Neoliberal Subjectivity

What is a dispositif?, Gilles Deleuze

  • Foucault’s philosophy – presented as an analysis of concrete social apparatus = dispositif
  • dispositif = a tangle, a multilinear ensemble; composed of lines each having a different nature -> which follow directions, trace balances which are always off balance, now drawing together and then distancing themselves from one another
  • Knowledge, Power, Subjectivity – the 3 major aspects successively distinguished by Foucault, are series of variables which supplant one another

  • first 2 dimensions of a social apparatus – curves of visibility and curves of enunciation
  • the prison apparatus as an optical machine used for seeing without being seen
  • a social apparatus consists of lines of force
  • power is the third dimension of space
  • the self is neither knowledge nor power. It is a process of individuation which bears on groups and on people, and is subtracted from the power relations which are established as constituting forms of knowledge.
  • Foucault designates the Athenian city as the first place in which subjectification was invented – the city that invested the line of forces which runs through the rivalry of free men.
  • the apparatuses are composed of the following elements: lines of visibility and enunciation, lines of force, lines of subjectification, lines of splitting, breakage, fracture, all of which criss-cross and mingle together, some lines reproducing or giving rise to others, by means of variations or even changes in the way they are grouped.
  • -> the repudiation of universals: the One, the All, the True, the object, the subject are not universal, but singular processes of unification, totalisation, verification, objectification, subjectification
  • the lines of subjectification seem particularly capable of  tracing paths of creation, which are continually aborting, but then restarting, in a modified way, until the former apparatus is broken.

Foucault, Feminity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power, Sandra Lee Bartky

  • Jeremy Bentham’s design for the Panopticon captures for Foucault the essence of the disciplinary society.
  • the effect is to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power, each becomes to himself his own jailer (Foucault 1979, 201) -> this state of conscious and permanent visibility is a sign that the tight, disciplinary control of the body has gotten a hold on the mind as well.
  • the structures and effects of the Panopticon resonate throughout society: it is surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?
  • styles of the human figure vary over time and across cultures: they reflect cultural obsessions and preoccupations in ways that are still poorly understood
  • anorexia nervosa is to women of the twentieth century what hysteria was to women of an earlier day: the crystallisation in a pathological mode of a widespread cultural obsession
  • there are significant gender differences in gesture, posture, movement, and general bodily comportment: women are far more restricted than men in their manner of movement and in their spatiality/
  • feminine movement, gesture, and posture must exhibit not only constriction, but grace and a certain eroticism restrained by modesty; all three.
  • woman’s body is an ornamented surface too, and there is much discipline involved in this production as well
  • in contemporary patriarchal culture, a panoptical male connoisseur resides within the consciousness of most women: they stand perpetually before his gaze and under his judgement. Woman lives her body as seen by another, by an anonymous patriarchal Other.
  • woman’s body language speaks eloquently, though silently, of her subordinate status in a hierarchy of gender.
  • the disciplinary power that inscribes feminity on the female body is everywhere and it is nowhere; the disciplinarian is everyone and yet no one in particular.

Right of Death and Power over Life

  • the sovereign exercised his right of life only by exercising his right to kill, or by refraining from killing; he evidenced his power over life only through the death he was capable of requiring.
  • this death that was based on the right of the sovereign is now manifested as simply the reverse of the right of the social body to ensure, maintain, or develop its life.
  • wars are no longer waged in the name of a sovereign who must be defended; they are waged on behalf of the existence of everyone; entire populations are mobilised for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity: massacres have become vital.
  • if genocide is indeed the dream of modern powers, this is not because of a recent return of the ancient right to kill; it is because power is situated and exercised at the level of life, the species, the race, and the large-scale phenomena of population
  • capital punishment could not be maintained except by invoking less the enormity of crime itself than the monstrosity of the criminal, his incorrigibility, and the safeguard of society. One had the right to kill those who represent a kind of biological danger to others.
  • one might say that the ancient right to take life or let live was replaced by a power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death.
  • starting in the seventeenth century the power over life evolved in two basic forms; the disciplines of the body and the regulations of the population constituted the two poles around which the organization of power over life was deployed.
  • the bio-power was without question an indispensable element in the development of capitalism; the latter 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 one can apply the term bio-history to the pressures through which the movements of life and the processes of history interfere with one another, one would have to speak of bio-power to designate what brought life and its mechanism into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent o explicit calculation of human life.
  • the society’s threshold of modernity has been reached when life of the species is wagered on its own political strategies.
  • sex was a means of access both to the life of the body and the life of the speciesthe new procedures of power that were devised during the classical age and employed in the nineteenth century were what caused our societies to go from a symbolics of blood to an analytics of sexuality. Clearly, nothing was more on the side of the law, death, transgression, the symbolic, and sovereignty than blood; just as sexuality was on the side of the norm, knowledge, life, meaning, the disciplines, and regulations.
  • the notion of “sex” made it possible to group together, in an artificial unity, anatomical element, biological functions, conducts, sensations, and pleasures, and it enabled one to make use of this fictitious unity as a casual principle, an omnipresent meaning, a secret to be discovered everywhere: sex has thus able to function as a unique signifier and as a universal signified.

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