From: Nathan Widder <n.e.widder@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 22:06:48 +0100
> One might suggest--sheepishly, in my case--that Deleuze did not employ his
> "idiosyncratic" reading modus operandi because Foucault was still alive.
> Of course, this assumes that the 'notes' that comprise "Desire and Pleasure"
> all written while Foucault was still alive, even though the piece was
> published in
> 1994 (I think). In other words, Deleuze's employment of the "idiosyncratic
> want of a better phrase--is used in books that explore philosophers who are no
> longer alive. Unless I am mistaken, Deleuze's book on Foucault was the only one
> on a philosopher who was once a contemporary of Deleuze's. Perhaps there is a
> link between Deleuze's difference modes of engagement/discussion with/about
> Foucault and Foucault's death. Speculative? Indeed.
OK, this is possible. But then the question arises as to why Deleuze
read Foucault in diminished fashion (and I do think "Desire and
Pleasure" and the notes in A Thousand Plateaus are poor readings of
Foucault) while Foucault was alive. Somehow it seems problematic that
the only ways Deleuze was capable of reading someone are the
idiosyncratic and the reductive (though it would explain a lot about
some of his more ridiculous statements about Hegel).
> There, Deleuze is arguing that Foucaultian power
> >relations, by virtue of being merely oppositional, presuppose a deeper form
> >or deterritorizaling desire which is not oppositional but rather affirmative
> >in a Nietzschean sense. He basically insists that resistence in Foucault is
> >the simple opposite of power, even though Foucault is pretty clear that this
> >is not what resistence is for him. And Deleuze's rather lame excuse for all
> >this is that he (Deleuze) is interested in how people come to desire power,
> >and so he places desire prior to power.
> If I remember correctly, doesn't Deleuze say that the question of
> desiring power is one for himself but not applicable to Foucault;
> not b/c Foucault saw resistance as the opposite of power, but b/c
> for Foucault power is the organizing force of the social whereas
> for Deleuze it is the molarized operations of desire that performs these
> operations, one of the effects of which is the organization of relations of
> In essence, F. sees power as constitutive while D. sees desire performing
> constitutive functions and power (relations) as an effect(s) of the
> constitutive functions of desire (??).
Yes, Deleuze does say that desiring power is not applicable to Foucault
(a bizarre claim if there ever was one). But Deleuze's idea that desire
is organizational and power relations are an effect of desire goes
hand-in-hand with the claim that Foucaultian power relations are
oppositional. This is perhaps a bit more clear in Deleuze's "Many
Politics" piece, where he outlines a level of constitutive molecular
fluxes which are oppositional in nature and an even more originary
constitutive level of deterritorializing desire beneath it. Also, in
"Desire and Pleasure", Deleuze implies several times that resistence in
Foucault is an opposite to power, saying, for example, that in the
History of Sexuality "phenomena of resistence would be like the inverse
image of the dispotifs [of power]" (p. 188). Further, he implies that
resistence in Foucault is located in and created by marginals in
contrast to the cutting edges of desire (p. 189).
> Within such a framework, the power-resistance couplet exists as a
> secondary effect within the *molar* dimensions of an assemblage of desire.
> Thus it seems to me that the issue at hand is not whether or not D.
> ignores that F. said the power-resistance couplet is not one of resistance,
> but whether or not Deleuze's description of Foucauldian power as a molar
> effect of desire and not as a primary constitutive force has anything to it?
I think you may have misunderstood me, because that is what I think
these are the same issues. Deleuze describes Foucaultian micropowers as
a molar effect precisely by arguing that these relations are
> Further, do/es D.'s complementary concept/s of desire/BWO/plane of
> immanence do a different type of work that
> Fouacult's power-resistance does not? What does it cost you to always think
> on/about the plane of organization (which is what I think D. is suggesting
> F. does)?
> The other question that comes to mind for me is whether or not one
> may, then, read D.'s _Foucault_ as "fixing/tinkering with" F.'s concept of
> power or as coming to "realize" (or admit) that the concept of power is
> not so different from the concept of desire.
I think that had he not read Foucault in such a dimished fashion, he
would not have had to fix or tinker with it in the first place.
> [. . . .]
> >To me it is a quirky intellectual spat where each thinker
> >insists on misunderstanding the other.
> For me, this is only part of it. It seems to me that to the extent
> that F.'s conception of bodies and pleasures as a (non)locus of
> resistance is territorialized on *anthropos*, then D.'s objections may have
> some merit. It seems to me that F. Foucault wanted to explore how
> to become-other-subjects, while Deleuze wants to explore becoming-other-than
> -subject. Two conceptions of self-overcoming, perhaps?
I think there is a reason Foucault speaks of the care of the self rather
than the care of the subject. Further, why he explicitly rejects the
use of the term 'moral subject' in "The Ethic of Care for the Self as a
Practice of Freedom." I would say that the care of the self is
precisely an exploration into becoming-other-than-subject. As for
Foucault's remarks on bodies and pleasures, I think he pitches this a
contextually specific strategy for contesting normalizing forms of
power. He does not say that bodies and pleasures should be the cite of
resistence universally, but in a context in which desire has been so
strongly linked to the truth of the individual that the calls for the
emancipation of desire simply reinstate the very forms of power (by
buying into the repressive hypothesis) that they purport to contest.