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Also available from Totem


Chris Horrocks and Zoran Jevtic
Edited by Richard Appignanesi

S fl


C Mjsk
I, Michel Foucault...

Michel Foucault is to ask "which one"?

To find the real

the life of the man himself, who as a boy wanted to be a

Should we look at
activist, leather
but became a philosopher and historian, political
for dissident causes?
bestseller, tireless campaigner

First published in the United States in 1997 by Totem Books Do not ask 'N

Inquiries to P0 Box 223, Canal Street Station who I am and do not ask me
New York, NY 10013 to remain the same.

Reprinted 1998

Distributed to the trade in the United States

by National Book Network Inc.,
4720 Boston Way, Lanham, Maryland 20706

Text copyright 1997 Chris Horrocks

Illustrations copyright 1997 Zoran Jevtic

Originating editor: Richard Appignanesi

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, or

by any means,
without prior permission in writing from the

ISBN 1 874166544

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 96-061952

Printed and bound in Great Britain by

Biddies Ltd., Guildford and King's Lynn
Foucault the Author? A Transdiscursive Man

Or should we see Michel Foucault as the author, whose work combines Foucault gave us the term transdiscurslve, which describes how, for
brilliant insight and eccentric detail, uniting contemporary philosophical example, Foucault is not simply an author of a book, but the author of a
practice with the archaeology of the many documents he patiently retrieved theory, tradition or discipline.
from history? And what should we exclude, given the huge shifts in
theoretical position over his career?
We can at least say that he was
the instigator of a method of
historical inquiry which has had
major effects on the study of
Foucault himself problematized the subjectivity, power, knowledge,
meaning of authorship a discourse, history, sexuality,
function, he claimed, which madness, the penal system
resolved or hid many and much else. Hence the
contradictions. term, "Foucaldian".

We must dispense There are many

with our habit of looking \ "Foucaults" - whether they
for an author's authority, and are all texts, or features in
show instead how the power of a network of institutional
discourse constrains both power, a rgime of truth
author and his and knowledge, or the
utterances. discourse of the author
and his works. Let's
explore the many layers
of Foucault.

So Foucault was reluctant

to write his own biography
; have someone dolt for /j
him. But many have,
since his death.

Foucault's Project Foucault Fiction

Foucault sought to account for the But Foucault does not take the "in my books I do like to make fictional use of the materials I assemble or
way in which human beings have idea of subjectivity in with authentic
put together, and I deliberately make fictional constructions
historically become the subject philosophical isolation. It elements?'
and object of political, scientific, becomes linked with - and even
economic, philosophical, legal and produced by knowledge and Let's "fictionalize" Foucault's life by turning it into a biographical account of
social discourses and practices. power through - dividing Foucault and his oeuvre or work.
practices where, for example,
psychiatry divides the mad from each of my
My fundamental the sane. He was born Paul-Michel Foucault, on 15 works is a part
question: "What form of Scientific classification: where October 1926, to Anne Malapert and of my wn
reason, and which historical science classifies the individual wealthy surgeon Paul Foucault, in
on led to biogra thy. ,,
as the subject of life (biology), conservative Poitiers in France. Paul-
labour (economics) and language Michel Foucault had a sister
(linguistics). Francine and a younger
Subjectification: the way the brother, Denys.
individual turns himself into a
subject of health, sexuality,
conduct, etc.

Foucault had
brown hair, a
big nose and
blue eyes.
Foucault didn't
like the name Paul-
Michel, because
nasty children made it sound like Polichinello (Punch)!
He changed it to Michel - perhaps expressing love for his Mum, who'd
insisted on the name at his birth.
Camp Catholics and Choirboys

Foucault was of the Catholic faith. He moved into the Lyce proper
Later, he said he enjoyed its camp in 1932 and remained there until
ritual. He was even a choirboy for 1936- the year he saw refugees
awhile. arriving from the Spanish Civil
1930. Paul-Michel was enrolled
early in elementary class at the He was an enthusiastic cyclist
Lyce Henri-I V. and tennis player, but he was
short-sighted, and often missed
the ball. He enjoyed trips to the
theatre, and occasionally the

He was a young and

disciplined student.
Knowledge meant
social promotion
for his class.

A perfect bourgeois childhood

or was it? 17 June 1940: Prime
Minister Petain requests
armistice. Germans use
the Foucaults' holiday
home as officers' billet.
Foucault steals firewood
for school from
collaborationist militia.
Foucault does well at
school, but messes up his
summer exams in 1940.

He transfers to the religious College Saint-Stanislas and gains prizes in

French, history, Greek and English.

1942: Begins formal study in philosophy.

June 1943: Passes his baccalaurOat Argues with his father about his career.
Medicine? Michel Foucault thought not - he wanted to go to the prestigious
academic hothouse, the ENS (cole Normale Suprieure) in Paris.
Paris -The Top 100 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1 P0-1831)

Hegel thought that what is real is

After two years' study, he took the ENS entrance exam. He had to be rational, and that the truth is 'the
in the top 100 to go to the oral exam. He came 101st! But parental whole" - one great, complex
influence gained him entry to the Lyce Henri IV in Paris' Latin system which he called the
Quarter. F" Ira' .It was onI Ihis
II' way
V to Paris Absolute. He believed that Mind
Spirit was the ultimate reality.
Mind has an ever-expanding
I moved to a cold,'
consciousness of itself, and
lonely rented room in
boulevard Naspail, and philosophy allows us to develop
self-awareness of the whole and
worked like crazy toward
- free ourselves from the unreason
the M5 exam.
and contradiction of partial

is the

he world, theretor
us with a rational
process. C:

Foucault loved studying history, but Hyppolite

showed him that philosophy could explain history.

But is history just a patient progress towards

reason, and does philosophy have limits?
Hyppolite and Hegel The Return of Hegel

Hegel had started the attempt to explore the irrational and to integrate it
into an expanded reason. But was this still part of the modern task of
philosophy the search for a total system which would absorb unreason?
modern reading Philosopher Alexandre Kojeve
of Hegel shows us that (1900-68) had also rescued Hegel

from the Romantic view of him
philosophy cannot see itself as a p reclated the
view of history which can achieve as the lumbering creator of
issues Hegel ral5ed ' but was
completion, but an endless task systems. 0t re st ed I n provI g a
carried out against the nintre al theo of histo
dirr y
backdrop of an infinite Hegel was now modern!
(A horizon!

r iOWJy I 11O1J
a predictable mechanism,
Foucault was not rejecting reason as such, but he did refuse to see it as a
but a site of often random
'way out" or inevitable outcome of history. His engagement with philosophy
struggle in a cruel world is not to provide a
system for the conditions in which knowledge or truth is
Possible or reliable (as Kant did), but to examine what reason's historical
effects are, where its limits lie, and what price it exacts.
Foucault the Student

In July 1946 Foucault took his entrance exam. He came fourth.


Life at the ENS was tough. Foucault was unsociable,

unhealthy and given to depression. The fiercely competitive environment of
this prestigious school didn't help. Yet Foucault worked
intensely. His fellows
hated him and thought him mad.

He slashed his chest with a razor, pursued a student while

wielding a dagger
and tried to kill himself with pills in 1948. He encountered
psychiatry for the first time.

But In
Psycho rom \

went my 5hrink
At lwasgayand
sexually active in my latE
Private "otm
Pita adolescence. But I had tc
be discreet about my lovc
of men.
Philosophical Currents... and Phenomenology

Foucault was interested in two dominant brands of philosophy in France. phenomenology is the investigation of the way that things objects,
images, ideas, emotions appear or are present in our consciousness.
The philosophies of experience, the subject, meaning and
consciousness -existentialism and phenomenology. Phenomenology does this without reference to the status of objects outside
our consciousness of them. It suspends the object "in itself", and only looks
The work of existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-80) asks at our experiencing of it.
what it is to exist as a human being, how individuals
experience their existence, how they make choices and deal
with freedom and authenticity. Some versions of pure We Must exclude e
phenomenology, such as all assumptions and theories
that of Edmund Husserl nts of consciousness in
meaning Martin Heldegger (1889-1976) (1859-1938), seek the order to discover innate structures or
in the world 15 not prior emphasized Being rather than grounds of human forms of consciousness which constitute
or innate, it derives from existence... knowledge. all possibilities Of mental
eAstence. It's a philosophy eXp ne C
based on the subject./ 51

the usual distinction
between a thinking subject
and an objective, exterior
human beings inhabit Wrhe phenomenology
world. We are
J life - we pick up things, ask Maurice Merleau-Ponty
things, discuss things_ 61) attempts to describe
ns of individuals as they
e space, colour and light.

Foucauft would see how this Dasein analysis could provide a tool whereby
the Being of a psychiatric patient, for example, is central to an Phenomenologists have no interest in explanations.
They want the immediate experience!
understanding of the psychiatric world.
Science and its Epistemology Truth as Activity

The history and philosophy of science.

They considered science and knowledge not as objective or constant
truths, but more as discontinuous "community" activities which
Epistemology is the theory of knowledge. The discipline constructed truth. While Bachelard stressed the problems of scientific
examines what is knowable, what should count as dismissed the idea that theories were objectively valid.
knowledge practice, Koyre
and whether knowledge is certain in fields including science.

n the most
convincing "truths" are ri
automatically accepted
the scientific communit';

which partly constitute

Foucau It's Project Takes Shape

I asked a simple
question: "What is Foucault's idea was to
psychology? Is this take some of the terms
and methods of the
history of science and
apply them to another
philosophical object
the human subject. the human subject took itself
as the object of possible
I owed a great debt knowledge?
/tom, and later close Through what
forms of rationality and
historical conditions?
And, finally, at what

Canguilhem attacked the

blindness of psychology to its own
conditions - the grounds on and
by which it constructs

Psychologists are incapable of coherently defining the object of their

study. Psychology is composite empiricism, codified in literary fashion
for teaching purposes - and it's a police discipline. Foucault was unhappy with studying experience as the ground for
knowledge on its own. It was too centred on the subject and
one could get back to prior or innate structures of meaning.
Science is an exploration of rationality at work, but this should be
seen historically.
So, Foucault defined experience - for example, of madness or sexuality
- in terms of the the
Scientific truths are open to argument, but no less "real" because of their experience of individuals as historically based and
in and
contingency. So scientific knowledge is seen as organized, operational way in which this experience was grounded philosophical
and subject to change It does not simply exist "out there". Scientific discourse.

Foucau It's History of Experience
Political Currents

Foucault made the ink. No Foucault joined the Parti Communists Franais (PCF) in 1950 at the
longer would history be (1 suggestion of depressive Marxist mentor, Louis Althusser (1918-90). This
opposed to experience. was a Stalinist party at its most powerful because it still enjoyed credibility
from its activities in the wartime Resistance.

He was not very committed and rarely attended meetings.

I wondered
whether it would not be
po-,51ble to con-,ide[ the
very h6toricity of fonm~
of experience.


The history of experience brings 7
together Foucarit the historian
and Foucault the philosopher.
Philosophy was not an inquiry into
itself, but an application of
philosophy to the human sciences:
linguistics psychology, sociology.
How was it that knowledge and

experience were incorporated into
an apparently objective view of
man as object? If we cannot take .
i experience as a given truth. liazily adopted
!T-'-'the Marxi5t x5t belief that economic
perhaps the questioning of r-
conditions determine social an
scientific method can force us to
ask: under which circumstances politic
It Ical~t~o
11iiIf..f e b u t wa5 critical of the
~01 anti-5emitic
should we see any knowledge (of FCF'5 propaganda and the
self or world) as tenaUe? What 551inster
1 r "proletarian"
p rol t rl 5 1 tiflc
other factors apply? doctrine5 it supported. 7d

Such as? Stalinist biologist TD. Lysenko (1898-1976) who believed that
characteristics in the biological world were inherited and determined.
It would be several years before

those interests came to fruition in Foucault was beginning to see that scientific knowledge was linked to
Foucault's work. Meanwhile, he * power rather than truth.

kept studying.
And according to Party dogma, his homosexuality would have been aligned
with "bourgeois decadence".
Foucault Blows It Towards Psychology?

In spring 1950, Foucault took his final exams and passed the
written stage. But his oral on "hypotheses" let him down. He had
tried to show off!

In 1951, he finally
passed but he was
furious that he had to At this point,
speak on "sexuality" in his hadn't yet founded
oral. Little did he know how
important this subject was to
3/ psychoanalysis on linguistic
become I was presenting my ideas on
s ..
i,. identification by referring to the
After feigning depression to proclivities of locusts and
avoid military service in 1951, sticklebacks.
he went to research a doctoral
thesis at the alt-male
Fondation Thiers. He was
unpopular. He had an affair
there, and then escaped to the
University of Lille after one year
to take up an assistantship.

Foucault had been visiting Saint-Anne, the Paris psychiatric hospital.
"rational" basis for research -this basis had
had grown interested in the
To relax in the summer to be questioned.
hols, he visited his
Mum and helped her to He also grew obsessed with Rorschach tests and tried them out on
pickle gherkins and
college mates. 'That way, I'll know what's on their minds:'
water the garden.

Experimental Dreams? psychology meets Heidegger

Written in 1953, Foucault's Psychology from 1850 to 1950 reflected his

Foucault had an uneasy relationship to experimental
psychology. He with its object -
attempts to resolve psychology's status as a science
thought that the research of Jacqueline Verdeaux -. psychiatrist and
human existence.
friend of the family - on the breathing rhythms of
people listening to the
Symphony of Psalms' was ridiculous, as were Lacan's philosophical it to
Foucault claimed that the history of psychology is contradictory: wants
pretensions. - - is
be an objective science like biology but realizes that human reality

not simply a part of "natural objectivity".

Yet he did assist Verdeaux in a translation and introduction to Dream
and Existence by Ludwig Binswanger (1881-1 966).This was closer to
Foucaults concerns. It was Dasein Analyse - Psychology will
Heideggerian existential '\
be possible only if it marks
psychotherapy. Binswanger says: (
' a return to man's conditions of
/iHow does one put
existence and to what is most
"experience" under a
human in man, namely his
Tn Ara rn ,f
particular mode of human
,. falling actually means "
existence in general, not

r .
our existence is falling and
a fulfilment of a Wish,
Dreams are to be
but of fundamental
taken literally

existential analysis helped

me limit and better define what it
was about academic psychiatric Mental Illness and Psychology (1954) was published by Foucault to
try to resolve different psychological methods phenomenological.
existential Marxist.

Illness and Marx Love on the Rocks

In this Marxist reading, madness is a consequence of alienation from In the early 1950s, Foucault He knew historian Paul Veyne
oneself and history, because material conditions are unresolvable. was moving in the same circles (b. 1930), who would later become
as the young musical genius a huge influence on Foucault's
pierre Boulez (b. 1925). He history of sexuality.
It is not because one is ill that one
also met and had a passionate
is alienated, but because one is
affair with Jean Barraqu Veyne found Foucault too
alienated one is ill.
(1928-73), a young composer. misogynistic, while Foucault
They shared a taste for thought Veyne's heterosexuality
The social relations determined by
Heidegger and Nietzsche. was a bore!
the present economy, in the guise
Foucault gave him literary ideas
of competition, exploitation,
to turn into music. In December 1955, Foucault
imperialist wars and class returned to Paris for Christmas.
struggle, provide man with an The love affair with Barraqu was
experience of his human Listen to me,
in poor shape.
environment that is constantly leave loucault for
haunted by contradiction. your own good... This man will
destroy you when he has J
'N. destroyed himself. _Z

To transform relations in the

social environment would
resolve illness at a stroke.

Foucault was denying that mental illness should be seen in negative terms,
and stated that while psychology had moved from discussing evolution
(science) to man (history), it still relied on "metaphysical" or moral
Sweden! Foucault the Boozer

In August 1955, Foucault was invited to apply to the Department of Foucault was a great cook, and entertained friends. He also drank heavily
Romance Studies at the University of Uppsala in Sweden, at the to compensate for the long dark nights, and cruised men.
recommendation of Georges Dumzil - "le professeua'" -(1898-1986),
- -
specialist in Indo-European religions and mythologies. Dumezil employed ar He bought a brown Jaguar sports car using cash from his family which
he sometimes drove into ditches because he was so There were
early form of structuralism. pissed.
the stories and
frequent trips to Stockholm, where he enjoyed company,
His work concentrated on sets of universal, unchanging relations between songs of the suave Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972).
and within cultures.

Foucault became French assistant and taught He lectured on "The Conception

language and literature. He was also appointed director of Love in French Literature from
of the Maison de France as a cultural diplomat. the Marquis de Sadeto

He thought Sweden would

be socially less prohibitive
than France, but the
University was very strict,
and the nightlife subdt

speakers to the Maison de

France, including
semiologist Roland Barthes
At this stage of
my career, I was a
freelance writer. roucault and I
became close friends - and
occasional lovers.

Foucault later said a

certain kind of freedom
could be as restrictive
as a directly repressive
Uppsala Library -The Birth of Madness Foucault's Indiscretions

Foucault moved to Warsaw to run the Centre Franais. Poland functioned

badly. It had not recovered from World War II. Foucault wrote by candlelight.
Politics was oppressive.

Ma ncism is
the philosophy of an In 1957, students rioted against the
occupying force.. suppression of the press, and
Party membership declined.

He decided to submit it as
a doctoral thesis, but it
was too generalized and
literary a piece of work for
Uppsala's empiricism. In this climate of suspicion, Foucault fucked a young man who was working
Foucault ti for the police to pay for his university education. Foucault was advised by
his approai the ambassador to leave Warsaw.

32 33
Mudwrestling 1960-61 - Rapid Change

Foucault travelled with a lady inspector from the Foucault's Dad had died. Foucault used his inheritance to buy a modern flat
Ministry of Education on a visit to Cracow. She in rue du Dr Finlay with a view of the Se
inadvertently barged into the Fox's bedroom to
find him in the arms of a young bloke. This was the France of Charles de Gaul
atom bombs, the new currency, New WE
France, but also a troubled one.
Foucault later claimed this episode prevented him from stopping the events
I ntellectuals
ctu Is and
of the French student riots of May 1966, because the Ministry of Education A signed a petition in
did not take his reform plans seriously!
support of draft dodgers
and deserters from the


French army fighting the // ?0

He moved to Hamburg, to another New r war.
Institute, where he introduced writer I legislaAlgerian
tion was passed again-t
Alain Robbe-Grillet (b. 1922) to prostitution, alcoholism and
striptease clubs, fairgrounds and a hail homoseiwality. <
of mirrors.

Foucault had a fling with a


He also took novelist Pierre Gasc....

(b. 1916) to see female mudwrestling
in the red-light district. The bars'
clientele called Foucault "Herr Do/do?'.

Daniel Defert, a student at the cole Normale de Saint-Cloud, was

introduced to Foucault. They became close partners. Defert was an activist
against the war. Foucault avoided the issue and completed research on his
History of Madness in the archives and libraries of Paris.
From Philosophy to Madness Madness and Civilization (1964)

Between all this, he finished his two Madness and Civilization was not a view of the history of madness from a
theses which he decided to submit The Enlightenment: psychiatrist's standpoint.
at the Sorbonne in Paris. the intellectual, philosophical, N
cultural and scientific spirit of
He first presented a complementary This would assume
the 18th century. A belief in
thesis on the Enlightenment that madness was a constant,
reason, progress, man's "maturity" - in
negative objective fact
philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724- and a general rejection of
other words, an account of
1804), in which he used the term tradition, religion and
adne555 from
fror the point of view
"archaeology" for the first time, and
which indicated the period of history
authority. I f ,"scientific"
clel reason.

to which he was constantly to


It spelt my
move beyond science, to
the point where philosophy
and science had something
k.. in common: reason. Later Foucault said his object was "knowledge invested in the complex
system of institutions". Authorities, their practices and opinions would be
studied to show madness not as a scientific or theoretical discourse, but as
Jury members then listened to Foucault's major work... a regular daily practice.

Folly and Unreason The Classical Era

Foucault instead proposed a close study of madness itself (Heideggerian Foucault refers to the "classical era" of the 17th and lath centuries in
strands here - of its "silence" beyond the language of reason). Europe to show that madness is an object of perception within a "social
space" which is structured in different ways throughout history. Madness is
an object of perception produced by social practices, rather than simply an
"To capture a space, words
object of thought or sensibility which could be analyzed.
without a language, the We must try to return
stubborn murmuring of a in history to that "zero point" in
language which seems to the course of madness when it was
speak quite by itself suddenly separated from reason That question
What is madness?
breaking down before it has both in the confinement of the insane is replaced by a new one: "Mow is
achieved any formulation and and in the conceptual isolation of the experience of madness put into
passing back without any fuss madness from reason,
into the silence from which it as unreason.
was never separated?'

Foucault contends that before

the classical age the relationship There are four historical phases
of madness to reason was very and distinct perceptions of
different. madness. Let's look at these.
1. Medieval Madness and Death Folly's Truth

In the medieval period - the 2. Renaissance Folly Madness was the 1ruth of knowledge,
Middle Ages - man's dispute with but the sane man's knowledge and
madness was a drama in which all Madness comes to the fore in learning were an absurd folly. The literary
the secrets of the world were at the late 15th century. charactert!Hhe Fool, in his wise idiocy,
stake. The experience of madness already knew this.
was clouded by images of the Fall, Man's life is no longer mad on
God's will, the Beast, the end of account of the inevitability of
time and the world. death, but because death ties at
I show how mad reason
the heart of life itself.
itself is.
Death was the dominant theme.
Man's madness was in not seeing
that death's reign was nigh. It was
The head From the 15th century onwards,
therefore necessary to bring him
will become a skull
back to wisdom with the spectacle through literature, philosophy and art,
5 already empty. the subject is tackled in different ways.
of death.
Madness now exists in man.
The experience of madness takes the
form of moral satire, rather than
threats of invasion by the madness of
the world which haunted painters like
Hieronymous Bosch (1450-1516).
Folly points to the madness and error
of reason itself.

"The Ship of Fools" was a symbolic presentation of the

banishment and voyage of the mad in search of reason.
3. The Classical Age of Confinement Bourgeois Morals

in fact, the confinement had more to do with economic problems of

unemployment, idleness and begging. A new ethic of work and new ideas of
moral obligation were now linked to civil law. Work was redemption. Idleness
was rebellion. Beggars were often shot by archers at the city gates

Whereas the Renaissance had allowed

madness into the light, the classical
age saw it as scandal or shame.
Families secreted mad uncles and

-1 Tj

Old, empty leper houses were used for a new purpose - to confine.
The age of reason banged up the insane as well as the poor. In 1656, a But spectacle played its part. At Bethlehem hospital in London, lunatics
decree founded the Hopital Gnral in Paris. One in a hundred Parisians were displayed to 96,000 people a year. Madness had once been mimed,
was locked up - the mad with the poor and the criminal. flow it was presented as flesh and blood - no longer a monster inside
oneself, but a thing to look at and to contain.

Treated Like Animals Reform, Asylums and Capture of Mir \

The confinement wasn't inspired by a desire to punish or correct - simply to Late 18th century psychiatric reformers saw punitive measures as ill-
treatment. The insane were physically liberated and placed under a moral
discipline and sever. So the insane had a beast-like existence behind bars,
chained to walls and gnawed by rats. educational and psychiatric discourse. But, in fact, they were now less free
because even their minds were subject to treatment.

The madman Reason and unreason are now

is not a sick man. his separate: psychiatric language
animality makes him impervious is installed as a monologue of
too cold, U g r and pain.
co ' hunger 0a reason about madness.
Mm5 animal-madne-5s
m 1_ m 55 The principle
protects him. / of fear is considered as of
" The mad person
great importance in the management
is now his own category of the patient, in reasoning with him
- a patient - subject to
and appealing to his sense of
"reasoned" care and self-esteem.

The medicine of the period perceived

madness as an excessive movement of
dangerous passions -too much grief or
food led to melancholia and delirium.

Cures for madness were directed at the body of the insane person, as well
as his imagination. These were usually conducted outside the hospitals. ial failure
he asylum
Music, running, travel, immersion in cold water, purification with cleaning
agents and "soapy foods" - and even wounding - alleviated boiling spirits.
4.1900 and Freud the Divine Critical Reception

Personalities like Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) silenced condemnation of Foucault's work calls into
madness. He abolished regimes of silence that reformers had employed. question the origins of
He made the mad talk. But he also developed the structure which included psychology's scientific status,
the medical personage - him - as omnipotent and quasi-divine. without submitting to the
authority of historical sources of
For Foucault, the only way for madness to live "in itself", outside of information. It doesn't attempt to
authoritarian reason, is through art and philosophy. define madness. It shows ways
in which it was experienced,
The world that thought to measure and justify madness through psychology -
imagined and dispersed
must justify itself before madness - before the excess of works like those phenomenologically -with some
of Artaud, Van Gogh and Nietzsche. lip-service paid to structural
change (economics, society,

Some criticized its lack of

55ed with
historical qualities and its
i5tJ n cti on I

Not all
madness is of
artistic interest.

But ma
( is best b

Foucault vs. Derrida, 1963
Look at my In a lecture, post-structuralist roucault -

journal Les Temps

('lodernes: ' Jacques Derrida (b. 1930) had attempted to write a

"Foucault sees a history which both deconstructed Foucault's three history of madness itself

produces viable concepts of madness, pages in Madness and

Civilization which discuss the This is the
then as a space which totally
maddest part of roucault. N,
misreconizes madness as an object. Meditations of Rend Descartes
How can he avoid the violence that
That's a he's (1596-1650).
contradiction.",..." 1"Yet the language of reason (order, truth,
- France's in
( the system of objectivity and
""Foucault has misread universal rationality) shows to y"
Descartes. He assumed the N madness?
rationalist philosopher had used madness ' -

to promote reason, but this is not the case.

Reason and madness are less obviously
"N.. opposed here than Foucault

totalitarianism here
is similar to the
violences of the
classical age.

The book was embraced by anti-psychiatry and the counter-cultural theory

of R.D. Laing (1927-89) and David Cooper (1931-86), and then in Anti-

The two intellectuals

Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972) by GlUes Deleuze (b. 1925)
and Felix Guattari (b. 1930). - fell out over this.

Clermont-Ferrand - Conflict Begins Language and Literature

Foucault had become a respected intellectual. He wrote articles and Foucault's interest in literature was at its height here, particularly in novels
attended conferences, reviewed literature and spoke on religious deviation. which explored the mad slippage between language, its sense and the
Canguilhem's report and Hyppolite's support led to a job offer from the worlds it made, such as the crazy Locus Solus (1914) by Raymond
University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1960. He taught psychology Roussel (1877-1933).
When Communist philosopher Roger Garaudy (b. 1913) moved there, with
the alleged influence of premier Georges Pompidou (1911-74), a bitter feud les Iettres du blanc sur lea bandes du
began. vieux billard (the letters in white around the The description is not
edges of the old billiard table) language's faithfulness to its
They came to blows. object, but the constantly
do you have renewed birth of an infinite
can be changed into
again 5t me? relationship between words
les Iettres du blanc sur les bandes du and things.
vieux pillard (the white man's letters about
theold plunderer's gangs)

Latin is a
made by
to confuse
Y bandit5
I t5

people, and

from a frog

Quasi-surrealist Jean-Pierre Brisset

I've nothing
against you. Just
against stupidity.

Medicine and Methodology Medical Knowledge Mutates

In 1963, Foucault published The Birth of the Clinic: an Archaeology of The practice of medicine is a shaky mixture of rigorous science and
Medical Perception, based on his reading of every book of clinical uncertain tradition. As a system of knowledge, however, it finds its own
medicine produced between 1790 and 1820. "This book is about space, -
coherency. And this knowledge transforms over time from a language of
about language and about death; it is about the act of seeing, the gaze?' fantasy and myth

Clinical medicine was more than just opinions. It became linked to 19th
century sciences like biology, physiology and anatomy, as well as The patient has
institutions like hospitals and practices such as administrative inquiry.
membranous tissues like
Foucault wanted to account for the rules of this knowledge.
pieces of damp I'm speaking
parchment What is the the language of medical
matter with you? fantasy here. My medicine
I wondered has no perceptual basis.
how it was )I hatt know[
could have arisen, changed, 5
eveloped and offered
off r scientific
theory new fields of observations) to one which assumes objectivity.
a and how 5cientific
nd a
I q had been imported



The model of sight, seeing and naming is opened in science.

Structuralism Knowledge as Classification

This is also a quasi-structuralist study of how medical discourses organize our perception of the body as Diseases were conceived as

themselves in relation to different structures - political, social, cultural and the natural "space of the origin transferring to the body when their
economic- and to each other, in order to demonstrate the changes that and distribution of disease", a qualities combine with the patient's
affected how things were spoken or seen, and space determined by the temperament.
what it was possible to see and say in a anatomical atlas, is merely one
historical period. of the various ways in which This was classificatory medical

medicine has formed its thought.

This spatialization of illness was

Medicine of Species (1770) conceptual. Disease was ordered

classified diseases as species hierarchically in families, genera
with no necessary connection to and species in terms of analogy
the body. and resemblance. "Catarrh is to the
throat what dysentery is to the
intestine?' The patient was a

potential obstacle to the perception

of the formal class or species.

medical knowledge, nor do I see

medicine as a gradual linear

process of improvement or
medical enlightenment.


Medicine simply reorganizes disease according to new patterns of syntax -

new relationships between language and what it names, in relation to other
structural changes in society, its practices and institutions.
Symptoms Anatomy - The Technique of the Corpse
Later, clinical medicine (1 800s onwards) saw and "thought" diseases as Pathological anatomy is developed or anatomo-clinical theory.
symptoms rather than fixed entities or species on a chart. These were in Disease did not denote species or sets of symptoms, but indicated
turn interpreted as signs of pathological development. Illness was no longer lesions in specific tissues.
about the distribution of species and their relationships, but was now
spatialized on the body as nothing more than a collection of symptoms. The clinical gaze over the body's surface becomes a gaze into the
So now clinical language is in complete accord with what it names.
Speaking and seeing are one. This is the speaking eye of the clinical doctor. This is the gaze of dissection, which inaugurates the medicine of
the site of the
pathological reactions. The tissues and organs are now
illness. The notion of classes of illness has gone.

Man and Death Barthes Gets Jealous

Foucault's book soon became a cult

Death i:;5 ini:O'o~:n:ge ir
an ab50IUte f Kt, C 11!t 1 in~111 Oiffi 11 if Praise for Foucault's book "It allowed the profession to see that medicine
and the cour5e of disea5e.
: U r5e of Ise 5 Death
~C 15 In o the It i5 not was not simply a mechanical practice, but also a language which had
0 t co 1 pri cipl
principle. evolved over time:' Dr Bernard Kouchner
the negative, Infinite
=concepteual after the body
Criticism of Foucault's book "Foucault fails to see beyond his own

which privileges or
Death is a process which can be episteme. He is a product of 20th century French thought
- of visual perception, looking,
identified in failing organs and challenges ocular society philosophies
in promoting
.4 examining, painting, etc. He should look at his own premises -
r the eye as dominant principle:' Martin Gay, academic

But structuralists claim his links between the social context

of the French Revolution, its clinics and the shift in
perceptual structures, are oblique

We've sworn to
remain together forever!

. .;

---, - ,_
The medical gaze is no longer that of the medical eye. but the gaze
of an eye that has seen death - a great white eye that unties the
knot of life:' FoLicault follows Georges Bataille (1887-1962).
Certainly Batailles erotic and death-fixated Story of the Eye
Apparently, Barthes fell out with Foucault
provided him with the eye as a viable concept.
because he coveted Defert, who was living
with Foucault in rue du Dr Finlay.
Nietzsche to the Rescue

Foucault had first read Nietzsche on a beach in Italy with his chum In a July 1964 conference on Nietzsche, Foucault discussed history and
Maurice Plnguet in August 1953.
interpretation, using the "three masters of suspicion": Priedrich Nietzsche
(1844-1900), Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Karl Marx (1818-83).

So far, all that gives colour

to existence still lacks a history. Where would
you find a history of love, of avarice, of envy, of
conscience, of pious respect for tradition, or of
After ten years,
cruelty? Even a comparative history of law
,/ Foucault is still struggling with
or at least of punishment is so far
philosophy to escape the 1-legelian and \
lacking completely. Marxist idea of history unfolding towards
an absolute as a resolution of
contradictions and conflicts. Who
can he turn to?


What interested Foucault in 1964 was the infinite nature of interpretation
Marx's interpretations of bourgeois ideological interpretations; Freud's of his
patients' interpretations of their neuroses; and Nietzsche's in his claim that
philosophy does not find knowledge but imposes endless interpretations.
Why was Nietzsche especially helpful to Foucault?
No More Knowledge Words and Things

For Nietzsche, it was

inconceivable to imagine that could Pertain ''N Foucault's interest in language and interpretation of the
to the fundamental nature
history will move towards a whole world led to his next book, The Order of Things: An
or reveal a total truth. ofexistence that a complete
Archaeology of the Human Sciences, written mostly by
Knowledge of truth would mid-1964 and expanded in lectures in Brazil in 1965.
destroy one.

biggest pain in the

This presents a radical arse to write.

possibility of a break
with Hegelian thought
and its contention that
history leads us to
Absolute and total
knowledge. This places
reason in doubt!

Foucault's purpose is to look at how man became the object of knowledge

in Western culture. He does this by taking three periods in history - the
Renaissance, the classical era and the modern era - and unearthing each
epoch's respective historical a priori.

The latent grid of knowledge which organizes every scientific discourse

and defines what can or cannot be thought scientifically - the process of
uncovering these levels Foucault calls archaeology.

His project is to find the historical and fundamental codes of our culture -
Our present - not to reveal phenomenological perceptions of it.

Key Term No. 1: Archaeology Key Term No. 2: Episteme

An episteme is the "underground" grid or network which allows thought to

organize itself. Each historical period has its own episteme. It limits the
Unknown to themselves, totality of experience, knowledge and truth, and governs each science in

the naturalists, economists and grammarians one period.

employed the same rules to build their theories. It is

these rules of formation, which were never formulated Foucault has re-jigged Thomas Kuhn's idea of the paradigm.

\ in their own right, that I have called, somewhat

arbitrarily perhaps, archaeological. science becomes
normal when scientists agree
that their work has identified and
solved scientific problems. This
agreed-upon achievement model,
I call a paradigm
or exemplar.

'Archaeology", as the investigation of that which renders necessary a

certain form of thought, implies an excavation of unconsciously organized
sediments of thought. Unlike a history of Ideas, it doesn't assume that
knowledge accumulates towards any historical conclusion. Archaeology
ignores individuals and their histories. It prefers to excavate impersonal 71
structures of knowledge. account for the way in which one
scientific episteme shifted to another -
Archaeology is a task that doesn't consist of treating discourse as signs how they overlapped. It was
referring to a real content like madness. It treats discourses, such as never fully solved.
medicine, as practices that form the objects of which they speak.

Taxonomy or Classification The Renaissance Episteme

Language is central to the book's project. Foucault presents a short story Words and things were united in their resemblance. Renaissance man
the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), about a Chinese thought in terms of similitudes: the theatre of life, the mirror of nature.
encyclopaedia. There were four ranges of resemblance.

Aemulation was
It divides animals according to an exotic classification
similitude within
distance: the sky
resembled a
(a) belonging to the emperor, N. face because it
(b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking \ had "eyes"- the
pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, sun and moon.
(g) stray dogs
way off look like flies.
tt- r \\ \'\2
This shows
things near to Analogy: a wider
the limitations of one another, range based less
What are the
our own systems
borders of our own way of e.g. animal and on likeness than
nf thouaht.
plant, making a on similar
thinking? How do we order th
world? Mow do cultural codes great "chain" of relations.

Sympathy likened
anything to anything
else in universal
attraction, e.g. the
fate of men to the
course of the planets.

A "signature" was placed on all things by God to indicate their affinities -

but it was hidden, hence the search for arcane knowledge. Knowing was
guessing and interpreting, not observing or demonstrating.
The Classical Episteme

Resemblance collapsed. Discrimination was now used to establish

identities and differences. Knowledge had a new space. It was no longer
about guessing, but about order. The classification of stable and separate
identities is called representation.

Analysis was born, heralded by Don Quixote, the knight created by Miguel
de Cervantes (1547-1616). Quixote is alienated by analogy in a world of
reason based on identities and differences, not signs and similitudes.

I'm using mathesis - a universal

That's a giant - or science of measurement and order

maybe a windmill.
And there is also taxinomia - a principle of
classification and ordered tabulation.

It definitely has the
identity of an airpowered
food-producing machine.

Classical Signs Representation Without a Subject
In the classical period, language is seen as transparent, with no need for
hidden or "occult" links. Signs are no longer placed upon things but are now
Maids of Honour (Las Meninas. 1656) by
"within" knowledge, signifying certainty and probability. Pictures and words
Diego Velasquez (1599-1660) is a
are not bound up with the order of things, but with representation itself. New
painting about representation. But of
empirical fields are now established.
whom? Of nothing but the system of
general grammar
/" Words represent N
There is an essential void. The people it
thought. Language is asked
how it functions as discourse. resembles (in the mirror. King Philip IV
Renaissance commentary and Queen Mariana) and the spectators
has yielded to classical who look at them are absent. Ar

,efl /

natural histor

Animals are now

lied as species, rather
in by their history in

legend or fable.

4 .
.-. 24

)nger the
/ ' Classical representation no longer needs a subject like royalty. It can only
Renaissance worries about
the "character" of metal in coinage. be made visible by its invisibility - by appearing in the mirror of
Now mercantilism treats gold and representation. The true subject is never to be found in the table or
- as a historical of life, labour and The classical
silver as a means to analyze all painting subject language.
kinds of wealth in a system episteme did not isolate a specific domain proper to man.
Lother A

Axiom: In the classical episteme the subject is bound to escape its own
1800s: From Order to History Man as Modern Object

In the 18005, a discontinuity Economics

spells the end of the classical
episteme a mutation of Order For the economist David Ricardo (1772-1823) wealth is now labour,
into History. measured in time, industrial progress and non-productive labour. Homo
and wastes his
oeconomicus is the human being who spends, wears out,
life in evading the imminence of death. He is a finite being

is the

anthropology of natural In biology, Georges cuvier (1789-

finitude - man a5 his own 1832) becomes concerned with
limit. The anthropological function and disclosing invisibilities
version of knowledge i5 ba5ed
Europe5 through anatomy.
culture Is on man and not infinity.
inventing for Itself a
depth in which
Matters is '10 'What
longer WThis
tables With all t
Ssible P a hs
ro and
roots s but

butt great
trc e
force s v I0 hiddenhidden
The modern episteme bbasis developed
. on the
basiss ofof ttheir
he Ir Pr IM,
studies man in himself as and
an dln primitive
historical subject. It is inaccessible
a s s be
nucleus of
Of 0rIg
through man that knowledge c origin,~n
is possible in the empirical causalitya
contents of human life:
man's body, his social
relations, his norms and

Deeper forces were of

substituted for the surface Living species "escape" from the teeming confusion
individuals and can be classified only because they are alive
regularities of classical
and on the basis of what they conceal. Beings are continuous.
knowledge: dynamic,
Life is now seen as the root of all existence, and it has a
historical categories of
biological history.

Summary Man and His Double

means to organize or represent The classical era gave human beings a privileged position in the order of the
Language is no longer the sovereign
like others, to be investigated in the world. Man was not seen as a finite knowledge outlined by labour, language
knowledge. It is an object of knowledge
and body. In the modern episteme, instead, man is both a finite figure and a
same ways as living things, wealth, value and history.
strange empirico-transcendental doublet.
The question now is not what makes words possible, but are we capable
now is to make new links Knowledge has a
mastering them?The philosophical struggle He can -
physiological dimension
between language and being.
analyze his empirical such as brain neurons,
elf... etc.

And his
transcendental self ...

form which "transcends"

Knowledge in its historical, social and economic
reference to man himself.
Man in these modern sciences was now seen in his actual existence.
man as the central of weE This means that modern thought is unable to avoid the search to separate
under the classical episteme, subject knowledge
or reconcile this double man: body vs. culture, nature vs. history,
modern episteme overdid it by forgetting the
missing (as in Velasquez), the
man as the centre of was simply an epistemic mutation. phenomenology (experience) vs. Marxism (history).

74 75
How Rational are Human Sciences? The End of Man - Is the Subject Finished?

- The last lines of The Order of Things: "Before the end of the 18th century,
But the human sciences - psychology, sociology, cultural history etc.
as an man did not exist. As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is
pose a problem in the modern episteme. Can man take himself object
of science? Isn't the idea of man simply a projection of other sciences like an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end:'
biology? Aren't human sciences too empirical and too changeable to
thought of as anything other than irregular?
Me wrote in
u It proclaims 4 of the death of
the eclipse of man as a homo dialicus - man
Psychoanalysis ground of thought and who regains historical
or ethnology never get close suggests that knowledge itself truth. 1
to a general concept of man. They may be no more than our SimonedoBeauvoir '
unmake man, the dense object of the persistent self-delusion!

positive sciences like biology ...
But this has its good side.

1 16 1

man" was built on a system of

knowledge where the human
knowledge is in difficult sciences are no science, and
circumstances! science itself possesses no logical
stability, no lasting criteria of A

These counter-sciences (psychoanalysis,

ethnology), which pursue this "Other', keep
self-criticism of man at maximum power.
Criticisms This is Not a Pipe

One criticism of Foucault was that he made the break between classical Belgian Surrealist artist Rend Foucault in his reply and text of
and modern epistemes too stark, too block-like. What about epistemic Magritte (1898-1967) wrote a letter 1973 took as an example and title
overlaps or lags? And what about the role of mathematics and hard to Foucault, attempting to explain Magritte's This is Not a Pipe (1926)
sciences in history? the difference between similitude and The Two Mysteries (1 966).The
(of things, like the colour of peas) problem of resemblance - the
and resemblance (of thought, relation between words and things -
/ Foucault provides N which "resembles" the world it is studied in these paintings.
bourgeois consciousness with sees).
its best alibis. They suppress
You are so intent on
history, praxis, that is to say Let's look at their
progressive aspects of
commitment, and suppress heterotopic approach - meaning one or
history that you perceive
man. other - where the traditional bonds
any criticism of it as between language and image are
disturbed, made different and in

. , ---o. -.
same way a fish exists in
water - it stops breathing
And we Catholic humanists
anywhere else!
think the death of man is
hard to stomach!-

Foucault traces two relevant principles in Western painting which lead from
the 15th century to Magritte's work.

Image and Text

In paintings or illustrations, text (words) and images (resemblances) often

to the other. For example,
appear together, but one is always subordinate
an illustration can serve a text, or a letter in a trompe !'oell painting might
serve the image. There is a hierarchy of resembling the world through
words (they
images and using non-resemblance (representation) through
don't look like the world).

esemblance was
always an affirmation of
an object. When an image is
a statement is assumed.
"What you see is that."

Ask yourself: Magritte's painting undermines

What is here "not a pipe"? The representation, or the relation of
image, the text, the word "This"?\ signs to world, but it also
And both image and text are painted refuses to close the gap
in the same medium so they are between image and word. Only
similar, yet different. The more text similitudes remain - a series of
and image try to converge, the visual and linguistic signs
less sense there is! without external reference. With
the soup cans of Andy Warhol
Wasslly Kandlnsky (1866-1944) tried to dissolve representation by paintifl
abstract forms which were affirming that they were "things" "that's a yello (1928-87), similitude is multiplied
endlessly in the image.
triangle"-while not representing anything.

Tunisia! 1966 Fights
Foucault took a post in the University of Tunis in Morocco. The In December 1966, a student
relaxed lifestyle suited him-good food, cannabis and rebellion began in Tunis, at first
handsome young men. He lived in Sidi Bou Said - then a colony because the police beat up a
of arty French expatriates -overlooking the sea. Defert visited student who would not pay for a
him often. bus ticket. It turned anti-Semitic
when Israel clobbered Arab armies
in the 1967 Six-Day War. Then
Foucault moved Foucaujt was ambushed by more
to a converted stable, police when driving a young lover
and slept on a mat on a (who'd been planted by the police)
raised platform. The locals home. Foucault was now disgusted
thought this philosopher and pliticized. He hid the
was a necromancer! dissenting students' seditious
A printing press in his back garden.

Foucault taught Nietzsche, Descartes and Manet at

the university. He compared the paintings of Edovard
Manet (1832-83) to the novels of Gustave Flaubert Psychologist Georges Lapassade (b. 1924) disrupted a lecture that
(1821-80). Both exemplified the birth of the modern Foucault was giving. He was sent back to France, but claimed that
and a break with conventions of representation. Foucault wasn't brave enough to come to his own defence.

In Manet's work, the painted surface does not mask In 1975 they met by chance.
its materiality. It draws attention to its "paintedness".
Foucault gave him a slapping because of a ridiculous Foucault-like
Le Bar des FoIies-Bergere is one example. character that he'd put in a novel!
Structural Space The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969)

This book is both a methodological inquiry into knowledge, history and

discourse and a self-criticism. In Madness and Civilization and The Birth
of the Clinic, Foucault said he'd given too much credit to the experience
of madness in itself. Its history was too subject-centred - rooted in a
philosophy of consciousness.

This new book provided the syntheses. Knowledge was an area between
opinion and scientific knowledge, and it was embodied not only in
theoretical texts or experimental instruments, but in a whole body of
practices and institutions.

He looked at the longer-term stable periods beneath historical events and

and contrasted that with Gaston

Bachelard's epistemological ruptures
and Canguilhem transformations

discontinuous and displaced history.

/' history for me was

now both depersonalized and
formed of complex relations
and rules - discursive
formations. .4
His point was made later when he said, "Space is fundamental in any
xercise of power:'
Discourse Rules of Discourse

Foucault drops epistemes as the dominant principle in history and asserts


Discourses are not linguistics systems or just texts - they are practices,
like the scientific discourse of psychoanalysis and its institutional,
philosophical and scientific levels.

By analyzing statements single units which constitute a discursive
formation we can see their constraints and where they situate the


In this case, the patient and analyst.


b- /

But we should
treat these documents like
monuments - not for their
5 reference to historical

validity, but for

Documents should
not be studied in order
to determine their historical

accuracy. This would be to

reconstitute the "truth"
Any institution implies the existence of statements in
of history.
charters, contracts, registrations, etc.

Discourse Creates its Object Foucault and Aithusser

When medical, legal and judicial discourses refer to madness, they never
refer to a fixed object or experience, and they don't treat it as the same A statement does not
Foucault's idea of the
consist in analyzing relations
object. Yet there may be regularities between these discourses. statement corresponds
between the author and what he
to the term ideology, as
says ... but in determining the
used by the Marxist
position any individual can and
Links made by philosopher Louis must occupy in order to be the
Althusser (1918-90).
psychiatric discourse between :t of that statement.
criminal and pathological behaviour
don't imply a scientific and historical

"discovery" of "mad criminals" or

identify a social context for inserted into
this behaviour ... sive formation out
t!on - as a patient
lical discourse

an imaginary relation to the material

conditions of capitalist society.
This is an ideological

Against Structuralism Reception of Archaeology

Although Foucault was seen as a member of the Structuralist Gang of Four,

alongside Barthes, Lacan and Claude Levi-Strauss (b. 1908), he wasn't reall
,-" Your Archaeology
of Knowledge is seen as a
a structuralist. There was too much history and phenomenology in his work.
welcome assault on the tired
discipline known as the history
illes Deleuze says ".
of ideas.
In language or / it's a call for "a general theory \,
tends to ignore historical
of productions which must merge with
myth for example.
change and looks for a revolutionary practice in which the
universal underlying rules

/ Permanent
PerITla active 'discourse' take shape in the
relationships.,,," ( structures into which element of an 'outside' which is J
individuals are born. indifferent to my life and my death."/
Man is definitely

I differ from those The Communist

Structuralism is ultimately who are called "structuralist"
journal La PensEe thinks
rejected by Foucault as too in that I am not greatly interested it's actually a "materialist
monolithic, too static and too the formal possibilities presented and historical theory of
inflexible to transformations. a system such as language thi
ideological relationships".
particular controversy is now ac
out only by mimes and tumblers
My archaeology historicizes

1968 - Paris in Turmoil Vincennes - on Show

This new university was run on "participation" - everyone had a say.

But the French Communist Party saw this as a trap: "a resurrection of
the old liberal ideology. It consists of a denial of the reality of class
antagonisms and of the assertion that the citizens of a nation - or all
members of a company - have an equal interest in its prosperity?'

When Foucault returned to Paris in

It was a well-equipped college and the first to teach psychoanalysis
late 1968, he was bald. F
proper. Jacques Lacan visited and observed that the Pompidou rgime
wore a roll-neck sweater
was puffing the university on display. The government was giving the
save on ironing.
lefties a playground to fight over. Students baited him.

Foucault took a post at the University of Nanterre, but bored with

psychology, he resigned after two weeks and moved to teach philosophy
at the University of Vincennes.

January 1969: Vincennes Aggro Hyppolite Expires

When students at the Lyce Saint- Vincennes became notorious: Jean Hyppolite died in October 1968. His chair at the College de France
Louis were prevented by the police vandalism, graffiti, a market in was now vacant. Foucault was on the list of applicants. He had to submit
from watching films about May stolen books, drugs and a heav
1968, Vincennes students, joined police presence. Groups like the
by Defert and Foucault (dressed in Gauche Proletarienne wanted thE
a fetching corduroy suit) erected university to function on the
barricades in support and threw basis of worse is better.
rocks. Revolutionary Maoists spat on what constitutes a science when
Communist Party students. one wants to analyze it not in
When the police stormed the transcendental terms but in terms of
University, Foucault was arrested. to
history, to determine how knowledge
recorded the phenomena that until
Excellent for his credibility - but then were external to it.
he suffered the effects of tear gas!

He was successful and His inaugural lecture in

formally became professor of December spelt a change in
In this ultra-leftist
the 'history of systems of direction. 'The Discourse on
climate, Communism was see
as a bourgeois front - and though1' at the College in Language" outlined his new
was also an enemy! April 1970. thoughts...

New Term: Genealogy

Genealogy describes Foucault's attempt to reveal discourse at the moment

it appears in history as a system of constraint. Genealogy compels Foucault
to analyze literary, biological, medical, religious and ethical bodies of
knowledge, and how such "knowledges" might, for example, relate to the
discourse on heredity or sexuality. He is led to study the effects of
- - on
discourses claiming to be scientific psychiatry, sociology, medicine
first appear.
practices such as the penal system, as they

will to truth - pushing

away everything it can't

assimilate. Nietzsche

desires, characterized by

the will to dominate or

and violent.

,/ enealogy allows
for historical change,
is not bothered with
finding a truth to history lectures at the
or describing neutral,
College were always
archaeological structures overcrowded. He felt lonely
of knowledge, but is on the lecture stage, surrounded
interested in history as by so many mikes linked up to
will to power. tape-recorders, even with a troop
of admiring young men curled
around his feet.
Genealogy Against History What is an Author?

An essay in honour of Hyppolite, entitled Nietzsche, Genealogy, History Everything is now a mask. For instance, the author's name is
(1971) indicated the relationship of genealogy to history and philosophy. The not so much about defining his
reference to Nietzsche's own Genealogy of Morals (1887) is obvious. In a lecture entitled "What is an identity, but is part of a discourse
Foucault states: 'The point is to make such use of history as to free it Author?" (1969), Foucault of the "author function" - involving
forever from the model, which is both metaphysical and anthropological, of examined the status of the appropriation, ownership and a
memory. The point is to turn history into a counter-memory?' author and his relation to texts. corresponding will to authenticate
All the conventions we use to or get back to the author's
"summon" the founding subject motives.
of the author are in doubt

Like NietZ5che'5
body of work. What
defines it -Just his
books? y


function acting to contain his
identity. 5houldn't we include his What difference
notes, drafts -and even laundry does it make who is
lists? 513eakinct?

"The author does not precede the works; he is a certain functional principle
by which, in our culture, one limits, excludes, chooses and impedes the free
circulation of fiction?'

Tokyo 1970 Moving House

Foucault visited Japan before taking his post at the College. At Tokyo Foucault and Defert had moved to a bright eighth-floor flat in a modern
University he replied to Derrida's criticisms of Madness and block on rue de Vaugirard. They lined the living room with books, grew
Civilization, and attacked his deconstructionism - a strategy of close cannabis amongst the petunias, and entertained characters like Jean
reading of texts to reveal their contradictions and assumptions. Genet (b. 1910) and the lovely actress, Julie Christie (b. 1940). They had
nice views from the terrace, where Foucault enjoyed staring at a young
man who appeared each morning in an apartment opposite.

Derrida reduces

7' discursive practices to textual \,

traces. If there is nothing outside
the text, this is a pedagogy - which
gives to the voice of the master
the limitless sovereignty which
allows it to restate the text

teaches the pupil
that there is nothing
outside the text


Derrida has
misread Descartes' discout
on madness and failed t
At nine o'clocE
compare the French and
versions of the Mditatio he opens his window; he wears a
small blue towel, or blue underpants
I wonder what dreams his eyes found
in the fold of his arms, what words
or drawings are being /
the make-up


scientific understanding. There are a, thnrips but simnit

innate principles which allow humans ask how power operates in our
to guide our social and intellectual society. Our task is to conquer
behaviour. I'm looking for a Cartesian 1/4 power, not bring about justice.
and rational mathematical theory / Justice simply reconstitutes
of the mind. power.

OLlcauIt here has a notion of a specific intellectual who would provide

critical knowledge without posing as a master of truth and justice.

Political Engagement Political Allegiances

In December 1971, Foucault Foucault was now acting in support of Maoists, without sharing their belief
helped to found the GIP (Groupe in "cultural revolution" and a scenario of "imminent civil war".
d'information surles prisons).
The intellectual was now active! Some members of the GI P saw the prisoners as an ersatz proletariat.
- - as a form
Foucault sometimes described criminality including shoplifting

one of us can be of political revolt.

sure of avoiding prison. Police \

control over our day-to-day lives The GIP raided a luxury
is becoming tighter: in the streets delicatessen and gave the food to
and on the roads; over foreigners
immigrants in the poorer suburbs.
and young people. It is once more
an offence to express
an opinion.


prisons are over-populated.

But what if it were the

population that were being


The purpose of the GIP was to gather and disseminate information aboutthe
- not to reform it but to
prison system expose it via questionnaires sent to
prisoners and their families.
The GIP's first pamphlet attacked power's oppressive disguises: justice,

All this against a background of prison riots, hunger strikes by GIP prisoners technology, knowledge and objectivity. It argued that the "exploited class"
and an oppressive prison rgime! Can recognize its oppression and resist it, without needing intellectuals. But

by now, other classes were involved: social workers, lawyers and journalists
"The guillotine was merely the visible symbol of a system governed by death were joining the protests.

Attica The Miner's Murdered Daughter

The notion of "people's justice" - where a public court would put the
"system" on trial had become a worry to Foucault.
In April 1972, Foucault visited Attica Prison in the USA. The murder in 1972 of 16-year-old girl in
the mining town of Bruay-en-Artois led to
"A phony fortress like Disneyland, observation posts disguised as the population stoning suspect Pierre
medieval towers ... and behind this rather ridiculous scenery which
Leroy's fiance's house.
dwarfs everything else, you discover that it's an immense machine
for elimination?' The GIP became involved. Jean-Paul Sartre
turned up and made a speech - as usual.

I was dismayed by
the power the population

This experience would have

important effects on his next book.
Back in Paris, the GIP published
"Prison Suicides" (1973), which
showed that 72 prisoners - a
quarter of them immigrants had
killed themselves in 1972.
Immigrants Killed Gay Action

In November 1972, falsely-arrested Mohammed Diab was shot in a Foucault was keen to introduce
Versailles police station by a policeman who insisted he acted in self- homosexual issues to the
defence - and that he just happened to be carrying a machine-gun at the gauchisme (leftism) which had
time. hitherto ignored them. In early
1971, the FHAR (Front
A protest march was planned in the Paris district where 250 peaceful Homosexuel d'Action
Algerian demonstrators had been murdered by police in 1961.Their corpsi Revolutionnaire) was founded.
had floated in the Seine. Their article read: We've been
buggered by
The meeting exploded into violence. fl Arabs; we're proud
police charged, but only succeedec of it and

injuring children queuing to wail

&%k t Foucault and I

writer Fran
Mauriac w

Foucault's friend, the writer and artist Pierre Klossowski (b. 1905)
suggested a way to stop the police. Simply line up 30 gorgeous men ar
with sticks, and their beauty would stop the CRS in its tracks!

Discipline and Punish

Foucault's lectures of 1972-3 in France and Brazil included an examination

of punitive society and judicial power. In 1975, his research led to the
publication of Discipline and Punish -The Birth of the Prison.

The book is a genealogy of the soul and body in the political, judicial and
scientific fields, particularly in relation to punishment, and above all to
power over and within the body.

Power relations have

immediate hold upon the body;
they invest it, mark it, train it,
torture it, force it to carry out
\tasks, to perform ceremonies,
to emit signs.

The more organized or technically thought-out

Yes, but what knowledge becomes, the closer we get to a political

would it be like n technology of the body.
to be trapped ir
icro-physics From Torture as Spectacle

Foucault not only studies Foucault calls this dense web of Foucault charts the shift in punishment from the spectacle of public
institutions like the prison, power relations the micro- torture before the lBOOs to obsessive over-regulation in prisons (and
factory, hospital and school, or physics of power. elsewhere) by the 1830s.

simply judicial or educational

discourses, but also strategies of This power is not exercised On 2 March 1757, Damiens the regicide was burned with sulphur, his flesh

power which bodies themselves simply as an obligation or a removed with pincers, his wounds covered in boiling liquid, and his limbs
adopt in relation to institutions. prohibition on those who "do not harnessed to four horses, stretched, hacked and pulled off. Then the rest
have it". It invests them, is of him was chucked on a bonfire - and all in front of the public!
transmitted by them and through
them. It places pressure upon
them, and they resist the grip it j wa5 a carefully
0 "game" of truth. It:5 purp05e:
O 5ecure
o I a confe55ion. But executions
r an opportunity for the condemned
e the crowd to invert authority by

5ay sorry
to the King!

Puck off!

Punishment or discipline has positive as well as negative effects on the

body and punishment has a complex social function. Power would be a
poor thing if all it did was oppress.
Saving the Soul Bourgeois Methods
But the body as the major target of the State or
Monarchy's revenge soon In the late 18th century, an organized police apparatus, statistical
disappeared. The publicity shifted to the trial and the sentence. Physical information on the population, an increase in wealth, and moral value
pain was no longer the prime element of the punishment. Hanging or the imposed on property relations placed everyday behaviour under
guillotine was quick, the condemned man was drugged. Why? surveillance. Thieving was not anti-authoritarian but anti-social.
The punitive city and coercive institution were now in place.

Punishment, by 1760, "struck" the soul. This was nothing to do with

kindness, but a new conception of the object, "crime", which involved
confronting passions, instincts, drives, effects of environment and heredity,

/ Now the court

judges itself in its ability
to supervise the criminal
with confinement, Knowledge of the""
treatment or correction., offence, knowledge of thq
offender, knowledge of th
law; these three condition
made it possible to ground.
,_judgement in truth.

The question now is not "did he do

it?" but "what is this act that he has
done -what is its cause?"

Carceral society was born. The object of the 18th-century reforms was not
to punish less but to punish or correct better -
Rules and Regulations Docile Bodies

Crime was now coded, and the power to punish comprised rule-bound And the prison system arrives, part of a disciplinary society! Punishment
signs.The new economy and technology together generated what followed new rules and resulted in detention, work (morally worthy activity,
Foucault calls a semlo-technique based on six rules. but also a source of cheap labour) and a regime of cleaning and praying.
This was moral reform. "Modern man is born of regulations?' The body is
now docile - subject to improvement and usefulness. Disciplines are
enforced everywhere.

The body becomes a mechanics of power. Soldiers are now trained to

march. Factory workers now have posts, skills and timetables. Schoolkids
have to sit and write properly.

The left leg N\

must be somewhat
more forward under
the table than the
'.. J
right. _.V


In all areas, insolence, lateness, laziness,

dirtiness and impurity are punished.
Bentham's Panopticon Why do Prisons Fail?

It's obvious that detention and prison "reformation" don't reduce

delinquency or crime. Governments therefore conclude that they must
the question around:
punish more harshly or reform better. Foucault turns
"What is served by the failure of prison?" He sees it in terms of
delinquency -the system needs them.

The seeing machine

" has become a transparent
building in which the exercise
power may be supervised by
' society as a whole.

-' i 111
! 1

Police surveillance
provides the prison with
offenders, whom the prison
transforms into delinquents.
7 Is it surprising
They become the target of Criticism: Foucault loads
that prisons resemble
the police, which regularly the question in order to
factories, and that schools,
sends back a certain arrive at his answer. It's a
barracks and hospitals all
number of them to prison. lazy argument.
resemble prisons? /
Power/Knowledge Compliments and Criticisms

Prisons are major industries of power/knowledge. Discipline and Punish attracted great attention. Most reviews were
favourable. 'This book will send shock waves through the prison system. It
Carceral society and its "sciences", such as psychiatry, criminology, will shake our faith in ethics."
psychology and even sociology, ensure that the judges of normality are
ilIes Deleuze said:
everywhere. 'The carceral network constituted one of the armatures of this.
a very different picture, with
power/knowledge that has made the human sciences historically possible.',
Knowable man (soul, individuality, consciousness, conduct, etc.) is the different characters and processes, to

object/effect of this analytical investment, of this domination/observation that which traditional history, even if it
has accustomed us."
No power is
" exercised without the extraction,
appropriation, distribution or retention of
knowledge. At this level, we do not have roucault has
knowledge on the one hand and society on
simply given us thL
the other, or science and state; we
reverse of the
have the basic forms of
enlightenment path to
"power/knowledge". freedom: dystopian

lie omits the role of the French Revolution

in the subsequent replacement of the public
guillotine with incarceration. Me overplays
Enlightenment as a crippling disciplinary drive
and he doesn't allow for human agency in

L his history - so he ends up with

"Do not demand of politics that it restore the 'rights' of the
conspiracy theory."
individual, as philosophy has defined them. The individual is the
product of power. What is needed is to 'de-individualize' by mean9
of multiplication and displacement, diverse combinations. Do not
become enamoured of power."

Spanish Bio-Fascism 1976, Sexuality as History

In September 1975, ten freedom fighters from the Basque ETA and the Foucault's constantly reworked and unfinished project was published.
anti-fascist front FRAP were to be garrotted by Franco's The History of Sexuality is an attempt to understand the experience of
rgime. Two of the
condemned were pregnant. sexuality in modern Western culture - the birth and growth of "sex" and
sexuality" as historically given objects.
Foucault flew to Madrid with Yves Montand and others, but was prevented I
from speaking to the press. The police returned them to a plane of The self-awareness of the individual as the subject of a sexuality. The
tourists. Franco generously allowed five militants to be shot rather than
project required historical inquiry into sexuality, pleasure and friendship in
garrotted. the Ancient, Christian and Modern Worlds. The first of three volumes, The
History of Sexuality: An Introduction, opened with a bombshell.
The gay dictator died 20 November 1975, having been kept alive for
by his doctors. This was a miniature version of Foucault's blo-power -
calculated technically in terms of population, health, national interests,

Why do we say
that we are sexually
The man who had
repressed? What led us to show
the power of life and death
that sex is something we hide?
over hundreds of thousands of
people did not even notice that 1/4 -
And why do we talk about sex

he was already dead.

Sex and Power The Confessional Animal
Since the Renaissance, Western culture began to develop new, powerful
Human sciences like psychology, medicine and demography seized on the
techniques for internalizing social norms related to morals and, in body as an object of social concern and governmental manipulation. This
particular, to sexual behaviour: a reinforcement of confession as a main was governmentality at large!
ritual of truth-production.


' In the 18th century, '\

demographers and administrators
started to study population, I
I / In confession,
prostitution and the way that
diseases spread. Anato
it seems as if the truth
demands only to surface
a politics of the - as
body. individuality.

Biopolitics - the
'lanning of the popula a sophisticated and impersonal ars
health, etc
- through erotica, modern Western culture
developed a 5cientia sexualis more
intent on personalized control than
sexual pleasure. ..'
The Repressive Hypothesis Administering Sex

Was there ever a repression or censorship on sex? Foucault says there sex by the 18th century became something administered rather than just
was rather an apparatus for producing greater quantities of discourses on The policing of sex was linked to the emergent idea of population
sex. Foucault's point is not whether one says yes or no to sex, but to management. Sexual conduct was an economic and political problem.
account for the fact that it is talked about at all. Debauched rich people were no good to the country.

Foucault is not denying that sex has been And now children had a sexuality, expressed and organized by school
prohibited, but he is claiming that repression is a architecture, the layout of dormitories and the introduction of disciplined
factor which brings sex into discourse. In other physical and spiritual education to keep their minds off sex.
words, we talk about repression - and sex.

sexuality was fragmentary

7" Over the last three "1 yet ubiquitous: demography,
centuries, we have witnessed biology, medicine, psychiatry,
a discursive explosion - sex
psychology, ethics and
being made to speak: the pedagogy
incitement to discourse.

From the Catholic confessions to Ricki Lake's chat shows, meticulous ri

of self-examination ensure that the vaguest sexual thoughts must be
brought to light and tracked down.

The Perverse Implantation Homospecies and the Etymology of Sex

The dispositif (apparatus) of sexuality refers to the relevant "Aberrations" like masturbation, homosexuality and sodomy are incorporated
heterogeneous body of discourses, philanthropic propositions, institutions -
by the medico-sexual rgime its focus being the bourgeois family milieu.
laws and scientific statements. The disposItif itself is the network that
binds them together. previously, homosexuality had just been a forbidden act. Now the

homosexual was a personage, with a case history, a childhood, and perhaps
a mysterious physiology. He was now a species.

discourse on perversion in
psychiatry was etymologized
by Richard von Krafft-Ebing
(1840-1902) and others.

What's wrong
with me doc?


gal sanctions against minor

perversions and sexual
deviancy became associated
with mental illness.

You're an
auto-monosexualist with
Christian morals and civil law performed this perverse Implantation. The sexoesthetic inversion and
deployment of normal and pathological sexuality had four objects: the a tendency to zoophilia. Take
hysterical woman, the masturbating child, the Maithusian couple (popula one of these every
growth), and the perverse adult. four hours.
20th Century: Reveal All! The Baudrillard Incident

Taboos and repressions were gradually lifted. Sex in the 20th century wea Jean Baudrillard (b. 1929), the transgressive French anti-theorist, published
re-conceived as liberation. Yet, at another level, we are still inciting sex ti a paper, dangerously entitled "Forget Foucault" (1977).
discourse. "People will be surprised at the eagerness with which we went
about pretending to rouse from its slumber a sexuality which everything -
our discourses, our customs, our institutions, our regulations, our
- to
knowledges was busy producing in the light of day and broadcasting
Foucault's discourse
noisy accompaniment?'
( is a mirror of the power
\... it describes.
Is Madonna the tail-end pop discourse of liberation and repression?

roucault places too much

emphasis on power as the full and
ultimate principle, even at its micro-
levels. Me simply reproduces its
effects. But power is challenged by
seduction - which can make it

My seduction theory is
more subtle. It can make power
collapse by using appearances
to seduce.

Fouciult blew his top. The

master's intellect had been

RecepUon to FOLJCaLJItS
But Baudrillard had done Foucault a
favour. By "forgetting" him, he had
book was muted. shown how the sycophants and
hangers-on were turning Foucault into
a senseless caricature!
Foucault's America sado-Masochism: Beyond Desire

Foucault was invited to the University of Berkeley, California, in 1975. Bath-houses, leather and sado- Discussing homosexual practice in
Foucault loved California. He lectured on child sexuality, repression and masochism Foucault indulged subsequent interviews, Foucault
"abnormal" practices - sketching out his last major work. But there were himself in New York and San said S & M was not an aggressive
Francisco. He later said that
pleasures to be had beyond the lecture theatre. He found time to relax in practice, but created new
the desert on acid and extend his use of drugs - an expression of bath-houses with 800 blokes pleasures - like golden showers,
didn't have an equivalent in scatology and fistfucking.
pleasure beyond sex.
the heterosexual community.
Tough on heterosexuals,

(3D reveals this whole
univocal and a-categorical mei
to be rainbow-coloured, mobil
asymmetrical, decentred,
spiraloid and resonating.
Far out!
the medical and naturalistic
notions associated with the
latter, and its label of
He was familiar with opium, cocaine, poppers and LSD. One trip was so
rough he nearly entered a New York police station to ask for valium and' He Visited the Mineshaft in New York's
was knocked down by a car while on opium. "Cocaine de-anatomizes the meatpacking district to conduct his
research. "S & M is the eroticization of power. Ouch - nice!"
sexual localization of pleasure - which is now everywhere in the body?'
Blindspots Child Abuse - or Consent?
Foucault -always ambivalent about the state and its power - was in
Foucault was more circumspect about the question of child abuse and the
by a government commission to advise on censorship and sexuality. In !
sexual, psychological and legal apparatus that controlled it.With teenagers
series of subsequent discussions, the questions of
rape and child abusq at least, Foucault claimed that they could seduce adults.
rape was a mailer of
were posed. Feminists agreed with Foucault that
violence rather than sexuality.

But we can't deal You are implying

your claim that our that certain parts of the,

demand for more serious
body (the sexual parts)
\ punishment for rapists is are more important than
N phallocentric.
. others.

The question of

young children is more

difficult. They should be

protected from their own


although the current climate was against adult-child relationships, he
was unsure about whether the law should intervene. His
position, at best,
Was uncertain.
Zen Techniques

He spoke in Tokyo on power and philosophy.

Philosophy could
power if the
philosopher abandoned his prophetic
role and began to think about

struggles rather
than universal 0 e5

To relax he went to tiny gay

clubs in Tokyo which only
held about six people.

The Iran Mistake Recidivism

Foucault's strategic politics found

an outlet with the Iran crisis. Black In 1980, Foucault helped to free Roger Knobeispiess, who had been
Friday -8 September 1978- had banged up in 1972 for allegedly stealing 800 francs. In 1976, he
seen the Shah's army kill 4,000 skipped parole, was again captured and accused of several armed
people in a crowd. Foucault adopted An Islamic robberies, and put in one of the new high-security wings. He wrote his
a journalistic role and flew in to " first book, which was prefaced by Foucault. He was pardoned and
government cannot
Teheran. "Intellectuals will work restrict people's rights freed to become a celebrity author.
together with journalists at the point because it is bound by
where ideas and events intersect'
religious duty. The people
will know what is
He thought a military coup followed
by a dictatorship would not happen
because Islam strongly opposed
state power.

The press talked of

the disastrous effects
of Foucault's whims.

He was now so
involved with issues that
he was accused of petitioning everything.
Was Foucault overreaching himself?
Against Socialism American Fame
In May 1981, the French elected the socialist
Franols Mltterrand
Foucault had achieved cult status in the USA. As visiting professor at
(1916-96) as President. Foucault's relationship to Socialism was torn
Berkeley, he lectured in his last years on key areas of his new interests,
apart by its refusal to act on the "internal affair" of martial law being
"Truth and Subjectivity". In October 1979, Foucault was invited to Stanford
declared in Poland. Foucault, sociologist Pierre Bourdieu
(b. 1930), university in Palo Alto, California.
writer Marguerite Duras (b. 1914), and actor Yves Montand
signed a petition. The Socialists replied that most intellectuals found it
Time magazine discussed this intellectual who needed police outside the
hard to stomach their election
victory of 10 May! lecture room to prevent overcrowding, but whose work was ignored by
traditional historians and philosophers.
Foucault later travelled to Poland in a minibus with members of
Modecins du Monde, with printing materials to
help the cause.

He was even accused,

through his work on

madness and
institutions, of being

responsible for
unleashing "bag ladies"
onto the streets!

such fun that I wet

myself laughing and had

to buy some more pants at
the airport.

C30SY~J(IchiaV ist R, D. Lail ig that schizophi enia ~s not

FPled A
witll 717 i'ashionable claims by EngJjs7l 77=710rnist

Back to the Enlightenment Towards Modernity

Autumn 1983, Berkeley. Foucault gives a lecture on Immanuel Kant's Wh What comes after the
is Enlightenment? In 1784, Kant saw the Enlightenment as a "way out" of Enlightenment? Is modernity
man's immaturity. For the first time, mankind was free from blindly obeyin its sequel? Foucault For the attitude
"'u e of
dogma or paying taxes. discusses the arch-modern modernity, the hihigh h value of
e French poet Charles the pr ent iis nd 1 0 ia~ble from a
Baudelaire (1821-67), who in desperate eagerness to
mdi2orimagine it, to
still have
his work strove to seize the imagine otherwise than itit I15,, and to
1magme it Otherwiotherwise to
a private duty, but they
"heroism" of everyday life - the
transform itit,, not by destroying
'11 g it,
are now free to reason
fashion of the present - in the but
ut by gr spi n g it
y gra
in public. This is a new
19th century. But it's not just Cpre5ent wt hat it is.
moment in history.
about seizing the moment.


e' It is in the reflection

on "today" as difference in history a modern relationship
and as a motive for a particular o 0ne5elf He makes

philosophical task that the novelty

ti himsel i a work
Modern man
doesn't try to find his
of this text appears to hidden truth - he invents

In the present day, Foucault says, man hasn't yet reached maturity and
perhaps never will. But a critical project remains, which means we must The relationship to the self
ask what we are and analyze historically the limits imposed upon us - should, therefore, be one of
so that we may transgress them! creative and Nietzschean
activity of giving style to one's
Foucault renounces the quest for truth and plumps for a critical strengths and weaknesses, and
engagement with the present. not trying to reveal a "true" self.
Against Foucault Pleasure and its Uses

German philosopher and heir to the Frankfurt School of Marxism,

Habermas (b. 1929), attacked Foucault in a 1983 lecture on the "Discourse In 1984. Foucault published the second vokime of the History of
of Modernity". He'd gone too far.
Sexuality- The Use of Pleasure. He takes us back to ancient Greek
culture and explores the way in which philosophers and doctors
By getting rid of the possibility of emancipation (from the analyses of considered rules of conduct in sexual activity. The texts of that time
oppression and repression in the works of Freud and Marx), Foucault had already shape individuals as ethical subjects - each mList question his
blunted and blurred any standard of truth. In Foucault's
writings, there was practices of the self. There are continuities with the modern era. and
no differentiation between knowledge and mystification
-just power and certain themes which persist even today

We still need the

enlightenment's ideal of a rational
critique of existing institutions, not just I'm a specc
negation. Foucault is neo-conservative, intellectual. I don't
because he supplies no justification for a stand as master of truth
theoretical alternative to advanced and justice, like you.
capitalism. Universal truth is a
mask of power.

Too much indulgence is a

'bad thing. 5exual pleasure, with its
intense satisfaction, ensures that people
will procreate, and while not bad in
itself, it can overshoot its objective.

- Desire can carry people away!

Some Greek Buzzwords Ethical Concerns

askesis - exercises in self- The big question Foucault wanted 1. Dietetics. The body and health,
chresis -the use and control through meditation, to answer was a simple one. How or lack of it. Dietetics are rules of
management of sexual activity. fasting and walking the streets in did sexual behaviour come to be conduct. Baths, walking, food and
Diogenes (d. 320 BC). the silence, raised the self to a conceived of as a domain of moral vomiting helped correct excesses.
Cynic philosopher. Used to
stylization of existence. experience? He tries to identify But exercising for its own sake
masturbate in the market-place
to show the public that
Antiphon the Sophist (c. 480- .1 fields of ancient Greek practices was frowned upon. The
411 BC): "He is not wise who ha where the "stylization of the self" environment and temperature were
sexuality was a matter of not tried the ugly and the bad; fo, was at its most marked. important in regard to sex and to
basic need. then there is nothing that would the body's "qualities".
enkrate,a - mastery of oneself - -
enable him to assert that he Aphrodisia sensual pleasures
to become a moral subject. is virtuous?' are characterized by three
Its a relationship with oneself.
ethical concerns in
Socrates (469-399 BC):
philosophy and law.

being temperate,
aster of himself, ruling thi
pleasures and appetites
within him.__..-.

/ No one should make

frequent and continual use
of sexual intercourse. This
was only suitable for cold,
moist, atrabilious and
flatulent persons.._/

2. Abstention. Renouncing sexual pleasure is seen as a form of wisdom -

as a way of accessing truth.

Households The Love of Boys

Homosexuality, as such, didn't exist in ancient Greece. Categories were

different. Love between the same sex and different sexes were not seen as
opposites. The type of sexual act was irrelevant. Loose morals simply
meant being unable to control one's desire for either women or boys.There
were not two kinds of desire - just two ways of enjoying pleasure.

I'm a catamite 2'

And if the a boy kept for
'husband sleeps arou homosexual
it won't be the pleas
that constitutes a thr
but the rivalry between
his lover and his wife,
and its effect on

r' While homosexuality

riaw, in -, was condoned by law, it was
Republic, likens la
a man's often treated with scorn.
government of himself to the Images of sexuality portrayed
running of the city's political the homosexual as effeminate,
N ponceyandvain. ,_./
The Relation to Truth

Sexual activity and its relation to

truth was developed primarily in
relation to the love of boys, not
women as later in the Christian
period. Truth was not phrased in is not the
relation to the object of love, but other half of him5elf that
to love itself, and to the soul. theindividual seeks in the
other persion; it is the truth to
which his soul i5 related -
hidden medium of
CIt his love..

Foucault's conclusion: the ancient Greeks' sexual ethics had inequalities,

but were problematized in thought as a relationship between the exercise of
a man's freedom, the forms of his power and his access to truth.
The Return of the Subject? The Care of the Self

Strange, isn't it? Despite all of in 1982, Foucault lectured on the hermeneutics of the subject
Foucault's attempts to get rid of (hermeneutics means interpretation). This concerned itself with the care of
the human individual, to see the self and Plato's dialogue Alcibiades, in which Alcibiades debates with
everything as discourse,
apparatus, power and
institutions, he still refers to the
most anthropological of themes:
sexuality, the self,
individualization and self-control
or will. Is he having his cake and
eating it?

Foucault's view of gay Antiquity

was not completely positive...

W (There was
too much realized
that he must care for
himself, if he

An obsession with subsequently wanted to

carefor others.
penetration, and a kind of
threat of being CAlcibiades
dispossessed of your own
energy ... All that is quite
I--_ disgusting! One must,
throughout one's
entire life, be
one's own project.

The Care of the Self became the title of Foucault's third - and as it turned
out, final - volume of the History of Sexuality. It focused on the first two
Foucault was totally against the notion that through sex you could
centuries AD in the Hellenic and Roman world - and the new importance of
discover the "true self" - hence his avowed anti-Californian stance
(despite the married couple, political roles and civic duties. The cultivation of the self
the fun he had in 'Frisco).
is a response to these changes in a new stylistics of existence.
The Cultivation of the Self Oneirocriticism: Looking at Dreams

Artemidorus (c. 150 AD) interpreted dreams in terms of a daily practice of

the self - not through moral guidance but simply through decipherment.
Sexual acts were not moral or immoral in themselves - but dreaming about
certain acts represented good or bad omens. "Sexual dreams foretell the
dreamer's destiny in social life ... they anticipate the role that he will play in
the theatre of family life, professional endeavour, and civic affairs:'

I had a
dream of 5ex
wa slave ...


If slaves dreamt of masturbating their owner, they would in real life be

sentenced by him to a whipping. Economics and the law are read off from
Getting Married The Political Self

In Rome, public authority took hold / You cannot Retreat into the care of the self does not imply
of marriage. Adultery was still an believe how much I miss the loss of a wider political, social or civic
ethical concern, but was now you. I love you so much, scene and the individual's relationship to it.
under the jurisdiction of public and we are not used to The commitment of self to this area needed a
power, not familial conduct. N separations. greater understanding of how to balance
Marriage was less an economic "withdrawal" with "commitmenf', in order to find
and political strategy than a the purpose of a man's existence in and out of
voluntary union for all classes - the home.
including slaves. It was not a
public institution, yet it entailed One's commitment to politics, to the trappings
obligations between the married of power and status, were no longer hard and
couple, isolating them more fast. Power was not about fulfilling duties to
effectively. The conjugal others and to the state, or being born into
relationship was born. power, but about governing the self (constant
work!) through reason.

V' Pliny the Younger 'N.

(61 - 112 AD) shows how
passion became introduced
as discourse in his letters to
his wife when he was away
travelling. This is
( particular to
each man, whatever
his political

The earlier
areek habitual
functions of privilege
and status are out - this each man
is a love thing! acquires his character
for himself, but
accident assigns his

This is a relational marriage - not just about power over oneself, but
relation to others.

The Body and the Self The Regimens

Medicine in Rome of the early Christian era was not just concerned with Foucault makes the point that although sexual acts were under a careful
illness and cure. It was a regimen of conduct in all areas: the house, bathing, regimen, they were not seen as moral issues. They were simply harmful
the environment, the time of day or season. One had to attend to oneself if improperly practised, according to Galen (131-200 AD), the physician.
and the state one was generally in.

The sexual act, of course, was an object of did not

interest in its relation to reproduction, want people to be
the pathology of excretion, I
completely prohibited
to death and diseases. from practising sexual
CGalen 151 el D

V' In violent attacks

of epilepsy, semen is
expelled because the whole
body, including the
generative part, is strongly
...._ convulsed. _./

5eual pleasures
and functions were

1. Procreation. Take care to prepare the act in body and soul. Allow the
sperm to gather strength and have an image of your child in your mind
before you procreate.

Sex was neither a duty nor an evil. Our sperm allows us to cheat death, and 2. The age of the subject. Pleasure must not be continued at old
age or
sex is natural; yet ejaculation is wasteful and weakens. Like sickness. begun too early. Girls must menstruate before losing virginity.

The Work of the Soul

3. The favourable time. The soul had a dual role to play in sexual practice. It regulated the needs of
Plutarch (46-120 AD) advised not the body, according to its tensions, and worked to correct errors in itself.
to have sex in the morning.
The body did not live up to the purity of the soul. In fact, the soul had to
obey the natural mechanics of the body and not overreach the body's desire.
The animal is the best role-model because sex follows the dictates of the
may still be ill-digested
body - of excretion and discharge - not the doxa or (popular) belief that
food in the stomach - all
pleasure is good.
the 5uperflUitie5 have not
yet been evacuated - -
Images phantasia are distrusted, as they can stimulate empty desires in
through the urine and the soul.
Satyriasis and nymphomania - the
male and female extremes of
overpowering sexual desire can be
overcome, if you take the advice of
Rufus of Ephesus.

7 Sleep on your
side rather than on
your back. That'll be
100 denarU please..

4. Individual
Constitutions should be
readied for sex through diet
(chick-peas for heat, grapes
for moisture) and exercises.

But no javelin-throwing: the

nutritive material goes to
the wrong parts!
- or a Nice Wife? Don't be Scared
Imperfect Boys

Plutarch's Dialogue on Love contrasts the love of boys with the love of The critical impact of the book A. 'That's hubris, that's excess.
women in marriage. The question: which one should one choose? In order was eclipsed by Foucault's The problem is not one of deviancy
to compare them, the debate assumes a common ground for love - a sudden illness. In a 1983 but of excess or moderation."
unitary erotica. interview with Paul Rabinow
and Hubert Dreyfus, Greek sex In Berkeley, Foucault discussed
Plutarch borrows from the love of boys its traditional Greek features - was discussed. AIDS with a student over coffee.
restraint and friendship - to show how they apply to the marriage
relationship alone. Q. 'What about someone who
had sex so much he damaged
Boy-love is now imperfect love. Why? his health?" nd jThi- t
Because the love of boys is
unharmonious: physical love
and true love are imbalanced.

Charis or consenting,
reciprocal, intimate love is
absent in the potentially
active-passive man-
boy relationship. The
old Greek idea of -'
restraint is not valid You too!
in this new ethics of Don't you be
mutual love. scared. A

Don't cry
w me if I die.

Foucault was bemused that the AIDS community turned to authority -

doctors and religion - for guidance. And further: "How can I be scared of
As Foucault put it: AIDS, when I could die in a car? If sex with a boy gives me pleasure
"The imperfection of
the love of boys prefigure Foucault developed a severe cough on his return to France, and
even our own morals." complained of dizzy spells and constant headaches.
The Death of an Author
He received visitors
and made up with
old friends, including
Deleuze. Foucault
even made plans to
sail to the South
China Sea to rescue
Vietnamese boat

On 24 June, Foucault's fever worsened. At 1.15

World of tennis
p.m. on 25 June 1984, Foucault died. He was 57.

All of Foucault's friends were present at his

funeral on 29 June, when Gilles Deleuze read
from the introduction to the Use of Pleasures.
A wreath was sent by Polish exiles. Foucault's
coffin was taken to Vendeuve-du-Poitou, where
he was buried. Foucault's mother lived another
two years.

Unfinished Work Foucault Dissected

Foucault refused to allow a fourth Guibert died in 1991 by suicide Foucault had always been dogged
volume, Confessions of the Flesh, with an anti-AIDS drug. In the by criticism. Here are some
about desire in the early centuries novel, Stephane is Daniel Defer generally negative views. His work is ",
of Christianity, to be posthumously and Marine is actress lsabelle
spectacular, but has little
published, as well as work on Adjani. historical accuracy and
Manet. Give it time
shows patchy research. Me
After Muzil's death, Stphane
just goes on instinct.
Herve Guibert's novel, To The finds a bag full of whips,
Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, handcuffs, leather hoods and
was supposedly about Foucault's S & M gear.
life (as Muzil") with AIDS. The
novel describes San Franciscan
houses where men sat in baths
which doubled as urinals,
A cancer that
cannibalized trucks which became
would hit only
"torture chambers", and
homosexuals, no, that's
Foucault's realization too good to be true,
of his fate.
I could just die

Response: He researched, but in a way that told of a less complacent and

more open view of history. He identified new problems, new approaches and
new objects for the subject

' -' The American "postmodern" philosopher, Richard Rorty (b. 1931):
Muzil adored
"Foucault subverts quasi-metaphysical comfort?'
violent orgies in
Criticism: He tries to be faithful to each age, relies on documents to
support his thesis, yet has contempt for objective truth. But he was the first
to claim that the evidence was on his side!
Foucault Loses Contradictions

The American Marxist philosopher If Foucault believes that truth and reason are simply effects of power, and
Fredric Jameson: "Foucault has that there is no ground -just discourse, the apparatus, institutions, etc. -
a 'winner loses' logic. The more then he loses, because he wants his theories to be accepted as true. How
powerful the vision of a total can Foucault be true and history not be?
system becomes, the more
powerless the readerfeels.
Any resistance seems trivial:'

you di5pense

with the idea of man as
Foucault doe5, what i5 there
to fight for? Even Hietzsche
optimi tic
a55 more OptiMi5tiC
than r7 0 u cault on
roucault 0 thi5
t I
COnce Doint.

ult 15is on
the horns 0of a dilemma: if
he is telling the truth about the too harsh o"
impossibility of detached truth, the enlightenment. Me saw
then all truth is suspect. But if this nothing good about the lath
7ft.-'w" Th.__ cerituIx its critical reflection
7 7j
It colours his view of modernity as well.
Naive Politics? Foucault In Memoriam

Richard Rorty: "Foucault's so-called anarchism is

self-indulgent radical chic Foucault has left a great legacy - but a flawed one. His increasing cult
- his
politics tied itself up with pleasure and a decentred approach to power. status and political over-commitment overshadow his academic contribution.
Power as such loses its meaning in his work."
Leaving aside his refusal to discuss the media, mass culture and things
less classically based, one can ask - did Foucault burn out?

Clifford Geertz (b. 1926),

anthropologist: "Foucault was an only took
impossible object - a non- three weeks to convert
historical historian, an anti- my book into the slogan,
humanistic human scientist, and a "Sexuality has never been
counter-structuralist structuralisU' repressed".

People have banalized his project.


5 death?
Lo55 of confidence in his own genius.
Leaving the sexual aspects aside, the 1055
of the immune system 15 no more than the
biological transcription of the
CFoucault nFhr nrnrcc

Endless "Foucault" conferences abound in the

soft political world of postmodern academia.
"A discourse on power and on the power of
discourse - what is more attractive to
intellectuals and humanities departments
who are embattled but are sick of dogma?"
Return of the Dead

Foucault's work is used dutifully So the Foucault industry is now

and unimaginatively by art also a discursive formation -
historians, feminist cultural although his ideas have lost the
theorists and political theorists of lustre of their 1960s and 70s
the disenfranchized Left. Far from radicalism. Foucault-speak
a liberation from reason, his work today is only used to prop up
has become a straitjacket. tired or politically correct
versions of history.
And he has often been too highly
praised. The man is almost a saint
to some thinkers. No wonder, when
his work superficially seems to fit
any inquiry involving knowledge or
power, while giving a convenient
methodological gloss to modern
and postmodern debates.
Is this what
Michel Poucault would
have wanted?

V l only
wanted to be a
Selected Further Reading

Works by Michel Foucault Critiques

Madness and Civilization - a History of Insanity in the Age of Reason; Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, Hubert L.
USA: Random, 1988; UK: Routledge, 1990 Dreyfus & Paul Rabinow; UK: Harvester, 1982. Concerned with questions of
The Order of Things: an Archaeology of the Human Sciences; USA:
Random, 1994; UK: Routledge, 1990 Foucault, Marxism and History: Mode of Production Versus Mode of
Information, Mark Poster; USA & UK: Blackwell, 1984. A Marxist response
The Archaeology of Knowledge; USA: Pantheon, 1982; UK: Routledge, to Foucault's version of power.

I, Pierre Rivire, Having Slaughtered my Mother, my Sister and my Biographies

Brother...; USA & UK: University of Nebraska Press, 1975
Michel Foucault, Didier Eribon; USA & UK: Faber & Faber, 1992. Contains
Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison; USA: Pantheon, 1977; photographs of Foucault and chums.
UK: Penguin, 1991
The Lives of Michel Foucault, David Macey; UK: Hutchinson, 1993.
The History of Sexuality Includes a comprehensive bibliography.
Volume I: Introduction; USA: Random, 1990; UK: Penguin, 1990
Volume II: the Use of Pleasure; USA: Random, 1990; UK: Penguin, 1988
Volume Ill: the Care of the Self; USA: Random, 1988; UK: Penguin, 1990

The Birth of the Clinic: an Archaeology of Medical Perception; USA:

Random, 1990; UK: Routledge, 1990

Death and the Labyrinth: the World of Raymond Roussel; USA:

Doubleday, 1987; UK: Athione Press, 1987

This is Not a Pipe; USA & UK: University of California Press, 1982 Chris would like to thank Zoran, Duncan, Richard and Toby for their help.

Zoran is indebted to all the anonymous cyberspace people for their research
Interviews and Essays and all the real people who helped or were patient with him.

Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-77,

ed. Cohn Gordon; USA: Pantheon, 1980; UK: Harvester, 1981

Foucault Live: Interviews, 1966-84, ed. Syivere Lotringer; USA:

Semiotext(e), 1989
Chris Horrocks studied Cultural History at the Royal College of Art in
Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selects Essays and Interviews, London. He is a lecturer in History of Art at Kingston University in Surrey.
ed. Donald Bouchard; USA & UK: Cornell University Press, 1980 He continues to live in Tulse Hill, South London.

The Foucault Reader, ed. Paul Rabinow; USA: Pantheon, 1985; UK:
Zoran ,jevtic is an illustrator and multimedia author from London. He is
Penguin, 1986. A very useful selection from Foucault's major works, with a
clear introduction. involved in animation, Internet publishing and music projects.
Also available from Totem





Michel Foucault's work was described at his
death as "the most important event of thought in
our century". As a philosopher, historian, and
political activist he most certainly left behind
an enduring and influential body ofwork, but is
this acclaim justified? Introducing Foucault
places Foucault's work in its turbulent
philosophical and political context, and
critically explores his mission to expose the
links between knowledge and power in the
human sciences, their discourses and

Chris Horrocks, whose most recent publication

is Introducing Baudrillard, explains how
Foucault overturned our assumptions about the
experience and perception ofmadness, sexuality
and criminality and the often brutal social
practices of confinement, confession and
discipline. He describes Foucault's engagement
with psychiatry and clinical medicine, his
political activism and the transgressive aspects
of pleasure and desire which he promoted in his
writing. Zoran Jevtic's inspired illustrations
give an added dimension to this fascinating
introduction to a major 20th century thinker.

Totem Books
USA $10.95
Distributed to the trade by
National Book Network Inc.
Punted in Great Britaki