Thanks a lot to all those members of the list who responded with very
interesting - and serious - comments on the subject. Regarding these
comments, and more specifically Christopher's, I just want to raise some
thoughts - or rather questions - on the subject that have been at the
back of my mind for some time, and I've kept them as a possibility for
future research -
I think that the whole discussion might be seen with regard to ideas and
concepts such as addiction vs. subjectivity: in contemporary mainstream
Western culture, addiction is seen as opposed to subjectivity - in the
sense of the 'liberal humanist subject' at least, and this does not
apply only to drugs, but also to smoking. When 'health' enters the
picture, thigns get more complicated, for instance, I can see all these
fanatic anti-smokers here in Britain openly and direclty complaining
without any reservations about their attitude when a little bit of smoke
from one's cigarette approaches them, even in a public space - and we're
talking about people who, at the same time, do not have a problem with
eating junk food, frozen food, or using mobile phones and microwaves (if
the myth is true that these last ones are also carcinogenic).
I also think that in this context, one might keep in mind ideas and
processes such as those of 'transcendence' and 'trangression', which are
also tightly connected with drug culture (the late 60s is the most
well-known example, but I believe these connections have always been
there), but at the same time there is a strong religious element here -
and we might include in this context Christopher's references to Jesus,
or my mention of that friend of mine who works on the role of drugs in
Native American religions.
Now, the reason I'm doing this brainstorming is because, as I've said, I
haven't read Foucault extensively, but I'm sure that quite a few of all
these ideas are very important in his work - I've read the 'Preface to
Transgression' some time ago, which is a text to come to mind at the
moment. I would appreciate other people's thoughts and comments in all
of this, since I find the subject very interesting.
Christopher Daly wrote:
> Perhaps it would be appropriate to recall here Derrida's (a student,
> colleague and critic of Foucault's) "Plato's Pharmacy." Derrida
> focuses on the ambiguous and polysemic meaning of the Greek word
> "pharmakon" in Plato's "Phaedrus." His treatment of the subject as I
> recall (although it has been some years since I've read the piece)
> emphasizes the ameliorative effects of philosophy and calls into
> question whether or not it is some kind of "pharmakon" or drug, a
> medicine that heals or can be used to intoxicate, befuddle and even
> poison the listeners, interlocutors and participants of philosophical
> discussions because "pharmakon" can mean both medicine and poison.
> The polysemic meaning of such a word is also related to the person of
> Socrates himself and Derrida goes to some length to show that there is
> a veiled aspect to the dialogue with regard to whether or not Socrates
> is healthy or evil for Athens. (It is the only dialogue that takes
> place outside the city.) Obviously, eventually Socrates, the
> personification of philosophical pharmakonic discourse, is censured
> and poisoned by the city that gave him his identity and a place to
> practice his philosophical methods.
> I might add also that such a thematic resonates theologically in the
> judeo-christian tradition as Christ was crucified in order to take
> away the sins of the world although one must still exercise tremendous
> double think since one will perennially hear from the pulpit that the
> Jews of Jesus' time made the mistake of thinking that one man's death
> could atone for their sins. Of course, Jesus himself is purported to
> have said this very thing although he lamented the fact that it had to
> happen. So "Christian history" can be regarded from this angle as
> 2000 years of attempting to rectify the murder of an innocent man who
> was in some sense God himself. In order to break the cycle of an eye
> for an eye it was necessary for God himself to play out the logic of
> this morality and thereby throw into sharp relief the lack of
> necessity for the drama of the passion.
> Thus viewed from this angle the historic figures of Jesus and Socrates
> give great weight to the virtue, some might argue the responsibility,
> to use drugs in order keep us from committing the same sin again - the
> sin of committing violence against the wise. So really the question
> is: Is it possible and conceivable that the use of drugs can be a
> deterrent to such hubristic acts. Of course, abuse of drugs can also
> lead to a deranged state of mind so there is a danger in not using
> drugs as well as in the use of them.
> We might also note here that Jesus' first miracle was to turn water
> into wine at a wedding party.
>> From: HealantHenry@xxxxxxx
>> Reply-To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>> Subject: Re: Drug Gaze
>> Date: Sat, 28 Jun 2003 10:29:17 EDT
>> In a message dated 6/28/03 10:27:15 AM, jehms@xxxxxxxxx writes:
>> >A genealogy of the concept of 'drug' would be
>> >interesting I think.
>> A genealogy of the concept "addiction" would be helpful, too.
> Add photos to your messages with MSN 8. Get 2 months FREE*.