File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2000/foucault.0011, message 40

Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 14:24:32 +1100 (EST)
Subject: Re: Quick Quick

>I quoted in my last post Burchell's statement, "It is in the name of our
>governed existence as individual living beings, in the name of our health,
>of the development of our capabilities, of our ethnicity, of our gender, of
>our forms of insertion into social and economic life, of our age, of our
>environment, of particular risks we may face and so on, that we both revile
>and invoke the power of the state" (Foucault Effect, 145).
>The essay basically ends right after that. In what light do you think he is
>trying to cast this? Favorable? Dispassionate?

the list of invocations (as justices -- health, race, etc.) seem to be
contradictory: they affirm as extant principles (realities) what are really
only abstract possibilities; by "speaking" and "confirming" these
potentials, the list is invested with material existence; hence this is a
passionate call for justice and difference, for "existencies" (?) that are
taken for granted -- hence this a moral position, a declaration of faith.

the "revile and invoke" indicates a fatal tension: that the power, the
regulations and regularities which create the inequalities -- inequalities
herein unstated, but which would render "the list" pointless if they were
not pronounced and well entrenched -- are the same forces and strategies
called upon to remedy the situation. So then why wouldn't injustice, being
equal, prevail as often, and if justice prevails, why wouldn't it then be
undone? These questions are avoided. Instead "revile and invoke" can also
be read as a call for the state to change its old ways. The declaration of
faith manages to survive.

in the quote the author neither directly confirms the abstraction of
justice, the materiality of injustice, or the ubiquity and ambivalence of
power, or the relationship between the three; to enter this territory puts
faith at risk; instead, the author declares their passion for justice and
only hints at their frustration with the mechanisms for achieving it -- its
a sort of alternation of passionate despair (as hope not wanting to give
in) and dispassionate angst (that momentarily creeps in during quiet
reflection) - where despair, dispassion and angst play only a minor role.

Foucault was a master at this.


>"Thought is no longer theoretical. As soon as it functions it
>offends or reconciles, attracts or repels, breaks, dissociates,
>unites, or re-unites; it cannot help but liberate and enslave.
>Even before prescribing, suggesting a future, saying what must
>be done, even before exhorting or merely sounding an alarm,
>thought, at the level of its existence, in its very dawning, is
>in itself an action--a perilous act."
>           -Michel Foucault


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