Re: Basic info on Foucault for reading Bob Goss

On Thu, 1 Feb 1996, Diane Davis wrote:

> M J R Gaffikin wrote:
> >
> > Change your course.
> >
> > > Date: Mon, 29 Jan 96 18:57:16 -0800
> > > From: Leslie Addison <laddison@xxxxxxxxxx>
> > > To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > > Subject: Basic info on Foucault for reading Bob Goss
> > > Reply-to: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> >
> > > I am wondering if any of the folks on this list might be able
> > > to help me out with baisc info on Foucault, or
> > > deconstructionism. I am a grad student in theology, writing a
> > > thesis on queer Christology. One of the texts I am using is
> > > _Jeus Acted Up_ by Bob Goss. I think that one of Goss' s main
> > > interests in using deconstructionism is based on Foucault's
> > > sexuality, and plan to critque him on that, as well as use of
> > > what I believe to be a false binary system. However, I need to
> > > have a succeint way of explaining Foucault in like two
> > > sentences. Any suggestions, pointers, etc.?
> > >
> > > Leslie
> > > laddison@xxxxxxxxxx
> > >
> Leslie:
> I'm not sure how to take Micheal's answer to you up there, so let me start with
> WOW! What a kul thesis you have going! I'm not familiar with any projects like
> queer christology, so I'd say GO FOR IT. It sounds intriguing.
> On the other hand, I don't think it's possible to deal with Foucault "in one or two
> sentences." It would be an enormous disservice to him for us to offer him up to
> you like that...and then another one for you to use the info like that. I do think
> Foucault would be of help to you in a big way, but not like that. Your project,
> even in your critique of Goss's "false binary system" already partakes of
> deconstruction. You are doing it. It's an intricate unhinging of the hinges we tend
> to (phal)logocentrically assume. Derrida discusses two types: negative
> deconstruction, which is basically a privilege-flipping--flipping the privilege
> from one side of the binary to the other (from male to female, white to black, good
> to evil, etc.). This is important b/c in the switching, the assumed and
> unquestioned privilege calls attention to itself and becomes unstable... From a
> negative deconstruction, one can move into an affirmative one. Affirmative
> deconstruction is a search for third subject positions, outside the binary
> altogether. Not Hegel's thirds, though...we're not talking about anything
> sequential or a simple synthesis. We're talking about a third outta the loop...a
> third that is totally Other. Foucault performs this beautifully in his work on the
> hermaphrodite...gods, I can't remember the name of that book...(Help me out here,
> foucault people).

The book is _Herculine Barbin, Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a
Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite_. In addition, I'd suggest
_Gender Trouble_ and _Bodies That Matter_ by Judith Butler. Her
argument, in both works, is that the consolidation of social systems,
including the system of heterosexual binarity, works by the abjection of
the sort of troublesome third Diane's discussing. Butler contends that
this is an important addition to Foucault's conception of power: "to this
understanding of power as a constrained and reiterative production it
must be added that power also works through the foreclosure of effects,
the production of an 'outside,' a domain of unlivability and
unintelligibility that bounds the domain of intelligible effects" (BTM
22). Like Derrida, Butler would contend that it's not so much a matter
of producing the third, the wholly other, but of identifying the way in
which that other is already produced, and bringing it back to haunt the

Hope this helps.


Richard A. House
Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of California, Irvine

> One of the laws of reason/logos is that one must be either male or female, never
> both and never neither, but the hermaphrodite is a border who
> indeed IS niether and/or both. If I were you, I'd get my hands on that book--if
> someone here will kindly come up with the title!! B/c there, you'll get Foucault by
> Foucault and you'll also get a taste of deconstruction in line with your project.
> CU. keep me informed, too. I'm interested.
> Cheers,
> --
> D D
> D Diane Davis D
> D Rhetoric and Composition D
> D Old Dominion University D
> D Norfolk, VA 23925 D
> D e-ddress: dddavis@xxxxxxxx D
> D URL: D
> D D


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