define me

Apologies for the lateness!

Sexuality is a fickle thing. Honestly, I’ve got a blog on tumblr and I see daily posts speaking of sexuality, cisgendered and transgendered people, rights and needs for proper health care and the end of discrimination – the list goes on and it never goes away. Society has changed so much since Foucault’s time and I have to agree with the observation that we are once again talking about sex and sexuality all the time. But are we doing it in the right ways?

Sexuality for Foucault seems to be related to and centered around several societal factors. Admittedly less societal than Fanon and more influenced by the scientific community. These external influences, how we shape each other, are important in the progressions of our cultures. I remember reading a quote once that said that we love to measure everything, things always have to be categorized, a value must be placed, etc. From what Foucault is saying it is quite obvious that sexuality has become a sort of slave to this human practice.

I noticed that the word “bourgeois” comes up as Foucault talks of the Victorian age of repression. I remember “bourgeois” also being mentioned in Fanon (read: I’m too tired to look up the page) and it reminded me of the similarities between the presences of sexuality and racism and their prominence (or lack thereof) in society. The Victorian age of repression and silence made me think of a sort of “sleep” mode on a computer. Foucault speaks of sexuality being an open and accepted before the Victorian era and then it became taboo and controlled. It changed as history moved on after that, but it didn’t exactly return to the way it was before.

Although, perhaps I’ve confused sexual acts and sexuality here? Are they separate to Foucault? Should they be? I should probably keep an eye out for that since some of the things Foucault talks about concern sex or sexual acts as part of a type of sexuality, but not as an interchangeable term for sexuality.

I think I just confused myself. What just happened there?

Defining sexuality is such a complicated thing. I give Foucault an A+ for effort. I’ll let you know if I understood him after I finish the book.

Gathered up

I put off this post because I haven’t found anything to say about the book.

Well, I guess I can start with Freud.

“Examine diligently, therefore, all the faculties of your soul: memory, understanding, and will. Examine with precision all your senses as well. . . . Examine, moreover, all your thoughts, every word you speak, and all your actions. Examine even unto your dreams, to know if, once awakened, you did not give them your consent. And finally, do not think that in so sensitive and perilous a matter as this, there is anything trivial or insignificant.” (20)

I tagged it with Freud mostly because the dream-analysis part caught my attention, but in typing out the full quote, I realized it was closer to a description of introspection. Which is weird now, because when I was actually taking PSYC 101 I never really thought about the similarities between Freud and introspection. Probably because I hadn’t read Dora then.

I like how the first part of the book is called “We “Other Victorians”". As in, even though their opinions regarding sexuality are different, they’re still Victorians. The question of what defines an era goes back to what Miranda said about how eras are made sense of in retrospect in the Lyrical Ballads lecture and the ensuing discussion in seminar.

Foucault concerns himself a lot with what I tagged in my notes as a “legislation” of sex (37) – literally, but I was also referring to how he seems to dislike comprehensive descriptions/explanations of sex. He also draws a line between sexuality and sex in his discussion, which I found interesting (54, 114).

I also like that he didn’t use, as I said in my last blog post, the random justification (at least, not to the extent that Rousseau uses it). Maybe just because his discussion is more limited, with a focus on history like the Industrial Revolution, and not Rousseau’s brand of pre-history. Checking against my seminar notes now, we discussed Foucault in our Silencing the Past seminars and how Foucault doesn’t discuss the “provenance of power” and talks about history without being a historian (just like Trouillot). Again, now that I’ve remembered this, it’s weird that the books that have something to do with Silencing the Past are the ones I really am “decidedly neutral” (again) about. Maybe because I haven’t really considered in the past whether or not I’ve liked most of the books, and only recently have I started to do that.

See? Not much to say. Thanks for reading, everyone.


[Edited for spacing.]