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Quotes of the month (2000)


Foucault at a demo

December 2000

'In civilizations without ships, dreams dry up, espionnage takes the place of adventure and the police take the place of corsairs.' (trans. mod.)

Michel Foucault. (1998) [1984] 'Different spaces'. In J. Faubion (ed.). Tr. Robert Hurley and others. Aesthetics, method and epistemology. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984. Volume Two Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Allen Lane, Penguin, p. 181.


November 2000

'All human behavior is scheduled and programmed through rationality. There is a logic of institutions and in behavior and in political relations. In even the most violent ones there is a rationality. What is most dangerous in violence is its rationality. Of course violence itself is terrible. But the deepest root of violence and its permanence come out of the form of the rationality we use. The idea had been that if we live in the world of reason, we can get rid of violence. This is quite wrong. Between violence and rationality there is no incompatibility.'

Michel Foucault. (1996) [1980]. 'Truth is in the future'. In Sylvère Lotringer (ed.) Foucault Live (Interviews, 1961-1984). Tr. Lysa Hochroth and John Johnston. 2nd edition. New York: Semiotext(e), p.299.


October 2000

'What appears to me to be indispensable is respect for the reader... I dream of books which would be clear enough about the way they go about things for others to use them freely, but without trying either to blur or hide the original sources. Freedom of use and technical transparency are linked.'

Michel Foucault. (1994) [1983]. 'A propos des faiseurs d'histoire'. In Dits et Ecrits vol IV. Paris: Gallimard, p. 414. (This passage trans. Clare O'Farrell)


September 2000

'My position is that it is not up to us [intellectuals] to propose. As soon as one "proposes" - one proposes a vocabulary, an ideology, which can only have effects of domination. What we have to present are instruments and tools that people might find useful. By forming groups specifically to make these analyses, to wage these struggles, by using these insturments or others: this is how, in the end, possibilities open up.
But if the intellectual starts playing once again the role that he has played for a hundred and fifty years - that of prophet in relation to what "must be", to what "must take place" - these effects of domination will return and we shall have other ideologies, functioning in the same way.'

Michel Foucault. (1988). 'Confinement, psychiatry, prison'. In L. Kritzman, (ed.), Politics, Philosophy, Culture: Interviews and Other Writings, 1977-1984. New York: Routledge, p.197


August 2000

'... from the moment that people were no longer quite sure of having a soul or that the body would return to life, more attention to mortal remains became necessary; these became the only trace of our existence in the midst of the world and in the midst of words.
In any case, it was in the nineteenth century that each person began to have the right to his own little box for his own personal decomposition ... (trans. mod)

Michel Foucault. (1998) [1984]. 'Different spaces'. In J. Faubion (ed.). Tr. Robert Hurley and others. Aesthetics, method and epistemology. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984. Volume Two Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Allen Lane, Penguin, p. 181.


July 2000

'[Raymond Roussel] said that after his first book he expected that the next morning there would be a kind of aura around his person and that everyone in the street would be able to see that he had written a book. This is the obscure desire harboured by everyone who writes. It is true that the first text one writes is neither written for others, nor because one is what one is: one writes to become other than what one is. One tries to modify one's way of being through the act of writing.' (trans. mod.)

Michel Foucault (1987) 'An interview with Michel Foucault by Charles Ruas'. In Death and the Labyrinth: The World of Raymond Roussel. Tr. C. Ruas. London: The Athlone Press, p.182.


June 2000

'It is hard to see what kind of objectivity is achieved by the statistical analysis of a questionnaire examining the lies of school age children and their playmates. At the end of the day, the results are reassuring, we learn that children lie mostly to avoid punishment, then to boast of their exploits etc. We can be sure by virtue of these very findings, that the method was quite objective. So what? There are those obsessive peeping toms who, in order to look through a plate glass door, peer through the keyhole'.

Michel Foucault. (1994) [1957]. 'La recherche scientifique et la psychologie'. In Dits et Ecrits vol I. Paris: Gallimard, pp. 137-58. (This passage trans. Clare O'Farrell).


May 2000

'I don't write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible, not necessarily written by me'.

Michel Foucault (1994) [1971] 'Entretien avec Michel Foucault'. In Dits et Ecrits vol II. Paris: Gallimard, pp. 157-74. (This passage trans. Clare O'Farrell).


April 2000

'Personally I've never met any intellectuals. I've met people who write novels, others who treat the sick; people who work in economics and others who compose electronic music. I've met people who teach, people who paint, and people of whom I have never really understood what they do. But intellectuals? Never.'

Michel Foucault. (1997). 'The Masked Philosopher'. In J. Faubion (ed.). Tr. Robert Hurley and others. Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954-1984. Volume One. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, Allen Lane, p. 322.


March 2000

'My role - and that is too emphatic a word - is to show people that they are much freer than they feel, that people accept as truth, as evidence, some themes which have been built up at a certain moment during history, and that this so-called evidence can be criticized and destroyed.'

Michel Foucault. (1988). 'Truth, power, self: An interview with Michel Foucault October 25 1982'. In Luther H. Martin and Patrick Hutton (eds.), Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts Press, p.10.


February 2000

'What is serious, is that, as you continue to write you are no longer read at all and readers going from one distortion to another, reading books on the shoulders of others end up with an absolutely grotesque image of your book' (trans. mod.)

Michel Foucault. (1996) [1984]. 'An aesthetics of existence'. In Sylvère Lotringer (ed.) Foucault Live (Interviews, 1961-1984). Tr. Lysa Hochroth and John Johnston. 2nd edition. New York: Semiotext(e),