[eDebate] dance dance revolution
Mon Jun 29 20:52:36 CDT 2009
yes, i suppose it's pretty stupid to judge harshly an introductory lecture
on foucault for failing to mention marx in the first 36 minutes (especially
when jon doesn't cite nietzsche or heidegger either in that time). i've
also been unable to watch after the 36 minute-mark to see if he ever
does. for those interested, i have appended some more notes to jon's
lecture here: http://www.cross-x.com/vb/showthread.php?p=1734006
-- i am in complete disagreement, however, that the "knowledge of his
audience" (stroube's coded language for 'dumb high school kids') ought
to compel us to overlook errors: structuralism and positivism are terms
which designate differing methods and 'the repressive hypothesis' used
in jon's lecture does not match with foucault's usage in 'the history of
sexuality'. playing "fast and loose" (jon's term) with foucault is more
acceptable among audiences more familiar with foucault, but less so
among those less familiar.
...however, it is funny to hear stroube change his tune - or learn some
new steps rather. see, several years ago, he was content to cudgel us
all with foucault's alleged 'critique of heidegger'. then i stood accused of
"miss[ing] the critique of heidegger big time", whereas now i'm accused
of the exact opposite, of diminishing his importance, because i pointed
out the simple fact that heidegger wouldn't subscribe, as foucault did,
to proletarian anti-capitalist struggle. nevertheless, i acknowledge that
heidegger is ever-present in his absence from foucault's work - despite
how fraught with risk such a statement is in terms of abeting possible
misreadings. foucault left a lot unsaid: he suspended a lot of his own
assumptions and refrained from talking about some of the subjects we
had grown used to 'universal intellectuals' weighing in on. the realm of
foucault's 'unsaid' reverberates, for me, with heidegger. when others
attack foucault for not giving us a normative basis to resist cruelties
he criticizes (e.g., nancy fraser; i.e., 'he never says why disciplinary
power is bad'), i tend to bring up concepts like heidegger's 'the silent
call of conscience', even though it's not explicit in foucault's writings.
the job of a good critic is often making explicit what an author leaves
(that said, i am a bit skeptical of any and all 'death-bed clarifications'.
sometimes they're honest, but often times people say things in their
last moments which have little bearing on how they actually lived their
lives, or in this case, the work they published. had he retracted all his
writing and declared himself a worshipper of ayn rand, it wouldn't have
made one iota of difference to the feats achieved in his work. ...recall
that 'the author' was dead long before foucault the man died.)
anyway, back to marx. foucault makes a "presumptuous comparison",
"What did Marx do when in his analysis of capital he came across the
problem of the workers' misery? He refused the customary explanation
which regarded this misery as the effect of a naturally rare cause of a
concerted theft. And he said substantially: given what capitalist
production is, in its fundamental laws, it cannot help but cause misery.
Capitalism's raison d'etre is not to starve the workers but it cannot
develop without starving them. Marx replaced the denunciation of theft
by the analysis of production. Other things being equal, that is
approximately what I wanted to say. It is not a matter of denying sexual
misery, nor is it however one of explaining it negatively by a repression.
The entire problem is to grasp the positive mechanism which, producing
sexuality in this or that fashion, results in misery."
that's from stroube's citation here:
- right after the bit about the critical importance of the frankfurt school.
and that just seems to me to be a very timely and concrete in which to
introduce foucault's work, especially given the topic under consideration
deals with poverty ...was really all i meant to say. i'm sorry for adopting
an unwarrantedly hyperbolic tone.
more support from stroube's past - foucault in 1978,
"[I]n the matter of political imagination, one must recognize that we live in a
very poor world. When we search from where this poverty advances onto
the socio-political map of the twentieth century, it seems to me, in spite
of everything, that Marxism plays an important role. This is why I deal with
Marxism. You understand then that the theme: "How do we finish with
Marxism?", which has served, in a certain way as a guiding thread to the
question which you have posed, is equally fundamental for my reflection.
One thing is determining: that Marxism has contributed and contributes to
the impoverishment of the political imagination, this is our point of departure.
Your argument starts with the idea that we must distinguish Marx, on the
one hand, and Marxism, on the other hand, as the object we must get rid of.
I am in complete agreement with you. I do not find it very pertinent to finish
with Marx, himself. Marx is an indubitable being, a person who has expressed
without error certain things, that is to say an undeniable being as much as
an historical event: by definition one cannot delete such an event. Just like,
for example, the naval battle of the Japan sea, off Tsushima, is an event
which really happened. Marx is a fact which we can not delete: to transcend
him, that would be as much lacking in sense as to deny the naval battle of
the Japan sea."
after citing this quotation, stroube writes,
"The argument you dropped is that Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari agree with
Marx on certain indubitable truths about capitalism like labor exploitation and
work coercion ... Marx "expressed without error certain things". However,
Marxism is problematic and big part of that is what it has in common with ...
a near total absence of "political imagination" to the point of na?ve pride and
"our map drops interpretative derrida and heidegger to make previously unforged
in debate connections between foucault, deleuze, guattari, burroughs, gysin,
habermas, the frankfurt school...this is the activist turn in -- self-reflexive critique."
ah, the good ol' days. ...i'm not sure about the 'there are many foucaults'-thesis,
but as for the 'there are many stroubes'-thesis, i'm well on board.
stroube writes: "foucault distanced himself from the panopticon".
the rest of your response grasps at straws. making a deleuzian comparison
between foucault's ideal diagram of power called 'the panopticon' and marx's
'ideal workhouse' called the factory (deleuzian because both are 'dispositifs')
does not commit me to being some academic lost in abstractions. mentioning
that both focus on capitalism's/panopticism's effect on everyday temporality
does not commit me to a determinism-imbued reading of either. i could have
been more attentive to and supportive of your advocacy that debate as an
activity recuperate 'lost knowledges' had you been in a better mood. (but i
guess you're not looking for an interlocuter as much as a strawman.) cheer
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