> What I find interesting/annoying is the implication
> that Foucault's work is *so* difficult/enigmatic/etc
> that even to try and discuss it can/will result in
> betraying everything he hoped to express.
> Frankly, I think that's a load.
No, no. I believe that I was the one who used
the word betray, and while I was not clear, in
rereading what I wrote I think it is clear that
what I mean is:
1) Foucault has a very particular vocabulary.
2) What he means by the use of the word power
is not the _classical_ conception of power.
3) We each speak from a discipline
4) If we just start using the word power without
care we will betray, as in reveal, our own
classical assumptions. An example of this
being the tendency amongst scholars to
start talking about Foucault's idea of power
in a way that sounds like his power, but
at some time carelessly, and accidentally
using the word as if it were the same one
we use in our current discipline. This use
identifies our betrayal specifically when we
start talking about energy as if it were
synonymous with Foucault's idea of power.
5) Most academics do not recognize that
Foucault is forcing a need to cross-discipline
the reader, forcing a new vocabulary through
his repitition of new contexts.
Without doubt Foucault is *highly* complex
by the fact that he is talking about ways of
thinking which we do not usually use in our
day to day *conceptualization* of modern
academic life. This really refers to the
philosophical content of his work. It is deep
in new meaning, and it requires an examination
of his terminology.
As a technologist he is forging links to new
thoughts out of old material.
If this is a load, it is made more so if don't
> I think to a large extent some of us (in
> academia, and elsewhere) have subjectivities
> imbued with the "lessons" of Foucault's writings.
> I'd encourage us not to think of those lessons
> as being so much "out there" and intractable
> to our puny modern minds, but rather as being
> part of who we are, and thus discursible from
> the inside, as it were. What was Foucault *really*
> saying? Well, let's look at ourselves to see
> what we've become in his wake.And let's drop
> the attitude that his work is so intractable. He
> was talking about us, after all.
Hmmm, was he talking about us? I think that's
a very interesting question. Only his later works
really come to speak of subjectivity, and his
work in "Savoir/Punir," "Discipline and Punish"
did not speak at this level, instead dismissing
reference to subjectivity in order to more accurately
depict power/knowledge. In this book he wasn't
really talking about us, so to speak.
As far as something being discursable from the
inside, I think thsi gets right to the point. To
discuss Foucault accurately we need examine
the assumptions of our own disciplines or else
we won't be discussing him, but instead some
I've read the wroks of several academics who
seem to have internalized a good bit of Foucault,
but, I keep seeing an attempt to integrate his
work with classical thoughts which derive from
the discipline they are in. This is how power
turns into energy in their rephrasings. This also
means that these academics are not examining
their own assumptions. They aren't, to put it
quite bluntly, "getting the point," because they
aren't examining what they already think in
relationship (power term) to what he is saying.
As such, they aren't entering into the proposed
dialectic as knowledgable subjects who are
crossing over to his discipline.
Does this make my use of the word betray
The only puny modern mind would be the
one which does not examine Foucault's
work intensively enough to understand it.
Puny would be to ill consider his effort.
I don't think that we can say that Foucault
is easy, or that a map of Foucault's work
can be found in subjectivity. But, then, perhaps
this is taking your point just a step further than
you meant it. We probably agree a whole
lot more than we think. It's just that I think you
misread my use of the word betray...and why
not? it was poorly inserted into a message
which was written during finals week...arghh!
If you're under as much tension as I am right
now, it would be easy to miss my reference
so illy put.
Eric Nelson Shook mailto:enshook@xxxxxxxxxxx
Student of Philosophy & Cultural Anthropology
"Alienation hasn't enough sense to deliberate
over circumstances. It has no sense of humor."