I've taken pretty serious notes on this Foucault, given how foundational it is to everything else that I do. Sexuality and bodies are pretty central to my own diss topic of ugly women, so even though he's pretty phallocentric, I'm going to be thinking about his ideas quite a bit. Especially as I note at the end, I'm not completely clear on how "bodies and pleasure" are in opposition to the agency of sex. As I'm responsible for summarizing Halperin's article "Forgetting Foucault," which takes this up as a central point of misunderstanding and misinterpretation on the part of those who have come after Foucault, it's probably significant that this is where I myself am getting tripped up.
Looooong notes after the jump.
Part One: We “Other Victorians”
· Three doubts about the repressive hypothesis:
1. Is sexual repression truly an established historical fact? Is what comes into view—and consequently permits one to advance an initial hypothesis—really the accentuation or even the establishment of a regime of sexual repression beginning in the seventeenth century?
2. Do the workings of power, and in particular those mechanisms that are brought into play in societies such as ours, really belong primarily to the category of repression? Are prohibition, censorship, and denial truly the forms through which power is exercised in a general way, if not in every society, most certainly in our own?
3. Did the critical discourse that addresses itself to repression come to act as a roadblock to a power mechanism that had operated unchallenged up to that point, or is it not in fact part of the same historical network as the thing it denounces (and doubtless misrepresents) by calling it “repression”? Was there really a historical rupture between the age of repression and the critical analysis of repression? (10)
· Is interested in the relationship between the discourses on sex and power? “The object, in short, is to define the regime of power-knowledge-pleasure that sustains the discourse on human sexuality in our part of the world” (11).
· Power: “to locate the forms of power, the channels it takes, and the discourses it permeates in order to reach the most tenuous and individual modes of behavior, the paths that give it access to the rare or scarcely perceivable forms of desire, how it penetrates and controls everyday pleasure” (11).
· Searching for:
o Discursive production “I would like to write the history of these
o Production of power instances and their transformations” (12)
o Propagation of knowledge
Part Two: The Repressive Hypothesis
I. The Incitement to Discourse
· The seventeenth century “was the beginning of an age of repression emblematic of what we call the bourgeois societies….Calling sex by its name thereafter became more difficult and more costly” (17)
o ** “As if in order to gain mastery over it in reality, it had first been necessary to subjugate it at the level of language, control its free circulation in speech, expunge it from the things that were said, and extinguish the words that rendered it too visibly present” (17)
o Delineation of places of silence/tact/discretion: “a whole restrictive economy, one that was incorporated into that politics of language and speech”—while at the same time, “there was a steady proliferation of discourses concerned with sex….the multiplication of discourses concerning sex in the field of exercise of power itself: an institutional incitement to speak about it, and to do so more and more; a determination on the part of the agencies of power to hear it spoken about, and to cause it to speak through explicit articulation and endlessly accumulated detail” (18).
· The role of confession in making the flesh the root of all evil (19)
o Shift in designating the moment of transgression from the moment of the actual act to the stirrings of desire (19-20): “Discourse, therefore, had to trace the meeting line of the body and the soul” (20)—and here is where the obligation for telling occurred
o “Not only will you confess to acts contravening the law, but you will seek to transform your desire, your every desire, into discourse” (21)
· àConfession in literature [Sade example]
· Not just tied to the Church
o Public interest (23)—“analysis, stocktaking, classification, and specification, of quantitative or causal studies” (24)
§ “a discourse on sex that would not derive from morality alone but from rationality as well” (24)
§ Sex as a “thing to be not simply condemned or tolerated but managed, inserted into systems of utility” (24)
o “There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourses” (27)
o School: What the architectural design of secondary schools of the eighteenth century reveals about the preoccupation with sex (27): “all who held a measure of authority were placed in a state of perpetual alert, which the fixtures, the precautions taken, the interplay of punishments and responsibilities, never ceased to reiterate” (28)
o Criminal Justice
· Demonstrates that “we are dealing les with a discourse on sex than with a multiplicity of discourses produced by a whole series of mechanisms operating in different institutions” (33)—“a dispersion of centers from which discourses emanated” (34)
II. The Perverse Implantation
· It would be a mistake to interpret this to mean that “the fact of speaking about sex were of itself more important than the forms of imperatives that were imposed on it by speaking about it” (36)
· Until the end of the eighteenth century the codes of (1) canonical law; (2) the “Christian pastoral”; and (3) civil law all functioned to regulate sexuality, primarily by focusing on marital relations (37)
· Into the nineteenth century, there was less demand for explicit details of what happened within the marriage: “a centrifugal movement with respect to heterosexual monogamy” (38)àscrutiny moved to madmen, children, criminals, “the setting apart of the ‘unnatural’ as a specific dimension in the field of sexuality” (39)
· The libertine gives way to the pervert (41), and more codification of perversions, as law defers to medicine
· The object of power here is “not that of interdiction”:
1. Combine the prohibition of adultery with the control of children’s sexuality/ decrease incest and infantile sexuality through campaigns against onanism, which “forcing them into hiding so as to make possible their discovery” (42)
2. This “persecution of the peripheral sexualities entailed an incorporation of perversions and a new specification of individuals” (42-3)
§ ****Here is where Foucault makes the sodomy/homosexual point: “As defined by the ancient civil or canonical codes, sodomy was a category of forbidden acts; their perpetrator was nothing more than the juridical subject of them. The nineteenth-century homosexual became a personage, a past, a case history, and a childhood, in addition to being a type of life, a life form, and a morphology, with an indiscreet anatomy and possibly a mysterious physiology” (43)
§ “the psychological, psychiatric, medical category of homosexuality was constituted from the moment it was characterized—Westphal’s famous article of 1870 on ‘contrary sexual sensations’ can stand as its date of birth—less by a type of sexual relations than by a certain quality of sexual sensibility, a certain way of inverting the masculine and feminine in oneself” (43) **here’s where he makes the designation between practice and identity
§ “the machinery of power that focused on this whole alien strain did not aim to suppress it, but rather to give it an analytical, visible, and permanent reality” (44)—when talking about Kraft-Ebbing—and given its appearance in the Well of Loneliness, this seems a fair assessment
3. Sexuality becomes embodied, embedded in the body. The interaction required by the medicalization—questioning, confession—means that “the medicalization of the sexually peculiar was both the effect and the instrument of this” (44).
§ “since sexuality was a medical and medicalizable object, one had to try and detect it—as a lesion, a dysfunction, or a symptom—in the depths of the organism, or on the surface of the skin, or among all the signs of behavior. The power which thus took charge of sexuality set about contacting bodies, caressing them with its eyes, intensifying areas, electrifying surfaces, dramatizing troubled moments. It wrapped the sexual body in its embrace” (44)èthe “sensualization of power” (44)
· àthe pleasure of exerting controlà”the intensity of the confession renewed the questioner’s curiosity” (44)àfeedback loop of power/pleasureà”Pleasure spread to the power that harried it; power anchored the pleasure it uncovered” (45)
§ Medical exam, psychiatric investigation, pedagogical report, family controls “all function as mechanisms with a double impetus: pleasure and power” (45)
· Pleasure of questioning and pleasure of evading poweràwhat Foucault calls the “perpetual spirals of power and pleasure” (45)
4. “Devices of sexual saturation so characteristic of the space and the social rituals of the nineteenth century” (45)
§ The nineteenth century family/household as a “network of pleasures and powers linked together at multiple points and according to transformable relationships” (46)
· “The implantation of perversions is an instrument-effect: it is through the isolation, intensification, and consolidation of peripheral sexualities that the relations of power to sex and pleasure branched out and multiplied, measured the body, and penetrated modes of conduct” (48)
Part Three: Scientia Sexualis
· Krafft-Ebbing: Psychopathia Sexualis (1886)
· Until Freud, sexuality was not talked about directly. Even in scientific discourse, the focus was primarily on pathologies, perversions, and oddities.
· Sexuality also assumed other powers: “it set itself up as the supreme authority in matters of hygienic necessity, taking up the old fears of venereal affliction and combining them with the new themes of asepsis, and the great evolutionist myths with the recent institutions of public health; it claimed to ensure the physical vigor and the moral cleanliness of the social body….In the name of biological and historical urgency, it justified the racisms of the state, which at the time were on the horizon. It grounded them in ‘truth’” (54)
§ How does it assume other powers? What mechanism makes this assumption possible (in other words, what is the nature of this agency?)
§ In Deliverance, this is at work in the presentation of the deviant hillbillies
· “they constructed around and apropos of sex an immense apparatus for producing truth, even if this truth was to be masked at the last moment. The essential point is that sex was not only a matter of sensation and pleasure, of law and taboo, but also of truth and falsehood, that the truth of sex became something fundamental, useful, or dangerous, precious or formidable; in short, that sex was constituted as a problem of truth” (56)
· “Historically, there have been two great procedures for producing the truth of sex” (57)
· Ars erotica
§ “truth is drawn from pleasure itself, understood as a practice and accumulated as experience; pleasure is not considered in relation to an absolute law of the permitted and the forbidden, nor by reference to a criterion of utility, but first and foremost in relation to itself….this knowledge must be deflected back into the sexual practice itself, in order to shape it as though form within and amplify its effects. In this way, there is formed a knowledge that must remain secret, not because of an element of infamy that might attach to its object, but because…it would lose its effectiveness and its virtue by being divulged” (57)
· Scientia sexualis
§ Confession: “procedures for telling the truth of sex which are geared to a form of knowledge-power strictly opposed to the art of initiations and the masterful secret” (58)—confession as “one of the main rituals we rely on for the production of truth” (58)
§ Transformation of the concept of avowal: “form being a guarantee of the status, identity, and value granted to one person by another, it came to
§ signify someone’s acknowledgment of his own actions and thoughts” (58)
§ Truth is produced, rather than uncovered—literature now is “ordered according to the infinite task of extracting from the depths of oneself, in between the words, a truth which the very form of the confession holds out like a shimmering mirage” (59)
§ Is there anything to be read here about fellatio being referred to as praying in Deliverance?
§ **Confession links together the “transformation of sex into discourse” and “the dissemination and reinforcement of heterogeneous sexualities”—“they are linked together that compels individuals to articulate their sexual peculiarity—not matter how extreme” (61)
§ The discourse of science as a confessional discourse (64)
· “The procedures by which that will to knowledge regarding sex…caused the rituals of confession to function within the norms of scientific regularity: how did this immense and traditional extortion of the sexual confession come to be constituted in scientific terms?” (65)
· “Through a clinical codification of the inducement to speak” (65)
· “Through the postulate of a general and diffuse causality” (65)
§ “The most discrete event in one’s sexual behavior…was deemed capable of entailing the most varied consequences throughout one’s existence” (65)
· “Through the principle of a latency intrinsic to sexuality” (66)
· “Through the method of interpretation” (66)
§ “The work of producing the truth was obliged to pass through this relationship if it was to be scientifically validated” (66)
§ The person who listens has a “hermeneutic function” (67)
§ The confession is no longer a test, but a sign (67)
· “Through the medicalization of the effects of confession” (67)
§ No longer sin but pathology
· These deployment of discourses have enabled “sexuality” to “embody the truth of sex and its pleasures” (68)
· “‘Sexuality’: the correlative of that slowly developed discursive practice which constitutes the scientia sexualis” (68)
· “sexuality was defined as being ‘by nature’: a domain susceptible to pathological processes, and hence one calling for therapeutic or normalizing interventions; a field of meanings to decipher; the site of processes concealed by specific mechanisms; a focus of indefinite causal relations; and an obscure speech (parole) that had to be ferreted out and listened to” (68)
· “The history of sexuality—that is, the history of what functioned in the nineteenth century as a specific field of truth—must first be written from the viewpoint of a history of discourses” (69)
§ This is what Halperin thinks is overlooked—and it’s true, that when Foucault says this, he is very careful to specify that he’s talking about a very specific definition of “sexuality”—“what functioned in the nineteenth century as a specific field of truth.” He goes on to posit a hypothesis about this history of discourses, but it’s easy to focus on the sexuality aspect of what he’s saying, rather than the more abstract points.
· Foucault’s Hypothesis: “The society that emerged in the nineteenth century—bourgeois, capitalist, or industrial society, call it what you will—did not confront sex with a fundamental refusal of recognition. On the contrary, it put into operation an entire machinery for producing true discourses concerning it. Not only did it speak of sex and compel everyone to do so; it also set out to formulate the uniform truth of sex. As if it suspected sex of harboring a fundamental secret. As if it needed this production of truth. As if it was essential that sex be inscribed not only in an economy of pleasure but in an ordered system of knowledge. Thus sex gradually became an object of great suspicion: the general and disquieting meaning that pervades our conduct and our existence, in spite of ourselves” (69).
· “And so, in this “question” of sex (in both senses: as interrogation and problemization, and as the need for confession and integration into a field of rationality), two processes emerge, the one always conditioning the other: we demand that sex speak the truth (but, since it is the secret and is oblivious to its own nature, we reserve for ourselves the function of telling the truth of its truth, revealed and deciphered at least), and we demand that it tell us our truth, or rather, the deeply buried truth of that truth about ourselves which we think we possess in our immediate consciousness” (69)
· There are remaining traces of ars erotica in the scientia sexualis, including initiation, and the “pleasure in the truth of pleasure” (71)—these confessions and discoveries “constitutes something like the errant fragments of an erotic art that is secretly transmitted by concession and the science of sex” (71)
Part Four: The Deployment of Sexuality
· “In the space of a few centuries, a certain inclination has led us to direct the question of what we are, to sex. Not so much to sex as representing nature, but to sex as history, as signification and discourse. We have placed ourselves under the sign of sex, but in the form of a Logic of Sex, rather than a Physics” (78)
· Building on the Diderot story of a magical ring that makes sex organs talk (which is itself based on a French fabliau), Foucault asks where a similar power resides: “what game of power it makes possible or presupposes, and how it is that each one of us has become a sort of attentive and imprudent sultan with respect to his own sex and others” (79)—again, his focus is to “write the history of this will to truth” (79)
· “I have repeatedly stressed that the history of the last centuries in Western societies did not manifest the movement of a power that was essentially repressive” (81)—rather, it was one that was mutually constitutive
o “the law is what constitutes both desire and the lack on which it is predicated. Where there is desire, the power relation is already present” (81)
· Intends to analyze (rather than theorize) the idea of power: “a definition of the specific domain formed by relations of power, and toward a determination of the instruments that will make possible its analysis” (82)
o “what distinguishes the analysis made in terms of the repression of instincts from that made in terms of the law of desire is clearly the way in which they each conceive of the nature and dynamics of the drives, not the way in which they conceive of power” (83)
o How the relationship between power and desire is understood determines whether the result is liberation—“if power is seen as having only an external hold on desire”—or being trapped—“if it is constitutive of desire itself” (83)
· Features of the relations of power with sex
o The negative relation: “Where sex and pleasure are concerned, power can ‘do’ nothing but say no to them; what is produces, if anything, is absences and gaps” (83).
o The insistence of the rule: “Power is essentially what dictates its law to sex. Which means first of all that sex is placed by power into a binary system: licit and illicit….Secondly, power prescribes as ‘order’ for sex that operates at the same time as a form of intelligibility….And finally, power acts by laying down the rule: power’s hold on sex is maintained through language, or rather through the act of discourse that creates…a rule of law” (83)
§ **”The pure form of power resides in the function of the legislator; and its mode of action with regard to sex is of a juridico-discursive character” (83)
o The cycle of prohibition: thou shalt nots—“To deal with sex, power employs nothing more than a law of prohibition” (84)
o The logic of censorship
§ “affirming that such a thing is not permitted,
§ “preventing it from being said,
§ “denying that it exists” (84)
§ The logic of censorship mechanisms: “links the inexistent, the illicit, and the inexpressible in such a way that each is at the same time the principle and the effect of the others”(84)
o The uniformity of the apparatus
§ “Power over sex is exercised in the same way at all levels….it operates according to the simple and endlessly reproduced mechanisms of law, taboo, and censorship” (84)
§ The only difference is scale. “Confronted by a power that is law, the subject who is constituted as a subject—who is ‘subjected—is he who obeys. To the formal homogeneity of power in these various instances corresponds the general form of submission in the one who is constrained by it” (85).
· Power is the power of “no”—“anti-energy” (85)
o It is successful insofar as it is able to disguise itself: “Its success is proportional to its ability to hide its own mechanisms” (86)
o The power which gained acceptance during the Middle Ages did so in the guise of “regulation, arbitration, and demarcation, as a way of introducing order” (86)
o àpower today “is not ensured by right but by technique, not by law but by normalization, not by punishment but by control, methods that are employed on all levels and in forms that go beyond the state and its apparatus” (89)
o “the problem is not to know whether desire is alien to power, whether it is prior to the law as is often thought to be the case….This question is beside the point. Whether desire is this or that, in any case one continues to conceive of it in relation to a power that is always juridical and discursive, a power that has its central point in the law” (90)
o **”One remains attached to a certain image of power-law…which was traced out by the theoreticians of right and the monarchic institution. It is this image that we must break free of, that is, of the theoretical privilege of law and sovereignty, if we wish to analyze power within the concrete and historical framework of its operation. We must construct an analytics of power that no longer takes law as a model and code” (90)àwhy don’t people talk about this passage when talking about the political implications of Foucault?
· What power does not mean:
o “I do not mean ‘Power’ as a group of institutions and mechanisms that ensure the subservience of the citizens of a given state.”
o “I do not mean either a mode of subjugation which, in contrast to violence, has the form of rule.”
o “I do not have in mind a general system of domination exerted by one group over another, a system whose effects, through successive derivations, pervade the entire social body” (92)
· Definition of Power: “the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization; as the process which, through ceaseless struggles and confrontations, transforms, strengthens, or reverses them; as the support which these force relations find in one another, thus forming a chain or a system, or on the contrary, the disjunctions and contradictions which isolate them from one another; and lastly, as the strategies in which they take effect, whose general design or institutional crystallization is embodied in the state apparatus, in the formulation of the law, in the various social hegemonies” (93).
· “Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere” (93)
· Power is “the name that one attributes to a complex strategical situation in a particular society” (93)
· Resistance is never exterior to power (95)—this may be where people get cynical politics in Foucault from. However, there are things besides resistance, right?
o 96—greater detail about resistance: “Are there no great radical ruptures, massive binary divisions, then? Occasionally, yes. But more often one is dealing with mobile and transitory points of resistance, producing cleavages in a society that shift about, fracturing unities and effecting regroupings, furrowing across individuals themselves, cutting them up and remolding them, marking off irreducible regions in them, in their bodies and minds. Just as the network of power relations ends by forming a dense web that passes through apparatuses and institutions, without being exactly localized in them, so too the swarm of points of resistance traverses social stratifications and individual unities. And it is doubtless the strategic codification of these points of resistance that makes a revolution possible, somewhat similar to the way in which the state relies on the institutional integration of power relationships” (96)
· The important question to ask, then, about sex and the “discourses of truth that have taken charge of it,” is: “In a specific type of discourse on sex, in a specific form of extortion of truth, appearing historically and in specific places (around the child’s body, apropos of women’s sex, in connection with practices restricting births, and so on), what were the most immediate, the most local power relations at work? How did they make possible these kinds of discourses, and conversely, how were these discourses used to support power relations? How was the action of these power relations modified by their very exercise, entailing a strengthening of some terms and a weakening of others, with effects of resistance and counterinvestments, so that there has never existed one type of stable subjugation, given once and for all? How were these power relations linked to one another according to the logic of a great strategy, which in retrospect takes on the aspect of a unitary and voluntarist politics of sex?” (97)
· Four rules to proceed by:
o Rule of Immanence: Especially with respect to resistance (but also in terms of science), returns to question of exteriority—but you can focus on “local power centers” (98)
o Rules of continual variations: “We must not look for who has the power in the order of sexuality (men, adults, parents, doctors) and who is deprived of it (women, adolescents, children, patients); nor for who has the right to know and who is forced to remain ignorant. We must seek rather the pattern of the modifications which the relationships of force imply by the very nature of their process” (99)
o Rule of double conditioning: It’s a mistake to think of different levels, like the family as a microcosm of society—rather, the two centers are mutually constitutive and reinforcing.
o Rule of the tactical polyvalence of discourses: There is not a discourse of power with one that runs counter to it—rather, there are a “multiplicity of discursive elements that can come into play in various strategies” (100). The same discourse which is used to condemn or pathologize homosexuality, for example, “also made possible the formulation of a ‘reverse’ discourse: homosexuality began to speak in its own behalf” (101).
· “Sexuality….appears rather as an especially dense transfer point for relations of power….Sexuality is not the most intractable element in power relations, but rather one of those endowed with the greatest instrumentality: useful for the greatest number of maneuvers and capable of serving as a point of support, as a linchpin, for the most varied strategies” (103)àHalperin would note that he uses the word “sexuality” here, not sex.
· “There is no single, all-encompassing strategy, valid for all of society and uniformly bearing on all the manifestations of sex” (103)
· “Four great strategic unities which, beginning in the eighteenth century, formed specific mechanisms of knowledge and power centering on sex” (103)àled to the figures of the “hysterical woman, the masturbating child, the Malthusan couple, and the perverse adult” (105)
1. A hysterization of women’s bodies (104)
§ “The feminine body was analyzed—qualified and disqualified—as being thoroughly saturated with sexuality; whereby it was integrated into the sphere of medical practices, by reason of a pathology intrinsic to it; whereby, finally, it was placed in organic communication with the social body (whose regulated fecundity it was supposed to ensure), the family space (of which it had to be a substantial and functional element), and the life of children” (104)
2. A pedagogization of chidlren’s sex (104)
3. A socialization of procreative behavior (104)
4. A psychiatrization of perverse pleasure (105)
· “relations of sex gave rise, in every society, to a deployment of alliance: a system of marriage, of fixation and development of kinship ties, of transmission of names and possessions” (106)àfrom the eighteenth century forward, however, this has been supplanted by a deployment of sexuality—while a deployment of alliance functions to “reproduce the interplay of relations and maintain the law that governs then; the deployment of sexuality, on the other hand, engenders a continual extension of areas and forms of control” (106)
· “if the deployment of alliance is firmly tied to the economy due to the role it can play in the transmission or circulation of wealth, the deployment of sexuality is linked to the economy through numerous and subtle relays, the main one of which, however, is the body—the body that produces and consumes” (107)
· Sexuality “has been linked from the outset with an intensification of the body—with its exploitation as an object of knowledge and an element in relations of power” (107)
· The deployment of sexuality was constructed around the deployment of alliance (107)
· The emergence of the family cell allowed the deployment of sexuality to emerge, as “its role is to anchor sexuality and provide it with a permanent support” (108)
§ “The family is the interchange of sexuality and alliance: it conveys the law and the juridical dimension in the deployment of sexuality; and it conveys the economy of pleasure and the intensity of sensations in the regime of alliance” (108)àthis allows us to understand, among other things, that “sexuality is ‘incestuous’ from the start” (109)
· History of sexuality which is centered on mechanics of repression sees to big ruptures: seventeenth century, in which mechanisms of repression were put in place, and twentieth century, when they began to loosen. (115)
· However, Foucault questions this chronology. Sexual/marital repressions were in place in the medieval Church
· The end of the eighteenth century also saw the transformation of sex into both a secular concern as well as a concern of the state (116)
a. Pedagogy, with its concern over the sexuality of children
b. Medicine, which was concerned with the specific sexual physiology of women
c. Demography, which was concerned with regulating births (116)
· Nineteenth century saw theories of “perversion-heredity-degenerescence [which] formed the solid nucleus of the new technologies of sex” (118)àapplications in psychiatry as well as “jurisprudence, legal medicine, agencies of social control, the surveillance of dangerous or endangered children” (119)
· The “most rigorous techniques” of these new technologies were applied to the upper classes, first, as were the new family organization schemas.” (120)à”The bourgeoisie began by considering that its own sex was something important, a fragile treasure, a secret that had to be discovered at all costs” (120-1)
a. The “hysterization of women” finds its anchor point in the figure of the nervous woman (121)
b. The working classes managed to avoid the deployment of sexuality longer, though they were subject to the deployment of alliances (121)
§ Specific “mechanisms of sexualization” were birth control, the “organization of the ‘conventional family’” in the 1830s, and the “development of the juridical and medical control of perversions, for the sake of a general protection of society and the race” (122)
c. That the upper classes tried it on themselves first is not any sort of bourgeois asceticism, but rather was “an intensification of the body, a problematization of health and its operational terms: it was a question of techniques for maximizing life….vigor, longevity, progeniture” (123)àspecifically, “the deployment of sexuality….has to be seen as the self-affirmation of one class, rather than the enslavement of another” (123)
· Sexuality: “the set of effects produced in bodies, behaviors, and social relations by a certain deployment deriving from a complex political technology” (127)
· “sexuality is originally, historically bourgeois, and that, in its successive shifts and transpositions, it induces specific class effects” (127)
· Change in discourse of upper class sexuality the end of the nineteenth century:
· “The discourse which at the end of the eighteenth century said: ‘There is a valuable element within us that must be feared and treated with respect; we must exercise extreme care in dealing with it, lest it be the cause of countless evils,’ was replaced by a discourse which said: ‘Our sexuality, unlike that of others, is subjected to a regime of repression so intense as to present a constant danger” (128). “Henceforth, social differentiation would be affirmed, not by the ‘sexual’ quality of the body, but by the intensity of its repression” (129)
· **”Psychoanalysis comes in at this juncture, both a theory of the essential interrelatedness of the law and desire, and a technique for relieving the effects of the taboo where its rigor makes it pathogenic” (129)
Part Five: Right of Death and Power Over Life
· Juridical power typically understood as a “right of seizure: of things, time, bodies, and ultimately life itself” (136)—though this is now just one of many mechanisms of power (“working to incite, reinforce, control, monitor, optimize, and organize the forces under it: a power bent on generating forces, making them grow, and ordering them” (136))
o This is counterbalanced by a much larger capacity for death, for bloodier wars than ever before possible: “massacres have become vital” (137)
· Under sovereign regimes, death marked the passage of territory from one sovereign to another. Now, however, “death is power’s limit…death becomes the most secret aspect of existence, the most ‘private’” (138)
· “Starting in the seventeenth century, this power over life evolved into two basic forms:”
o Body as a machine: “its disciplining, the optimization of its capabilities, the extortion of its forces, the parallel increase of its usefulness and its docility, its integration into systems of efficient and economic controls, all this was ensured by the procedures of power that characterized the disciplines: an anatomo-politics of the human body”
o Species body: “the body imbued with the mechanics of life and serving as the basis of the biological processes: propagation, births and mortality, the level of health, life expectancy and longevity, with all the conditions that can cause these to vary. Their supervision was effected through an entire series of interventions and regulatory controls: a bio-politics of the population” (139).
o The deployment of sexuality was one of the “concrete arrangements that would go to make up the great technology of power in the nineteenth century” (140)àsuch “bio-power” was crucial to the development of capitalism, which “would not have been possible without the controlled insertion of bodies into the machinery of production and the adjustment of the phenomena of population to economic processes….If the development of the great instruments of the state, as institutions of power, ensure the maintenance of production relations, the rudiments of anatomo-and bio-politics, created in the eighteenth century as techniques of power present at every level of the social body and utilized by very diverse institutions…, operated in the sphere of economic processes, their development, and the forces working to sustain them” (141).
o Bio-power: the “investment of the body, its valorization, and the distributive management of its forces” (141)
o Because of changes in production, and less scarcity of resources, “Power would no longer be dealing simply with legal subjects over whom the ultimate dominion was death, but with living beings, and the mastery it would be able to exercise over them would have to be applied at the level of life itself” (143)
o Bio-history: “the pressures through which the movements of life and the processes of history interfere with one another” (143)
o Bio-power: “what brought life and its mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life” (143)
· “What might be called a society’s ‘threshold of modernity’ has been reached when the life of the species is wagered on its own political strategies” (143)
o The law operates more as a norm, than as a murderous threat (144)
o When power does not derive from the right of sovereignty, then it becomes life, not the law, which is the “issue of political struggles” (145)
o Sex both is tied to the discipline of the body, as well as the regulation of the population (145)
o “at the juncture of the ‘body’ and the ‘population,’ sex became a crucial target of a power organized around the management of life rather than the menace of death” (147)
· Contrasts a society of blood (where power speaks through blood—“blood was a reality with a symbolic function” (147), succeeded by a “society of ‘sex,’ or rather a society ‘with a sexuality’: the mechanisms of power addressed to the body, to life, to what causes it to proliferate, to what reinforces the species, its stamina, its ability to dominate, or its capacity for being used” (147)
o Sexuality is “not a mark or a symbol, it was an object and a target” (147)
o Sexuality “was an effect with a meaning-value” (148)
o àSociety went from “a symbolics of blood to an analytics of sexuality” (148)
o This transition was contemporary with de Sade.
· Anticipates criticism that “I speak of sexuality as if sex did not exist”; isn’t he just trying to “reveal what might be called the ‘erotic zones’ in the social body” (151).
o Answer: his project is “to show how deployments of power are directly connected to the body—to bodies, functions, physiological processes, sensations, and pleasures; far from the body having to be effaced, what is needed is to make it visible through an analysis in which the biological and the historical are not consecutive to one another…but are bound together in an increasingly complex fashion in accordance with the development of the modern technologies of power that take life as their objective” (152)
· “the notion of ‘sex’ made it possible to group together, in an artificial unity, anatomical elements, biological functions, conducts, sensations, and pleasures, and it enabled one to make use of this fictitious unity as a causal principle, an omnipresent meaning, a secret to be discovered everywhere: sex was thus able to function as a unique signifier and as a universal signified” (154)
· Sex: “that agency which appears to dominate us and that secret which seems to underlie all that we are, that point which enthralls us through the power it manifests and the meaning it conceals, and which we ask to reveal what we are and to free us from what defines—is doubtless but an ideal point made necessary by the deployment of sexuality and its operation” (155)
· “It is through sex—in fact, an imaginary point determined by the deployment of sexuality—that each individual has to pass in order to have access to his own intelligibility (seeing that it is both the hidden aspect and the generative principle of meaning), to the whole of his body (since it is a real and threatened part of it, while symbolically constituting the whole), to his identity (since it joins the force of a drive ot the singularity of history” (156)
· “The rallying point for the counterattack against the deployment of sexuality ought not to be sex-desire, but bodies and pleasure” (157)
o The meaning here is not totally clear to me. Bodies and pleasure are outside of deployment of sexuality, somehow outside of the system? We must break away from the “agency of sex…if we aim—through a tactical reversal of the various mechanisms of sexuality—to counter the grips of power with the claims of bodies, pleasures, and knowledges, in their multiplicity and their possibility of resistance” (157)
§ To counter the grips of power with the claims of bodies, pleasures, and knowledges. I need to think about what this means.