As with most weeks, I read Charlotte’s blog post before I wrote mine and I agree with everything she said. Big surprise. I also saw a lot of things that echoed Trouillot and Freud (the latter more obviously, as his name is mentioned in the text), which was interesting.
I also liked Trouillot, and yet I find this a bit … unrewarding. I’m reading the words, and I’m processing, but I’m not getting anything from it. And it’s not the usual “hmm I wonder what this means” feeling that I have after reading a particularly mind-boggling text. It’s more of a perpetual “hmmmmmmmmm” and not much else.
This is about sex. Okay. I find that a lot of the things Foucault addresses as phenomena, or something like phenomena, are rather obvious. For example, parents sleep in different bedrooms from their children because sex and children do not mix. The issues of masturbation and puberty are part of the so-called ‘sexual experiences’ of children. A lot of times sex is considered a taboo subject and is kind of skirted around rather than being tackled head-on. This seems very simpleminded to me, rather like a mediocre essay. Almost there, but not quite that last step that would make it an A.
Also, being the OCD/petty details person that I am, I find the text in this book impossible to look at. It literally looks like a chunk of words on every page. Oh, and the sentences are ridiculously long.
A few quotes I found interesting:
“Everything that might concern the interplay of innumerable pleasures, sensations, and thoughts which, through the body and the soul, had some affinity with sex.” (Foucault 20) –> so everything to do with pleasure/sensation has to do with sex?
On page 27, he describes sex as being “a constant preoccupation”. I feel like by this point he’s said it a few other ways already. I get it. Everyone is thinking about sex, all the time, every day.
Once again, it’s late (not even Sunday anymore, but Monday…) and I’m looking forward to hearing Christina’s thoughts on this puzzling text in lecture tomorrow.
I always enjoy reading your comments on the random parts about the books. Last time it was footnotes, this time the chunks of words. I would have said something more along the lines of the font being super dark and splotchy that it hurts my eyes to read. #firstworldproblems (I had to.)
Hannah, thanks for this, but let me try out this thought on you: You say “This is about sex.” What if I said that in fact Foucault’s not really interested in sex at all, but in subjectivity, in how we come to see ourselves as subjects and individuals? But he has to talk about sex, since sex is so tied in to subjectivity, at least since Freud.
I agree that the sentences are long and it’s not a very aesthetically pleasing book.
Comparing Freud’s and Foucault’s approaches to sex and sexuality would be interesting. To me, Freud is a lot more in-your-face than Foucault (therefore, more annoying).
(Thanks, by the way!)
I was thinking about why you might see this text as unrewarding and perhaps one of the answers could be that Foucault doesn’t present any solutions to the problem that he discusses in depth? Just a thought! 🙂
Hannah you need to cut Foucault some slack! Unrewarding??? There’s so much in his work. I agree with Liz that it’s a bit frustrating that he doesn’t present any solutions, but doesn’t this make you a little bit more aware of how much our lives are structured by sex and its prohibition?