Bare Your Self Naked for Creation. Notes on Impersonality, the Encounter and a Body for a Life

Fernando Machado Silva

conference: DARE 2017: aberrant nuptials
date: November 20, 2017
venue: Orpheus Institute, Penthouse
format: in words
practice: philosophy
keywords: creation, encounter, haecceity, plane of composition

abstract about the author(s)


In works before A Thousand Plateaus (2005), such as The Logic of Sense (1990), Gilles Deleuze stresses the importance of the impersonal as the dimension one must reach to counter-effectuate the Event. Impersonal, or neutrality, is a characteristic of singularities and of the Event. Although Deleuze never relates the Event to an experience, regarding experience as an event is our answer to such a question as the becoming-imperceptible or the radical affirmation of any body as a haecceity. Impersonality is a way of allowing the becoming. However, there seems to be a misuse of the notion of becoming as a process of  deconstruction or transformation, underlining or enforcing the self  instead  of dismantling it. Patricia MacCormack’s defence in ‘Multi-Dimensional Modifications’ (2011) of the lizard-man and the cat-man, as bodies both in-between and becoming, is such a misuse. Their attempts as well as those of body art practitioners to overcome the Self and a subjectivity through excess and extreme emphasis of turning all bodies “as aesthetic events which can experience and are experienced through zones or folds of proximity” falls on the field of mimesis and representation, as they inflate subjectivity and a fixed Self.

Turning the body into an event calls for a requestioning of an ethico-aesthetic êthos, one that seeks to free life through the creation of encounters, and a radical depersonalisation of the self. This depersonalisation or impersonality, understood as an elimination process of subjectivities and selves determined by the socius, follows Deleuze’s Bartleby’s (1993) three characteristics, plus one: a trait of expression, a zone of indeterminacy, a fraternal function, and a subjective-significative nudity. This is a fundamental dismantlement through a “leap of the will,” to achieve that composition in which we are a life in the same immanent plane as everything that composes Nature. This is an impersonality towards life and creation (close to asceticism), one could argue, that is opposed to an imposed depersonalisation of death and destruction (close to the death camps’ bare life).

Nevertheless, for a body to become the event that it is—that is, a body for a life—one  must also address art’s territory. First as an encounter (an ethic-aesthetic realm), which can produce what we call the space of the Event, following the idea of taking extra-daily practices and techniques into daily life.  Art  is  too  mediated/mediatic  and  mediates  too much (perceptions and experiences). It is often a stance for the production of the monolithic Self. To release both Life and Art, affects and percepts, from their shackles, one must avoid and produce actions and situations evading the alienation and fetishism of forces and close the gap of mediation between the subject and object of experience. Hence, we propose to rethink Hakim Bey’s Temporary Autonomous Zones (1994), as a possibility of how to deterritorialise and produce encounters in daily life. A practice of immediatism: creation happening outside Art.

about the author(s)

Fernando Machado Silva

Fernando Machado Silva, born Lisbon, 1979. He holds a degree in theatre studies (2004), a master’s in literature and comparative poetics (2007) from Évora University, and is soon to complete a PhD in contemporary philosophy (awaiting defence, 2017) at Lisbon University. He is a researcher for FCT and member of the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon. As an actor, assistant director, and performer, he has worked with Portuguese and international directors and performers. He was a founding member of CEPiA (Centre for Performative & Artistic Studies) and has published papers on Deleuze, Derrida, experience as a means to create a new body, Nerval and Jena Romanticism, and Monsters. He has also published two books of poetry.

info & contact


Lisbon University, PT


fernandomachadosilva79 [AT]