Headless and Unborn: Interfering with Bataille and Masson’s Image of the Acephale


This presentation proposes that George Bataille and Andre Masson’s hieratic figure of the Acephale functions as an autocritique of the production of images. If one remembers Fredric Jameson’s despair at the “pornography” of images which surround us, then the Acephale envisions a cure for the clap. After exploring and establishing the functioning of the figure of the Acephale, this presentation then proposes that there is a hitherto unexplored likely connexion between George Bataille and Andre Masson’s hieratic figure and a specific ritual text found in the collection of Greco–‐Egyptian magical texts known as the Papyri Graecae Magicae. Thus the talisman–‐machinic function of the figure will be established, drawing on connexions between numismatics and the emblematic and talismanic book tradition. This disinterring of prophylactic functions not only reveals the clockwork of the Acephale–‐machine, but also instigates the generation of a chain of figures from within the guts of the Acephale: forest, skull, labyrinth, and an absurd deificatio. These figures combined provide the programme for the Acephale’s desolation of images.