In this paper I begin to explore what a dismantling of this politics, a dismantling of the face, might be like by looking at what happens when faces are not recognised--the world of people who are face-blind. There are degrees of face-blindness: there are people who cannot even recognise those they know very well--their partners or their children--and others for whom it is a relatively mild inconvenience.
But the face-blind have a different distribution of the sensible--their world is different.
In his essay on the face-blind, Sacks remarks on artist Close, a lifelong prosopagnosic, whose art is a "remarkable and creative reaction to face-blindness" (2010b, page 91, note 3).
In the absence of an overall gestalt, viewers of Close's paintings, like the face-blind, are forced to examine the detail of each face, searching anxiously for some indication of who it might belong to.
Or, from a face-blind perspective: How do people get a sense of recognition (other than by examining the detail)?
With his final portraits, Close challenges our apparent mechanical recognition of the face, a mechanical recognition the face-blind do not possess, and forces us into a mode of engagement that is more differentiated: a simple identification no longer works.
We would remain with the sense of nonrecognition that the face-blind experience; we would encounter each person anew each time, not as someone we knew and had seen before, but as someone fundamentally unknowable, missing, structured around a lack, to use the Lacanian term (Zizek, 1989).
In the world of the face-blind, in our distribution of the sensible, each encounter is with a different person, a person who has to reproduce themselves each time as one who was encountered before.
In order to see as someone who is not face-blind sees, in order to recognize people from their faces, Close has to recompose the face each time: for him, faces--and people--do not arrive as whole, complete, knowable in the first place.