Re: Comments?

terabit@xxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> Hi there I was wondering if you could help me out. I have recently
> finished reading Foucault "Discipline and Punish, the Birth of the Prison".
> If you have read it perhaps you could help me with this question. On page
> 131 he talks about the power to punish and how in history it took 3
> modalities. Each one had it's own set of aims and strategies. Could you
> verify if I am correct or incorrect in my analysis;
> excersise of power 3 forms (modalities)
> 1) Spectacle of the Scaffold
> Public torture and executions, in order to deter other from doing the same
> crimes. Form of state control to create a conforming society.
> 2) Docile Bodies
> A change in the object of control. Public toture & executions no longer
> worked, sparked riots.
> 3) Panopticism
> Induce state of consiousness in the inmate.
> PLEASE EMAIL ME: TeraBiT@xxxxxxxxxxxx

[I think your general trajectory is right on. One way to think of the
disciplinary "shifts" or "modalities" as it were, is to consider the locus of
punishment, i.e., a movement from the corporeal (the body of the condemned) to
the mental, or the psychological (Foucault wants us to notice how prisons,
schools, hospitals, and universities all kind of resemble each other). Of
course, I've put this in the broadest terms, but the obvious thing is that,
although we no longer have gruesome public executions, at least not in the way
illustrated at the beginning of _D&P_, the modes of control are even more
insidious and pervasive. Those in power (Foucault is always pretty vague about
"who" they are in post-monarchical societies) no longer need to threaten us
bodily, because that would be too crude. Real control is exercised invisibly
over our souls (I think he uses this word without irony, but I may be wrong).

Once upon a time, a potentiality for subversion and revolt was possible due to
the centralized, king-figure of authority as a representative locus of power.
Now, there's really no chance for real subversion, acc'd to Foucault, because
any conscious act of subversion or revolt is really just a further
re-inscription of pervasive, yet unlocatable, channels of power. I'm a bit
vague on this latter point, but so is he.

For all interested, I'd recommend a book I read recently by Frank Lentricchia
(sp?) called _Ariel and the Police_. It's a really thoughtful examination of
Foucault and his significance, and also includes examinations of Wallace
Stevens and William James. Sounds like a wierd mix, and indeed it is, but a
good read as far as being an "introduction" to Foucault, particularly on these

Thanks for your time,

James Parr
University of Virginia
Department of English]

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