·

·

What the Foucault?

Argikultuuri teooriad: Independent Work (Week 4)


Foucault, Michel 1986. Of Other Spaces. Translated by Jay Miskowiec. Diacritics 16(1): 22-27.
Structuralism, or at least that which is grouped under this slightly too general name, is the effort to establish, between elements that could have been connected on a temporal axis, an ensemble of relations that makes them appear as juxtaposed, set off against one another, implicated by each other - that makes them appear, in short, as a sort of configuration. Actually, structuralism does not entail a denial of time; it does involve a certain manner of dealing with what we call time and what we call history. (Foucault 1986: 22)
When Foucault says "set off against one another", I am thinking of binary oppositions... And how some structuralist-minded teachers still view human language as constituted by oppositions. Whereas for me, language is constituted by ambiguities. Words can be interchanged without a remarkable loss of meaning. But the words I do use - the elements I set into configuration, that is to say - reveal the discourse from which I'm writing, the discourse I'm relating with at the moment, and whom I am addressing.
In a still more concrete manner, the problem of siting or placement arises for manking in terms of demography. This problem of the human site or living space is not simply that of knowing whether there will be enough space for men in the world - a problem that is certainly quite important - but also that of knowing what relations of propinquity, what type of storage, circulation, marking, and classification of human elements should be adopted in a given situation in order to acheive a given end. Our epoch is one in which space takes for us the form of relations among sites. (Foucault 1986: 23)
define:propinquity - "The state of being close to someone or something; proximity." It is evident (as this lecture was given in 1967) that in the second half of the sixties, overpopulation was gaining ground as a real issue - whether it is a real problem or not today, it rarely surfaces in public discourse.
Of course one might attempt to describe these different sites by looking for the set of relations y which a given site can be defined. For example, describing the set of relations that define the sites of transportation, streets, trains (a train is an extraordinary bundle of relationships because it is something through which one goes, it is also something by means of which one can go from one point to another, and then it is also something that goes by). One could describe, via the cluster of relations that allows them to be defined, the sites of temporary relaxation - cafes, cinemas, beaches. Likewise one could describe, via its network of relations, the closed or semi-closed sites of rest - the house, the bedroom, the bed, et cetera. But among all these sites, I am interested in certain ones that have a curious property of being in relation with all the other sites, but in such a way as tu suspect, neutralize, or invert the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reflect. These spaces, as it were, which are linked with all others, which however contradict all the other sites, are of two main types.
First there are the utopias. Utopias are sites with no real place. They are sites that have a general relation of direct or inverted analogy with the real space of Society. They present society itself in a perfect form, or else society turned uposde down, but in any case these utopias are fundamentally unreal places. (Foucault 1986: 23-24)
Now I remembered that this article invented the word "heterotopia" ("places and spaces that function in non-hegemonic conditions"; "such as the space of a phone call or the moment when you see yourself in the mirror"). This is postmodern lingo at it's prime, but nevertheless interesting.
The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there. (Foucault 1986: 24)
I wonder if Winston's room above the shop is a heterotopia.
But these heterotopias of crisis are disappearing today and are being replaced, I believe, by what we might call heterotopias of deviation: those in which individuals whose behavior is deviant in relation to the required mean or norm are placed. Cases of this are rest homes and psychiatric hospitals, and of course prisons; and one should perhaps add retirement homes that are, as it were, on the borderline between the heterotopia of crisis and the heterotopia of deviation since, after all, old age is a crisis, but is also a deviation since, in our society where leisure is the rule, idleness is a sort of deviation. (Foucault 1986: 25)
This kinda explains Foucault's later work on the mental hospitals and prisons. He was investigating heterotopias of deviation. And of course how the "deviations" are socially constructed and used as a punishment.


Foucault, Michel 1982. The Subject and Power. Critical Inquiry 8(4): 777-795.
I would like to say, first of all, what has been the goal of my work during the last twenty years. It has not been to analyze the phenomena of power, nor to elaborate the foundations of such an analysis.
My objective, instead, has been to create a history of the different modes by which, in our culture, human beings are made subjects. My work has dealt with three modes of objectification which transform human beings into subjects. (Foucault 1982: 777)
Firstly, I realize that much like myself, Foucault had a definite goal in his research. Secondly, I also recognize that my goals are different from his. I am indeed (at least currently) analyzing the phenomena of power and foundations of such an analysis. This is indeed not my primary goal, but it is the one most prominent at the moment. With the concept of subject I have very little to do with, but in light of this paragraph I do understand why some spend their efforts unraveling subjectivity.
The first is the modes of inquiry which try to give themselves the status of science; for example, the objectivizing of the speaking subject in grammaire générale, philology, and linguistics. Or again, in the first mode, the objectivizing of the productive subject, the subject who labors, in the analysis of wealth and of economics. Or, a third example, the objectivizing of the sheer fact of being alive in natural history of biology.
In the second part of my work, I have studied the objectivizing of the subject in what I shall call "dividing practices." The subject is neither divided inside himself or divided from others. This process objectivizes him. Examples are the mad and the sane, the sick and the healthy, the criminals and the "good boys." (Foucault 1982: 777-778)
Firstly, my work involves the objectivizing of the behaving (or acting?) subject in semiotics. It is not the subject who speaks, neither the subject who labors (in the mechanical sense), nor the subject who is merely alive (physiologically). It is the subject who uses it's body to act upon the world, itself and others. Thus it makes perfect sense that Secondly, I concur with the notion of "dividing practices". This is the basic feature of all semiosic activity, according to semiotics of culture, in that the subject's world, the subject itself, as well as it's relations to others can be divided into Internal and External spheres. This is me or mine, that is you or yours. Svoi and chusoi.
Finally, I have sought to study - it is my current work - the way a human being turns himself into a subject. For example, I have chosen the domain of sexuality - how men have learned to recognize themselves as subjects of "sexuality." (Foucault 1982: 778)
And with this I agree also, although my interest lays in self-communication and individuality. Right now it seems that it has more to do with self-surrender and self-censorship than with self-subjecting (or self-subjectification?)
To sum up, the main objective of these struggles is to attack not so much "such or such" an institution of power, or group, or elite, or class but rather a technique, a form of power.
This form of of power applies itself to immediate everyday life which categorizes the individual, marks him by his own individuality, attaches him to his own identity, imposes a law of truth on him which he must recognize and which others have to recognize in him. It is a form of power which makes individuals subjects. There are two meanings of the word "subject": subject to someone else by control and dependence; and tied to his own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge. Both meanings suggest a form of power which subjugtes and makes subject to. (Foucault 1982: 781)
This paragraph made me recognize a road not taken: how people are identified or characterized, made subjects by observers and self-observation in respect to their behaviour and demeanor. "I am rude. Thus I do not belong to such and such group or cannot be part of such and such institution." In short, nonverbal behaviour can be basis for dividing practices.
As far as this power is concerned, it is first necessary to distinguish that which is exerted over things and gives the ability to modify, use, consume, or destroy them - a power chich stems from aptitudes directly inherent in the body or relayed by external instruments. Let us say that here is a question of "capacity." On the other hand, what characterizes the power we are analyzing is that it brings into play relations between individuals (or between groups). For let us not deceive ourselves; if we speak of the structures or the mechanisms of power, it is only insofar as we suppose that certain persons exercise power over others. The term "power" designates relationships between partners (and by that I am not thinking of zero-sum game but simply, and for the moment staying in the most general terms, of an ensemble of actions which induce others and follow from one another). (Foucault 1982: 786)
Surprisingly clearheaded answer: there is firstly power over things (bodily capacity), and secondly power between individuals or groups. From my perspective these two are intimately related: bodily capacities enable power between individuals to manifest itself. To put it in simple words, what I can do and say is in relation with what others can do and say. More exactly, my demeanor towards others influence their behaviour.
It is necessary also to distinguish power relations from relationships of communication which transmit information by means of language, a system of signs, or any other symbolic medium. No doubt communicating is always a certain way of acting upon another person or persons. But the production and circulation of elements of meaning can have as their objective or as their consequence certain results in the realm of power; the latter are not simply aspects of the former. Whether or not they pass through systems of communication, power relations have a specific nature. Power relations, relationships of communication, and objective capacities should not therefore be confused. This is not to say that there is a question of three separate domains. Nor that there is on one hand the field of things, of perfected technique, work, and the transportation of the real; on the other that of signs, communication, reciprocity, and the production of meaning; and finally, that of the domination of the means of constraint, of inequality, and the action of men upon other men. (Foucault 1982: 786)
This very paragraph was very influential for me in an estonian translation. The footnote specifies: "When Jürgen Habermas distinguishes between domination, communication, and finalized activity, I do not think that he sees in them three separate domians but rather three "transcendentals."
It is a question of three types of relationships which in fact always overlap one another, support one another reciprocally, and use each other mutually as means to an end. The application of objective capacities in their most elemental forms implies relationships of communication (whether in the form of previously acquired information or of shared work); it is tied also to power relations (whether they consist of obligatory tasks, of gestures imposed by tradition or apprenticeship, of subdivisions and the more or less obligatory distribution of labor). Relationships of communication imply finalized activities (even if only the correct putting into corporation of elements of meaning) and, by virtue of modifying the field of information between partners, produce effects of power. They can scarcely be dissociated from activities brought to their final term, be they those which permit the exercise of this power (such as training techniques, process of domination, the means by which obedience is obtained) or those, which in order to develop their potential, call upon relations of power (the division of labor and the hierarchy of tasks). (Foucault 1982: 787)
Quoted at lenght because surely I must return back to this very same passage many times again.
Of course, the coordination between these three typoes of relationships is neither uniform nor constant. In a given society there is no general type of equilibrium between finalized activities, systems of communication, and power relations. Rather, there are diverse forms, diverse places, diverse circumstances or occasions in which these interrelationships establish themselves according to a specific model. But there are also "blocks" in which the adjustment of abilities, the resources of communication, and power relations constitute regulated and concerted systems. Take, for example, an educational institution: the disposal of its space, the meticulous regulations which govern its internal life, the different activities which are organized there, the diverse persons who live there or meet one another, each with his own function, his well-defined character - all these thigns constitute a block of capacity-communication-power. The activities which ensure apprenticeship and the acquisition of aptitudes or types of behavior is developed there by means of whole ensemble of regulated communications (lessons, questions and answerds, orders, exhortations, coded signs of obedience, differentiation marks of the "value" of each person and of the levels of knowledge) and by the means of a whole series of power processes (enclosure, surveillance, reward and punishment, the pyramidal hierarchy). (Foucault 1982: 787)
Here Foucault is actually getting to the point I was so desperately seeking: that of the complex of capacity-communication-power. It is in a sense the "acquisition of aptitudes" (learning of a repertoire) which, among other things, enable one to use "coded signs of obedience" (silence and censor via nonverbal means, for example), and which marks the "value" of a person.
These blocks, in which the putting into operation of technical capacities, the game of communications, and the relationships of power are adjusted to one another according to considered formulae, constitute what one might call, enlarding a little the sense of the word, "disciplines." The empirical analysis of certain disciplines as they have been historically constituted presents for this very reason a certain interest. This is so because the disciplines show, first, according to artificially clear and decanted systems, the manner in which systems of objective finality and systems of communication and power can be welded together. They also display different models of articulation, sometimes giving preeminence to power relations and obedience (as in those disciplines of a monastic or penitential type), sometimes to finalize activities (as in the disciplines of workshops or hospitals), sometimes to relationships of communication (as in the disciplines of apprenticeship), sometimes also to a saturation of the three types of relationship (as perhaps in military discipline, where a plethora of signs indicate, to the point of redundancy, tightly knit power relations calculated with care to produce a certain number of technical effects). (Foucault 1982: 787-788)
It really pays to read and re-read Foucault. His example of saturation of the capacity-communication-power complex is exactly the one I deem most useful for dystopic fiction and similar areas: military discipline, where lines of command are redundantly evident. The analogy is not far drawn: in the Brave New World alphas, betas, gammas, etc. are differentiated to the point of redundancy by the colour of their clothes.
The exercise of power is not simply a relationship between partners, individual or collective; it is a way in which certain actions modify others. Which is to say, of course, that something called Power, with or without a capital letter, which is assumed to exist universally in a concentrated or diffuse form, does not exist. Power exists only when it is put into action, even if, of course, it is integrated into a disparate field of possibilities brought to bear upon permanent structures. (Foucault 1982: 788)
Power exists only in praxis. I wonder if Steven Lukes would here call Foucault too behaviouristic and claim his approach to be one-dimensional.
In effect, what defines a relationship of power is that it is a mode of action which does not act directly and immediately on others. Instead, it acts upon their actions: an action upon an action, on existing actions or on those which may arise in the present or the future. A relationship of violence acts upon the body or upon things; it forces, it bends, it breaks on the wheel, it destroys, or it closes the door on all possibilities. Its opposite pole can only be passicity, and if it comes up against any reistance, it has no other option but to try to minimize it. (Foucault 1982: 789)
That is to say, power is not force. Power involves influence, manipulation, communication. Power must rely on subjectivity, that is, as Foucault puts it, "the other" is "thoroughly recognized and maintained to the very and as a person who acts" (ibid).
The word "strategy" is currently employed in three ways. First, to designate the means employed to attain a certain end; it is a question of rationality functioning to arrive at an objective. Second, to designate the manner in which a partner in a certain game acts and what he considers the others think to be his own; it is the way in which one seeks to have the advantage over others. Third, to designate the procedures used in a situation of confrontation to deprive the opponent of his means of combat and reduce him to giving up the struggle; it is a question, therefore, of the means destined to obtain victory. (Foucault 1982: 793)
I should think these definitions over against the notion of "behavioural strategies".


Foucault, Michel 1995. Madness, the absence of Work. Translated by Peter Stastny and Deniz Şengel. Critical Inquiry 21(2): 290-298.
Perhaps some day we will no longer really know what madness was. (Foucault 1995: 290)
Oh, Foucault, Foucault, tsk-tsk-tsk, so naive. He comes off as a true believer in the beginning this one.
Artaud will beloing to the foundation of our language, not to its rupture; the neuroses will belong among the constitutive forms (and not the deviations) of our society. (Foucault 1995: 290)
I'm starting to think this has something to do with Madness and Society. Neuroses being constitutive of society reminds me of a quip from today's papers. A 12yo girl who was bullied at school was said to have a less developed sense of reality. This made me wonder how they came to diagnose this girl's sense of reality. Is there a reality-o-meter out there?
What will the technical support for this radical change be? The possibility that medicine may master mental illness just like other organic ailments? Precise pharmacological control of all mental symptoms? Or a more or less rigorous defnition of behavioral deviations for each of which society might be at leisure to anticipate the most convenient method of neutralization? Or still other modes of intervention, perhaps none of which will in fact suppress mental illness but which will all have the purpose of eliminating the very face of madness from our culture? (Foucault 1995: 291)
Don't be crazy, Foucault, that cannot be. I highly doubt if madness as such can be eliminated from any culture. With a sense of what's normal always comes the it's opposite, a sense of what is deviant from it, a sense of the abnormal.
Those who will be looking at us over their sholder will certainly not have many clues at their disposal to answer this question. Only a few charred signs: the endlessly examined, centuries-old fear of seeing the level of madness rise and submerge the world; the rituals of excluding and including the mad; and, since the nineteenth century, the alert ear bent on overhearing something in madness that could tell the truth about the human; the same impatience with which the utterance of madness are rejected and collected, the hesitation in recognizing their emptiness or their meaningfulness. (Foucault 1995: 292-293)
This sounds very familiar from his inaugural speech. The madman's ravings are listened to in search for some hidden truth and at the same time dismissed, because it is the speech of a madman.
There is not a single culture in the world where everything is permitted. And we have known for a long time that humanity does not start out from freedom but from limitation and the line not to be crossed. We know the systems of rules with which forbidden acts are to comply; we have been able to discern the rules of the incest taboo in every culture. But we still do not know much about the organization of prohibitions in language. (Foucault 1995: 293)
This is what I am interested in the nonverbal sphere. Goffmanian approach says that deviance is not-taken-note-off; once you fart in public, for example, it is the duty of everyone near to ignore the stench and the memory of it's sound echoing in their mind, repulsing them - because for goffmanians, the harmony of the interaction is important. How prohibitions such as this come to be (because 100% of human beings pass gas, for example) is interesting.
In the eyes of some unknown future culture - one possibly already quite near - we shall be those that have come closest to those two sentences never really pronounced, those two sentences equally contradictory and impossible as the famous "I am lying" and both pointing to the same empty self-reference: "I am writing" and "I am delirious." We shall thus figure next to countless other cultures that placed the "I am mad" near an "I am an animal," or "I am god," or "I am a sign," or yet near "I am a truth" as was the case in the entire nineteenth century up to Freud. (Foucault 1995: 297)
Or in case of Thomas A. Sebeok, I Think I Am a Verb.


Foucault, Michel 2009. Alternatives to the Prison: Dissemination or Decline of Social Control? Translated by Couze Venn. Theory Culture Society 26(6): 12-24.
he question of an alternative to prison typically brings to mind the scenario of a choice between different kinds of punishment, for example, when asking a child to choose between being caned or being deprived of dessert as punishment. It is a false or at least a loaded question since it in effect asks people to take for granted the existence of a penal regime that grants to particular individuals the right to punish people for particular things, and to consequently think about which system of punishment should operate: imprisonment or some other form of punishment? (Foucault 2009: 13)
This is a familiar theme: if you impose a question on some topic you are in effect reifying the matter of the question as something evident and given, which may not be the case after all. In this sense "How should criminals be punished" implies that criminals should be punished, it is merely a question of method.
What does it mean, this thing called punishment? Should one really punish people? (Foucault 2009: 13)
Spoken like a true (read: stereotypical) philosopher. Ibid: "What if ... we do not wish to be punished at all?" Seems rhetorical.
What, then, was the point of such a perfect prison if there is neither security nor rehabilitation? The Swedes immediately recognized this, and in 1973 they tried to elaborate a programme that would be an alternative to classic prisons. Its main features were that, first of all, these institutions were to be small establishments of 40 to 60 people, in which individuals, though forced to work of course, were not subjected to the usual kind of stupid, uninteresting, mind-numbing, humiliating, unpaid labour. It was proper, real, useful work, paid according to the rates applying outside, thus work that was, if you like, inserted into the economic reality of the country. (Foucault 2009: 14)
Ah! This almost sounds like a real rehabilitation scheme: small group of people, less social pressure (you can get to know one another) and opportunity to do something meaningful (remember that "purpose" is a driving force in humans).
Second, they were establishments which also tried to maximize contact between the individuals and the outside world instead of trying to eliminate such contact with their families and familiar surroundings. These establishments were designed with a number of rooms, rather like a small hotel or boarding house, so that the inmates’ family could visit and they could make love with their wives or girlfriends. (Foucault 2009: 14)
But this way the punishment is not vicious?! The prisoner remains a human! In Thomas Mathiesen's book it was evident that contact with the outside world was (at least in those Norwegian prisons he described) kept to an absolute minimum.
By playing a part in the definition of punishment and its administration, the individual being punished is made to take on the management of his own punishment. And this too is an old principle, which is that of repentence, tried out in the 19th century. The process of making amends was supposed to start when the individual begins to consent to his punishment, when he acknowledges his own culpability. (Foucault 2009: 16)
This I find interesting in relation to self-education. I am reading these texts as a form of independent work to susbstitute the lack of rigor in the official lector's presentation. The analogy between punishment and education is not one I would like to encourage, but I do find the case similar: I am participating in my own education, I accept the educational procedure to the extent that it will more likely be more productive than if I had stuck the "official" course materials (which are actually nil, in this case). I'm playing a part in the definition of education and I am taking on the management of my own education.
Recently, this has been tried out through the elimination of short-term punishment, of different lengths, as in Poland, Holland, or Germany, where a relatively widespread but more flexible and affordable, for the less well-off, system of fines has been introduced. There are also alternatives that rely on the temporary suppression of particular rights, like the right to drive, to leave a designated area, or the imposition of certain kinds of labour, but without confinement. In short, there are signs that one is trying to punish the individual by ways that do not include the incarceration of one’s body in one form or another of a prison. (Foucault 2009: 17)
This is extremely important, because Foucault pays attention to the body. The prison incarcerates the body, locks it into a restricted chronotope (time-space). The general tendency is to move away from the body towards detached forms of action, be it in criminology or in any other social phenomena. It's "Let's leave the body alone and focus on matters that aren't as crude or brute." But Foucault raises justified critique:
Yet, even in these forms of alternatives to the prison one needs to point out several things: they are all a relatively limited extension of the prison outside its boundary. Many of these measures, such as remission, or partial detention, are simply a way of delaying or deferring imprisonment, or a way of diluting the time of imprisonment over a whole period of one’s life; they are therefore not a system that abolishes detention. A fundamental issue arises therefore, which is that these new methods that try to punish without imprisonment are basically a new and more efficient way of re-implementing the older functions of the carceral that I noted earlier. (Foucault 2009: 17)
That is, these new alternatives are not totally detached. It is simply "extensions of the prison outside its boundary".
Of course one must not immediately conclude that what is being put in place through these seeming alternatives will be worse than the prison. It is not worse, though one must bear in mind that, in relation to a system of incarceration, there is nothing really alternative in these new methods. It is more a matter of the transmission (démultiplication) of the old carceral functions that the prison implemented in a rather brutal and inefficient way, so that they are now achieved in more flexible, free and also more extensive ways. They are all variations on the same theme of punishment through confinement. It is the same set of procedures for punishment that were in effect in the 19th century, whereby when someone commits a crime or transgresses in some way, his body will be seized upon; one will exercise total control over him as an individual, place him under surveillance, force his body to labour, prescribe behavioural schemas for him, and prop him up endlessly by mechanisms of control, judgement, rotation, and improvement. These alternatives to the prison are thus but forms of the repetition of the
prison, forms of the diffusion of the prison, and not its replacement. (Foucault 2009: 17-18)
Very thick passage indeed. On the one hand these alternatives seem beneficial but on the other they may be even worse than the prison. Yet again there are no easy solutions.
Does the penal machinery have as its aim not the elimination of illegalities but, on the contrary, the aim of control over them, of maintaining them in a state of equilibrium that would be economically useful and politically advantageous? In short, should penal politics not be understood as a means for managing illegalities? In other words, is penality really about a war waged against breaches of the law or simply a particular planned economy of crime? (Foucault 2009: 19)
Similar critique could be waged agianst any and all instutitons. Is the university an institution of education or simply a particular planned economy of stupidity?
The space of the prison is a fearsome exception to right and to the law. It is a place of physical and sexual violence; it is also, as we know, a place of ceaseless and necessarily illegal traffic amongst the inmates, between the inmates and the guards, the guards and the outside world, a traffic which is besides absolutely vital: it enables the inmates to survive, sometimes physically, and it produces a surplus that allows the guards to live through their intolerable situation. The prison is also a place where the management daily practises illegalism, be that only to hide from the judicial system or the higher adminstrative levels and public perception all the illegalities that happen inside the prison. One could add that the prison is equally the place where the police recruits its petty criminals, its informers, its hired hands, etc. (Foucault 2009: 19)
His examples of the ways illegality is managed profusely in prisons.
I do not know if criminologists can establish something like the rate of illegality specific to an institution, for example, the rate of illegality necessary for a school to function, or a bank, or the tax office. Each institution has its rate of illegalism which is necessary and sufficient for it to exist; I am sure the prison must have the highest rate. The prison is institutionalized illegalism. (Foucault 2009: 20)
I can think of at least one illegality in the universities: "intellectual crimes" or the constant breach of copyright laws which prohibit texts from being copied in any form. Without breaching this universities couldn't exist as such because knowledge would be very expensive to acquire. It is only due to the exchange of information made possible by the internet that some forms of study can even exist.
...this mythology constructed around the figure of the delinquent and the crime boss has naturalized the presence of the police in the midst of the population, a police which is itself a rather recent invention, appearing at first in France at the end of the 18th century and copied everywhere. This group of criminals, once constituted and professionalized, serves many ends, including as spies and informers in projects of surveillance as well as for carrying out illegalities that are profitable for the class in power, such as illegal traffics that the bourgeoisie prefer to delegate. So you see that crime and its professionalization has been the instrument for a good deal of economic and political gains. And it is precisely the prison which has been the instrument whereby the criminal is labelled, professionalized, recruited, circumscribed by that status and has thus become the target of an indefinite surveillance. (Foucault 2009: 21)
Haha, police as a group of professional criminals. This reminds me of the notion that the warrior class in the Ancient world was first and foremost a band of roaming hooligans, so to way, who fed upon the people they were at the same time protecting from "outside" coercion. Let us do what others would do just the same!
These are the questions about the general economy of illegality that one must ask of power, and, since one cannot expect an answer, the point is to analyse these questions. (Foucault 2009: 24)
Curiously good methodological suggestion for semioticians.


Foucault, Michel 2003. "Society Must Be Defended": Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975‐1976. Translated by David Macey. New York: Picador. [Ch. 11. pp. 239-264]
This is only chapter 11 (conclusion) from Society Must be Defended. Admittedly, it’s the most interesting chapter, in which Foucault introduces biopolitics and tries to sum up what he’s been saying about warfare. (worpress user jack brown)
A word from the sponsor (the uploader of this text).
It seems to me that one of the basic phenomena of the nineteenth century was what might be called power's hold over life. What I mean is the acquisition of power over man insofar as man is a living being, that the biological came under State control, that there was at least a certain tendency that leads to what might be termed State control of the biological. (Foucault 2003: 239-240)
Hence, biopower.
What does the right of life and death actually mean? Obviously not that the sovereign can grant life in the same way that he can inflict death. The right of life and death is always exercised in an unbalanced way: the balance is always tipped in favor of death. Sovereign power's effect on life is exercised only when the sovereign can kill. The very essence of the right of life and death is actually the right to kill: it is at the moment when the sovereign can kill that he exercises his right over life. It is essentially the right of the sword. So there is no real symmetry in the right over life and death. It is not the right to put people to death or to grant them life. Nor is it the right to allow people to live or leave them to die. (Foucault 2003: 240)
Symmetry is at least imaginable: in the Brave New World, people are bokanowskified to life.
The right of sovereignty was the right to take life or let live. And then this new right is established: the right to make live and let die. (Foucault 2003: 241)
We get it, Foucault, you like reversing stuff. I'm not sure yet what making live and letting die mean. In light of the last text, rehabilitation via family life and euthanasia?
...in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, we saw the emergence of techniques of power that were essentially centered on the body, on the individual body. They included all devices that were used to ensure the spatiial distribution of individual bodies (their separation, their alignment, their serialization, and their surveillance) and the organization, around those individuals, of a whole field of visibility. They were also techniques that could be used to take control oveer bodies. Attempts were made to increase their productive force through exercise, drill, and so on. (Foucault 2003: 242)
Serialization is taken for granted today [isikukood]. Drill is very much related to taking control over the body: the military line of command comes to mind.
Unlike discipline, which is addressed to bodies, the new nondisciplinary power is applied not to man-as-body but to the living man, to man-as-living-being; ultimately, if you like, to man-as-species. To be more specific, I would say that discipline tries to rule a multiplicity of men to the extent that their multiplicity can and must be dissolved into individual bodies that can be kept under surveillance, trained, used, and, if need be, punished. (Foucault 2003: 242)
Here I detect methodological individualism, or "not seeing the forest in the trees".
After the anatomo-politics of the human body established in the course of the eighteenth century, we have, at the end of that century, the emergence of something that is no longer an anatomo-politics of the human body, but what I would call a "biopolitics" of the human race. (Foucault 2003: 243)
Anatomo-politics surprised me, much like the notion of praxeosemiotics earlier today. Biopolitics, I imagine, is the politics of the biological constitution of human race.
Biopolitics' other field of intervention will be a set of phenomena some of which are universal, and some of which are accidental but which can never be completely eradicated, even if they are accidental. (Foucault 2003: 244)
I believe universal expressions of emotions to be a part of this set of phenomena biopolitics can intervene into. It is fairly restrictive, though, because once display rules enter the game, it is already out of biopolitics' juristiction. I wonder if emotional contagion fits biopolitics. I'm already stretching the meaning because biopolitics must deal with massified and general phenomena (and include mechanisms like forecasts, statistical estimates, and overall measures).
Sovereignty took life and let live. And now we have the emergence of a power that I would call the power of regularization, and it, in contrast, consists in making live and letting die. (Foucault 2003: 247)
In a sense, the overall "grumpiness" (for example) of a nation/culture/society/group could be a matter of biopolitics as far as it is regularized. cyberfeminism.net's page on biopower does claim that one of it's fields is "Production and manipulation of affect labor. Involves human contact, and includes bodily labor." (3rd "immaterial" labor of Hardt and Negri).
I would now like to go back to comparing the regulatory technology of life and the disciplinary technology of the body I was telling you about a moment ago. From the eighteenth century onward (or at least the end of the eighteenth century onward) we have, then, two technologies of power which were established at different times and which were superimposed. One technique is disciplinary; it centers on the body, produces individualizing effects, and manipulates the body as a source of forces that have to be rendered both useful and docile. And we also have a second technology which is centered not upon the body but upon life: a technology which brings together the mass effects of characteristic of a population, which tries to control the series of random events that can occur in a living mass, a technology which tries to predict the probability of those events (by modifying it, if necessary), or at least to compensate for their effects. This is a technology which aims to establish a sort of homeostasis, not by training individuals, but by achieving an overall equilibrium that protects the security of the whole from internal dangers. (Foucault 2003: 249)
If I'm understanding this correctly, then in Nineteen Eighty-Four the repressive system is based on discipline (not to do, say or think that which is forbidden) and in Brave New World it is based on regulatory technology (not to be viviparous or abnormal).

Argikultuuri teooriad: Independent Work (Week 5)


Foucault, Michel 2009. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977-1978. Translated by Graham Burchell. New York: Picador. [Ch. 11. pp. 256-283]
The word, obviously, is "conduct (conduite)," since the word "conduct" refers to two things. Conduct is the activity of conducting (conduire), of conduction (la conduction) if you like, but it is equally the way in which one conducts oneself (se conduit), lets one be conducted (se laisse conduire), is conducted (est conduit), and finally, in which one behaves (se comporter) as an effect of a form of conduct (une conduite) as the action of conducting or of conduction (conduction). (Foucault 2009: 258)
Here I relish the frenchy jargon.
Usually conduire, conduite, etcetera, would be translated into English by a variety of terms - lead, direct, guide, take, run, manage, behave, etcetera - as well as conduct. However, despite the resulting occasional awkwardness, since Foucault specifically draws attention to and exploits its two meanings in the French, in translating conduite I have often used the English conduct, and its various forms where normally another English word would be used. The meaning of 'conduction,' in both English and French (la conduction), seems to be exclusively scientific or technical. Foucault uses the word for the practice of conducting (the process of producing conduct), along the lines perhaps of his coinage 'veridiction' for the practice of truth [...] Finally, when Foucault speaks of "a conduct" (une conduite) the sense often embraces the activity by which some conduct others, the way in which individuals conduct themselves within this form of 'conduct.' [Editor's/translator's footnote on page 258]
A clarification.
I would like to try to identify some of the points of resistance, some of the forms of attack and counter-attack that appeared within the field of the pastorate. What is at issue? If it is true that the pastorate is a highly specific form of power with the object of conducting men – I mean, that takes as its instrument the methods that allow one to direct them (les conduire), and as its target the way in which they conduct themselves, the way in which they behave – if the objective of the pastorate is men’s conduct, I think equally specific movements of resistance and insubordination appeared in correlation with this that could be called specific revolts of conduct, again leaving the word “conduct” in all its ambiguity. (Foucault 2009: 259)
I think I have finally found the moment when Foucault spoke explicitly of the relationship of power and behaviour.
In at least some of these Gnostic sects, in fact, the identification of matter with evil, the fact that matter was seen, recognized, and qualified as evil, and as absolute evil, obviously entailed certain consequences. This might be, for example, a kind of vertigo or enchantment provoked by a sort of unlimited asceticism that could lead to suicide: freeing oneself from matter as quickly as possible. There is also the idea, the theme, of destroying matter through the exhaustion of the evil it contains, of committing every possible sin, going to the very end of the domain of evil opened up by matter, and thus destroying matter. (Foucault 2009: 260)
In baffling contrast what I think of as semiotic existentialism has to do with freeing oneself not from matter (or even energy) but from information, from semiosis.
And then, from start to finish, the English Revolution of the seventeenth century, with all the complexity of its institutional conflicts, class confrontations, and economic problems, allows us to see a quite special dimension of the resistance of conduct, of conflicts around the problem of conduct. By whom do we consent to be directed or conducted? How do we want to be conducted? Towards what do we want to be led? This is my second remark on the non-autonomous specificity of these resistances, these revolts of conduct. (Foucault 2009: 264)
Quite serious questions - to quote him from another text - the answering of which is perhaps impossible, but analysis of the questions themselves may prove valuable enough.
Desertion was an absolutely ordinary practice in all the armies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. But when waging war became not just a profession or even a general law, but an ethic and the behavior of every good citizen of a country, when being a soldier was a form of political and moral conduct, a sacrifice, a devotion to the common cause and common salvation directed by a public conscience and public authority within the framework of a tight discipline; when being a soldier was therefore no longer just a destiny or a profession but a form of conduct, then, in addition to the old desertion-offence, you see a different form of desertion that I will call desertion-insubordination. Refusing to be a soldier and to spend some time in this profession and activity, refusing to bear arms, appears as a form of conduct or as a moral counter-conduct, as a refusal of civic education, of society’s values, a refusal of a certain obligatory relationship to the nation and the nation’s salvation, of the actual political system of the nation, and as a refusal of the relationship to the death of others and of oneself. (Foucault 2009: 264-265)


I would just like to raise a problem of simple vocabulary. Could we not try to find a word to designate what I have called resistance, refusal, or revolt? How can we designate the type of revolts, or rather the sort of specific web of resistance to forms of power that do not exercise sovereignty and do not exploit, but “conduct”? I have often used the expression “revolt of conduct,” but I have to say that I am not very satisfied with it, because the word “revolt” is both too precise and too strong to designate much more diffuse and subdued forms of resistance. The secret societies of the eighteenth century are not revolts of conduct; the mysticism of the Middle Ages I was just talking about is not exactly a revolt. Second, the word “disobedience” is, on the other hand, too weak no doubt, although the problem of obedience is in fact at the center of all this. A movement like Anabaptism, for example, was much more than disobedience. Furthermore, these movements that I have tried to pick out definitely have a productivity, forms of existence, organization, and a consistency and solidity that the purely negative word of disobedience does not capture. “Insubordination (insoumission),” perhaps, although we are dealing with a word that in a way is localized and attached to military insubordination. (Foucault 2009: 266)
I am a jargon-lover, I have to admit. But this passage is relevant in other ways, too, than mere fancy of words. I'm readings this (and presently only this) chapeter from this book because it deals with counter-conduct. The first notion that I associated with it was "disobedience". Although this notion has a long history in all sorts of contexts and JSTOR offers countless articles on it, it certainly does not capture all of what is implied by counter-conduct. At first sight, these are: 1) diffusion and subtlety, 2) productivity and consistency. Disobedience as such seems to become disobedience when it is noticed, when the lack obedience is taken note of - it cannot remain diffuse and subtle if it is signified as disobedience. And secondly disobedience does ring a negative bell - it is couner-conduct that only says no.
...what we [call] “dissidence” in the East and the Soviet Union, really does designate a complex form of resistance and refusal, which involves a political refusal, of course, but in a society where political authority, that is, the political party, responsible for defining both the country’s characteristic form of economy and structures of sovereignty, is at the same time responsible for conducting individuals in their daily life through a game of generalized obedience that takes the form of terror, since terror is not when some command and strike fear into others. There is terror when those who command tremble with fear themselves, since they know that the general system of obedience envelops them just as much as those over whom they exercise their power. (Foucault 2009: 267)
This may come very handy when discussing Nineteen Eighty-Four which was written in light of the Soviet Union.
And it is precisely because the word dissidence is too localized today in this kind of phenomena that it cannot be used without drawback. After all, who does not have his theory of dissidence today? (Foucault 2009: 268)
It is perfectly understandable why the word dissidence cuts Foucault's tongue. But the last sentence is indicative that Foucault set out to be an "originalist" - there may be other theories of disobedience, dissidence, revolt, etc. out there, but I'm going to do my own thing and name my own discourse.
So let’s give up this word, and what I will propose to you is the doubtless badly constructed word “counter-conduct” – the latter having the sole advantage of allowing reference to the active sense of the word “conduct” – counter-conduct in the sense of struggle against the processes implemented for conducting others; which is why I prefer it to “misconduct (inconduite),” which only refers to the passive sense of the word, of behavior: not conducting oneself properly. (Foucault 2009: 268)
And this is what he comes up with. It is a language game, but a fruitful one, as counted-conduct really is different from misconduct. Even now I am already beginning to embrace it.
There is [also] mistrust of confession, which, until the tenth to eleventh century, was still an activity, a practice that could take place between one layperson and another, and which later, from the eleventh to twelfth century, was reserved essentially, exclusively to priests. (Foucault 2009: 277)
It seems that this commonsensical notion was effectively lost with the rise of pastoral power. Which is a pity initself because it seems valid social-psychologically that you should confess to your fellow layman, preferably a friend, and build trust and security this way


Davidson, Arnold I. 2011. In praise of counter-conduct. History of the Human Sciences 24(4): 25-41.
Security, Territory, Population (Foucault, 2007) contains a conceptual hinge, a key concept, that allows us to link together the political and ethical axes of Foucault’s thought. Indeed, it is Foucault’s
analysis of the notions of conduct and counter-conduct in his lecture of 1 March 1978 that seems to me to constitute one of the richest and most brilliant moments in the entire course. (Davidson 2009: 25)
According to this author, counter-conduct is the conceptual link between analysis of power/knowledge and power/subjectivity.
But this essential moment has been rather undervalued due to the fact that the main legacy of this course has been to give rise to so-called ‘governmentality studies’. There is absolutely no doubt that the practices of governmentality and the historically precedent practices of pastoral power studied by Foucault in this course open up a new and significant field of inquiry, both within Foucault’s own work and more generally. Yet one should not overlook the fact that pastoral power and governmentality are historically and philosophically contiguous in that they take as the object of their techniques and practices the conduct of human beings. If the ‘government of men’ is understood as an activity that undertakes to conduct individuals, ‘pastoral power’ concentrates this activity in the regime of religious institutions, while governmentality locates it in the direction of political institutions. (Davidson 2009: 26)
I'm almost sorry that I read about methodological individualism because now I'm seeing it everywhere I look. It also looks as though Security, Territory, Population set the stage for governmentality studies bot neglected the conduct aspect which could indeed relate discourse/power and individual behaviour.
One already sees here the double dimension of conduct, namely the activity of conducting an individual, conduction as a relation between individuals, and the way in which an individual conducts ‘himself’ or is conducted, ‘his’ conduct or behavior in the narrower sense of the term. (Davidson 2009: 26)
Methodological individualism, etc.
Furthermore, Foucault’s problem of vocabulary, his attempt to find a specific word to designate the resistances, refusals, revolts against being conducted in a certain way, show how careful he was in wanting to find a concept that neglected neither the ethical nor the political dimensions and that made it possible to recognize their nexus. After rejecting the notions of ‘revolt’, ‘disobedience’, ‘insubordination’, ‘dissidence’ and ‘misconduct’, for reasons ranging from their being notions that are either too strong, too weak, too localized, too passive, or too substance-like, Foucault proposes the expression ‘counter-conduct’ – ‘counter-conduct in the sense of struggle against the procedures implemented for conducting others’ – and notes that anti-pastoral counter-conduct can be found at a doctrinal level, in the form of individual behavior, and in strongly organized groups (Foucault, 2007: 201, 204). (Davidson 2009: 28)
Having read and quoted the way Foucault formulated the notion of counter-culture this is not surprising. What is noteworthy here that strongly organized groups (say, solidarity groups) are like individuals.
...the exercise of power consists in ‘conducting conduct’ ["conduire des conduites"]’ (ibid.: 1056). Next, Foucault draws a direct connection between power and government, again distinguishing government from political and economic subjection, and highlighting the fact that to govern an individual or a group is ‘to act on the possibilities of action of other individuals’, is a ‘mode of action on the actions of others’ (ibid.: 1056). Thus, according to Foucault, ‘to govern, in this sense, is to structure the possible field of actions of others’ (ibid.: 1056). (Davidson 2009: 28)
Having also just recently read "The Subject and Power" (presumably, "Le sujet et le pouvoir"), I find little surprising in this too, aside from the translation of "conduct of conduct" as "conducting conduct". The surface definitions of governmentality and power here are neat, though.
‘Eccentricity of conduct’ is Mill’s name for counter-conduct, and he strikingly opposes ‘originality in thought and action’ to the ‘despotism of custom’ (ibid.: 268, 272). (Davidson 2009: 31)
Davidson draws a similarity between Foucualt's counter-conduct and Mill's eccentricity of conduct, which is in some sense "peculiar" and "shunned equally with crimed".
I’m in favor of a true cultural combat in order to teach people again that there is no conduct that is more beautiful, that, consequently, deserves to be considered with as much attention as suicide. One should work on one’s suicide all one’s life. (Foucault, 2001m: 1076)
In discussing suicide with a friend who is a sociology student, I came to a similar conclusion: suicide letters should not be written in despair; they should be written clearheadedly and express the ongoing anguish rationally, justify the existential break in terms that can be understood more objectively (e.g. not subjective emotions and impressions, but arguments and examples).


Venn, Couze 2007. Culture Theory, Biopolitics, and the Question of Power. Theory Culture Society 24(3): 111-124.
Underlying the question of hegemony, therefore, is another set of questions concerning, on the one hand, the government of conduct and the problem of the correlations of security, territory and population in the context of the mobile and conjunctural production and reproduction of unequal relations of power (Foucault, 2004a), and, on the other hand, concerning the anticipation of a time to come in which such inequalities will have been abolished or altered. (Venn 2007: 111)
It seems to me that articles of this sort start out with their author's positions in the ideological space: their biases, hopes, and dreams. I wonder if this is a more or less hidden characteristic of all political (scientific) discourse.
On the other hand, the genealogy of the discourse about individual bodies and populations shifts from a focus on body as bearer of qualities – or as the already-territorialized body – to a concern with life, with biopolitics and their constitutive force. (Venn 2007: 113)
I believe this could be called the biopolitical turn.
Foucault’s characterization of governmentality, as we know, associates it with the new, pastoral form of power emerging from the 18th century in terms of technologies of the social operating as an anatomo-politics and a biopolitics. (Venn 2007: 115)
I notice the term "technology", which again I would link to techniques of the body, but Foucualt had very specific ones in mind, the anatomo-political and biopolitical variety. It is questionable how this could be linked to the "body politics" (e.g. Nancey Henley).
The two are not mutually exclusive, but are co-articulated and relayed by way of a new element: the norm. (Venn 2007: 116)
Venn is here making a move I would not dare to make: connecting disciplinarity of individuals and regulation of populations via the norm.
On the other hand, the new calculus of power sets up practices of resistance, which poses new problems for the theorization of counter-conducts – and for what some would still call ‘counter-hegemonic’ struggles. (Venn 2007: 121)
It is possible that much to do with counter-conduct has been written under the guise of counter-hegemony (or even, borrowing from Floyd Merrell - guerilla culture).
Lazzarato (2006), following Foucault (2004), differentiates between four types of counter-conduct that aim to ‘avoid being governed’, namely: escape,ruse, strategies of reversal and violent confrontation. (Venn 2007: 122)
This is actually a valuable clue. Yet it is nearly impossible that I could ever read Lazzaroto's unpublished paper in french (‘La discipline, la souveraineté et la biopolitique comme techniques hétérogènes de l’art de gouverner’).
For instance, as Lazzarato points out, counter-conducts have to respond to the fact that the government of conduct now operates through institutions and apparatuses of disciplinarity and security that have recruited mechanisms of resistance like trade unions, so that these opposional or dissident forces are made to participate in stabilizing the norms of ‘good conduct’. Similarly, the media, the university and experts act as relays in correlation with legislative mechanisms to form opinion and bring conduct back within the established order. Nevertheless, differences proliferate at the level of the lived, and events constantly introduce unpredictablility and instability. (Venn 2007: 122)
This is exactly what Thomas Mathiesen feared in his abolutionist struggles. The article ends with a neat discussion on the "informationalization" of power:


Foucault, Michel 1980. Power/knowledge: selected interviews and other writings 1972-1977. Translated and edited by Colin Gordon et al.. New York: Pantheon Books. [Chapter 3: Body/Power, pp. 55-62]
...in this superb set of essays and interviews, Foucault has provided a much-needed guide to Foucault. These pieces, ranging over the entire spectrum of his concerns, enabled Foucault, in his most intimate and accessible voice, to interpret the conclusions of his research in each area and to demonstrate the contribution of each to the magnificent -- and terrifying -- portrait of society that he was patiently compiling.
It's not a bad idea to include parts of official reviews with chapters read selectively from books. No doubt some day I should read the whole of Power/knowledge but for now it seems that this will suffice.
Is there a fantasy body corresponding to different types of institutions?
I believe the great fantasy is the idea of a social body constituted by the universality of wills. Now the phenomena of the social body is the effect not of a consensus but of the materiality of power operating on the very bodies of invididuals. (Foucault 1980: 55)
This is what I think to be extremely true. When Foucault says that discourse is power with material existence, I think this is what he means. That the materiality of power operates on individual bodies. I could go on saying that power "conducts the conduct" of these bodies, but the point has already been made and wider implications could be added later (with more closer attention to nonverbal behaviour).
As always with relations of power, one is faced with complex phenomena which don't obey the Hegelian form of the dialectic. Mastery and awareness of one's own body can be acquired only through the effect of an investment of power in the body: gymnastics, exercises, muscle-building, nudism, glorification of the body beautiful. All of this belongs to the pathway leading to the desire of one's own body, by way of the insistent, persistent, meticulous work of power on the bodies of children or soldiers, the healthy bodies. (Foucault 1980: 56)
This is fairly familiar. TO put it in later foucaultian terms, mastery and awareness of one's own body requires a relationship to oneself that involves the cultivation (gymnazein) of the body.
What course is the evolution of the bodily relationship between the masses and the State apparatus taking?
First of all one must set aside the widely held thesis that power, in our bourgeois, capitalist, societies has denied the reality of the body in favour of the soul, consciousness, ideality. In fact nothing is more material, physical, corporal than the exercise of power. (Foucault 1980: 57-58)
Exactly the contention I was already jumping ahead of.
I would also distinguish myself from para-Marxists like Marcuse who give the notion of repression an exaggerated role - because power would be a fragile thing if its only function were to repress, if it worked only through the mode of censorship, exclusion, blockage and represseion, in the manner of a great Superego, exercising itself only in a negative way. If, on the contrary, power is strong this is because, as we are beginning to realise, it produces effects at the level of desire - and also at the level of knowledge. Far from preventing knowledge, power produces it. If it has been possible to constitute a knowledge of the body, this has been by way of an ensemble of military and educational disciplines. It was on the basis of of power over the body that a physiological, organic knowledge of it became possible. (Foucault 1980: 59)
This is where I find my seminar paper incomplete, because I only took notice of silencing and immobilizing, neglecting the productive side of power.
The archaeology of the human sciences has to be established through studying the mechanisms of power which have invested human bodies, acts and forms of behaviour. (Foucault 1980: 61)
As much as I like this idea and see the evident similarity with my own work (nonverbalist reading of the human sciences) it tells me little to nothing else than merely stating the congeniality.
Take the example of philanthrophy in the early nineteenth century: people appear who make it their business to involve themselves in other people's lives, health, nutrition, housing; then, out of this confused set of functions there emerge certain personages, institutions, forms of knowledge: public hygiene, inspectors, social workers, psychologists. And we are now seeing a whole proliferation of different categories of social work. (Foucault 1980: 62)
This passage made me think if a suitable field to do my analysis in rests in the "body language experts" themselves, e.g., people who teach how to use body language, conduct seminars etc. The frightening thought in this is the aspect of institutionalization. Right now there are only single individuals who make their claim for fame by doing this, yet it is not possible that one day there will be institutions or groups of "body language watchdogs".


Punday, Daniel 2000. Foucault's Body Tropes. New Literary History 31(3): 509-528.
Describing the body as a site allows critics like de Lauretis to achieve certain critical and analytical goals; it provides a trope, I will argue, through which critics can make particular arguments and claims. (Punday 2000: 509)
That is, "the body as a nexus of power" is a trope. I have dismissed this word thus far, but cannot any longer. A trope is "A figurative or metaphorical use of a word or expression." Welp, not much help, but yeah, okay, trope is a word.
In this article, I would like to analyze Foucault's body trope and to investigate the rhetorical problems that it raises for critics who appropriate it as an "instrument." I will ultimately argue that we should place Foucault's body trope into the tradition of the body politic, and should recognize that contemporary critics encounter many of the same problems raised yb that traditional trope. (Punday 2000: 510)
Nooooo! Don't place it into the tradition of the body politic! Please, no, don't reverse Foucault's work and return to sovereign power.
Foucault treats the normalized body as a spatial "site" because normalization depends on space to order and differentiate individuals. The individual elements of the body are subjected to the spatial differentaition typical of the disciplinary system. Disciplinary machinery, Foucault writes, works "on the principle of elementary location or partitioning. Each individual has his own place; and each place its individual" (DP 143). Discipline analyzes tasks and even gestures into building-block movements. One of the clearest examples of this articulation of the body and its movements into basic elements is military training. Foucault describes the "instrumental coding of the body": "It consists of a breakdown of the total gesture into two parallel series: that of the parts of the body to be used (right hand, left hand, different fingers of the hand, knee, eye, elbow, etc.) and that of the parts of the object manipulated (barrel, notch, hammer, screw, etc.)" (DP 153). (Punday 2000: 511)
I was afrait this article is going to talk about the State, but instead thus far it has gone very appealing route for me: not surprisingly I have gathered a rather large amound of jargon to approach instrumental activity and the manipulation of objects (or "extensions of the body"). This article might even be useful, insofar as it can point me specific pages in Discipline and Punish, for example, that deal with this.
Thus, discipline does not merely evaluate individuals according to norms; it also breaks individual bodies down into basic elements to better evaluate and train them to obey this norm. This spatial organization of the body is essential to the theory of power that Foucault develops in the middle of his career. Indeed, it is only when Foucault speaks of power in Discipline and Punish that he uses the language of "inscribing" the body. Foucault remarks that "the body is also directly involved in a political field; power relations have an immediate hold upon it; they invest it [ils l'investissent], mark it [le marquent], train it, torture it, force it to carry out tasks, to perform ceremonies, to emit signs." Foucault uses the language of "investing" and "marking" to emphasize the way in which power affects the body from the outside. (Punday 2000: 512)
The languag of bodily inscription actually confuzed me in Judith Butler's articles on Foucault. The relationship between power and body that I currently hold is that of forcing it to carry out tasks (in this way power "produces" via the body, as well as produces the body itself). There is much more to the story, it merely requires one to put the pieces together in some way.
Kevin Jon Heller notes Foucault's claim that power is always "both intentional and nonsubjective" (HS 94), which heunderstands to mean that "a social formation's mechanisms of power are always supra-individually structured." The link between extra-personal power and the language of bodily inscription is particularly clear when we note the relative absence of these metaphors in the work of Foucault's last period. (Punday 2000: 512)
And in baffling clarity, this little pieceof information may help me to unite semiotics of culture, power, and nonverbal communication in one simple swoop: culture - the supra-individual system of signs - structures the actions of body. Very obvious, but comes with numerous implications I'm not yet ready to articulate.
The spatial language of Foucault's body site, developed earlier in his career, depends on the belief that power originates beyond the individual. Foucault figures the body as a site, then, both because the body participates within a disciplinary apparatus of spatial differentiation and because power functions beyond the control and intentions of individual subjects. (Punday 2000: 512)
In short, power is a social phenomenon.
..."The body is the inscribed surface of events (traced by language and dissolved by ideas)..."... (NG 148).
I had to tear this sentence out of it's context because it suits perfectly into my discussion on the relationship of language and nonverbal behaviour. The body itself is the "surface of events", language describes these events and ideas... Well, there could be many variants, but currently I would say it "identifies these events with other ideas and dissolves the actual event." The sentence originates from Foucault, M. (1984). Nietzsche, Genealogy, History. In P. Rabinow (Ed.), The Foucault Reader (pp. 76-100). London: Penguin Books. One website offers an alternative translation from French: "The body is the inscribed surface of events (traced by language and dissolved by ideas)..." The paragraph itself goes on and the ultimate conclusion is that "Its [genealogy] task is to expose a body totally imprinted by history and the process of history's destruction of the body." Thus, the relationship between history of ideas and the body. Alternative translation of this very same sentence goes: "It must show a body totally inscribed by history, and history destroying the body." Very interesting indeed.
The imprinted body provides FOucault with a text that can be read torstand historical changes. These changes specifically concern the transformation of the laws according to which individuals are supposed to interact; Foucault proposes "[a] genealogy of values, morality, asceticism, and knowledge" (NG 144). The body in this sense is the site in which historical changes can be observed in the codes for social behavior and perception. (Punday 2000: 514)
This is really valuable insight for my first article on the relationship of body and text. Dayum.
The fact that the body is a palimpsestic space, in this sense, enables Foucault to observe the discursive conflicts that are the hallmark of his historical analysis. And yet, as readers of Foucault will concede, the body itself never provides an actual text that is interpreted. All of Foucault's work ultimately discusses books that describe bodies; at no point does it actually observe physical bodies. As Frances Bartkowski remarks, "this focus on the body is explored by Foucault through some representative texts, that is, through language." (Punday 2000: 514)
dafine:palimsest - "A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book that has been scraped off and used again." It is weird to recognize myself - in this minor way - in Foucault. My subject matter is what is said about body language, not actual behaviour itself.
In suggesting that Foucault's body site is a trope used in his analysis of the history of social ordering, I am placing Foucault's theory into a long tradition of writing which uses the body to represent social relationships. The trope of the "body politic" is a way to establish the "natural" interrelation between individual and institutions. (Punday 2000: 514)
Okay, perhaps my denial of the "body poltic" approach was unjustified. Surely there are other ways to establish the "natural" interrelation between individuals and institutions, and I prefer the "body poltics". I think this is the first instance in my work when a single plural "s" marks two completely different discourses (political holism like that of Hobbes / nonverbal communication and power).
A king might be understood to have the "two bodies" of Kantorowicz's title in the sense that the frailties and morality of his "body natural" must be distinguished categorically from his "body politic," which is timeless, perfect, and ultimately owned by no one - not even the king himself. The idea that the king embodies the whole society leads quite naturally to the best-known use of the "body politic" - as a way to speak about the unity of the whole society. One of the classic examples of the body used to symbolize the society is provided by Thomas Hobbes at the outset of Leviathan... (Punday 2000: 515)
Yup, this kind of metaphorical "body poltic" I detest.
Foucault argues for a notion of dispersed power functioning through many individuals, a notion that the traditional body politic denies. (Punday 2000: 516)
Yup.
When discussing the doctrine that individualsubject are responsible to sacrifice themselves for the good of the country embodied in the king, the initial metaphor is what Kantorowicz calls "organological" - that is, based on the association with a body composed of a head and members (KT 209). This meraphor "dictates that all limbs of the body not only be directed by the head and serve it, but also be willing to exposed themselves for the head" (KT 256). (Punday 2000: 523)
This is a neat metaphor, because is describes the logic of top-down ruling very well: those on the top are the most important leaders, and those on the bottom must die (be exposed) for the top to survive.

1 comments:

lyhiyhendus said...

Hullusest rääkides ... äkki on asi selles, et õige pea me võib-olla ei tunne enam Hullust (madness), vaid kõigest hulluse vorme, erinevaid väikeseid häireid, mida on võimalik tablettide ja enesetehnikate kaudu kontrollida. Selles mõttes võib küll Hullus kaduda, mida peenemaks muutuvad ravi- ja võimutehnikad.

Tänud leidude ees!
Ott

Post a Comment