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Foucault and deleuze

Foucault and Deleuze

John Winslade

On giving a presentation
On giving a presentation

  • Each time I go to give a lecture I get terrible stage fright. The same as when I used to write exams, because I feel deep down that the public is coming to check up on my work. And if they don’t find it interesting I feel quite dejected.


On the role of the philosopher
On the role of the philosopher

  • The role of the intellectual … has been to situate … him or herself in such a way as to make apparent forms of fascism which unfortunately are not recognized, or too easily tolerated, to describe them, to try to render them intolerable, and to define the specific forms of struggle that can be undertaken against fascism.Foucault

  • We will call ‘philosophy’ the form of thought that asks what it is that enables the subject to have access to the truth and which attempts to determine the conditions and limits of the subject’s access to truth. Deleuze & Guattari

On truth and relativism
On truth and relativism

  • Perspectivism, or scientific relativism, is never relative to a subject: it constitutes not a relativity of truth but, on the contrary, a truth of the relative. Deleuze

  • We can say, in fact that there are ‘games of truth’, or rather procedures for truth. Truth is inseparable from the procedure establishing it. Foucault

On power foucault
On power Foucault

  • Power is not a substance. Neither is it a mysterious property whose origin must be delved into. Power is only a certain type of relation between individuals

  • What defines a relationship of power is that it is a mode of action that does not act directly and immediately on others. Instead, it acts upon their actions: an action upon an action, on possible or actual future or present actions. A relationship of violence acts upon a body or upon things; it forces, it bends, it breaks, it destroys, or it closes off all possibilities.’

  • Today we live in a society programmed basically by Bentham, a panoptic society, a society where panopticism reigns … Panopticism is one of the characteristic traits of our society .. supervision, control and correction.

  • Every power relation is not bad in itself, but it is a fact that always involves danger.

On power relations foucault
On power relations Foucault

  • What seems especially characteristic of our society is surveillance.

  • There has been a functional displacement but not a disappearance of torture in our society.

  • Power is usually identified as ‘a law that says no’… It makes people act and speak.

  • Relations of power are strategic relations. Every time one side does something, the other responds by deploying a conduct, a behaviour that counter-invests it, tries to escape it, diverts it, turns the attack against itself, etc. Thus nothing is ever stable in these relations of power.

  • Power relations are extremely widespread in human relationships. Now this does not mean that political power is everywhere, but that there is in human relationships a whole range of power relations that may come into play among individuals, within families, in pedagogical relationships, political life etc...

On power deleuze
On power Deleuze

  • Power has no essence: it is simply operational. … the power relation is the set of possible relations between forces, which passes through the dominated forces no less than through the dominating.

  • Power does not come about through ideology … it does not necessarily separate through violence and repression.

  • A new topology of power that no longer locates the origin of power in a privileged place.

  • Power ‘produces reality’ before it represses. Equally it produces truth before it ideologizes, abstracts or masks.

  • Panopticism: Foucault gives it its most precise name: it is a diagram … It is an abstract machine.

On normalizing judgment
On normalizing judgment

  • A certain type of power – distinct from both medical and judicial power – has in fact colonized and forced back both medical knowledge and judicial power throughout modern society … the emergence of the power of normalization.   Foucault

  • any kind of disorder, indiscipline, agitation, disobedience, recalcitrance, lack of affection, and so forth can now be psychiatrized. Foucault

  • Expert psychiatric opinion allows one to pass from action to conduct, from offense to a way of being … The individual already resembles his crime before he has committed it … the sordid business of punishing is thus converted into the fine profession of curing.Foucault

  • The notions found again and again throughout this set of texts are: “psychological immaturity,” “a poorly structured personality,” “a poor grasp of reality” … “a profound affective imbalance,” serious emotional disturbance.” Or again: “compensation,” “imaginary production,” “display of perverted pride,” “perverse game”.Foucault

  • ...if you are not like everybody else, then you are abnormal, if you are abnormal , then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody else, not being normal and being sick are in fact very different but have been reduced to the same thing’Foucault

On lines of force
On lines of force

  • We live in a world that is generally disagreeable, where not only people but the established powers have a stake in transmitting sad affects to us. Sadness, sad affects, are all those which reduce our power to act. Deleuze

  • All sadness is the effect of power <pouvoir> over me. Deleuze

  • I tend to think of things as sets of lines to be unraveled but also to be made to intersect. Deleuze

  • What’s interesting, even in a person, are the lines that make them up, or they make up, or take, or create. Deleuze

  • Power … is less a property than a strategy … it is exercised rather than possessed; it is not the ‘privilege,’ acquired or preserved, of the dominant class, but the overall effect of its strategic positionsDeleuze

On lines of flight
On lines of flight

  • It is always possible to undo dualisms from the inside, by tracing the line of flight that passes between the two terms.Deleuze

  • The line of flight is a deterritorialization. Deleuze

On discourse
On discourse

  • Personally I am rather haunted by the existence of discourse, by the fact that particular words have been spoken; these events have functioned in relation to their original situation, they have left traces behind them; they subsist and exercise, in this subsistence even within history, a certain number of manifest or secret functions Foucault

  • Discourse transmits and produces power, reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart it. Foucault

  • Every utterance is an 'order-word' in the sense that it moulds, subtly or directly, the potential actions of its addressees.Foucault

  • A secret repetition animates the statement. Deleuze

On mental illness
On mental illness

  • I would say that it’s through the asylum that I first became aware of a problem that still haunts me. I mean the problem of power - certain form of power, of domination and subjection. It’s not true that knowledge can function or that we can discover the truth, the reality, the objective reality of things without calling into play a subject, to know and command, are intimately linked, and I found this in its purest form in the asylum where medical knowledge, the ostensibly serene and speculative knowledge of the psychiatrist, is absolutely inseparable from an extraordinarily meticulous, shrewdly hierarchical power which is deployed in the asylum, which is the asylum. Foucault

  • The word “mad” is not the most treacherous. It’s so overused now that it no longer has much power. The term I am afraid of is ‘mentally ill’… What interests me is the transition of the madman to the ill person, which appears to be a change in terminology but which at another level is a seizure of power. Foucault

On social structures
On social structures

  • Any institution implies the existence of statements such as a constitution, a charter, contracts, registrations and enrolmentsFoucault

  • I am absolutely not a structuralist … I have never used any of the concepts which can be considered characteristic of structuralism Foucault

  • The margin is a myth Foucault

On institutions
On institutions

  • The institutions are not sources or essences, and have neither essence nor interiority. They are practices or operating mechanisms which do not explain power, since they presuppose its relations and are content to “fix” them, as part of a function that is not productive but reproductive. Deleuze

On curiosity
On curiosity

  • Curiosity is a vice that has been stigmatized in turn by Christianity, by philosophy and even by a certain conception of science. Curiosity, futility. I like the the word however. To me it suggests something altogether different: it evokes "concern"; it evokes the care one takes for what exists and could exist; an acute sense of the real which, however, never becomes fixed; a readiness to find our surroundings strange and singular; a certain relentlessness in ridding ourselves of our familiarities and looking at things otherwise; a passion for seizing what is happening now and what is passing away; a lack of respect for traditional hierarchies of the important and the essential. Foucault

  • I don't like obscurity because I consider obscurity to be a form of despotism. One must expose oneself to pronouncing errors. One must expose oneself to possibly saying things which are probably going to be difficult to express, and which obviously are going to make one fumble for words. Foucault

On curiosity1
On curiosity

  • Every concept has a history, even though it zigzags, though it passes through. Deleuze

  • Each statement is itself a multiplicity, not a structure or a system Deleuze

On therapy
On therapy

  • The aim is not to rediscover the eternal or the universal, but to find the conditions under which something new is produced (creativeness). Deleuze

  • Every multiplicity grows from the middle, like the blade of grass or the rhizome. We constantly oppose the rhizome to the tree. Deleuze

  • This could be what a conversation is: simply the outline of a becoming. Deleuze

On externalizing conversation
On externalizing conversation

  • Thought is not what inhabits a certain conduct and gives it its meaning; rather, it is what allows one to step back from this way of acting or reacting, to present it to oneself as an object of thought and to question it as to its meaning, its conditions, and its goals. Thought is freedom in relation to what one does, the motion by which one detaches from it, establishes it as an object, and reflects on it as a problem. Foucault

  • A 'problem' is not a simple question that needs to find an answer; a problem is something that disrupts life and thinking, producing movements and responses. Deleuze

On freedom
On freedom

  • The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. Foucault

  • What I am afraid of about humanism is that it presents a certain form of our ethics as a universal model for any kind of freedom. I think that there are more secrets, more possible freedoms, and more inventions in our future than we can imagine in humanism as it is dogmatically represented on every side of the political rainbow: the Left, the Center, the Right. Foucault

  • Everyone has their own way of changing, or, what amounts to the same thing, of perceiving that everything changes. In this matter, nothing is more arrogant than trying to dictate to others. My way of no longer being the same is, by definition, the most unique part of what I am. Yet God knows there are ideological traffic police around, and we can hear their whistles blast: go left, go right, here, later, get moving, not now... The insistence on identity and the injunction to make a break both, and in the same way, feel like abuses. Foucault

On agency
On agency

  • I think it is us who make the future. The future is the way we react to what is happening, it is the way we transform a movement, a doubt into truth. If we want to be masters of our future, we must fundamentally pose the question of what today is. Foucault

  • People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.Foucault

  • Power always separates people who are subjected to it from what they are able to do. Deleuze

  • Foucault … writes with an increasing sense of joy… the joy of wanting to destroy whatever mutilates life. Deleuze

  • experimentation on oneself, is our only identity, our single chance for all the combinations that inhabit us. Deleuze

On concern for the self
On concern for the self

I would merely like to indicate some of the salient points in this ‘ascesis’ of truth:

  • the importance of listening.

  • the importance, too, of writing … a cultivation of what might be called “personal writing”: taking notes on the readings, conversations, and reflections that one hears or has or does; keeping notebooks

  • the importance of habitual self-reflection … exercises for committing to memory the things that one has learned. to come back inside oneself and examine the “riches” that have been deposited there; one must have within oneself a kind of book that one rereads from time to time.

  • So we have a whole set of techniques whose purpose is to link together truth and the subject. But there should be no misunderstanding: it is not a matter of uncovering a truth in the subject or of making the soul the place where truth resides, through an essential kinship or an original law, the truth; nor is it a matter of making the soul the object of a true discourse. … The object, rather is to arm the subject with a truth it did not know, one that did not reside within it; to make this learned, memorized truth, progressively put into practice, a quasi subject that reigns supreme in us. Foucault

On technologies of the self
On technologies of the self

  • ‘Techniques of the self' or 'arts of existence' are 'those reflective and voluntary practices by which men not only set themselves rules of conduct, but seek to transform themselves, to change themselves in their singular being, and to make of their life into an oeuvre that carries certain aesthetic values and meets certain stylistic criteria'. Foucault

  • I have studied the objectivizing of the subject in what I shall call ‘dividing practices’ … Finally, I have sought to study … the way a human being turns him- or herself into a subject. Foucault

A rationale for practice
A rationale for practice

  • The most intense point of a life, the point where its energy is concentrated, is where it comes against power, struggles with it, attempts to use its forces, and to evade its traps. Foucault

  • Which lines appear blocked, moribund, closed in, dead-ended, falling into a black hole or exhausted, which others are active or lively, which allows something to escape and draw us along? Deleuze

  • There is no diagram that does not also include, besides the points that it connects up, certain relatively free or unbound points, points of creativity, change and resistance, and it is perhaps with these that we ought to begin to understand the whole picture. Deleuze