I think it is not without some irony that I can find very little of the huge amount of commentary work that even mentions Foucault’s conception of ‘commentary’ briefly outlined in his inaugural lecture delivered to the College de France. I have a copy of The Archaeology of Knowledge published by Routledge that doesn’t include the lecture as an appendix, which is how it is published in the other earlier version by Pantheon. I have been reading it on Amazon.com ‘search inside’, but I am going to have to buy a copy. So a note for googlers of the text: DO NOT BUY THE ROUTLEDGE VERSION!!! BUY THE PANTHEON VERSION!!!
Is this — Foucault’s brief comments on ‘commentary’ — my mythical dissertation ‘key-stone’, that one piece of information that seems to make everything else fit? It is very close, at least on a methodological level. The primary task of enthusiast magazines is ‘commentary’. Of course it is necessary to do some slight modification to Foucault’s concept, which is not a problem, because it means reading him as a philsoopher of the event and that is precisely what I have been doing. For example, commentary is an extension of the event of which the ‘primary’ text was a first example, like another wound in a war. (Hmm, I am sure there is something weird going on here involving a possible engagement with Derrida’s thought… ) Foucault puts it this way:
The infinite rippling of commentary is agitated from within by the dream of masked repetition: in the distance there is, perhaps, nothing other than what was there at the point of departure: simple recitation.
I wonder what would happen if it were even possible to write my entire dissertation with such prose?
Anyway, I have used the term ‘commentary’ before to think about the ‘real-time’ commentary of blogs in my blogging paper, and on magazines elsewhere on my blog, in the same way that Foucault is talking about it. Was I simply regurgitating what I had read of Foucault years ago and which was hiding in the back of my mind? Unlikely, I don’t think I had read this essay/lecture from Foucault before. Anyway, it fits, and it allows other elements to fit around it.