If you’re curious about finding cases of total starvation, backed up with pictures that document the entire process and “lifestyle” just read up on the Muselmann from the Concentration Camps during the height of WWII in Nazi Germany.
[b]Agamben reserves the category of ?muselmann? for that which is ?untestifiable,? and located at a threshold between the human and the inhuman (Ibid, p. 41). Indeed, it is within the region of the ?the living dead? that the muselmann appears. Agamben?s account of the muselmann calls upon Levi?s description of ?an emaciated man, with head dropped and shoulders curved, on whose face and in whose eyes not a trace of thought is to be seen? (Ibid., p. 44).
Ascribing a ?limit situation? to the figure of the muselmann, Agamben places him in ?the non-place in which all disciplinary barriers are destroyed and all embankments flooded? (Ibid., p. 48). The move is significant, since it renders the muselmann fundamentally ?indefinite.? As indefinite, the muselmann comes to occupy the image of the camp as a void.
Yet it is a void which is at the centre of the space of the event: ?The entire population of the camp is, indeed, nothing other than an immense whirlpool obsessively spinning around a faceless centre? (Ibid., p. 52). Obsessive because the muselmann articulates the fear that motivates a resistance against the indefinite void.
As to the testimonial attributes of the muselmann, Agamben?s analysis of the Gorgon, the ?anti-face,? reveals a symmetry between the ?impossibility of seeing? and a transformation which turns ?human being into a non-human? (Ibid., p. 54). It is with this symmetry that the expulsion of dignity becomes necessary to the possibility of testimony. Testimony thus emerges as what remains to be said precisely through what cannot be articulated.
To render this testimony dignified would be to efface an event in which ?the shipwreck of dignity? precludes a complicity with language. Instead, ?the non-place of articulation? coincides with the disjunction between ?the living being and language? (Ibid., p. 130).
Testimony is thus coexistent with the survival of the subject who has experienced the capacity ?to survive the muselmann, the non-human? (Ibid., p. 133). In a passage toward the end of the book, Agamben states the position clearly: ?The subject of testimony is constitutively fractured; it has no other consistence than disjunction and dislocation?and yet it is nevertheless irreducible to them? (Ibid., p. 151).
The bind between disjunction, impossibility, and ruination forms the thematic link between event and witness. As such, where testimony becomes possible, then Agamben argues that it is to be understood not in terms of truth contained (then preserved), ?but rather its unarchivability, its exteriority with respect to the archive [so that] it escapes both memory and forgetting? (Ibid., p. 158).
The final image of the muselmann, then, is fundamentally paradoxical. As both human and non-human, and living and dead simultaneously, the muselmann (dis)embodies the remnant between the drowned and the saved (Ibid., p. 164). Agamben?s presentation of the term ?remnant? does not entail what is deposited, but refers to a ?theologico-messianic concept? (Ibid., p. 162).
More precisely, the remnant is relational, thus a mediator, insofar as it forms ?a series of caesuras? from and to the event, so fulfilling ?the non-coincidence of the whole and the part? (Ibid., p. 164).[/b]