being
presenced at the same instant that the work awakes its strange beauty,
pain and languishing, languishing as both yearning and ebbing while
swerving. A potentiality to permeate and interfuse a borderspace with-in
others becomes beauty when the tableau vibrates, and the spectator
attracts to itself and transmits back to the work and onwards to others
such an emotive ouverture for borderlinking.

Matrixial aesthetic effects attest that imprints are interwoven between
artist, viewer and the world: that something that branches off from
others engraves traces in me and something that relinquishes me, or is
to me unbearable is yet accessing others, that we are sharing via erotic
antennae tuned to the tableau, and processing re(a)sonating sense, 
different for each viewer. The scopic antennae registers imprints that
return from the world and transmit a centerless gaze on a screen which
is a sieve-like veil inside the visible. The gaze is channeled from
outside and inside to meet the eroticized antennae of the
sharing-viewer. The painting arises matrixial affects of wonder, awe and
languishing, grace, solace and horror, responses that allow
transformation in the borderspace and testify that a new thread of
anxiety and fragility has been added and plaited. The gaze appeals the
viewer to follow it into a space beyond yet inside the visible (see:
Inside th Visible, MIT Press, 1996), to abandon defenses and become
fragmented and fragile, to share, absorb and further redistribute
fragments of trauma, on condition of pleating into the tableau one's own
matrixial threads and letting it penetrate one's own borderspace of
severality. The matrixial gaze diffracts between several erotic points
of vision that do not converge. Shared, hybrid and severalized gaze
links eroticized waves between several matrixial entities. The gaze
rolls into several eyes, transforms the viewer's point of vision and
returns through his/her eyes to culture. Wandering, scattered and
sprayed among floating eyes, it is impossible to re-gather the matrixial
gaze's traces; but you may join them in a labyrinth woven in the course
of interlacing the screen of vision itself.

Unknowingly and by bribes we participate in the wound of the world, and
art while weaving its cicatrices leads to discover, bu the same process,
our part in the trauma of the Other, even though its source is not in
"my"-self and its scope -- without measure. The matrixial gaze threatens
us with disintegration while allowing our participation in a drama wider
than that of our individual selves. Traces of a buried-alive trauma of
the world are re-born from amnesia into co-emerging memory as beauty in
the tableau. And the potentiality of partially sharing it in the
transferential borderscreen is the condition for its apparition. The
work extricates the trauma of the other out of its timelessness into
lines of time, and out of its placelessness to a site. And the effect of
beauty is this emergence inside the field of vision while transforming

with extracts from "Beauty and Wound. Trans-subjectivity in Art"
(colloque "Art et Clinique", MAC - Musée de Marseille, BLE Atelier,

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