Between Terrestriality and Aquacity: Foucault Contra Miller

This essay was commissioned  by Conference: A Journal of Philosophy and Theory in 1993 as a contribution to a debate on James Miller’s The Passion of Michel Foucault.  It was originally edited by Timothy Benjamin.

Between Terrestriality and Aquacity

Foucault Contra Miller

James Luchte

 

The Passion of Michael Foucault

Who am I? If this once I were to rely on a proverb then perhaps everything would amount to knowing whom I “haunt.” I must admit that this last word is misleading, tending to establish between certain beings and myself relations that are stranger, more inescapable, more disturbing than I intended.  Such a word means much more than it says, makes me, still alive, play a ghostly part, evidently referring to what I must have ceased to be in order to be who I am.

                                                             Andre Breton, Nadja[1]

 

Michel Foucault is dead, decaying, etc., yet a faceless apparition persistently haunts the ‘living’ amidst this space of the present. A nebulous ‘who’ and ‘what’ flash on the surface of this polymorphous spectre. The apparition erupts, hovers amidst the massive collocation of traces and artefacts of the ‘life of the man.’ The fragments themselves remain dispersed, singular instantiations, traces, residues amidst the surface of homo terra. And, from the out and about of this anonymous sending of the terrestriality of the present, a discourse persists which suggests that the project of constituting a ‘who’ requires something more than this disarray of ruins. It pleads for the establishment of a principle of unity, projected as traversing the gathered traces, an identical matrix which systematically integrates intentionalities as a constantly present ‘subject’.

The throng of readers and writers chant mercilessly, “Who is he?” “Who is Michel Foucault?” And just as inexorably, the throng satisfies its hunger by providing its own answers: “He is this, he is that…” Unity is bestowed via the projection of systematic totality as a teleological unfolding of the Same.

Breton senses the tenuousness of this project as he persists amidst the irretrievable loss of forgetfulness. He is still there, alive and haunting others, running in their watery shadows. He is himself haunted, enduring the fleeting caresses, interspersed through rhythmic movements.  Breton acquiesces to the tendencies of varying configurations and positions of attunement in the wake of his own many deaths and those of others throughout this tenuous glimpse into the open.  This haunting is necessary in that what is lost, what is always already being eradicated, becomes the condition for the ‘hard’ etching of who he is. The haunting is the darkness of a sensed absence in the light of memory, these amorphous, aquatic feelings which have been burned into the soul, yet show themselves only among the shadows of their inaccessibility and non-intelligibility. Because so much about himself must remain unknown to him, his only recourse for ‘becoming who he is’ (a ‘who’ as a disclosure to others) is to become transparent to the world.

I myself shall continue living in my glass where you can always see who comes to call; where everything hanging from the ceiling and on the walls stays where it is as if by magic, where I sleep nights in a glass bed, under glass sheets, where who I am will sooner or later appear etched by a diamond.[2]

In chapter two, ‘Waiting for Godot,’ of James Miller’s book, The Passion of Michel Foucault,[3] Foucault is reported to have said at Sartre’s funeral ‘It was him, and all that he represented… that I wished to renounce.’[4] What is to be renounced, that which incites a complete renunciation of Sartre, is the latter’s ‘terrorism.’ Sartre’s terror penetrates the singular ‘person’ with the injunction that ‘man is condemned to be free.’ Man is guilty, an exit-less ‘redemption’ coming through self-renouncing subject-ion, enslaved to assume total personal responsibility for the ‘world.’ Sartre’s categorical imperative would be the following: In your every act, be as if the gazing eyes of were focused exclusively on you; the world becomes your mirror in your supreme visibility, your terrible diorama. The one who is guilty, the one who is voyeuristically saturated with the glare of the herd, is the one who lives in a glass house, sleeps in a glass bed, is draped by glass sheets. Guilt, this absolute moral determination of the singular, emerges amidst the totalistic dominion of universalist command. This final en-framing of the ‘who’ is orchestrated by the projection of an entitive metaphysics, and facilitated by the order of linguistic integration, of an enduring identity of consciousness – despite recurring disjunctive, discontinuity.

Michel Foucault never lived in a glass house.  It may be worth the effort to gather the relevant fragments to display perspective with respect to this metaphor. For this conjuring of relief may assist this present assessment of Miller’s book: assessing the book’s status within the discursive formation entitled ‘Foucault.’ It would be folly to regard every preference of an ‘individual’ to be part of a unity of conscious, theoretical awareness. It would be just as mad to ponder the question: ‘Why did not Foucault live in a glass house, sleep in a glass bed under glass sheets?’ A statement of Michel Foucault: ‘I am no doubt not the only one who writes in order to have no face. Do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order.’[5]  There can be infinite interpretations of this statement; it can be used in infinite ‘imaginative reconstructions’ of Foucault, especially as ‘time goes by’ and tastes change. Thus, in order to understand this statement, and possibly approach the sense of what Foucault may have been about, the question may not be: ‘Why did he say or do this?’ but, instead, ‘What does it refer to?’ What does this statement haunt as it is spoken?[6]

This is not a biography, though it follows the chronology of Michel Foucault’s life; nor is it a comprehensive survey of his works, although it does offer an interpretation of a great many of his texts.  It is, rather, a narrative account of one man’s lifelong struggle to honour Nietzsche’s gnomic injunction, ‘to become what one is.’[7]

‘We’, following Miller in his speculation of a ‘great Nietzschean quest,’ (i.e. ‘to become what one is’), even if ‘we’ can endure his positing of a constant self-conscious awareness suggested by this style of eternal sleeplessness, must, in this critical review, be seeking not ‘who’ but ‘what’ Foucault became. Foucault, by this strategy, this ‘Foucault’ that is portrayed in Miller’s book, is ‘pitilessly’ not allowed to escape the latter’s asserted teleological task of vigilance, even in his dreams: all is rendered the same in this ‘peculiar’ way. This book, cruelly shining the light in Foucault’s eyes when he is trying to sleep, can serve as a typical example, a case study perhaps, of many of the most forceful insights of the work of Michel Foucault. This reference to the all-too-popular riddle of Nietzsche must not be passed over lightly, as if mere repetition of a phrase somehow implies comprehension.[8] This is not ‘becoming who you are’, as is the case for the ‘I’ in Breton’s Nadja. The ‘who’ asks for a personal identity, a consciousness subsisting as a foundation behind a name, even if this ‘who’ does not appear until after the event.[9] The ‘who’ remains there, preserved within the site of linguistic fabrication within a network of names interspersed across the surface of tenuous spatial formations.

The ‘what’ may be provisionally specified as a question of an ‘ontological’ orientation, problematising the way of being this ‘you’ of ‘become what you are.’ For Nietzsche, the ‘ontological’ happening is the fractured will to power.  Amidst this terrain of eruption, the artifice of the ‘subject’ becomes displaced always already in that its operation seeks to ‘save the phenomena:’ this salvation according to a definitive regime of selection and orchestration. With the exposure of this regime to the anxiety of its own finitude, there has not been an eradication of the ‘individual’ per se. The subject was never ‘what you are.’ The unified projection of identical subjectivity (the ‘who’) erases the way or manner (the ‘what’) of the being of the singular.

The issue at stake is not, as Miller implies, that these notions, such as the subject, have somehow become ‘all-too-old-fashioned’ for the intellectual avant garde; it is that the eternal claims of transcendental apperception and teleology have been rendered problematic via a strategy of radical temporalization. In this way, another ‘truth’ is revealed as that which comes to be from the dissolution of the unifying, schematizing, projecting subject. This ‘other’ truth apprehends that which is there as an opening with respect to the eruption of a concealing alterity, a withdrawing in a showing forth. In this condition of finitude, the singular being always remains on the surface, attending to what is there, gathering together and selecting, constructing the ‘world’ in which the body is inscribed.

Despite the terrain and meaning which the text of Foucault traverses, Miller confesses:

I was forced to ascribe to Foucault a persistent and purposeful self, inhabiting one and the same body throughout his mortal life, more or less consistently accounting for his actions and attitudes to others as well as to himself and understanding his life as a teleologically structured quest.[10]

He perversely ascribes to Foucault an understanding of his life as a ‘teleological structured quest,’ a destiny monotonously unfolded and recurrently riddled with Nietzschean phrases, such as the tragic Dionysus under Apollo, (…under the sun (Apollo) of the great Nietzschean quest.’[11]) becoming what you are, a path taken which was haunted by an

unrelenting, deeply ambiguous and profoundly problematic preoccupation with death, which he explored not only in the exoteric form of his writing, but also, and I believe critically, in the esoteric form of sado-masochistic eroticism.[12]

Ironically, this type self-conscious teleological awareness, this projection of transparency, is exactly what is displaced by these deployed phrases of Nietzsche.

There is a certain ambiguity in this project of finding the why behind a life, a why sitting in a ‘who’. If the deployment of teleological schema merely reconstructs the phenomena into ‘its own image,’[13] that is, taking out what you had placed there only just before, the orchestration of such a project would only erect more barriers to a glimpse of Foucault. It would erase his life as an event, further mummifying his work into the system of functional names articulated in the discursive regime with the latter’s name as its formal indicator.  Miller’s automaton called ‘Foucault’ is forever focussed on his goal, forever seeking new ways to ‘go to the limits,’ seeking experiences, detours for Bataille (music, alcohol, literature, sex, works, politics, drugs, ascesis, AIDS) in his obsessive preparation and confrontation with death. Not only is this portrayal of ‘the philosophical life’ one-dimensional, but it fails to be meticulous and attentive to the silent murmurs dancing amidst these traces. In Miller’s fabrication, there is no room for chance, no real visceral appreciation of dreams, or sex (the description of fist-fucking has the erotic appeal of a clinical textbook outlining the procedures for administering an enema), no real experience of sorrow or pain; of doubt or of terror. There is no mention of his diet, especially in the period of The Care of the Self, etc. There can be no fruitful understanding of ‘what’ Foucault was from a teleological, imaginative reconstruction focused, even heuristically, on an apparent ‘obsession’ with death, and on the various detours, ‘limit-experiences,’ which Foucault may have taken to this ultimate event…

Miller never remains long enough on the possibility of death to flesh out its significance. Instead, his interest in the man Foucault is cast in a morbid, obsessional, and ‘profoundly problematic’ light; death becomes a methodology, a game of dissection. A subtle presentation of the philosophical background for this concern for death would present, once again, the thematic of the dissolution of the subject, and hence, of teleological self-identity. Death as an ever-present immanence, when confronted in its proliferating chaos of implications, intensifies the urgency of singularity, an experience of an eternity in the present while simultaneously throwing light on the interminable embedded-ness of an existence orchestrated by the ‘anonymous strategies’ of a de-personalized, homogeneous, disciplining regime. These anonymous strategies, when cast into relief, in their micro-control and surveillance of the life of the singular, become intolerable, especially in that ‘we’ now know that the very orchestration of the technological regime has potentially, itself, undermined the eternity of its ‘subjects,’ e.g., nuclear annihilation, etc. This intolerable ‘presence’ of disciplining is, attacked with a ‘No’—by saying ‘No’ which is an act, an affirmation erupts by implication, the ‘Yes’ of’ the event of the singular assertion of freedom.

This ties together not only Foucault’s displacement of Sartre and modernist subjectivism, but also allows one to gain a sensitivity to his statement: Do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same. Perhaps he is merely asking for the sensitivity for him to embrace the radically temporal existence of his mortal singularity. The first and second part of this statement exhibit the self-same urgency: To become a ‘who’ is to be never again permitted to be differently, to feel differently, or to think differently. Or, to put it more directly, if this experience and concern with death opened up a different field of truth for Foucault when he was still alive, would not the deployment of a teleological schematic forbid Miller’s effort to know something about a ‘what’ from its inception?

In this way, despite the problematic surrounding Miller’s entire project, he nevertheless has presented us with a work of fiction, the usefulness of this work being determined by its ability to cast light on certain unknowns regarding ‘Foucault.’ Miller is aware of the status of his book: “But it is wise to state explicitly what ‘game of truth,’ to borrow Foucault’s phrase, I think I am playing”[14] In a sense, one could contend that the ‘who’ Miller is constructing has for its principle of orchestration the self-same matrix of anonymous murmurs reverberating amidst homo disciplinaria, those residual murmurs which Foucault felt and thought to indicate the intolerable. But, Miller writes: ‘Above all, I have tried to tell the truth.’[15] From his perspective, he pleads that it is worth struggling for ‘objectivity’ in light of the horrific events of the twentieth century (Hitlerism, Stalinism, myth-mongering). And, since Foucault is an important twentieth century intellectual, ‘telling the truth’ means to purify ‘our’ Foucault of his myth-mongering idiosyncrasies, deeply rooted in a person others considered strange, odd, crazy, but… also brilliant.

Yet, given the parameters brought into play here, the truth of this construction is deployed as circumscribed within a heterogeneity of places, names and histories. It is almost as if Miller is rejecting the cloture of metaphysics and the death of man as modern mythologies that must be regulated by an exterior regime of truth with priority towards the modernist ‘self-understanding’ of anyone embracing those ideas. If Miller is seeking to portray a philosophical ethos, he cannot merely quarantine these ideas off as museum objects. More importantly, Miller’s discursive title is, at present, over-determined, or rather, the text ‘Foucault’ and the transmutations it undergoes as it is appropriated delimits a space of contestation within the regime of ‘truth.’ This book by Miller constitutes a philosophical rejection of central aspects of Foucault’s thinking, aspects that continually persist within struggle.

Miller’s book is a book of the present, and positions itself amidst the terrain of the present (and the marketplace) when speaking of various themes, such as crime, sex, drugs, and madness. For the reader, these terms fit into a contemporary constellation of rules and meanings, linked to practical living and to terrestrial culture. That Miller, himself, admits to experimenting with LSD (his coming out), but not with sado-masochism, testifies to the phenomena which Foucault described; phenomena regarding the discordant reference matrices arising with the transplantation and transmutation of contextually situated singular events.  The confession of Miller shows us what is at stake: a defamatory fabrication of the reputation and significance of a thinker whose ideas and action still haunt, fight within serious contemporary arenas of contestation. Thus, although Paul-Michel is dead, having been effaced in his inaccessible singularity, the agonistic regimes live on still confronting the vigilance of this work.

But someone may still and always does ask: Is Miller not justified in his endeavour to cast his gaze on this ‘who,’ working to meticulously reconstruct the personage of such an important twentieth century thinker? Moreover, how else are ‘we’ to answer this question, given the refusal on the part of Michel Foucault to even allow this very question? No one is seeking to deny Miller’s constitutionally protected right of publishing his opinions concerning anything he wishes to present in a work. What is more difficult to grasp, however, and what must be grasped and remained attuned to is the site of this constitutionally protected exercise. What must be kept in sight are the very warnings which Foucault disseminated concerning the anonymous operations of power, which, in their articulation, serve to define reality and the limits of the real. Thus, if reality-qua-artifice is a struggle, if that which is is constituted via the conflictual terrain of discordant, factual everydayness, Miller’s assertion into the discourse not only remains politically and culturally charged, but also indicates a ‘limit-experience’ of its own.

Miller has, not by his massive listing of personal facts, facts which any person, I think, can ‘handle,’ but by the principle of his artistic operation, as a teleological reconstruction, transgressed the limit of accessibility regarding the event character of a life. This transgression, as it goes beyond the limit, in turn reactivates the event of limit within the discourse entitled ‘Foucault,’ a reactivation that allows Miller to shape, sculpt and mold a personage, a ‘who’ fabricated by the hard etching of a diamond. This book engages in the contestation of the real, attempting to say, ‘It is thus and thus…Foucault is this…” Who is Michel Foucault?  Which one do you want?  Does this really tell us anything? If it does (especially its monotonous work of factual research), what is its status as a direction for future research? Must ‘we’ encourage the writing of thousands of similar books, all teleologically organized around different thematics of destiny?  Would ‘we’ then have a pretty good picture of the ‘who?’

Or, on the contrary, would ‘we’ not have obliterated any semblance of the ‘man and his work,’ especially if it is always too early to tell what something is while it persists in the arena of contestation.  Nietzsche answered himself when he asked what he was with the riddle, I am a destiny… If one can conceive of what is called ‘Foucault’ as in any sense destinal, then one is forced to apprehend that this destiny is still sending. And, since Miller dismisses the ideas of post-metaphysical discourse, he is forbidden a ‘history of the present,’ but can only engage in the shaping of the present, and perhaps the future, by ossifying not only certain selections of the past, but by allowing certain forms off discursive intolerance to recur.

Miller might be describing his own work when he writes:

Out of this chaotic vortex are spun certain themes, motifs that recur over and over again, entangling ‘an existence fallen of its own motion into a definite determination,’ pointing towards an inescapable fate.[16]

Miller intends to conjure up ‘the one who says “I” in the works, the letters, the drafts, the sketches, the personal secrets,’[17] by constructing the ‘imaginative universe’ of Michel Foucault.  He indicates his approach by siting Foucault in a 1983 interview, ‘At every moment, step by step, one must confront what one is thinking and saying with what one is doing, what one is.’[18] But, the task, to examine the ethos, the philosophical life of Michel Foucault, cannot deliver on its promises, since the delimited space of this gaze remains over-determined.  Miller can only write about himself and about ‘our’ present: what his writing refers to is the arena of contestation, and nothing else besides…

Some examples are in order.  To answer his own question: who is Michel Foucault? Miller must decipher the ‘enigmatic stitching of the work and the author,’ the reconstruction of his ethos, his imaginative universe.  In a discussion of Foucault’s Raymond Roussel, he finds a clue to begin his project: death is the moment revealing the innermost lyrical core of a person, placing a mirror in front of the dying one; death thus illuminates this sense of singularity, it is in death that the singular being apprehends its opening, i.e., not its refusal.  Miller foreshadows the sheer speculation insinuating the purposeful suicide of Foucault in a suggested ‘limit-experience’ of AIDS, by siting Deleuze: ‘perhaps he chose death.’ And, Foucault died ‘in a way commensurate with [his] conception of death.’[19]  The starting point for the project: the facts of his death and how these came to be known will give us a glimpse of his ‘invisible truth.’ Describing the controversy surrounding Foucault’s death, Miller writes that despite his lifetime wishes, ‘Foucault had become ensnared, perhaps acquiring a face that cannot be exchanged, the transparency of his visible secret,’ his being buried alive in a glass tomb.

Foucault, however, being dead, is not ensnared in anything at all: what is occurring is the intensification of the conflict within the discursive regime of names, facts, places, etc.  The very proliferation of discrepancies and contestation in this situation is an event unto itself, an event with its own tendencies, organisations, networks, removed from the immediacy of Michel Foucault: he became the face on the sand erased by the rolling, inexorable waves.

In another example of Miller’s fictionalising, he speculates concerning Foucault’s knowledge of AIDS, and of the relation of AIDS to Foucault’s alleged history of suicidal tendencies and to his ‘obsession with death.’  Miller sites Foucault: ‘Complete total pleasure… for me, it’s related to death.’ Mr. Miller writes that, with the proliferation of the disease, there were, simultaneously different reactions amidst the gay community: safe sex, the closing of public baths, etc. and Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death: suicide orgies, transgressive festivals of death. Since Foucault thought about death… did he know? ‘Was this perhaps his own deliberately chosen apotheosis, his own singular experience of “the passion”?’ Would this expose Foucault’s lyric core, his demonic, poetic attitude? Foucault regarding AIDS as a limit experience; negativity opening the breach of boundaries into chaos? Miller speculates: ‘Is Foucault a figure of quixotic folly forced to learn the laws of gravity the hard way?’

It must be remembered that this whole book, as Miller confesses, was inspired by a piece of gossip, one that has no chance of being verified, and thus, it must be stated that its deployment remains profoundly problematic.  Yet, this gossip is deployed as a clue, surfacing here in speculation, which is possible only by the weaving together of certain recurrent themes charged with such a ‘mystical aura.’ Given that Miller postulates himself as abandoning the moral centre a la Nietzsche, what legitimacy can be given to his desire and attempt to ‘tell the truth’? It seems that Miller is caught in a double bind, one side bordering on hypocrisy, the other on intellectual negligence.

It is tactically clear that Foucault’s own speculation upon Raymond Roussell’s apparent suicide opens the door Miller. He examines the statement: “sex is worth dying for,” and Foucault’s interest in untamed exteriority and ‘thinking differently.’ Yet, by erecting Foucault as a transparent intentionality and matrix of activity, and by distancing himself from his own project (that is, Miller’s own political role and position) this book serves as a veil for panoptic domination. The reader can see all without being seen in the security of the text concerning passion, like a businessman at a quarter peep show at lunch time – has philosophy ever sounded so sexy?

For instance, Miller asserts that Foucault found his own voice by writing a large introduction to Dream and Existence by Binswanger: the occasion associated with Foucault’s fascination with the case of Ellen West, and a preoccupation with death that he is portrayed as sharing with her.  It should be remembered that finding a voice is the sending of the daimon—is Miller suggesting that at that moment Foucault began contemplating his suicide-orgy?  Foucault is said, once again, to offer a vision in this introduction, his innermost history and inexorable destiny is laid out in a dream, the regurgitated unthought propelling the destiny.

For Ellen West, simple things, dreams (like Ellen West) of ‘violent death, of savage death, of horrified death.’  It is written that suicide is the ultimate myth, an ultimate mode of imagining – to dream one’s death is the fulfilment of existence; ‘the moment in which life reaches its fullness in a world about to close in.’ Foucault, with his heart laid bare, has his daimon as his hangman—did he then have to kill himself like Ellen West, or could there be another path towards Nietzschean affirmation? As Nietzsche writes: ‘The path to one’s own heaven always leads through the voluptuousness of one’s own hell.’  If hell is other people, Miller has given himself the chance to play the role of Satan.

Artaud issued a message in 1947. This performance can be discussed to complete this present reading of Miller’s book.  The old man on stage exhibits pained, guttural squeals, silence, lost, frequently starts over, three hours, knocks off papers, drops glasses, struggling to find poetry, the audience descends into extreme anguish, panic.  Artaud, now becoming spectator, witnesses the insecure rustling of the throng, and says, ‘I put myself in your place and I can see that what I tell you isn’t at all interesting.  It’s still theatre.  What can one do to be truly sincere?’[20]  Artaud succeeded in bringing the audience into the theatre, the quarantine of the actor/spectator regime is imploded into the same.

Artaud’s experiment: is it the project of a discrete, self-aware subjectivity, in Miller’s questionable sense? What this experiment refers to and accomplishes, on the contrary, is the fundamental sense of the work of self-effacement.   Foucault wrote that Artaud created “that space of physical suffering and terror coinciding with the void, as the work becomes neither the actor not the audience…. by changing places, the work becomes an anonymous murmur.[21] The alleged basis of the subject, or the actor, is effaced, subverted, allowing for the opening out of the world of the play of shadow and light.  Simply by dying, Foucault has freed himself of the anonymous dynamics of terrestrial, cultural contestation, yet, his practise and work, his solidarity with political militancy, with Maoists in the GPI and the Anti-psychiatry movement, etc., is still active even after his death.  ‘Foucault’ – as with Derrida’s motif of the spectral, of the ghost – remains engaged amid a field of struggle that remains undecided.

Yet, as per Focuault’s own wishes and practice, the subjectivity of the writer has been effaced, and the author has died.  Foucault’s work is thus attuned to the experiment of Artaud.  And, in either case it is not possible to get inside the head to find out if this or that one is sane, etc… In this light, Miller’s dubious project of a teleological orchestration of a self-aware actor can only be met with a clear rejection: the shaping of Foucault into a teleological system merely erases whatever presence he may have had. Sometimes the greatest silence is the greatest clamor… and vice versa…

***

Go to: The Ends of the British State in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist

Go to: “They Destroy, We Create: The Anti-Austerity UK Alliance” in Planet Magazine: The Welsh Internationalist

Go to: Athens Without Slavery: The Battle For Europe – Syriza and the New European Left

Go to: The Laughter of Dionysus: Bataille and Derrida on Joyce

Go to: Prometheus Dismembered: Bataille on Van Gogh

Go to: The Tragic Community: Friedrich Nietzsche and Mao Tse Tung

Go to: The Wreckage of Stars: Nietzsche and the Ecstasy of Poetry

Go to: Fatal Repetition: Badiou and the Age of the Poets, with Appendix: A Psychoanalysis of Alain Badiou

Go to: The Politics of the Imperfect: Building a Different World

Go to: Of the Feral Children: A Mayan Farce (Novel, 2012)


[1] Breton, André, Nadja (Grover Press, 1960), p. 11.

[2] Ibid., p. 18.

[3] The title itself opens up a problematic from the outset. Listening to the repetitious emphasis of themes of madness through Miller’s book, one can witness the multiplicity surrounding this word: passion. It can have the sensationalist impact of titillating sexuality. The picture on the leaf, the only picture besides that of the writer, suggests as much. This is, perhaps, to render the finished product desirable? Yet, as presented in Madness and Civilization, passion connotes a pre-condition of madness. This is typical of Miller’s questionable book, he makes suggestions of madness, criminality, perversion, etc. So what if Miller talks about ‘fist-fucking’; what must be investigated is not how this book relates to the ‘person’ of Michel Foucault, but how this book relates to the contemporary contestation about the dominant issues of ‘our’ own era.

[4] Miller, James. The Passion of Michel Foucault, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993), p. 38.

[5] Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge, A.M. Sheridan Smith, trans., (Harper Colophon Books, 1972), p. 17.

[6] If what ‘we’ seek is ‘illumination’ of the Foucault text in light of the ‘life of a philosopher,’ can ‘we’ continue ‘our’ intolerance of a non-subjectivist perspective? The question of ‘What one haunts’ could be a clue for a sophisticated and attentive rendering of the tenuous ‘meaning’ of the singular.

[7] Miller, p. 5.

[8] Miller seems to conflate ‘becoming what’ with ‘becoming who’ on page 346, line 8. This is not a short, pithy phrase, but the displacement of a transcendental subjectivity.

[9] Breton sensed that the person remains fragmentary, yet he did not see this as a question, a riddle, but as a loss.

[10] Miller, p. 7.

[11] Ibid., p. 67.

[12] Ibid., p. 7.

[13] One must remember the words of the Madman, ‘God is dead!’

[14] Miller, p. 7.

[15] Ibid., p. 7.

[16] Ibid., p. 77.

[17] Ibid., p. 19.

[18] Ibid., p. 9.

[19] Ibid., p. 20.

[20] Cited in Miller, p. 95.

[21] Cited in Miller, p. 96.

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