From: Wynship Hillier <whi@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 09 Sep 1998 23:00:38 -0600
> On the impact - Foucault, specifically his writings on the Panopticon
> and disciplinary practices of the body (particularly in the sense of
> training) have had quite a large impact on Business Studies. I've never
> quite worked out whether this is a Good Thing or a Bad Thing.
Now this is something I simply must hear more about. I find it very hard to
believe that the business world would do anything but welcome "the carceral
workplace" where every body is drained of its vitality in favor of
productive powers that are ever increased. I strongly suspect that someone
has missed the point.
> As for Foucault's role in the anti-psychiatry movement and his impact,
> that has been completely misunderstood. "Dumping people on the streets"
> is not some kind of logical consequence of "abolishing Victorian
> asylums" - so that although Foucault might be read as anti-asylum (I
> always prefer to just say suspicious) this does not lead him to say dump
> them all out on the street with no back-up or support.
Yes. Certainly, Foucault is being used as a scapegoat. But, one has to
admit, he fits the part well, given that his history of madness documented a
process of institutionalization and encarceration, contemporary with a moral
condemnation. One can't help to see de-encarceration as a reversal. You
can say that it isn't, but that's not very convincing.
> Regarding DSV, its not that Foucault has "had no effect" but
> medical, psychiatric, commercial, cultural practices are no longer what
> they were in the nineteenth century. DSV is a very good example for
> demonstrating the ways in which, regarding our practices towards
> insanity we are no longer in "The Age of Reason". DSV relentlessly
> demonstrates the extension of mental unhealth. Asylums demarcated a
> divide between them and us that rigorously mapped onto a split, a chsam,
> an abyss between sane and insane. This no longer exists. This can be
> vividly demonstrated by looking at some tests for shizophrenia where
> everybody tests positive for some of them and you are only in trouble if
> you test positive for too many.
But think about it a little harder. Back in the Age of Reason, the methods
for determining insanity were rather crude. If you ran around urinating on
people and frothing at the mouth, you were mad. Nowadays, with DSV, you've
got a gazillion different symptoms, degrees, and types of madness. Not only
has the classificatory scheme gotten obviously much more refined, intense,
and precise (to the extent possible -- it's still ain't physics), but
subjectification and self-policing have increased commensurately. The fact
that many of the symptoms occur normally throughout the "sane" population
only serves to make everyone in it a suspect. The DSV descriptions amount
to self-tests for schizophrenia and other forms of insanity, one that's been
replicated in more popular literature. (The notion of an insane person
finding it out through reading a book is something to wonder at.) Now,
also, your thymus gland can tell you if you're mad, or the size ventricles
in your brain can. What follows is a frenzy for people to get CAT scans or
serotonin levels checked. Who can say it's any different than the guard in
the tower looking at her prisoners? The point is that we've objectified
ourselves, and inscribed ourselves as the locations for decision and
> Its the same with sickness; it is no longer an all or nothing situation.
> The corporate strategy by the makers of Viagara is clear - that the only
> way to make serious profits is to get everybody, men, women impotent
> non-impotent to take it - and by doing so to obliterate a firm split
> between them.
I'm not familiar with the marketing tactics of Viagara & co., but from what
you say, this could just as well be the kind of hyper-vigilance I described
above, where everyone is now focusing on their sex drives, scrutinizing for
signs of inadequacy, a disciplinary scene for the production of docile
orgasms. Need I go on?