Re: deconstruction v. genealogy

On Sun, 20 Aug 1995, Sam Vagenas wrote:

> Thus,
> >although decon. is not, I think, SUCCESSFULLY anti-narrative, it is
> >better able to maintain this position because (like structuralism) it
> >treats narrative as a linguistic system. Likewise, deconstruction is
> >less likely to lapse into anthropology (though it still does, I believe)
> >because it treats the self like a text.
> Foucault abandoned archaeology, the discursive critique of Epistemes because
> it was not thick enough of an analysis. I think the early Foucault falls
> more appropriately in the deconstruction camp. The thick web of power,
> institutions, practices, and non-discursive appartus give geneaology the
> upper hand.


This is interesting, because although I think you are partly right in
your explanation of "why" Foucault abandoned archaeology, there is more.
And the other explanation that I would add, involves moving Foucault
closer to deconstruction. The early Foucault was
interested in language, in a "thin" sort of way as you point out, but he
wasn't deconstructing anything (though he was showing the contingency of
"man"). The later Foucault is less interested in language seen thinly,
but is now deconstructing all sorts of relationships. Thus, as Foucault
says, his archeaology is "a
history of the same," while his genealogy is more a study (a history in
his case) of difference (or the Other)--very much like deconstruction.
Genealogy as a subset of deconstruction (either this or the opposite
was suggested in another post)?

I also see Derrida's explicit critique of Foucault as a reason for F's
change. Seen this way, the change involved ridding his thought of
unquestioned assumptions (from a deconstructive standpoint). This is
Alexander Plotnitsky's reading: "the shift in Foucault's approach is
closely related to his reading of Nietzsche and his analysis of the
structure and economy of power, as against the more structuralist
thematics of his earlier works. One can make a similar case for the
significance of Bataille and in a very different and more complex way for
Derrida and deconstruction in later Foucault. For coming after Derrida's
critque and his work in general, and related developments, Foucault's
reply to and attack on Derrida engages complex projections into,
correlations with, and corrections of Foucault's earlier texts by both
Foucault's own later thinking and postdeconstructive ideas. The latter
clearly affect Foucault's later texts, such as, beyond Foucault's reply
to Derrida, topographical economies of the middle period" (IN THE SHADOW
OF HEGEL 373-4).

Anyone interested in sussing out to what extent Plotnitsky is on to
something, here?


Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


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