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phalangingle in theoryishotcrew

Can I just substitute an interpretive dance in place of a list?

Although I am generally of the opinion that I would never be a member of a club that would have someone like me as a member, I decided to give this a try.

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  1. "Foucault" in "Dictionnaire des philosophes" 1984, - Maurice Florence


  1. Distinction - Bourdieu


  1. El Laberinto de la Soledad - Paz


  1. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life - Goffman


  1. Borderlands/La Frontera - Anzaldua


  1. The Interpretation of Cultures  - Geertz


  1. Aberrations in Black - Ferguson


  1. Ain't I a Woman  - bell hooks


  1. Giving an Account of Oneself - Butler


  1. Selections from the Prison Notebooks - Gramsci

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Let me rephrase...

As I understand Foucault's position in "What is an author?", the flesh-and-blood author is separate from the author function. When you suggest that "Foucault distances himself from the author function," however, you seem to imply that he at first occupied it. In other words, unless I'm mistaken here, you seem to be claiming that flesh-and-blood Foucault occupied the position of author function, a position he then distanced himself from.

What I'm interested in reading about here is, just how does one make this leap? Is it simply a matter of writing under a pseudonym, and speaking of yourself in the third person? That is, if the author function is something Foucault needs to distance himself from, how does he do that? Further, if I remember right (and please correct me if I'm mistaken), Foucault then moves from individual texts to discourses. Does Foucault-as-Florence's text participate in the discourse that Foucault-in-author-function (for his body of work) create? That is, in writing about his body of work, can Foucault-as-Florence really distance himself from that author function?

Re: Let me rephrase...

I think you are right to question my phrasing of distance from the author function.

Re: Let me rephrase...

I did not mean to imply that Foucault as 'flesh and blood individual' occupied the author function. Foucault explicitly rejects the absolute coupling of 'flesh and blood individual' with the author function. The author function classifies. It groups together texts under a name. However, there is always the question of what can be categorized as the work of the author. Foucault comments on Nietzsche's writings and asks what is to be included in a collection of his work? What to include: his books, workbooks, lists of aphorisms, a notebook page with thoughts and a grocery list, appointment times scrawled in the margins?. Foucault also, as you mention, extends this to discourse. An author's name can come to signify a movement, a characterization of a certain time period, etc.

What I meant by 'distancing from the author function' is that he does not classify the text as part of his work, withholding the ability to bestow upon it an authoritative designation. In History of Sexuality Vol 1 Foucault sets out an analytics of power and indicates how he will approach his sources. Under the name of Foucault, this statement of research process becomes part of Foucault's discourse. When Foucault recounts particular stories or cites an architectural design these can be understood in relation to his immediate explanations, and they can be related to his explicit discussion of methodology. For example, Foucault presents the 1867 case of a farm hand in a French village who plays a game of "curdled milk" with local village girls; then, "he was pointed out by the girl's parents to the mayor of the village, reported by the mayor to the gendarmes, led by the gendarmes to the judge, who indicted him and turned him over first to a doctor, then to two other experts who not only wrote their report but also had it published." Foucault comments that this episode became "the object not only of a collective intolerance but of a judicial action, a medical intervention, a careful clinical examination, and an entire theoretical elaboration” (32). This story can be recalled later in Chapter 2 where Foucault lays out his method (analytics of power). How was the sexual act classified, evaluated, constructed as object of examination and intervention through new forms of power/knowledge?

Under the name of M. Florence the "Foucault" entry will not alter the discourse about Foucault's work in the same way as a programmatic statement on method in HoS. The text of the former can either be read as part of M. Florence's discourse, under an unknown pseudonym, or "M. Florence's discourse" written by Foucault but not classified as a work marked by the authorial name "Foucault." By distancing I did not mean the text is connected to Foucault as individual. Instead, I mean distancing as removing it from the effects of categorization produced by the author function.

Now that you have called attention to the phrasing of 'distance from author function' I have reconsidered it. Rather than distance from the author function, it would be better to say Foucault is deploying the author function to distance the "Foucault" entry from the work categorized and characterized by the authorial name Foucault. Of course both were written by the individual Foucault, but that is not what links them as texts within discourse. The author is not the same as the individual, and the author function works to categorize. This function is not something that is occupied, it is not a position.

Critics of Foucault have used the author function to connect Foucault's work (which is constructed differently by commentators) with "poststructuralist," "structuralist," "postmodernist," and many other discourses. The entry by M. Florence avoids these stale caricatures. Foucault deploys the author function through pseudonym. The text cannot be categorized as by "Foucault" (carrying the authorial mark), but can be considered part of Foucault's work. This deployment of the author function differentiates the entry from the programmatic statement of method in HoS, under The name of Foucault. M. Florence reflects on Foucault's overall work, considering how his various texts can contribute to a larger project.

Re: Let me rephrase...

Is there a translation of the entry in English? (I'm assuming he wrote it in French.) I'm curious to read it now.

One of the difficulties I have with the concept of the author function is when we ascribe the name of the flesh-and-blood author to that role, making it difficult to see that distinction. For instance, when you write "Foucault comments on Nietzsche's writings," do you mean the flesh-and-blood Foucault, or the author function Foucault? It's even more confusing for me is when you write "Foucault is deploying the author function," because I now imagine an Author writing as Author Function who then deploys (another level of) Author Function. In my head, I picture a set of Russian nesting dolls, with various layers of author function separating us from the flesh-and-blood author. And like many (but not all) sets of such dolls, they are all painted the same.

Am I missing something here?

Re: Let me rephrase...

Of the languages I tried to learn, French was not one.

Re: Let me rephrase...

Jeg taler ikke græsk. Hvad med det?