Re: A non-defense ofthe Miller book.

Paul Jolet said:

>I found that Miller placed Foucault on a pedistal . . . . I
>did not find the kinds of normative statements that Chaulk found.
>Possibly, if I had refrances to some specific textual instances, I could
>be enlightend.

How about Millers description of Pierre Riviere?? It certainly seems seems
designed to mirror the biographer's dramatized image of Foucault:

Riviere, however, fancied himself a kind of philosopher;
in his spare time, he read works of theology and speculative
thought; in his own mind, he was an unusually enlightened
character, unrestrained by the petty norms that bound
others . . . . As the regional prosecutor summed him up,
"Pierre was naturally gifted with a taste for philosophy and
an aptitude for learning -- all spoiled by an "ardent, cruel,
and violent imagination."

Miller implies that Foucault and Riviere are very much alike -- so much
alike in fact that perhaps Foucault, like Riviere, was a (mass) murderer.

The postcript of the Miller book seems like a another good point of
reference. It seems as if one person wrote the book and another wrote the
postscript. This section seems to be an explanation (confession?) about
why he wrote what he did, the way he did. He assures the reader that he
doesn't deliver a "summary verdict on how Foucault chose to live his life."
But I think he has done exactly that by focusing so intently on issues
related to homosexuality, S&M, and torture. If Miller had written a book
that did not make Foucault an object of knowledge because of his sexuality
he would not have had a best-seller.
I don't think that Miller ever really had to worry about "succumbing
to a blind reverence" for Foucault. I never got the sense that he was even
on the verge of doing so. He seems to be saying that Foucault may have
been an important thinker BUT because he wasn't "normal" by Miller's
standards the reader should be cautious when considering the import of his
entire "oeuvre." This book is infused with Miller's own sense of "the
norm" and he spends a great deal of time cataloguing in titillating detail
Focault's deviations from it. Perhaps the greatest understatement in the
entire biography is in the "Postscript" when he writes, "There is always
some danger that one's work is colored by unnoticed biases." (p. 384).

Kathryn Zervos


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