Here comes another blog post from yours truly.
So this week (next week) we had to read Foucault’s book (i dunno if it is an essay or what) called The History of Sexuality Volume 1: An introduction. When I first learned we were reading a book about the history of sexuality I was super excited because finally we were reading something that wouldn’t make me want to jump off of Buchanan A; finally something that would keep me engaged, because it is about a subject that i don’t find to be archaic and a waste of my time (sorry Hobbes, I still don’t a rat’s ass about you and your polisci things). Unfortunately as I began reading more and more of Foucault’s work, I came to the realizations that:
A) He is a dry writer. Like my god, add some sort of literary device to keep the audience engaged. Now I am not saying that he needs to jam apostrophes (not the ” , ” type_ throughout his dissertation, but please please please use some sort of interesting language.
B) If you are going to pick a subject like sexuality which is so exciting and, may i say it, carnal, you have to give everything you got. Instead of making it interesting, Foucault literally made it so dry that I was about to start doodeling all over the words.
I also couldn’t figure out what he was talking about. He started by stating that the repression of sexuality started during the Victorian age, which I totally agree, but I could never figure quite out whether he was pro or against sexual repression. He evidently did some research but I never found myself be gravitated to any side of the argument. I don’t know if I am just an idiot or if it was lost in translation, but wowza.
I want to go more into an interesting discussion about the philosophy behind this book, but I can’t because I just didn’t get it.
Seamus, just a quick comment. You say that Foucault “started by stating that the repression of sexuality started during the Victorian age.” In fact, I think he is saying quite the opposite: he is arguing *against* what he calls the “repressive hypothesis.”
On your other points: I find Foucault quite funny, albeit (yes) in a rather dry way. But perhaps that’s just me. 🙂 I’d recommend you Google the video of his famous debate with Noam Chomsky, hosted (if I remember correctly) in Holland sometime in the 1970s. You may have more of a sense of his personality if you see him talk.
OHHHHHHHH JEEZ. Well that just proves that I didn’t understand one lick of this book. I evidently just didn’t catch on to his thesis/ideas…B- paper! Also, I didn’t catch on to any of his humor. any examples?
My humor is just more overt and obvious. Wait, I have to watch people from the 70s… I can’t deal with the polyester.
Heh. You’ll find that Foucault wear’s quite a snazzy peach-coloured turtleneck. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wfNl2L0Gf8.
As for humour, OK, perhaps I exaggerate a little, but what about page 5, where he describes psychoanalysis as “yet another round of whispering on a bed.” Well, I found it funny. 🙂
That should be “wears,” not “wear’s,” of course.
Well who doesn’t love a snazzy peach color turtle neck….I will refrain from making a joke, but you all can Imagine what I am saying. And I guess it is adult humor 😛
and by “adult” i mean like sophisticated witty banter
I have to say that the reaction of “what the…?” to this book by Foucault is pretty common, which is meant to make you feel better…it’s not just you! He is particularly unclear in his discussion of the repressive hypothesis in the first two chapters or so. At first it sounds like he’s describing it as if it were the right story of our past, and then goes on to criticize it, but just how he does so is not entirely clear in any one particular place, I think. That’s why I tried to go over the main points of the overall argument in lecture.
As for the style, yeah, there are a few things that are kind of funny, but he is certainly no Rousseau. Few philosophers have that gift–indeed, few academics that I have read generally (including myself, of course!). Though I still think that working through even some “dry” arguments can give us good food for thought, even if one ultimately disagrees.
I think my major issue, is after your lecture, I honestly think that i do agree with his theory on how nowadays our repression is just us trying to hide the fact that we TALK about it all time.
I am still unclear whether he thinks that the different ‘”sexualities” i.e auto monosexualist, fetishist etc are ok or if he thinks that we need to fit into a certain type of box?
Another thing that I find interesting is how our society feels the need to classify us all (is that what Foucault is arguing?) like why do we necessarily need words to say that i like men or I like women or I like cows dressed up like pigs? Isn’t each individual person a unique entity and should be treated as such?
As for style, I think everyone can agree that I am more style over substance and so I can appreciate people’s dry thoughts but I just can’t grab on as a reader. I wish I had noticed more of the jokes.