Caput Algol, and Portraits of Heads Instead of Faces

I’m fascinated by the star Algol, currently located at 26º Taurus, which happens to be the exact degree of the ecliptic that was rising on the eastern horizon at the time of my birth.

Caput Algol is a slow moving star. It’s been at 26º Taurus for 50 years, hence why we call stars fixed. Indeed, Algol is more than just a fixed star. It is one of the 15 Behenian stars.

All of the Behenian stars have a long history of symbolism. I’d like to write more about all of them, especially Algol. There is such rich symbolism surrounding Caput Algol—the decapitated head of Medusa. It’s the Demon Star. We get the word alcohol from it, as with the words ogre and ghoul, perhaps showing the ghoulish side of alcohol.

Earlier today, in a weekly reading group on Logic of Sense which I attend with Daniel Tutt, Terence Blake, Robert Lutz and others, we discussed Deleuze and alcoholism. We also talked about Deleuze’s distinction between faces and heads, as when he quipped that Francis Bacon is a painter who paints portraits of heads (rather than portraits of faces). We talked about the surface of the face, versus the depths of bodies; the mania of the former and the schizophrenia of the latter. And we talked about alcoholism and its hardening of the present, and the two kinds of alcoholism, corresponding to the surfaces and the depths.

Oh, I have so much I want to write about Algol. But I will save it for another day.  For now, I simply happened across this quote, which I’d like to share with you here:

Excerpt of ‘Give Me Head’ by Jamieson Webster:

The head is not only the symbol of mind and life and rationality, the apex of the organism, arranged hierarchically, but also, its opposite, or other, death, kaput, finished or not working. Following the logic of part to whole, synecdochically, the head is removed, not only in the case of capital punishment—off with your head—but simply capital itself, whose main root, caput, means precisely this, one’s wealth, one’s lendable head. The head is what can be severed, as in heads will roll, or spent, as in bet your head. The accumulation of head.

Full text: <>

Francis Bacon, Head III. Oil on canvas.