In his Self-Portrait (1973), Francis Bacon demonstrates Michel Serres’s idea of
the skin as a variety of our mingled [or, in Bacon’s case, mangled] senses
(quoted in Steven Connor’s introduction to Michel Serres, The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies, trans. Margaret Sankey and Peter Crowley [1985; London; NY: Continuum, 2009] 3; see 5).
Francis Bacon, Self-Portrait (1973).
“For me, realism is an attempt to capture the appearance with the cluster of sensations that the appearance [here his self] arouses in me” (letter to Michel Leiris, 20 Nov. 1981).
If Bacon realistically captures the cluster of sensations that is his self here, the “soul” that touches the world in the convoluted whorl of his skin is less “changing, shimmering, fleeting” than oddly static, smeared, and lumpen (see “Creatures of habit[us]: bundle theories of the self“). We know this of Bacon, but he still fascinates as still life.