Re: Camille Paglia: Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders

>>her work is nothing
>>but a conglomeration of the worst sort of inanities -- inanities that play
>>well because we are desperately waiting for something new. But you don't
>>get out of a cultural/intellectual crisis that way.

Toby replied:
>*Are* we desperately waiting for something new?
>Are you against inanities just because they're simple or just because
>they're bound to be wrong because other things aren't simple? (This is
>probably a very British line to take: we are responsible for G.E.Moore.)

What I object to here goes back to my comments about the appeal of the
obvious and ideology a la Althusser. I don't know if I would argue that an
inanity per se represents this kind of ideological reinforcement, but I
certainly see it operating in Paglia.

It's a bit ironic, of course, that I originally posted a reply asking why
we should bother to respond to her, and here I am posting more messages!
It reminds me of comments that both Foucault and Deleuze make about the
strategy or opposition and responding to criticism (you have to form your
own materials from many different places; once you enter into a debate
where the terms are already set you are lost unless you reform the terms
themselves, etc.) I suppose responding to Paglia interests me only in so
far as it demonstrates the Althusser line of argument -- and also
understanding the appeal of her arguments about male homosexuality.

Toby wrote:

>I'm really returning to the question of biographical readings of Foucault.
>Don't his theories of the care of the self inevitably return us to
>questions about how Foucault cared for his own self? One of the things I
>liked about Miller's book (and I've read all three biographies) was the
>underlying idea that Foucault managed to bring theory into his own life. It

The Miller biography, of course, has by now become infamous for its
conflation of (Foucault's) homosexuality, masochism/sadism, and the
so-called death drive. I'm not saying it's unusable, but am rather urging
caution in using it as a starting point in examining the relation of
Foucault's writing and his life (sorry to use that untenable binary
distinction there). Another note of caution, and I hope here it doesn't
seem as if I'm nit-picking, but I would also be very careful about the
distinction between "the care of the self" and "taking care of yourself," a
very heavily loaded phrase in the age of AIDS -- a slippage of meaning that
Miller's book certainly makes dubious usage of. (Please note that I'm not
accusing you of doing this, Toby.)

Speaking of untenable binaries -- could a problem with the Miller book be
that he assumes the possibility of a divide between "theory" and "life,"
hence the implied possibility of bringing them together via an attitude?
Hence Miller's "heroism" of the Foucault, "philosopher of death," of the
extremities of life, who brings theory to bare on his life by the
masochistic pleasure in sacrificing your body to AIDS?

Harrison Brace
Grad Student
Stanford, Department of Comparative Literature

Department of Comparative Literature
Encina Hall
Stanford, CA 94305-2031

Sanity is the lot of those who are most obtuse, for lucidity destroys one's
equilibrium: it is unhealthy to honestly endure the labors of the mind
which incessantly contradict what they have just established.

Georges Bataille

email me for PGP key


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