Textual Politics: Foucault and Derrida Author(s): Michael Sprinker Source: boundary 2, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring, 1980), pp.

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Textual Politics: Foucault and Derrida

Michael Sprinker
"Omens, presentiments, signals pass day and night through our organism like wave impulses. To interpret them or to use them, that is the question. The two are irreconcilable. Cowardice and apathy counsel the former, lucidity and freedom the latter."
- Walter Benjamin

"It is with history that we must reconcile ourselves."
- Jean Hyppolite

As criticism and theory come more and more into the limelight in literary studies, as the number of journals, books, and conferences devoted to literary theory and critical method increases geometrically each year, and as the lessons and methods of all this "critical inquiry"' seep into pedagogical practice and produce an even greater number of students who will soon themselves be teachers implementing a similar pedagogy in their own classrooms - as all these institutional consequences of the current and (to me at least) exciting debate over criticism and theory begin to


psychoanalysis (revised and revivified itself in France).there are many more souls engaged in professional literary study today than were thirty or even twenty years ago) an increasing quantity of moribund work. a discipline if you will. since traditional methods of literary study (close reading of the New Critical sort. the so-called "scandal" created by new critical languages. The sudden infusion of heretofore unfamiliar critical discourses. but they are increasingly becoming a field of study. though it is certain that both child and parent have difficulty acknowledging their kinship at times.by quoting from Foucault's polemical rejoinder to Derrida's essay.can be seen to have reinvigorated literary criticism and to have led to a number of salutary changes in the face of literary study. This was probably inevitable. but the claims of contemporary theory to a revolutionary praxis and the tendency of certain powerful methods of reading and interpretation to mystify and conceal behind a radical rhetorical posture their essential conservatism and their continuation of the fundamental traditions of the literary academy. is not the appropriateness or the validity of contemporary theory versus traditional praxis. little more than elaborations of received methods of interpretation applied to specific texts and authors. for example.) Nonetheless. For criticism and theory are fast becoming institutionalized. literary history written on the model of Taine and Saintsbury) have produced in recent years (partly for demographic reasons ." The passage is particularly significant for my purposes. is decidedly less revolutionary and scandalous than one might think. phenomenology . My way into this problem will trace the paths followed by two of the most influential figures on contemporary American criticism and theory. to use the word "reading" in the comparatively innocent and unreflective way one might have used it twenty years ago. It may be that literary theory is hardly more threatening to the literary academy than an adolescent child to its parent. The problem I wish to explore.the problematic of beginning itself . textual scholarship trained on the canon. and not only do they appear to be changing the shape of the field of literary studies. In it. it is necessary to look critically and suspiciously at the current critical scene. Foucault attacks what he contemptuously labels Derrida's "petite p6dagogie": 76 . (It is difficult now. speech-act theory.assume a primary significance.most being imported from Europe and affronting the conventional pieties of Anglo-American literary study . structuralism. it would be a mistake to regard the current explosion in literary theory and critical methodology without suspicion.2 Let me begin. Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. The frequently uttered claim of contemporary theory to a revolutionary praxis within the institution of literary study. much of it formulaic and uncreative. "Cogito et historie de la folie. then. ignoring for the moment the question no reader of Foucault or Derrida can avoid being self-conscious about . unto themselves. hermeneutics. since it addresses directly the institutional consequences of Derrida's thought.

[It is] a pedagogy which teaches the student that there is nothing outside the text.3 Whatever one might say about Derrida's writing itself (certainly Foucault is not entirely just to the rigor and the intellectual range of Derrida's texts. Whatever his wishes or intentions in the matter. or between what Harold Bloom has called weak and strong poets. Derrida has enclosed the text in a hermetic casing which enshrines the text's sovereignty (like the Bible in scriptural hermeneutics. is spoken "the sense of being. The difference between Derrida and Foucault is the difference between the exegetical and the poetic-creative. but in the words as erased. an orthodoxy precisely of the order described by Foucault: "which gives to the voice of the masters this sovereignty without limit that permits them to reread the text indefinitely. and students in this country. far from liberating the text from worn-out and tiresome traditions of reading and interpretation.8 and that. in its interstices. which often manifest a "relentless erudition"4 comparable to Foucault's own)." A pedagogy which inversely gives to the voice of the masters this sovereignty without limit that permits them to reread the text indefinitely. reigns the reserve of the origin. but that in this very place. the interpretation of the Bible among the Church Fathers and the creative revision of the Bible in Milton and Blake. Foucault has accurately portrayed much that might today be called the Derridean pedagogy proliferating in American academic circles under the name of deconstruction. claiming absolute priority for exegesis. not in the words to be sure. but fairly representative of much of 77 ."6 Like any orthodoxy. and they bid to become (as Jeffrey Mehlman noted not long ago in Diacritics5) a tyrannical orthodoxy. Derrida's texts have been comfortably assimilated by a wide range of critics. the archival work that one associates with Foucault). for reading and interpretation which are produced by no other forces than the collision of text with reader. To put it another way (one that is perhaps not entirely just to Derrida. but that in it. as Foucault has done so much to show. in its spaces and its omissions. and whatever the difference (which in many cases is great indeed) between the achievement of Derrida's own writing and the work of his disciples and imitators. the Derridean text becomes a sacred object) and at the same time guarantees the sovereignty of the Derridean reader. in their grid.7 Foucault's polemic thus challenges Derrida on some fundamental points: that Derrida's readings are ahistorical. it excludes certain kinds of statements and certain kinds of inquiry (for instance. Derridean deconstruction closes off many avenues of thought. that it is thus not at all necessary to seek elsewhere. say. that Derrida's own discourse merely revives familiar hermeneutical models which are themselves historically determined. between. teachers.

of literature as well. p. Derrida has spoken a revolutionary rhetoric. literature. Derrida's writing begins within a text (the "general text"l13 is that of Western philosophy. and stressing themes of violence. So stated. He uses them only by letting himself. be 78 . Heidegger. Plato. which cannot not take the scent into account. His "departure" (sortie . though he has been effectively tolling this bell (or beating this drum .10 From the moment he burst upon the intellectual scene (roughly 1967 with the publication of De la grammatologie. Husserl). in Glas. has already taught us that it was impossible to justify a point of departure absolutely. One must be wary. The position from which he launches his critique is within that tradition. L'Ecriture et la diffdrence and La Voix et le phenomene). and life his discourse by definition cannot dominate absolutely. the human sciences . however much that position has been normalized by critics in the academy. not incidentally. Rousseau. the birth of grammatology. even though at times he claims to be on its "margins.see his essay "Tympan"l 1) all along.the work he has fathered among American literary critics9).all writing in the West . and yet it aims at an explosion of the text itself in the activity of reading (lecture): The writer writes in a language and in a logic whose proper system. for this beginning is scarcely pure or absolute but is itself inscribed within and circumscribed by the discourse of philosophy.but the local instances are almost invariably the "major" authors in the literary and philosophical tradition."12 The beginning and continuing question raised by Derrida is the epistemology of the text in an era of ontological incertitude. and transgression (it is not accidental that Derrida is much interested in Artaud and Bataille). But as I have said. roughly.the French suggests the aggressive militancy of Derrida's project) is "radically empiricist. Foucault's critique of Derrida's "little pedagogy" is perhaps not a just presentation of Derrida's position. Hegel. usurpation. the end of the book and the beginning of writing. he sounded the death-knell of philosophy. Derrida's works undertake a radical critique of the Western tradition in philosophy and. after a fashion and up to a point. Recently. it is not difficult to predict which alternative most of us would choose. the alternatives presented for contemporary criticism by Derrida and Foucault are. Mallarme." As he says in Of Grammatology: "We must begin wherever we are and the thought of the trace. It proceeds like a wandering thought on the possibility of itinerary and of method" (OG. Wherever we are: in a text where we already believe ourselves to be. 162). however. laws. announcing the closure of Western philosophy. the endless repetition of (though admittedly vigorous and sophisticated) commentary versus the energetic production of new statements that arise from within discourse but resist and subvert it at the same time.

Reading and text are mutually constitutive and irreducible. The resistance of the text to this disentangling or "unstitching" (dd-coudre. Derrida constructs himself through what he has called "deconstruction. Derrida's paradoxical and seemingly all but impossible project is 79 . however." but truly critical reading goes further. limited in its scope to the structure which the text itself imposes. of weakness or of force. unperceived by the writer. p. As he says in the "Positions" interview: "Were there a definition of diffirance. As Derrida says in virtually the same breath as the passages just quoted: "il n'y a pas de hors-texte" (OG." Deconstruction is thus a constitutive process that proceeds by a kind of pure Hegelian negation but rejects the Hegelian conclusion that negation is at the same time an Aufhebung. but it is also much more. acts of willing that can never realize more than a rewriting of what has been recorded and preserved elsewhere. the interruption. And the reading must always aim at a certain relationship.14 But such an extension of textuality is inherently problematic. Derrida believes that the "moment of doubling commentary should no doubt have its place in a critical reading. Derrida's readings are at once free and determined. it would be precisely the limit. In effect. 158) Reading is commentary."16 Very much in the manner of Nietzsche (whose aphoristic energies Derrida's writing often resembles1 7). This relationship is not a certain quantitative distribution of shadow and light. since it begs the question of who or what produces critical reading. Derrida produces the will in a thorough dismantling of all volition. 158). Derrida has addressed this question in a number of places. p. reading remains bound by the text. At the same time.governed by the system.15 but each time he has essentially finessed the point by producing yet another reading which does not establish the grounds of its own possibility but rather shows how the attempt to reach such a stable beginning point or ground is always already differentiated into oppositions that undermine the project of such a pure beginning. "La pharmacie de Platon") produces the signifying structure of the reading. between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of the language that he uses. Reading does not so much confront the text as wage a guerilla war against the text's hegemony. (OG. but a signifying structure that critical reading should produce. His perpetual employment of the French phrase vouloir-dire to designate "meaning" (German Bedeutung)18 reveals how intimately intertwined the categories of will and signification are for Derrida. the destruction of the Hegelian sublation everywhere that it is operative. a word that plays an important role in Derrida's reading of the Phaedrus. reading "cannot legitimately transgress the text toward something other than it". inside the text in a most radical way.

the semantic infinity of a word or a concept. Formalism and thematism fail to realize what Paul de Man calls the aporias of the text. neither true nor false with regard to these axioms. illogical: "A text is only a text if it hides at first glance. A text for Derrida is always unstable. its depth or its volume. in a sense. "Undecidability" here does not indicate some enigmatic equivocalness. these anti-words or anti-concepts all share in the fundamental semantic undecidability that Derrida believes is characteristic of all texts. pli. etc. Derrida cites this undecidability with respect to the concept of "allusion" in Mallarm6: Allusion . at the first coming to it. being astonished with this chance which installs a natural language into the element of speculative dialectic. hymen). being given a system of axioms which govern a multiplicity.carried out in part through the coining of a dizzying array of neologisms and through his exploitation of numerous fortuitous puns. still less some "Gegensinn der Urworte" (Abel). A tertium datur without synthesis. is precisely the operation that we call here by analogy undecidable. nor in contradiction with them. some poetical mystery of the word hymen. An undecidable proposition. supp/lment. is neither an analytic or deductive consequence of the axioms. Meinen. the sedimentation in it of two contradictory significations (continuity and discontinuity. its blindnesses. It is not a question here of repeating with regard to hymen what Hegel undertook with such German words as Aufhebung. through the creation. What counts here is the formal or syntactical practice which composes and decomposes it... some inexhaustible ambivalence of a word in "natural" language. the law of its composition and the 80 . impenetrable. is a proposition which. inside and outside. dissdmination). some "historical" ambiguity. the possibility of which G6del demonstrated in 1931.19 Derrida carries out a rigorous critique of formalist and thematic criticism. Urteil.20 demonstrating how this criticism can never escape the reductive position of "semanticizing" what is without determinate semantic content. of a Derridean code one must learn in order to make one's way through the labyrinth of Derrida's texts.). Some of the words Derrida finds in the texts he read (pharmakon. But whether he discovers them fortuitously in texts or creates them for the moment of his writing. What counts here is not the lexical richness. others he conceives himself (diffdrance. identity and difference.. etc. Beispiel. ddconstruction.

"22 The building blocks of this newly constructed transcendental idealism are those anti-concepts or anti-words that Derrida carries with him from text to text as if they had some privileged status within language and could serve to elucidate. As Richard Rorty has perceptively noted.rule of its play. More: A text always remains imperceptible. to the lure of philosophical system-building. to anything that we could rigorously denominate a perception. whether that might be somehow "interior" and articulating and combining two incompatible significations under the same yoke. and something left over for the cat. or whether it might be "exterior. What we have to do with therefore are more or less larger syntactical operating units. and with differing economies of condensation. The law and the rule are not sheltered in the inaccessibility of a secret. have a double. In a text there is God's plenty. But to stop here. aside from the rather disquieting glibness of its skepticism. and diffirance and a few others." dependent on the code by which the word is made to operate. a side which makes it look as if he in the end succumbs to nostalgia. To say that a text is undecidable is to have made a decision about it. Derrida is certainly aware of this difficulty and attempts to deal with it directly in "La double seance": What goes for "hymen" goes. contradictory. admit into the space of their play both contradiction .. If undecidability comes more and more to be the conclusion reached by the Derridean theory of the text. and specifically that of constructing yet another transcendental idealism. which is always linked to their syntactical form. to argue that all texts are mise en abyme is at one and the same time to plunge them into an endless self-reflexivity and to make the fact of self-reflexivity the referent of one's own textual practice-which is effectively to removeone's own text (the critical reading) from the abyss of self-reflexion. in the present. while themselves escaping from. mutatis mutandis. hyphen (uph'en). they simply never betray themselves. an evasion of the very problem that Derridean reading sets out to attack. the practically endless task of reading and interpretation noted by Foucault and cheerfully proclaimed by Derrida's numerous disciples. to reside comfortably in the belief that all texts are undecidable and to glory in the recognition that this invests criticism with the equivalent of Dostoievskian freedom is."21 Hence. "There is a side of Derrida which looks unfortunately constructive. for all those signs which. like pharmakon. the problematic of language itself. But the syntactical composition or decomposition of the sign makes the question of interior or exterior quite irrelevant.. and undecidable value. then it is clear that the privileged signification Derrida has tried to banish from reading has been reinserted into critical discourse. These "words" 81 . . supplement.

because of the indecision and instability fundamental to it. Foucault's work. indecision. especially since The Archaeology of Knowledge. they belong somehow both to the consciousness and to the unconscious. of how to do historical work that is not bound by the constraints of traditional intellectual history. perhaps invulnerable (in the same way that Godel could describe a system of propositions as internally consistent even though it could produce propositions which contradicted its own axioms25). a kind of inviolable system that not only repeats itself endlessly (this is perhaps more true of Derrida's imitators than of Derrida himself). passed through and not passed through at one and the same time. The double science to which these two theaters must give birth would have been called doxa and not epistme' by Plato. It operates in two absolutely different places. even in the intense and precise way that Derrida reads any text. The logic (or perhaps illogic) of Derrida's work is compelling. but more importantly. of which Freud has told us that it is tolerant of as well as insensitive to contradiction. epistdme. but denies the possibility of any reading reaching a point other than the terminus of undecidability. The reader must also determine the regularities of the discursive practice which govern Descartes's "meditation" and which produce the Cartesian discourse under the pressure of intra. even if they are only separated by a veil.24 It is at this point that the Derridean pedagogy becomes subject to the critique begun by Foucault. To the extent then that the text depends on these "words. The central question for Foucault has always been one of method. it becomes. I scarcely need add. ought to criticize Derrida on ontological grounds-grounds that. Foucault argues that it is not enough for Derrida merely to "read" the text of Descartes's Meditations. doxa for stability." that it is folded around them.23 But once again. and the predictability of the conclusions accumulate in his work. as the words. Derrida would not recognize as valid. Without dialectical relief. In the service of such a critique. but one can and. concepts. and it is in their methods of criticism and analysis that Foucault and Derrida differ profoundly. decidability. In his response to Derrida's unfavorable reading of Folie et ddraison. I propose. without even any respite.and extra-textual determinants: 82 .and non-contradiction (as well as the contradiction and the noncontradiction between contradiction and noncontradiction). slightly ajar. the text therefore acts out a double scene. is fundamental. Derrida has merely substituted instability. Derrida's "double science" does not just depend upon and originate in a unitary theory of knowledge.

It is this double reading that the Meditations require: an ensemble of propositions forming a system that each reader must traverse if he wishes to demonstrate the truth. with a proper sense of its etymology) determined by the sedimentation of the Western family of languages which privilege unity. and madness. Foucault's desire to write the history of madness is chimerical. Thus. and reason over heterogeneity. God. the history of Western thought is but a series of permutations on a central theme (presence. a sovereignty which precedes all thought whatever. if he wishes to be in his turn the subject enunciating. on his own account. and so on. According to Foucault (and his reasoning seems almost irresistible on this point in the light of much of Derrida's other writing). who has been accused of being unable to account for historical change. At this point. this truth. but upon the discursive practice which enables this discourse to be produced at all. by which each reader must be affected. challenges Derrida on grounds of the inability of Derridean reading to specify differences. and an ensemble of modifications forming an exercise that each reader must effectuate. absence. who says the same thing as Husserl. Derrida contends that Foucault's language cannot possibly escape from the traps of ordinary language. Foucault.27 Oddly enough. for Derrida all thinkers are one thinker. in his turn. and all differences can be collapsed (as Derrida collapses the Cartesian distinction between cogito and doubt. any reading of Descartes must not only take into account but must describe and analyze the rule of meditative practice which makes Descartes's meditation possible. who says the same thing as Plato.28 taking Derrida to task for reducing history to a Platonic series (and thus denying the very possibility of historical change). Foucault claims that for Derrida. In short. that Foucault's writing is merely a reaffirmation of the Cartesian cogito. Neither the Cartesian meditation nor the reading of it is free from the constraints of discursive regularities which are specific to the historical and political moments which each inhabits and which intersect in the moment of the critical reading of the Cartesian text. logocentrism. and for failing to specify differences in and between texts because of his inattention to the discursive practice within and 83 . the transcendental reduction. presence.26 For Foucault. Foucault says the same thing as Descartes. Hence. and that it is radically (I use this word advisedly. what one comes to is Foucault. since no writing can do more than reinscribe the series of terms representing reason's sovereignty over and production of madness. the cogito). the essential opposition between Derrida and Foucault emerges. or the Foucauldian distinction between reason and madness) into a unitary concept of reason. the production of the Cartesian discourse does not depend upon an absolutely pure philosophical beginning (as Derrida argues it does).

through which the text is produced. he establishes the modern prison as both the symbol of and an actual location in the grid of power that permeates modern political and social life. In his recent books. Foucault has become obsessed with the concept of power. which haunts all the discourses written from within the Western family of languages? If Derrida is correct in his belief that the tropes of language fix the boundaries of all discourse. described by Derrida. nor is that how it functions. For Foucault. To analyze the concept of prison is to consider how it came about as an instrument of knowledge and to demonstrate how knowledge is produced by the technology of power. Power is neither there.30 Foucault shows how the prison (and modern society generally) raises epistemological and political questions at the same time. But if all modern knowledge is intimately wedded to 84 . moreover. its relationship to power in modern society. particularly insofar as power is linked inextricably to knowledge and to the production of discourses in modern society. namely. for the exercise of power in modern times is at once the most visible and most secret feature of a society's functioning: Power in the West is what displays itself the most.29 Foucault's purpose is to show how contemporary social structures can be seen effectively at work in the actual practice of penality. the two realms of knowledge and power cannot be separated either in practice or in theory. the modern prison is simply the reflex of modern society in which a technocratic apparatus of surveillance and control (symbolized by Bentham's panopticon) has proliferated and penetrated into virtually every nook and cranny of social structure. In Surveiller et punir. and. Foucault's aim in writing the history of the prison is to expose what is hidden in the discursive regularity of modern disciplinary knowledge. and thus what hides itself the best: what we have called "political life" since the 19th century is the manner in which power presents its image (a little like the court in the monarchic era). The relations of power are perhaps among the best hidden things in the social body. can it not then be said that Foucault's archaeologies arise from within and are governed by precisely those familiar tropes of presence and logocentrism which Derrida has uncovered everywhere in the Western tradition of philosophical writing? Let me put the matter another way by formulating these questions in terms that Foucault would be more likely to acknowledge as valid for his own work. But who has made more of the concept of textual difference than Derrida? And how can Foucault's archaeologies avoid the textual destiny. that texts are completely inscribed within a discursive domain with no connection to non-discursive formations or forces (this I take to be the force of "il n'y a pas de hors-texte").

in all its purity. Confronted with a variety of charges levelled at his earlier writings (above all at Les Mots et le choses). one can properly demand of Foucault himself how he can produce knowledge that is: 1) not produced by the disciplinary procedures he sees everywhere dominating the field of knowledge. 2) not subject to the same assimilation. It does not claim to efface itself in the ambiguous modesty of a reading that would bring back. by contrast. addresses itself to discontinuity. If. the central problem for Foucault is the epistemology of the text. and most recently of sexuality) outside or to the side of the discursive regularities which he calls disciplines. is there not still the danger (essentially the same danger he attributes to the Derridean "petite pedagogie") that Foucault has simply founded a new discipline called archaeology which produces knowledge according to rules and procedures familiar in other disciplines? In other words. totalization" of the history of ideas. the distant.the exercise of power. precarious. it is the systematic description of a discourse-object. But archaeological description does not merely repeat the terms in which the 85 . Foucault wished to distinguish his own work from the traditional "genesis. The goal of archaeology is to articulate this discontinuous structure of knowledge and power. 139-40) Archaeology is a descriptive procedure that transforms a body of knowledge by articulating its rules of organization and transformation.31 Archaeology. continuity. what might be called "faults" in the structures of knowledge in a given epoch or culture. It is not a return to the innermost secret of the origin. a regulated transformation of what has already been written. (AK. are Foucault's archaeologies (of the prison. almost effaced light of the origin. The Archaeology of Knowledge. It is nothing more than a rewriting: that is. Foucault wished in this book to describe in a systematic manner the procedures that had enabled his work up to that point in his career. in the preserved form of exteriority. as Said argues. shifts. is it not necessary to turn this instrument back upon itself and question the epistemology of Foucault's own texts? Such is the problem posed by Foucault himself in his only book of pure methodology and theory. at the same time that such a discontinuous structure is the very principle of archaeology's own procedure of historical analysis: [Archaeology] does not try to repeat what has been said by reaching it in its very identity. Most importantly. as both Edward Said and Derrida claim. the clinic. pp. regularization and normalizing that has plagued all attempts to inaugurate new discourses in the last two centuries. Foucault's archaeologies are subject to the rigorous epistemological analysis that Derrida has so vigorously pursued in the texts of other thinkers. the asylum. In short. and if they are.

archive.34 And it is equally difficult to imagine what descriptive value The Archaeology of Knowledge has for Foucault's work as a whole. formed in a regular manner by a discursive practice.body of knowledge itself is formulated. although they are not 86 . It is not what Derrida calls the "doubling commentary" which has its moment in every interpretation of a text. hence. even though for Foucault the knower is not so much an individual or a culture as a discourse. and so on. archaeology is never bound to the text (or discourse-object) in the way of Derridean reading. clinical medicine. archaeology is a form of knowledge. epist6m&. disciplined. Foucault evolves a set of terms to describe his practice: discursive formation. but an organized. Knowledge is never simply "the given" (just as reality is never simply what is "out there"). archaeology maps (in the sense of the term in mathematics) a historically later discourse onto an earlier one. But unlike Derrida. Rather. In this way. statement (6nonce'). is what can be described. et cetera). based upon retrospective analyses. but what are the rules of transformation and the regular procedures established by Foucault? Like Derrida. Any archaeological description is thus a mode of knowing ("a regulated transformation of what has already been written"). Well and good. description must proceed according to rules of intelligibility. the human sciences. for example. As Foucault puts it elsewhere. derangement.33 What is known. positivities. his archaeologies constitute "a critique of our own time. an exercise of power over what has been said in the past. and which are indispensable to the constitution of a science. it is difficult to imagine what application the theory laid out in The Archaeology of Knowledge has to any of the books Foucault has written since its appearance in 1969. rules which change over time. and rearrangement of objects into regular structures or functions. discourse. the following passage in which Foucault attempts to define precisely what he means by knowledge: This group of elements. Foucault does not carry over these terms into his subsequent work. archaeology is the description of these rules."32 Foucault's methodological elaboration of the procedure of archaeological description is a theory of knowledge which can be seen to have emerged from the historical investigations he undertook into the theories of knowledge in previous epochs as they were manifested in various discourses (psychiatry. knowledge is always produced through the agency of some knower or group of knowers. knowledge is a radical distortion. what can be known. In fact. rigorous system that separates objects into categories and arranges them in a grid. Consider. archaeology must therefore be described-this is what the Archaeology of Knowledge attempts to do. What these empirical or archival investigations showed is how knowledge is not something transparent or accessible to an act of simple perception.

Thus. But it is local and regional . it can never simply be repeated and reapplied to any situation one wishes. 182-3). 208)... knowledge is also the space in which the subject may take up a position and speak of the objects with which he deals in his discourse .A 'theory' is the regional system of [a] struggle [for power] " (L.. Foucault thus does not provide a system or regular procedure for producing knowledge at all. . In this passage. pp. a series of localized studies that in themselves produce theoretical apparatuses. being enacted. but there is no knowledge without a particular discursive practice. the activity of theory reaches such a level of abstraction.necessarily destined to give rise to one. knowledge is defined by the possibilities of use and appropriation offered by There are bodies of knowledge that are discourse . translate. and are defined. knowledge as a useful concept that one can employ to characterize the products of disciplined inquiry vanishes in the endless complications and qualifications by which Foucault limits and defines the term. that it is no longer possible to employ it on any specific or concrete problem. it is constantly evolving. lastly. or serve to apply practice: it is practice. changing.. ." is particularly apposite: "Theory does not express. Though it is clear in this passage and throughout The Archaeology of Knowledge that Foucault produces theory in order to dissolve the positivist conception of fact and event. For Foucault.. (AK. independent of the sciences (which are neither their historical prototypes.. knowledge is also the field of coordination and subordination of statements in which concepts appear. nor their practical by-products). which is not only a historical inquiry into the origin of the modern prison. rather. and any discursive practice may be defined by the knowledge that it forms. . ... This is perhaps most clear in Discipline and Punish. . becomes so theoretical. and which is specified by that fact: the domain constituted by the different objects that will or will not acquire a scientific status .. theory is never static or unchanging.. The task undertaken in Foucault's works after The Archaeology of Knowledge is just this: the practical determination in concrete historical situations of the mechanisms and the discourses of power in Western society since the Renaissance. his works are disruptions. p.. applied and transformed . Foucault's description of theory in his interview with Gilles Deleuze. but is also a theoretical statement about the structure and the operation of modern 87 . not totalizing . can be called knowledge.. "Les intellectuels et le pouvoir. Knowledge is that of which one can speak in a discursive practice.

the overturning of falsehoods and historical myths. Foucault begins with the fact and the material reality of signification in order to expose the conjunctions of knowledge and power that make our disciplinary society possible. as Derrida clearly is. nor can there ever be. As Foucault himself averred in an interview not long after the publication of Surveiller et punir: "The archaeology of knowledge is never more than a mode of approach. It has been used to explain errors or illusions."35 For Foucault. It has also been used to show the relation between what goes on in people's heads and their place in the conditions of production. power in its frustrated or extreme forms. the elaboration of theory is always the outgrowth of concrete historical investigation. While Derrida vigorously questions the possibility of knowledge. The relations of power are. In the end. it produces knowledge. I would say that the interdiction. though he differs from Derrida in his assessment of the site of texts in the grid of knowledge. Thus. it is virtually impossible to repeat or imitate Foucault). a theoretician of the text. On the contrary. or to analyze presentations-in short. far from being essential forms of power. there is the wealth of historical detail that characterizes all of Foucault's work up to La Volont6 de savoir from which one can also learn. he closely resembles Derrida's claims to being always inside the text. his focus is the positive productive potential of knowledge linked with power: In general terms. In 88 . everything that impedes the formation of true discourse. Foucault is not. postulates. there is not. the central problem is not the demystification of ideology. and the like which one can learn about and master from reading Foucault's books (it is comparatively easy to "make the moves" of deconstruction. In addition.society and about how knowledge is produced and deployed in it. Foucault's archaeologies and genealogies are not epistemological investigations but practical researches into the sites of modern knowledge in the grid of power deployed in the world. I would say that this has always been my problem: the effects of power and the production of "truth.. of course. are only its limits. But the historical material can never be separated (and thus reified) from the theoretical structure which it constitutes. (In this respect.) The most one can derive from Foucault in a theoretical way is an example of and certain heuristic principles for disruptive intellectual activity." that is. a regular system of rules and transformations with axioms. a "discipline of archaeology.." I have always felt uncomfortable with this ideological notion which has been used in recent years. proofs. the prohibition. the refusal. For Foucault.. above all. Foucault's work does not discover facts. productive. not something that is applied to a text or a problem from the outside but something the work itself produces as it proceeds.

hospitals. codes. since the eighteenth century. was not in the past but in the present. consciousness. 89 . administrators require procedures. between knowledge and the political implementation of social control. it brought with it new procedures of individualization. of this domination-observation. if they have been able to be formed and to produce so many profound changes in the episteme. a grid of practices to carry out their duties of controlling the population. whatever it is called) is the object-effect of this analytical investment. its linkage with real power. The carceral network constituted one of the armatures of this power-knowledge that has made the human sciences historically possible. though it was implicit in Foucault's earlier studies of the asylum and the clinic. it has been the task of the human sciences to elaborate the conceptual and discursive means for realizing these practices. individuality. it called for a technique of overlapping subjection and objectification. and the army). But. a shift in the structural relations of power in society. not simply in a wish to illuminate the history of the prison. and this shift has been both enabled by and concealed behind the discursive shield of certain disciplines like penology.sum. As Foucault says elsewhere: "The sciences of man were born from the moment when the procedures for surveillance and registration of individuals were put into effect. it is because they have been conveyed by a specific and new modality of power: a certain policy of the body. Knowable man (soul. but to understand the way in which the institutional power of the prison to control the body of the criminal grew out of certain discursive practices in a number of areas of social life (notably in schools. The origin of that book. a certain way of rendering the group of men docile and useful. and sexology.36 The brute. coercive materiality of discourse.37 Foucault uncovers the intimate connection here between the birth of discursive practices in the human sciences and the implementation of social control in advanced industrial societies. The intimate connection between discourse and the exercise of power."38 An administered society requires administrators. This policy required the involvement of definite relations of knowledge in relations of power. Foucault claims. psychiatry. conduct. There has been. clinical medicine. the economics of untruth. is the central achievement of the book: I am not saying that the human sciences emerged from the prison. My problem is the politics of truth. is most clearly elaborated in Surveiller et punir.

It is this excess. to let madness speak for itself. In many of the interviews he has given in the past ten years. clinical medicine. he must show how they have been silenced. the form of the "practicable" which cannot be spoken directly but which it is necessary to combine with the speakable. psychiatrists. it asserts its right to speak within this discursive practice about things not generally spoken of. and sexology. not through any right or just procedure. no discourse can exhaust the possibilities for action and for counter-discursive practices which it brings into existence in its formalizations. that Foucault brings to our attention. even if texts may not) to the needs and aspirations of groups of men who for the most part have been silenced by the discursive apparatuses of the administrative society-prisoners. As Deleuze perceptively noted in his review of Surveiller et punir: Statements say everything. what is of the order of the "speakable. the sexually deviant. For example. but they only say what they can say. rather. though we have the judgments and opinions of doctors. psychiatry. To do this. Foucault has made his position clear on this last point: His purpose is to ally himself with struggles against power which are already in existence. Foucault's attempt to resist the dominance of these contemporary discursive practices recalls his early desire to tell the history of madness in its own voice.Still. which knowledge produces but cannot completely control. inmates in asylums. their silence is enforced by excluding them from prevailing discursive practices and by transforming their utterances into the "true discourses" (Foucault's phrase for language that is recognized as legitimate and meaningful by men in power) of penology. to aid in these struggles by giving voice and presence (people have these qualities. Foucault's writing does not claim to stand outside of the discursive regularities of the modern administrative society. but merely through the exercise of power.39 Discourses always create the possibility of their reversal. Such people and the words they utter exist within the grid of power and knowledge but without access to its sources. patients in hospitals. 90 ." There is always an excess in relation to statements which is of another order or another form. it has been necessary to situate his own discourse within the human sciences. this residuum of unformalized language. But to do so. Foucault must legitimate the utterances of the dispossessed. Derrida's question plagues Foucault's enterprise: How can Foucault differentiate himself from the discourses he analyzes? where in the grid of power and knowledge is Foucault himself situated? how can Foucault hope to do more than reinscribe the relations which he has exposed to scrutiny? Another way of asking these questions is to interrogate Foucault not only about where he is speaking from but for what purpose.

the shape and purpose of the humanities curriculum. takes its place in the ideological ensemble of society and either legitimates the already existing relations of power or exposes them to scrutiny and thereby forms a point of resistance to them. but it is no less true in the humanities. Foucault has become increasingly strident about the political position he and his work occupy. the kind of training received by graduate students. I believe. the decorum and style required of publications in professional journals and literary reviews. Gouldner. as the work of Chomsky. This is obviously true in the policy sciences. His most recent books and the project he is presently pursuing of publishing the memoirs of "infamous men"40 have made the political edge of his work abundantly clear. remains obscure. and non-professional readers who take account of one's work and go forth to do likewise. and prison officials about criminals. intellectuals serve the state by legitimating its power and extending the cultural hegemony of the ruling classes over the masses of the population. What has all of this to do with literary criticism and theory? One of the implications of Foucault's work is to reveal the role of intellectuals in advanced industrial societies. These practices include classroom teaching (upon which literary criticism has an enormous residual impact-we are still. a function of the theoretical positions each has developed. Derrida's political position. Literary criticism and literary theory provide the ideological superstructure for the daily work done by literary intellectuals and literature teachers. which is supported by social institutions like the state. and much more. Ohmann. words which are ignored or discounted by officials writing within the rules of their disciplines. Out of such recognitions can spring the revolutionary action to which Foucault has allied himself. but which can speak to another audience (Foucault's readers) in a voice now heard and understood.police. especially since the spring of 1968. the accumulation of evidentiary material. and Raymond Williams has shown. colleagues. the kind of books which are published by university presses and other non-trade publishers (there are fashions in scholarly publishing which are easily recognized and isolated). private foundations. Criticism and theory form one part (and a very important one) of the complex ideological matrix which guides and enables intellectual work in modern society. Althusser. most of us. and powerful individuals and corporations. This work. the dossiers and the archives which the administrative society requires also contain the words of the criminals themselves." Derrida rigorously denies the possibility that texts may 91 . The kind of theory one produces or deploys in his work affects not only oneself but all the students. on the other hand. Said. In recent years.41 That this is so is. shadow-boxing with the ghosts of the New Criticism in our pedagogy). As Gramsci also saw. Eagleton. by disseminators of knowledge inside and outside the universities. Foucault's understanding and analysis of the materiality of discourse and the function of knowledge in the world necessarily elude the Derridean formulation "il n'y a pas de hors-texte.

43 what recent Marxist theorists call "philological" studies. accomplishes. thereby disabling criticism from any active political role. A consciousness of these conditions and an articulation of their structure is the goal toward which the work of Michel Foucault consistently strives and. in Derrida's practice and in the practice of deconstruction in the United States. for example. nothing more than commentary. But philological study is only half (though a necessary and important one) of the task of criticism. Derrida's reading of Rousseau can often be. and it motivates in various ways his criticism of other representatives of logocentrism. Careful. criticism becomes. However much one can admire in Derrida's privileging of the text an undoubted theoretical rigor and an astonishing originality.operate in the material sphere. at its best. Though the status of the human subject is by no means unproblematic in Foucault (it is this very concept which Foucault attacks so vigorously because of its investment in power in the administrative society-the human subject is what he calls in Surveiller et punir "knowable man"). rigorous. and political spheres that surround them and contribute to their production. nonetheless his work forges a positive link between the discursive practice of knowledge and the material existence of men in the world. But brilliant and dazzling as. Oregon State University 92 . even that such a sphere can be demonstrated with proper philosophical rigor. This is the conclusion of his critique of Heidegger's and Husserl's phenomenology. it is fair to ask of Derrida how the mere chain of supplements in a text can not only theorize a social structure such as Rousseau produces in The Social Contract and the Second Discourse. The power of his theoretical and practical insights provides one of the most compelling examples of what contemporary criticism can accomplish if it wills to do so. Derrida is simply unable to account for the power that texts acquire and deploy in the political and cultural sphere. but can also have the effective force that Rousseau's texts achieved in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This ideology conceals the real basis of power and the social structures which enable its functioning in modern society. analytic study of texts must be complemented by historical investigations of the conditions of textual production and the place of texts in the cultural. and either ensure their preservation or precipitate their destruction. it is yet necessary to protest that in Derrida's hands (and even more so in the hands of the American literary establishment that has assimilated him) criticism is reduced to the status of a servant of bourgeois ideology. where the play of signification becomes a deadly serious game in which human subjects are at stake. allow for their transmission. and however useful and tonic one finds Derrida's dismantling of the epistemological foundations of positivism. economic.42 Despite his protestations to the contrary.

where Foucault at one point makes this questionable statement: "Power is everywhere. 39). for example. has on the whole accepted its "institutionalized marginality" (Said's own phrase in an interview with Diacritics. dictate its conceptual boundaries. discourses) exercise power outside the realm of textuality and thus how literature and criticism are always situated within relations of power and knowledge. Whether there can ever be such a space outside current critical discourse is one of the basic questions of the present essay and (if I may be so presumptuous) of contemporary criticism. "The Problem of Textuality: Two Exemplary Positions. Though I completely agree with his conviction that literary criticism and theory must be written "with a sense of the greater stake in historical and political effectiveness that literary.NOTES 1 One of the maddening aspects of writing about contemporary criticism and theory is that one finds continually that his vocabulary has been effectively pre-empted by others-in this case by the title of one of the standard journals. 1978]. Moreover. 6 [Fall 19761. 2 93 . for producing discourse which is linked to economic. Robert Hurley [New York: Pantheon Books. An assessment of the present state of literary criticism and theory through an examination of Foucault and Derrida has been undertaken in a different way by Edward Said in his essay. Foucault's analyses of knowledge and power can help one to understand the institution of criticism and thus to practice a more politically and culturally engaged criticism (which Said favors) by situating one's own work within the social and cultural conditions of one's own time. and though I applaud his effort to "reinvest critical discourse with something more than contemplative effort or an appreciative technical reading method for texts as undecidable objects" (p. the problem of being already inside a discourse while trying to get outside it and thereby criticize it is central to contemporary criticism. I think. a mechanism not merely for limiting but." Critical Inquiry. and political conditions that support it and. Criticism is a discipline in the sense that Foucault uses this word in Surveiller et punir. a charge against which I do not wish to defend Foucault. and as Derrida himself has shown in so many ways. more importantly. a reading which. the prison and the idea of the panopticon in Dickens or Kafka. makes Foucault's work fundamental to literary studies by using it to show how texts (or. but because it comes from everywhere" [p. Said criticizes Foucault for having mystified the concept of power by effectively denying its centralization in the modern world in the hands of small numbers of men. In other words. texts have had" (p. especially in light of some of his recent work (see The History of Sexuality. 713). for various political and economic reasons. 673-714. not because it embraces everything. nonetheless. I would argue for a different reading of Foucault than he offers. p. one might reply that criticism is always practiced discursively and that the power to which it is related is also most often exercised (in the advanced industrial societies of the West at least) through the production of discourses. as well as all other. 4 (Summer 1978). As I shall argue throughout this essay. trans. social. 93] ). Not only does Foucault's recent work go a long way to show how and why this is the case (as Said readily admits). in many cases. but at the same time it shows the way toward a general critique of literary criticism and theory as an institution which. in Foucault's terms. 714). the lessons Foucault teaches about the relations of discourses to power can be enormously illuminating for specific literary texts. Nevertheless.

It calls forth potentially endless commentaries. see Gilles Deleuze. 161-73. 30 [Spring 1976]. 1977). 1207-27." Critique. Language. "Stevens' Rock and Criticism as Cure. 10-11. Norman Holland. contemporary deconstructionist criticism cannot get beyond this ironic impasse. trans. With some allowances for individual differences of temperament and style. ce feu. of course. "Hermeneutic Circularity. Donald F.3 4 "Mon Corps. surveillance. Michel Foucault. "Relentless erudition" is Foucault's phrase for the kind of work required to pursue the critical-historical project which he traces back to Nietzsche's genealogies and associates with his own archaeologies. 141-60. p. Bouchard. Press. Normalization is. though it is scarcely fair to Derrida to equate his work with theirs. and the administration of power. As the second part of this essay suggests (Georgia Review. Unless otherwise indicated. Paul de Man. a ground that is." Georgia Review. as well as for the work of many lesser critics influenced by Derrida. with some of their more vehement opponents like the disciples of the Chicago school. Miller's essay is in part an attempt to describe and (in some cases) criticize the work of his fellow deconstructors Harold Bloom. the following quotation: "Such a poem [as Stevens's "The Rock"] is incapable of being encompassed in a single logical formulation. ce papier. 10 (Autumn 1978). Nonetheless. solidly within the liberal bourgeois traditions of the academy. "Teaching Reading: The Case of Marx in France. 6 (Winter 1976). On Derrida's project of endless rereading as the paradigm of modern philosophy since Kant. "Tympan. 1972). and Incommensurability. Counter-Memory. 330-48). each one of which. Miller's formulation of the impasse of deconstruction can be said to be normative for much of their recent work. related to the concepts of discipline. 602. 30 [Summer 1976]. 140 (hereafter cited as L). The similarity between Derridean reading and the reader-response criticism of Stanley Fish. On Derrida and hermeneutics." Diacritics. like this essay. Consider. Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews. a ground that they share. 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 94 . one of the most important concepts in Foucault's recent work." New Literary History. for all its revolutionary rhetoric. Donald F. 1972). "Ecrivain non: un nouveau cartographe. 31). 10 (Autumn 1978). Wolfgang Iser. see David Couzens Hoy. On normalization as a means of distributing and maintaining power in Foucault's recent writings." New Literary History. can only formulate and reformulate its mise en abyme" (J. the fact that both deconstruction and reader-response criticism have proliferated so widely in recent criticism bespeaks a broad ground of ideological agreement between Derrideans and the reader-response critics. see Richard Rorty. ed. 274 (1970). translations are my own. Hillis Miller. and others is obvious enough. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell Univ." in Histoire de la folie a I/'ge classique (Paris: Gallimard. p. for example. interestingly enough." in Marges de la philosophie (Paris: Editions de Minuit. Indeterminacy. and Geoffrey Hartman. "Philosophy as a Kind of Writing: An Essay on Derrida.

182-83. except perhaps "over the rainbow" in an atopia? ). pp. his Glas." see "Positions. far 'beyond' its 'original' stage [in De la grammatologie] " ("Re-doubling the Commentary. 759-97. "General text" is a term Derrida employs in an interview with J. and events indicated by this term is practically unlimited. "Positions. 71. trans. The Prison-House of Language (Princeton: Princeton Univ. 112-13.. see Fredric Jameson. 18-23. 169-97. The translation is taken from Said." p." pp. On the dismantling of thematic and formalist criticism in "La double seance. trans. 150." could be not unfairly summarized and respoken in John Travolta's immortal monosyllables: "What?""Where? " "Positions. p. 695-96. When asked to account for the things that have been printed under his name.. going "beyond" the Derrida of De la grammatologie-where might such a "beyond" lie. Gayatry Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Derrida tends to respond with something resembling a lengthy elaboration of Barbarino's disingenuous professions of mystification on the television series Welcome Back.-L. p. 2 (Fall 1972). "La pharmacie de Platon. La dissemination. "Limited Inc. discourses. published in English in two parts. 243) strikes me as unconvincing (not to mention how difficult it would be to imagine anyone. 4-12. even Derrida himself." Contemporary Literature." in Speech and Phenomena and Other Essays on Husserl's Theory of Signs." p. 35-43. 250-51." Georgia Review. pp.12 13 Of Grammatology. See Geoffrey Hartman. 1973). Diacritics. 29 (Winter 1975). "La double s6ance." see Derrida's essay." p." Derrida's satiric reply to the attack of John Searle on the reading of Austin in "Signature Event Context. David B. 35. For a similar critique of Derrida's ontologizing of language. and "Me-Psychoanalysis: An Introduction to the Translation of 'The Shell and the Kernel' by Nicolas Abraham. On the "irreducibility" of "the texture of the text." Georgia Review. Richard Klein. "Philosophy as a Kind of Writing. 1977). Press. 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 95 . see Speech and Phenomena. and "Monsieur Texte II: Epiphony in Echoland. "The Problem of Textuality. pp. 30 (Spring 1976). 2 (Spring 1973). "Monsieur Texte: On Jacques Derrida. Press. "La Forme et le vouloir-dire: Note sur la ph6nomenologie du language. pp." trans. 248-49. 1972). 20 [Spring 19791. 1972). Joseph Riddel's claim that "Derrida's writing has passed." in La dissemination (Paris: Editions du Seuil. See especially "Signature Event Context" and "Limited Inc" in Glyph I and II (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Kotter. 1976). 33-46." Diacritics. Allison (Evanston: Northwestern University Press. 162 (hereafter cited as OG)." in La dissemination. pp. 9 (Spring 1979). 38. For Derrida's justification in translating Bedeutung as vouloir-dire. Houdebine and Guy Scarpetta. Press. The range of subjects.

Similarly. 2(1971). Schiller. and Abnormal Philosophy. p. Moreover. p. is quite as "recuperative" in the end as the New Criticism." The Journal of Philosophy. Godel's Proof (New York: New York Univ. Heidegger. Simon. traditional phenomenology. Riddel's claim that Derrida establishes no method for literary criticism is only correct in the sense that. deconstruction is not a method at all. A. "Philosophy as a Kind of Writing. New York: Pantheon Books. Foucault. "A Conversation with Michel Foucault." p. speech over writing. Newman. 673-81. For an analysis of these instruments of control in the United States during the 1960's. see Herbert I. the voice of Western philosophy is essentially univocal. "The Concept of Textuality. and hermeneutics it attacks." But this has not prevented numerous Anglo-American critics (Riddel among them) from co-opting Derrida into an essentially systematic methodology which has as its goal the uncovering of the undecidability of literary and philosophical texts. and Hegel) are trapped within the tropes of the Western languages. their seemingly different discourses reducible to the familiar set of oppositions that privilege presence over absence. John K." p. Press. reciprocal 28 29 30 31 32 33 96 . Derrida characterizes Foucault's reading of Descartes as a "powerful act of protection and confinement. and Deleuze. Press. 711. 1958)." see Richard Rorty. On Derrida's rendering of the Western philosophical tradition as continual commentary. trans. "What is an Author? ": "The fact that a number of texts were attached to a single name implies that relationships of homogeneity. 32 (Summer 1977). "Ecrivain non: un nouveau cartographe. 25 26 27 See Ernest Nagel and James R. Cf. strictly speaking." Telos. 1967]." and "Derrida on Language. rpt. 594. Mallarm6. The Production and Distribution of Knowledge in the United States (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Histoire de la folie. M. 138 (hereafter cited as AK). 1223. 1976). Derrida himself is not entirely immune to the charge of having erected a system which. Noam Chomsky's work on American intellectuals and their subservience to the state is also relevant to this discussion. 157. filiation. See Said. For Derrida. The Archaeology of Knowledge. see Fritz Machlup. "Power and Sex: An Interview with Michel Foucault. as the present essay attempts to show. p. reason over madness.Riddel has taken Derrida too much at his word and has mistaken the claims made in the name of deconstruction for its actual achievement. The Mind Managers (Boston: Beacon Press. Sheridan Smith (1972. Both Foucault and Descartes (and Plato. 1973). Being. 38. 192. 1962). 74 (November 1977). 85). For a more detailed and statistically concrete study of similar features of the post-World War II American knowledge industry." Partisan Review. however eccentric and disarticulating the appearance of its design. as writing or "abnormal philosophy. A Cartesian act for the twentieth century" (L'Ecriture et la difference [Paris: Editions du Seuil. merely a strategy which Derrida himself has claimed is "radically empiricist. Husserl.

151-52). in order to impose a direction. or of common utilization were established among them. 80-90). as they stand for the emergence of different interpretations." p. 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 A Michel Foucault sur la geographie. Moreover. History. The role of genealogy is to record its history: the history of morals. "Ecrivain non: un nouveau cartographe. Fynsk. 82. 1225." Les Cahiers du chemin. circulation. pp. "Questions AMichel Foucault sur la g6ographie. 34 If there is a single term for accurately denominating Foucault's work in the 1970's. the author's name characterizes a particular manner of existence of discourse . 12-29. what has silently been articulated deep down. 74.. fascist/socialist. 1977). 8 [Summer 1978]. then the development of humanity is a series of interpretations. Finally." Thus the key to his recent books and essays might be said to be the 1971 essay. say. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison trans. p. 8 [Summer 19781." p. In this sense. Alan Sheridan (New York: Pantheon Books. for the first 42 43 97 . See Michel Foucault. they must be made to appear as events on the stage of historical process" (L. "A Decelebration of Philosophy. "Nietzsche. to bend it to a new will. the function of an author is to characterize the existence. 27 (15 Janvier 1977)." Diacritics.explanation. the history of the concept of liberty or of the ascetic life. and metaphysical concepts. 305.." p. Michael Ryan has summed up this aspect of deconstruction very well: "By problematizing the very structure of opposition. It must. . and for all practical purposes. it is probably not "archaeology" but "genealogy.. and to subject it to secondary rules. 123-24). authentification. Genealogy. pp. deconstruction neutralizes the specific oppositions which sustain radical political practice-conservative/ radical. 157. and operation of certain discourses within a society" (L. "Questions 1976). commentary's only role is to say finally. though it remains to be seen whether or not this will issue in a genuinely radical political stance for Derrida.. "La vie des hommes infames. Foucault's explanation of the purpose of commentary is worth quoting: "Whatever the techniques employed. suspends the possibility of radically opposing any system from a position outside that system" ("Anarchism Revisited: A New Philosophy. ideals. This is not to ignore Derrida's involvement with the GREPH (on which see Christopher I." where Foucault comes to terms with what he calls the "rancorous will to knowledge" as he unveils a historical project which "refuses the certainty of absolutes" and acknowledges the primacy of interpretation (and thus of violence and usurpation) in history: "But if interpretation is the violent or surreptitious appropriation of a system of rules. the charges which Foucault levels against the Derridean pedagogy retain their force even in light of this commitment on Derrida's part." He'rodote (Janvier-Mars "Power and Sex. 75-76. reactionary/revolutionary-and it thus theoretically." Diacritics. to force its participation in a different game. which in itself has no essential meaning.

time. never said. but on condition that it is the text itself which is uttered and. 98 . nevertheless. The infinite rippling of commentary is agitated from within by the dream of masked repetition ... 221). finalised" (AK. Commentary averts the chance element of discourse by giving it its due: it gives us the opportunity to say something other than the text itself. what has already been said. in some ways. p. and repeat tirelessly what was..

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