deleuze excerpt

deleuze scholar cj stivale posted this to the d&g list. thought foucault
fans mght be interested--sorry for repeats. jim

Excerpt from "La sce`ne de la philosophie" [The scene of
philosophy], conversation with Moriaki Watanabe (theater and French
literature specialist, Japanese translator of _The History of
Sexuality_ I), April 22, 1978 (published in _Sekai_, July 1978),
reprinted in vol. 3 (571-595) of the new 4-volume collection of
Foucault's interviews and short/occasional written texts, _Dits et
e'crits_ (Paris: Gallimard, 1994).

M. Watanabe: ... Would you like to speak a bit about your friends?
For example, about Gilles Deleuze whose name we mentioned toward the
start of our conversation, or about Pierre Klossowski, or even
Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, who sparkle throughout your
books like magical constellations. Or Claude Mauriac, who even in
private life, mentioned in his book _Et comme l'espe'rance est
violente_ [Grasset, 1976] unexpected images of certain Parisian
intellectuals, especially in their political activities: the inquiry
that you led into the illegal arrests of immigrant workers or the
activities of the Prisons Information Group, both constituting very
important evidence of your work as political militant.

M. Foucault: Let us speak about friends, then, but I will not speak
to you of friends as such. I belong perhaps to a rather
old-fashioned generation for whom friendship is something at once
capital and superstitious. And I confess that I always have some
difficulty in completely superimposing or integrating relationships of
friendship with organizations, political groups, schools of thought,
or academic circles. Friendship for me is a kind of a secret
Freemasonry, but with some visible points. You spoke of Deleuze who
is clearly someone of great importance for me. I consider him to be
the greatest current French philosopher.

M. Watanabe: "The century to come will be Deleuzian?"

M. Foucault: Permit me to make a small correction. One has to
imagine what kind of climate we live in in Paris. I recall quite
well how I used that sentence. But this is what it was: at the
moment -- we were in 1970 -- very few people know Deleuze. Some
initiates understand his importance, but a day will come perhaps
when "the century will be Deleuzian." That is, "century" taken
in the Christian sense of the term, the common opinion as opposed to
the elite, and I would say that this will take nothing away from
Deleuze's importance as a philosopher. It was in its pejorative
sense that I used the word "century." Yes, Deleuze is someone of
great importance for me, as were Klossowski, Bataille, Blanchot. And
I am indeed afraid of not having given sufficient credit in what I
have written to the influence that they certainly have had on me. I
believe that I have not done so more out of timidity than
ingratitude. I say timidity because I consider their literary or
philosophical work as so much more important than what I could ever
do, that I find it of doubtful merit for me to valorize what little
I have tried to do by placing it under the sign or protection of
their names as one might some divinity, and I do not want to seek
any patronage for myself, especially not from people that I hold in
too high a regard to call upon as my godfathers.
At the moment it happens occasiaonlly that I meet student who
ask me, when I say Blanchot's name, 'Who is that?'

M. Watanabe: That ignorant? It's scandalous!

M. Foucault: They know Klossowski's work a little, Bataille as well,
but I have realized that really, I and others have perhaps not
adequately showing the debt that we owe to them. In point of fact,
these writers were the ones in the 1950s who were the first to
begin to lead us away from the Hegelian fasciation in which we'd
been locked away or that, in any event, overshadowed us all. Second,
these writers were the first to reveal the problem of the *subject*
as fundamental problem for philosophy and for modern thought. In
other words, from Descartes to Sartre -- I do not say this
polemically --, it seems to me that the subject was considered as
something fundamental, but that one just did not touch: it was what
no ever placed in question. The result of which in all likelihood
(at least this is what Lacan pointed out) was Sartred never
accepting the unconscious in the Freudian sense. The idea that the
subject is not the originary and fundamental form, but that it is
formed based on a certain number of processes that themselves are
not on the order of subjectivity, but of an order evidently very
difficult to specify and to display, but more fundamental and more
originary than the subject itself -- this idea did not emerge. The
subject has a genesis, a formation, a history; the subject is not
originary. And that, who stated it? No doubt, Freud did, but it was
Lacan who revealed it clearly, thus his importance. Bataille in a
certain manner, Blanchot in his way, Klossowski as well, they all
equally blew up, I believe, the originary evidence of the subject
and introduced other forms of experience in which the subject's
explosion, its annihilation, the collision with its limits, its
toppling outside its limits, all showed well that the subject did
not have this originary and self-sufficient form attributed to it by
classical philosophy.
This non-fundamental, non-originary character of the subject is
the point in common, I believe, among all so-called structuralists,
and that caused so much irritation in the preceding generation or
its representatives; it's true in Lacanian psychoanalysis, in
Levi-Straus's structuralism, in Barthes's analyses, in what
Althusser did, in what I tried doing myself, in my own way, that we
all agreed on this point: one must not take the subject as departure
point, the subject in Descartes's sense of the originary point
starting from which all must have been engendered, and that the
subject itself has a genesis. And through this one discovers the
link with Nietzsche.

[_Dits et e'crits_ 3:588-590]


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