Re: A non-defense ofthe Miller book.

I am amazed at the easy dismissals of Miller's book because of its
attention to the theme of Foucault at the Baths (someone should write
an opera with that name). One of the problems in Foucault - or a
common misreading to which his text lends itself so well - is his
fantasy of an extra-discursive space as a vantage point for critiquing
people's entanglements in power relations. At least, many of his
followers have used Foucault to dimiss gay activism as mere complicity
in the homo/hetero binarism, and this move is only possible if one
assumes such an extra-discursive space.

Miller gives me the
impression that Foucault visualized this space in terms of the
distribution of bodies and pleasures in the orgies of gay baths. Since
the world of gay male semi-public sex is somewhat outside of spoken
language, and constructed as an object of speech and writing only as
either a) an embarassment to gays who fetishize respectability, or b)
straights who can only think of it as a spectacle of horror, or an
object to lament that gays are still having sex. Either way, it is
relatively impossible to discuss on its own terms. And a reality, an
ongoing expression of resistance and transgression, is erased.

Miller does not see, and maybe Foucault himself missed the extent to which
the interactions in the baths are regular and ritualized, with its own
norms and transgressions, but as a wildly promiscuous gay man with
some experience of SM playspaces, I appreciate that Miller opened up
the topic of the relation between Foucualt's thought and the structure
of orgy rooms.

I read, use, abuse, and critique Foucault from my experience of such
dungeons, and I understand the dismissal of Miller as polite way of
expressing homophobia.

John Hollister bb05246@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
"there is the reality of that cold iron[y] in your hands... you can lift
it, or you can't: reality." -Arnold Schwarzenegger


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