Stage setting: Steal Everything (Six by Six), plus A Conversation Regarding the Work of Michel Foucault
The content of the 'argument' to follow, is as follows, plus the notion that this is the only form of 'gift' I could produce in your name:
1. Miscellaneous Identity #1 holds that Foucault's historical analyses (Madness and Civilization, Discipline and Punish, etc.) are sorts of cautionary tales/a call to arms. They are, at the very least indicative of a greater liberatory project.
2. Miscellaneous Identity #2 holds that this is not so; that, in fact, Foucault's analyses give no indication of such a liberatory project and that to ascribe such a project to these analyses is to superimpose one's one political agenda upon them. As an example of such a superimposition, Miscellaneous Identity #2 cites Charles Taylor's interpretation of Foucault's work.
3. Between these two Identities was situated a fourth body, whom we might name, not an identity, but a difference, a Miscellaneous Difference #12, that is situated somewhere between the 1 and the 2, but as a border between them, not as a unique identity between them. #12 is only a wave, it is the stillness between the two waves, in perpetual motion, from shore to shore, arrive, arrive: to happen.
4. It seems that, in the 'end' we weren't aiming at consensus, no that was unsettled, somewhere between the here and the the (not-)here. We were aiming only at a conversation; we edify, we do not found, we do not build, we do not destroy. We read. We let ourselves be read by a what is reading.
This: neither response, nor admission, neither blame, nor guilt. When I wrote to you that 'i could not bear it any longer', I did not mean to say that you were perpetrating a crime. (Doesn't a crime always involve at least two, a complicit resistance by victim being the one, before the other?) I meant to say: here is my body, it weeps, it weeps from what you have done. Is there, any longer, here, a thing we might call sympathy?
...and, for you: here is a protracted conversation about
Michel Foucault that you and i had with jpl from e2. one
thing i learned from this is that talking with him made me rea-
lise that i know enough to speak with him about foucault..or at
least i can talk like i do to someone that knows something about
here is what i will continue to steal from you, because it is not yours
part one: purloined
jpl says 1) Find the interview. Get it through the interlibrary loan system of your school's library.
pt two: identity
jpl says 2) You say that my position is that "does see the possibility of liberation by resistance to power." This is not what I said at all. What the heck does "resistance to power" mean, when all resistance is power? You're confusing power (ie., the capacity to get someone do what you want them to do) with domination (ie., the capacity to *force* someone do what you want them to do). Domination is one form of power, but not the only one. Love is power, for example. Furthermore, in the context of the Anti-Oedipus preface, he's not talking about the "individual" as a being, but the individual as a "person" with distinct "feelings" that are part of a regulated world. This world is constituted by power (not just domination -- it also involves emotional coaxing, convincing, etc. on top of threat and fraud). The "multiplication" and "displacement" are psychological self-transformations, part of a new ethic of "care for self" that F. envisions. They are forms of resistance against power, but they ARE power as well -- we can't "oppose" power, we can only oppose undesirable outside power with our own, internal, care-of-self power.
jpl says 3) What are you saying about the preface? That it doesn't provide any insight to Foucault because he'd lie about the context of his own work as a favour to friends who are talking about completely different from his own work? (And no, I don't think he was getting paid, and in any event even if he was, remember that Deleuze would later go on to write a book about Foucault, so I don't think it's unreasonable to say there is a certain copacetic vibe there.)
jpl says 4) Find the interview.
jpl says What did you take Foucault's overall theme as being? Renunciation to the state?
jpl says you know, you've turned me into a paranoid bastard: every time i'm talking to someone who has interests similar to yours or reading something somehow related (apocryphist, cabin fever, etc.), I ask myself at least once, "is this difference?"
pt three: a conversation regarding an extension of the work of michel foucault
jpl says for instance, Ouroboros says you are jderrida. this was the "metafictional" issues that you consulted me over my Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Teris wu, is it not?
hahaha that would be funny if it was difference i think e2 is ridiculously derridean (you later wrote, and I quote, "* (0.015): Laughter is that disease peculiar to the human condition. Laughter is (or has become) that paralysing fear of one's own death.")
jpl says I was always skeptical of difference -- I mean, look through his w/u's. There'll be these incredibly cunning "impersonations," and then there'll be something about music or some other fascination of the young
jpl says Seriously, he had me messed up for a while. I kept /msg'ing the dude, trying to extract hints as to the true nature of his game. Was it Derrida, an old man with bizarre musical tastes? Was it Derrida, with his grandson using the same account? Or was it an amazing impersonation? I needed answers.
jpl says So one day I figured it out. It's not a secret anymore. He is open about it.
jpl says You can read his homenode, where he wrote something like this: "I am alternately difference, and others, including myself, who I am not."
jpl says Who he is, he is many. As his name suggests, his very body is differential, he is only a function that is drawn across multiple bodies. (He is also very repetitive.)
jpl says So one day I wrote this to him: (and I think he has other plans for this period in our lives so I won't say too much of it today) "You awesome, incredible liar!!! You're all of these people, aren't you? I love it! (You're the only kind of liar I could ever be friends with: the liar-for-fun, found out.)"
jpl says There were eventually a few disagreements and I particularly disliked his abuse of Nietzsche (which he still does not understand), but things stand, and I suppose we could be called friends, but I know that he would never use that word with a serious face, if only because, in his own words, "he does not have a face for me, he is only fingers, and a keyboard, he has no body. i consecrate you: vapor."
you said something at this point, but I could not hear you. I was set to blindness. It does not matter what caused this. I am weak, as I have said before, I am frail. A single insult will wreck my heart for months. I am a reimbodiment of one of Kafka's most pathetic.
2002.04.26 at 19:00 this one is all from memory
pt four: the pragmatics of argument, of winning
difference says That last writeup was interesting. Have you read much on the history of writing?
jpl says No, I haven't. Sounds interesting, though. I myself wouldn't be particularly drawn to that area, mostly because I'm more interested in power in general, of which writing would be only a relatively minor factor (except qua extender of certain forms of other power-effectors -- threat, for example, or exhortation).
difference says But wouldn't writing also always be a general representation of power, insofar as the very limits of discourse, and of activity even, are defined (at least historically) by the limits writing expresses, by the border of writing, writing as a technology, of course? Wouldn't writing recapitulate in its practical activity the general problems that power already assumes, the punishments that power exerts, the very violences that power forces complicity with?
jpl says Foucault's power is "power to cause," not necessarily "power over someone." (Seduction and exhortation are forms of power which are not domination.) And we've got to distinguish between the power exerted on a person as they learn to use a medium (classroom discipline), the power of which the medium is the effector or catalyst (the manifesto, the proclamation -- which is in effect a threat), and the power exerted by the medium itself. Now, of course there's lots of power being effected *through* writing (of the threat kind, of the exhortation kind, and to a lesser extent of the seduction kind -- though on TV and the Web seduction is most ubiquitous); but it's not clear to me that writing has a special power proper to itself that is disproportionate with the power of another character (threat, seduction, exhortation) that it is being used to effect. Then again, maybe we are on the same page here.
difference says ---
jpl says Yes, I agree. Though of course this is not the "power of writing," but rather the closing of certain evidential flows and the isolation of writing as a privileged medium -- but this is effected through the other forms of power.
difference says ---
jpl says No, I mean that writing is a medium of power (because communication is a form of power). But what I mean is that the "power" of writing is not due to its nature, so much as due to what it is used for and how other uses of writing (or the unwriteable) are dealt with.
difference says But doesn't writing define, legislate, codify, archive, and so completely describe the shapes that power is going to take? That something can or cannot be written is perhaps the greatest form of power (not in Foucault's sense of the term) that could circulate within a relationship -- any relationship, but of course also a relationship that is explicitly political in its transactions. In Latin America, but not only there of course, the question of what can be written teeters on the border between life and death.
2002.04.26 at 19:19 jpl says What does that mean, that in Latin America "the question of what can be written teeters on the border between life and death?"
difference says that there is a political economy there concerning the very question of what can be written, of what can be said -- that line, between what can and cannot be written, also reproduces a line between life and death.
jpl says If you could give me an example of how writing plays a specific tactical role other than extending the range of power, I'd perhaps be better able to follow what you're saying.
jpl says (These kinds of things are also similar to what Deleuze was interested in -- and I am interested in Deleuze.)
difference says ---
jpl says Qua communication, or qua writing?
difference says As writing, but the distinction is dangerous. Viewing writing as only one species of communication distracts us (doesn't it?) from the noncommunicative aspects of writing, as if writing was always already an attempt to communicate, to impart knowledge, to transmit information, to be a relay between two. Writing can also be private, it can, I dare say against Wittgenstein, logically private.
jpl says I'm not sure that it's writing itself that is inhibiting or augmenting, so much as other applications of power outside or through writing. Can you give me an example?
difference say ---
jpl says Effects are always flowing, yes, though I'd say that this is the result of individual affections of power which do not, themselves, flow. (Just as a magnetic field is created by electronic alignment which is not, itself, magnetic.) But I would say that the technical limits of writing don't have innate effects on power; it is only when there is power outside writing governing how we use writing that these have influence.
difference What do you mean by 'a power outside writing'?
jpl says A power outside writing would be where someone influences you to express yourself in writing when you could have done otherwise (in some other medium). An institutional policy to disregard complaints not filed in writing would be an extremely basic example.
difference says something about writing and iterability, the absence of an original imprint, the reproducibility of all writing, everywhere. (remember: this is all from memory)
jpl says But the logic of reproducibility has nothing to do with the innate nature of print; it has to do with the consumer's response to print and its alternatives (and different consumers can have different responses)
jpl says But the auspices under which a technology is developed do not necessarily reflect the different ways in which it can be applied; the "tendencies" exist elsewhere, and have other causes than the appearance of the technology itself. Not all moves are conditioned by writing; only those that must occur in writing, or which must be effected by writing.
difference says But, But, But. But there is also an extent to which, don't you think so at least?, writing, the technology of writing, of ciphering, or imprinting a mark, but not always as a communicative act, but certainly almost always communicable, that this writing defines, codifies, legislates, normalizes, and archives the very space in which a 'move' can be made, determine in advance what could count as a move. Now this may not have always been the case -- and this is perhaps where there is a fissure between our views, and it is what I should have told you before, before I reprint it here, reproduce our purloined words here -- but it is certainly the case now. And it is total today, this power of writing, the extent to which writing is the only technology of legislation, jurisprudence, but also memory, evidence, and truth (which is perhaps the most serious example right now). That writing is this very totality means only that whenever you speak (but you did not speak, jpl, you wrote) of power, of submission, of white space, or of anything else, you are first of all constricted, determined, delimited, bordered on all sides by this technology. The very presence that are your hands, the very facticity of your having hands, of mouths, of a voice, is circumscribed (Jacques Derrida would have here said circumcised) by this: called writing.
jpl says Codification, legislation, distribution, and normalization all occurred before writing even existed (whether or not archiving did is up for debate -- eg., wampum) And they are tools for the deployment of further power beyond writing.
difference: (now): this is where the conversation came to an end. Perhaps it did, perhaps it did not. But this is all that I have recorded, this is the archive, this represents the limit, the border, at which we could write to each other on that day, jpl. I remembered this conversation, through an archive, but mostly through my body, because I do not have an archive of what I wrote to you on that day, of my half of the discussion -- perhaps you can be such a providence, perhaps not. I write now, writing what I wish I would have written on the day. We already knew in advance that our differences were few, which is inspiring, but also at the same time deadening, because our very names (not mine more than yours however) name differences, desire differences.
You wrote to me only today of a theory of desire, of representations of desire, of the different economies that desire may come to inhabit, to inhibit, to circulate within in, but also to define the circulation for. Previously, jpl says "In economics, desire was always characterized negatively. Desire was want, as in, you wanted something you didn't have and you acted to make the desire go away. In psychology, desire was something that was teased out by circumstances, and then repressed back against itself, because oh golly gee, it's just all too titillating. Well, you've read Foucault, right? But Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari totally revised the theory of desire, using the idea of a Body without Organs as a controlling metaphor. Foucault's as anti-psychoanalytic as Deleuze & Guattari. Their stuff represents criticism of the methods, perspective and content of psychoanalysis."
Yet what about me, jpl, the body whose breath whispers its name before you, now, forever, in the past, but above all right now? My name: right now. What would a desire of difference constitute, what would the desire to fracture one's own self, to split my very being between many sites, to delocalize myself, to delocate myself, to untrace the borders of my body be like? (I ask this question as one who was weened by Wittgenstein, but forced away from him by Derrida. Still, my teeth brought some of the Austrian with me. I will never be entirely French.) Reading over this conversation now, I only have two desires. The one I was just writing of, but to write it again: that the conversation would have been between more, that there would have been more of you and more of me writing to each other, that I would have been divided in advance, a true difference, différance, that there would have been the 1, 2, 3, 12, of us there, writing, without site, without sight. The other desire is only that we would have found a better way to resolve, to learn from each other, but this is perhaps part of my more general desire, or pragmatics, of communication, that communication does not always need to be in aim of agreement (a form of argument), which is exactly what the philosphical tradition has always insisted. Instead, I wish we could have cultivated our difference. No longer agreement, but disagreement. No longer consensus, but dissensus: a différance of sense, a different apprehension, which is always already there, is it not?
you said: * (1.00000034): I will relent. I'm convinced by (his)(its?) argument. The reason I've struck all the laughter from this "record" (awful contractual) is because of laughters explosive disregard for the argumentative style. What can laughter mean in a debate? Doesn't it automatically render any appeal to rationality absurd? Or at least, absurd within the range of the laughter itself. Importantly: the range (band-breadth) of this laughter multiplies itself out of all control if it finds a 'permanent' home (dwelling) on the internet. Thus: if I leave the traces of this once-original laughter to remain here, am I not already invalidating the possible seriousness of the questions that may (or may not)(more likely the 'may not') follow. More on this later.... back to the breaks.
pt six: being right
difference says You relent, but you do not want to. It is not that you don't want him to 'win' the argument, it is that you want their to be no argument, which their isn't, or at least their shouldn't be. Isn't this something that Nietzsche should have said (quote "foucault is not nietzsche")? You want to laugh, you want to roar, but you strike yourself through, you inhibit yourself, you desire someone other than yourself. Why? Why is this? It is not a fault, I also desire to be someone who I am not, but also to be, at the same time, who I am. Still, I think we are different, don't you? You, after all, are the one who wrote, "separate existences, at no cost."
laughter i suppose. that was my argument though so i win! muahah haha ...
jpl said: Why don't you find a point where he directly denies something that I've said. Editorial incision("People like me?" This is becoming not fun anymore.)Editorial decision "
difference says This is what I meant.
you said: this got blown up...annullling the point of an argument. Against making points = beautiful irony. Why does there need to be a point?
difference says: "admin says I read the Klaproth msg's ... I read the responses to them. I talk to dozens of you a day. 'On Certain Species of Writing' is interesting ... but I fail to see how it really applies here. You think your 'verbal diarrhea' writeup was deleted as a statement of power? To reign you in? I still fail to see, reading your node there, how on earth I could apply it to actually change anything." Of course, admin misread my usage of power, and admin also sounds a little too certain for my tastes, the whole conversation was a little too close to the edge of anger, to the borders of hatred for me to really enjoy being in it. 'dozens of you a day', 'how on earth' are figures betryaing a tropic insensitivity, a lack of sympathy (which is, above all, the total landslide represented by the pragmatics of an argument in argument, the total loss which argument (staked as a desire situating agreement) is a figure for). there were other tropes and figures in this conversation, but above all there was, admin, a tone of distrust, a lack of care for my owning these fingers, and a not-very-uncertain unwillingness to lay yourself before me, as i lay myself before you, then, and also again now.
jpl says: 2002.04.07 at 18:51 jpl says I'm not "privileging" my own reading -- I believe that other interpretations aren't supported by evidence.
pt seven, clo-
difference says that is a bizarre thing to believe in the possibility of, you can't possibly trick me into believing this, and certainly not yourself either. Why did you write it then? Why did you desire, so badly, to believe in a theory situating an interpretation that does not also presuppose the parellel theory which would situate the evidence in advance?
jpl says: 2002.04.07 at 18:52 jpl says Look, quite frankly, I've had this same criticism of my Blake paper (that I'm privileging my own reading). I really don't understand what that means. That I shouldn't believe what I'm saying?
difference says No, that there is difference, that decision is never permanent, that there is always violence in certainty, that certainty is itself a violent state, it permits the exclusion of everything that is dubitable, it permits the priority of that about which we are certain. Today we are all so afraid to be ambiguous, to be in a state of restlessness, to not have always already decided, to be split within ourselves. We desire confidence, determination, to be settled, to be comfortable -- and so we develop elaborate systems justifying the exploitation of the third world by the first world, the excuses are pathetic, their circulation is propagandistic to the very outer extremes. We never desire to hang our heads, to be in sorrow, to accept blame, to be at fault. We have so completely worn out Catholicism that fault, that guilt, is no longer desirous, but contemptuous, that very thing against which we are always guarding ourselves. So when you read, it is not that there must be the reading that you give, or the interpretation that you give, but that there is a community in which you could let yourself be read, there is a severe state of indecision which is graceful, blissful. I think perhaps this is what I mean when I say: writing.
jpl says I don't know what to do about this. It's looking less and less like it's about Foucault, and more and more like it's supposed to be a mission to teach me humility.
difference whispers, "No, on the contrary, it's about Foucault through and through, if any of us need humility it is all of us. I said to you (read this very carefull), to repeat myself, 'that you simultaneously want to win the argument and lose the argument'. But this would not be possible. I wanted to try to situate this entire reproduction (this facsimile) within the context of a pragmatics of conversation, but a pragmatics that wasn't teleologically inspired, that wasn't serving some sort of justification in the end, some sort of consensus. Why do we always have to agree? Why can we not just share the warmth of each other's smiles? Of course, this is so much the harder for jpl and I, because (as I remarked to anthropod, we have no faces, we are only fingers), and this is, I feel, a difficult mask to wear, before each other, whom we know so well, without knowing, in fact, at all.
Where is the closure, now? Where is that which you sought? Why is it SURE? Must it close with certainity, the very demon unleased by Descartes?