Some books rot as an accident of the property of their being a book. Other books rot by design. The visage-livre is of this second variety, consuming that which it depicts precisely in order to transcend it.
A close friend of the inspector (Ludig Weisenstein) makes this point most compellingly. As the concluding sentence of his philosophical tractate on the logic of critical detection, he writes:
"Whether books such as the visage-livre succeed at transcendence is an altogether other matter. But the point, the goal, is worthy and proper. My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright."
I have attempted, in this painting, to give some sense of this logic as it pertains to the visage-livre. If a self-consuming artifact is to perform its proper function (and I have in mind here such a book, such a face, precisely in this season of hallowing saints), it signifies most successfully when it fails, when it points away from itself to something its forms cannot capture. If you see death and only death in what I have drawn, then just there precisely you will see life in it, and nothing else.
All books rot. They are the only kinds of books we read.