Foucault Interview

Foucault: […] If I had a kid, I assure you he would not write on the walls—or if he did, it would be against my will. The very idea!

Funny stuff. Clare O’Farrell posted a link on the Foucault list to an interesting and simple interview by a grad student at Berkley, Michael Bess, with Foucault in 1980. I like the final questions because they are the sorts of questions anyone with half a brain would ask of Foucault’s work after they begin to understand it. Foucault’s responses are therefore rather important:

Question: I have to admit, I find myself a bit lost, without points of orientation, in your world—because there’s too much openness.

Foucault: Listen, listen. . . How difficult it is! I’m not a prophet; I’m not an organizer; I don’t want to tell people what they should do. I’m not going to tell them, “This is good for you, this is bad for you!”
I try to analyze a real situation in its various complexities, with the goal of allowing refusal, and curiosity, and innovation.

Question: And as regards your own personal life, that’s something different. . .

Foucault: But that’s nobody’s business!
I think that at the heart of all this, there’s a misunderstanding about the function of philosophy, of the intellectual, of knowledge in general: and that is, that it’s up to them to tell us what is good.
Well, no! No, no, no! That’s not their role. They already have far too much of a tendency to play that role, as it is. For two thousand years they’ve been telling us what is good, with the catastrophic consequences that this has implied.
There’s a terrible game here, a game which conceals a trap, in which the intellectuals tend to say what is good, and people ask nothing better than to be told what is good—and it would be better if they started yelling, “How bad it is!
Good, well, let’s change the game. Let’s say that the intellectuals will no longer have the role of saying what is good. Then it will be up to people themselves, basing their judgment on the various analyses of reality that are offered to them, to work or to behave spontaneously, so that they can define for themselves what is good for them.
What is good, is something that comes through innovation. The good does not exist, like that, in an atemporal sky, with people who would be like the Astrologers of the Good, whose job is to determine what is the favorable nature of the stars. The good is defined by us, it is practiced, it is invented. And this is a collective work.
Is it clearer, now?


In Perth at the moment. My dad went into surgery yesterday and they gave him a new heart valve and a couple of bypasses. Everything went as planned. He is recovering extremely quickly and has already been shifted out of ICU.

Internet here is fux0red as the dedicated innernets/fax line is broken. I got a dial-up modem to use the back-up dial up account. Shitty 4.4kps. Omg. I want to go home to my 8.1mbps. So not much playing on innernets while I am here.

I read Max Barry’s Company. It has some neo-Kafka-eque thing going on, but now I sound like a wanker from a Woody Allen movie. If only I was that sophisticated…

I read Baudrillard’s Forget Foucault. I reckon Baudrillard gets it right. I wish he would’ve pushed beyond his lame ass fascination with death and the form of the social. In the Forget Baudrillard intervirew section, Lotringer is spot on with the question about force versus forms. Who gives a fuck about form, or the impossibility of certain forms, or the depletion of certain forms? WHAT DOES IT DO? Baudrillard invokes the example from D&G’s Kafka:

the transcendental Law as it is found in The Castle is opposed to the immanence of desie in the adjacent offices. How can we fail to see that the Law of the Castle [overcoding signifier] has its “rhizomes” [multiplicities] in the corridors and the offices — the “bar” or the break constituted by the law has simply been geared down ad infinitum in cellular and molecular succession. Desire is therefore only the molecular version of the Law. And what a strange coincidence to find schemas of desire and schemas of control everywhere. It is a spiral of power, of desire, and of the molecule which is now brining us openly toward the final peripeteia of absolute control. Beware the molecular!

Beware the hyperbolic frenchman! Baudrillard’s spiral is too neat. The multiplicities and their subjacent abstract machines (i.e. abstract machine of the castle that overcodes the multiplicity of desire) populate assemblages. There is not one multiplicity but multiple. The Law is of course a seduction, but as an apparatus of capture it assembles flows from the molecular desire. The flows come first.

Been working on the diss. Need to finish off this performance chapter and start assembling the media chapter. Few more days on performance and then media just before I go back to Sydney. Oh, back in Sydney Wednesday night.

imagining eugoogoolies

Derek Zoolander: What? Are you here to tell me what a bad eugoogoolizer I am?
Matilda: A what?
Derek Zoolander: A eugoogoolizer… you know one who speaks at funerals.
[Matilda looks at Derek confused]
Derek Zoolander: Or did you think I was too stupid to know what a eugoogooly was?

Schizoanalysis on the fly. I realised I missed someone this past week when I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how I didn’t miss her and asking myself why I wasn’t missing her. Yes, it would be nice to simply miss someone, and now I don’t feel so bad about all the other people I haven’t missed, but maybe really did.

My dad had a heart attack yesterday. I was at work when I got the call. There isn’t much to do when all the action is on the other side of the continent. Once it had sunk-in I checked flights online and so on, in case I had to go home yesterday or today. He is ok, although still not entirely in the clear. He was lucky (to whatever extent such events can be lucky) to have collapsed 50m from the finish line of some sort of marathon in which he was competing. He is part of a running club and is pretty fit. A doctor was in the crowd and started CPR, etc. Then the first aid arrived with the defib machine. So he was dead for a while. He is in hospital and they are doing tests today, the results of which I don’t know about.

The first thing I thought of (after the initial phone call and a whole bunch of questions, etc for my mum who rang me up) was preparing to write a eulogy. I am glad I had realised the thing about missing A. otherwise I would have thought I was mildly psychotic. I couldn’t just think how I loved my dad and hoped that he was going to be ok. It had to be refracted through the prism of a eulogy.

I began constructing this eulogy by thinking about what I had said at the occassion of his 60 birthday. It had been brief. I talked about me and my brother and sister and thanked him for allowing us to make our own mistakes. This is not a back-handed compliment. Rather it is the realisation that if we are to be given the greatest gift of all, that of life, then we should be able to forge a life that is our own. This requires two things: First, the capacity to cope with mistakes and failure, to learn from them, and to re-affirm anew the conditions of one’s life. Second, to literally make one’s own mistakes, in the sense of learning lessons that are only relevant to the movement or trajectory of ‘this’ life. Then we (my siblings and I) could be worthy of the events that happen to us beyond the purview of being an echo of our parents or the structural conditons of our environment.

I was wired yesterday. I knew I would be, without really wanting to do any work on the diss, so I bought two Max Barry books while I was at work. I have been wanting to read them properly since working at the launch of his latest book, Company. I haven’t wanted to let myself do any reading or writing work beyond my dissertation, but they are good heart attack books. Funny, witty, and generally entertaining. I think a heart attack book is above airplane book, but I am not sure. Maybe it needs some research.

Hopefully everything will be alright, with my dad and the rest of my family. I have stayed in Sydney for now.

On a brighter note I will probably need to get another computer soon. Yes, a broken computer at which I live and breathe is not a catastrophe. It is fun!