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by Lawrence Kritzman,Michel Foucault

Politics, Philosophy, Culture contains a rich selection of interviews and other writings by the late Michel Foucault. Drawing upon his revolutionary concept of power as well as his critique of the institutions that organize social life, Foucault discusses literature, music, and the power of art while also examining concrete issues such as the Left in contemporary France, the social security system, the penal system, homosexuality, madness, and the Iranian Revolution.
Download Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984 epub
ISBN: 0415901499
ISBN13: 978-0415901499
Category: Other
Subcategory: Humanities
Author: Lawrence Kritzman,Michel Foucault
Language: English
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (February 24, 1990)
Pages: 356 pages
ePUB size: 1641 kb
FB2 size: 1478 kb
Rating: 4.5
Votes: 187
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Michel Foucault (1926-1984) was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, and social theorist and activist; he wrote many books, such as Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason,The Birth of the Clinic,Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison,The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: An Introduction,The History of Sexuality, Vol. 2: The Use of Pleasure,The History of Sexuality, Vol. 3: The Care of the Self, etc. Openly gay [see the James Miller biography, The Passion of Michel Foucault], he died of AIDS---the first “public figure” in France to die of the virus.

The editor wrote in the Foreword, “The dialogic form of the interview enabled Foucault to engage intimately in a critical reflection on the crucial shifts in his philosophical, political, and cultural perspectives. No other European intellectual since Jean-Paul Sartre has been so committed to the interview as a cultural form. Foucault used it masterfully to gloss and supplement his theoretical works in an accessible and personal way and thereby assure it a central place within his corpus. In this volume I have compiled a rich selection of Foucault’s interviews, most of which were previously unavailable in English, that elucidate the most compelling preoccupations of the last years of his critical production. I have chosen texts which clearly articulate Foucault’s social and political vision, and the evolution of his theory of sexuality.”

He says at the end of the first interview, “Anyway, my personal life is not at all interesting. If somebody thinks that my work cannot be understood without reference to such and such a part of my life, I accept to consider the question. [Laughter] I am ready to answer if I agree. As far as my personal life is uninteresting, it is not worthwhile making a secret of it. [Laughter] By the same token, it may not be worthwhile publicizing it.” (Pg. 16)

In another interview, he explains, “‘The Order of Things’ asked the price of problematizing and analyzing the speaking subject, the working subject, the living subject. Which is why I attempted to analyze the birth of grammar, general grammar, natural history and economics. I went on to pose the same kind of question in the case of the criminal and systems of punishment: how to state the truth of oneself, insofar as one might be a criminal subject. I will be doing the same thing with sexuality only going back much further: how does the subject speak truthfully about itself, inasmuch as it is the subject of sexual pleasure? And at what price?” (Pg. 30)

He observes, “One remarkable phenomenon in France at the moment is the almost complete absence of specialized philosophy journals. Or they are more or less worthless. So when you want to write something, where do you publish? Where CAN you publish? In the end, you can only manage to slip something into one of the wide-circulation weeklies and general interest magazines. This is very significant. And so what happens… is that a fairly evolved discourse, instead of being relayed by additional work which perfects it… nowadays undergoes a process of amplification from the bottom up. Little by little, from the book to the review, to the newspaper article, and from the newspaper article to television, we come to summarize a work, or a problem, in terms of slogans.” (Pg. 44)

He reveals at the beginning of one interview, “I would say that I never felt I had a vocation as a writer. I don’t consider that writing is my job and I don’t think that holding a pen is… a sort of absolute activity that is more important than everything else. It was, therefore, a series of circumstances---studying philosophy, they psychopathology, then training in a psychiatric hospital ad being lucky enough to be there neither as a patient nor as a doctor…--- that led me to become aware of the extremely strange reality that we call confinement.” (Pg. 96)

He says of ‘The Order of Things’: “it is the most difficult, the more tiresome book I ever wrote, and was seriously intended to be read by about two thousand academics who happen to be interested in a number of problems concerning the history of ideas. Why did it turn out to be so successful? It’s a complete mystery.” (Pg. 99)

Of ‘Discipline and Punish,’ he comments: “what I also try to bring out is that, from the eighteenth century onwards, there has been a specific reflection on the way in which these procedures for training and exercising power over individuals could be extended, generalized, and improved. In other words, I constantly show the economic of political origin of these methods; but, while refraining from seeing power everywhere, I also think there is a specificity in these new techniques of training. I believe that the methods used, right down to the way of conditioning individuals’ behavior, have a logic, obey a type of rationality, and are all based on one another to form a sort of specific status.” (Pg. 105)

He states, “We must free ourselves from the sacrilization of the social as the only reality and stop regarding as superfluous something so essential in human life and in human relations as thought. Thought exists independently of systems and structures of discourse. It is something that is often hidden, but which always animates everyday behavior. There is always a little thought even in the most stupid institutions; there is always thought even in silent habits.” (Pg. 154-155)

In the 11th chapter, he VERY controversially says of children and the age of consent: “I’d be tempted to say: from the moment that the child doesn’t refuse, there is no reason to punish any act.” [This was after the interviewer had said, “When an adult is involved, there is no longer equality of a balance of discoveries and responsibilities. There’s an inequality that is difficult to define.”] (Pg. 204)

He says, “It seems to me that in ‘Madness and Civilization,’ ‘The Order of Things,’ and also in ‘Discipline and Punish’ a lot of things which were implicit could not be rendered explicit due to the manner in which I posed the problems: the problem of truth, the problem of power, and the problem of individual conduct.” (Pg. 243)

He reveals, “For me Heidegger has always been the essential philosopher… My entire philosophical development was determined by me reading of Heidegger. I nevertheless recognize that Nietzsche outweighed him. I do not know Heidegger well enough… I had tried to read Nietzsche in the fifties but Nietzsche alone did not appeal to me---whereas Nietzsche and Heidegger: that was a philosophical shock! But I have never written anything on Heidegger, and I wrote only a very small article on Nietzsche; these are nevertheless the two authors I have read the most.” (Pg. 250)

He says, “I prefer simply to return to the observation with which I began this part of our exchange, namely, that for a homosexual, the best moment of love is likely to be when the lover leaves in the taxi. It is when the act is over and the boy is gone that one begins to dream about the warmth of his body, the quality of his smile, the tone of his voice. It is the recollection rather than the anticipation of the act that assumes a primary importance…” (Pg. 297) He refers to the gay bathhouses of San Francisco and New York as “laboratories of sexual experimentation.” (Pg. 298)

This is a very interesting and revealing---sometimes perhaps TOO revealing---collection of interviews, that will interest most persons studying all aspects of Foucault’s thought.
I received my book a few weeks after my command which is fair if you consider I live in France. It is very interesting to search in the book what you need to with Amazon.