Re: power

Dear Clara,

You say that your knowledge of Foucault's work is relatively limited, so I
wonder if you've read _The History of Sexuality, Volume I_. In that work
he has a sustained discussion of "power" that I think gets at the issue of
how it could be productive within the scope of an individual's
life/consciousness. His work on the issue of "sexuality," suggests to me
how discourse can serve as a vector of power by altering the terms with
and in which one can make meaning of one's desires and their relation to
larger socio-conceptual structures. In this way, discourse "produces"
terminologies and epistemologies which alter the terrain of language,
action, thought, and self-understanding; what Foucault does not address,
but I believe Judith Butler does in her book _Bodies that Matter_, is the
ways in which such discursive alterations are necessarily situated within
webs of authority that substantiate the structures of discourse through
the application of insitutional or culturally recognized authority
(priests for example). Thus, a discourse can be produced anywhere by
anyone, thereby producing power-effects for those who come into contact
with it, but in order for a discursive alteration to attain large-scale
power-effects, it must be picked up by a person or institution with
established authority (the medical profession, lawyers, professors,
legislators, etc.).

I hope that was clear and/or helps.

-Mark Rifkin

power, Clara Wing-see Ho
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