Re: Authors

>Nah. "Foucault says" is just shorthand for saying "such and such is written
>in this here body of work". The fact that we use the phrase "Foucault says"
>has very little to do with the "what is an author" question.

I'm really curious then, why you feel the need to say "Foucault says"? Why
not just be honest and say "I say". We all know the answer, however, at
least those who have read Bourdieu. There's 'cultural capital' in them there
French names. I'm not blaming you of course we all feel the pressures of the
mood of the academy.

Even worse, the whole of the argument that 'Foucault says' is simply a
shorthand way of saying that "such and such is written in this here body of
work", is dependent upon a strict distinction between facts and values.
There is the fact of the text but we need not concern us with what it was
the author meant to convey. This comes up of course, with Heidegger and De
Man. Can we use the weapons of racism and white male supremacy to enact that
which these authors deny.

>I am curious: do you approach different kinds of texts differently? Like
>do you approach Taoist texts the same way you approach, say, The Principia
>Mathematica? Kant? Kafka? Do you examine Kafka for logical
>inconsistencies? Do you examine Taoism for logical inconsistencies?
>Are you illuminated by reading them?
>And if you approach them differently, in a different mindframe, how do you
>approach Foucault? I know this is a somewhat tough question, but what
>the heck.

Not a hard question at all. One can only approach texts with the conceptual
tools one has. Your suggestion seems to allow the reader much too much
'freedom of subjectivity'. But, of course, I don't really approach a reading
of Jack and Jill books with my four year old in the same manner as I do a
philosophical text. Do you? How do I approach Foucuault? The same as I do
with anyone who denies totalising critiques and concentrates on the
specifics, but who work by the acolytes that follow becomes the most
totalising of all critiques. I examine the texts to see where these ideas
might be legitimated. Of course, I don't find them, but then again I
actually read Foucualt thinking he tried to say something rather than a
producing a series of inscriptions that allow me to say something. If I want
to say something I say it. If I want to see what Foucault says I read him.

Easy really.


Colin Wight
Department of International Politics
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
SY23 3DA


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