The Stillness of a Molecular Spreading: Inhuman Forms of Death and Play

by John Garland Winn
Apr 29, 2017

Aging celluloid accumulates absence in torn removals and dust abstractions. The image is dead but its will continues to force upon it the slow progression of repeated deaths. In these deaths, the image is active. Or rather, the moving image is only activated by its continual negotiations with death, decay, and absence. There is no negotiation between the screen and the subject that views it. The subject is already torn apart, frayed seamless, long before the image unspools it. In order for a body to negotiate with the image it too must activate by becoming-death. When the body settles its parts scrape away, float about, and flicker in view of the projector’s light. The dust of previous bodies accumulates on the jacket, hair, and hands and mixes with the excretions of this new settler’s stillness. Temporality falls out of time, breeding in the body the geologic atemporality of a Cosmic spreading.

The theater is still, as the image dies in each darkened juncture. Dead flecks of skin will always be more active then the lived corporeality they escape from. Yet these flecks are not so much dead, rather they’re liberated particles of flesh always in processes of dying. This is to say that in the flesh, death is virtual and continually re-emerges to activate and liberate the fleshed particle from its lived decay. The body is a molar aggregate of life, whose non-living materials constantly desire to escape it in the pleasurable pull of deathly play.

This theater is without humans and rather is a space of accumulated medial deaths, of disappeared components. Life never made it to the cinema. The still spread of corporeal and machinic deaths pile up to the stuff of corners. The stuff is the excretion of walls, sweat, and flesh and extends out and over the desert surface of smooth time. These monstrous historians of the cinema know nothing of Garbo but everything of her non-human light, which flickers and dies again and again with them. Their relational play repeats, renews, and generates across an expanse of virtualized slowness. Between these particles of death, time and space deterritorialize. But the stoppages of spreading atemporality resist their reterritorialization. In this non-human theater, where death plays out, the virtual suspends and community is made potential.

Community is only actualized where death is made playful. The community never killed, mutilated, immunitzed, or produced subjects, as the subject never appeared. Death and the stuff it carries are the molecular spreadings that community is. The cinema and we are the cornered secretions of death’s successful escape. The human has no community and never will but in its inhumanity the body’s dead flesh can dis-aggregate and de-territorialize onto the slow surface of dead time. This is the place of movement, where the potential for sustained relationals take suspended actualization. Judgement passed along with the human and in their place the cinema screens the only community there ever was, in the dead relationals of life’s subjugated fold.