File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_1998/foucault.9812, message 75

Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 10:41:45 -0600
Subject: Re: Foucault and AIDS

The issue of the relation of Foucault's flesh (I prefer to avoid the term
"sexuality" precisely because of the insights Foucault has given me in that
regard) to his work has always interested me, because I suspect (on no
empirical basis whatsoever) that there is yet another way to view the
matter.  I would like to try this out on the group.  I believe that
Foucault's fleshly appetite is very important to the work he produced, but
for a much more commonplace reason than those adduced by Miller or rejected
by Miller's critics.

Foucault grew to adulthood as a "pervert" and died as an "orientation"; his
appetites were transgressive in his youth, "normal" in his later years.
During his most productive years, discursive formations that dealt with
"homosexuality" underwent massive fracture.  To what extent might the
personal experience of watching himself redefined and recategorized
throughout his working lifetime have contributed to the insights that
brought us the work on madness, prisons, and medicine....never mind the
obvious question of the history of sexuality or the more speculative
archeological and genealogical writing?   I've read Macey, Eribon and
Miller, but do not recall this particular "spin" displayed with any
importance in any of the books.  Is the point so obvious as to be beneath
mention...or what?  Curious to know what others might think.

At 09:16 AM 12/16/98 +0000, you wrote:
>Well, being picky, you cannot 'die of aids'. At most, you can die from
>opportunistic infections as a result of AIDS. But I guess that's beside the
>point. More to the point is the suggestion that his lifestyle contributed to
>his death. Well, it might have done, but it doesn't really matter if he
>slept with 100 men or 1 man, or 1 woman. You only need to be infected with
>HIV from one person. This attitude of the Oxford Dictionary falls into that
>old trap of suggesting gay men in the 80s were swimming around in a trough
>of their own sordid desires, and that they got their just desserts. HIV
>awareness and education has tried (at least relatively successfully) to
>dispel this prejudice/myth and put things on a more balanced level.
>James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault, tries to draw parallels
>between the life and the work of Foucault, suggesting all sorts of things
>about F's sex life. Apart from mistakes, much of this is quite dubious. More
>plausible, and certainly more philosophically sound, is David Macey, The
>Lives of Michel Foucault or Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault (which doesn't
>really talk about sex at all, as I recall). A response by a gay writer is
>David Halperin, Saint Foucault.
>I guess the inevitable question is, does it matter? Foucault's work on
>sexuality is obviously informed by his personal life, but his reputation as
>a thinker was there before this work began to be published. To be honest,
>whatever its merits, to me it is his least satisfactory work.
>By the way, what is meant by the subject/abject distinction? Who is this
>taken from? Sounds a bit of a poor joke, and a poor criticism of Foucault.
>Best wishes
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
"Clinton's crimes are incestuous: He makes the whole world his family and
then seduces and pollutes it, person by person"--Paglia              


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