File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9812, message 25

Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 06:22:59 -0500
Subject: Re: ADD the new onanism?

>Normality, per se, is a very vague term. Especially when one begins to
>look at it over time.  Is it normal to have a microwave? Is it normal to
>beleive in god?  Is it normal to take medications?  I think that the
>"enforcement of normality" is of ancilary worth until the "evolution of
>normality" is examined.  It sort of makes me wonder how less about how
>societies are becoming pathological, and more about why this is defined as
>pathological now, whereas something else completely was defined as
>pathological in the past.

of course, of course, this is standard Foucault.  I'm not sure you
understand me correctly.  We can look at this case in terms both of the
enforcement of normality, and the evolution of it (actually the normality
being sought here is not too radically removed from the standard normality
sought over the period of the modern world as a whole).  But it seems the
most important part of the issue is the pathological effect of the world
being "aswash with information and images".  The idea being, that these
kids are developing these hyperactive and low attention span conditions
because of the ways in which are societies are 'made up' at present.  The
interesting Foucauldian point--given his interest in the 'theory of police'
(which in essence attempted, as far as was possible, to provide a stable
and healthy environment for the existence of populations)--is to note
precisely how we move from a welfarist social environment to one that is
now (despte your definition) _pathological_, at least for these kids.  One
of two explanations can be put forward: 1) the notion of welfare no longer
matters to the State (which of course rings bells, certainly over the last
30 years or so).  The interesting question then would be become, 'by what
technologies beyond those of welfare does the State now ensure the good
order of the civitas?', or 2) States (and governments) really have lost
control, and are no longer able--even if they would like to--to ensure a
healthy environment within which populations can exist.  In short, it seems
to me that this issue raises interesting questions about both the location
of power and the specific rationalities of political power that operate at
present.  Coming back quickly to your last point, has it ever been clearer
that it is the functioning of society that is actually making people mad?


(1) I use this phrase entirely without perjorative content with regard to
'the mad', obviously.  The point I'm making is that pathological behviour
has rarely--if ever--been seen as a consequence of the normal functioning
of society.  Its root has always been elsewhere.  Here, in the case of ADD,
we have a far more direct--at least not as easily dismissed--link between
'the problem' and the everyday functioning of this information-overloaded
world we live in.


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005