File spoon-archives/foucault.archive/foucault_2001/foucault.0111, message 78

Date: Fri, 30 Nov 2001 13:06:39 EST
Subject: Re: But isn't 'cutting' too violent?


This has become an amazingly odd thread, at least given my comprehension of 

First, why is "cutting" inherently to be perceived as violent?  Are tailors 
and quilters, then, doomed to sharing the cultural/symbolic implications of 
Jack-the-Ripper?  As even children know, often one must cut things to make 
them more useful.

Second, I would urge caution in the habitus of recoil from "violence."  
Magritte's and Duchamp's (and, of course, Breton's) writings stress the 
importance of a strategy of violence in artistic work.  Not violence for 
violence's sake (as popular culture would likely be inclined to take it it), 
but as a form of useful aesthetic resistance to the practiced habit of 
perceiving objects of beauty and wonder.  Breton saw this as vital to the 
surrealist "movement" (in fact, he holds Lautremont and Sade as cultural 
heros);  Magritte and Duchamp had no interest at all in movements.  They both 
forcefully shrugged off the "surrealist" label at key points in their lives.

The "violence" entailed in cutting, it seems to me, is simply the practice of 
separation, a practice that is inescapable in embodiment.  In a life one 
cannot walk all paths, read all books, know and live the allness of 
everything.  One does not eat the whole cheesecake.  One must slice it first, 
and then eat until one is reasonably sated.  I fear what I see to be a 
tendency to discard the practice of the "either/or" in contemporary cultural 
theorizing.   At least with regard to the cheesecake, if my fear of cutting 
pervades my knowledge of it, I will either eat none (or give none away), or I 
will eat until I throw up.

With regard,
Frank Macke
Mercer University


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