Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Michel Foucault: Philosophy/History of Ideas/Social Theorist/Discourse

I can't help but dream about a type of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. - Michel Foucault, Foucault Live (Interviews, 1966-84). Trans. John Johnston. Semiotext(e), 1989: 193 - 202.
People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.
― Michel Foucault, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (Vintage Books, 1965)

Egan, Jessi. "Abusing Foucault: How Conservatives and Liberals Misunderstand 'Social Construct' Sexuality." Slate (March 4, 2014)

Foucault Info (Website on/about Michel Foucault)

Foucault, Michel.  “Introduction.” Archaeology Of Knowledge. ed. A. M. Sherida Smith. Vintage, 1982: 3-20.

---. “Madness, the absence of an œuvre.” In History of Madness, edited by J. Khalfa, 541-549. Routledge, 2006.

---. "Of Other Spaces." (This text, entitled "Des Espace Autres," and published by the French journal Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuité in October, 1984, was the basis of a lecture given by Michel Foucault in March 1967.)

---. “Omnes et Singulatim: Towards a Criticism of Political Reason.” The Tanner Lectures on Human Values. Vol. II. ed. S. McMurrin. Univ. of Utah Press, 1981: 225 - 254.

---. “Polemics, Politics and Problematizations.” (Interview by Paul Rabinow, May 1984). Essential Works of Foucault. Vol. 1. The New Press, 1998.

---. “The Subject and Power.” Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. ed. H. Dreyfus and P. Rabinow. The University of Chicago Press, 1983: 208-226.

---.  “Technologies of the Self.” (Lectures at University of Vermont Oct. 1982) Technologies of the Self. University of Massachusets Press, 1988: 16-49.

---. "Truth, Power, Self.” (Interview by R. Martin recorded on October 25th, 1982). Technologies of the Self. ed. L. Martin, et al. University of Massachusetts Press, 1988: 9-13.

Gutting, Gary and Johanna Oksala. "Michel Foucault." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (May 22, 2018)

Hovey, Jed. "The Spectacle of the Scaffold – Foucault, Corporal Punishment, and the Digital Age." Blue Labyrinths (January 6, 2016)

Kelly, Mark. "Michel Foucault (1926 - 1984)." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ND)

Koopman, Colin. "The Power Thinker." Aeon (March 15, 2017) ["Original, painstaking, sometimes frustrating and often dazzling. Foucault’s work on power matters now more than ever"]

Manokha, Ivan. "New Means of Workplace Surveillance: From the Gaze of the Supervisor to the Digitalization of Employees." Monthly Review (February 1, 2019)

Sennett, Richard. "Sexuality and Solitude." The London Review of Books 3.9 (May 21, 1981) [Discussion of a seminar Sennett and Foucault did together.]

Sluga, Hans. "On the Life and Work of Michel Foucault." Entitled Opinions (April 18, 2012)

Smith, Victoria L. "The Heterotopias of Todd Haynes: Creating Space for Same Sex Desire in Carol." Film Criticism 42.1 (March 2018) ["Using Foucault’s concept of heterotopia (an “other space”), this essay contends space is key to understanding Haynes’s Carol. It examines how Haynes, through his meticulous attention to framings, textures, color, and spatial relations, creates a queer counter space, time, and look—a rejection of early 1950s social and sexual propriety."]

West, Stephen. "Michel Foucault (Part 1)." Philosophize This (August 15, 2018) ["Foucault himself would never describe [Discipline and Punish] as a 'history' of anything. Foucault hated the word history and almost never used it in his writing. He used words to describe this book more like, a geneology of the way we’ve treated criminals, or an archaeology of how criminals have been punished over the years. He hates the word history…because so often the word history brings with it a connotation… that we exist in our modern world at the end of this long historical timeline of events that have led to near constant progress. This idea that, hey, we used to be these barbaric savages that followed the playbook of Machievelli, the ends justify the means, we used to believe that it was morally acceptable for the king or the people in power to brutally torture and kill someone that was guilty of a heinous crime…but then HISTORY happened. Time went on…progress was made. Great political theorists came along…great leaders, great ethical philosophers did their work and we all realized the error of our ways and brought into existence a more modern world where everyone is much more free…the people in power inhibiting the lives of the average citizen far less than they used to . Foucault is going to call this assumption about history into question and really dig deeper into the idea of: how much has really changed when it comes to the fundamental relationship between those in power and the citizens?"]

---. "Michel Foucault Pt. 2 - The Order of Things." Philosophize This! #122 (September 24, 2018)

---. "Michel Foucault Pt. 3 - Power." Philosophize This (September 24, 2018)

Yarmuth, Aaron.   "Rethinking the police: no traffic stops, no-knock warrants." LEO Weekly (June 4, 2020)  [MB - For nearly two months during the pandemic police in my area were virtually absent/invisible. Chaos did not erupt, crime did not go up, and Darwinian struggles between my neighbors over resources did not take place. It pushed me to re-visit the realization/thought of why does a large part of our society believe we need to flood the streets/our-neighborhoods with police and have them poking into ever aspects of our lives/interactions? How have many of us have been conditioned to believe we are not safe without police and what does that say about the instillation of our own unconscious police inside our own heads? It reminds me of reading Michel Foucault's history 'Discipline and Punish' where he remarks on a "secret history of the police" where greater attention is paid to public health, social welfare and regulating the marketplace than investigating and arresting criminals. Is this what we want? Should we change this aspect of our civil society?]

Zamore, Daniel. "Can We Criticize Foucault." trans. Seth Ackerman. Jacobin (December 10, 2014)

Foucault in California [A True Story—Wherein the Great French Philosopher Drops Acid in the Valley of Death]Foucault in California [A True Story—Wherein the Great French Philosopher Drops Acid in the Valley of Death] by Simeon Wade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read this on a lazy, warm (but not oppressively hot), Sunday; drifting in and out of the narrative, searching out long forgotten philosophers/books mentioned, remembering my own trips in remote Western desert wonderlands, nostalgic for when I was so electrified when dining/partying with visiting intellectuals/artists at my universities and recognizing the stifling culture of a repressive academic environment (in this case, Claremont Graduate School, I had others in mind) that is unable to completely contain the wild flowering of jouissance amongst those fervently committed to its 'ecstative cultivation' (my conception: ecstative is imaginative discourse that does not stop and builds to an explosive point of multiple moments of discovery/wonder).

As you can see in some of the negative/disappointed comments on this book too many approach this slim volume as if it may be the great lost Foucauldian codex that holds great secrets of the life and transformation of the long-dead Foucault, an impulse he dismisses as pointless throughout this portrayal of him on this trip (and verified in many interviews). Those making the comments kind of remind me of the stifled/arrogant academics that assault Foucault with banal questions after his productive discussion with the students near the end. Instead, the book is about Foucault accepting an invitation to hang out with some scholars (which just happens to include an acid trip in the desert) and having a series of open discussions about whatever was on their minds (as we do in those informal settings). It is not a guidebook to Foucault's thinking, instead it is a glimpse into/of Foucault as experienced/remembered by a young scholar.

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