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1: a representation of something in outline; especially: a human head or face represented or seen in a side view.
Stills from Bergman’s Persona,
one of the greatest films on the face,
specifically on the frontal profile

— a: The profile of the minimally resentful forgiving human. Gilles Deleuze: "When a part of the body has had to sacrifice most of its motoricity in order to become the support for organs of reception, the principle feature of these will now only be tendencies to movement or micro-movements.... The face is this organ-carrying plate of nerves which has sacrificed most of its global mobility and which gathers or expresses in a free way all kinds of tiny local movements which the rest of the body usually keeps hidden" (Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, 89-90). God the Father has no face, since He is all action, not passive at all—the One Who is pure action expresses Himself other than through a face. What about the incarnated God the Son? Even before Jesus turned the other cheek on being slapped ("They [the teachers of the law and the elders] spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him ..." [Matthew 26:67]; "if someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also" [Luke 6:29]), his absence of ressentiment was clear from the absence of any tendencies to react in the form of micro-movements (twitches, etc.) in his cheeks, eyes, and lips. Thus, he too in a way did not have a face. If one considers that Jesus was ever so faintly resentful—albeit forgiving ("Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven ..." [Matthew 12:32])—and thus that he had a face, then we should see the one who turned the other cheek in profile prior to his resurrection, but frontally once resurrected: indeed, exemplarily in the icons, Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, not subject or no longer subject to over-turns, and consequently not needing a name, virtually incarnates frontality as such, and is therefore nameless.

— b: The profile of the Unforgiving, of the double, who when slapped turns his or her other cheek only because it is the cheek of the other, the assaulter's cheek (so that the same way when I "plunge my sword, with brute ferocity, repeatedly through and through his bosom," or shoot him, I will discover with consternation and horror, for example, in a mirror or by the pain I feel and my tottering gait, that I have stabbed myself not my double [Poe's William Wilson: "in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself"], the moment I, who had been keeping a low profile ever since my encounter with the double, slap the double on the cheek he or she has turned, I feel the pain of having slapped myself, until, ready to slap him or her once again, I have the expression less of anger as of apprehension and fear).

2: a concise biographical sketch

Jalal Toufic is a thinker, writer, and artist. He was born in 1962 in Beirut or Baghdad and died before dying in 1989 in Evanston, Illinois. Many if not all of his books, most of which were published by Forthcoming Books, continue to be forthcoming even after their publication. He was most recently a participant in the Sharjah Biennial 11, the 9th Shanghai Biennale, Documenta 13, "Six Lines of Flight" (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), and "A History: Art, Architecture, and Design, from the 1980s Until Today" (Centre Pompidou). In 2011, he was a guest of the Artists-in-Berlin Program of the DAAD; and in 2013-2014, he and Anton Vidokle, led Ashkal Alwan's third edition of Home Workspace Program, based in Beirut.

Should I have two profiles then, as a writer and as a video artist? Nota bene by the thinker regarding the writer and the video artist:
My texts and videos do not try to accomplish the same thing, but complement each other. In my books I am interested in discontinuity both in form (my book Distracted is clearly aphoristic) and content (for instance I have written on the affinity between the atomists of Islam, for example al-Ashâ‘ira, and cinema, where the appearance of motion results from the projection of film stills at a rate of 24 frames per second [in the silent era the rate of projection was often 18 frames per second]). But in my videos, I mainly work with (Bergsonian) duration (for instance the twenty-minute-long shot of the car drive in ‘Âshûrâ’: This Blood Spilled in My Veins, the ten-minute-long shot of the slaughter of two sheep and of the second cow in The Sleep of Reason: This Blood Spilled in My Veins, and the twelve-minute-long shot of my brother’s son sleeping in A Special Effect Termed “Time”; or, Filming Death at Work) and would like to achieve the basic continuity of a Taoist calligrapher or painter, i.e. have the chi (vital breath/original energy) not interrupted even when there are, exceptionally, cuts, for example between different scenes. Moreover, while I am an aphoristic writer, I am not a short film/video maker, i.e., one who, like Artavazd Peleshian (The Seasons, 29 minutes), Brothers Quay (Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies, 14 minutes), Kubelka, Jan Svankmajer (Dimensions of Dialogue, 12 minutes) can, to paraphrase Nietzsche, show in ten minutes what everyone shows in a feature-length film or video—what everyone does not show in a feature-length film or video; generally, the longer my video, the more substantial it is. With the exception of my book (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film, where it was a matter of dispersing the universe since it was turning into a paranoid one, in my other books I am trying to build a universe, and thus feel affined to Paul Klee’s “Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible” (“Creative Credo,” in The Thinking Eye). The moment one succeeds in building a universe, it detaches from this world, somewhat like the baby universes of cosmology. But in my video works, I do not have the impulse and aim to produce autonomous works, to try to create a universe, but want my videos to be, as Deleuze wrote, “reasons to believe in this world.” While I have tended to be concerned with the creation of aesthetic facts in my books, I have not tried to do the same in my essayistic documentary videos—notwithstanding that the creation of aesthetic facts can happen in both fiction films and documentary films—but tried rather to document certain worldly facts while making sure to subtract all that is customarily added to make the viewer see only certain parts of the referential image, i.e. all that is added in order to subtract from the image, for example the voice-over (I also try to avoid non-diegetic special effects [speeded motion, etc.] and music partly because they imply that reality is not intense enough on its own). With the rapid advances in digital simulation and virtual reality, when we encounter reality—in the sense of the actual as opposed to simulations—at all, it will increasingly strike us as the Lacanian Real.

“Toufic is at the core of a small but staunch group of Beiruti artists who have—collectively and separately—made a strong case for there being an intellectually rigorous, critically engaged, and ultra-contemporary platform for cultural practice developing in Lebanon and in the region. Toufic has been instrumental not only as an artist in his own right but also as an instigator or catalyst, someone known to push his colleagues and students to create better, more complex, and more probing work.… Toufic is one of the most active and ambitious figures in the Arab world who—book by book—has endeavored to sculpt a critical, theoretical language of the Arab world.”

The Daily Star, Lebanon, 21 August 2004

Focus Jalal Toufic: Irruptions of the Real: With a modest retrospective, IDFA pays homage to the many-sided writer, film theoretician and video artist Jalal Toufic. Although much of his work has political overtones—rather inevitable, being a Lebanese artist and son of an Iraqi father and a Palestinian mother—the philosophical reflections, the humour and the curiosity about all facets of life are the most distinctive characteristics of his short video films. Toufic’s subjects range from sleeplessness (Phantom Beirut: A Tribute to Ghassan Salhab, 2002) and torn election posters (the humorous Saving Face, 2003) to the dead and undead (The Sleep of Reason: This Blood Spilled in My Veins, 2002).”

16th International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam

“Jalal Toufic is a thinker whose influence in the Beirut artistic community over the past two decades has been immense—notwithstanding that, as he put it, many, if not all of his books, most of which were published by Forthcoming Books, ‘continue to be forthcoming even after their publication.’”

Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle, editors of the e-flux journal book series at Sternberg Press

“I once wrote, ‘I am not able to find my thoughts without passing through his [Jalal Toufic’s] words, books, and concepts.’ Now, eight years later, things seem to have gotten worse (or better). Jalal wrote in Distracted: ‘— Are you saying this to me? — Also to myself. One should speak solely when also speaking to oneself. Only then is there a dialogue.’ I can also think of the following situation: ‘— Are you saying this to me? — Yes. And not to myself. And only to you.’ Or an instance in which the following is heard: ‘— Are you saying this to me? — Also to myself. One should speak solely when also speaking to oneself. Only then is there a duologue.’”

Walid Raad

What Was I Thinking? is an initiation into thinking.... Jalal Toufic is today, and has been for some time, the most original thinker on the planet. He assumes the challenge stated by Heidegger in What Is Called Thinking? by his own thinking (by writing this book). To imagine the best possible worlds, to go into uncharted territory; these worlds are eminently those of the arts (as he practices them, as he delves into their layers, their paradoxes, their darings, ever admitting their maddening inbuilt inaccessibility). His kind of an endeavor takes a tremendous courage. And a unique freedom: letting his mind go into unpredicted ascertainments, so that his writing ‘does not fall apart two days later.’ Situated somewhere close to the spirit of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Nietzsche's breakthroughs, we can say that Jalal Toufic is indeed a ‘destiny.’”

Etel Adnan


© 2005– by Jalal Toufic. All rights reserved.