The body is not a given–not a whole, finished, and closed container of thought or of substance–but a kind of technical construction, always under construction. The subjectivity, which is miserably and mysteriously attached to it, is continuously subject to transformations through the actions of forces which manipulate the body–which stress, mold, and fracture it. The meaning of the body, the perception of the body, the form of the body, and its functioning, are all mutable, malleable, fissionable. Flesh and self are concomitants, but neither is a preexistent condition of being. Flesh is a becoming–a becoming of self.

What is deconstructed in the regime of the machine is bodily integrity and autonomy. The body is subject to the methods of machinic construction and operation. These methods are that of which the body consists: division, modularity, automation, variability, and interchangeability.[22] Being changeable, rather than eternal, the body is loosed in time. A body exists in space as a locatable object, and it exists in time as an event.

The body is not some thing for the self, it is a thing for the event. It offers the blankness of its volume to inscription through the conjunction that constitutes event as the intersection of the here and the now. That intersection, that cross, is what marks the body and what erases it. The accumulation of the markings shapes and destines the body. The body moves guided by a flow which is the channeled, dynamic trajectory of time as it passes across the inscribed surface of the body.

The blankness of the body, which it offers to event interminably, is its possibility. Every mark on its surface is still subject to re-inscription. Blankness is not the pristine state of the body, it is its potential for effacement. Erasure costs only the loss of an attachment to a previous state. But writing is not a singular event. Writing is the accumulation of events, the aggregation of marks, and the erosion of substance. Writing is the subjugation of the body by events.

The body is not some thing for the self, it is a thing for the machine. The machine is a complex event that conjoins many bodies into a system of variability inside of which the combined trajectories of bodies grasp and act on each other. The markings of some bodies are the working memory of the machine, and the markings of others are the memory of its rules. And, in the carved surfaces of still others, are the hollows in which becoming is held, and written, and moved. So, the machine works.


[22] Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media, Cambridge, MIT Press, 2001. These are identified usefully in this text, though I substitute “division” for his term “numeric representation” because what allows numerical representation is a discrete fractioning, and “interchangeability” for “transcoding” to emphasize the crucial role of substitution as a method.