Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Hot Babe
Let’s say the Hot Babe is the fully human being of the future, apparently lacking all interiority, super-connected, ultra-contemporary, without guilt or grief. Self-as-semblance (the Hot Babe) is the objective subjectivity that has yet to find its true social form. Her deauthenticated body is not emptied or washed clean of subjectivity; it is subjectivity’s historical precondition.
The Hot Babe is a gendered concept. She is a radical (non-)subjectivity, thrown out of the wage relation only to reappear at the market’s core. Those who look at her and see only a machine are the machine of her becoming. Polemically: those who see in the limbs of women the pistons of the factory are superior to those who see in the poor the swarming of rats, but only insofar as misogyny goes unnoticed even where other forms of division fail. In any case, the ecstatic machine and the swarming rats are more beautiful than those who condemn them.This essay appears in Vol. 18: Family Planning. Subscribe for $2 and get it today.
Today the “authentic” self of ideology requires a surplus made up of selves that are not perceived as “authentic”—among them is the Hot Babe.
Many feminisms have theorized objectification as the commodification of women. In a different sense of making-object, communism, as promise, proposes to make human life objective to itself. Let’s conflate these two forms of objectification for the purposes of taking the Hot Babe’s claims about herself seriously: She objectifies herself “for herself” (“I do it for myself because I enjoy fashion, it makes me feel like me”—Beyoncé), but also “for all women” (“I think that women feel akin to me in a way because I’m so incredibly honest about who I am as a person”—Jenna Jameson), and evidently for all men (“…”). The image of her being describes the contours of the life we may not live long enough to live. But, as with all prophets, no one believes her.
Who is she? No one. Her characterless character drinks desire like a matte surface repudiates light or stores it for a later date. Like on a hot day the asphalt stores the heat and radiates it at dusk—but what does the Hot Babe care for these fragments of childhood memory? She walked two inches above the asphalt, buoyed on the current of the general desire. Who? No one. She has no traits, but her essence becomes an image and withdraws itself from sight.
Public services are privatized and private life is public. Once, only the professional Hot Babe adorned all major media outlets; now social media makes of everyone a Hot Babe, should they be willing. What is private, secret, is not the detail of the life but the disappearance at its core. I mean something that is always in the process of disappearing. That’s what the Hot Babe feels like to touch, although you are not strictly permitted to touch her; it would only be two nothingnesses touching, nothing touching nothing. The Hot Babe is no one in particular, and neither are you.
She “maintains her image,” but not any particular image. The condition of the Hot Babe is invisibility or (the same thing) pure contentless visibility. Her image is the appearance of what cannot appear. Image, which is impossible, is itself a taboo on the impossible. All impossibilities (image, love, desire, sex) must be played out as possibilities: The Hot Babe volunteers to perform this necessary self-abasement. The Hot Babe is the embodiment of the flatness and emptiness of the image, but the very flatness and emptiness of the image, any image, is its uncanny fullness. (If I write a sentence the Hot Babe wouldn’t have the patience to read, I’m at fault and not her.)
In the era of the Hot Babe, under the emancipatory sign of the Hot Babe, all art will be obsolete or generalized into nonexistence: “That’s hot, that’s hot, that’s hot.” The humans of the future reject your messy and in-grown subjectivities, or, like the hero of Chris Marker’s La Jetée, you reject them, you cannot bear their terrible perfection.
The Hot Babe is not good or rational political praxis, or does not seem to point to any current ideas of good or rational praxis—“organization,” “demands”—yet she is the image of the desire of the object of that praxis, as a class.
Looking down on the Hot Babe should give you vertigo: All qualities dissolve in her. In the end it’s you who disappears in the hard blue of her eyes, which are always blue, even if the Hot Babe’s particular eyes are green or brown. Tell yourself the eyes of the Hot Babe are merely their color, flat and doll-like, to avoid the penetrating judgment of her stare: She does not care for you, your threadbare autobiography, although always the faint promise that in other circumstances her sympathy would be infinite.
Neither productive nor reproductive, where the Hot Babe does not successfully embody transience, she must stand for destruction. For patriarchy woman is womb but the Hot Babe is wombless; she does not cook, she does not “love children.” She is the much-vaunted machine that comes to replace the mother.
Yes, it could be that no new form of social organization will solve the problem of desire, the gap between desire and its object, the irreducible constitutive gap—but we can make some observations about how desire is put to work right now, about the surplus suffering, the surplus enjoyment presently extracted from desire. In personifying desire without assimilating it (“My boyfriends tell me I’m sexy but not sexual”—Paris Hilton), the Hot Babe heroically attempts to reconcile the imageless and unimaginable future with the desire for futurity.
The Hot Babe’s actions appear as only the appearance of action; from the point of view of ideology, she “does nothing,” though in fact she articulates the present state of desire—articulation, not as in speech but as in the movement of a joint. When she speaks, the Hot Babe’s speech extends her silence.
Collectivity: connection must of necessity be joyful and mutually assured destruction. The Hot Babe is her own self-abolition.
To ascertain whether or not the Hot Babe has any interiority, you must penetrate her, although nothing is proved there either; you have to reach for Bataillean excesses, a blue eye winking from a pussy, an eyeball rolling in the gutter of a thigh, and the question is still undecided.
In her love’s impossible origin all origins are rendered impossible, especially her own—the beauty of the Hot Babe, on which her very existence as such is founded, is itself based on this absolute ban: that she never, ever, fully requite the desire she is given as always already unrequited. Does the Hot Babe ask for love? No, nor in her specificity does she get it. It is not possible to “care for her.” She pares sexual relations down to their barest bones and ends up with forms of violence; her laughter rings out in this reliquary, over the orgiastic clacking of bone on bone, and at this extreme, it is only her laughter that stands for “more life.”
The Hot Babe will not answer questions of love; the forms of reconciliation she offers are impermanent and thin, like the two-story fronts on one-story houses in frontier towns in the old wilderness-defeating west. It is not that Photoshop or cosmetic surgery augments her, but that her “true” “self” is concentrated in these augmentations. Under anaesthetic, she dies and comes back with her contempt for life and death reinforced.
Her “I” is generalized; although apparently totally individuated, without a shred of interest in collective life, the Hot Babe is always plural. The particular Hot Babe is always passing out of existence (age, weight gain, depression, death), only to be renewed in general, in another effectively identical body. When she says, “I” she means, regally, “we”—with this failing or achievement she launches her attack on ideological subjectivities; something opens up at the center, a bloodless wound, a point of contact. She will admit to no emotions beyond the automatic—“suffering” apparently leaves her as cold as “pleasure,” but this is a tactical retreat: Why should she construct authentic being in her spare time to satisfy those who have deprived her of the conditions for it? The Hot Babe, thus hermetically self-vindicated, is a blank field on which you can read the inscription or instruction or warning, WOMAN—the crack in the present state of things.
And yet even this is not sufficient to describe her.
The counterpart to the slave who has flesh but no body (Wilderson), she has no flesh, only a body. Her body is not made of flesh: It is a collection of parts, a collage, a series of images. In her, functions of the flesh disappear and reappear as erotic or repulsive absurdities: two girls, one cup; 2 million girls, one body.This essay appears in Vol. 18: Family Planning. Subscribe for $2 and get it today.
The Hot Babe is both universally available and entirely unattainable. She accepts love, hatred, envy, or jealousy without interest or comment: they have no meaning but nor are they fully meaningless; for the Hot Babe, surface and meaning are arranged horizontally on a flat and apparently infinite plane.
On the high street the plate-glass window is the perfect transparency through which the commodity appears in all its apparent availability. Plate glass, the closest thing to no barrier at all, appears as if it has already vanished. The commodity offers itself to you, through the glass. It is yours on condition that you do not take it, it is fully yours on condition that it is not yours. The hot babe is not commodity but the glass: “First you break the window, then you become it.” No, the hot babe is not the glass but the moment of glass breaking, a splintering YES, a fracturing NO: “Whatever.”