File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9810, message 73

Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 17:04:55 +1100
Subject: Re: Kundera & the Death of the Author

I think think that what Kundera was drawing upon was Husserl's analysis of
European Philosophy heading down the direction of the "forgetting of being". 
I would beg to differ on a number of points:
1. You refer to "the arrogance of having arrived" as if to say Foucault is
liberating the world from this yoke of arrogance. Much on the contrary.
'Postmodern' elation at the "openness of being" is an elation only reserved
to an specific intelligentsia. It is not liberating for those who do not
have the education to access Foucault etc. it is not liberating for those
who do not perceive the threat of discourse as more important to their
survival than anything else. To my mind, much arrogance lies in Foucault

2. Most modern novels may have ends, but that is not the sole purpose of a
novel, ie to end.

3. As to any apprehension about postmodernism being a "loose and
conmfortable term". I would suggest that it is a means through which
avant-garrde intellectuals can justify their existence. It is most
convenient for those who themselves are "postmodern" because it defies


At 22:48 27/10/98 -0500, you wrote:
>>It seems that Milan Kundera, in his non-fiction work "The Art of the
>>Novel", criticises the "frivolities" of Barthes, Foucault et al for
>>misconceiving the novel. He argues, does he not, that the novel has an
>>inherent "spirit" about it, a spirit of uncertainty. By placing the novel
>>on the same playing field as everything else in life (in fact by reducing
>>it to an intersection of discourses), the novel is forgotten. Kundera sees
>>this as part of the "forgetting of being" that postmodernism is all about.
>I am reminded of the disappearance of the serial novel; those of Dickens in
>particular (i.e., the novel that would be written as an ongoing newspaper
>serial, potentially unending, save the final interval of the actual "death
>of the author").  Wasn't this an exercise in writing in plateaus?  All to
>the good if postmodernism (a loose and horribly comfortable term)
>encourages the "forgetting of being".  If through Deleuze, Foucault,
>Barthes or whoever I can find the possibility of _becoming_, as opposed to
>the arrogance of having arrived (Being), I rather say that I'm for that.  A
>being more present than Being; a spirit at once certain and uncertain.  If
>Kundera is actually looking for open-endedness he might well find more of
>it in Foucault, who at least try to keep the question of Being open
>to negotiation.  Per contra, most modern novels have ends.
>best wishes/sincerely,
>Ian Robert Douglas,
>Associate Lecturer & Fulbright Fellow,
>Watson Institute of International Studies,
>Brown University, Box 1831,
>130 Hope Street,
>Providence, RI  02912
>tel: 401 863-2420
>fax: 401 863-2192
>"Great is Justice;
>Justice is not settled by legislation and laws
>     it is in the soul .. " - Walt Whitman


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