Re: The confessing animal. (fwd)

I've read Miles Jackson's responses concerning the question of
self-reflection and "confessing" with interest because I've just
been looking at Foucault's paper, "Hermeneutics of the Self"
(_Political Theory_, 21(2), 1993). In it, Foucault attempts to
distinguish between two kinds of self-examinations, the
"exomologesis" of the early Christians, and the "exagoreusis" of
the later Christians. In the case of the former, there were
theatrical rituals of the person to "publish" themself; show
themself as a sinner, but more importantly, use the ritualizatoin
of self-examination and expression to "get free from the world"
and "get access to a new spiritual life." It was a way to use
the self to go beyond it, or exteriorize the self in such a way
that the person is re-subjectivized and re-inserted into the
social-moral order at a different place. "Exagoeursis" is
the obedient, disciplinary obligation to verbalize one's
confession. Furthermore, such verbalization marks the proof
of the subject's truth; permanent, exhaustive, private,

Both situations reveal the connection between self-sacrifice
and self-truth. But the first one is public, bodily, ritualized,
and plural in its possible effects. The second is private,
etc. and very singular in its effects. Foucault's point is
threefold. 1. The genealogy of the hermeneutics of the self
in Western culture involves a number of truth-technologies.
2. Different truth-technologies are articulated to different
power relations, and not all truth-technologies are articulated
in the same way, or for the same reason. Sometimes different
truth-technologies exist simultaneously and conflict with
other. 3. We can't just get rid of the cultural layers of
the hermeneutics of the self, or the truth-technologies encrusted
upon them, but by genealogically rearranging the conditions of
our present, the self-truth-sacrifice-confession quadrangle,
we can come at our-selves as a political problem.

That's why I would think that exercises such as engaging in
self-reflection about the language we speak (also the gestures
and bodily contests we conduct) is worthwhile. It doesn't
return us to an interiorization of power relations, or a
solipsistic foray into Geraldo-Oprah territory, necessarily,
but to ways of ritualizing our self-examination, a kind of
"exomologesis" to understand our enfoldment within power relations,
or how our-selves have become situated as such.

To the question of how "poor wages for women relative to men
can exist in our society with no intent to discriminate against
women," I might ask "could it exist if men intended otherwise?"

Stephen Katz
Trent University

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