File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9804, message 53

Date: Sun, 19 Apr 1998 15:38:41 +0000
Subject: Re: Foucault and Bathouses

The recent discussion on Foucault and bathhouses made me grab for Miller's biography. The 
strongest statement on Foucault's frollic with death that appears in Miller's book ends with a 

"...putting his body on the line one last time in a shocking but stangely lyrical, strangely 
logical act of Passion, perhaps mad, perhaps-yet also perfectly fitting. Perhaps." p. 369

These are, of course, dangerous perhapses, and I would tend to agree with David Halprin that if 
James Miller wants to discuss such excesses,  a philosophical biography with voyeuristic 
connotations is probably not the best venue to work in. Moreover, the danger of this kind of 
speculation is evidenced by precisely the slip that Dave has allowed. Dave's post has shown us 
that the distance from a corageous and irresponsible "perhaps" to a pathologizing "common 
knowledge" is not far. I wish both Dave and Miller would take note of this. 


Samuel A. Chambers wrote:
> On 4/17/98 3:59pm, writes:
> >At 02:00 PM 4/17/98 -0500, you wrote:
> >>This is in reference to Dave's homophobic, idiotic statement that
> >>Foucault hung out in bathouses infecting people.  Precisely, what
> >>fucking evidence do you have?  Bill D.
> >
> >My goodness. I thought this was common knowledge.  As
> >I recall, this was from a magazine interview/article at
> >the time.  I will try to find a reference for you.
> >
> >However, my statement was not based on "homophobia"
> >or a fear of sameness.  In my pre-Nietzschean ethical
> >system it is questionable to have unprotected sex when
> >you have a fatal communicable disease--irregardless of
> >your sexual orientation.
> >
> No, the last thing this claim is, is "common knowledge."  Even Miller's
> pathologizing biography of Foucault--which treats the issue in some
> detail--came to the conclusion that Foucault NEVER knowingly had
> unprotected sex with the idea of spreading the HIV virus.  There is no
> evidence (and Foucaul't three biographers amass a wealth of evidence on
> his life) whatsoever that Foucault knew he was infected with HIV while he
> was frequenting the bath houses in San Francisco (remember, the very
> early 80's was a time when VERY little was known about HIV/AIDS).  This
> topic has been discussed at length in a number of different outlets, and
> some would like to argue that Foucault must have had some idea that he
> was sick, but there is no evidence that he intentionally harmed anyone.
> To claim such a thing and then state that it was "common knowledge"
> seems, at the least, irresponsible, to me.  I don't know about much about
> your "pre-Nietzschean ethical system," but I question the idea of
> slandering someone based on something that might have been said at the
> time.
> Sam


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