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L‫ ׳‬:_‫ { !; '׳‬r ^ ! 5OliJCA
Didier Eribon
Translated by Betsy U mg

t the tim e o f his death in 1984, at the age of


fifty -e ig h t, M ich el F o u ca u lt w as w id e ly
regarded as one of the m ost pow erful m inds of
this century. H ailed by distinguished h istorians
and lion ized on his frequent visits to A m erica,
he continues to provoke lively debate. The nature
and m erits o f his accom plishm ents rem ain tan-
gled in controversy. R ejecting traditional lib eral
and M arxist “dream s of solidarity,” Foucault
becam e the very model o f the m odern in tellec-
tual, replacing Sartre as the figure of the em inent
Parisian and cosm opolitan m aster thinker.

F ou cau lt h im s e lf d isc o u r a g e d b io g r a p h ic a l
questions, claim ing that he was “not at all inter-
e s tin g .” D id ie r E r ib o n ’s c a p tiv a tin g a c c o u n t
overthrows that assertion. As a jou rn alist well
acquainted w ith Foucault for years before his
death, E ribon was particularly w ell placed to
conduct the dozens o f interview s w hich are the
cornerstone of this book. He has drawn upon
eyewitness accounts by Foucault’s closest associ-
ates from all phases of his life — his m other, his
schoolteachers, his classm ates, his friends and
enem ies in academ ic life, and his celebrated
co m p a n io n s in p o litic a l a c tiv ism , in c lu d in g
Sim one Signoret and Yves M ontand. E ribon has
m ethodically retraced the footsteps of his peri-
patetic subject, from France to Sweden to Poland
to Germ any to Tunisia to B razil to Japan to the
U nited States. T he result is a concise, crisply
readable, m eticulously docum ented narrative
that debunks the many m yths and rum ors sur-
rounding the b rillia n t philosopher — and forces
us to consider seriously the idea that all his books
are indeed, just as Foucault said near the end of
his life, “fragments of an autobiography.”

W ho was this man, M ichel Foucault? In the late


1950s Foucault emerged as a b u d d in g young cul-
tural attaché, friendly w ith G au llist diplom ats.
By the m id-1960s he appeared as one of the ava-
tars of structuralism , p osition in g h im self as a
new star in the fashionable world of French
thought. A few months after the May 1968 stu-
dent revolt, w ith G aullism apparently shaken, he
(continued on back flap)
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault

Didier Eribon

T ranslated by Betsy W ing

H arvard U niversity P ress


Cambridge, Massachusetts
1991
Copyright © 1991 by the President and Fellows o f Harvard College
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America
1 098765432 i

Originally published in 1989 by Flammarion

Translation o f this volume has been aided by a grant from the French M inistry o f Culture.

T h is book is printed on acid-free paper, and its binding materials have been chosen for
strength and durability.

Library o f Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Eribon, Didier.
[Michel Foucault. English]
M ichel Foucault / Didier Eribon ; translated by Betsy W ing,
p. cm.
Translation of: M ichel Foucault.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
I S B N 0 6 7 4 - 5 7 2 8 7 - 4 ‫( ־‬alk. paper)
i. Philosophers— France— Biography. I. Title.
B2430.F724E7513 1991
194— dc20
[B] 91-7186
CIP
For O livier Séguret
Contents
w v

Preface ix

Part I. Psychology in Hell


1 . “ T h e C ity Where I Was Born” 3
2. T h e Voice o f Hegel 15
3. Rue d’Ulm 24
4. T h e Carnival o f Madmen 41
5. Stalin’s Shoemaker 5°
6. Discords o f Love 61
7. Uppsala, Warsaw, Hamburg 73

Part II. The Order o f Things 99


8. T h e Talent o f a Poet 1 01
9. T h e Book and Its Doubles 1 16
10. T h e Dandy and the Reforms 128
11. Opening Bodies 144
12. Ramparts o f the Bourgeoisie 155
1 3. T h e Open Sea 187

Part III. “ Militant and Professor at the Collège de France” 199


14. A Vincennes Interlude 201
15. T h e Solitude o f the Acrobat 2 I2
16. A Lesson from the Darkness 224
17. Popular Justice and the Workers’ M em ory 238
18. “ We Are All Ruled” 263
19. A Revolution o f Bare Hands 281
20. Missed Appointments 296
2i. Zen and California 3°9
2 2. Life as a Work o f Art 30
C ontents

Notes 335
Selected Works o f Foucault 359
Acknowledgments 361
Index 365

W V ili 'VV
Death conceals no mystery. It opens no door. It is the
end of a human being. He is survived by the things he
has given other human beings, by the things remaining
in their memory.
Norbert Elias

W
riting a biography of Michel Foucault may seem paradox-
ical. Did he not, on numerous occasions, challenge the no-
tion of the author, thereby dismissing the very possibility
of a biographical study? When I started this book, several of his friends
and closest relatives brought this up. But although it may seem rele-
vant, it also seems to me that this objection takes care of itself. Foucault
did indeed question the notion of the author. But what does that
mean? Fie demonstrated that in our societies the circulation of dis-
courses had to submit to restrictive forms imposed by notions of au-
thor, work, and commentary Even so, Foucault could not isolate
himself from the society in which he lived. He, like everyone else, was
forced to fulfill the “ functions” he described. So he signed his books
and made connections among them with a collection of prefaces, ar-
tides, and interviews, endeavoring to demonstrate the coherence of his
oeuvre or to show the dynamics of his research from one stage to the
next. He played the commentary game, participating in conferences
devoted to his work, answering objections and criticism, good and bad
readings. Michel Foucault, in short, is an author. He produced an
oeuvre, which has been subject to commentary. Seminars, meetings,
and debates about his work are still being organized in France today,
and all over the world texts are being collected into complete editions
of his “ writings and sayings.” There is much discussion about whether
or not the tape recordings of his courses at the Collège de France should
be published. Why, then, should biography be the one forbidden form?
Because Foucault always refused to release the facts of his life, as some
have claimed? That is untrue. He provided a lot of information in sev-

IX ‫׳‬W
P reface

eral interviews; he approved the publication o f an Italian edition o f in-


terviews (Colloqui con Foucault) attempting, in large part, to retrace his
intellectual itinerary; and in 198 3 he proposed that he and I do a more
complete and “ formally composed” book of interviews as part o f a col-
lection in which several scholars and intellectuals would describe their
training and how their work came to be.
N o doubt the real reason that some object to a biography of Foucault
is their feeling that discussion o f homosexuality would be controver-
sial. Invariably, throughout my research, the question arose: “ W ill you
mention homosexuality in this book?” Some were afraid the topic
would be misunderstood. Others were amazed that in 1989 anyone
might hesitate to discuss it openly. Obviously, this book is destined to
elicit contradictory reactions from those who think I have said too
much and those who would like more details or description— about
American life, for instance. M y preference lies closer to the second
point o f view, but I also had to consider the feelings o f those who hold
the other. I made no attempt to conceal facts, but my intention was not
to write a sensational book. The balance was not easy to achieve. I
wanted to resist the subtle forms o f repression and censorship that
await all writers. I wanted to resist them especially because this was
a book about Foucault, whose entire oeuvre can be read as a revolt
against the powers o f “ normalization.” Yet are display and exhibition-
ism not also ways of acknowledging the strength of these forces and of
the part voyeurism plays in them? To avoid this double pitfall, I decided
to tell the facts when telling them was necessary to an understanding o f
some particular event, some particular aspect o f Foucault’s career, his
work, his thought, his life— or his death. I passed over them in silence
when they were connected only with the secret territory that every in-
dividual creates in his or her own life. Flowever, this point is worth
noting: Foucault himself gave interviews to homosexual reviews both
in France and abroad in which he expressed himself at length. Those
prepared to be indignant about my “ revelations” should know that
many o f them are only quotations and translations of his own words.
Foucault was fond of quoting René Char: “ Develop your legitimate
strangeness.” This book, inspired by admiration for a man and an
oeuvre whose brilliance have illuminated intellectual activity in France
and abroad for almost thirty years, is written under the sign of Char’s
injunction.

The investigation offered its own difficulties. First there were the
obstacles that inevitably arise in such an inquiry: the occasional lapse

w X -w
P reface

of memory in witnesses, and the slow resurfacing of these memories in


a succession of encounters and discussions. From time to time these
produced contradictory accounts whose avenues of intersection re-
quired further tracing. There was also the problem of records that
were lost or buried in archives, access to which required a thousand
official authorizations or unofficial collusions. To collect all these
documents and speak to all the witnesses I had to travel— from Tunis
to Poitiers, Lille to San Francisco, Clermont-Ferrand to Uppsala or
Warsaw. I had also to move through extremely diverse cultural ter-
ritories: from the historian o f science, an emeritus professor at the
Sorbonne, to the director o f Libération; from the Swedish diplomat to
the avant-garde writer; from a former secretary general at the Elysée
to leftist leaders who founded the University o f Vincennes; and so on.
Then the written evidence had to be compared with the testimony
gathered from relatives, friends, colleagues, students, and enemies.
But there were also very special difficulties concerning Foucault
himself. He was a complex, many-sided character. “ He wore masks,
and he was always changing them,” said Georges Dumézil, who knew
him better than almost anyone else. I have not attempted to reveal
“ the” truth about Foucault. Under one mask there is always another,
and I do not think there is any truth of personality that it would be
possible to discover beneath these successive disguises. N o doubt there
are several Foucaults— a thousand Foucaults, as Dumézil said. I have
presented them as I saw them, and often the Foucault that emerges is
quite different from the one I knew from 1979 to 1984. But I have been
wary o f making judgments or o f establishing a preferential order for
those personas.
T h e major obstacle was less obvious, more insidious. Simply to es-
tablish the facts it was necessary first to free oneself from the mytholo-
gies surrounding Foucault, which clung so tightly to his character that
sometimes they obscured evidence from documents and accounts.
Foucault began to take center stage in 1966, after the publication of Les
Mots et les choses (The order of things), but his notoriety swiftly coin-
cided with his political activity during the 1970s. And much of what
was written about him thereafter bears the mark o f this latterday per-
sona o f the “ committed philosopher,” which seems to have changed
retrospectively everything Foucault had formerly been.
Let me be clear about my purpose here. Although this account o f
Foucault strives to reestablish historical facts as against the sedimented
layers of legend, it does not seek to efface the innovative power, the
richness, and the fruitfulness o f Foucault’s oeuvre. On the contrary, it

^ xi ^
Preface

aims to restore these qualities to it in all their brilliance. There have


been numerous readings of Foucault’s oeuvre over forty years. These
have been forgotten, stuck away on dusty shelves and neglected. T h ey
have vanished. It is no disservice to Foucault’s work to sever it from a
single, mutilating version. To return its history to it in order to restore
its multiple forces can only enhance it.

Recounting a life is an interminable task. If one spent twenty years


at it, there would always be something left to discover. I f one wrote ten
volumes, a supplement would still be required. It was impossible, for
example, to catalogue here all the petitions signed by Foucault from
1970 to 1984. To report on every one o f his militant actions day by day
was inconceivable. Claude Mauriac devoted several hundred pages of
his ten-volume journal, Le Temps immobile, to this subject, but he was
present at only some of them. N or was it possible to record all the lec-
tures Foucault delivered on campuses all over the world, to list all the
interviews he gave to newspapers, reviews, and magazines, or to name
everyone who met him. M any people found their relationship with
Michel Foucault enormously important. But because I was writing a
biography o f Foucault, I had to focus on those who mattered to him,
rather than on those for whom he mattered.
I have also been selective about events, texts, and periods. I gave
more space to one event rather than to another when it seemed to me
more significant; I quoted one text at greater length than another when
I felt that it better expressed Foucault’s thought at the period in which
he wrote it, or when it had become hard to obtain or had not been
published in French.
In each period treated, I have tried to reconstruct the intellectual
landscape in which Foucault developed. Clearly, a philosophy does not
spring up fully formed with its concepts and discoveries in a solitary
mind dedicating itself to the exercise o f thought. An intellectual proj-
ect and its development can be undertood only in reference to a theo-
retical, institutional, and political space— what Pierre Bourdieu would
call a “ field.” I have therefore tried to amass and combine here the
testimony o f the philosophers who accompanied or intersected with
Foucault in his career, who saw his work develop, who followed its
evolution. I met with and questioned for hours, and often several
times, Henri Gouhier, Georges Canguilhem, Louis Althusser, Gérard
Lebrun, Jean-Claude Pariente, Jean-Toussaint Desanti, Gilles De-
leuze, Jacques Derrida, Jules Vuillemin, Michel Serres. Others pro­

**‫ ׳‬Xll *‫׳*׳‬


P reface

vided me with accounts, stories, information, or essential documents:


chiefly Georges Dumézil, Paul Veyne of course, Claude Lévi-Strauss,
Pierre Bourdieu, Paul kabinow, Robert Castel, Jean-Claude Passeron,
Mathieu Lindon, and Maurice Pinguet. The many others who helped
me are listed at the end of the volume. They are extremely numer-
ous because this book was to be, above all, a collective history— not
the portrait of an epoch, as biographies are frequently described, but
sketches of several epochs, o f several cultural registers: the Ecole N or-
male Supérieure on the Rue d’Ulm during the postwar years, French
literature during the 1960s, the structuralist controversy, the far left
after 1968, the Collège de France as a specific institution in French
university life, and so on.

On several occasions I was present at or involved in the events that I


describe. I have systematically avoided speaking in the first person. Ex-
cept in very rare instances— two, I believe— when it was difficult to do
otherwise, I have substituted for my own account those of others who
were present or were equally knowledgeable.

This book is a biography, and not, therefore, a study of Foucault’s


oeuvre. But surely the reason for writing a biography of Foucault is
that he wrote books. I have tried to present the major works against the
background in which they took form. I have faithfully reproduced the
texts and avoided commenting on them. On the other hand, because it
is part of their history, I have discussed the reception of his books at
some length. Sometimes this history consists of successive receptions,
as is the case for Foucault’s thesis, Folie et déraison.
As a history of these histories this project is, perhaps, closer than
may first appear to the spirit o f Foucault, who wrote of Ludwig Bin-
swanger: “ Original forms of thought are their own introduction: their
history is the only form of exegesis they tolerate, and their fate the only
form o f criticism.”

H Xlll **‫׳‬
L ’éclair me dure.
The lightning still is with me.
René Char
Translator's Note
Works by Foucault are translated in parentheses
at their first occurrence. Thereafter the French
titles alone are used.
Part I
‫׳‬W

P syc h o lo g y in H ell
I
>vw

“ T he C ity W here I Was B orn '1'’

n a somewhat preposterous setting— the theater where Avenue


Montaigne meets the Champs-Élysées— a small crowd assembled
in a large room very early on the morning o f January 9, 1988. De-
spite the voluntarily discreet, even half-secret nature of the gathering
in order to avoid attracting too big a crowd, there were more than a
hundred scholars assembled from almost every part of the world. T h ey
quietly took their seats, and a small man rose. Notwithstanding his
eighty-four years, his voice was steady and assured as he began to read
his statement: “ The number of those present, the diversity o f partici-
pants, and the pertinence o f questions raised mark this meeting as an
important event in the collective enterprise of evaluating and examin-
ing the works of Michel Foucault . . Georges Canguilhem paused
briefly for a breath at the end of his sentence and continued: “ Like all
philosophers who leave behind a work that is interrupted, bereft o f its
author, Michel Foucault has become an object exposed to examination,
to comparison, and even to suspicion. Certainly this was true when he
was alive. But his scathing replies to often routine objections were not
merely a defense; usually they were also a dazzling illumination of his
forays into the unconscious o f realms o f knowledge, the questions he
had and the answers he found.” 1
N early four years had passed between Michel Foucault’s death
on June 25, 1984, and this colloquium, opened and presided over by
the eminent scholar who had served on the three-member jury when
Foucault defended his thesis, Folie et deraison (Madness and folly).2
During these years Foucault’s name had not left the spotlight.
In the fall of 1986 Gilles Deleuze’s soberly titled Foucault3 evoked
W ^ W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

much comment. At that time several reviews published special issues


on Foucault;4 and, since news makes news, all the papers devoted space
to Foucault’s work: the first page o f Le Monde, eight pages in Libéra-
tion, six pages in Le Nouvel Observateur, and so on. In an interview a few
days before his book appeared, Deleuze stated outright: “ Foucault’s
thought seems to me one of the greatest o f modern philosophies.” 5
In 1970 Foucault had written: “ Some day this will be a Deleuzian
century.” In 1986 Deleuze was perhaps trying to modify the formula-
tion, to say that, on the contrary, this was a Foucaldian century and
Foucaldian it would remain; in other words, that Foucault has left a
deep imprint upon this century, our world— an imprint so deep that,
unlike the figures traced in the sand at the end of Foucault’s Les Mots et
les choses ( The Order o f Things), it will not be effaced by the next rising
tide. Or by the advent o f death.
W

where I was born: decapitated saints, book in


“ S u c h is t h e c i t y
hand, watch to assure that justice is just and chateaux strong . . . T hat
is where I inherited my wisdom.” 6This was how Michel Foucault liked
to describe Poitiers, where he spent his childhood and adolescence— a
provincial city curled around its romanesque churches and its fifteenth-
century palais de justice, where the statues have in fact lost their heads.
A city straight out o f one o f Balzac’s narratives. A beautiful city— sti-
fling, no doubt, but beautiful. Its ancient center, perched on a promon-
tory, seems to defy the passage of time and the upheavals that come
with it.
Perhaps it was to stave off the* passage o f time that the Foucault fam-
ily passed down the same first name: Paul Foucault the grandfather,
Paul Foucault the father, Paul Foucault the son. But Mme. Foucault
did not yield entirely to the traditions imposed by her husband’s fam-
ily. H er first son had to be named Paul. So be it. But she added to it a
hyphen and the name Michel. On official papers and school records his
name is simply Paul Foucault. The one most closely concerned, the boy
himself, would soon use only the other: Michel. For Mme. Foucault
he would always be Paul-Michel, which is how she still referred to
him shortly before her death. Even today the family speaks o f him as
“ Paul-Michel.” W hy did he change his name? “ Because he had the
same initials as Pierre Mendès France, P. M. F.” was Mme. Foucault’s
answer. That was what her son had told her. But to his friends he gave
/j. W’
“ T he C ity W here I W as B o r n ”

an entirely different reason: he did not want to have the same name as
the father whom he hated as an adolescent.

Paul Foucault— le nom du père. A surgeon at Poitiers and professor


o f anatomy at the medical school, he was the son of a surgeon at Fon-
tainebleau. He married Anne Malapert, the daughter o f a surgeon at
Poitiers and professor at the medical school. T h ey lived in the big
white house, o f no particular distinction but near the center o f the
city, that Dr. Malapert had built in 1903. This house faces both Rue
Arthur-Ranc and Boulevard de Verdun, which descends steeply from
the upper city toward the Clain valley. Dr. Paul Foucault and his wife
had three children: Francine, the eldest; Paul, born fifteen months
later, on October 15, 1926; and a second son, Denys, born several years
later. T h e three children led the life of the respectable, provincial
bourgeoisie. It was a wealthy family. Mme. Foucault owned a house
twenty kilometers from the city, at Vendeuvre-du-Poitou, a superb
structure surrounded by a park and known by the villagers as “ the cha-
teau.” She also owned land, farms, fields. Dr. Foucault was a highly
regarded surgeon who spent his days operating in the two clinics in
Poitiers. He was a person o f some standing in the city. In short, there
was no lack of money in the Foucault establishment. A nurse was in
charge o f the children, a cook in charge o f the house; there was even a
chauffeur. T h e children received a good but conservative education,
even though Mme. Foucault subscribed to one o f her father’s maxims:
“ T h e important thing is to take charge o f one’s own affairs.” She
avoided controlling or directing her children’s reading in any way.
As for religion, apparently it was not one o f the family’s obsessions.
Everyone went to mass on Sunday at Saint-Porchaire, in the center of
the city. But Mme. Foucault neglected to do so more than once, and on
these occasions her mother, the children’s grandmother, took them.
Paul-Michel was an acolyte and choirboy for a while; tradition re-
quired it. But in an interview much later, Michel Foucault described
his family as somewhat anticlerical. N o doubt respect for the pro-
prieties coexisted with a certain detachment from faith.
Paul-Michel’s early schooling in the shadow o f the Jesuits was there-
fore entirely a matter o f chance— or o f history, which is often the same
thing. T h e Lycée Henri-IV, which included kindergarten and the ele-
mentary grades, was located on Rue Louis-Renard in an old building
that had belonged to the Congregation. It was a public school, but it
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

backed against a chapel that was more like an abbey in its size and
imposing appearance. Dr. Foucault’s son was less than four years old
when he first entered the square courtyard o f the institution. Above
the inner portal centuries o f history looked down on the children
passing beneath: effigy kings— Henri IV, “ founder,” and Louis XIV,
“ benefactor” — were engraved in the stone. Paul-Michel was not yet
legally old enough to be admitted to the school, but he did not want to
be separated from his sister. When Mme. Foucault discussed the situa-
tion with the teacher, the latter kindly responded: “ You can bring him
to us; we’ll put him in the back of the room with some colored pen-
cils.” And on M ay 27, 1930, there he was, in the back o f the classroom,
with his colored pencils. “ But he took advantage o f it and learned to
read,” Mme. Foucault said. He had two years o f “ playschool,” until
1932, and remained in the elementary school until 1936. Then he
moved on to the secondary level, the lycée proper. At the beginning o f
the school year in 1940 he left the Lycée H enri-IV for Saint-Stanislas.
H e had had a bad year.
Until then Paul-Michel had had few problems in school. He was not
outstanding in math, but his grades in French, history, Greek, and
Latin largely compensated for this deficiency, and he regularly carried
off prizes for excellence. W hat happened in the tenth grade7 that made
his grades slip so badly? Mme. Foucault’s explanation was that the
headmaster had suffered a stroke and could no longer manage his
school in the new wartime circumstances. Conditions had, indeed,
changed. T h e population o f Poitiers was swollen by successive waves
o f refugees, and the city’s schools had to make room for pupils and
teachers arriving from Paris. Lycée H enri-IV took in part o f Lycée
Janson‫־‬de‫־‬Sailly from Paris. The tranquil, confident serenity o f pro-
vincial education was seriously disrupted, and so were the established
hierarchies. Michel Foucault later described to a friend his sense o f
utter confusion when, having always been a top student, he saw new-
comers surpass and supplant him. Several o f Foucault’s friends from
this period have another explanation: the French teacher, Guyot, took
an immediate dislike to him. Guyot wasted no love on the children o f
the bourgeoisie. He was very “ Third Republic,” a radical and a Vol-
tairean who scarcely concealed his scorn for the children o f notables.
He was completely prepared to detest the children from the more ele-
gant parts o f Paris who landed in his class. And the few representatives
o f this group from his own city of Poitiers met with even more con­
“ T he C i t y W h e r e I W a s B o r n ”

tempt. Foucault felt the ground slip out from under him. His grades
dropped precipitously in all subjects except translation from Latin. At
the end of the year the headmaster decided that he must retake his
exams in October in order to pass. This verdict was unacceptable to
Mme. Foucault. She enrolled her son in a religious secondary school,
the Collège Saint-Stanislas, then located at the corner of Jean-Jaurès
and l’Ancienne Comédie. This was not the most highly regarded re-
ligious institution in the city. Saint-Joseph, run by the Jesuits, had a
far better reputation; it drew most of its students from the upper mid-
die class and landed gentry of the region. Saint-Stanislas, run by the
Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes— commonly referred to as the Igno-
ramus Brothers— was a notch below: most of its students were the sons
of substantial merchants and small manufacturers, and the quality of
teaching was poorer. When Paul-Michel Foucault entered the school
in September 1940, the city had been occupied by the Germans for
several weeks. T h e free zone was twenty kilometers from Poitiers. On
the other side of the line was almost another world, and one needed a
pass to get there. Eleventh-grade students were too young to be con-
scripted into compulsory work service in Germany. At most they were
required to join the “ rural service,” involving six weeks of agricultural
work during summer vacation, when their chief task was to pick off
potato beetles.
Today everyone who attended Saint-Stanislas in that period remem-
bers an extraordinary history teacher, Father de Montsabert. He was a
Benedictine monk from Ligugé Abbey and the priest at Croutelle, a
small nearby village. Traveling always on foot, his pilgrim’s staff in
hand, dressed in ample and muddy monk’s garb, he was a familiar sight
on the road between Poitiers and Ligugé. People in cars would stop to
pick him up despite his disgusting filth. “ Once I gave him a ride,” said
Mme. Foucault, “ but he left the car full of fleas.” He was eccentric but
also very learned. Everywhere he went he carried a mendicant’s kit
bag, bulging with books and slung over his shoulder like a bandolier.
His course was a high point of school existence. One of his former
students reminisced in 1981:
His courses were unforgettable. He had an astounding knowledge of
events and people to start with, and he delivered sharp and incisive
judgments, occasionally tinged with ribaldry. He would let himself
get carried away by his subject, by his own hotheaded thought and
picturesque images, until, inevitably, he would set off an explosion of

'W ‫ך‬
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

laughter that rapidly degenerated into a complete madhouse. Feeling


totally overwhelmed and incapable of restoring order, he would leave
the room in tears like a child, repeating “ I can’t take it, dear boys, I
can’t take it.” But as soon as we promised that we wouldn’t start up
again, he would come back and quietly go on with his class, and we
would be completely silent. Then his subject and eloquence would
once more carry him away, the pitch would rise, and by some ex-
traordinary phrase he would set off our laughter all over again.

According to Mme. Foucault, this priest was the only teacher to


have any influence on her son. Paul-Michel had been interested in
history since early childhood. He had passionately devoured Jacques
Bainville’s Histoire de France and been particularly fascinated with Char-
lemagne. At age twelve he was giving history lessons to his brother and
sister. In short, Father de Montsabert’s teaching was guaranteed to
please him. Indeed, this sort o f apprenticeship to history, studded with
anecdotes and witticisms, filled all the students with enthusiasm. T h e
former student quoted above observed that “ history taught like this
could not help but stick in your mind.” 8
Paul-Michel completed secondary school at Saint-Stanislas and
always ranked high when the end-of-year prizes were awarded: in elev-
enth grade, for example, he carried off third prize in French composi-
tion, second prizes in history o f French literature, Greek, English,
history, and Latin translation, and first prize in Latin literature. But in
almost every subject he was outstripped by one o f his schoolmates,
a friend named, incredibly, Pierre Rivière, who today serves in the
government as a member of the Conseil d’Etat. Did Foucault have
a good laugh on his respectable friend thirty years later when he ex-
humed from its archives the fantastic memoir of a “ Nineteenth-century
parricide” and published it with a commentary under the title Moi,
Pierre Rivière, ayant égorgé ma mè?’e, ma soenr et m onfrère . . . (7, Pierre
Rivière, Having Slaughtered M y Mother, M y Sister, and M y Brother. . .)?
In any case, though classroom rivals, the two boys were very close.
Both were thirsty for knowledge and avid readers. An excellent source
o f books was the eccentric Abbé Aigrain, known as Poitiers’s Pico della
Mirandola. A professor at the Catholic university at Angers and a mu-
sic critic for several reviews, he had a remarkable library. Students
would visit him, and he would recommend and lend books to them,
mostly history and philosophy. “ Both Foucault and I were very regular
visitors to Abbé Aigrain,” Pierre Rivière recalls; “ the abbé’s library
meant a lot to us, because what we read there was not on any school
“ T he C i t y W h e r e I W a s B o r n ”

syllabus.” N ot on a syllabus— how alluring! The young Foucault may


have had a similar resource in René Beauchamp, a family friend and
one of the earliest Freudians, who did a great deal to introduce psycho-
analysis in France.
Foucault’s twelfth-grade results were excellent, and in 1942 he en-
tered the final year o f lycée, the classe de philo.9 Canon Duret, who was
to have been his teacher, was an eminent figure whom university pro-
fessors did not hesitate to consult. All the students looked forward to
the year they would spend with him. But Duret belonged to the Resis-
tance and was arrested by the Gestapo the very first day of school. He
was never seen again. The teacher who replaced him became ill several
days later. As a result, a monk named Dom Pierrot from Ligugé Abbey
took over as philosophy teacher. Dr. Foucault knew several monks
from the abbey well, having served with them on the eastern front dur-
ing the First World War. Mme. Foucault therefore asked them to send
someone to Saint-Stanislas to teach philosophy. Dom Pierrot stuck as
closely as possible to the syllabus. His job was to prepare the students
for the bac, or baccalaureate exams, and he had no intention of doing
anything else. But he also liked to talk with the students outside class
hours. After Dom Pierrot’s term as replacement was over, Paul-Michel
bicycled out to Ligugé to see him. T h ey talked about Plato, Descartes,
Pascal, Bergson. Dom Pierrot remembered “ young Foucault,” as he
called him, well: “ I could class all the young philosophy students I have
known in two categories: those for whom philosophy would always be
an object of curiosity and who had a predilection for understanding the
great systems, great works, and so on; and those for whom it would be
more a question o f personal anxiety, a vital anxiety. The first bear the
stamp of Descartes, the second the stamp of Pascal. Foucault belonged
to the first category. You could feel a formidable intellectual curiosity
in him.”
Because the instruction in philosophy had been so disrupted at
Saint-Stanislas, Mme. Foucault asked a professor at the university to
send her a student to give her son private lessons. Louis Girard, then in
his second year of philosophy studies, went to the Foucaults’ house at
10 Rue Arthur-Ranc three times a week. “ The philosophy I was imbib-
ing at the university was a vague sort of Kantism,” he recalled, “ all laid
out in a nineteenth-century style, in the neo-Kantian style of Emile
Boutroux, and this is what I pulled out for him. I did it with some gusto
because I was only twenty-two, but I had not studied much philosophy
myself.” He remembers Foucault as “ very demanding. I later had
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

pupils who seemed to me more gifted, but none capable of grasp-


ing the essential so quickly and of organizing their thought with such
rigor.”
At the end o f the school year— Father Lucien, a professor from the
seminary, having taken over as philosophy instructor before joining
Canon Duret in his tragic fate— Foucault won second prize in philoso-
phy. First prize went to Pierre Rivière. Foucault took first in geography,
history, English, and natural sciences.
Despite the fact that two o f its philosophy teachers were deported by
the Germans, Saint-Stanislas was no bastion o f the Resistance. Pétain’s
portrait hung on the walls, as was required in all educational institutions.
T h e students were required to gather in the courtyard to sing “ M a-
réchal, nous voilà” (Here we are, Marshal) and were scolded roundly
when they did not put enough spirit into it. Some still refer to an “ am-
bient Vichyism” in describing the school, even though apparently some
Resistance networks managed to use it occasionally as a meeting place,
where identification papers or demobilization certificates were ex-
changed. Several pupils were arrested.
Foucault later described this difficult period in an interview:
What strikes me now when I try to recall those impressions is that
nearly all the great emotional memories I have are related to the po-
litical situation. I remember very well that I experienced one of my
first great frights when Chancellor Dollfus was assassinated by the
Nazis in, I think, 1934. It is something very far from us now . . . I
remember very well that I was really scared by that. I think it was my
first strong fright about death. I also remember refugees from Spain
arriving in Poitiers . . . I think that boys and girls of this generation
had their childhood formed by these great historical events. The
menace of war was our background, our framework of existence.
Then the war arrived. Much more than the activities of family life, it
was these events concerning the world which are the substance of our
memory. I say “ our” because I am nearly sure that most boys and
girls in France at this moment had the same experience. Our private
life was really threatened. Maybe that is the reason why I am fasci-
nated by history and the relationship between personal experience
and those events of which we are a part. I think that is the nucleus of
my theoretical desires.10
At that time students took their baccalaureate exams in two parts:
French, Latin, and Greek at the end o f twelfth grade, and philosophy,
foreign language, history, and geography the next year. Foucault did
rather well on the first exams, in June 1942. On the second part, in
‫׳‬w 10 ‫׳‬w
“ T he C ity W here I W as B o r n ”

June 1943, he scored high in history and natural science but achieved
only average results in philosophy.
N ow the question arose what to do next. Dr. Foucault wanted his
son to follow in his own footsteps: Paul-Michel was to be a doctor. But
Paul-Michel had decided long before that he would have to disappoint
his father. His passion was for history and literature; he could not
stand the idea o f studying medicine. His announcement o f his decision
brought a stormy discussion with his father. ButM m e. Foucault, faithful
to her father’s adage about “ taking charge o f one’s own affairs,” inter-
ceded on Paul-Michel’s behalf: “ Please don’t insist. The boy works hard.
Let him do what he wants.” Dr. Foucault did not insist long, and he
had his consolation when his second son entered medical school. (To-
day Denys Foucault is a surgeon in the Paris region.) Paul-Michel was
therefore able to embark on his chosen path: preparing for the en-
trance exams at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in Paris on Rue
d’Ulm. This involved two years of further study in preparatory courses:
the first year known as the hypokhâgne, and the second as the khâgne. In
ordinary times Foucault would have taken these courses at one o f the
well-known Parisian schools, reputed for their high rate of success in
the entrance exams. But it was wartime, and Mme. Foucault found it
very hard to send her seventeen-year-old son to the capital. He en-
rolled once again in a public lycée in Poitiers, after three years at Saint-
Stanislas. He had terrible memories o f those three years. He hated the
general atmosphere and the teaching. He hated religion and monks.
“ He described it with a lot o f outrage and hostility,” said one o f his
close friends from that time.
At the beginning o f the school year in 1943, then, Foucault entered
the hypokhâgne at the Académie de Poitiers to prepare for the entrance
exams to the Ecole Normale. There were thirty altogether in the
khâgne and hypokhâgne classes, and for two years Foucault would follow
with great interest the courses given in history by Gaston Dez and in
philosophy by Jean Moreau-Reibel. Moreau-Reibel had studied at the
Rue d’Ulm and had taught at the lycée at Clermont-Ferrand while
teaching in the University of Strasbourg system during the war, when
its faculte' des lettres had sought refuge there. At first the students were
thrown off by his long-winded, rambling, and disorganized delivery.
M oreau-Reibel’s disorganization did not escape the inspector general
who reported on his course on March 2, 1944:

The lesson I attended was part of a series on “ the social will and val-
ues,” a rather obscure title with correspondingly confused develop-

‫׳‬W I I *V
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

ment. Moreau-Reibel is a fluent speaker and lets himself get carried


away, perhaps, by this facility. A more vigorous, more rigorous con-
struction would be preferable; the main ideas seem to be drowned in
their development. Insufficient clarity of detail. Too many allusions
to theories that are insufficiently defined. Moreau-Reibel would do
better if he were harder on himself and if he improvised less.
Lucette Rabaté remembers her frustration over the first classes in Sep-
tember 1943. Bit by bit, however, the students began to understand
their professor’s teachings better. Foucault began to be caught up in
the game; he became more and more interested in the discipline that
this somewhat muddled teacher was presenting and began to read
the authors he discussed: Bergson, whom Moreau-Reibel particularly
liked, Plato, Descartes, Kant, Spinoza. And, Lucette Rabaté recalls,
since Moreau-Reibel was fond of conducting his class in the form o f a
dialogue, he would choose as an interlocutor the one best able to an-
swer: Paul-Michel Foucault. “ T h e others were slightly lost.”
T h e other teacher important for Foucault was Gaston Dez. He
had collaborated on the Mallet-Issac manual for beginning secondary
school students, he regularly wrote articles for the newsletter of an
antiquarians’ association, and in 1942 he had contributed to an an-
thology titled Visages de Poitou. His teaching method was radically dif-
ferent from that o f his colleague in philosophy: he dictated his course.
Very slowly, he dictated. And since there is no syllabus, he touched on
only a tiny portion of the vast body o f knowledge upon which the can-
didates could be examined. T h e students therefore tried to get hold of
the courses given in preceding years. Foucault not only procured but
copied and was willing to lend them.
Obviously, the period 1 943- 1945 was difficult and full of turmoil. In
winter the lycée classrooms often lacked heat. Some boarding students
took the risk of sneaking out at night to steal wood from the militia
stationed nearby. To protect the students under suspicion, Rabaté and
Foucault went to the headmaster and signed a statement that they were
the ones who had supplied the wood. And that was where the matter
rested. “ Luckily,” Rabaté recounts, “ they didn’t ask us where we got
the wood. I don’t know what we would have said then.” Despite the
often difficult conditions, a sort of student merriment prevailed among
the classmates. T h ey attended the “ classical matinées” presented every
month in the city theater. Either the acting was terrible or the stu-
dents needed desperately to have fun. Tragedies always provoked gales
of laughter. “ All during Andromaque,” Rabaté remembers, “ Foucault

‫׳‬w I 2 **‫׳‬
“ T he C ity W here I W as B o r n ”

made jokes and laughed.” A false hilarity, perhaps, but in any case, she
adds, “ We avoided talking about important things; we avoided tackling
political questions because the students came from very different back-
grounds: among our classmates, for example, there was a girl whose
father and brother died in deportation, and another whose father
was shot after the Liberation. So everyone was rather cautious with
everyone else.” She remembers Foucault as a loner: he worked all the
time and mixed little. “ One day, a little before the exams, I went to the
university offices with him to ask for some information. We walked for
about fifteen minutes, and he said to me: ‘This is the first break I have
taken this year.’ ” A fifteen-minute break!
M ost serious, most dangerous, most frightening were the bombings.
T h e Poitiers station and the railway were British targets. During air
raids the students ran for cover in the shelters. In Ju ly 1944 several sec-
tions o f town nearest the station, including Rue Arthur-Ranc, had
to be evacuated as a precautionary measure. So the Foucault family
moved to Vendeuvre for the summer. School had ended very early that
year: on June 6, 1944, the janitor ran through the corridors shouting
“ T h ey’ve landed! T h ey’ve landed!” Allied troops had just established
a beachhead in Normandy. The students burst out o f the classrooms
in an explosion o f joy. Obviously, no one could even think o f school.
A few days later war was raging throughout the region, and teaching
was suspended in all the schools. The following year was hardly less
disrupted.
T h e students had, however, prepared for their exams, and fourteen
candidates from the Académie de Poitiers presented themselves at the
Hotel Fumé on Rue de la Chaine to take the exams in the law school
offices from M ay 24 to June 5, 1945. The French exam was canceled
twice because o f various irregularities: the first time because a pro-
fessor at the Sorbonne had revealed the subject to his students a few
days before the exam; the second, because the official forms had not
arrived everywhere at the same time. Thus all the candidates had to
take the six-hour exam three times. The grades for the written exam
were announced on Ju ly 16. Tw o students from Poitiers qualified for
admission to the Ecole Normale Supérieure. But Foucault was not one
o f them. Only one hundred students could move on to the orals, and
he placed hundred-and-first on the writtens. Paul-Michel had worked
like a dog, but it was not enough. He was dreadfully disappointed. But
he was not discouraged. He had every intention of trying again the
following year. But this was the end o f his schooling in Poitiers. The

*v 1 3
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

school year o f 19 45-46 marked a turning point in his life: he moved


to Paris.
‫׳‬W

T h e word crops up in everything people say


P o itier s: st ifl in g .
about this period. “ I think it must have been horrible to have spent
one’s entire childhood in that atmosphere,” says a friend of Foucault’s
who came to Poitiers in 1944. Others who wanted to escape it de-
scribed it as “ a narrow, petty city.” Foucault, then, left Poitiers in
the autumn o f 1945. But he never totally broke his connection with
the city o f his birth, simply because he never totally broke with his
family. It is plain that he was not very fond o f his father. Moreover,
Dr. Foucault seems not to have devoted much time to his children. He
would work all day and well into the evening, and thus was rarely in the
household. Any rupture, therefore, was with his father. Michel Foucault
once recalled the relationship as “ one o f conflict on particular points,
but representing a focus from which it was impossible to free oneself”
even after leaving the family.11 On the other hand, throughout his life
he remained very attached to his mother. During his student years he
returned to Poitiers every vacation, and afterward he continued to visit
his parents regularly. After Dr. Foucault’s death in 1959, when his
mother moved out to Piroir, her house in Vendeuvre, he visited her
every year during the vacations. “ He always gave me his August,” she
said. Often he also joined her at Christmas or for a few days in the
spring. He had a rather small, out-of-the-way apartment on the ground
floor where he liked to work. Usually he came alone. Very rarely he
would come with a friend. Mme. Foucault remembered Roland Barthes
visiting. In 1982 Michel Foucault thought about buying a house nearby.
He bicycled all over the countryside with his brother, stopping in vil-
lages and visiting any house that happened to be for sale. He finally
chose a pretty little house in Verrue, a few kilometers from Vendeuvre.
The curé had lived there. “ La cure de verrue. Wart cure,” Foucault
called it. His pun on verrue!verruca and cure!cw é always made him
laugh. He bought the house and began to make necessary repairs. But
he would not have time to live there.

W 14 **
2
W V

T h e Voice o f H eg e l

n Paris, behind the Pantheon, next to the church Saint-Etienne-du-


Mont, there was another Lycée Henri-IV, one of the most pres-
tigious schools in France. Year after year it took in the elite o f the
students preparing for the exams for entrance at the Rue d’Ulm. A pro-
fessor from the University of Poitiers put it to Mme. Foucault baldly:
“ Did you ever hear of anyone getting into Normale Sup who came from
one o f this city’s establishments?” Things were settled quickly: Paul-
Michel would try again, but this time he would have all the trump cards.
In the fall o f 1945 he arrived in Paris to enter this sanctuary, whose
lofty tower and repeated successes in gaining its students admission to
the Rue d’Ulm dominated the Latin Quarter. T h e young “ provin-
cial” — that was how his classmates saw him— wore outlandish clothes
and weird wooden-soled shoes. Moreover, young Foucault was not en-
thusiastic about moving to the capital. Life in Paris just after the war
was far from easy and full o f material problems (such as food shortages).
Living conditions made the prospect o f his new existence far from se-
ductive. Mme. Foucault had been unable to buy or even to rent an
apartment. Maurice Rat, a family friend from Vendeuvre who taught
literature at the Lycée Janson-de-Sailly, put him up for a few days,
after which he moved into a room rented from the headmistress o f a
school on Boulevard Raspail. This arrangement gave him an extraordi-
nary status among the other students. At that time, Emmanuel Le Roy
Ladurie recalls, students in the preparatory classes in Paris were di-
vided into two basic categories: day students, the sons o f the Parisian
bourgeoisie, who returned home every evening; and boarders from the
provinces who lived on the school premises.1 Foucault’s parents could
afford to spare the fragile and unstable adolescent the shock of a com-
munal life, which he claimed to despise above all. Sometimes he had
difficulty properly heating the few square feet in which he lived, but at

‫׳‬W 15 w
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

least he was alone. The image of an unsociable, enigmatic, and with-


drawn boy, which appears in all accounts, was reinforced by this choice.
Moreover, his activities in Paris during this year were rather limited: at
the most he occasionally went to the movies with his sister when she
too moved to the city. T h ey were crazy about American films, which
they had been deprived of by the war. The rest o f the time he worked
like a madman to pass his exam.
There were fifty preparing for this exam in the “ K - 1 ” class at “ H -IV ,”
and only thirty-eight students o f literature would be admitted at the Rue
d’Ulm. There were just as many students in “ K -2,” the other khâgne
class. And the other great lycée in Paris, the nearby rival Louis-le-
Grand, certainly intended to get its traditional contingent o f students in
as well. H ow many o f the boys who stood with Michel Foucault at the
gates o f H enri-IV at the beginning o f the year would be on the final list
o f those admitted the next summer? A group o f excellent professors
buckled down to ensure their effective preparation. Le Roy Ladurie,
who entered the hypokhâgne that same year, describes the history
teacher, who also taught Foucault: André Alba flaunted his “ dyed-in-
the-wool, comfortably anticlerical republicanism” and seduced the
pupils on the left and far left, that is, a large majority. The man seemed
to be a “ badly wounded veteran of 1 9 1 4 - 1 9 1 8 ; an impressively deep
scar made a line across his forehead.” In fact, “ this gash came from a
childhood injury.” 2 You could practically “ see his brain quiver,” said
his former students.
Foucault also took a course from M . Dieny, who taught ancient his-
tory. From him the students first heard o f a certain Georges Dumézil,
whose reputation was just beginning to emerge beyond a specialized
community. There was also Jean Boudout, who taught French litera-
ture with considerable erudition. He was equally good discussing the
Middle Ages or the twentieth century— at least, up to the poetry o f
Apollinaire, since at this time there was very little teaching of contem-
porary authors.
But the teacher who most deeply impressed this group was the one
responsible for preparing the class for the philosophy exam: Jean H yp-
polite, whom we shall encounter more than once on Foucault’s road.
Jean d’Ormesson, who had been at the lycée two years previously, de-
scribed this renowned master teacher as “ hunched behind his lectern,”
speaking in a manner that was “ cheerful, cluttered, dreamy, shy, draw-
ing out his sentences with pathetic sighs, brilliantly eloquent in his very
denial of it.” He was determined to explain Hegel “ through [Valéry’s]
T a Jeune Parque’ and [Mallarmé’s] Un Coup de dés jamais n 'abolira le
-H if ) ‫׳‬W
T h e V oi c e oe H e g e l

h a s a r d d’Ormesson “ understood absolutely none of it.” 3 N o doubt


many others felt the same way. But the students found him fascinating,
and after the dull classes to which Foucault had been subjected in
Poitiers, this torrent o f rather grandiloquent, esoteric, and inspired
rhetoric seemed dazzling and brilliant. Philosophy held great fasci-
nation for these times. It was 1945, and, as d’Ormesson wrote, “ im-
mediately after the war, and for several years thereafter, philosophy
carried incomparable prestige. I don’t know if I can describe, now, at
this distance, what it represented for us. T h e nineteenth century was,
perhaps, the century o f history; the midtwentieth century seemed dedi-
cated to philosophy . . . literature, painting, historical studies, politics,
theater, and film were all in philosophy’s hands.” 4
Hyppolite provided commentary both on Hegel’s Phenomenology o f
Spirit and on Descartes’s Geometry. But it was the course on Hegel that
struck his listeners and became engraved in their memories. Foucault’s
passion was history, but now, perhaps for the first time, he felt the pull
o f philosophy. This was, in fact, philosophy providing the narrative
o f history, recounting its patient progress toward the advent o f Reason.
It embraced all history, and the history had meaning. There is no
doubt that Jean Hyppolite was the one who initiated Foucault into
the field that would become his destiny. Foucault himself never ceased
to proclaim his debt to this man, whom he was to rediscover several
years later at the Ecole Normale and whom he would succeed at the
Collège de France. Upon Hyppolite’s death in 1968, Foucault paid this
homage: uKhâgne students from immediately after the war remember
M . Hyppolite’s course on Phenomenology o f Spirit: in this voice that kept
on stopping, as if meditating was part of its rhythm, we heard not just
the voice o f a teacher, but also something o f H egel’s voice and, per-
haps, even the voice o f philosophy itself. I do not think it was possible
to forget the force o f that presence or the proximity that he patiently
invoked.” 5
The voice o f Hegel, the voice of philosophy! Hyppolite, an inspired
and brilliant teacher, aroused intense enthusiasm among his young
students. And in so doing he inscribed himself in the great tradition
o f khâgne professors, whose best-known incarnation remains the op-
timistic philosopher Emile Chartier, famous as Alain. In his study on
khâgne students and students at the E N S between the two wars, Jean-
François Sirinelli called these men éveilleurs (awakeners), rightly stress-
ing the extremely important role played by teachers of a very special
sort in stimulating the students o f this thoroughly French institution,
the “ preparatory class for the grandes écoles.”6

^ 17 -w
P s y c h o l o g y in H ull

But the debt that Foucault later proclaimed to his former teacher
went far beyond simple gratitude for having discovered his vocation in
late adolescence. When he completed his thesis in i960, Foucault in-
voked several people who had inspired him when he was writing the
book known now as Histoire de la folie à Vage classiqiie (History o f mad-
ness in the classical age).7 Those whom he thanked were Georges
Dumézil, Georges Canguilhem, and Jean Hyppolite.8 In Foucault’s
first lecture at the Collège de France, ten years after publication o f this
book, he paid even more emphatic tribute to his teacher. Some see
these closing remarks to an official speech as a mere observance o f aca-
demic convention: tradition dictated that Foucault praise his deceased
or retired predecessor. But Foucault devoted the entire conclusion o f
this lecture to Hyppolite, whereas he could have contented himself
with a few words, a few remarks. What is more, he said he placed his
own future work “ under his sign.” 9 In 1975, seven years after Hyp-
polite’s death, Foucault sent his widow a copy o f Surveiller et punir
(Discipline and Punish) with the following dedication: “ For Madame
Hyppolite, in memory o f the man to whom I owe everything.”
It may seem astonishing that Foucault always accorded his for-
mer professor so much importance, especially since Hyppolite taught
at H enri-IV for only the first two months of the 1945-46 school
year. Hyppolite was a contemporary o f Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice
Merleau-Ponty, and their friend. He was born in 1907, Sartre in 1905,
and M erleau-Ponty in 1908. T h ey were students together at the Ecole
Normale Supérieure on Rue d’Ulm, Sartre entering (with Raymond
Aron, Paul Nizan, and Georges Canguilhem) in 1924, Hyppolite in
1925, and Merleau-Ponty in 1926. But one can scarcely compare the
stature o f the three men. Hyppolite was not a “ philosopher” in the
sense that Sartre and Merleau-Ponty were; that is, he was not a creator,
a producer in the realm o f ideas. However, his influence was far more
important than it might at first seem. Hyppolite had translated Phe-
nomenology o f Spirit, and he taught it at a time when H egel’s name was
scarcely mentioned in philosophy courses in France. From that point
on Hyppolite was commentator and spokesman for the German phi-
losopher, especially o f his youthful works, written in Jena. His two-
volume translation of Phenomenology, published in 1939 and 1941,
provided the public (which until then had for the most part ignored it)
with access to a work that was to become one of the central references
for the study o f philosophy in France. And his thesis, Genèse et structure
de la uPhénoménologie de Vesprit, ” defended and published in 1947, was

++ 18 ++
T h e V oi ce oe H e g e l

c o n sid e re d an event. R oland C aillois, in a review fo r Les Temps modernes


in 1948, stressed th e w o rk ’s im p o rtan ce: “T h e r e is n o lack o f th in k e rs
p e rsu a d e d th a t H e g e lia n ism is th e g re a t q u estio n : th e q u e stio n o f th e
life o r d e a th o f philo sophy. P h ilo so p h y itself is w h at is in q u estio n .
T h a t is w hy J e a n H y p p o lite ’s thesis deserves o u r careful c o n sid e ra tio n .
It is n o t sim p ly th e w o rk o f a scru p u lo u s h isto ria n . . . It also c o n cern s
a crucial p ro b le m : is th e p h ilo so p h ical u n d e rta k in g le g itim a te ? ” 10 In -
deed, at th e end o f th e w ar th e re was “ no lack o f th in k e rs ” read y
to raise a statu e to H e g e l. T h e place o f H eg e lia n ism in F ran ce had
e n tire ly ch an g ed in th e space o f a decade. “In 1930,” a c co rd in g to
V in c e n t D esco m b es, “H e g e l was a R o m a n tic p h ilo so p h er, lo n g since
re fu te d by scien tific p ro g ress (this was L é o n B runschvicg’s o p in io n ).
In 1945, H e g e l becam e th e acm e o f classical p h ilo so p h y and th e o rig in
o f w h a t becam e m o st m o d e rn .” 11
H y p p o lite , o f course, did n o t act alone in this reversal. As early as
1929 J e a n W ah l had d raw n a tte n tio n to H e g e l in La Conscience mal-
heureuse dans la philosophic de Hegel, in w hich he p re se n te d a “m ystical
H e g e l,” as C aillois p u t it. A nd in 1938 H e n ri L efeb v re p u b lish ed an
issue o f Cahiers de Lenine o n H e g e l’s dialectic. So th e re w ere m an y
stages in w h a t E lisab eth R o u d in esco has called a slow “ ru m in a tio n ,”
c o m p a rin g th e in tro d u c tio n o f H eg elian ism in F ran ce, w ith its sue-
cessive advances and resistances, to th a t o f p sy ch o an aly sis.12 M o re o v e r,
th e tw o m o v em en ts in te rse c te d at a m ajo r p o in t in th e ir resp ectiv e
b re a k th ro u g h s w h en A lexandre K ojève beg an his se m in a r at th e E cole
P ra tiq u e des H a u te s E tu d es. T h e m em b ers o f his audience fro m 193 3
to 1939 have b e e n listed freq u en tly : A lexandre K oyré, G eo rg es Ba-
taille, P ie rre K lossow ski, Jacques L acan, R ay m o n d A ron, M a u ric e
M e rle a u -P o n ty , E ric W eil, and A ndré B re to n .'3 In 1947, th e y ear H y p -
p o lite d efen d ed his thesis, R ay m o n d Q u en eau , w ho was also a m e m b e r
o f this select au d ien ce, p u b lish ed th e n o tes he had tak en at K ojeve’s
lectu res as Introduction à la lecture de Hegel. T h e m o v e m e n t s u rro u n d -
in g H e g e lia n ism was so s tro n g th a t in 1948 G eo rg es C a n g u ilh e m could
w rite: “ In a p e rio d o f w orld rev o lu tio n and w orld w ar, F ran ce dis-
covered, in th e s tric t sense o f th e w ord, a p h ilo so p h y c o n te m p o ra ry
w ith th e F re n c h R e v o lu tio n and o ne th a t is to a g re a t e x ten t its full
re a liz a tio n .” 14
J e a n H y p p o lite was th u s o ne o f th e key figures in th e triu m p h o f
H e g e lia n ism in p o stw ar F ra n c e — a triu m p h rein fo rced by th e vogue o f
ex isten tialism , to w h ich H y p p o lite claim ed close co n n ectio n s. H e re -
called this in p a rtic u la r in D e c e m b e r 1955 d u rin g a lectu re at th e

/W 1 9 * V
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

M a iso n de F ran ce a t U ppsala, w hose d ire c to r at th e tim e was M ic h e l


F o u cau lt. T h e th e m e o f th e co n feren ce was “ H e g e l and K ierk eg aard in
c o n te m p o ra ry F re n c h th o u g h t.” 15 T h a t, in fact, was th e crux o f this
H e g e lia n explosion: H e g e l was no lo n g e r read as th e “p ro fe s so r’s p ro -
fesso r,” th e “ c re a to r o f system s,” b u t as th e a u th o r o f a w o rk w ith
w h ich o n e co m p ared its d escendents: F eu erb ach , K ierk eg aard , M arx,
N ie tz sc h e . In sh o rt, H e g e l was no w read as th e o n e w h o in s titu te d
p h ilo so p h ical m o d ern ity . M e rle a u -P o n ty p u t it well in c o m m e n ts o n a
F e b ru a ry 1945 le c tu re b y H y p p o lite o n existentialism in H e g el: “All
th e g re a t p h ilo so p h ical ideas o f th e p ast c e n tu ry — th e p h ilo so p h ies o f
M a rx and N ie tz sc h e , p h en o m en o lo g y , G e rm a n existentialism , and
psychoanalysis— had th e ir b eg in n in g s in H eg el; it was h e w h o sta rte d
th e a tte m p t to explore th e irra tio n a l and in te g ra te it in to an ex p an d ed
re a so n w hich rem ain s th e task o f o u r c e n tu ry .” H e w e n t on: “As it
tu rn s o u t, H e g e l’s successors have placed m o re em phasis o n w h a t th e y
re je c t o f his h e rita g e th a n o n w h at th e y ow e to h im .” M e rle a u -P o n ty
co n clu d ed th a t th e re was n o m o re u rg e n t w o rk to be d o n e th a n “ re -
estab lish in g th e c o n n e c tio n betw een, o n th e o n e hand, th e th an k less
d o c trin e s w hich try to fo rg e t th e ir H e g e lia n o rig in and, o n th e o th e r,
th a t o rig in itself.” 16
T h is “ d isco v ery ” o f H e g e l was o f m ajo r im p o rta n c e in te rm s o f its
c o n n e c tio n w ith a p a rtic u la r b ra n c h o f its lineage, in an era c o n c e rn e d
w ith filiation: M arxism . H y p p o lite h im se lf to o k n o te o f th e tw ofold d e-
v e lo p m e n t in a n o th e r le ctu re at th e M aiso n de F ran ce in U p p sala, in
D e c e m b e r 1955: “W e w ere latecom ers to th e H e g e lia n ism th a t had in -
vaded all o f E u ro p e except F rance, b u t we cam e to it via Phenomenology
o f Spirit , th e least k n o w n o f th e y o u th fu l w orks, and via th e possible
re la tio n b etw een M arx and H eg el. T h e r e had, in d eed , b e e n socialists
and p h ilo so p h e rs in F rance, b u t H e g e l and M arx had n o t y et e n te re d
F re n c h philosophy. T o d a y th a t has h ap p en ed . D iscu ssio n o f M arx ism
and H e g e lia n ism is o n th e ag en d a.” 17
T h is radical tra n sfo rm a tio n o f th e p h ilo so p h ical arena had tre m e n -
dous co n seq u en ces. W ith it M arxism w o n its droit de cité b efo re b lazin g
fo rth as “ th e u n tra n sc e n d a b le h o riz o n [Pinde'passable horizon ] o f o u r
tim e s,” as S a rtre d escrib ed it in Cfitiqae de la raison dialectique. In an y
case, it re p re se n te d th e h o riz o n for a good m an y in tellectu als d u rin g
th e th re e decades follow ing th e S econd W o rld W ar.
H y p p o lite th u s em b o d ied access to e v e ry th in g th a t fascinated F o u -
cau lt’s g e n e ra tio n : M arx, b u t also N ie tz sc h e and F reu d . A nd basically,

-w 2 0 -vv
T he Voice oe H e g e l

F o u c a u lt was n o t to o far fro m M e rle a u -P o n ty w h en in 1970, in his first


le c tu re a t th e C o llèg e de F rance, he evoked th e m e m o ry o f his teach er:

O u r age, w hether th ro u g h logic or epistemology, w hether thro u g h


M arx or th ro u g h N ietzsche, is attem p tin g to flee H e g e l. . . But truly
to escape H egel involves an exact appreciation of the price we have to
pay to detach ourselves from him. It assumes th at we are aware o f the
extent to w hich H egel, insidiously perhaps, is close to us; it im plies a
know ledge in th at w hich perm its us to think against H egel, of th at
w hich rem ains H egelian. W e have to determ ine the extent to which
ou r anti-H egelianism is possibly one of his tricks directed against us,
at the end o f w hich he stands, m otionless, w aiting for us. If, then,
m ore than one o f us is indebted to Jean H yppolite, it is because he
has tirelessly explored, for and ahead of us, the path along w hich we
m ay escape H egel, keep ou r distance, and along w hich we shall find
ourselves b ro u g h t back to him , only from a different angle, and then
finally be forced to leave him behind once m o re .18

M o re th a n tw e n ty years had gone by b etw een th e tim e w h en M e rle a u -


P o n ty assigned p h ilo so p h y th e task o f linking u n g ra te fu l p h ilo so p h ies
to th e ir H e g e lia n source, and this year, 1970, in w hich F o u c a u lt talked
a b o u t h ow H y p p o lite h ad accom plished this in th e p resen ce o f a g en -
e ra tio n o f a p p re n tic e p h ilo so p h ers w hose fo rm a tio n he had g reatly
in flu en ced .
In his speech in O c to b e r 1968 paying h o m ag e to H y p p o lite s h o rtly
a fte r his d e a th , a t a c e re m o n y o rg an ized by L ouis A lth u sser at th e R ue
d ’U lm , M ic h e l F o u c a u lt fu rth e r declared:

All the problem s we have, those of us who yesterday were his pupils,
all these problem s— he is the one who set them up, he is the one who
articulated them separately . . . he is the one who form ulated them in
Logique et existence, w hich is one o f the great books of o u r tim e. H e
tau g h t us, just after the war, to think about the relations betw een vio-
lence and discourse; he taught us, yesterday, to think about the rela-
tions betw een logic and existence; and now, at this very m om ent, he
has proposed th at we think about the relations betw een the contents
o f know ledge and form al necessity. Finally, he has taught us that
th o u g h t is an endless practice, th at it is a certain way of bringing
nonphilosophy into play, but all the while staying as close as possible
to it, there, w here existence is first form ed.19

F o u c a u lt w ro te y e t a n o th e r trib u te to H y p p o lite , for a collective vol-


u m e th a t he e d ite d and w hose c o n trib u to rs w ere M a rtia l G u é ro u lt,

*v 2 I ++
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

M ich e l S erres, G e o rg e s C an g u ilh em , J e a n L a p lan ch e, S u zan n e B ache-


lard, a n d J e a n -C la u d e P a rie n te . N o t surprisingly, his c o n trib u tio n , n o w
fam ous, was title d “N ietzsch e, la généalogie, l’h isto ire .” 20

T hi s “ voi ce of H e g e l ” su d d en ly re so u n d in g in th e ears o f fifty


boys at th e L ycée H e n r i-I V in th e fall o f 1945 p ro d u c e d a real in te lle c -
tu a l— or, o n e sh o u ld say, existen tial— shock. B ut “ H ip p a l,” “M a s te r
H ip p a l,” as F o u c a u lt liked to call h im afterw ard , was su m m o n e d to th e
U n iv e rsity o f S trasb o u rg , w h ere G eo rg es C a n g u ilh e m was teach in g .
H is lycée stu d e n ts h ad scarcely tw o m o n th s in w hich to h e a r h im , and
off he w en t, leaving th e m to m arvel. F o u cau lt w ould have to w ait sev-
eral years b efo re m e e tin g h im again at th e S o rb o n n e and th e E co le
N o rm a le . H y p p o lite was replaced b y D rey fu s-L efo y er, a dull m a n w ho
knew p e rfe c tly well th a t he had to b e a r co m p a riso n w ith th e b rillia n t
p re d e c e sso r w ho h ad k e p t his classroom sp ellb o u n d w ith th e epic o f
p h ilosophy. T h e fifty stu d e n ts w en t fro m a d m irin g th e ir te a c h e r to
p o k in g fu n at this “ g n o m e ,” w h o m several d escrib ed as “u g ly as sin .”
H e was incapable o f p ro d u c in g an y th in g fro m his n o tes except lo n g
h o u rs o f b o re d o m . H is favorite references w ere th e n e o -K a n tia n E m ile
B o u tro u x and th e n in e te e n th -c e n tu ry p h ilo so p h e r Ju les L a c h e lie r.
N o th in g could have b e e n fu rth e r fro m th e p h ilo so p h ical m o d e rn ity
th a t was re in v e n tin g itse lf at th e tim e. A nd th e stu d en ts n ev er sto p p e d
b a itin g him . O n e day D re y fu s-L e fo y e r literally fell to pieces: “I k n o w
I am n o t as g o o d as H y p p o lite ,” he exclaim ed, his voice crack in g w ith
e m o tio n and im p o te n t rage, “ b u t I am d o in g all I k n o w h o w to g e t yo u
th ro u g h th e exam .”
F o u cau lt was n o w cau g h t u p in p h ilo so p h y and d ev o ted h im se lf to it
passionately. H is grades m ade g reat leaps forw ard: at th e en d o f th e
first trim e s te r he was tw en ty -seco n d in th e class (w ith this c o m m e n t,
how ever: “ Is m u ch b e tte r th a n his grades— will have to free h im se lf
o f a te n d e n c y to be o b scu re— a rig o ro u s m in d ”). H e was still tw e n ty -
seco n d at th e en d o f th e second term ; b u t he was first at th e en d o f th e
year. H is te a c h e r’s assessm ent was th e h ig h est praise: “ O n e o f th e elite
o f s tu d e n ts .”
“ O n e o f th e e lite ” in philosophy, b u t also in history. H e was sev en th
in th e first trim e ste r, w ith this evaluation: “ G o o d w ork. V ery e n c o u r-
aging re su lts” ; and at th e end o f th e y ear he was first. All th e teach ers
c o n c u rre d in th e m a tte r o f F oucault. “A n active m in d ,” M . B o u d o u t,

‫׳‬vv 2 2 ‫׳‬w
T h e V oi c e of H e g e l

th e F re n c h teach er, n o te d in his re p o rt book; “ he gives evidence o f


lite ra ry ta ste .” In L a tin co m p o sitio n F o u cau lt m oved fro m th irty -
first, “ passable re su lts,” to te n th , “ excellent s tu d e n t.” H e was fo u rth in
G re e k . T h e h e a d m a ste r su m m ed up these assessm ents in th e re p o rt
b o o k w ith th e final ju d g m en t: “ D eserves to su cceed .”

**2 3
3
WV

R u e (TU lm

his tim e he had n o tro u b le tak in g th e h u rd le. T h e w ritte n


exam was a m ere form ality, and o n e fine day in J u ly 1946
F o u c a u lt p re se n te d h im self b efo re th e tw o m e n w h o ad m in -
istered th e p h ilo so p h y oral, in th e Salle des A ctes o f th e E c o le N o r -
m ale S u p é rie u re o n R ue d ’U lm . T h e exam iners w ere P ie rre -M a x im e
S chuhl, a p ro fesso r at th e U n iv e rsity o f T o u lo u se, and G e o rg e s C a n -
g u ilh em , an e m in e n t figure in academ ic p h ilo so p h y in F ran ce, w h o
ta u g h t th e h isto ry o f science at th e U n iv e rsity o f S trasb o u rg . I t was
F o u c a u lt’s first e n c o u n te r w ith this little m an, w hose g ru ff b e a rin g co n -
tra ste d w ith a s o u th e rn accen t th a t im p lied a w arm , affable n a tu re . B u t
it was far fro m th e last. F o u cau lt had an a p p o in tm e n t th a t day n o t o n ly
w ith th e R ue d ’U lm and th e p rom ises th a t th a t v en erab le in s titu tio n
seem ed to offer th o se it to o k in; in som e ways he also h ad an a p p o in t-
m e n t w ith his destiny. H e was m e e tin g o n e o f th e individuals d e stin e d
to p lay a key ro le in th e p a th it took, in its history. F o u c a u lt w o u ld
m e e t C a n g u ilh e m again several years later, w h en h e passed th e orals
for th e agrégation, th e d eg ree th a t w ould qualify h im for te a c h in g in a
lycée. B o th o f th ese early co ntacts rem ain ed bad m em o ries for him . I t
was n o t u n til he had to choose a m e m b e r o f th e ju ry for his thesis, Folie
et déraison, th a t he really g o t to know C an g u ilh em . T h a t episode w ould
m ark th e b e g in n in g o f a deep frien d sh ip and p ro fo u n d re sp e c t b e tw e e n
th e tw o m en . B ut fo r F o u cau lt in 1946 C a n g u ilh e m was sim p ly o n e o f
th e tw o individuals u p o n w h o m th e results o f th e exam d ep en d ed . T h e
p ro fesso r had an im pressive presence, “ his eyes w ide o p en , alm o st star-
ing, as if to p ick u p e v e ry th in g ,” as o n e o f his stu d en ts d escrib es h im .1
H e had a re p u ta tio n for te rrify in g candidates. F o u cau lt was n o t y e t
tw e n ty years old, and he had less th a n an h o u r to convince his judges
th a t he deserved to e n te r th e E cole N o rm a le .

‫׳‬w 2 ‫׳‬v v
R ue d ’ U lm

Several days la te r a jo stlin g crow d o f candidates, alo n g w ith th e ir


relatives o r frien d s, sto o d at th e d o o r o f th e E N S o n R u e d ’U lm to
read th e list o f th o se ad m itte d . T h e r e was alm o st insane ten sio n . F o r
th ese n in e te e n - o r tw e n ty -y e a r-o ld boys, w ho had w ork ed w ith every-
th in g th e y h ad fo r tw o o r th re e years, stak in g all o n this day, it was
m o re th a n a m o m e n t o f tru th ; it was alm o st a m a tte r o f life o r d eath .
T h e g h o sts o f J e a n Jau rès, L é o n B lum , E d o u a rd H e r rio t, Ju les R o-
m ains, and Je a n -P a u l S a rtre h o v ered overhead. E v e ry o n e felt th a t in
this o n e in s ta n t he was risk in g his social and in tellectu al existence. I t
was all o r n o th in g . L ittle rectan g les o f w h ite p ap er w ere p o ste d o n th e
c o n c ie rg e ’s w indow : first, R ay m o n d W eil; second, G u y P alm ade; th ird ,
J e a n -C la u d e R ich ard . F o u rth : P aul F o u cau lt . . . F o u c a u lt scarcely
glan ced a t th e nam es th a t follow ed. H e was co m p letely tak en up in
his o w n joy, and th e re w ould be tim e en o u g h la te r to find o u t w hich o f
his fellow stu d e n ts had also b e e n p ro m o te d . M a u ric e A g u lh o n , P aul
V iallaneix, R o b e rt M au zi, and J e a n K n ap p w ere am o n g th o se w ith
w h o m h e w ould sp en d th e next few years, and som e o f th e m w ould
la te r play a role, large o r sm all, in his career.
T h a t fall th irty -e ig h t stu d e n ts m oved in to th e old b u ild in g s o f th e
E c o le N o rm a le S u p é rie u re , w hich resem b led som e s o rt o f re p u b lic a n
co n v en t. Six o f th e “ c o n sc rip ts” fro m th e L ycée H e n r i-I V to o k up
resid en ce in a “ p a d ” o n th e g ro u n d floor. T h e y fo rm ed a lo n g re c t-
angle fro m th e d o o r to th e w indow : J e a n P ap o n , G u y D e g e n , G u y
V e rre t o n o n e side, R o b e rt S treh ler, M a u ric e V ouzelaud, M ich e l F o u -
cau lt o n th e o th e r.
A n ew life was b e g in n in g for F o u cau lt, a life he w ould have tro u b le
e n d u rin g . H e was a solitary, u n sociable boy, w hose relatio n sh ip s w ith
o th e rs w ere v ery com plex and o fte n c o n flic t-rid d e n . H e was n ev er at
ease w ith h im se lf and was so m ew h at un h ealth y . O bviously, he was even
less a t ease w ith th e lack o f privacy th e school im p o sed — all th e m o re
since th e R ue d ’U lm in itse lf was a p a th o g e n ic m ilieu, a c e n te r w h ere
th e m o s t ab su rd , th e m o st ecc e n tric b eh av io r cam e o u t, as m u ch o n a
p e rso n a l as o n an in tellectu al o r p o litical level. T h e E cole N o rm a le
re p re s e n te d above all an o rd e r to be b rillian t, to stan d out. Normaliens
w ould sto p at n o th in g to play th e p a rt o f th e exceptional individual, to
strik e a pose o f fu tu re fam e. T h ir ty o r fo rty years later, m an y recalled
th e ir years at th e E N S w ith ra n c o r o r disgust. “ E v e ry o n e show ed h im -
self in his w o rst lig h t,” says J e a n D e p ru n , to d ay a p ro fesso r at th e
S o rb o n n e . “ E v e ry o n e h ad his ow n n eu ro sis,” adds G u y D eg en , w ho
ro o m e d fo r several years w ith F o u cau lt. F o u cau lt n ev er ad ap ted to

‫י‬
P s y c h o l o g y i !n H e l l

c o m m u n al life o r to th e so rt o f sociability re q u ire d by th e in te rn a l o r-


g an iz a tio n o f th e E cole. H e confided once to M a u ric e 'P in g u e t th a t his
years at th e R ue d ’U lm had b een “ so m etim es in to le ra b le .” F o u c a u lt
w ith d re w in to his solitude, leaving it o n ly to scoff a t th e o th e rs w ith
a fe ro c ity th a t so o n b ecam e n o to rio u s. H e sub jected th o se w h o m he
p a rtic u la rly disliked to c o n sta n t p u td o w n s and lau g h in g sco rn . H e gave
th e m in su ltin g nicknam es, g o in g after th e m d o g g ed ly in p ublic, p a r-
tic u larly d u rin g th e “p o t” in th e school cafeteria w h ere th e y all ate tw o
m eals a day to g e th e r. H e arg u ed w ith everybody. H e g o t angry. H e
exuded in ev ery d ire c tio n a fo rm id ab le level o f ag g ressio n and, in ad d i-
tio n , a p ro n o u n c e d te n d e n c y tow ard m egalom ania. F o u c a u lt liked to
m ake a p ro d u c tio n o f th e genius he knew he had. H e was so o n alm o st
u n iv ersally d etested . H is fellow s th o u g h t h im h a lf m ad and passed
a ro u n d sto ries a b o u t his odd b eh av io r. O n e day so m eo n e te a c h in g at
th e E N S fo u n d h im lying o n th e flo o r o f a ro o m w h ere he had ju st
sliced up his ch est w ith a razo r. A n o th e r tim e he was seen in th e m id d le
o f th e n ig h t chasing o ne o f th e o th e r stu d en ts w ith a d ag g er. A nd w h en
he a tte m p te d suicide in 1948, fo r m o st o f his sch o o lm ates th e g e stu re
sim ply co n firm ed th e ir b e lie f th a t his psychological balance was, to say
th e least, fragile. In th e o p in io n o f so m eo n e w ho knew h im v ery w ell
d u rin g this p e rio d , “ all his life he verged o n m ad n ess.” T w o years a fte r
e n te rin g th e E N S , F o u cau lt found h im se lf at th e H ô p ita l S ain te-A n n e
in th e office o f P ro fe sso r D elay, a p ro m in e n t p sy ch iatrist. H is fath er,
D r. F o u cau lt, to o k h im fo r this first e n c o u n te r w ith in stitu tio n a l psy-
chiatry. T h is was also th e first tim e he had com e so close to th a t elusive
line dividing, less co m p letely p erh ap s th a n o ne m ig h t th in k , th e “m a d -
m a n ” fro m so m eo n e w ho is “w ell,” th e m e n tally ill fro m th e m e n ta lly
sound. A t any rate, this painful episode gave F o u cau lt a privilege e n -
vied b y m any: a ro o m in th e E N S infirm ary, w h ere he was iso lated
w ith th e peace and q u ie t he n eed ed to w ork. H e w ould re tu rn to this
in firm a ry ro o m , this tim e fo r th e sake o f convenience, w hile p re p a rin g
a seco n d tim e fo r th e agrégation, in 1 9 5 0 -5 1 , and again later, w h en he
gave his courses. M ean w h ile th e re w ere several a tte m p ts at o r stagings
o f suicide: “ F o u c a u lt was obsessed by this idea,” acco rd in g to o n e o f his
friends. A n o th e r s tu d e n t once asked him : “W h e re are you g o in g ? ” and
h eard th e asto n ish in g answ er: “ I ’m g o in g to th e B H V [the H o te l de
V ille Bazaar] to b u y som e ro p e to h an g m yself w ith .” T h e d o c to r a t th e
E cole, citin g his p a tie n t’s rig h t to privacy, w ould say o n ly th a t “ th ese
tro u b les resu lted fro m an extrem e difficulty in ex p erien cin g and ac-
cep tin g his h o m osexuality.” A nd in fact, a fter re tu rn in g fro m his fre-

26 **
R ue d ’ U lm

q u e n t n o c tu rn a l ex p ed itio n s to pickup h an g o u ts o r hom osexual bars,


F o u c a u lt w o u ld be p ro stra te fo r hours, ill, o verw helm ed w ith sham e.
D r. E tie n n e was called u p o n fre q u e n tly to keep h im fro m c o m m ittin g
th e irre p a ra b le .

L iv in g w ith o n e ’s h o m o sex u ality was n o t easy in th a t p e rio d . D o -


m in iq u e F e rn a n d e z , w h o e n te re d th e E N S in 1950, describes th e pa-
th e tic s itu a tio n o f hom osexuals d u rin g those years. I t was a “ tim e o f
sh am e and c lan d estin e a c tio n s,” w h en th e pleasures o f th e sin im p e r-
m issible in b ro ad d ay lig h t had to be repressed, p u sh ed back in to th e
sh ad o w y zo n es o f n o c tu rn a l existence. F e rn a n d e z sum s up th e feelings
he ex p erien ced as he left c h ild h o o d b eh in d : “I could see th a t I w ould
g ro w up a p a rt fro m o th ers, in te re ste d by th in g s I could n ev er talk
a b o u t to an y o n e a ro u n d m e; th a t this situ a tio n w ould be a so u rce o f
endless to rm e n t; b u t also th a t it was th e sign o f a secret and w o n d e rfu l
choice. A m ix tu re o f p rid e and fear at e n te rin g a fre e m a so n ry th a t
risked p u b lic c o n d e m n a tio n k e p t m y ad o lescen t years in a tu rm o il.” 2
D e s c rib in g th e lib ra ry th a t he w an ted to p u t to g e th e r at any co st o n
th e su b jec t o f his “ c o n d itio n ,” he w rites: “ In 1950, and th ro u g h o u t th e
te n o r fifteen years th a t follow ed, th e books I accu m u lated c o n c e rn e d
o n ly tra u m a , n eu ro sis, n a tu ra l in ferio rity , m isery as a calling. T h e self-
p o rtra it I was able to sketch fro m th ese texts was o f som e in fe rio r b ein g
c o n d e m n e d to su ffer.” 3 H o w m an y w ere victim s o f this repressive vio-
lence? H o w m an y had to lie, so m etim es to them selves? A m o n g th e m
was M ic h e l F o u cau lt. M a n y o f his sch o o lm ates learn ed o n ly la ter th a t
he was hom osexual; o th e rs said th e y o n ly suspected it o r discovered
it by ac c id e n t o r knew it because th e y them selves w ere. B ut w h e th e r
o r n o t th e y k n ew th e d e e p e r reasons for his tro u b les, all re m e m b e re d
F o u c a u lt as p re c a rio u sly balanced o n a tig h tro p e b etw een san ity and
m adness. All to o k this to be th e ex p lan atio n for his obsessive in te re s t in
psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. “H e w an ted to u n d e rsta n d
w h a te v e r was c o n n e c te d to th e p rivate and th e p riv ativ e,” is o n e ’s re-
m ark. “H is p ro n o u n c e d in te re s t in p sy chology doubtless stem m ed fro m
e lem en ts in his ow n life,” says a n o th e r. A nd an o th er: “W h e n His-
toire de la folie cam e o u t, ev ery o n e w h o knew h im saw im m ed iately th a t
it was c o n n e c te d to his p erso n a l h isto ry .” S o m eo n e close to h im at this
tim e rem ark s: “ I always th o u g h t he w ould w rite a b o u t sexuality som e
day. H e had to give sexuality a cen tral p o sitio n in his w ork, since it was
c en tral in his life.” O r: “ H is last books in som e ways c o n stitu te th e
p e rso n a l eth ics he im p o sed u p o n h im self by force o f will. S artre n ev er

H 2/ ‫׳‬VV
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

w ro te his E th ics, b u t F o u cau lt d id .” O r: “W h e n he w e n t back to an-


c ie n t G re e c e in Histoire de la sexualité, F o u c a u lt fo u n d his ow n arc h a e o -
logical p e d e sta l.” In sh o rt, ev ery o n e ag reed th a t F o u c a u lt’s w ork, his
research itself, was firm ly ro o te d in th e situ a tio n th a t h e ex p erien ced so
d ram atically d u rin g his years at th e E co le N o rm a le . O bviously, o n e
c a n n o t p re te n d th a t F o u c a u lt’s e n tire w o rk is explained b y his h o m o -
sexuality, as c e rta in A m erican academ ics do, im ag in in g , m o re o v e r, th a t
this w ould be en o u g h to d iscred it it. S a rtre ’s answ er to v u lg ar M arx ism
m ig h t be useful here: o f course P aul V aléry is a petit-bourgeois, b u t n o t
all petits-bourgeois are Paul V aléry. Q u ite sim ply, it is possible to see
h o w an in tellectu al p ro je c t is b o rn in an ex p erien ce th a t sh o u ld p e r-
haps be d escrib ed as p rim a ry ; h o w an in tellectu al ad v e n tu re is created
in th e stru g g les o f individual and social life— n o t to re m a in stu ck in
th e m , b u t to th in k th e m th ro u g h , to go b ey o n d th e m , to p ro b le m a tiz e
th e m b y iro n ically tu rn in g th e q u e stio n back o n th o se w h o level it. D o
you really k n o w w ho you are? A re you so su re o f y o u r reason? o f y o u r
scientific concepts? o f y o u r categ o ries o f p erc e p tio n ? F o u c a u lt read th e
psy ch iatrists. H e w orked w ith psychologists. H e could have b eco m e
o n e o f th em . D id his h o m o sex u ality p erh ap s b a r h im fro m tak in g this
ro u te? F e rn a n d e z w rites: “T h is was th e age o f p sy c h ia try and p sy ch o -
analysis. M ed ical d o cto rs, successors to th e p riests and police, n o w
re n d e re d sen ten ces o n th e hom osexual c o n d itio n th a t w ere even m o re
h ig h ly valued because th e y cam e fro m an a p p a re n tly scientific a u th o rity
and e m an ated a c e rtain p a te rn a l benev o len ce. E ach tim e a p sy ch o an a-
lyst w ro te: ‘I n ev er m e t a h ap p y h o m o sex u al,’ I to o k this ju d g m e n t to be
a tru th b ey o n d d o u b t and h u d d led d e ep er in to th e consciousness o f m y
w oes.” 4 U n til th e day w h en th e “ p a ria h ” rev o lted , w h en in su b o rd in a -
tio n raised its voice. F o r F o u cau lt this in su b o rd in a tio n had to tak e th e
d o u b le d e to u r o f lite ra tu re and theory. O n th e o n e h an d , th e re was
his fascin atio n w ith w riters w ho d ealt w ith “tra n sg re ssio n ,” th e “ lim it
ex p e rie n c e ” ( experience limite) o f excess and e x p e n d itu re (B ataille’s dé-
pense); th e ex altatio n he w ould feel on re a d in g B ataille, M a u ric e B lan-
ch o t, and K lossow ski and o n d isco v erin g th e “p o ssib ility o f a m ad
p h ilo so p h e r,” w hose fiery w ords tu rn e d dialectics and p o sitiv ism to
ashes as he d escrib ed it in “ P réface à la tra n sg re ssio n .” 5 O n th e o th e r
hand, th e re was his ex am in atio n at a h isto rical level o f th e scientific
status o f psychological disciplines, th e m edical gaze, and th e n th e es-
tab lish ed h u m a n sciences as a w hole. “W h e n e v e r I have trie d to c a rry
o u t a piece o f th e o re tic a l w o rk ,” he said in 1981, “ it has b e e n o n th e
basis o f m y ow n experience, always in re la tio n to processes I saw ta k in g

28
R u e d ’ U lm

place a ro u n d m e. It is because I th o u g h t I could reco g n ize in th e th in g s


I saw, in th e in stitu tio n s w ith w hich I dealt, in m y relatio n s w ith o th e rs,
cracks, sile n t shocks, m alfu n c tio n in g s . . . th a t I u n d e rto o k a p a rtic u la r
piece o f w ork, a few frag m en ts o f a u to b io g ra p h y .” 6
F o u c a u lt’s m alaise m ay also explain his desire for exile, to flee th e
im passes th a t he felt en clo sed him . A t any rate, th is seem ed clearly th e
case to th o se w ho m e n tio n e d reasons fo r his d e p a rtu re fo r S w eden in
1955. F o u cau lt w o u ld have to w ait for th e 1960s and th e d e c o lo n iz a tio n
o f m in d s th a t b eg a n a t th a t tim e b efo re he could free him self, b it
by b it, fro m th e n o rm a tiv e snares o f rep ressio n . P erh ap s he did n o t
free h im se lf en o u g h ; D o m in iq u e F e rn a n d e z severely rep ro ach es b o th
B arth es and F o u c a u lt for h aving k e p t silen t a b o u t th e ir h o m o sex u ality
even a fte r silence was n o lo n g e r im p o sed u p o n th em . F o r R o g er M a rtin
d u G a rd , a N o b e l p riz e w in n e r, to have w ished to conceal h im se lf to
th e e x te n t o f n o t p u b lish in g a novel w ith hom osexual ch aracters m ig h t
be “ le g itim a te p ru d e n c e .” B ut B arthes! In 1975 B arthes d ev o ted a
single, ex tre m e ly n e u tra l p a ra g ra p h o f his Barthes par Roland Barthes to
th e “ G o d d e ss H .” : “T h e p leasu re p o te n tia l o f a p erv ersio n (in this
case, th a t o f th e tw o H ’s: h o m o sex u ality and hashish) is always u n d e r-
e s tim a te d .” 7 “W h a t cow ardice!” is F e rn a n d e z ’ co m m e n t, and he ap-
plies th e sam e v e rd ic t to F oucault: “H e , to o , nev er decid ed to b ear
p e rso n a l w itn ess.” 8 T h is is far fro m th e tru th . B ut obviously th o se w ho
h ad lived th ro u g h th e earlie r s itu a tio n o fte n h ad a h a rd tim e follow ing
th e “ c u ltu ra l re v o lu tio n ” effected a fte r 1968. O n e exam ple is em b le m -
atic: in 1981, d iso rie n te d by th e o b tru siv e m ilitan cy o f “ gay m ove-
m e n ts ,” A n d ré B au d ry decid ed to scu ttle th e review Arcadie and th e
m o v e m e n t b e a rin g th e sam e nam e, w hose d riv in g force he had b een
since 1954. F o r th re e decades Arcadie had e m b o d ied th e h o p e o f m ak-
in g h o m o se x u a lity “ a c c e p ta b le ” by d in t o f d iscretio n , respectability,
and w h a t he called “ d ig n ity .” E v e ry th in g had b een concealed w ith
p seu d o n y m s. O n e can see how , called u p o n su d d en ly to say o u t loud to
th e w h o le w o rld th in g s th e y had had to keep q u ie t for so m an y years,
m o re th a n o n e individual w o u ld have felt ra th e r d iso rien ted . In J e a n -
P aul A ro n ’s w ish, at d e a th ’s d o o r, to a n n o u n c e o n th e fro n t page o f Le
Nouvel Obseruatear th a t he had A ID S and, at th e sam e tim e, p u b licly to
“ co n fess” his h om osexuality, we h e a r a m oving echo o f these tro u b le d
co n scien ces.9 W h e n A ro n criticized F o u cau lt fo r having h id d e n th e
n a tu re o f his illness, he re p ro a c h e d h im at th e sam e tim e for having
w an ted to escape m ak in g th a t “ confession” also. B ut was it n o t p re -
cisely th e v ery idea o f “ co n fessio n ” th a t F o u cau lt loathed? T h is lo a th ­

^ 29 *V
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

in g left its m ark in all th e effo rt expended in his last books to reject,
refuse, and defuse th e o rd e r to say, to speak, to m ake so m e o n e speak—
as if a h isto rical p ersp ectiv e and a th e o re tic a l in v e stig a tio n also had
th e ir o rig in s in th e b ru ta l experiences o f daily life.

F o u c a u lt’s classm ates are u n an im o u s in d e sc rib in g h im n o t o n ly as


d isc o n c e rtin g and stran g e, b u t also as, already, a p assio n ate w o rk e r. H e
read all th e tim e b u t was n o t c o n te n t ju st to read; he to o k n o tes o n
cards, w hich he o rg an ized m eth o d ically and m etic u lo u sly in boxes. H e
even d u g up som e b o u n d m a n u sc rip t n o tes tak en b y stu d e n ts in B erg -
so n ’s classes o n th e h is to ry o f philosophy. T h e o th e r stu d e n ts co n sid -
ered h im excep tio n al in his cu ltu re, his cap acity fo r w ork, and his
in te re s t in a w ide ran g e o f subjects. H e read ev ery th in g : th e classical
p h ilo so p h e rs, o f course, P lato , K a n t . . . and H e g e l, o n w h o m h e w ro te
and d efen d ed a pap er, “ L a c o n s titu tio n d ’u n tra n sc e n d a n ta l h isto riq u e
dans la Phénoménologie de Vesprit de H e g e l,” fo r his diplome d ’e'tudes su-
pe'rieures, an in te rm e d ia te d eg ree, n ecessary fo r c o n tin u in g o n fo r th e
agrégation, w h ich w ould certify h im to teach. H e read M arx , o f course,
because ev ery b o d y did. S o m ew h at la te r he w ould also read H u sse rl and
especially H e id e g g e r. A lp h o n se de W aelh en s p u b lish ed a c o m m e n ta ry
o n th e la tte r in 1942, b u t F o u cau lt p lu n g ed in to th e stu d y o f G e rm a n
so th a t he could read th e o rig in al texts. R ea d in g H e id e g g e r w ould be
o f g re a t im p o rta n c e to him : “ I b eg an b y re a d in g H e g e l, th e n M arx, and
I set o u t to read H e id e g g e r,” he said a t th e end o f his life, recallin g
th e years o f his tra in in g . “I still have h e re th e n o tes I to o k w h e n I was
re a d in g H e id e g g e r. I ’ve g o t to n s o f them ! A nd th e y are m u c h m o re
im p o rta n t th a n th e ones I to o k o n H e g e l o r M arx. M y e n tire p h ilo -
sophical d e v e lo p m e n t was d e te rm in e d by m y re a d in g o f H e id e g g e r. I
n ev erth eless reco g n ize th a t N ie tz sc h e o u tw eig h ed h im . . . M y k n o w l-
edge o f N ie tz sc h e certain ly is b e tte r th a n m y k now ledge o f H e id e g g e r.
N e v erth eless, th ese are th e tw o fu n d am en tal experiences I have had. I t
is possible th a t if I had n o t read H e id e g g e r, I w ould n o t have read
N ie tz s c h e .” 10
H is passion fo r N ie tz sc h e w ould com e so m ew h at later. F o r th e m o -
m e n t he was v ery in te re ste d in psychoanalysis and psychology. H e read
F re u d — lo n g o n e o f his favorite au th o rs, a p re fe rre d su b ject o f co n v er-
sation, a m ajo r focus o f his in terest. B ut he read also K ra fft-E b in g and
M a rie B o n ap arte. H e m ade m u ch o f a b o o k th a t left an im p ressio n o n
this w hole g e n e ra tio n : G eo rg es P o litz e r’s Critique des fondements de la
psychologies p u b lish ed in 1938 b u t o u t o f p rin t. T h e stu d e n ts had o n ly
w■ ^() w
R ue d ’ U lm

o n e co p y and passed it a ro u n d fervently. T h e r e w ere o th e r w orks th a t


w ere im p o rta n t fo r him : The Individual and His Society and The Psycho-
logical Fron tiers o f Society by A bram K ard in er, w hose n o tio n o f a “basic
p e rso n a lity ” and w hose a rg u m e n ts c o n c e rn in g th e rela tio n sh ip b e-
tw een indiv id u al b eh av io r and th e cu ltu res in w hich these are in scrib ed
w ould n o u ris h his la te r reflections. F o u cau lt was also in te re ste d in
M a rg a re t M e a d and in th e division o f th e sexes in p rim itiv e societies;
and in th e K in sey re p o rt o n sexual b ehavior. H e read G a s to n B ache-
lard, th e aesth e tic ia n and p h ilo so p h e r o f science, o f course, w h o had a
g re a t in flu en ce o n him . B ut he was also a voracious re a d e r o f lite ra tu re .
H e read K afka, en th u siastically discovered by this w hole g e n e ra tio n ,
and he read h im in G e rm a n because he w an ted to b eco m e fam iliar w ith
th e language. A nd F au lk n er, G id e, Jo u h a n d e a u , G e n e t. Im ag in e th e
s to rm raised by G e n e t’s novels in th e early 1950s and th e d e lig h t caused
b y S a rtre ’s lo n g co m m en tary , in w hich he d escrib ed how , fro m P ro u s t
to G e n e t, h o m o sex u ality had g o n e fro m b ein g exp erien ced as a curse
o f n a tu re to b ein g lived as a defian t choice flung in th e face o f th e
w o rld . F o u c a u lt also read Sade w ith g re a t delig h t, g o in g so far as to
p ro c la im lo u d ly his sc o rn for an y o n e n o t an in itiate.

S tu d e n ts at th e E cole N o rm a le rarely a tte n d e d classes at th e S o r-


b o n n e ; g en erally th e y w e n t th e re o n ly to take th e ir exam s for th e licence
(m o re o r less th e eq u iv alen t o f an A m erican b a c h e lo r’s degree). F o u cau lt
was n o ex cep tio n , b u t he did go to h e a r D an iel L agache and J u lia n
A ju ria g u e rra discuss p sy ch iatric science. H e also a tte n d e d som e ses-
sions o f H e n ri G o u h ie r’s course o n se v e n te e n th -c e n tu ry philosophy.
A nd, o f course, he w ould rediscover J e a n H y p p o lite ’s teach in g s ta rtin g
in 1949, th e y ear H y p p o lite was a p p o in te d to xhzfaailte' des lettres at th e
S o rb o n n e .
A bove all, F o u c a u lt a tte n d e d th e few teach in g sessions offered at th e
R ue d ’U lm . H e w e n t reg u larly to h e a r J e a n B eaufret, to w h o m M a rtin
H e id e g g e r had w ritte n his “ L e ttre su r P h u m an ism e.” B eau fret dis-
cussed K a n t’s Critique o f Pure Reason b u t also talked a g re a t deal ab o u t
H e id e g g e r. H e was o n e o f H e id e g g e r’s m o st faithful disciples and
h elp ed in tro d u c e h im in F rance. B ea u fret’s p erfo rm an ces m ade ra th e r
an im p re ssio n o n F oucault; he talked a b o u t him fre q u e n tly w ith his
frien d s. T h e r e was also J e a n W a h l’s course, in w hich he explicated
P a rm e n id e s fo r th re e stu d en ts: J e a n -L o u is G ard ies, J e a n K n ap p , and
F o u cau lt. T h e n th e re was th e course given b y J e a n -T o u s s a in t D esan ti,
a ferv en t C o m m u n is t w h o was p u ttin g g re a t effo rt in to reco n cilin g

‫׳‬w 3 1 ‫׳‬w
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

M arx ism and p h e n o m en o lo g y . T h a t was o n e o f th e b ig p ro b le m s fo r


p o stw ar F re n c h philosophy. A b o o k alo n g th ese same, lines by T ra n
D u e T h a o had co n sid erab le rep ercu ssio n s in p h ilo so p h ical circles. D e -
s a n d was a b rillia n t professor; h e exerted e n o rm o u s in flu en ce o n th e
E N S stu d e n ts and h elp ed m ake m e m b e rsh ip in th e C o m m u n is t p a rty
attractiv e.
B u t M e rle a u -P o n ty ’s course was certain ly th e o n e th a t m o st im -
pressed th e y o u n g stu d en ts. E x isten tialism and p h e n o m e n o lo g y w ere
a t th e ir p eak o f glory, and stu d en ts at th e E N S — like ev ery o n e else—
w ere fascinated b y S artre, w ho so d o m in a te d his p e rio d . B ut th ey
ad m ired M e rle a u -P o n ty even m o re. H e was m o re academ ic, m o re rig -
o ro u s, less “ in v o g u e,” and, above all, to o k m o re risks in his a tte m p ts
to o p e n p h ilo so p h y u p to c o n trib u tio n s fro m th e h u m a n sciences.
F o u cau lt n ev er m issed a single le ctu re given b y M a u ric e M e rle a u -
P o n ty at th e E N S in 1 9 4 7 -4 8 and 1 9 4 8 -4 9 . T h o u g h p rim a rily a b o u t
th e u n io n o f soul and b o d y in M a le b ran ch e, M a in e de B iran, and B erg -
son, th e y also d ealt w ith la n g u a g e .11 M e rle a u -P o n ty was fascinated by
p ro b le m s o f lan g u ag e and trie d to expose th e stu d en ts to S au ssu re’s
w ork. H e h ad a g re a t m an y stu d en ts because this was th e o n ly place in
P aris w h ere th e y could h e a r th e a u th o r o f Phénoménologie de la per-
ception. A t th a t tim e his a p p o in tm e n t was to th e U n iv e rsity o f L yons,
b u t M e rle a u -P o n ty w ould be given a ch air in child p sy ch o lo g y at th e
S o rb o n n e at th e b e g in n in g o f th e 1949 school year, and his faith fu l au-
dien ce ru sh ed to his courses in th e u n iv ersity a m p h ith e a te rs. M e rle a u -
P o n ty discussed “ consciousness and th e acq u isitio n o f la n g u a g e ” and
also th e c o n n e c tio n b etw een “h u m a n sciences and p h e n o m e n o lo g y .”
H is lectu res w ere p u b lish ed in th e Bulletin de psychologie alm o st as so o n
as th e y w ere given, and th e re is no d o u b t th a t F o u cau lt to o k ad v an tag e
o f th e m .12 T h e course o n “h u m a n sciences,” fo r exam ple, given in
19 5 1—5 2, in w hich M e rle a u -P o n ty expounded at le n g th th e th e o rie s o f
E d m u n d H u sserl, K u rt K offka, and K u rt G o ld stein , ce rta in ly w ould
have b e e n o f th e g re a te st in te re s t to F oucault, w ho b eg an to teach at
th a t v e ry tim e and o n exactly th e sam e subjects.
A n o th e r figure w h o m ade a g re a t im p ressio n o n th e y o u n g stu d e n ts
o n th e R u e d ’U lm was a sch o o lm ate w ho was a p p o in ted p h ilo so p h y
caiman 13 in 1948— th a t is, h e was given th e resp o n sib ility o f p re p a rin g
candidates fo r th e agrégation. H e to o k th e place o f G e o rg e s G u sd o rf,
w ho left to teach in S trasb o u rg . T h e new caiman's n am e was L o u is Al-
thusser, and in th o se days— as w ould be th e case u n til th e m id -1 9 6 0 s—
his nam e m e a n t n o th in g to anyone o u tsid e th e L a tin Q u a rte r. B ut he

‫׳‬w } ‫׳ ד‬vv
R ue d ’ U lm

w ould have co n sid erab le in fluence o n th e sm all circle o f his stu d en ts.
A lth u sser passed th e agrégation in 1948 at th e age o f th irty. H e had
b e e n accep ted a t th e E N S m u c h earlier, in 1939, b u t was d ra fte d and
th e n ta k e n p riso n e r. H e sp e n t five years in a stalag. A t th e end o f th e
w ar he w e n t back to school and passed th e agrégation alo n g w ith G illes
D e le u z e and F ran ço is C h â te le t, p lacin g second o n ly to Je a n D e p ru n .
A lth o u g h A lth u sse r’s pedagogical abilities w ere h ig h ly praised, he so o n
felt th e effects o f severe psychological p ro b lem s and fre q u e n tly had to
leave th e E N S for several w eeks at a tim e. So in fact he gave v ery few
classes. B u t h e fo rm ed p erso n al relatio n sh ip s w ith th e stu d e n ts in his
ch arg e, and o n e after a n o th e r th e y visited him at le n g th in his office.
H e listen ed to th e m and gave th e m advice and tech n ical tric k s— v ery
useful fo r g o in g b efo re th e ju ry o f a c o m p e titio n as codified and ritu -
alized as th e agrégation.

F o u c a u lt w ould b eco m e close frien d s w ith A lthusser. W h e n he b e-


cam e ill, A lth u sser advised h im to refuse h o sp italizatio n . B ut also,
above all, it was largely th ro u g h A lth u sser’s influence th a t F o u c a u lt
w o u ld jo in th e C o m m u n is t party. W h e n he first to o k over as caiman ,
A lth u sser was n o t y et a C o m m u n ist. H e even p a rtic ip a te d in th e m e e t-
ings o f th e C a th o lic g ro u p at th e E N S . H e had b e e n a v ery d e v o u t
C a th o lic and a s tu d e n t o f Je a n L acroix and Je a n G u itto n and was still
o n ex cellen t te rm s w ith th em . A lth u sser sw ung to w ard M arx ism and
c o m m u n ism at a tim e w h en alm o st th e e n tire E co le N o rm a le and a
larg e p ro p o rtio n o f F re n c h intellectu als w ere d o in g so.
It has o fte n b e e n rem ark ed th a t in F ran ce p h ilo so p h y and in tellec-
tual q u e stio n s are always stro n g ly shaped by political au th o rity . T h a t
has u n d o u b te d ly nev er b een tru e r th a n it was in th e years follow ing th e
L ib e ra tio n . A nd th e E co le N o rm a le , far fro m sta n d in g a lo o f fro m th e
p h e n o m e n o n , dro v e it to fever pitch. As early as 1945, b u t especially
s ta rtin g in 1948, th e C o m m u n is t p a rty was firm ly e n tre n c h e d at th e
R ue d ’U lm . E m m a n u e l L e R oy L a d u rie re p o rts th a t acco rd in g to J e a n -
F ran ço is Revel, w h o was at th e E cole ju st after th e w ar, th e C o m m u -
n ist in flu en ce was still lim ited in 1945. B ut as th e cold w ar w o u n d in to
h ig h gear, and w ith th e la u n ch in g o f th e in su rre c tio n a ry strikes o f
1947, ev ery o n e was called u p o n to “ choose sides,” and th e E N S was
sp eed ily p o liticized ; it to o k th e “ w o rk e rs’ side,” and th e re fo re th e side
o f th e C o m m u n is t p a rty .14 P aul V iallaneix recalls b ein g p re s e n t at
“v e rita b le co n v ersio n p h e n o m e n a ,” w h ere p eo p le he had k n o w n to be
apolitical d u rin g th e khâgne years p lu n g ed passionately and fu rio u sly

~ 33 W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

in to re v o lu tio n a ry activism . T h e w arnings o f Jacq u es L e G off, w h o had


sp e n t som e tim e in C zechoslovakia, did n o th in g to dam p th e M a rx ist
a rd o r o f his sch o o lm ates— an en th u siasm so g re a t th a t h isto ria n s to d a y
p o n d e r th e p h e n o m e n o n o f this “ C o m m u n is t g e n e ra tio n ” at th e E co le
N o r m a le .15 H o w m an y w ere C o m m u n ist? I t is h ard to be precise, be-
cause “b e lo n g in g ” could vary fro m a d istan t, in fo rm al affin ity all th e
w ay to th e m o st fren zied , sectarian m ilitancy. L e R oy L a d u rie , w h o
e n te re d th e E N S in 1949 and alm o st im m ed iately b ecam e th e se c re ta ry
o f th e cell, claim s th a t o n e o f every fo u r o r five, o r “ fo rty o r fifty stu -
d en ts o u t o f a to ta l o f tw o h u n d re d ,” w ere p a rty m em b ers, a lth o u g h
o n ly a b o u t tw e n ty cam e to m eetin g s. A m o n g th e C o m m u n ists a t th e
R ue d ’U lm , a few nam es stand o u t— M ich e l C ro u z e t, P ie rre J u q u in ,
M a u ric e C aveing.
W h y did so m a n y in tellectu als b eco m e m em b ers o f th e C o m m u n is t
party? F irst, it m u st be said th a t its p o p u la rity was n o t co n fin ed to in -
tellectuals; d u rin g th ese years 5 m illio n p eo p le in F rance, o r m o re th a n
25 p e rc e n t o f th e electo ra te, voted fo r th e C o m m u n ists in n a tio n a l
electio n s. A nd th e n , as M a u ric e A g u lh o n p u t it,

people who did n o t live th ro u g h this period cannot im agine the ex-
tent, the persistence, the force, and we m ight as well say it, the
shamelessness o f C om m unist propaganda on the subject o f the Resis-
tance: “T h e re w ere m ore o f us,” the p arty claimed, “we did the m ost,
were the only ones effective, the only genuine participants in the pa-
trio tic struggle, our list o f m artyrs is the longest; we were proudly
know n as the P arty o f m en shot by the firing-squad . . .” T h e party
was the fierce guardian o f patriotic integrity. L e t’s adm it it: ou r criti-
cal faculties had been overcom e. Besides, it is n o t o n e’s critical fac-
ulties th at are the m ost developed at eighteen or twenty, especially
w hen a vague rem orse for n o t having fought in the Resistance tugs in
the opposite direction, resulting in a desire to make up for it by join-
ing the politics th at claim to continue this m ovem ent.16

T h u s it is n o t su rp risin g th a t th e normaliens w ere m em b ers en m asse


o f th e party, even if n o t q u ite in th e n u m b ers it claim ed. L o n g p re se n t-
in g itse lf as th e g a th e rin g place for in tellectu als, th e “ p a rty o f in telli-
g e n c e ” p ic tu re d itse lf as co n tro llin g , d ictatin g , o r en listin g e v e ry th in g
th a t h a p p e n e d in research o r th o u g h t. T h e . rea lity was far fro m th a t,
b u t o n e o f ev ery fo u r o r five stu d en ts at th e E N S over alm o st te n years
is q u ite a lo t o f people.
T h e life o f th e school was pervaded by politics and ex trem ely h eated
arg u m en ts. T h e clim ate o f “intellectu al te r r o r ” m ain tain ed b y m em b ers

-W -W-
R ue d ’ U lm

o f th e C o m m u n is t p a rty was especially o v erb earin g . A nyone n o t follow -


in g th e line was excom m unicated■ and d en o u n ced . L e R o y L a d u rie , th e
s e c re ta ry o f th e cell, was one o f th e m o st v iru len t. H e was a real in-
q u isito r, giving o rd e rs and ju d g in g ev e ry th in g all th e tim e, especially
th e s tu d e n ts ’ orthodoxy.
T h e r e was also a sm all socialist g ro u p , b u t it seem ed ra th e r o ld -
fashioned; J e a n E rh a rd , now th e m ay o r o f R iom , M arcel R oncayolo,
and G u y P alm ad e w ere am o n g its m em b ers. T h e r e w ere o th e rs w ho
b e lo n g e d to th e e p h em eral R assem b lem en t D é m o c ra tiq u e R ev o lu tio n -
n aire (R D R ), lau n ch ed by S a rtre and D avid R o u sset in 1948 and so m e-
w h a t p re m a tu re ly d u b b ed th e “ s tu d e n ts ’ p a rty ” ; in fact few stu d e n ts
jo in ed it. T h e C h ristia n s fo rm ed th e “ g ro u p e ta la ” (fro m v o n t-à-la
m esse, “ th e y go to M ass”) and w ere divided b etw een a left w in g and
a tin y m in o rity o n th e rig h t. T h e m o re n u m e ro u s “p rogressive C h ris-
tia n s ” w ere a ttra c te d by th e C o m m u n is t party. T h e y d efen d ed th e
idea o f a m issio n ary c h u rc h th a t sh o u ld d ire c t its a tte n tio n s to th e
p o o r. S ta rtin g in 1947, his second y ear at th e R ue d ’U lm , F ran ço is
B éd arid a was “ p rin c e tala,” th e head o f th e C a th o lic g ro u p . T h o u g h
v ery y o u n g , he had p a rtic ip a te d in th e R esistance and had a close co n -
n e c tio n to th e pro g ressiv e C h ristia n s involved w ith th e C a th o lic new s-
p a p e r Témoignage chrétien. H e was seduced by co m m u n ism because, as
he says today, “ progressivism , m e a n in g co m m u n ism , was v ery m u c h in
th e air at th e tim e .” A p ro -C o m m u n is t C h ristia n . T h is was also th e
s itu a tio n o f R o g e r F auroux, w ho is p re se n tly m in iste r o f in d u stry , a fte r
serv in g as h ead o f th e E co le N a tio n a le d ’A d m in istra tio n .
A “ h a n d fu l” o f normaliens o n th e o th e r side, th e vilified rig h t, felt
th a t th e a tm o sp h e re o f th e R ue d ’U lm was stifling in its “ leftist c o n fo r-
m ity .” L o o k e d u p o n as “ stran g e b easts” and system atically re fe rre d to
as “ fascists” by ev ery o n e else, th ese few s tu d e n ts— J e a n d ’O rm e sso n ,
J e a n C h a rb o n n e l (w ho w ould b eco m e a m in iste r u n d e r G e n e ra l de
G aulle), and R o b e rt P o u jad e (w ho to d a y is m ay o r o f D ijo n )— w ere
m ilita n t m e m b e rs o f de G a u lle ’s party, th e R assem b lem en t p o u r la
F ran ce. A cco rd in g to C h a rb o n n e l, th e y w ere exceedingly in te re ste d in
th e G a u llist in tellectu al review Liberte de Vesprit, fo r w hich b o th C lau d e
M a u ria c and M a u ric e C lavel w ro te .17
In 1948 L o u is A lth u sser jo in ed th e P a rti C o m m u n iste F rançais
(P C F ). In a le tte r to M a ria -A n to n ie tta M accio ch i, he explained his
reaso n s fo r d o in g so:

As a lycée stu d en t and later, I was a m ilitant m em ber o f A ction


C atholique. In the 1930s the church had set up its own youth orga-

W 35 ‫׳‬W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

nizations to co n fro n t the influence o f “socialist‫ ״‬ideas. It did us a


sacred service. O u r chaplain talked to us, the children o f the p e tit
bourgeois, about the “social cause,‫ ״‬which gave us a head start. It was
one o f “h isto ry ’s tricks” th a t m ost o f m y C atholic schoolm ates o f th at
period becam e C om m unist. T h e P opular F ront, the war in Spain, the
w ar against fascism, and the Resistance all showed us the “social
cause” close up, and we learned its real nam e: class struggle. In 1948
I becam e a teacher o f philosophy and joined the French C om m unist
party. E ver since th at tim e I have . . . pursued m y profession and
tried to be a C om m unist. Being a C om m unist in philosophy m eans
being a M arxist-L eninist philosopher. It is n o t easy being a M arxist-
L eninist p h ilo so p h er.18

N o t u n til 1968 and a fte r did L ouis A lth u sser b eco m e th e M a rx ist-
L e n in is t p h ilo so p h e r w ho “ re re a d ” Capital and m o b ilized a ro u n d h im -
self th e disciples o f a th u s ren ew ed “ re v o lu tio n a ry th e o ry .” B u t alread y
his in flu en ce was s tro n g e n o u g h to in d u ce som e stu d e n ts to follow h im
in to th e party. F o u c a u lt was o n e o f these; h e jo in ed in 1950.
In 1950. T h a t m eans th a t F o u cau lt h ad sp e n t fo u r years at th e E N S
w ith o u t d o in g so m e th in g a good n u m b e r o f his sch o o lm ates w ere
d o in g . H o w ev er, he had w an ted to jo in ever since his first year at th e
R u e d ’U lm , in th e sp rin g o f 1947. M a u ric e A g u lh o n re m e m b e rs h o w
this a tte m p t ra n in to tro u b le . F o u cau lt w an ted to b eco m e a m ilita n t in
th e p a rty cell b u t n o t in th e s tu d e n ts ’ syndicate. T h is seem ed u n th in k -
able to th e C o m m u n ists resp o n sib le fo r ex am in in g his m e m b e rsh ip
req u est, and co n se q u e n tly th e y rejected him . F o u cau lt was th e re fo re
n o t p o litically engaged, at least n o t th ro u g h an y o rg a n iz a tio n a l fra m e -
w ork, th ro u g h o u t his s tu d e n t career. H e had close c o n n e c tio n s to th e
party, a c co rd in g to Jacq u es P ro u st, w ho saw a lo t o f h im in th o se days;
b u t at th e sam e tim e he was v e ry critical o f th e p a rty ’s d o m in a n t in te l-
lectu al p erso n alities, such as R o g er G araudy. M o re o v e r, a t th e tim e
F o u c a u lt was m o re H e g e lia n th a n M arxist. H e w orked extensively o n
Phenomenology o f Spirit fo r his diplom a, and he sh ared this in te re s t w ith
A lth u sser, w ho several years befo re had also d efen d ed a thesis o n H e g e l,
as did his frie n d Jacq u es M a rtin (to w h o m Pour M arx is d ed icated ) and
also J e a n L ap lan ch e.

T h e y ear 1950 was n o t ju st th e year F o u cau lt jo in ed th e C o m m u n is t


party. I t was also th e year he flunked th e agrégation. A nd y et he had
ch o sen to take fo u r years fo r p re p a rin g his exam in stead o f th e usual
th ree. In th e sp rin g o f 1950 he sat th e w ritte n exam , in w h ich he had to
p o n d e r th e p ro b le m “Is m a n p a rt o f n a tu re ? ” and th e n discuss th e

■w 6‫ ן‬w
R ue d ’U lm

w o rk o f A uguste C o m te . H e did n o t do to o badly and fo u n d h im se lf


listed — alo n g w ith 7 3 o th e r can didates o u t o f 219 w ho had ta k e n th e
exam s— a m o n g th o se a d m itte d to th e oral. W h a t he did n o t k n o w was
th a t he was ran k ed o n ly tw e n ty -n in th ; this ra n k in g was a serio u s o b -
stacle to b e c o m in g o n e o f th e fifteen to p stu d e n ts finally aw arded th e
agrégation. T h e r e w ere tw o stages to th e oral at th a t tim e: first a “ little
o ra l,” w h ich co n sisted o f a le ctu re o n a su b ject ch o sen at ran d o m ; th e n
a “ b ig o ra l,” w ith fo u r d iffe re n t tests, a lectu re, and th re e discussions o f
texts (F ren ch , L a tin , and G reek). T h e first oral was an e lim in a tin g
exam . A nd F o u c a u lt su ccu m b ed at this stage o f th e c o m p e titio n . H e
e n c o u n te re d a su b ject th a t he was n o t en th u siastic about: h y p o th esis, a
tra d itio n a l su b ject to w h ich th e p ro p e r responses w ere all m ap p ed o u t
in advance. B u t F o u c a u lt p lu n g ed in to a lo n g discussion o f h y p o th ese s
in P a rm e n id e s and co m p letely n eg lected th e n o tio n o f h y p o th esis in
th e sciences. D o w n cam e th e verdict: M ich e l F o u cau lt was n o t o n e
o f th e tw e n ty can d id ates accep ted for th e second series o f oral exam s.
T h e jury, co m p o se d o f th e d ean o f th e S o rb o n n e , G e o rg e s Davy,
P ie rre -M a x im e S chuhl, and th e in sp e c to r g en eral B ridoux, criticized
h im fo r n o t having cited C lau d e B ern ard . F o u cau lt la te r explained
ironically, “ I fo rg o t to m e n tio n th e ra b b it p e e ,” re fe rrin g to a fam ous
e x p e rim e n t b y B ern ard th a t th e ju ry expected h im to m e n tio n . T h e
re p o rt by th e p re sid e n t o f th e jury, w ritte n in D av y ’s h an d , spoke vol-
um es: “A can d id ate w h o is certain ly cultiv ated and d istin g u ish ed and
w hose failure can be co n sid ered as an accident. B ut, h aving already
p laced bad ly in th e w ritte n , he m ade th e m istake o n th e oral, and
o n a sta n d a rd subject, o f b ein g m o re co n c e rn e d w ith d e m o n s tra tin g
his e ru d itio n th a n w ith tre a tin g th e su b ject p ro p o se d .” A m o n g th o se
receiv in g th e agrégation th a t y ear w ere P ie rre A u b en q u e, J e a n -P ie rre
Faye, Je a n -F ra n ç o is L y o ta rd , and Je a n L ap lan ch e; th e failures in clu d ed
M ic h e l T o u rn ie r and M ich el B u to r.
F o u c a u lt’s failure n ev erth eless s tirre d up a lo t o f fuss. E v e ry o n e had
b e e n co n v in ced th a t he w ould ran k w ith th e highest. H e was co n sid -
ere d o n e o f th e m o st b rillia n t stu d en ts at th e E cole, and n o o n e u n d e r-
sto o d h o w h e could have flunked th a t way. S om e even su ggested th a t
he h ad b e e n refu sed fo r p o litical reasons. S uch in te rp re ta tio n s w ere
q u ite c o m m o n at th e tim e. F o r exam ple, in 1951 La Nouvelle Critique
re p o rte d th a t a m e m b e r o f th e p h ilo so p h y ju ry had said: “T h is y ear n o
C o m m u n ists will pass.” O n e th in g is certain: F o u cau lt was g rievously
affected by his failure, to th e e x te n t th a t A lth u sser asked J e a n L a p lan ch e
and his y o u n g wife to keep an eye o n h im to keep h im fro m d o in g
“ s o m e th in g stu p id .” F o u c a u lt w e n t th ro u g h a n o th e r p e rio d o f crisis,

*V
~ 37
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

b u t he was so o n back at w o rk p re p a rin g fo r th e n ex t y e a r’s exam s. H e


team ed u p w ith J e a n -P a u l A ron, w ho was n o t e n ro lle d at th e E N S b u t
to o k courses th e re , and w ith w h o m he had b eco m e frien d s. F o u c a u lt
p re p a re d dozens o f le c tu re o u tlin es o n ev ery possible subject. H e knew
th a t th e oral was his difficult h u rd le. By J u n e 1951 he was read y to face
th e w ritte n exam s again. F o r seven h o u rs he h ad to w rite a b o u t “ exper-
im e n t and th e o ry : w h at p h ilo so p h ical con seq u en ces re su lt fro m how
th e y are defin ed and ho w th e ir relatio n s are co n ceiv ed .” H e w ro te fo r
a n o th e r seven o n “ p ercep tiv e activ ity and in te llig e n c e .” Finally, he had
to sp en d six h o u rs im a g in in g th a t B erg so n and S pinoza m e t “ in th e
s o m n o le n t w o rld o f p u re m e m o ry ” and “ engaged in a dialo g u e o n tim e
and e te rn ity w ith th e in te n tio n o f d efin in g th e so rt o f c o n sid e ra tio n
th a t p h ilo so p h y m u st give th ese tw o n o tio n s.” H e cam e th ro u g h it all
v e ry w ell and again found his nam e o n th e list o f th o se a d m itte d to th e
oral. T h is tim e th e ju ry was co m p o sed o f G eo rg es D avy as p re sid e n t,
J e a n H y p p o lite , and G e o rg e s C an g u ilh em , w ho had b eco m e in sp e c to r
g en eral o f se c o n d a ry ed u catio n , as v ice-p resid en t. C a n g u ilh e m w an ted
to b rin g th e subjects given th e can didates m o re u p to date. O v e r-
c o m in g co n sid erab le o p p o sitio n , h e succeeded in g e ttin g topics such as
“ sexuality” in clu d ed . “T h e y all read F reu d . A nd, in any event, th a t’s all
th e y talk a b o u t,” h e em p h asized to th e so m ew h at re c a lc itra n t Davy. A nd
th a t was p recisely th e su b ject th a t fate assigned F o u cau lt. J e a n D e p ru n ,
w ho a tte n d e d th e le ctu re because F o u cau lt alread y enjoyed a c e rta in
n o to rie ty am o n g stu d en ts at th e E N S , rem em b ers a v ery classical,
th re e -p o in t exposé: sexuality as n atu re, sexuality as cu ltu re, and sexu-
ality as h isto ry . H is to ry h e re was u n d e rsto o d in th e sense o f in d iv id u al
h istory, because F o u cau lt was v ery stro n g ly in flu en ced by his re a d in g
in p sy ch o lo g y and psychoanalysis.
T h is tim e F o u cau lt was accepted. H e tied fo r th ird place w ith o n e o f
his sch o o lm ates, Je a n -P a u l M ilo u . Y von Brès, a s tu d e n t in th e sam e
year as F o u cau lt, was first. H e w en t u p to F o u cau lt afterw ard and ap o l-
ogized fo r h aving com e o u t ahead o f him , w h ich he felt was u n ju st.
T h e ju ry ’s re p o rt to o k n o te o f F o u c a u lt’s obvious uneasiness: “A candi-
d ate w ho is ce rta in ly cu ltivated and d istin g u ish ed b u t w ho seem ed
to be a p p ro a c h in g th e agrégation this second tim e fearfully, p erh ap s
w ith p re ju d ic e ,” w ro te D e a n Davy. A fter th e results w ere a n n o u n c e d
F o u cau lt, fu rio u s th a t h e was n o t first, co m p lain ed to C a n g u ilh e m
a b o u t th e su b ject assigned h im to discuss.— Really! W h a t an idea! he
fum ed. E x a m in in g candidates for th e agrégation o n sexuality!
T h e o re tic a lly th e agrégation c o m p e titio n led to te a c h in g o n th e sec-
o n d a ry level, and in this p e rio d it usually o p en ed th e w ay to te a c h in g at

‫׳«׳‬ 38 ^
R ue d ’U lm

a university, a fte r som e tim e sp e n t teach in g a t a lycée, w hich th e nor-


maliens co n sid e red an inevitable p u rg ato ry . B ecause F o u cau lt had b e e n
ex em p ted fro m m ilita ry service o n acco u n t o f his v e ry fragile h ealth ,
this was a m a tte r o f som e urgency. T h e new g rad u ates w ere su p p o sed
to re q u e st a lycée post, and th e y m e t w ith th e in sp e c to r g en eral to do
so. F o u c a u lt th e re fo re w e n t to talk to C a n g u ilh e m — to tell h im he did
n o t w a n t to teach. Because he had ran k ed v ery high, he had som e h o p e
o f e n te rin g th e F o n d a tio n T h ie rs , a v ery special in s titu tio n created in
1893 by A d o lp h e T h ie r s ’ sister-in-law . E ach y ear several s tu d e n ts—
o n ly boys— w ere accepted, w ith a m o n th ly stip en d so th a t th ey could
w rite th e ir theses u n d e r go o d co n d itio n s. T h e status o f th e fo u n d a tio n
was so m e w h a t m o d ified after th e w ar. B ecause th e m o n e y in its en -
d o w m e n t was g reatly devalued, it was p u t u n d e r th e su p erv isio n o f
th e C e n tre N a tio n a l de la R ech erch e S cientifique (C N R S ). T h is state
b o d y paid a m o n th ly allow ance to th e b o ard ers, w ho th e n had to pay
h a lf o f it back to th e fo u n d a tio n for p ro v id in g bed and b o ard . T h e
b o a rd e rs w ere given th e title o f C N R S research attach é w hile th e y
w ere at th e fo u n d a tio n . F o r a lo n g tim e th e re had b een five new re-
e m its each year, in lite ra tu re , law, o r m edicine. In th e fall o f 1950 six
had b e e n ad m itte d , am o n g th e m R o b e rt M auzi, P aul V iallaneix, and
J e a n -L o u is G ard ies. In 1951 th e re w ere ten. F o u c a u lt’s fellow s in clu d ed
J e a n C h a rb o n n e l, P ie rre A u benque, G u y D eg en , and J e a n -B e rn a rd
R aim o n d .
H o w did o n e g e t in to this stran g e house, this h u g e n in e te e n th -
c e n tu ry b u ild in g , lo cated in w h at is no w th e P lace du C h a n c e lie r-
A d en au er, in th e six teen th a rro n d isse m e n t n e a r th e P o rte D au p h in e?
F irst, o n e had to be re c o m m e n d e d by th e d ire c to r o f o n e ’s university.
T h e n o n e had to apply to th e fo u n d a tio n d ire c to r, w ho at th e tim e was
th e H e lle n is t P aul M azo n . Finally, because th e fo u n d a tio n , d esp ite its
su p erv isio n by th e C N R S , was still ad m in istered by th e academ ies
c o m p o sin g th e In s titu t de F ran ce, o n e had to visit th e rep resen tativ es
o f each o f th e academ ies m ak in g up th e ad m in istrativ e council. T h e
A cadém ie F ran çaise was re p re se n te d by G eo rg es D u h am el. Je a n C h a r-
b o n n e l, w ho arriv ed at th e fo u n d a tio n th e sam e year as F oucault, de-
scrib ed his ow n visit to D u h am el: “W h e n I w e n t to in tro d u c e m y self to
h im , as was th e c u rre n t custom , he said to m e, in his little M a u ria c
voice: ‘L isten , y o u n g m an, I d o n ’t k n o w w h e th e r o r n o t y o u ’ll ever en -
joy fam e and glory, b u t I can tell you th a t o ne o f th e m o m e n ts in w h ich
I felt I ex p erien ced this was w h en o ne o f m y g ran d so n s cam e h o m e
sh o u tin g : ‘I had g ra n d fa th e r in m y d ic ta tio n !’” 19 E v e ry ap p lican t h eard
th e sam e sto ry fro m th e novelist.

39 w
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

A fter this series o f p ro ced u res and visits, th e h ap p y few could finally
m ove in to “ this m ajestic h o u se,‫ ״‬as C h a rb o n n e l d escrib ed it. I t was
“ q u a in t and o u tm o d e d b u t d ed icated to th e cu lt o f in tellig en ce, and, all
in all, it was c h arm in g . It had a valet, p r e tty fu rn itu re , a b illiard table, a
piano, and a larg e g ard en . T h e d eco r was su m p tu o u s, b u t o u r reso u rces
w ere m o d e s t . . . W e e n te re d m o d e rn science th e n th e w ay o n e e n te rs
relig io n . W e had to m ake a vow o f p o v e rty and . . . o f celibacy.20‫״‬
D u rin g F o u c a u lt’s visit to P aul M azo n , h e m e n tio n e d tw o subjects fo r
research: “ th e p ro b le m o f h u m a n sciences in p o s t-C a rte s ia n p h ilo so -
p h e rs ” and “ th e n o tio n o f cu ltu re in c o n te m p o ra ry p sy ch o lo g y .” “T h e
first seem ed p a rtic u la rly in te re s tin g to m e ,” M a z o n w ro te in his re p o rt
a t th e end o f F o u c a u lt’s stay at th e fo u n d a tio n . “ I t d ealt w ith h o w
C a rte sia n ism had evolved u n d e r fo reig n influences, Ita lia n and D u tc h ,
and w h a t th e results o f this e v o lu tio n had b e e n in M a le b ra n c h e and
B ayle.” 21 F o u c a u lt in fact had g o n e to see H e n ri G o u h ie r to ask if
he w ould be w illing to d ire c t his seco n d ary thesis o n M a le b ra n c h e . T h e
p rin c ip al thesis, as M a z o n m e n tio n e d , was supposed to deal w ith th e
p ro b le m o f cu ltu re as it is analyzed by c o n te m p o ra ry p sy ch o lo g )7. A nd
he set to w o rk as fu rio u sly as ever. T h is was w h en he d ev elo p ed th e
h a b it o f g o in g to th e B ib lio th èq u e N a tio n a le ev ery day— a h a b it h e
m a in ta in e d fo r years, u n til he left fo r Sw eden, and o n e h e resu m ed
u p o n his re tu rn to F rance. T h e B N is n o d o u b t th e o n e place in w h ich
F o u cau lt sp e n t th e m o st h o u rs o f his life.
B u t F o u cau lt w ould sp en d o n ly o n e y ear at F o n d a tio n T h ie rs , n o t
th e th re e th e rules allow ed. It was v ery h ard fo r h im to stan d th e co m -
m u n al life th a t he had already fou n d so a b h o rre n t a t th e R u e d ’U lm .
H e re , o f course, ev ery o n e had his ow n ro o m and h en ce could live in
relativ e in d e p e n d e n c e . B ut it was still a b o a rd in g in stitu tio n , w h e re
o n e had to live w ith a b o u t tw e n ty o th e r people. All m eals h ad to be
ta k e n w ith this g ro u p . F o u cau lt again m ade h im se lf u n iv ersally d e-
tested . H e attack ed everybody, carried on, p ro v o k ed a rg u m en ts. C o n -
flict prevailed in all his relatio n s w ith th e o th e r stu d en ts. It cam e to a
head o v er an am o ro u s ad v en tu re w ith o n e o f th e o th e r stu d e n ts th a t
w e n t awry. F o u cau lt was suspected o f having sto len m ail fro m th e
le tte r boxes. H e did n o t p articu larly w an t to stay, n o r did th e place p a r-
ticu larly w a n t h im to.
A t th e b e g in n in g o f th e 1952 school year, he found a n ew place to go
for a w hile. H e b ecam e an assistant le c tu re r at th e U n iv e rsity o f L ille.

40
4

The C a rn iva l o f M adm en

’h e n F o u cau lt first arrived o n th e R ue d ’U lm , G e o rg e s


G u s d o rf was p h ilo so p h y caiman. A lth o u g h he is k n o w n to -
w ; day fo r his w orks o n th e h isto ry o f W e s te rn th o u g h t, he

had n o t th e n p u b lish ed an y th in g to speak of. G u s d o rf was v ery in te r-


ested in psychology, and w ith his frien d G eo rg es D a u m é z o n he o rg a-
nized in 1946 and 1947 an in tro d u c tio n to p sy c h o p a th o lo g y fo r his
stu d e n ts. T h e y w ere able to see p a tie n ts at H ô p ita l S ain te-A n n e, and
th e re was a le c tu re series at th e E N S th a t in clu d ed n o t o n ly D a u m é z o n
b u t also p sy ch ia trists such as L acan and A ju riag u erra. G u s d o rf w en t
even fu rth e r in o fferin g his stu d en ts experience. E v e ry year he to o k a
g ro u p o f normaliens to visit th e psychiatic ho sp ital d ire cted by D a u -
m é z o n at F leu ry -les-A u b rais, n e a r O rléan s. T h e re th e y sp e n t a w eek
liste n in g to analyses b y th e d o cto rs and th e ir assistants. A nd th e y
stro lle d a ro u n d inside th e hospital enclosure. F leu ry -les-A u b rais, w ith
its pavilions d isp ersed over a large w o o d ed area, did n o t seem at all like
a p riso n .
W h e n he su cceed ed G u sd o rf, A lth u sser also to o k stu d e n ts to S ain te-
A nne. T h e r e th e y a tte n d e d lectu res b y a n o th e r to p n o tc h p sy ch iatrist,
H e n r i Ey. W ith D a u m é z o n and Ey, F o u cau lt found h im se lf v ery early
in c o n ta c t w ith c u rre n ts o f re fo rm in psychiatry. H e associated w ith
p eo p le involved in th e g ro u p and review n am ed Evolution psychiatrique,
w ho w ere try in g to re c o n sid e r th e know ledge and p ractice o f th e ir dis-
cipline in a v ery liberal vein. A nd w h a t he saw o f p sy ch ia try at th a t tim e
had n o “ rep ressiv e” o r “ p u n itiv e ” ch aracter.
F ro m his v e ry first years at th e E cole N o rm a le , M ich el F o u cau lt b e-
g an to be k een ly in te re ste d in psychology. A fter o b ta in in g his licence in
p h ilo so p h y a t th e S o rb o n n e in 1948, he b eg an stu d y in g fo r o ne in psy-
chology. H e th e re fo re to o k courses fro m D aniel L agache, w ho ta u g h t

'W 4 I 'W
P s y c h o l ()(;Y in H e l l

g en eral p sy ch o lo g y and social p sy ch o lo g y at th e faculte des lettres. H e


also had to take courses for th e certificate in p sy ch o p h y sio lo g y given in
th e faculte des sciences. T h e re , how ever, he was less assiduous, te a m in g
up w ith A n d ré V ergez and L ouis M a z a u ric to spell o ne a n o th e r in at-
te n d in g class and tak in g n o tes. In 1949 F o u cau lt o b ta in e d b o th this //-
cence and an a d d itio n al d ip lo m a fro m th e In s titu t de P sy ch o lo g ic de
P aris, fo r w h ich he again stu d ied w ith L agache.
D a n ie l L ag ach e is o n e o f th e g re a t nam es in p sy ch o lo g y in th e p o st-
w ar p e rio d . H e was p a rt o f th e class o f 1924 at th e R ue d ’U lm alo n g
w ith A ron, C an g u ilh em , N iz a n , and S artre. H e passed th e agrégation in
p h ilo so p h y b u t chose to p u rsu e clinical psychology. H e ta u g h t for a
lo n g tim e at S tra sb o u rg b efo re b ein g ap p o in te d in 1947 to th e S o r-
b o n n e , w h ere his in au g u ral lectu re o n th e “u n ity o f p sy ch o lo g y ,” in
w hich h e trie d to in te g ra te psychoanalysis w ith clinical science, caused
a g re a t stir. T h e lectu re was p u b lish ed in 1949. D u rin g this sam e p e-
rio d h e b eg a n to give courses at th e In s titu t de P sychologie.
F o u c a u lt a rd e n tly a tte n d e d L a g ach e’s courses, because p sy ch o lo g y
was th e ro u te h e h ad chosen. H e even c o n te m p la te d stu d y in g m ed i-
cine. H e asked L ag ach e if it was n ecessary to be a m edical d o c to r
to specialize in psychology. T h e q u e stio n did n o t su rp rise L agache.
D id ie r A nzieu, w hose ow n o rie n ta tio n was to w ard psychoanalysis, ex-
plains: “A t th e tim e, a lo t o f p h ilo so p h ers w ho w ere tu rn in g in th e
d ire c tio n o f psychology, psychiatry, o r psychoanalysis w ere w re stlin g
w ith th a t p ro b le m .” A nzieu did n o t go in to m edicine. J e a n L a p lan ch e
seem s to have b e e n o ne o f th e few w ho did. F o u cau lt also w o u ld re-
m ain o n th e th re sh o ld . L agache advised him , as he usually did an y o n e
w h o asked him , n o t to stu d y m edicine. “I f we w ere in th e U n ite d
S tates, you w ould certain ly have to do it,” h e to ld him , “b u t in F ran ce,
n o .” F o u c a u lt trie d to take advantage o f th e in terv iew to ask th e g re a t
p sy c h ia trist q u estio n s a b o u t his ow n psychic p ro b lem s. B u t L ag ach e
refu sed to be a s tu d e n t’s p ro fesso r and his p sy c h o th e ra p ist a t th e sam e
tim e. All he w ould do was p ro v id e F o u cau lt w ith th e address o f a n o th e r
psychoanalyst, a re c o m m e n d a tio n th a t w ould rem ain a dead le tte r for
th e tim e being. L a te r F o u cau lt w ould p lu n g e b riefly in to th e a d v e n tu re
o f “ th e ra p y ,” for th re e w eeks at m ost. T h is was o n e o f th e q u estio n s
th a t c o n tin u e d to h a u n t h im th ro u g h o u t th e years: sh o u ld he o r sh o u ld
he n o t go in to analysis?
F o u c a u lt did n o t sto p his scientific tra in in g after passing th e agrega-
tion. D u rin g his y ear at th e F o n d a tio n T h ie rs he b eg an stu d y in g fo r
a diplom a in p ath o lo g ical psychology at th e In s titu t de P sy ch o lo g ie,
w hich he received in 1952. H is c u rric u lu m in clu d ed courses w ith P ro -

*V 42 W
T h e C a r n i v a l of M a d m e n

fessors P o y e r and D elay, am o n g o th e r th in g s “ clinical in s tru c tio n ”


w ith p re se n ta tio n s o f p a tie n ts in th e g re a t a m p h ith e a te r a t S ain te-
A nne. T h e r e was also a course in “ th e o re tic a l psychoanalysis” by P ro -
fessor Benassy, also at S ain t-A n n e because th e In s titu t de P sy ch o lo g ie
did n o t have its ow n b u ild in g . P ie rre P ic h o t, w ho oversaw th e p rac-
ticu m s re q u ire d fo r this d eg ree, re m e m b e re d F oucault, w h o m he did
n o t m u c h like. P ic h o t, w ho w an ted to fam iliarize his stu d e n ts w ith test-
in g te c h n iq u e , th o u g h t he was to o m u ch th e normalien, to o th e o re tic a l
and q u ite re sista n t to th e ex p erim en tal n a tu re o f psychology. In o n e o f
his v e ry first articles, w ritte n in 1953, F o u cau lt m ade som e ra th e r
vicious allusions to his p ro b le m s w ith a d h e re n ts to a p u re ly “ scien tific”
psychology. H e recalled b e in g asked, u p o n his arrival in this d en o f
ex p erim en tal psychology, “ D o you w an t to do scientific p sy ch o lo g y
o r p sy ch o lo g y like M e rle a u -P o n ty ’s?” F o u cau lt rem ark ed w ith irony:
“W h a t deserves o u r a tte n tio n is n o t so m u ch th e d o g m a tism w ith
w hich “ real p sy ch o lo g y ” is defined as th e d iso rd e r and fu n d a m e n ta l
sk ep ticism p re su m e d by th e q u estio n . I t takes an asto n ish in g b io lo g ist
to ask if you w a n t to do biological research th a t is scientific o r b io lo g i-
cal research th a t is n o t!” H e added: “ R esearch m u st be h eld a cco u n t-
able fo r th e choice o f its ratio n ality ; its basis— w hich we k n o w is n o t
th e estab lish ed o b jectiv ity o f science— m u st be q u e stio n e d .” 1
F o r a v ery lo n g tim e, how ever, F o u cau lt was fascinated by p sy ch o -
logical te c h n iq u e s and e x p e rim e n ta tio n ; he even b o u g h t th e m aterial
n ecessary to give R o rsch ach tests. A dm ittedly, he had b e e n to a good
school; L ag ach e was o n e o f th e earliest in itiates and h elp ed in tro d u c e
th e m e th o d in F rance. W h e n th e F re n c h R o rsch ach o rg a n iz a tio n was
fo u n d ed , he b ecam e its h o n o ra ry p resid en t. F oucault, w hile at th e
E N S , enjoyed su b jec tin g his sch o o lm ates to this “ te s t” involving th e ir
sp o n ta n e o u s re a c tio n s to in k b lo ts o n d iffe re n t-c o lo re d cards. O n th e
basis o f th e ir responses F o u c a u lt p ro p o sed an in te rp re ta tio n o f th e
u n d e rly in g p e rso n a lity o f w h o ev er w en t alo n g w ith th e gam e. “T h a t
way, I ’ll k n o w w h a t’s o n th e ir m in d s,” he to ld M a u ric e P in g u e t, w ho
m an ag ed to elude th e ex p erim en t. A g re a t n u m b e r o f stu d en ts fro m
th e E N S re m e m b e r b e in g tested in this w ay by F oucault, w ho re-
m ain ed fascinated by R o rsch ach tests fo r m any, m any years. W h e th e r
he was in C le rm o n t-F e rra n d o r T u n is he dev o ted m an y lo n g class
h o u rs to s o m e th in g th a t his co m p an io n s co n sid ered m ere am u sem en t.

R o rsch ach tests also fascinated Ja cq u elin e V erdeaux, w ho w ould play


a m a jo r ro le d u rin g M ich e l F o u c a u lt’s years o f tra in in g . She had kn o w n
his fam ily fo r a v ery lo n g tim e; h e r p a re n ts w ere lo n g -sta n d in g frien d s

*V
43
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

o f th e F oucaults. D u rin g th e w ar h e r fa th e r h ad se n t h e r w ith h e r


b ro th e r to th e safe refu g e o f P o itiers. V erdeaux ev en tu ally b ecam e th e
assistant a n e sth e tist o f D r. F o u cau lt, w ho c o n tin u e d to serve as a su r-
g e o n in th e city w hile su p erv isin g th e m ak esh ift h o sp ital set u p in th e
J e s u it school to take in th e w o u n d ed a fte r G e rm a n y ’s sw eep in g inva-
sion o f n o r th e rn F rance. W h e n G e rm a n tro o p s arriv ed in P o itie rs th e
y o u n g w o m an le ft th e city. A few years later, w h e n peace was re sto re d ,
M m e . F o u c a u lt asked if she w ould look a fte r h e r son w h e n he m oved to
P aris. F o u c a u lt d in ed reg u la rly w ith G e o rg e s and Ja c q u e lin e V erdeaux
a t 6 R u e de V illersexel, a little s tre e t off th e B oulevard S a in t-G e rm a in ,
n o t far fro m th e A ssem blée N a tio n a le . Jac q u e lin e w o rk ed w ith h e r
h u sb an d , w ho had ju st d efen d ed his d isse rta tio n w ith Jacq u es L acan.
T h e y h ad estab lish ed an e le c tro e n c e p h a lo g ra p h ic la b o ra to ry at S ain te-
A nne. J e a n D e la y h ad fo u n d th e m a few ro o m s in th e h o sp ital attic,
w h ere th e y set them selves u p w ith A n d ré O m b re d a n e , a fo rm e r stu -
d e n t o f G e o rg e s D u m as. O m b re d a n e , w ho had ju st tra n sla te d a b o o k
o n p sy ch ia tric nosology, asked Jacq u elin e, w h o h ad stu d ied G e rm a n , if
she w ould be w illing to su b m it th e tra n sla tio n to a ra th e r w ell-k n o w n
Swiss p sy ch ia trist, R o lan d K u h n . A t th e sam e tim e O m b re d a n e lo an ed
h e r K u h n ’s Maskendeutungen im Rorschachschen Versuch (P h e n o m e n o lo g y
o f th e m ask). Jac q u e lin e V erdeaux read th e b o o k and left fo r T u rg o v ie , in
M u n ste rlin g e n , o n th e shores o f L ake C o n stan ce. She show ed O m b re -
d a n e ’s tra n sla tio n to K u h n and also m ad e a p erso n al req u est: she h e r-
self w an ted to tra n sla te his Maskendeutungen , w hich she h ad fo u n d
fascinating. F ie ag reed and suggested th a t she also tra n sla te a b o o k by
a n o th e r p sy ch iatrist, L u d w ig B insw anger, w ho lived th re e k ilo m eters
aw ay and was th e d ire c to r o f Bellevue C lin ic in K reu zlin g en . F ie was
th e n e p h e w o f O tto B insw anger, w ho h ad d ire cted th e clinic in J e n a
w h ere N ie tz sc h e h ad b een tre ated . V erdeaux visited B in sw an g er and
was am azed b y th e o rg a n iz a tio n o f this “ asylum ,” w h ere o p u le n t-
lo o k in g b uildings w ere sc a tte re d aro u n d vast g ro u n d s, b rig h te n e d by
colo rfu l beds o f roses. H e asked h e r m an y q u estio n s b efo re m ak -
in g u p his m in d , th e n finally w en t to search his bookshelves fo r th e
text he w ould like to see p u b lish ed first in F ren ch , Traum und Existenz ,
w hich w ould be p u b lish ed in F re n c h as Le Rêve et Vexistence (Dream and
Existence).
B insw anger had lo n g b efo re developed th e n o tio n o f so m e th in g h e
called “ existential analysis.” H e had b e e n frien d s w ith F reu d , J u n g ,
Jaspers, and H e id e g g e r, and th e last had m ade a p a rtic u la rly s tro n g im -
p ressio n o n him . C o n seq u en tly , w h en V erdeaux re tu rn e d to P aris and

w qq ‫׳‬w
T h e C a r n i v a l of M a d m e n

asked h e r frie n d F o u cau lt to h elp h e r w ith th e tra n sla tio n because th e


text was te e m in g w ith p h ilo so p h ical term s, he was n o t a t all d isco n -
certed . F o u c a u lt and V erdeaux to g e th e r w orked o u t th e F re n c h tra n s-
latio n . T h e y m e t ev ery day a t th e E cole N o rm a le , w h ere F o u c a u lt
n o w — in 1952— had an office, because a t A lth u sse r’s re q u e st he had
b e g u n to give classes th e re . T h e y d eb ated th e b est w ay to tran sp o se
ce rta in n o tio n s fro m o ne language to a n o th e r. O n e evening, after a day
o f w ork, V erd eau x to o k h e r y o u n g c o lla b o ra to r to visit G a s to n B ache-
lard, an avid re a d e r o f B in sw an g er’s w ork, w h o la te r k e p t u p a c o rre -
sp o n d e n c e w ith him .
V erdeaux and F o u c a u lt traveled to S w itzerland several tim es in 1952
and 195 3 to m e e t K u h n and B insw anger and to show th e m th e tra n sia-
tio n in v arious stages. T h e y sp e n t a lo t o f tim e discussing H e id e g -
g e ria n vocabulary. E v e n tu ally th e y decided to re n d e r Dasein n o t w ith
th e usual être-là (b e in g -th e re ), b u t sim ply w ith présence. W h e n th e tra n s-
la tio n was finished, V erdeaux said to h e r co llab o rato r: “I f y o u like th e
book, d o a preface fo r it.” N o t o n e to sh rin k fro m difficulty, F o u c a u lt
p ro m p tly se t to w ritin g .
N o t lo n g afterw ard , w hile sp e n d in g E a ste r v acatio n in P ro v en ce
w ith h e r h u sb an d , V erdeaux received a ra th e r large envelope. “ H e re
is y o u r E a ste r eg g ,” was th e b rie f n o te acco m p an y in g F o u c a u lt’s text.
Ja c q u e lin e V erdeaux was at first asto u n d e d at its len g th : th e in tro d u c -
tio n was lo n g e r th a n th e w o rk itself. B u t as she read it she becam e
m o re and m o re excited, d ecid in g it was “ fan tastic!”
T o g e th e r th e y w e n t back to see B insw anger, to show him b o th th e
tra n sla te d tex t and th e in tro d u c tio n . T h e p sy c h ia trist was ex trem ely
pleased w ith b o th . T h e n th ey had to convince th e e d ito r, w h o was
u n d e rsta n d a b ly h e s ita n t a b o u t p u b lish in g this b izarre com posite: such
a lo n g in tro d u c tio n by so m eo n e u n k n o w n and such a s h o rt b o o k by
so m eo n e eq u ally u n k n o w n , at least in F rance. B ut V erdeaux fo u g h t
h ard and finally w on. T h e b o o k was p u b lish ed in 1954 by D esclée de
B ro u w er in th e series T ex tes e t E tu d e s A n th ro p o lo g iq u es.
F o u c a u lt had placed an ex cerp t fro m R ené C h a r ’s “ P arta g e fo rm e l”
a t th e b e g in n in g o f th e text: “W h e n I reach ed m an h o o d , I saw risin g
and g ro w in g u p th e wall sh ared b etw een life and d eath , a lad d er lo n g e r
all th e tim e, in v ested w ith an u n iq u e p o w er o f evulsion: this was th e
d ream . . . N o w see th e darkness draw away, and l i v i n g beco m e, in th e
fo rm o f a h a rsh alleg o rical asceticism , th e c o n q u e st o f e x tra o rd in a ry
po w ers by w hich we feel ourselves co n fu sed ly crossed, b u t w hich we
express in co m p letely , lacking loyalty, cruel p e rc e p tio n , and p ersev er­

~ 45 W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

an ce.” 2 T h e in tro d u c tio n also co n clu d ed w ith lo n g q u o ta tio n s fro m


“P a rta g e fo rm e l,” w h ich F o u c a u lt felt p ro v id e d th e b est key to u n d e r-
sta n d in g dream s.
F o u c a u lt’s style in th e in tro d u c tio n is flam b o y an t and stro n g . W h a t
a ttra c te d h im in B in sw an g er’s w ork was th e w ay he h ad reco n cile d and
g o n e b ey o n d th e c o n trib u tio n s o f F re u d and H u sserl. A bove all, h o w -
ever, F o u c a u lt was p ro p o sin g his ow n vision o f th e dream : “In ev ery
case d e a th is th e ab so lu te m e a n in g o f th e d re a m ,” he w ro te, and th e
d ream o f d e a th “ appears as w h a t existence can le a rn th a t is m o st fu n d a-
m en tal a b o u t itself.” W h e n c e th e idea th a t “ th e d ream has ab so lu te
p rim a c y fo r an a n th ro p o lo g ic a l u n d e rsta n d in g o f co n c re te m a n .” B ut
F o u c a u lt saw also th e n ecessity — “an ethical task and a h isto rical n e-
cessity” — fo r g o in g b ey o n d this prim acy, and w ith this he co n clu d ed
his te x t.3 F o u cau lt cited th e p sy ch o lo g ist E u g è n e M in k o v sk i’s w orks,
B ac h elard ’s U A ir et les songes, M elan ie K lein, and L acan, w h o m h e had
ju st b e g u n to read. H e had, for exam ple, stro n g ly re c o m m e n d e d to
J e a n -C la u d e P assero n , w ho was b e g in n in g to w ork o n “ th e c o n c e p t o f
sp e c u la rity ” fo r his d ip lo m a, th a t he g e t h o ld o f L a c a n ’s text o n th e
“ m irro r sta g e ” p u b lish ed in UEncyclopédie française.
O n th e ir first trip to S w itzerland in 1952, V erdeaux and F o u c a u lt
visited K u h n a t th e M u n s te rlin g e n h o sp ital th e day b efo re M a rd i G ras.
O n th is d ate th e p a tie n ts tra d itio n a lly p re p a re d costum es and m asks;
th e n d o cto rs, nurses, and p a tie n ts w e n t in disguise to th e village hall.
A t th e end o f th e ev en in g th e y all th re w th e ir m asks in to a h u g e fire
w h ere th e figure o f C arn iv al was sacrificed. F o u cau lt was m u ch stru c k
b y this stran g e cerem ony: “T h is is n o t a carnival o f m ad m en ; it’s a car-
nival o f dead m e n ,” he confided to his frien d .
F o u c a u lt and V erdeaux, w h o m he re fe rre d to as “ m y w ife,” also
visited B insw anger d u rin g his v acatio n in T ic in o , in th e s o u th e rn Alps,
o n th e sh o re o f L ake M ag g io re. T h e tw o colleagues m e t in F lo re n c e
and, a fte r sp e n d in g a few days in V enice, to o k a car to reach th e psychi-
a tris t’s su m m e r residence, v isitin g ch u rch es and m u seu m s a lo n g th e
way. “H e loved p a in tin g ,” V erdeaux recalled o f F oucault. “ H e is th e
o ne w ho m ade m e u n d e rsta n d M asaccio ’s frescoes in F lo re n c e .” O n
th e o th e r h an d , she re m e m b e rs equally well th a t F o u cau lt d e te ste d n a-
tu re. W h e n e v e r she show ed h im som e m ag n ificen t lan d scap e— a lake
sp ark lin g in th e su n lig h t— h e m ade a g re a t show o f w alking off to w ard
th e road, saying, “M y back is tu rn e d to it.” T h e y sp e n t a few days w ith
B insw anger, w ho to o k th e m several tim es fo r tea w ith o n e o f his frien d s,
Szilazyi, a H e id e g g e ria n p h ilo so p h e r cited by F o u cau lt in his “In tro d u c -
T h e C a r n i v a l of M a d m e n

tio n .” T h e y talked a b o u t H e id e g g e r, p h en o m en o lo g y , psychoanalysis.


A nd th e g re a t q u e stio n was, is psychoanalysis a science? B insw anger
s p e n t his e n tire life stru g g lin g to prove th a t it is.
T h e tim e s p e n t w ith B insw anger, b o th th e m an and his w ork, was to
p lay a v ery im p o rta n t role for F oucault. F o u cau lt w ould, o f course,
b re a k aw ay fro m th is fo rm o f “ p h e n o m en o lo g ical p sy ch iatry ,” b u t
B in sw an g er’s analyses revealed to h im a so rt o f u n d e rly in g reality to
m adness. “ R ea d in g w h at has b een defined as ‘existential analysis’ o r
‘p h e n o m e n o lo g ic a l p sy c h ia try ’ was u n d en iab ly im p o rta n t to m e ,” he
la te r said.

T h is was the period in w hich I was w orking in psychiatric hospitals


and looking for som ething different from the traditional grids im -
posed by the m edical gaze, some counterbalance. M ost certainly,
these superb descriptions o f m adness as fundam ental, unique, incom -
parable experiences were decisive for me. M oreover, I believe [R. D.]
L aing was also im pressed by all o f this. F or a long tim e he, too, took
existential analysis as a reference. (H e was m ore Sartrean, I was m ore
H eideggerian) . . . I believe existential analysis helped m e lim it and
b e tte r define w hat it was about academ ic psychiatric know ledge th at
was heavy and oppressive.4

F o u c a u lt’s in tro d u c tio n to B in sw an g er’s text is th e b est re fle c tio n o f


his in telle c tu a l o rie n ta tio n d u rin g this p erio d . B ut b ey o n d th a t, it is an
essen tial tex t fo r g rasp in g his p reo ccu p atio n s, th e p ro b le m s he set and
w ould set fo r h im se lf— fo r grasping, p erhaps, th e genesis o f his w o rk at
its p o in t o f o rig in . In 1983, in an early version, p u b lish ed in th e U n ite d
S tates, o f his p reface to UUsage des plaisirs ( The Use o f Pleasure; Vol. II
o f UHistoire de la sexualité), F o u cau lt w ould recall e v e ry th in g he ow ed
to B in sw an g er and h ow he m oved o n fro m these ideas:

T o study form s o f experience in this way— in their history— is an


idea th a t originated w ith an earlier project, in w hich I m ade use o f
the m ethods o f existential analysis in the field of psychiatry and in the
dom ain o f “m ental illness.” For two reasons, n o t unrelated to each
o th er, this project left me unsatisfied: its theoretical weakness in
elaborating the n o tio n o f experience, and its am biguous link with a
psychiatric practice which it sim ultaneously ignored and took for
granted. O ne could deal w ith the first problem by referring to a gen-
eral th eo ry o f the hum an being; and treat the second altogether dif-
ferently by tu rn in g , as is so often done, to “ the econom ic and social
context” ; one could choose, by doing so, to accept the resulting di-
lem m a o f a philosophical anthropology and a social history. But I

W
~ 47
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

w ondered w hether, rath er than playing o n this alternative, it w ould


n o t be possible to consider the very historicity o f form s o f experience.

A nd a fte r a lo n g d e v e lo p m e n t laying o u t th e p a th o f th o u g h t e n a b lin g


h im to th in k in te rm s o f a “ h isto ry o f th e fo rm s o f ex p e rie n c e ,” h e
added: “I t is easy to see ho w rea d in g N ie tz sc h e in th e early fifties has
given access to th ese kinds o f q u estio n s, by b re a k in g w ith th e d o u b le
tra d itio n o f p h e n o m e n o lo g y and M arx ism .” 5

F o u c a u lt also w o rk ed as a p sy ch o lo g ist w ith Ja c q u e lin e V erd eau x at


H ô p ita l S ain te-A n n e, w h ere his status was so m ew h at vague. H e was a
stagiaire— a tra in e e — w h ich m eans little m o re th a n th a t h e h ad n o offi-
cial fu n c tio n s and was n o t paid. B u t d u rin g this tim e h e first lived at
th e F o n d a tio n T h ie rs and th e n b ecam e a le c tu re r at th e U n iv e rsity o f
L ille, so it was n o t to e a rn his living th a t he did this “ tra in in g ” at
th e e le c tro e n c e p h a lo g ra p h ic lab o rato ry . H e h elp ed V erdeaux p e rfo rm
tests and ex p erim en ts. M e a su re m e n t was a ll-im p o rta n t. T h e y m ea-
su red b ra in waves, skin resistance in th e palm o f th e h an d , th e rh y th m
o f re sp ira tio n . T h e su b ject o f th e ex p e rim e n t had to sit h arn essed to an
a rm ch air, s tru n g w ith electro d es o n head, feet, and hands. T h is appa-
ratu s allow ed th e p sy ch o lo g ist to re g iste r th e w h o le b o d y ’s n erv o u s
reactio n s. F o u cau lt so m etim es served as a subject; m o re o fte n , h o w -
ever, he h elp ed in p re p a rin g and re a d in g th e ex p erim en ts. R o b e rt
F rancês, a p sy ch o lo g ist and m usicologist, cam e to th e la b o ra to ry to set
u p som e tests o n m usical h earin g . A nd w h at a su rp rise it was fo r J e a n
D e p ru n , w h o m F rancês had asked to be his g u in ea pig, to discover
F o u c a u lt a m o n g th e ex p erim en ters and tech n ical aides!
T h e la b o ra to ry was obviously n o t m e a n t for p u re research o r fo r
am u sin g ex p erim en ts. I t was u n d e r th e a u th o rity o f J e a n D e la y and an
in te g ra l p a rt o f th e h o sp ital services. G eo rg es and Ja cq u elin e V erd eau x
w ere, above all, resp o n sib le for d iag n o sin g and k eep in g tra c k o f pa-
tie n ts in te rn e d at S ainte-A nne.
In an in terv iew in 1982, F o u cau lt d escrib ed this w ork:

T h e re was no clear status for psychologists in a m ental hospital. So as


a stu d en t in p sy ch o lo g y . . . I had a very strange status there. T h e chef
de service was very kind to me and let me do anything I w anted . . . I
was actually in a position betw een the staff and the patients, and it
wasn’t m y m erit, it wasn’t because I had a special attitude, it was the
consequence o f this am biguity in m y status which forced m e to m ain-
tain a distance from the staff. I am sure it was n o t m y personal m erit,
because I felt all th at at the tim e as a kind of malaise. It was only a few

•w 48 -w
T h e C a r n i v a l of M a d m e n

years later, w hen I started w riting a book on the history o f psychia-


try, th a t this malaise, this personal experience, took the form o f an
historical criticism or a structural analysis.

W h e n asked w h e th e r H ô p ita l S ain te-A n n e gave an em ployee a p a r-


tic u la rly n eg ativ e im p ressio n o f psychiatry, M ich e l F o u cau lt answ ered:
“ O h no. It was as typical a large ho sp ital as you could im agine, and I
m u st say it was b e tte r th a n m o st o f th e large hospitals in provincial
to w n s th a t I visited afterw ards. I t was one o f th e b est in P aris. N o ,
it was n o t te rrib le . T h a t was p recisely th e th in g th a t was im p o rta n t.
M ay b e if I had b e e n d o in g this kind o f w o rk in a sm all provincial h o sp i-
tal, I w o u ld have believed its failures w ere th e re su lt o f its lo catio n o r
its p a rtic u la r in ad eq u acies.” 6
F o u c a u lt w o rk ed as a p sy ch o lo g ist n o t o n ly in a p sy ch iatric h o sp ital
b u t also in a p riso n . In 1950 th e M in is try o f H e a lth asked G e o rg e s and
Ja c q u e lin e V erd eau x to o p e n an ele c tro e n c e p h a lo g ra p h ic la b o ra to ry at
th e p ris o n in F resnes, site o f th e g en eral ho sp ital for th e F re n c h p riso n
system . T h e la b o ra to ry had tw o fu n ctio n s: to exam ine sick p riso n e rs at
th e ir d o c to rs ’ req u est, to d e te c t possible b ra in injuries, la te n t epilepsy,
n eu ro lo g ic a l tro u b les; and to c a rry o u t a series o f tests desig n ed to
s te e r p riso n e rs to w ard p riso n schools such as th e p rin tin g press at
M e lu n . Ja c q u e lin e V erdeaux w e n t th e re every w eek and to o k h e r frien d
F o u c a u lt along. F o r tw o years she ta u g h t h im to p e rfo rm adm ission
tests and to d e c ip h e r th e resu lts w hile he w orked as h e r assistant.
T o g e th e r th e y discussed th e cases, w ritin g u p n o tes for each p e rso n
exam ined.
F o u cau lt, th e n , sp e n t this p e rio d stee p in g in th e p rofessional a tm o -
sp h e re o f e x p e rim e n ta l psychology. H is ap p re n tic e sh ip had n o w le ft a
stric tly academ ic fram ew ork, and F o u cau lt found h im se lf in th e “ field,”
as an e th n o lo g ist w ould say. H e was c o n fro n te d w ith th e reality o f ill-
ness and w ith th e p resen ce o f p eo p le w h o w ere ill. H e was im m ersed in
th e re a lity o f tw o fo rm s o f in te rn m e n t: th a t o f “ m a d m e n ” and th a t o f
“ d e lin q u e n ts.” A nd he h im se lf was am o n g th o se w ho “ lo o k ed ,” “ exam -
in e d ,” “ d e c id e d ,” even if his. u n c e rta in and p o o rly defined statu s gave
h im som e d istan ce in re la tio n to th e p sy ch o lo g ist’s pro fessio n th a t he
was learn in g .

*V 4 9 W
5
w v

Stalin 's Shoem aker

efore receiving his a p p o in tm e n t at L ille, F o u cau lt had alread y


b e g u n to teach psy ch o lo g y at th e E co le N o rm a le S u p érie u re;
L ouis A lth u sser had asked h im to teach as so o n as he had co m -
p leted th e agrégation. F ro m th e fall o f 1951 th ro u g h th e sp rin g o f 1955
F o u cau lt gave a course o n M o n d a y evenings in th e little Salle C a -
vaillès. H e had a ra th e r large atte n d a n c e fo r th e E N S , b etw een fifteen
and tw enty-five people; usually no m o re th a n five o r six a tte n d e d a
class. A large audience, th e re fo re , and v ery en th u siastic. “I t ’s fa n ta stic ,”
J e a n -C la u d e P assero n p ro claim ed o ne day as he left o ne o f F o u c a u lt’s
lectures. P aul V eyne n o w says: “H is course was fam ous. I t was like g o in g
to a show .” A nd Jacq u es D e rrid a : “ I was struck, like m an y o th e rs, by
his sp eak in g ability. H is eloquence, au th o rity , and b rillian ce w ere im -
p ressive.” C e rta in o f F o u c a u lt’s g re a t th em es o f this p e rio d w o u ld ap-
p e a r in lectu res and re a p p e a r in texts. In 195 3 he w ro te an in tro d u c tio n
to a h isto ry o f p sy chology fro m 1850 to 1950 at th e re q u e st o f D e n is
H u ism a n , w ho w an ted to b rin g A lfred W e b e r’s Histoire de la philosophic
up to date. H is first book, Maladie mentale etpersomialité (M en tal illness
and p erso n ality ), was w ritte n at alm ost th e sam e tim e.
F o u cau lt c o n tin u e d tra d itio n , tak in g his stu d en ts to S ain te-A n n e to
a tte n d th e p a tie n t p resen tatio n s. Je a n -C la u d e P asseron, fo r exam ple,
a tte n d e d D a u m d z o n ’s discussions. A nd Jacq u es D e rrid a re ta in e d a sh arp
m e m o ry o f th ese ra th e r p a th e tic sessions: “ F o u cau lt to o k th re e o r fo u r
o f us at a tim e. W e w e n t in to D au m d zo n ’s office, w h ere he was hav-
in g his stu d e n ts p ractice th e ir clinical tech n iq u e. A p a tie n t was b ro u g h t
in, and a y o u n g d o c to r q u estio n ed and exam ined him . W e w ere p res-
e n t fo r th at. I t was v ery u p settin g . T h e d o c to r w ould th e n leave and,
after w ritin g dow n his observations, w ould deliver a s o rt o f lectu re fo r
D a u m é z o n .”
D u rin g this p e rio d F o u cau lt becam e th e cen ter, n o t to say th e head, o f

-w 30 w
S t a l i n ’s S h o e m a k e r

a sm all b an d o f C o m m u n is t stu d en ts at th e E cole. T h e g ro u p was com -


po sed o f P aul V eyne, Je a n -C la u d e P asseron, G é ra rd G e n e tte , M a u -
rice P in g u e t, J e a n M o lin o , and Je a n -L o u is V an R e g e m o rte r, w ho was
th o u g h t o f as th e y o u n g p ro fe sso r’s h en ch m an . All o f th e m w ere th re e
o r fo u r years y o u n g e r th a n F o u cau lt and m o re o r less w o rsh ip ed him .
T h e y w ere C o m m u n ists b u t did n o t really to e th e line. T h e o th e r
C o m m u n is t stu d e n ts a t th e E cole, w ho w ere o rth o d o x , called th e m th e
“ g ro u p e fo lk lo riq u e ” — a b u n c h o f w eird o s— o r “ th e M arx ist S aint-
G e rm a in -d e s -P ré s .” T h e y discussed th in g s fo r h o u rs o n en d in th e
E N S e n tra n c e hall o r co u rty ard . A nd “ le F o u k ’s” — as th e y called F o u -
cau lt (.Fuchs m eans “ fox” in G e rm a n )— sp e n t a g re a t deal o f tim e w ith
th e m w h e n e v e r he was a t th e R ue d ’U lm . H e had fixed up an office
in th e fo rm e r re c o rd lib ra ry above th e Salle D ussane. H e called this
space th e “ p sy ch o lo g y la b o ra to ry ,” b u t a b o u t th e o n ly e q u ip m e n t was a
m o u se in a shoebox. “T h e r e ’s th e lab o rato ry ,” he w ould laugh, show -
in g his visitors th e box. T h e shelves along th e walls w ere still full o f
d u sty 78s, useless follow ing th e ad v en t o f L P s. S tu d en ts and frien d s
w ould visit h im th e re , and he sp e n t lo n g h o u rs c h a ttin g w ith his confi-
d a n t a t th e tim e, M a u ric e P in g u et, w ho years later w ro te a fine book,
La M ort volontaire an Japon.
L ike th e m em b ers o f th e “ g ro u p e fo lk lo riq u e,” F o u cau lt b elo n g ed
to th e C o m m u n is t party. A fterw ard he had v ery little to say a b o u t this
te m p o ra ry affiliation. F o r exam ple, this is how he d escrib ed th e p o liti-
cal situ a tio n d u rin g this p erio d , in his interview s w ith D u c io T ro m -
b a d o ri in 1978:

W h a t could politics represent for those who were tw enty w hen the
war was over, for those who had been m ore subjected to this tragedy
th an participated in it? W h a t could politics m ean w hen it was a ques-
tio n o f choosing betw een Stalin’s U.S.S.R. and T ru m an ’s Am erica, or
else betw een the old S FIO [the French Socialist party] and the C hris-
tian D em ocrats, and so on? M any young intellectuals, o f w hom I was
one, considered a bourgeois-type professional fu tu re— professor,
journalist, w riter, w hatever— to be intolerable. Experience itself had
dem onstrated the necessity and urgency o f creating a radically differ-
en t society from the one we knew. T h is was a society that had p u t up
with N azism , th at had prostituted itself to it, and then had gone over
en masse to de G aulle. C o nfronted with all that, a large part o f the
youth o f France reacted w ith total rejection.1

F o u c a u lt did n o t in te n d , w ith these rem arks, to explain w hy he had


b e lo n g e d to th e C o m m u n is t party, b u t instead w hy he was in te re ste d in
N ie tz s c h e and B ataille, and w hy he tu rn e d his back o n th e tra d itio n a l

'W ‫ ץ‬I ‫׳‬W


P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

fo rm s o f p h ilo so p h y th a t H e g elian ism and p h e n o m e n o lo g y re p re -


se n te d fo r h im . A nd w h en his in te rlo c u to r expressed su rp rise a t th is
rep ly and really stressed th e M arx ist cu ltu re o f th e p e rio d , F o u c a u lt
replied:

For m any o f us, young intellectuals, interest in N ietzsche o r in Ba-


taille did n o t represent a way o f distancing oneself from M arxism o r
com m unism . O n the contrary, it was the sole route o f com m unica-
tion, the only way to get th ro u g h to w hat we th o u g h t we should
expect from com m unism . T h is requirem ent that we totally reject the
w orld in w hich we had had to live was certainly n o t satisfied by H e -
gelian philosophy. O n the o th er hand, we were also seeking o th er in-
tellectual routes to reach precisely that p oint at w hich som ething
entirely different seem ed to take shape or exist: th at is, com m unism .
T h a t was how, w ithout really know ing M arx, rejecting H egelianism ,
feeling uncom fortable because of the limits o f existentialism , I de-
cided to join the C om m unist party. T h is was 1950. T o be a “N ietz-
schean C om m u n ist” ! S om ething really close to im possible to live
w ith and even a little ridiculous, if you like. Even I knew it was.2

It seem s clear th a t F o u cau lt su b stan tially re c o n stru c te d his in te lle c -


tual and p o litical itin erary , fo r it was certain ly n o t his fascin atio n w ith
N ie tz sc h e th a t m ade h im jo in th e C o m m u n is t party. A cco rd in g to w it-
nesses fro m th e p erio d , it was n o t u n til a ro u n d 1953 th a t N ie tz sc h e
b eg a n to have an im p o rta n t influence o n him . M a u ric e P in g u e t de-
scrib ed F o u c a u lt’s discovery o f N ie tz sc h e o n th e beaches in Italy, d u r-
in g su m m e r v acatio n in 1953. “H eg el, M arx, F reu d , H e id e g g e r— th is
was his fram e o f referen ce in 1953, w h en th e e n c o u n te r w ith N ie tz sc h e
to o k place. I can still see M ich el F oucault, read in g his Untimely M edi-
tations in th e sun, o n th e beach at C ivitavecchia.” 3 P aul V eyne co n -
firm ed this, saying th a t in 1983 he had sp o k en at le n g th w ith F o u c a u lt
and n o te d th ese co n v ersatio n s in his jo u rn al. F o u cau lt had specifically
to ld h im th a t 1953 was th e year he b eg an to read N ie tz sc h e . A nd he
had also to ld him : “W h e n I was in th e C o m m u n is t party, M arx ism as a
d o c trin e m ade g o o d sense to m e.”
M o re o v e r, “N ie tz sc h e ism ” is to tally ab sen t fro m th e texts th a t F o u -
cau lt p u b lish ed d u rin g this p erio d , w hereas M arx ist v o cab u lary and
su b ject m a tte r are fre q u e n tly p resen t, even if F o u cau lt c a n n o t be de-
fined as a M arx ist p u re and sim ple. O n e need o n ly re fe r to th e first
e d itio n o f Maladie mentale et personnalité (to w hich we shall r e tu rn
shortly). I t sh o u ld be n o ted , th o u g h , th a t F o u cau lt n ev er b e lo n g e d to
th e C o m m u n is t p a rty in th e sam e way th a t a g re a t m an y o f his sch o o l-

■w 3 2 'W
S tali n ’s S ho e m a k e r

m ates did. H e rarely a tte n d e d cell m eetin g s. “I re m e m b e r, h o w ev er,”


M a u ric e P in g u e t w rites, “ th a t he was th e re o ne n ig h t, u p stairs above
th e little café o n th e place de la C o n tre sc a rp e . All o f a su d d e n he
lau n ch ed in to som e v e h e m e n t rem arks o p p o sin g th e co al-steel p a c t.” 4
B u t F o u c a u lt n ev er to o k p a rt in m ilita n t activity. N o o ne ever saw h im
selling th e C o m m u n is t p a rty new spaper, UHumanité, o r h a n d in g o u t
tra c ts o r a tte n d in g d e m o n stra tio n s. E x cep t once, a cco rd in g to J e a n -
L o u is G ard ies, w ho, o ne day w h en U H um anité was seized, jo in ed up
w ith F o u c a u lt and several o th e rs in fro n t o f th e n ew sp ap er’s h e a d q u a r-
ters to go and d istrib u te copies o f it in th e L a tin Q u a rte r. “ B u t,” he
ad d ed , “ n e ith e r he n o r I was c u t o u t for this. W e did n o t have th e souls
o f m ilita n ts .” I t is, above all, n o t possible to class F o u cau lt, e ith e r
p o litically o r intellectually, w ith th o se w ho d esig n ated them selves as
“ S talin ists.” E m m a n u e l L e R o y L ad u rie, w ho was o ne o f th e m o st em i-
n e n t am o n g th e m , n o te d in his m e m o ir th a t “M ich el F o u c a u lt fell, far
less th a n o th e rs in this p erio d , in to th e excesses o f S talin ism .” 5
J e a n -C la u d e P assero n and A lexandre M a th e ro n , how ever, recall th a t
F o u c a u lt p a rtic ip a te d in a series o f lectures at th e M a iso n des L e ttre s
o n R ue F é ro u , n e a r P lace S aint-S ulpice. “T h e C o m m u n is t p h ilo so p h y
stu d e n ts a t th e tim e had fo rm ed a w ork g ro u p ,” acco rd in g to M a th e ro n ,
“ to w h ich a c e rtain n u m b e r o f p h ilo so p h ers w h o w ere p a rty m em b ers
(D e sa n ti, V e rn a n t, etc.) ag reed to speak. A nd F oucault, w ho was th e n a
le c tu re r a t L ille and gave classes at th e R ue d ’U lm , cam e o ne day to
talk a b o u t P avlov,” in th e co n tex t o f a discussion a b o u t psychiatry, w h ich
w o u ld b eco m e c h a p te r 7 o f Maladie mentale et personnalité. O f course,
P a sse ro n adds, his talk did n o t fit in to th e stra ig h t-lin e M arx ist o rth o -
doxy o f th e p e rio d , b u t n o n eth eless F o u cau lt did q u o te S talin in it. In
fact his le c tu re en d e d w ith a referen ce to so m e th in g S talin had said
a b o u t a p o o r alco h o lic sh o em a k er w ho b eat his wife and his ch ild ren ,
to explain th a t cases o f m en tal p ath o lo g y are th e fru it o f p o v e rty and
e x p lo ita tio n and th a t o n ly a radical tra n sfo rm a tio n o f th e co n d itio n s o f
existence w o u ld be able to p u t an en d to this. S hould this be seen as a
“w in k ” in th e d ire c tio n o f th e “ g ro u p e fo lk lo riq u e,” w ho w ere p re se n t
a t th e lectu re, as P assero n suggests? O r p erh ap s it was q u ite sim ply a
re fle c tio n o f th e fact th a t it was u n th in k a b le to o m it S talin ’s nam e in a
le c tu re o rg a n iz e d b y th e party, no m a tte r w h at th e su b ject was; even if
F o u c a u lt b e n e fite d fro m a ra th e r special status: no o ne re p ro a c h e d h im
fo r his ab sen teeism fro m cell m eetin g s o r even— so m e th in g far m o re
se rio u s— his m ak in g fun, w ith Je a n -L o u is V an R eg e m o rter, o f th e ar-
tid e s in U H um anité o n th e S oviet U n io n .

‫׳‬W ^ ^ ,W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

All th e evidence in d icates th a t F o u cau lt was n o t an a rd e n t m ilita n t.


O n e m ig h t even say th a t he was a ra th e r d ista n t o n e. H o w , th e n ,
sh o u ld we explain th e follow ing stran g e c o n v ersatio n in 1971, re p o rte d
by C la u d e M a u ria c in his journal? F o u cau lt said to J e a n -C la u d e P as-
seron: “ D o you re m e m b e r w h en we w ere g h o stw rite rs at La Nouvelle
Critique? A nd th a t fam ous article we w ere always talk in g ab o u t: ‘II fau t
ré g le r son c o m p te à M e rle a u -P o n ty ’ [T h e score m u st be se ttle d w ith
M e rle a u -P o n ty ] was th e p h rase we used. I d o n ’t th in k th a t a rticle was
ever w ritte n . B ut we are th e a u th o rs o f p le n ty o f o th e r pages in La
Nouvelle Critique .” M a u ria c joined in: “I ask w ere they, b y any chance,
signed K an ap a?” 6 A fter th is volum e o f Le Temps immobile cam e o u t, th e
idea becam e firm ly estab lish ed , like a kind o f in c o n te sta b le tru th , th a t
F o u cau lt had w ritte n som e articles signed by Je a n K anapa. K an ap a was
th e e d ito r-in -c h ie f o f La Nouvelle Critique and a S talin ist ap p a ra tc h ik
w h o m S artre, in 1954, called a “ c re tin ” in Les Temps ?nodemes. M o re -
over, F o u cau lt n ev er d en ied this versio n o f th e facts. H e did n o t tell
M a u ria c th a t th in g s h ap p en ed otherw ise. H e just m ade it clear, a cco rd -
in g to M a u ria c ’s a c co u n t in a la te r v olum e o f Le Temps immobile, th a t “I
did n o t w rite ‘th e ’ texts by K anapa. A t m o st tw o o r th re e o f th e m .
T ru th fu lly , o n e sh ould s a y . . .” F o u c a u lt’s sen te n ce was left u n fin ish ed ,
because h e re M a u ria c in te rru p te d him , p recisely to p o in t o u t th a t he
had n o t reacted to w h at was re p o rte d in th e earlier p u b lish ed v o lu m e
and h ad let it pass.7
T ra c k in g d o w n th e details o f this sto ry m ad e th in g s even less clear.
Q u ite sim ply, K anapa was a p p aren tly n o t a m an w h o used g h o stw rite rs
fo r his articles. P ie rre D aix, w ho was a m e m b e r o f th e ed ito ria l b o ard
o f th e review , m ade this a b u n d a n tly clear. K anapa w ro te his articles
w ith a g re a t deal o f care and allow ed n o o n e to in te rfe re . A t th e v ery
m o st “ he m ig h t be m ade to change som e expression o r o th e r, b u t it
to o k h o u rs o f discussion.” Je a n K an ap a’s son, Jé rô m e , m e t F o u c a u lt
d u rin g th e 1970s, and F o u cau lt knew w ho h e was b u t did n o t allude to
this episode. F u rth e rm o re , J é rô m e K anapa to ld his fa th e r a b o u t m e e t-
in g F o u cau lt, b u t Je a n K anapa nev er m e n tio n e d any c o n n e c tio n o r
any p ast e n c o u n te r w ith th e p h ilo so p h er. As fo r D esan ti, he b u rst
o u t la u g h in g w h en asked a b o u t this: “T h a t can’t be a n y th in g b u t a hoax
by F o u c a u lt.” T h e r e m ig h t be a n o th e r answ er— th a t F o u c a u lt did
w rite fo r La Nouvelle Critique , n o t K an ap a’s articles, b u t ra th e r articles
signed w ith a p seu d o n y m . B ut n o n e o f th e m em b ers o f th e e d ito ria l
b o ard o r p eo p le w h o w orked w ith it closely at th e tim e — w h e th e r
A nnie K rieg el, J e a n -T o u ssa in t D esan ti, F rancis C o h e n , V ic to r L ed u c,
o r G ilb e rte R o d rig u es (w ho was ed ito rial se c re ta ry and K a n a p a ’s co n -

•W ‫ ^ ץ‬W
S T A L I N ’s S H O K M A K E R

s ta n t c o lla b o ra to r)— had any m e m o ry o f seeing F o u cau lt o r h e a rin g


h im m e n tio n e d . N o t o n e could be fo u n d w ho believed it possible th a t
he h ad w o rk ed fo r th e review. M ich e l V erret, a p h ilo so p h y s tu d e n t at
th e E N S in th e class o f 1948 w ho w ro te reg u larly for La Nouvelle Cri-
tique , th o ro u g h ly agreed. I t seem ed u n th in k a b le to h im because, as
he p o in te d o u t, th e use o f p seu d o n y m s was reserved fo r ad m in istra -
tive officials, h ig h -ra n k in g civil servants, o r m em b ers o f th e m ilitary.
H e h im se lf g en erally signed his ow n articles, such as th e o n e p rais-
in g L o u is A rag o n ’s Communistes and d efe n d in g th e G e rm a n -S o v ie t
pact, w ritte n and signed w ith A lexandre M a th e ro n and F ran ço is F u re t.
A n o th e r key C o m m u n is t figure at th e E N S , M a u ric e C aveing, ruled
o u t any n o tio n o f F o u c a u lt’s h aving w ritte n in this m a n n e r for th e
p a rty ’s in tellectu al jo u rn a l. H e added th at, at any rate, to have d o n e
so w o u ld h a rd ly have c o m p o rte d w ith F o u c a u lt’s ow n te m p e ra m e n t.
M ic h e l C ro u z e t, w ho was th e cell secretary, a d m itted th a t he to o knew
n o th in g a b o u t it. T h e r e still rem ain ed th e p erso n to w h o m F o u cau lt
was sp eak in g in th e c o n v ersatio n re p o rte d by M au riac: J e a n -C la u d e
P assero n . B u t he said he had nev er w ritte n for La Nouvelle Critique in
any capacity w h atev er, and he th o u g h t it unlikely th a t F o u cau lt did so.
H e spoke o n ly o f som e b rie f n o tes th a t stu d en ts at th e E co le N o rm a le
m ig h t m ake, d rafts th a t could be useful for articles signed by th e m ain
w rite rs a t th e review . As fo r th e b rie f u n sig n ed texts th a t ap p eared at
this tim e at th e end o f issues o f La Nouvelle Critique , re c o rd in g events
in th e L a tin Q u a rte r o r at th e E cole N o rm a le , P assero n d en ied th a t
F o u c a u lt co u ld have w ritte n any o f th em . A lth u sser categ o rically as-
se rte d th e sam e th in g , and it does seem th a t th e o n e p e rso n w ho w ould
have k n o w n w h at was g o in g o n w ould have b een A lthusser. “ I th in k ,”
he explained, “ th a t F o u cau lt m e a n t to say: we w ere resp o n sib le fo r
‘K a n a p ism .’”
So, w h a t th en ? C lau d e M a u ria c does n o t claim to d ay th a t w h at he
w ro te c o rre sp o n d s to h isto rical reality. H e sim ply states th a t F o u cau lt
did in d eed say th ese w ords in his presence. A nd Je a n -F ra n ç o is S irinelli,
q u e s tio n in g F o u cau lt in 1981 for a stu d y o f th e C o m m u n ist stu d en ts at
th e E c o le N o rm a le after th e w ar, said th a t F o u cau lt to ld h im in passing
th a t th e stu d e n ts w ro te fo r La Nouvelle Critique and seem ed to in clu d e
h im se lf in th e g ro u p . T h e m y ste ry rem ain s unsolved.
O n ly tw o th in g s are certain . O n e is th a t F o u cau lt w ro te an article
a b o u t D esc a rte s fo r Clarté’ th e C o m m u n is t s tu d e n ts ’ jo u rn al, at th e re-
q u e st o f M ich e l V e rre t, its e d ito r-in -c h ie f. B ut this “ s tu n n in g ” article
(a c c o rd in g to A lexandre M a th e ro n , w ho was a m e m b e r o f th e ed ito ria l
c o m m itte e ) was co n sid ered to o difficult “ for th e m ass o f th e s tu d e n ts.”

^
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

It was th e re fo re n o t p u b lish ed , despite M a th e ro n ’s and V e rre t’s favor-


able o p in io n s. T h e o th e r is th a t F o u c a u lt’s m e m b e rsh ip was v e ry “ m a r-
g in al.” T h a t is w h a t he said to S irinelli in th e 1981 interview . It was
also ra th e r sh o rt-liv ed , he added. As fo r this claim , F o u c a u lt’s C o m m u -
n ist so jo u rn was lo n g e r th a n he w ould la te r be w illing to say: th re e
m o n th s, six m o n th s, e ig h te e n m o n th s, d e p e n d in g o n w ho asked. F o u -
cau lt left th e p a rty in 1953. T h e re w ere n u m e ro u s reasons, o f course,
for his d e p a rtu re . F irst o f all, he m u st have felt v ery u n c o m fo rta b le in a
p a rty th a t rejected and co n d e m n e d h o m o sex u ality as a b o u rg eo is vice
and a sig n o f decad en ce. F o u cau lt felt th a t his h o m o sex u ality set h im
ap art. T h e r e w ere o th e rs at th a t tim e w ho w ere excluded fro m th e ir
cells fo r this reason. T h is in te rp re ta tio n is s tre n g th e n e d by a p riv ileg ed
w itness, A lth u sser him self. H is u n h e s ita tin g answ er to th e q u e stio n w h y
F o u c a u lt le ft th e C o m m u n is t p a rty was “because o f his h o m o sex u ality .”
F o u c a u lt gave a n o th e r reaso n also: his distress over th e affair k n o w n
as th e “ D o c to rs ’ P lo t.” In 1952 S talin’s d o cto rs w ere accused o f p lo t-
tin g ag ain st th e life o f th e “ b rillia n t and beloved fa th e r o f th e p e o p le .”
T h e d e n u n c ia tio n reek ed o f an ti-S em itism . B ut all th e m e m b e rs o f th e
P C F , in c lu d in g F o u cau lt, w e n t o u t o f th e ir w ay to give cred en ce to th e
official S oviet version. In an in terv iew w ith D u c io T ro m b a d o ri F o u cau lt
re c o u n te d h o w this s to ry had affected him :

W h e n I left the PCF, it was after the famous plot by Stalin’s doctors
in the w inter o f 1952, and it came about because o f a persistent feel-
ing o f uneasiness. Shortly before Stalin’s death the news was spread
th a t a group o f doctors had m ade an attem pt on his life. A ndré
W u rm ser called a m eeting o f our student cell, to explain how the p lo t
unfolded. Even though we were n o t convinced, we all tried o u r hard-
est to believe w hat we had been told. T h is too was p art o f w hat I
w ould describe as a disastrous attitude, b u t one I shared. T h a t was
my way o f being in the party. Being obliged to stand behind a fact
th a t was the total opposite o f credible was p art o f th at exercise o f
“ego dissolution,” p art o f the search for some way to be “o th e r.”
C onsequently, we gave some credit to w hat W u rm ser said. T h re e
m onths after Stalin’s death, however, we learned th at the d o cto rs’
p lo t had been sheer invention. W h a t happened? W e w rote to W u rm -
ser, asking him , m ore o r less, to come and see us, to explain w hat the
plot was all about. W e never had an answer. You will say it was som e-
thing they did all the tim e, nothing o u t o f the ordinary . . . T h e fact
is th at from th at m om ent on I moved away from the P C F .8

Since S talin died o n M a rc h 5, 1953, th e disaffection d escrib ed by


F o u cau lt can be d ated fro m th e su m m er o r fall o f th a t y ear. J e a n -P a u l

-W w
S t a l i n 's S h o e m a k e r

A ro n to ld an a n ecd o te d e m o n stra tin g th a t F o u cau lt was still a m e m b e r


o f th e P C F in A pril 1953. In A pril th e sam e A n d ré W u rm s e r h eld a
m e e tin g in L ille, this tim e to d en o u n c e P icasso ’s p o rtra it o f S talin o n
th e co v er o f Lettres françaises, th e P C F ’s cu ltu ral jo u rn al, e d ited by
L o u is A ragon. M ic h e l S im o n and F o u cau lt w ere p re se n t at this m e e tin g .
W u rm s e r to ld his listen ers th a t “ this p o rtra it, c o n d e m n e d b y T h o re z , is
se lf-d e stru c tin g , d y in g th ro u g h its e rro r, o r th ro u g h w h at a m o u n ts to
th e sam e th in g , its h a rm fu ln e ss.” A cco rd in g to A ron, F o u cau lt ” b e g a n ”
to be “ sh ak en u p ” b y th a t so rt o f re a so n in g .9 Began! In any case, he was
still g o in g to m e e tin g s at w h ich W u rm s e r was th e speaker. A nd since
he jo in e d in 1950, it is clear th a t he rem ain ed in th e C o m m u n is t p a rty
fo r a b o u t th re e years.
F o u c a u lt to o k even lo n g e r to b re a k aw ay fro m M arxism . M ich e l
S im o n re m e m b e rs h aving h e a rd F o u cau lt say in 1954, b efo re a g ro u p
o f C o m m u n is t stu d en ts, th a t “M arx ism is n o t a philosophy, b u t an ex-
p e rie n c e a lo n g th e p a th lead in g to a p h ilo so p h y .” A nd E tie n n e V erley,
a C o m m u n is t at th e E N S , p a rtic ip a te d w ith F o u cau lt in a m e e tin g o r-
gan ized b y A lth u sser to fo rm a g ro u p resp o n sib le for c re a tin g a m an u al
o f M a rx ist psychology. A cco rd in g to Verley, this m e e tin g to o k place
ju st a fte r th e p u b lic a tio n o f Maladie mentale et personnalité, th a t is, in
th e sp rin g o f 1954.
T h is m u ch we can say: F o u cau lt had left th e P C F and tu rn e d his
back o n M arx ism b efo re he left for S w eden in th e su m m e r o f 1955. B ut
he re m a in e d v e ry close to L ouis A lthusser. “W h e n I left th e C o m m u -
n ist p arty , he did n o t see m e as an ath em a; he did n o t w a n t to b reak off
his re la tio n s w ith m e .” 10 T h is rela tio n sh ip w ith A lth u sser was, no
d o u b t, e x trem ely im p o rta n t for b o th m en. In 1964, w h en L h r le Capital
cam e o u t, A lth u sser paid h o m ag e to F oucault, speaking o f “ th e m asters
te a c h in g us to read th e w orks o f k n o w led g e— for us th ese w ere G a sto n
B ach elard and C availlès, and to d ay th e y are G e o rg e s C a n g u ilh e m and
M ic h e l F o u c a u lt.” A lthusser, “ le T u s ” o r “ le vieil A lt” as F o u cau lt
called h im , had b e e n en th u siastic a b o u t his s tu d e n t’s first books. H e
h im se lf h ad n o t y et p u b lish ed a n y th in g w h en Folie et dé?‘aison and Nats-
sanee de la clinique (The Birth o f the Clinic) ap p eared in 1961 and 1963.
H e w ro te w arm ly to F oucault, speaking o f “ p io n e e rin g w o rk ” and “ lib-
e ra tio n .” B u t this caiman fro m th e R ue d ’U lm w ho was just b e g in n in g
to p u b lish his w o rk was n o t in d ifferen t to F o u c a u lt’s attacks o n M arx -
ism in Les Mots et les choses in 1966. W h e n F o u cau lt spoke iro n ically
a b o u t th e c h ild re n ’s p o o l b e in g tossed by th e o re tic a l sto rm s, ev ery o n e
u n d e rs to o d his referen ce to th e c o u rty a rd o f th e E co le N o r m a le .11
W h e n Reading Capital was p u b lish ed in E n g lish in 1970, it co n tain ed a

W'
~ 57
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

n o te c o n c e rn in g F o u c a u lt— ap p a re n tly a w arn in g : “ H e was o n e o f m y


stu d e n ts, and so m e th in g o f m y research e n te re d in to his, in c lu d in g cer-
ta in o f m y fo rm u la tio n s. B ut in his th o u g h t and his w ritin g , th e v ery
m e a n in g o f te rm s b o rro w e d fro m m e has b e e n tra n sfo rm e d in to so m e -
th in g p ro fo u n d ly d ifferen t fro m th e m e a n in g I a ttrib u te d to th e m .” 12
D e sp ite th e ir th e o re tic a l d isag reem en ts, firm ly and d iscreetly d e m o n -
strated , A lth u sser and F o u cau lt w ould re m a in friends. F o u c a u lt w ould
always have a v e ry h ig h o p in io n o f A lth u sser and th e g re a te st re sp e c t
fo r h im . A nd th e re w ere n o w ords to o h arsh fo r h im to use to b last
th o se w h o rid icu led his p ro fesso r w h en th e w ind ch an g ed and M arx ism
w e n t o u t o f style.

I f F o u c a u lt could say th a t h e had b e e n a “N ie tz sc h e a n C o m m u n is t,”


it is because he was still w ith in th e th e o re tic a l space defin ed b y p h e -
n o m e n o lo g y and M arx ism w h en he discovered th e g re a t c o n te m p o ra ry
w rite rs w h o w ould fascinate him , w ith w h o m h e w ould identify, w h o m
he w ould q u o te at ev ery o p p o rtu n ity : G eo rg es B ataille and M a u ric e
B lan ch o t. T h a n k s to th ese tw o w riters he did in fact b re a k th e ties still
h o ld in g h im inside th e established space o f p h ilo so p h y and p o litic s—
d esp ite th e fact th a t th e discovery o f th ese a u th o rs in this p e rio d was
th ro u g h S artre, w hose Situations 1 in 1948 had d ev o ted lo n g c o m m e n -
taries to th em . “W e cam e to B ataille and B lan ch o t through S artre, and
we read th e m against S a rtre ,” Jacq u es D e rrid a explains. In any event,
as F o u c a u lt w ould fre q u e n tly re m a rk later, th e y w ould p ro v id e th e real
access to “ N ie tz sc h e ism .” H e also discovered R ené C h a r and th e w o rk
o f S am uel B eckett. In 1953 En attendant Godot was playing, “ a b re a th -
ta k in g sp ectacle.” 13
T h u s b eg an th e p e rio d o f F o u c a u lt’s fascin atio n w ith lite ra tu re ,
w hich w ould last u n til th e end o f th e 1960s, w h en it gave w ay to a m o re
p o litical p ersp ectiv e. F o u cau lt once d escrib ed th e 1950s to P aul V eyne:
“A t th a t tim e, I d re a m t o f b ein g B lan ch o t,” and said he had b e e n a
p assio n ate re a d e r o f B la n c h o t’s colum ns, p u b lish ed reg u la rly in th e
Nouvelle Revue française (N RF) sta rtin g in J a n u a ry 1953. In O c to b e r
1953 B lan c h o t w ro te a lo n g article o n B ec k ett’s Llnnommable, ana-
lyzin g th e d isso lu tio n o f th e “ I ” and o f th e a u th o r in th a t te x t.14 I t
was p e rh a p s th ro u g h B lan ch o t th a t F o u cau lt discovered Ulnnommahle ,
w h ich h e la te r fre q u e n tly q u o ted , as in his in au g u ral le ctu re at th e C o l-
lège de F ran ce, th o u g h w ith o u t a ttrib u tio n to th e a u th o r. In 1953
B lan ch o t also w ro te a preface to the tra n sla tio n o f K arl Ja sp e rs ’ Strind-
berg and Van Gogh. F o u cau lt had lo n g b e e n an a tte n tiv e re a d e r o f

W■ 58 'W
S t a l i n ’s S h o e m a k e r

Jasp ers and o fte n m e n tio n e d Ja sp e rs’ Psychologie generate in his first ar-
tid e s . In Strindberg and Van Gogh, Jasp ers b ro ad ly o u tlin ed a h isto ry o f
th e fo rm s o f m adness: “ It is te m p tin g to speak o f a specific affinity b e-
tw e e n h y steria and th e s p irit p rev ailin g before th e e ig h te e n th cen tu ry ,
an affinity th a t w ould exist to d a y b etw een sch iz o p h ren ia and th e sp irit
o f o u r tim e s.” 15 In his preface, titled “ L a Folie p ar excellence,” B lan-
c h o t w ro te: “ W h a t science explains causally is n o t u n d e rsto o d fo r all
th a t. U n d e rs ta n d in g seeks w h at eludes it; it m oves p o w erfu lly and co n -
sta n tly fo rw ard to w ard th e m o m e n t w h en u n d e rsta n d in g is n o lo n g e r
possible, w h e n th e fact, in its ab so lu tely co n crete reality, b eco m es th e
o b sc u re and th e im p e n e tra b le .” 16 B lan ch o t is u n q u e stio n a b ly o n e o f
th e fu n d a m e n ta l so u rces fo r an u n d e rsta n d in g o f F o u c a u lt’s w ork in
th ese years.
As fo r C h a r ’s p o em s, in n u m e ra b le traces m ay be fo u n d in F o u c a u lt’s
w ritin g s, fro m th e v e ry first to th e last: as early as his in tro d u c tio n to
B in sw an g er’s tex t in 1953; th e n in th e preface to Folie et déraison in
1961. H e re F o u c a u lt declared: “T h e o n ly rule and m e th o d I have k ep t
is o n e c o n ta in e d in a tex t by C h ar, w here th e m o st u rg e n t and re-
stra in e d d e fin itio n o f tru th m ay also be read: ‘I shall take fro m th in g s
th e illu sio n th e y p ro d u c e to preserve them selves fro m us and leave
th e m th e p a rt th e y co n ced e to us.’” 17 T h e preface also ends w ith a
q u o ta tio n fro m C h a r, th o u g h w ith o u t a ttrib u tio n : “ P a th e tic c o m p a n -
ions w h o scarcely m u rm u r, go w ith y o u r lig h t ex tin g u ish ed and re tu rn
th e jew els. A new m y ste ry sings in y o u r bones. D ev elo p y o u r leg iti-
m ate stra n g e n e ss.” 18 R en é C h a r was q u o te d again in 1984 o n th e cover
o f F o u c a u lt’s last books, UUsage des plaisirs and he Souci de soi ( The Care
o f the Self). P au l V eyne said th a t F o u cau lt knew som e o f C h a r’s poem s
by h e a rt at th e b e g in n in g o f th e 1950s and was always q u o tin g “ L e R e-
q u in e t la M o u e tte .” A few years later, in Sw eden, F o u cau lt w ould ask
v isitin g stu d e n ts and frien d s to recite poem s by C h a r to gain adm ission
to his prem ises.
O ddly, h ow ever, F o u cau lt, w ho knew o r in te rse c te d w ith so m an y
p e o p le later, n ev er m e t his idols. B ataille died sh o rtly a fte r F o u c a u lt’s
r e tu rn to F ran ce. A nd he n ev er had any c o n n e c tio n w ith e ith e r B lan ch o t
o r C h a r. In his Michel Foucault tel que je Vimagine, p u b lish ed after th e
p h ilo s o p h e r’s d eath , B lan ch o t said th a t th e y spoke to g e th e r o n ly once.
“ I n ev er h ad any p erso n al re la tio n sh ip w ith M ich el F oucault. I n ever
m e t him , except o n ce in th e co u rty ard o f th e S o rb o n n e d u rin g th e
events o f M a y 1968, p erh ap s in J u n e o r J u ly (alth o u g h p eo p le tell m e
he w asn’t th e re ), w here I said a few w ords to him , b u t he was u n aw are

* v 3 9 ‫׳‬w
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

o f w ho was sp eak in g to h im .” 19 B lan ch o t review ed Histoire de la folie in


th e N R F w h e n it was p u b lish ed and, tw o years later, Raymond Roussel.
F o u c a u lt analyzed B la n c h o t’s w o rk in a lo n g a rticle in 1966, “ L a P e n -
sée du d e h o rs.” T h e ir o n ly dialogue, th e n , o c c u rre d th ro u g h articles
and books. “W e m issed each o th e r,” said B la n c h o t.20 B ut, d eep dow n,
was th a t p e rh a p s w h a t th e y w anted?
N o r did F o u cau lt ev er m e e t R ené C h a r. H e n e v e r even te le p h o n e d
him , said P aul V eyne, w ho was close to b o th . V eyne and F o u cau lt, o n e
day in 1980, “ p lo tte d ” to g e t C h a r in to th e C o llèg e de F ran ce. T h e
p lo t did n o t go v e ry far, because th e y alm o st im m e d ia te ly realized th a t
th e p o e t h ad passed th e age o f re tire m e n t. R en é C h a r, fo r his p art, h ad
g re a t re sp e c t fo r th e p h ilo so p h e r and ad m ired his Histoire de la folie. H e
even d ed icated o n e o f his last poem s “ to M ich e l F o u c a u lt” w h e n th e
la tte r died. B u t this p o em , “ D e m i-jo u r en C re u s e ,” h ad n o t b e e n w rit-
te n fo r F o u cau lt. I t is d ated J u n e 2 1, 1984, fo u r days b e fo re his d eath .
C h a r sim ply offered th e o rig in al m a n u sc rip t to V eyne, w h o lived close
by in th e c o u n try sid e in th e so u th o f F ran ce. I t was a p re s e n t to co n so le
h im fo r his p ain o n th e d e a th o f his frien d . B u t w h e n P aul V eyne read:

A pair o f foxes overturns the snow


T ram pling the edge o f th eir nuptial earth;
At n ight harsh love reveals a b itte r thirst
O n every side in drops o f blood.

he was m oved to tears and to ld th e po et: “W e used to call F o u c a u lt ‘le


F u c h s.’” C h a r th e n added th e d ed icatio n , and th e p o e m was read at
F o u c a u lt’s fu n eral in V a n d e u v re -d u -P o ito u . T h e r e was n o close co n -
n e c tio n b etw een C h a r and F o u cau lt o th e r th a n this p o s tm o rte m co in -
cidence, c o n tra ry to alread y w e ll-e n tre n c h e d leg en d . “I w ould find it
p leasan t to believe [in such a c o n n e c tio n ],” P aul V eyne says, in a w o rk
n o w in p re p a ra tio n o n R ené C h a r. B ut “ it is o n ly fair to c u t it s h o rt.” 21

*v 6 0 *v
6
VW

D iscords o f L o ve

n th e early 1950s th e U n iv e rsity o f L ille had o n ly th re e o r fo u r p h i-


lo so p h y professors. F re n c h un iv ersities w ere n o t y e t staffed as th e y
w ould be fifteen o r tw e n ty years later. B ut since n o n e o f th ese
th re e h ad a taste fo r p sy ch o lo g y o r w an ted to teach it, R ay m o n d P o lin ,
O liv ier L a co m b e, and Y von Belaval d ecided to re c ru it so m eo n e w ho
w o u ld take it on, and take it o ff th e ir backs. T h e y specified th e ir ideal
can d id ate: a p h ilo so p h e r in te re ste d in p sy ch o lo g y ra th e r th a n a clinical
p sy ch o lo g ist. O n e day in P aris P o lin m e n tio n e d th e p ro b le m to o n e o f
his colleagues, Ju les V u illem in , w h o suggested F oucault. V u illem in ,
w h o w ould play an im p o rta n t ro le in F o u c a u lt’s career, was a frie n d o f
L o u is A lth u sse r’s and ta u g h t a t th e R ue d ’U lm , w h ere he had m e t
F o u cau lt. H e also gave courses a t th e o th e r école normale supérieure for
boys, a t S a in t-C lo u d , w h ere he had m e t P o lin , w ho ta u g h t th e re as
w ell. P o lin , alread y favorably disposed, co n ta c te d F o u c a u lt and m e t
w ith him . W h e n F o u c a u lt explained th a t he was p re p a rin g a thesis o n
“ th e p h ilo so p h y o f p sy ch o lo g y ,” th e p ro fesso r was d elig h ted .
F o u c a u lt was th e re fo re ap p o in te d an assistant in p sy ch o lo g y a t th e
U n iv e rsity o f L ille and assum ed th e p o st in O c to b e r 1952. B ut he n ever
lived in th e city. L ike th e full professors, he scheduled all his classes o n
tw o o r th re e days and m ad e th e trip each w eek, stay in g in a little h o tel
n e a r th e tra in sta tio n .
T h e u n iv e rsity o ccu p ied a h u g e gray sto n e b u ild in g in th e c e n te r
o f th e city, o n R ue A u g u ste-A n g elier, b eh in d th e Palais des Beaux-
A rts. T h e facade was d e c o ra te d w ith a p e d im e n t and th e e n tra n c e hall
o p e n e d o n to tw o row s o f colum ns. I t was an im posing, p o m p o u s, and
sin iste r place. A nd th e re F o u c a u lt ta u g h t p sy ch o lo g y and its history.
H e explained th e th e o rie s, covered all th e au th o rs, discussed p sy ch o -
p a th o lo g y as well as G e s ta lt th e o ry and R o rsch ach tests. H is stu d e n ts

‫׳‬w 6 1 *v
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

w ere so m ew h at d isco n c erted w h e n he le c tu re d o n a fairy tale b y w ay o f


in tro d u c tio n to psychoanalysis. B ut n ex t he le c tu re d o n F r e u d at g re a t
le n g th and re c o m m e n d e d th a t his au d ien ce read Five Psychoanalyses.
T h e n he d ev o ted equal tim e to “ existential p sy c h ia try ” and th e w o rk
o f K u h n and B insw anger. H e co n clu d ed th e y ear by talk in g a b o u t th e
S oviet p h y sio lo g ists w o rk in g in th e P avlovian tra d itio n . “W h a t I h e a rd
was v ery clearly M a rx ist in o rie n ta tio n ,” says G illes D eleu ze, w h o
a tte n d e d o n e o f F o u c a u lt’s courses e n tire ly b y chance. D e le u z e was
te a c h in g a t th e lycée in A m iens and h ad com e to visit his frie n d J e a n -
P ie rre B a m b e rg e r in Lille; it was B a m b e rg e r w h o to o k h im to h e a r
F o u cau lt. T h a t was th e ir first m eetin g : B a m b e rg e r in v ited th e m b o th
to d in n e r a t his h o m e. T h e even in g was n o t a h u g e success— D e le u z e
and F o u c a u lt did n o t click. A nd it w ould be several years b e fo re th e ir
p ath s crossed again.
F o u c a u lt h ad a free h a n d in teaching. P o lin m e re ly asked h im at th e
b e g in n in g o f th e y ear w h a t subjects he in te n d e d to cover and th e n al-
low ed h im full scope to see his p ro g ra m th ro u g h . T h is w o rk ed best.
R elatio n s w ere a p p a re n tly so m ew h at stra in e d b e tw e e n th e se c tio n p ro -
fessors and th e ir le c tu re r in psychology. N o n e th e le ss, F o u c a u lt’s te a c h -
in g was effective e n o u g h to e a rn h im th e official a p p re c ia tio n o f th e
d ean in A pril 1954: “Y oung, ex trem ely d y n am ic le c tu re r. O rg a n iz e d
th e te a c h in g o f scientific psy ch o lo g y in a ta le n te d m a n n e r. T ru ly d e-
serves p ro m o tio n .” H e was in d eed y o u n g fo r a le c tu re r— o n ly tw e n ty -
six w h e n h e was ap p o in ted , and he w ould be o n ly tw e n ty -n in e w h e n h e
left to go to Sw eden.
In L ille F o u cau lt red isco v ered several frien d s fro m his years at th e
R ue d ’U lm . M ic h e l S im on, a p h ilo so p h e r o f th e class o f 1947, h ad an
a p p o in tm e n t a t th e L ycée F aid h erb e in Lille; Je a n -P a u l A ro n ta u g h t at
th e T o u rc o in g lycée. In 1954 M arcel N eveux, w ho h ad b een a khâgne
s tu d e n t w ith F o u cau lt at th e L ycée H e n ri-IV , also g o t a job a t th e
L ycée F aid h erb e. T h e s e y o u n g sters developed a h a b it o f h av in g lu n c h
to g e th e r, w h e n th e y discussed politics at le n g th — N ev eu x and S im o n
w ere m em b ers o f th e C o m m u n is t p a rty — b u t also lite ra tu re . S im o n
liked S ten d h al; F o u cau lt and A ro n p re fe rre d Balzac. All th re e re m e m -
h e r F o u c a u lt lo u d ly d efen d in g a n o th e r a u th o r, Jacq u es C h a rd o n n e .
“ Claire is a m a ste rp ie c e ,” he to ld his frien d s again and again.
A t th e end o f this so jo u rn in Lille, fro m O c to b e r 1952 to J u n e 1955,
F o u cau lt b eg an to talk a lo t a b o u t N ie tz sc h e and th e b o o k he w an ted to
devote to his new ph ilo so p h ical passion. B ut b efo re b e in g s m itte n by
N ietzsch e, his in terests cen tered essentially o n psychology.

‫׳‬w ()2 ‫׳‬w


D i s c o r d s of L o v e

F o u cau lt th e psychologist? F o u cau lt th e p h ilo so p h e r o f psychology?


T h e list he h an d ed in as p ro o f o f w h at he had w orked o n d u rin g th e
1 9 5 2 -5 3 school y e a r— w o rk in p rogress, w ork accom plished, and w o rk
p ro je c te d — show s his p ersp ectiv e clearly. T h e follow ing list, in F o u -
c a u lt’s h an d , is in th e archives at th e U n iv e rsity o f Lille:
WORK FOR THE YEAR 5 2 -5 3 :
1. Maladie mentale et personnalité. W ork com pleted (in press, [Presses
U niversitaires Françaises]).
2. “ E lem ents p o u r une histoire de la psychologic,” Article for new edi-
tio n o f Histoire de la philosophie by A. W eber. C om pleted. In press.
3. Psychiatrie et analyse existentielle (secondary thesis). W ork com pleted
(in press, Desclée).
4. T ran slatio n o f Gestaltk?‘eis [Cycle o f structure] by von W eizsácker.
F or Ju ly publication.
5. In tro d u ctio n to Traum und Existenz [Binswanger]. Study th at should
com e o u t in Ju ly at Desclée.

T h e tw o u n d a te d sheets c o n ta in in g this list ap p ear to have b e e n


w ritte n at th e end o f th e 1 9 5 2 -5 3 school year, th a t is, in M ay o r J u n e
1953, or, at th e latest, w h en school o p en ed in th e fall, th a t is, S ep tem -
h e r o r O c to b e r o f th e sam e year. T h e p u b lic a tio n dates in d icated ,
h ow ever, w ere n o t th e actual ones: Maladie mentale et personnalité was
p u b lish e d in 1954, as was B insw anger’s Le rêve et Vexistence w ith F o u -
c a u lt’s “ In tro d u c tio n .” B ut th e tra n sla tio n o f von W eizsack er’s Ge-
staltkreis, title d Cycle de la structure, and th e article o n th e h isto ry o f
p sy ch o lo g y did n o t com e o u t u n til 1957. T h e th ird item o n th e list was
n ev er p u b lish ed , and n o o n e has ever heard o f this “ se c o n d a ry th esis,”
d esp ite F o u c a u lt’s n o ta tio n th a t it was “ in p ress.” In his in tro d u c tio n to
B in sw an g er F o u cau lt in d eed m e n tio n e d “ a n o th e r w o rk ” th a t w ould
“ try to situ ate existential analysis w ith in th e d e v elo p m en t o f c o n te m -
p o ra ry re fle c tio n o n m e n ,” 1 b u t this “ seq u el” nev er saw th e lig h t o f
day. M o re o v e r, he did n o t d efend his seco n d ary thesis u n til 1961, w h en
he h ad co m p le te d th e p rin c ip al thesis, Folie et déraison; and it focused
n o t o n p sy ch o lo g y and psychiatry, b u t o n K a n t’s Anthropology. C learly,
o n e m u st take this list w ith several grains o f salt. F o u cau lt m ay have
c o u n te d th e in tro d u c tio n to B insw anger tw ice to le n g th e n th e list ar-
tificially, and th is tex t is in d eed a g en eral stu d y o n th e th e m e “ psychia-
tr y and ex isten tial analysis,” w ritte n “ in th e m arg in s o f Dream and
Existence. ” 2
E v e n m in u s o n e o f th e w orks listed at L ille as co m p leted , th e n u m -
b e r o f texts w ritte n in such a s h o rt tim e is still im pressive and d e m o n ­
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

strates F o u c a u lt’s e n o rm o u s capacity fo r w ork. H e read, he w ro te, he


ta u g h t. In this re sp e c t he w ould change little.
M o re o v e r, o th e r ideas fo r books, besides th e o ne fo r th e w o rk o n
N ie tz sc h e , w ould so o n arise. A nd w h en he le ft fo r S w eden h e to o k
w ith h im tw o o th e r pro jects. Ja cq u elin e V erdeaux had ta k e n th e y o u n g
p h ilo so p h e r to visit C o le tte D u h am el, w ho w ork ed at th e T a b le R o n d e
press, and D u h a m e l co m m issio n ed h im — th e m ? — to d o tw o sm all
p ro jects. O n e was su p p o sed to focus o n th e h isto ry o f d e ath , th e o th e r
o n th e h isto ry o f m adness.

‫׳׳‬W

A t t h e e n d o f J uly 1951, a t th e A bbaye de R o y au m o n t, c o n v e rte d


several years b efo re in to a cu ltu ral cen ter, a te n -d a y m usical festival
was held. O n e ev en in g a y o u n g com poser, P ie rre B oulez, was a m o n g
th e p a rtic ip a n ts. W h e n he sat dow n at th e p ian o and played a M o z a rt
sonata, th e au d ien ce was m u ch im pressed. B oulez was alread y h ig h ly
re g a rd e d in m usical circles in P aris. F o u cau lt and Je a n -P a u l A ro n w ere
p re se n t, h av in g com e w ith L o u is A lth u sser and several stu d e n ts fro m
th e E c o le N o rm a le . O n c e th e y had passed th e ir w ritte n exam s, A l-
th u sse r was in th e h a b it o f tak in g his stu d e n ts to this ideal sp o t fo r
w ork in g , to give th e m th e b est possible co n d itio n s in w hich to p re p a re
th e oral fo r th e ir agrégation. F o u cau lt was th e re in th e su m m e r o f 1951,
p re p a rin g his final exam s for th e second tim e. A ro n had also flunked,
and a lth o u g h he was n o t en ro lled at th e E N S , he was a d m itte d to th e
g ro u p because o f his frie n d sh ip w ith F oucault. H e tells o f th is first
m e e tin g b e tw e e n B oulez and F o u cau lt in Les Mode?~nes:

T h e re was a young m an with a lot o f people around him w ho was


discussing literature in a fierce tone o f voice. H e spoke particularly o f
G ide, who had died the preceding year, and insulted him . I asked
who this bad-tem pered young m an was— sharp as a knife, sure as a
prophet, and bad-m annered to boot. I was told his nam e was Boulez
and th at he was famous in his own milieu; that, still in the cradle,
he had published a Livre pour quatuor and two piano sonatas, th at
[Olivier] M essiaen said he was the best o f the best. It is true th at in
the explosion o f the Paris school that, after 1945, claimed succession
from V ienna and drew off tow ard France the lifeblood o f E uropean
music, [Karlheinz] Stockhausen and [Iannis] Xenakis am ong others,
Boulez, at tw enty-seven, had good reason to feel he was am ong the
chosen . . . As is natural in a period o f questioning, he invoked new
guides: C h a r and M allarm é. Soon he dedicated two m ajor scores to

H 6 4 ‫־‬VV
D i s c o r d s of L o v e

them : in 1955 Le Marteau sans ??mitre‫ ר‬on an old poem by C har; and in
i960 Pli selon pli, on M allarm é’s famous poem . T h is contact had
m ajor repercussions on Foucault’s itinerary. H e always had a soft spot
for music. H e got at it through words. Boulez was his m ediator be-
fore he becam e friends with Jean Barraqué, who died prem aturely,
and w ith M ichel Fano, G ilb ert Amy, m em bers o f Boulez’s band,
w hich later fell apart because o f the vicissitudes o f the musical w orld.3

In fact A ro n co n sid e rab ly exaggerates B oulez’s role in F o u c a u lt’s fo r-


m a tio n ; no d o u b t his agenda, in sp ired m o re by ra n c o r th a n b y c o n c e rn
fo r th e tru th , re q u ire d it. B oulez was n o t co n n ected w ith F o u cau lt u n til
th e en d o f th e 1970s, alm o st th irty years later, and even th e n it was
n e v e r a close rela tio n sh ip . F o u cau lt was b eh in d B o ulez’s e lectio n to th e
C o llèg e de F ran ce in 1975, b u t w h en F o u cau lt called h im w ith this p ro -
posal th e y h ad n o t seen each o th e r for tw e n ty years. A nd it was L e R oy
L a d u rie w h o w ro te th e official re p o rt for his candidacy. In 1978 B oulez
w o u ld o rg an ize a co llo q u iu m in w hich B arthes, D eleu ze, and F o u c a u lt
p a rtic ip a te d . A nd in 1983 B oulez and F o u cau lt w ould p u b lish a dia-
lo g u e o n m u sic in th e B ea u b o u rg m u seu m review .4 B u t in th e early
1950s th e y ra re ly saw each o th e r. A ny p ictu re o f an old frie n d sh ip
b e tw e e n B oulez and F o u cau lt is p u re and sim ple fiction, even if it
c o n s ta n tly tu rn s u p everyw here. M o reo v er, B oulez has n ev er d o n e
a n y th in g to p ro m o te this idea: “W e saw each o th e r, we in te rse c te d ,
ra th e r th a n m e t,” he says today, speaking o f th a t p erio d . H e re m e m -
b ers v e ry well th e scene at R o y a u m o n t th a t Je a n -P a u l A ro n re c o u n ts—
b u t it was alm o st th e o n ly such m eetin g . H e scarcely saw F o u cau lt
again, ex cep t p erh ap s th ro u g h J e a n B arraqué, and th e n rarely, fleet-
ingly. If he read Le Reve et Vexistence w h en it cam e o u t, it was because
B a rra q u é le n t h im his copy. T h e co m p o ser w ho was o f such e n o rm o u s
im p o rta n c e fo r F o u cau lt was n o t B oulez, b u t B arraqu é, a n o th e r o f
M e ssiaen ’s pupils, and o n e o fte n p re se n te d as B oulez’s rival early in his
career.
J e a n B arraq u é was b o rn in 1928. W h e n he was tw e n ty he b eg an to
a tte n d M e ssia e n ’s course o n m usical analysis at th e P aris C o n serv ato ry .
F ro m 1951 to 1954 he was tra in e d at th e G ro u p e de R ech erch e su r la
M u siq u e C o n te m p o ra in e alongside B oulez and Y vette G rim au x . In
195 2 he co m p le te d his P ia n o S onata, and a p p a re n tly d u rin g this year
he also m e t F o u cau lt. I t seem s th a t at first th e y w ere friends; th e n , little
by little, th e frie n d sh ip d eveloped in to a tem p estu o u s and passionate
re la tio n sh ip b e tw e e n lovers.
F ro m 1952 to 1955 a sm all circle fo rm ed aro u n d th e m th a t in clu d ed

65 -W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

M ic h e l F an o and his wife. F o u cau lt w ould lo o k fo r th e m a fte r M e s-


siaen ’s class— a litu rg ical ev en t for th ese y o u n g m u sician s— and th e y
w ould go o u t fo r lu n ch o r d in n e r to g e th e r. T h e ir discussions w ere
rarely o n serio u s subjects. T h e y w ere all jokes, w itticism s, la u g h te r,
gam es. “ O u r life was p e rm a n e n t th e a te r,‫ ״‬acco rd in g to M ich e l F ano,
w ho also recalls th a t F o u cau lt was n o t p a rtic u la rly a ttra c te d b y this
n ew m usic th e y em b o d ied . H e p re fe rre d Bach. Jac q u e lin e V erdeaux,
w ith w h o m F o u c a u lt reg u larly a tte n d e d co n certs, also re m e m b e rs th is
p re fe re n c e . B u t th e re la tio n sh p b etw een th e y o u n g m u sician and th e
y o u n g p h ilo so p h e r w ould m ake a deep im p ressio n o n th e ir w ork. T h e y
seem ed to have a sim ilar view o f th e w orld. M usic, for B arraq u é, “is
tragedy, p ath o s, d eath . I t is th e w hole gam e, th e tre m b lin g to th e p o in t
o f suicide. I f m usic is n o t th a t, if it does n o t overtake and pass th e
lim its, it is n o th in g .5‫ ״‬F o u cau lt gave B arraq u é H e rm a n n B ro c h ’s The
Death o f Virgil to read. T h e F re n c h tra n sla tio n was p u b lish ed a t th e be-
g in n in g o f 1955, and B arraq u é w ro te several c o m p o sitio n s in sp ired by
this book: Le Temps restitue', a first v ersio n o f w h ich was co m p le te d in
1957; th e n Discours, in 1961, and Chant après chant in 1966. S ubse-
q u e n tly h e b eg an w o rk o n a lyric piece, UHomme couché, still o n th e m e s
b y B roch, w hich was in te rru p te d by his d eath. F o u cau lt was also th e
o n e w h o gave h im th e poem s b y N ie tz sc h e th a t he in se rte d in Séquence
in 1955:

You stop frozen


You look behind, how long.
Are you m ad then
T o flee the w orld . . . before winter?
T h e w orld, an open door
T o a thousand silent, cold deserts.
O ne who has already lost
W h a t I lost stops now here.
All pale you stop,
D oom ed to w ander in m idw inter
Like the smoke in never-ending search of colder skies . . .

T h e m usic he was disco v erin g th ro u g h B arraq u é w ould also d eep ly


influ en ce F o u cau lt. In an in terv iew p u b lish ed in Ethos in 1983, he said:
“I had a frie n d w ho was a co m p o ser and w ho is dead now . T h r o u g h
him I knew all th e g e n e ra tio n o f B oulez. It has b e e n a v ery im p o rta n t
experience for m e.6‫ ״‬W h e n he w rote “ à p ro p o s de B o u lez‫ ״‬in 1982 to
celeb rate th e te n th an n iv ersary o f th e Fall Festival o f P aris, F o u c a u lt

**‫ ׳‬v* 66
D iscords of L ove

spoke o f B arraq u é in ev ery line, even th o u g h he was n ev er n am ed . F o r


exam ple, th e e n tire b e g in n in g o f th e article evokes th e figure o f B ar-
raqué, n o t th a t o f B oulez as o n e m ig h t think:

You ask me w hat it was like to have been privileged by a friendship to


see a bit of w hat was going on in m usic alm ost th irty years ago now? I
was th ere only as a passerby bound by affection, a certain turm oil,
curiosity, the strange feeling o f being present at som ething I felt al-
m ost incapable o f being contem porary with . . . I am no m ore able to
talk about m usic now than then. I know only that because I could
see— and usually th ro u g h som eone else’s m ediation— w hat was hap-
p ening w ith Boulez, I was able to feel m yself a foreigner in the world
o f th o u g h t in w hich I had been trained, to w hich I belonged, and
w hich, for me, as for m any others, was still the obvious one . . . In a
period w hen we were being taught to privilege sense, lived experi-
ence, the carnal, orig in atin g experience, subjective contents, or social
significations, en co u n terin g Boulez and m usic was to see the tw en-
tieth cen tu ry from an unfam iliar angle: that o f a long battle about the
form al. It was to recognize how in Russia, in G erm any, in A ustria, in
C en tral E urope, w ork on form al structures through music, painting,
architecture, philosophy, linguistics, and m ythology had flown in the
face o f old problem s and overturned ways o f thinking.7

M u sic, th e n , b reak in g his a d h e re n c e to th e cu ltu ral values in w hich


he h ad u n til th e n b e e n co m fo rtab le, trig g e re d for F o u cau lt a m o re
g en eral d ista n c in g th a t w ould p e rm it his escape fro m th e in flu en ce o f
p h e n o m e n o lo g y and M arxism . T h is was w h at he m e a n t w h en he re-
plied to P ao lo C a ru so in 1967 th a t m usic had played as im p o rta n t a
ro le fo r h im as th e re a d in g o f N ie tz sc h e . A nd he m e n tio n e d o n th a t
occasion, to fill in a bit, th a t he had given N ie tz s c h e ’s p o em s to J e a n
B arraq u é, “ o n e o f th e m o st b rillia n t and least u n d e rsto o d m usicians o f
th e c u rre n t g e n e ra tio n .” 8
D u rin g th e tw o o r th re e years th a t his rela tio n sh ip w ith B arraq u é
lasted, F o u c a u lt was im m ersed in this so m ew h at exalted clim ate o f
a rtistic in n o v a tio n , in this stim u la tin g atm o sp h e re o f q u e stio n in g in
w hich p e rso n a litie s b eg an to assert them selves and w orks b eg an to take
shape. B ut his ties w ith B arraq u é dissolved ra th e r quickly a fte r his de-
p a rtu re fo r S w eden. F o u c a u lt was still d eep ly in love. F ie w ro te alm o st
e v ery day to th e m usician, w h o had stayed b e h in d in F rance. T h e co r-
re sp o n d e n c e , p reserv ed in th e B arraq u é archives and still u n p u b lish ed ,
show s h o w v io le n t his e m o tio n s w ere. H is le tters are w ritte n in an
im p assio n ed style and are su p erb exercises in th e lite ra tu re o f love.

*V 67
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

T h e first le tte rs p ro c la im his desire n o t to stay aw ay fro m P aris. O n


A u g u st 29, 1955, th re e days a fte r his arrival in U ppsala; he w ro te th a t
his o n ly h o p e was to g e t far e n o u g h alo n g o n his thesis th a t h e could
r e tu r n to F ran ce. W e have o n ly o ne life, he said in substance, and p e r-
haps it is th e sam e one. W e have tw ice as little rig h t to lose it, tw ice as
little r ig h t to w aste it. A few days later h e w ro te again to B a rra q u é to
tell h im th a t, if h e w an ted , h e could r e tu rn to F ran ce fo r g o o d in M ay.
In D e c e m b e r 1955 and J a n u a ry 1956 F o u c a u lt sp e n t his w in te r vaca-
tio n in F ran ce. P a rt o f th e tim e was sp e n t w ith his p a re n ts in P o itie rs,
and th e n h e re tu rn e d to P aris. B u t w h en h e saw B arraq u é again, th in g s
b eg a n to go ra th e r badly. A few w eeks later, a fte r Séquence was p e r-
fo rm e d a t th e P e tit M a rig n y o n M a rc h 10 and 11, 1956— a p e rfo r-
m an ce th a t F o u c a u lt was v ery u p se t a b o u t m issing— B arraq u é w ro te to
h im b re a k in g off th e ir relatio n sh ip : “I w a n t n o th in g to do w ith D e -
c e m b e r any m o re ; I d o n ’t w a n t to be th e a c to r o r sp e c ta to r o f th is d e-
b asem en t. I have com e o u t o f th a t v e rtig o o f m ad n ess.” A nd in re p ly to
a le tte r h e h ad w ritte n , B arraq u é received this advice fro m a frien d :
“You are s e ttin g false p ro b le m s for yourself, or, to be m o re precise,
p ro b le m s th a t do n o t c o n c e rn you. T h e y are F o u c a u lt’s p ro b le m s, n o t
yours. H e is a p h ilo so p h er; you are a m usician. D o n ’t le t th a t m a n d e-
stro y you a fte r h aving d estro y ed him self. I d o n ’t th in k h e is likely to
d e stro y you, because y o u are s tro n g .”
In M a y 1956 F o u c a u lt m ad e o n e last a tte m p t. H e said he was re tu rn -
in g to F ran ce fo r th e v acatio n and p ro p o se d to B arraq u é th a t th e y
sp en d th e su m m e r to g e th e r as th e y had vow ed to do. T h e answ er was
no. N o n e th e le s s, B arraq u é n ev er fo rg o t F o u cau lt. O n e o f th e ra re
p h o to s o f th e m u sician show s h im te n years later, in 1966, in his P aris
a p a rtm e n t. O n th e shelves o f his bookcase th e re is a n ew sp ap er sp read
o u t w ith a large p h o to o f F o u cau lt, p u b lish ed o n th e o ccasio n o f a re -
view o f Les Mots et les choses. N o d o u b t he re ta in e d m an y m e m o rie s o f
th in g s his fo rm e r frie n d had said. I t is im possible n o t to h e a r F o u c a u lt’s
d ista n t voice in B a rra q u é ’s sta te m e n t in an in terv iew in 1969: “ O n c e
so m e o n e to ld m e so m e th in g G e n e t said: ‘G e n iu s is rig o r in d e sp a ir.’” 9

/W

By t h e m id d l e of 1 955? w h en he p re p a re d to leave F ran ce fo r several


years, F o u c a u lt h ad w ritte n tw o lo n g articles for collective volum es and
an “In tro d u c tio n ” to Le Reve et Pexistence, and he had p u b lish ed his first
book: Maladie mentale etpersonnalité. A ra th e r m o d e st w ork, it ap p eared
in 1954 m th e series In itia tio n P h ilo so p h iq u e, ed ited by J e a n L acro ix
a t P resses U n i versi taires de F rance. In fact it was L o u is A lthusser,

^ 6 8 ■vv
D i s c o r d s of L o v e

w h o h ad a c o n n e c tio n w ith th e C a th o lic L acroix, w ho co m m issio n ed


it. In k e e p in g w ith th e series fo rm at, th e b o o k was n o m o re th a n
114 pages long.
“W e w an ted to d e m o n s tra te ,” F o u c a u lt w ro te at th e b eg in n in g ,
“ th a t m e n ta l p a th o lo g y re q u ire s d ifferen t analytical m e th o d s fro m o r-
ganic p a th o lo g y and th a t it is th ro u g h a device o f lan g u ag e th a t th e
sam e sense can be im p u te d to ‘ills o f th e b o d y ’ and to ‘ills o f th e
s p irit.’” 10 T h is s ta te m e n t m u st be ta k e n as critic iz in g th e th e o rie s o f
K u rt G o ld ste in , w h o a t th a t tim e was th e in sp ira tio n fo r b o th M a u ric e
M e rle a u -P o n ty and G e o rg e s C a n g u ilh e m . F o u c a u lt th e n d w elt a t som e
le n g th o n “ ex isten tial analysis,” w hich he tre a te d w ith a b it m o re sym -
pathy, and w hich, in his view, had caused p sy c h ia try to take a g re a t leap
fo rw ard . O n th e o th e r h an d , h e criticized psychoanalysis ra th e r se-
verely, re p ro a c h in g it fo r h av in g “u n re a liz e d ” th e “ re la tio n s b e tw e e n
m a n and his e n v iro n m e n t.” H e th e n dev o ted an e n tire c h a p te r to
P avlov and P avlovism . T h is is a tru ly p o litical m ark er, fo r in th o se days
P avlov sy m b o lized ev ery a tte m p t to c o n s tru c t th e “m a te ria list p sy ch o -
logical sc ie n c e ” d e m a n d e d b y th e C o m m u n is t party. La Raison. Cahiers
de psychopathologie scientifique, a review fo u n d ed b y M a rx ist p sy ch o l-
ogists (w ith an e d ito ria l b o a rd h ead ed b y H e n r i W allo n , w hose e d ito r-
in -c h ie f was L o u is le G u illan t), was a clear expression o f this ten d en cy ,
d ire c te d in large p a rt ag ain st psychoanalysis. T h e tab le o f c o n te n ts o f
th e first issue, in J a n u a ry 1951, listed th e tra n sla tio n o f a tex t b y Pavlov,
“ P sy c h ia trie e t P en fan ce,” and an article b y Sven F ollin, “ L ’A p p o rt de
P avlov à la p sy c h ia trie .” T h e ed ito ria l o f th e first issue, re p rin te d in La
Nouvelle Critique in A pril 1951, was full o f praise fo r th e “ rem ark ab le
w o rk o f P avlov and his su ccessors” and sen ten ces such as this: “M a n is
a social b ein g , and his social life can n ev er be fo reig n to w h at h ap p en s
to h im and p a rtic u la rly to his illness.” I t th e n defined “social life” as
“ th e m a te ria l and id eo lo g ical realities,” th a t is, “m o re expensive b read ,
lo w er salaries, m o re c e rta in w a r.”
F o u c a u lt’s fo rm u la tio n s in his b o o k w ere asto n ish in g ly close to th o se
o f th is e d ito ria l. H e re , fo r exam ple, is w h a t h e w ro te in th e c h a p te r “ L a
P sy ch o lo g ie du c o n flit” a fte r p re s e n tin g P avlov’s theses: “W h e n co n -
d itio n s in th e e n v iro n m e n t n o lo n g e r allow th e n o rm a l dialectics o f ex-
c ita tio n and in h ib itio n , a defensive in h ib itio n is in stitu te d . . . Illness is
o n e o f th e fo rm s o f d efen se.” 11 T h is am o u n ts to saying th a t “it is n o t
b ecau se o n e is ill th a t o n e is alien ated , b u t because o n e is alien ated th a t
o n e is ill.” A few pages earlier, m e n tio n in g case studies p ro p o se d by
K u h n and B insw anger, as if to re in scrib e th e m in a M arx ist p ersp ec-
tive, h e h ad w ritte n : “I f illness finds a priv ileg ed m o d e o f expression in

69
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

this n e tw o rk o f c o n tra d ic to ry form s o f co n d u ct, it is n o t because th e


elem en ts o f c o n tra d ic tio n are juxtaposed as a paradoxical n a tu re o f th e
h u m a n u n co n scio u s; it is sim p ly th a t m an has a c o n tra d ic to ry ex p eri-
ence o f m an; th e social relatio n s d e te rm in e d b y th e p re s e n t econom y,
in th e guise o f c o m p e titio n , ex p lo itatio n , im p e ria list w ars, and class
stru g g le, p ro v id e m a n w ith an experience o f his h u m a n e n v iro n m e n t
th a t is c o n s ta n d y h a u n te d b y c o n tra d ic tio n .” W h e n c e his d e fin itio n o f
m e n ta l illness as “ th e re su lt o f social c o n tra d ic tio n s in w h ich m a n
is h isto ric a lly a lie n a te d .” 12 W Tience, also, th e n ecessity fo r o rie n tin g
th e ra p ie s in n ew d ire ctio n s: o n e can “ suppose th a t w h e n th e d ay com es
th a t th e p a tie n t is n o t su b jected to a fate o f alien atio n , it will be p o s-
sible to envisage th e dialectics o f th e illness w ith in a h u m a n p e rso n -
ality.” A nd F o u c a u lt’s co n clu sio n : “T h e r e is n o h ealin g o th e r th a n o n e
realized b y n ew re la tio n s w ith th e e n v iro n m e n t . . . T ru e p sy ch o lo g y
m u st rid itse lf o f p sy ch o lo g ism , if it is tru e th a t, like all science, it m u st
have d isa lie n a tio n as its g o al.” 13
H e re , fo r th e first tim e, F o u cau lt used th e te rm archaeology, in re fe r-
ence to w h a t psychoanalysis called “ arch aic stag es” in th e e v o lu tio n o f
th e individual: “P sychoanalysis believed it was possible to w rite a child
p sy ch o lo g y b y m ak in g an a d u lt p a th o lo g y . . . E v e ry lib idinal stage is a
p o te n tia l p ath o lo g ical stru c tu re . N e u ro sis is a sp o n tan e o u s arch aeo l-
o g y o f th e lib id o .” 14
F o u c a u lt did n o t w an t this b o o k reissued. A nd in 1962, a fte r Folie et
déraison was p u b lish ed , h e w ould p ro v id e a n ew version, title d Maladie
mentale et psychologie (Mental Illness and Psychology), w ith an e n tire ly dif-
fe re n t en d in g . Pavlov was je ttiso n e d , rep laced b y a su m m a ry o f th e
lo n g w o rk he had w ritte n in Sw eden, w hich he h ad ju st d efen d ed as his
d o c to ra l thesis. T h e second p a rt o f th e book, prev io u sly tid e d “T h e
R eal C o n d itio n s o f Illn ess,” w ould b eco m e “M ad n ess and C u ltu re .”
A nd th e ch ap ters o f this seco n d p art, “T h e H isto ric a l M e a n in g o f
A lie n a tio n ” and “T h e P sy ch o lo g y o f C o n flic t,” b ecam e “T h e H is to ri-
cal C o n s titu tio n o f M e n ta l Illn ess” and “M ad n ess, a G lo b al S tru c -
tu re .” 15 B u t this n ew e d itio n was such a m o n g re l th a t F o u c a u lt also
fo rb ad e its reissue, and h e w ould try, b u t w ith o u t success, to p re v e n t
its b e in g tra n sla te d in to E nglish. F o u cau lt c o m p letely re n o u n c e d th is
book. W h e n h e m e n tio n e d his “ first b o o k ” la te r in interview s, h e al-
ways m e a n t Histoire de la folie, lo ck in g th e 1954 w o rk and its 1962 v er-
sio n aw ay in th e d u n g eo n s o f h is to ry . . . and in lib ra ry catalogues.

In 1954, w h e n th e b o o k ap p eared , F o u cau lt fre q u e n tly discussed


p ro b lem s o f p sy ch o lo g y w ith Je a n H y p p o lite , w ho th a t y e a r b ecam e

-W 7 0 -W
D i s c o r d s of L o v e

th e d ire c to r o f th e E co le N o rm a le . H y p p o lite , like m an y o th e r p h i-


lo so p h e rs at th a t tim e, reflected a g re a t deal o n th e subject. T h e th e m e
o f a lie n a tio n th a t lay a t th e h e a rt o f F o u c a u lt’s w o rk was in fact o n e th a t
d o m in a te d p h ilo so p h ical discussion. H y p p o lite was so fascinated b y
p s y c h ia try th a t fo r an e n tire y ear h e a tte n d e d P ro fe sso r B aru k ’s co n su l-
ta tio n s at th e C h a re n to n asylum . In a le ctu re in 1955 he stated: “ I have
b e e n co n firm e d in m y idea th a t th e stu d y o f m ad n ess— a lie n a tio n in
th e d e e p e st sense o f th e te rm — was a t th e c e n te r o f an an th ro p o lo g y , o f
a stu d y o f m an. T h e asylum is th e refu g e for th o se w h o can n o lo n g e r
be m ad e to live in o u r in te rh u m a n e n v iro n m en t. T h u s it is a w ay o f
u n d e rs ta n d in g this e n v iro n m e n t in d irecd y , as well as th e p ro b le m s it
c o n s ta n d y poses fo r n o rm a l m e n .” 16 H y p p o lite also a tte n d e d L a can ’s
sem in ar, w h ich h ad b e g u n in 1951 in th e p sy c h ia trist’s a p a rtm e n t w ith
o n ly a few listen ers b u t had m oved in 1953 to H ô p ita l S ain te-A n n e and
was th e re fo re o p e n to a w id er audience. O n tw o occasions in 1954,
L a can and H y p p o lite en g ag ed in pu b lic discussion, o n H e g e lia n p h i-
lo so p h y and o n linguistics. T h e s e w ere im p o rta n t m o m e n ts fo r th e
d e v e lo p m e n t o f L a c a n ’s th e o ry o f m a tu rity .17 A cco rd in g to M a u ric e
P in g u e t, F o u c a u lt w e n t “ ev ery w eek” to h e a r th e p sy ch iatrist, w h o was
th e n n o t y e t fam ous. B u t in his interview s w ith D u cio T ro m b a d o ri,
F o u c a u lt seem ed to say th a t h e did n o t a tte n d L acan ’s sem inars. In fact,
o n th e o rig in a l tap e he says th a t he did n o t a tte n d e n o u g h to be u p to
really u n d e rs ta n d in g L acan, a t th e m o m e n t w h e n h e was b ein g asked
th e q u e stio n , in 1978. O n e th in g is certain: F o u cau lt k n ew L a c a n ’s
n a m e as early as 1953, read him , and q u o te d him . N o n e o f th ese facts is
su rp risin g , since h e fre q u e n te d S ain te-A n n e at th a t p e rio d . A nd w h en
h e p u b lish e d Folie et déraison in 1961, he listed L acan, alo n g w ith
B lan ch o t, R oussel, and D u m ézil, am o n g th o se w h o h ad in flu en ced him .
T o give this in te re s t in p sy c h ia try and psychoanalysis som e c o n c re te
fo rm , H y p p o lite a tte m p te d to fo rm a team o f th in k e rs th a t w ould
in clu d e b o th p h ilo so p h e rs and psychologists. A m e e tin g fo r th a t p u r-
pose was h eld at th e E co le N o rm a le o n F e b ru a ry 5, 1955. Y von Brès
recalled th e d ate because it was th e day th e M e n d è s F ran ce g o v e rn -
m e n t fell. In a tte n d a n c e w ere A n d ré O m b re d a n e , R o b e rt F rancês, and
F o u cau lt.
B u t F o u c a u lt was o n th e verge o f leaving F rance. H e did n o t k n o w it
yet, p e rh a p s, b u t h e was a b o u t to c a rry o u t th e p ro g ra m he h ad set fo r
p sy ch o lo g y in his article fo r th e collective w o rk Des chercheurs français
s'interrogent, w ritte n at th e sam e tim e as Maladie mentale et personnalité
b u t w ith an e n tire ly d ifferen t to n e. T o c o u n te r po sitiv ist psychology,
w h ich claim ed to have a tta in e d scientific status because it h ad p ro lif-
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

e ra te d tests and in v estig ativ e m e th o d s, h e recalled th a t th is te c h n o lo g i-


cal re fin e m e n t was, o n th e co n trary , o n ly “th e sign th a t it has fo rg o tte n
m a n ’s n eg ativ ity ,” th a t is, th e analysis o f th e c o n tra d ic tio n s th a t h ad
b e e n its p o in t o f d e p a rtu re and its “ c o u n try o f o rig in .” I t h ad fo rg o tte n
th a t “if m e n ta l p a th o lo g y has always b e e n and still rem ain s o n e o f th e
so u rces o f psy ch o lo g ical experience, it is n o t because illness reveals
h id d e n s tru c tu re s . . . in o th e r w ords, it is n o t because m a n m o re easily
reco g n izes h e re th e face o f his tru th , b u t, o n th e co n trary , because h e
discovers h e re th e d ark side o f this tru th and th e ab so lu te fact o f its
c o n tra d ic tio n . Illness is th e psychological truth o f h e a lth , to th e v ery ex-
te n t th a t it is its human contradiction.” 18 T h is psychological science, so
fo rg e tfu l o f its o rig in s, m u st be m ade to recall its “ e te rn a lly in fe rn a l”
v o catio n . F o u c a u lt co ncluded: “ P sy ch o lo g y will be saved o n ly b y a re-
tu r n to h e ll.” 19

‫׳‬H y 2 ‫׳‬H
7
WV

U ppsala , W arsaw , H am bu rg

A nd when did get your baccalaureate?” Georges Dumézil


Z -A asked, in a parody o f the medieval ritual o f title display. Then,
A- having determined that his diploma was appreciably earlier
(by more than thirty years) than that o f his interlocutor, he said to the
younger man: “ I propose we call each other ‘tu.’ ” Michel Foucault
raised his glass o f schnapps (there wasn’t any mead): “ Tack ska du ha,”
“ Thanks be unto you.” He was twenty-nine, and Dumézil, the great
specialist in Indo-European mythology, was almost sixty. But in Sweden
the familiar form is used among members o f the university, whatever the
speaker’s age or rank. The “ elder” must simply take the initiative.
This scene took place in Uppsala, seventy kilometers north o f Stock-
holm, in the spring o f 1956. It was the first meeting between the well-
known scholar, a professor at the Collège de France, and the future
philosopher o f Histoire de la folie. However, it had been DuméziPs in-
tervention, before they even knew each other, that brought Foucault to
the little Swedish university city at the end o f August. In fact, this trip
had its origins back in 1934. 1934 Foucault was barely eight years
old, but Dumézil had just published his third book, Ouranos-Varuna.
Sylvain Lévi had invited him to present his work at the Institute o f In-
dian Civilization, where discussions were held every Thursday. Em i-
nent academics in history, philology, and linguistics were present,
among them Jules Bloch, Marcel Granet, and Emile Benveniste. Ben-
veniste at the time was very hostile to DuméziPs theses, and in fact
Dumézil himself renounced them several years later. The debate took
a rather lively turn during this confrontation. At the end, when the stu-
dents left the room, Raoul Curiel, who would become a highly re-
garded archaeologist, stopped to chat with Dumézil about several o f
the points figuring in the afternoon’s dispute. Since both were Free-

73
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

m asons, th e y “ re c o g n iz e d ” each o th e r quickly and w e n t o n to fo rm a


close, lo n g -la stin g frien d sh ip .
D u m ézil had re tu rn e d fro m a long p e rio d abroad. H e had lived fo r
six years in T u rk e y and tw o in Sw eden, w h ere fro m 1931 to 1933 he
h ad served as F re n c h in s tru c to r at th e U n iv e rsity o f U ppsala. H e k e p t
in to u c h w ith his frien d s fro m th e G re a t N o rth , and a fter th e S econd
W o rld W a r he re tu rn e d fre q u e n tly to Sw eden, w h ere his w o rk had
m ad e a sp ectacu la r b re a k th ro u g h . C o n seq u en tly , it is n o t su rp risin g
th a t tw e n ty years a fte r D um éziP s first stay in U ppsala, P aul Falk, w h o
d ire c te d th e R o m an ce L an g u ag e In stitu te , w ro te to h im asking if h e
k n ew an y o n e w h o m ig h t be good for th e job o f F re n c h in s tru c to r. T h is
was 1954, and D u m ézil was puzzled. H e did n o t k n o w any o f th e new
g e n e ra tio n o f stu d e n ts at th e E co le N o rm a le , and he was o n th e verge
o f rep ly in g w h e n R aoul C u rie l m e n tio n e d a y o u n g p h ilo so p h e r h e h ad
ju st m et. “H e is th e m o st in te llig e n t p e rso n I kn o w ,” he to ld D u m é -
zil— w ho, tru s tin g him , w ro te to Falk th a t he had tu rn e d u p th e m a n
for th e spot. A nd he w ro te a n o te to F oucault: d o n ’t ask m e h o w I k n o w
y o u r nam e, was th e gist o f th e m essage. L e t m e ju st tell you th a t th e re
is a p o s itio n aw aiting you in S w eden if you w an t it. T h e y did n o t have a
chance to m eet, because D u m ézil w e n t off “o n th e p ro w l,” as he liked
to p u t it, in W ales. B ut th in g s w ere settled , and F o u cau lt w e n t to take
up his a p p o in tm e n t o n A u g u st 26, 1955.
“ I have suffered and I still suffer fro m a lo t o f th in g s in F re n c h social
and cu ltu ral life. T h a t was w hy I left F ran ce in 1955,” h e w o u ld say
m u ch la te r to explain his d ep artu re. H e added: “A t this tim e S w eden
was su p p o sed to be a m u ch fre e r country. A nd th e re I had th e ex p eri-
ence th a t c e rta in kinds o f freed o m m ay have, n o t exactly th e sam e
effects, b u t as m an y restrictiv e effects as a d ire ctly re strictiv e so ciety .” 1
A nd in fact, alth o u g h he had w anted to g et far aw ay fro m F ran ce to
escape th e m alaise, th e p ain o f existence, he was suffering, his th re e
years in U p p sala w ere ra th e r h ard o n him . A c h ie f re a so n was th e cli-
m ate. H e had g re a t difficulty ad ju stin g to th e glacial cold o f S can d in a-
vian w inters: “I am th e tw e n tie th -c e n tu ry D e sc a rte s,” h e to ld his
freeze-m ates, “I ’m g o in g to die here. Luckily, th e re ’s no Q u e e n C h ris -
tin a to to p it all off.” T h e n , th e re was th e nightfall at th re e in th e a fte r-
n o o n in N o v e m b e r and at tw o in D e cem b er. T h e p h e n o m e n o n was
d eep ly d iso rie n tin g to anyone n o t accustom ed to it, p ro v o k in g a p e r-
sisten t gloom . T h ird , alth o u g h th e U n iv ersity o f U p p sala was o n e o f
th e m o st p restig io u s u n iversities in n o rth e rn E u ro p e , its a tm o sp h e re
was d isastro u sly sm all-tow n, like th e city itself: 70,000 resid en ts and

-W 74 ‫׳‬w
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w, H amburg

6,000 o r 7,000 stu d en ts. T h e a tm o sp h e re was ex trem ely rig id , even


stuffy; L u th e ra n p u rita n ism w eighed heavily. S h o rtly a fte r he arriv ed
th e re , F o u c a u lt w ro te J e a n B arraqué: “ L ife in U ppsala is p ain fu lly like
u n iv e rsity life.” If he h ad d ream ed o f fin d in g an o p e n -m in d e d n e ss th a t
did n o t y et exist in F ran ce, he m u st have b e e n quickly disillusioned.
H o m o se x u a lity was n o m o re accepted in U p p sala th a n in P aris, p e r-
haps even less. F o u c a u lt felt ill, b u t he stayed.
A few m o n th s after his arrival he m e t one o f th e v ery g re a t scholars,
G e o rg e s D u m ézil. E v e ry y ear since 1947, D u m ézil had re tu rn e d to
S w eden to w o rk for tw o o r th re e m o n th s after c o m p le tin g his lectu res
at th e C o llèg e de F ran ce. T h e u n iv ersity p u t a sm all a p a rtm e n t at his
disposal. F o u c a u lt saw h im v ery o fte n and a t g re a t le n g th d u rin g his
th re e years in U p p sala, and th e re a fte r a close frien d sh ip , co m p licity
even, existed b etw een th em . F oucault, already a p ro fo u n d a d m ire r o f
D um éziP s w ork, d eveloped an equally g re a t a d m ira tio n fo r th e m an.
H e becam e s o m e th in g o f a m odel fo r F oucault: a m odel o f rig o r and
p a tie n c e in his w ork; a m odel as well in th e div ersity o f his in terests and
his m e tic u lo u s a tte n tio n to archives. D u m ézil was u n d o u b te d ly o f m ajo r
im p o rta n c e in th e d e v e lo p m e n t o f F o u c a u lt’s th o u g h t, and F o u c a u lt
n ev er k e p t his d e b t a secret. In th e preface to Folie et déraison he w rote:
“ In this so m ew h at so lita ry task, all th o se w ho h elp ed m e deserve m y
g ra titu d e . A nd M . G eo rg es D u m ézil above all, w ith o u t w h o m this
w o rk w ould n o t have b e e n u n d e rta k e n .” 2 T h is could be tak en sim ply as
an a p p ro p ria te ack n o w led g m en t, because D u m ézil was th e one F o u cau lt
had to th a n k for th e c o n d itio n s allow ing c o m p le tio n o f this book. B u t
a fte r th e b o o k was p u b lish ed he spoke again o f his p ro fo u n d in tellectu al
d e b t in an in terv iew in he Monde o n J u ly 2 2, 1961. In reply to a ques-
tio n a b o u t w h o h ad in flu en ced him , he m e n tio n e d B lanchot, R oussel,
and L a can and th e n added: “ B ut also, and principally, D u m é z il.” H is
in te rv ie w e r was astonished: “ H o w could a h isto ria n o f religions have
b e e n able to in sp ire w o rk o n th e h isto ry o f m ad n ess?” A nd F o u cau lt
explained: “ By his idea o f stru c tu re . I trie d to discover, as D u m ézil did
fo r m yths, stru c tu re d n o rm s o f experience th e schem e o f w hich could
be fo u n d w ith m o d ificatio n s o n d ifferen t levels.” 3 F o u cau lt w ould ac-
k n o w led g e his d e b t even m o re forcefully, in his in au g u ral lectu re at th e
C o llèg e de F rance: “ I believe I ow e a g re a t deal to M . D u m ézil, since
he is th e o n e w h o u rg e d m e to w o rk a t an age w h en I still th o u g h t th a t
w ritin g was a pleasure. B u t I also ow e a g re a t deal to his w ork . . . H e is
th e o n e w ho ta u g h t m e to analyze th e in te rn a l eco n o m y o f a discourse
in a m a n n e r th a t was e n tire ly d iffe re n t fro m th e m e th o d s o f tra d itio n a l

*v 75 /W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

exegesis o r th o se o f lin g u istic form alism . I t was he w ho ta u g h t m e h o w


to d escrib e th e tra n sfo rm a tio n s o f a discourse and its re la tio n s to an
in s titu tio n .” 4
A s tro n g in te lle c tu a l influence, th e re fo re , b u t also an in d e stru c tib le
frie n d sh ip th a t w ould last fo r alm o st th irty years, “ cloudless and u n -
to r n ,” as D u m é z il w o u ld say, in te rru p te d o n ly by th e p h ilo s o p h e r’s
d eath. T h is frie n d sh ip w ould play a crucial p a rt in F o u c a u lt’s u n iv e rsity
career, p a rtic u la rly his e le c tio n to th e C o llèg e de F rance.
T h e tw o m e n first m e t o n th e prem ises o f th e M a iso n de F ran ce in
U p p sala. F o u cau lt, th e F re n c h in stru c to r, was also resp o n sib le fo r ru n -
n in g this sm all b u t v en erab le cu ltu ral in stitu te . I t h ad th e sam e fu n c-
tio n as its c o u n te rp a rts elsew here: to m ake th e F re n c h lan g u ag e and
cu ltu re k n o w n th ro u g h lectu res, discussions, and re c re a tio n a l activi-
ties. In U p p sala th e M a iso n de F ran ce was co m p letely c o n ta in e d in an
a p a rtm e n t o n th e fifth floor o f a n in e te e n th -c e n tu ry b o u rg eo is a p a rt-
m e n t b u ild in g , at 2 2 St. Jo h a n n e sg a ta n , a p a tric ia n street. I t was a
s to n e ’s th ro w fro m th e F y risân R iver, w hich divides th e to w n in tw o:
o n o n e b a n k th e u n iv e rsity section, and o n th e o th e r th e resid en tial
sectio n . T h e b u ild in g ’s facade was in red sto n e at g ro u n d level, in p in k
sto n e for th e floors above. A lio n su rm o u n te d th e e n tra n c e p o rta l. T h e
fifth -flo o r a p a rtm e n t was divided in half: several p u b lic ro o m s— a li-
brary, a re c o rd co llectio n , and a m e e tin g hall— c o n stitu te d th e M a iso n
de F ran ce p ro p e r; and tw o “ p riv a te ” ro o m s w ere reserv ed for th e di-
re c to r’s use. H e re F o u cau lt lived th ro u g h o u t his stay in Sw eden.
D e sp ite th e d rearin ess o f th e to w n — a tin y N o rd ic C a m b rid g e —
F o u cau lt grad u ally se ttle d in to his new life and estab lish ed as agreeab le
an existence as was possible. E arly o n he had m e t a y o u n g F re n c h
bio lo g ist, J e a n -F ra n ç o is M iq u el, w ho h ad arriv ed a t th e sam e tim e.
T h e y sh o rtly decided to take all th e ir m eals to g e th e r. A nd so o n th e re
was a th ird th ie f to jo in th em : Jacques P a p e t-L é p in e , a p h y sicist stu d y -
in g sto rm s and lig h tn in g , w ho was w ritin g a thesis w ith th e su p erb
title: Contribution mathématique à une théorie du coup de foudre (b u t coup
de foudre m eans m o re co m m o n ly falling love!). T h e y to o k tu rn s cook-
in g o n St. Jo h a n n e sg a ta n . O fte n th ey w ere jo in ed by th e Ita lia n in -
stru c to r, C o stan za P asquali, w h o m th e y called “M im i,” and by P e te r
F yson, th e E n g lish in stru c to r, a specialist in E u ro p e a n p o e try and a
g re a t o p era lover. T h is little crow d to o k itse lf tw ice a w eek to th e
F o ru m , a re sta u ra n t th a t th e y p articu larly liked. O n e day M a u ric e
C h ev alier jo in ed th e m th e re at th e ir in v itatio n . F o u cau lt and M iq u e l
had b e e n to h e a r th e sin g er give a recital in S tockholm . A fter th e show

-W ‫׳‬7 6 ‫־‬VV
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

th e y w e n t to speak to h im in his d ressin g ro o m , and th e n ex t th in g th e y


knew , th e y w ere s ittin g d o w n to d in n e r w ith him . T o re tu rn his h o sp i-
tality, F o u cau lt and M iq u e l invited th e star to U ppsala, w h ere th e y
show ed h im a ro u n d th e to w n and to o k h im to d in n e r at th e F o ru m .
T h e r e to o th e y celeb rated th e com ings and goings o f th e ir sp iritu al
m aster, D u m ézil, once he had m ade an ap p earan ce in th e ir little u n i-
verse. I t tu rn e d in to a real co m m u n al life, and, fo r th e first tim e,
F o u c a u lt accep ted it. H e did m o re th a n th at; he created it aro u n d
him self. F o r he was certain ly th e c e n te r o f this circle o f friends. T h e
M a iso n de F ran ce quickly becam e a convivial place w h ere th e y all m e t
after w o rk o r over th e w eekend.
T w o new p eo p le jo in ed th e m so o n after this g ro u p becam e estab -
lished, m ak in g a th u n d e rin g e n tra n c e in to th e co m m u n al life, sp read -
in g a w ind o f joyful d iso rd er. F o u cau lt could n o t have b een h ap p ier, so
d elig h te d was he w ith th e ir presen ce. T h e first was a y o u n g S w edish
s tu d e n t w hose fa th e r w orked at th e Sw edish em bassy in P aris. E d u -
cated at th e L ycée Jan so n -d e-S ailly , he had com e to U p p sala to stu d y
law and in te n d e d to join th e d ip lo m atic corps. W h ic h he in fact did,
b e c o m in g an em in en ce in Sw edish fo reig n policy, p a rtic u la rly as am -
b assad o r to H a n o i at th e h e ig h t o f th e w ar in V ietn am . T o d a y J e a n -
C h ris to p h e O b e rg is am b assad o r to P o lan d . A t th e tim e, how ever, th e
e ig h te e n -y e a r-o ld b ecam e F o u c a u lt’s se c re ta ry at th e M aiso n de F rance.
T h e fo llo w in g y ear he b ro u g h t a F re n c h frien d , a y o u n g w o m an n am ed
D a n i, w h o m F o u cau lt im m ed iately ad o p ted and ad o red . O b e rg let h e r
g rad u ally take his place as se c re ta ry at th e M a iso n de F ran ce. F o u cau lt
had a w o n d erfu l tim e w ith th em . O n e day he and O b e rg w e n t to
S to c k h o lm to b u y a car. T h e y re tu rn e d w ith a m ag n ificen t beige Jag u ar,
w hich d u m b fo u n d e d p o lite so ciety in U ppsala. P eo p le w ere accus-
to m e d to m o re a u ste rity and w ere especially tak en aback to see an in -
s tru c to r— th e b o tto m ru n g in a v ery stric t u n iv ersity h ie ra rc h y — m ake
such a display o f w ealth. B ut in fact F o u cau lt had p le n ty o f m o n ey (his
fam ily c o n tin u e d to s u p p o rt him ), and he was b y n o m eans th e ascetic
m o n k p eo p le o fte n p o rtra y e d h im as later. H e ate w ith g u sto in re sta u -
ran ts, he liked to d rin k , and his frien d s fro m this p e rio d d escrib e som e
o f th e m e m o ra b le tim es he was “ p la ste re d ,” such as th e day w hen, as he
sto o d u p to p ro p o se a to a st a t th e end o f d in n e r, he fell o n th e floor,
dead d ru n k . H e was k n o w n to disguise h im se lf as a chauffeur and take
D a n i to ru n e rra n d s in tow n. H is Ja g u a r b ecam e leg e n d a ry am o n g all
th e U p p salan s w ho knew h im . E v e ry o n e describes h im as d riv in g like a
m ad m an . D u m é z il re m e m b e re d fin d in g them selves in th e d itch once.

~ 77 /W
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

T h e y all re m e m b e re d n u m e ro u s in cid en ts o f this sort, accidents th a t


luckily w ere n ev er really serious, despite all th a t snow and ice.
B ut fo r F o u cau lt U p p sala was, above all, w ork. H is p ro fessio n al ac-
tivities divided in to th re e categories. F irst, he had to p e rfo rm his job as
in s tru c to r in F re n c h , w hich he did m arvelously well. D u m é z il was
m u ch im p ressed by his success. F o u c a u lt’s pu b lic lectures, given a t six
every T h u rs d a y evening, d rew a large and e n th u sia stic au d ien ce in th e
large cen tral b u ild in g o f th e university. T h e e n tire cultiv ated so cie ty o f
th e to w n crow ded in, and it was said th a t th e ladies all b ro u g h t th e ir
m arriag eab le d au g h ters along. T h e series was q u ite u n o rth o d o x th e
first year: F o u cau lt discussed “ th e co n cep t o f love in F re n c h lite ra tu re
fro m th e m arq u is de Sade to J e a n G e n e t.” O n e can im ag in e th e s tir
this created in th e u n iv ersity com m unity. T h e follow ing years F o u c a u lt
tu rn e d to less d a rin g them es: “ c o n te m p o ra ry F re n c h th e a te r” and
finally, in 1 9 5 7 -5 8 , “ religious experience in F re n c h lite ra tu re fro m
C h a te a u b ria n d to B ern an o s,” even th o u g h th e la tte r could also set a
few te e th o n edge in a stric tly P ro te s ta n t c o u n try .5
F o u cau lt ta u g h t six h o u rs a w eek (w ith an ad d itio n al fo u r h o u rs o f
“ co n v ersatio n ” ). T h r e e h o u rs w ere in te n d e d fo r b eg in n ers and stu d e n ts
fro m all disciplines w ho w an ted an in tro d u c tio n to F ren ch . T h r e e h o u rs
w ere devoted to lite ra tu re . O f these th re e , o n e was th e fam ous p u b lic
lectu re. T h e tw o re m a in in g h o u rs w ere devoted to sem in ars in te n d e d
solely fo r stu d en ts w ho w ere specializing in F ren ch . In 1956 th ese sem -
inars focused o n “ F re n c h th e a te r o f th e se v e n te e n th c e n tu ry ,” and spe-
cifically o n R acine and Andromaque — n o d o u b t this is w h ere th e pages
in Histoire de la folie d ealin g w ith O re ste s’ in san ity cam e fro m — o r o n
“ c o n te m p o ra ry th e a te r.” B ut w hereas th e pu b lic lectures drew au d i-
ences o f a h u n d re d o r m o re, and th e p re sid e n t o f th e A lliance F rançaise
spoke o f th e “ in tellectu al joy” she derived fro m th em , th e courses fo r
stu d en ts d rew far few er, and v ery few o f th o se u n d e rsto o d a n y th in g o f
w h at this c o m b in a tio n F re n c h in s tru c to r/p h ilo s o p h e r was saying. T h e
teach ers m ay have ap p reciated th e ir y o u n g colleague, b u t som e o f his
stu d en ts ex p erienced F o u c a u lt’s teach in g as a lo n g h e rm e tic discourse.
Im ag in e e ig h te e n - o r tw en ty -y ear-o ld s w ith o n ly a ru d im e n ta ry k n o w l-
edge o f F re n c h b ein g d ealt dizzying in te rp re ta tio n s o f S ade’s w o rk o r o f
m adness in R acine! A few stu d en ts fro m this p e rio d still so u n d a n g ry
w hen th e y talk a b o u t th o se lectures: “I t was e n o u g h to tu rn you off
F re n c h ” ; “ G o in g to class was really p ain fu l.” O th e rs are still re e lin g
fro m th e e n c o u n te r in a v ery differen t w ay and speak o f F o u c a u lt w ith
trem en d o u s ad m iratio n . B ut th e class size fo r these courses and sem i-
nars becam e co n sid erab ly red u ced as th e y ear w en t by, because th e s tu ­

‫׳‬w 78 ‫׳‬M■
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

d e n ts w ere so p u t off. F o u c a u lt’s colleagues felt em b arrassed , b u t th e re


was n o t m u ch th e y could do. F o u cau lt h im self was so m ew h at b o th e re d
by it and an n o y ed . B u t th a t did n o t p ro m p t h im to sw itch m eth o d s. In
fact, he was in te re ste d o n ly in th e ra re s tu d e n t w ho could follow him .
H e had his usual sto re o f sarcasm for all th e rest.
B ut F o u c a u lt’s activity was n o t lim ited to teaching. H e was also sup-
po sed to en liv en th e M a iso n de F rance. W h e n h e arriv ed in U p p sala,
F o u c a u lt o u tlin e d his p ro g ra m to a re p o rte r fro m th e local n ew sp ap er
Uppsala Nya Tidning (his first interview !), and in F e b ru a ry 1956 he laid
o u t his p ro je cts a t g re a te r le n g th in a re p o rt su b m itte d to th e e m b a ssy
W h e re a s o n ly a few stu d en ts had com e to th e M a iso n de F ran ce at th e
b e g in n in g o f th e sem ester, th irty to th irty -fiv e now cam e regularly. B u t
this n u m b e r still seem ed sm all to him , in re la tio n to th e to tal n u m b e r
o f stu d e n ts, and th e re fo re h e suggested: (1) in creasin g s tu d e n t in te re s t
in th e M a iso n de F ra n c e by having m o re re creatio n al sessions (film
show ings, recitals o f re co rd ed m usic), w hich m e a n t asking th e F re n c h
fo re ig n m in istry fo r m aterial (records, books, reco rd player); (2) set-
tin g u p a s o rt o f club for th e students: a ro o m had b e e n tu rn e d in to
a stu d y ro o m and su b scrip tio n s to papers and review s had b e e n in -
creased. T h e M a iso n de F ran ce w ould be o p e n several n ig h ts a w eek,
and, as m u ch as possible, Sw edish stu d en ts w ould be inv ited to discus-
sions in F re n c h a fte r lectu res and rec re a tio n a l events; and (3) dev elo p -
in g th e library. In F o u c a u lt’s view, th e M aiso n de F ran ce o u g h t to
reach an au d ien ce in U p p sala b ro a d e r th a n th a t o f th e u n iv e rsity ’s R o -
m an ce L a n g u ag e In stitu te . A lth o u g h it m ig h t be tru e , he said, th a t
F re n c h c u ltu re had lo st its in fluence in scientific circles o r in n o n -
p h ilo so p h ical disciplines, this fact was p erh ap s n o t b ey o n d rem edy.
H e n c e h e p ro p o se d to s ta rt classes in e le m e n ta ry F re n c h a t th e M a iso n
de F ra n c e fo r stu d e n ts o r y o u n g research scholars, w h atev er th e ir spe-
ciality, w ho m ig h t n eed F re n c h for th e ir w ork o r travels.
I t is clear th a t F o u c a u lt was far fro m in d iffe re n t a b o u t his adm inis-
tra tiv e o r m an ag eria l fu n ctio n s. H e was even less in d ifferen t a b o u t his
fu n c tio n s as lead er. H e o rg an ized ev en in g g ath erin g s in this H o u s e o f
F ran ce th a t h e w an ted to tu rn in to o n e o f th e cu ltu ral poles o f U p p -
sala’s existence. H e show ed films and c o m m e n te d o n th em . D u m ézil
liked to tell a b o u t a b rillia n t im p ro v isatio n F o u cau lt did o n a film adap-
ta tio n o f S a rtre ’s M ains sales. A t fo u r in th e a fte rn o o n , F o u cau lt still did
n o t k n o w w h a t film h e was g o in g to get. Yet th a t evening he ca rrie d o ff
a b rillia n t discussion o f it b efo re a captivated audience. T h e n th e re was
th e a te r— n o t th e a te r for analyzing, b u t a th e a te r o f acting. W ith O b e rg
h e o rg an ized a sm all tro u p e w ho publicly p e rfo rm e d plays— in F ren ch ,

79
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

o f course: E u g è n e L a b ic h e ’s La Grammaire, J e a n G ira u d o u x ’s Cantique


des Cantiques, A lfred de M u s s e t’s Les Caprices de Marianne , and J e a n
A n o u ilh ’s Le Bal des voleurs. F o u cau lt d irected ; O b e rg and a few o th e r
stu d e n ts acted. T h e plays w ere first p re se n te d in U ppsala; th e n th e y
“ to u re d ” S to ck h o lm and Sundvall. O n th ese to u rs F o u cau lt c a rrie d th e
bags and to o k care o f costum es. T h e r e w ere m an y trip s to S to c k h o lm
anyw ay because F o u cau lt also lectu red fre q u e n tly a t th e F re n c h C u l-
tu ra l In s titu te in th e capital. H e w en t by car or, w h e n th e re w ere to o
m an y in th e g ro u p acco m p an y in g him , by train . H e n ick n am ed th e
tra in th e “s o ü lo g ra p h e ” (the old boozy), w hich was h o w th e y w ere
w h e n th e y arriv ed . E rik N ilsso n , o n e o f F o u c a u lt’s close frien d s a t th e
tim e, recalls: “W e n ev er sto p p ed la u g h in g .” N ilsso n was d o in g his
m ilita ry service in U p p sala and had g o n e to th e M a iso n de F ra n c e to
b o rro w books. T h e g ro u p quickly ad o p ted him , and he p a rtic ip a te d
o fte n in th e th e a tric a l events. F o u cau lt to o k a g re a t liking to th e y o u n g
m a n an d a few years la te r d ed icated Folie et déraison to him .
F o u cau lt was su p p o sed to receive speakers invited to U p p sala b y th e
F re n c h em bassy. I t was his p leasu re to w elcom e his fo rm e r p ro fesso r,
J e a n H y p p o lite , and som e w rite rs w ho w ould b eco m e fam ous such as
M a rg u e rite D u ra s and C lau d e S im on; o r po litician s such as P ie rre
M e n d è s F rance. H e was also obliged to receive A lb e rt C am us, w h o was
aw arded th e N o b e l P riz e in lite ra tu re in 1957. T h e la u re a te ’s tra d i-
tio n al le c tu re in U p p sala to o k place in a so m ew h at strain ed a tm o -
sp h ere: tw o days b efore, in S tockholm , an A lg erian had re p ro a c h e d
C am u s fo r his silence c o n c e rn in g colonialism . T h e n cam e th e fam ous
reply: “I have always co n d e m n e d te rro r, I m u st also c o n d e m n a te r-
ro ris m th a t is b lin d ly p ractice d o n th e streets o f A lgiers, fo r exam ple,
one th a t m ig h t strik e m y m o th e r o r m y family. I believe in justice, b u t
I will d efen d m y m o th e r b efo re I will defend ju stice.” 6 In U p p sala th in g s
w e n t b e tte r, because th e stu d en ts did n o t ask any p o litical q u estio n s.
B ut th e in c id e n t in S to ck h o lm was o n ev ery b o d y ’s m ind. A nd O b e rg
was v ery su rp rise d th a t F o u cau lt did n o t voice any reserv atio n s a b o u t
C a m u s’s rem ark s o r b rin g th e m a tte r up d u rin g th e re c e p tio n a t th e
M a iso n de F rance: th e F o u cau lt he had k n o w n up to this p o in t was
re so lu tely a n tico lo n ialist and agreed m o re w ith M en d ès F rance. B u t
p erh ap s th e d ire c to r o f th e M aiso n de F rance was supposed to re m a in
n eu tral, fo rb id d in g h im se lf to le t his real feelings show.
T h e r e w ere also tw o visits fro m R oland B arthes, a t F o u c a u lt’s invita-
tio n . T h e y had m e t a t th e end o f 1955, w h en F o u cau lt re tu rn e d to
P aris for C h ristm a s vacation. R o b e rt M auzi, a fo rm e r fellow s tu d e n t at
th e R ue d ’U lm and still a frien d , had in tro d u c e d th em . B arth es had n o t

-VV 80 ‫׳‬W
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

y e t p u b lish ed m uch: o n ly Le Degré zero de Peeriture in 1953. A t th e tim e


F o u cau lt h im se lf had o n ly o n e b o o k to his nam e, Maladie mentale et
persomialité.
A n im m e d ia te frien d sh ip m ixed w ith reserve developed b etw een
B arthes and F o u cau lt. T h e y d in ed fre q u e n tly in th e re sta u ra n ts o f
th e L a tin Q u a rte r; th e y w en t to n ig h tclu b s o n th e B oulevard S ain t-
G e rm a in w h en ev er F o u cau lt was in P aris. B ut fro m the b e g in n in g th e
frie n d sh ip was p o iso n ed by a ce rta in in tellectu al and p erso n al riv alry
th a t w ould m ake th e ir relatio n s difficult. T h e tw o m e n had v ery differ-
e n t n atu res, and th e re w ere m an y p o in ts o f frictio n , so th a t over th e
years th e re w ere m o re d isag reem en ts th a n reco nciliations. All th e sam e,
F o u c a u lt h elp ed B arthes be elected to th e C o llèg e de F ran ce in 1975,
m o re p erh ap s o u t o f faithfulness to an old frien d sh ip th a n th ro u g h a real
a d m ira tio n fo r his w ork, acco rd in g to th o se w ho knew b o th . F o u c a u lt
h im se lf d elivered th e speech in praise o f th e applicant, even th o u g h it
seem s he was n o t b e h in d B a rth e s’s candidacy. P ie rre N o ra re m e m -
b e re d F o u c a u lt saying to him one day: “ P m v ery annoyed; I have to see
B arthes, w ho w ants to be a can d id ate for th e C o llèg e de F ran ce. I
h av en ’t seen h im fo r a lo n g tim e. C o u ld you com e w ith m e ? ” E v ery -
th in g w e n t w ell, and N o ra left th e m alone a fte r te n m in u tes. F o u cau lt
w ro te tw o re p o rts p re se n tin g B arthes to his colleagues. A t th e end o f
o n e he trie d to re sp o n d to criticism s arisin g in th e C o llèg e de F ran ce
th a t th e can d id ate was to o “ fash io n ab le” : “ his au d ien ce can, in d eed , be
th o u g h t o f as being, as o ne says, in fashion. B ut w h at h isto ria n could be
m ad e to believe th a t a fashion, an en th u siasm , a passion, even exag-
g e ra tio n s, do n o t betray, in any given m o m en t, th e existence o f a fertile
c e n te r in a culture? T h o s e voices, th o se few voices so m ew h at o u tsid e
th e university, th a t we h e a r and are c u rre n tly listen in g to — do you be-
lieve th a t th e y are n o t p a rt o f o u r h isto ry today, and th a t th e y do n o t
have to b eco m e p a rt o f o u r h isto rie s? ” 7 F o u c a u lt’s voice was heard, and
B arth es was elected. A fter this im p o rta n t episode a calm er and u n -
sh adow ed frie n d sh ip developed. B ut it was brief. B arthes was stru ck by
a van o n R ue des E coles o n M a rc h 26, 1980. F o u cau lt delivered the
tra d itio n a l eu lo g y a t th e C o llèg e de F ran ce befo re th e assem bled p ro -
fessors, o n e S u n d ay in A pril 1980. “A few years ag o ,” he said,
w hen I proposed th at you welcome him am ong you, the originality
and im portance o f a w ork pursued for m ore than tw enty years w ith
acknow ledged brilliance p erm itted me n o t to resort to my friendship
for him in support o f m y request. I did not have to leave it out, for the
w ork was there. But from now on there is only the work. It will con-
tinue to speak; others will make it speak and will speak about it. So,

w 8 1 *V
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

this afternoon, allow me to bring to light friendship alone. F riend-


ship th at should, at least, be like the death it detests in n o t talking too
m uch. You knew him w hen you elected him. You knew th a t you chose
the rare balance o f intelligence and creation. You chose, knowingly,
som eone w ho had the paradoxical pow er o f understanding things as
they are and o f inventing them with am azing freshness. You con-
sciously chose a great w riter and an astonishing professor, w hose
teaching, for those who took his courses, was n o t a lesson b u t an ex-
perience . . . D estiny decreed th at the stupid violence of th ings— the
only reality he was capable o f hating— put an end to all that, rig h t at
the very doorstep to this H ouse w here I had asked you to adm it him .
T h e bitterness w ould be unbearable if I did n o t know how happy he
was to be here, and if I did n o t feel I had the rig h t to bring, from him
to you, across o u r sorrow, a faintly sm iling sign o f friendship.8

F o u c a u l t t o o k h i s o f f i c i a l f u n c t i o n s in U p p sala v e ry seriously.
In d eed , he w o re h im se lf o u t p e rfo rm in g th em . In his re p o rt to th e m in -
iste r o f fo reig n affairs, In sp e c to r G e n e ra l S antelli w ro te o n J a n u a ry 26,
1956: “ I t is v ery h a rd w ork, w hich h e p e rfo rm s c o n scien tio u sly and
w ith a d e d ic a tio n th a t is obvious in his ap p earan ce. H e does n o t lo o k
well, and I have th e im p ressio n th a t M . F o u cau lt is o v erw o rk in g h im -
self and n o t tak in g th e n ecessary re st.” A y e a r la te r M . G o u y o n , th e
cu ltu ral adviser, se n t th e follow ing assessm ent: “M . F o u cau lt has v e ry
b rillia n tly m ade his influence felt, b o th in U p p sala and in S to ck h o lm ,
w h ere th e In s titu te and th e School o f Civics argue over his ex trem ely
b rillia n t lectures. B u t th e re is som e reaso n to fear th a t, a v ictim o f his
success and his c o n sta n t availability, h e m ig h t literally kill h im se lf o n
th e job. T h e c re a tio n o f a p o sitio n a t th e In s titu te (w h e th e r F o u c a u lt
takes this a p p o in tm e n t and is relieved o f his fu n ctio n s in U p p sala o r
th e fu tu re ap p o in tee, o n th e co n trary , relieves h im o f his w o rk in
S to ck h o lm ) is an ab so lu te n ecessity fo r h im ” (M ay 6, 1957). A nd o n
M a rc h 25, 1958, th e cu ltu ral adviser M . C heval se n t this re p o rt o n th e
d ire c to r o f th e M a iso n de F ran ce in U ppsala: “M . F o u cau lt is a v e ry
b rillia n t re p re se n ta tiv e o f F re n c h cu ltu re abroad. H e is a m ag n ific e n t
success a t U ppsala, w h ere he has b een able to gain th e co n fid en ce o f
b o th p ro fesso rs and stu d en ts. H e is indispensable in this p o sitio n , and
o n e w o n d ers w h o could replace him if (and this seem s, alas, p re d ic t-
able) he ends b y tirin g o f th e N o rd ic clim ate. In any event, M . F o u -
cault is o n e o f th e v ery few to w hom o n e could e n tru st a m o re im p o rta n t
fo reig n p o st and have n o ap p reh en sio n s.”

w 82 W
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

B u t fo r F o u c a u lt th e m o st im p o rta n t tim e he sp e n t in U ppsala was


th e tim e sp e n t in w ritin g his thesis. I t was th e re th a t he sta rte d Folie et
déraison, and w h en he le ft in 1958 th e m a n u sc rip t was alm o st co m p lete,
acc o rd in g to th e re p o rts o f several o f his friends. W ith Maladie mentale
et personnalité, F o u cau lt had w an ted to define w h at a lien atio n re p re -
se n te d in c o n te m p o ra ry p sy ch iatric th o u g h t and to p ro p o se a c ritiq u e
o f m edical and psychological th e o rie s in th e lig h t o f a M arx ism tin g e d
w ith B in sw an g er’s th o u g h t. D u rin g this p erio d , as we have seen, he
w orked in p sy ch ia tric hospitals. A n u m b e r o f d o cto rs su ggested th a t he
w rite a h is to ry o f th e ir discipline, b u t he was m o re in te re ste d in m a d m e n
th a n in p sy ch iatrists. Specifically, he was in terested in th e re latio n sh ip
b e tw e e n d o c to rs and p a tie n ts — th a t is, in th e re la tio n sh ip b etw een rea-
so n and w h a t it talked about: m adness. T h e n th e re was th e co m m issio n
fro m C o le tte D u h a m e l to do a w ork o n th e h isto ry o f m adness. So
e v e ry th in g cam e to g e th e r, and th e tre asu re th a t existed in th e g re a t li-
b ra ry a t U p p sala, th e C aro lin a Rediviva, c au g h t his a tte n tio n . A real
treasu re! In 1950 a D r. E rik W aller had p re se n te d th e lib ra ry w ith a
c o lle c tio n o f 2 1,000 d o c u m e n ts— letters, m an u scrip ts, rare books, bits
o f scraw l— fro m th e six teen th c e n tu ry to th e b e g in n in g o f th e tw en -
tie th . A bove all th e re was W a lle r’s considerable co llectio n o n th e his-
to ry o f m e d ic in e — alm o st ev ery th in g o f im p o rta n c e th a t had b e e n
p u b lish e d b efo re 1800 and a good p o rtio n o f w h at had b een p u b lish ed
after. T h e catalo g u e o f this “ B ibliotheca W a lle ria n a ” was p u b lish ed in
1955. A stro k e o f luck. W h e n F o u cau lt discovered this v eritab le m ine,
he b eg an ex p lo rin g it system atically and u sin g its m aterial for his th e -
sis. E v e ry d ay at ten , a fte r having w orked for an h o u r w ith o n e o f his
secretaries, J e a n -C h ris to p h e o r D ani, he left fo r th e C aro lin a. H e re-
m ain ed in th e lib ra ry u n til th re e o r fo u r in th e a fte rn o o n , w ritin g
pages and pages, and at n ig h t he k e p t rig h t o n w ritin g . Always to
m usic. N o t an ev en in g w e n t by th a t he did n o t listen to th e Goldberg
Variations. M u sic fo r h im m e a n t Bach o r M o z a rt. H e w ro te and re-
w ro te, co p y in g his pages o u t neatly, endlessly rew o rk in g them : o n th e
le ft a pile o f p ap ers to do over, o n th e rig h t th e g ro w in g pile o f revised
pages.
As th e b o o k b eg an to take shape, F o u cau lt co nsidered d efen d in g his
th esis in S w eden. H e h o p e d to find th e re a m o re u n d e rsta n d in g g ro u p
o f exam iners th a n th e ones h e d read ed facing in th e F re n c h u n iv ersity
system . A t th e C a ro lin a he had m e t S tirn L in d ro th , w ho held th e ch air
in th e h is to ry o f ideas and science at th e U n iv e rsity o f U ppsala. T h e y
sh ared c e rta in in terests: L in d ro th had w orked o n m edicine and p h ilo s­

~ 83 W
P s y c h o l o g y in H kll

o p h y in th e R enaissance, o n P aracelsus. T h e y c h a tte d , and L in d ro th


invited F o u cau lt to d in n e r. F o u cau lt asked him to read w h at he was
w ritin g and b ro u g h t him a few chapters, an e n o rm o u s stack o f h a n d -
w ritte n pages o n v ery th in pap er. B ut L in d ro th was à d y e d -in -th e -
w ool p o sitiv ist and n o t p a rticu larly o p e n to g ran d sp ecu latio n ; he was
sim ply frig h te n e d by th e style and c o n te n t o f th e pages he had b e e n
given. All he saw th e re was a “ c o n v o lu ted ” lite ra tu re , and he did n o t
im ag in e fo r a m o m e n t th a t this book, bits o f w hich he had ju st read,
could be p re se n te d to o b ta in a d o c to rate. H e w ro te F o u cau lt to in fo rm
h im o f his im p ressio n s— ex trem ely u n favorable. F o u cau lt trie d to ex-
p lain and to clarify th e p ro ject, b u t to n o effect. H e re are th e few expla-
n a tio n s he offered in a le tte r d ated A ugust io, 1957:

Your letter has been very useful in m aking m e aware of the flaws in
m y work, and I am very grateful to you for this. M y first m istake, I
should tell you rig h t away, was in n o t having w arned you sufficiently
th at this was n o t a “fragm ent o f a book” b u t only rough work, a first
draft th at I intend to w ork on again in the future, in any event. I
willingly concede that the style is unbearable (one o f my flaws is n o t
being naturally clear). O f course, I intend to get rid o f all the “con-
voluted” expressions th at m anaged to escape me. I subm itted this at-
tem p t to you, in spite o f its style, to have your opinion, w hich I value
highly, on the quality o f the inform ation and the principal ideas. It is
clear th at this latter p o in t caused difficulties. T h e re too, I was w rong
in n o t defining m y project, w hich is n o t to w rite a history o f the de-
velopm ents o f psychiatric science, b u t rath er a history o f the social,
moral, and imaginary context in which it developed. Because it seems
to m e th at up until the nineteenth century, n o t to say up u n til now,
there has been no objective knowledge o f m adness, b u t only the
form ulation, in term s o f scientific analogy, o f a certain experience
(m oral, social, etc.) o f U nreason. H ence this decidedly unobjective,
unscientific, unhistorical m ethod o f dealing with the question. But
perhaps this undertaking is absurd and doom ed in advance.
Finally, m y third great m istake was to prepare first the pages deal-
ing w ith m edical theories, whereas the realm o f “in stitu tio n s” is
unclear and w ould have helped me to be m ore clear in o th er areas.
Since you are willing to allow me to do so, I shall show you w hat I did
over the vacation on the subject of institutions . . . T h e re we are in a
realm th at is far easier to define and one providing the social condi-
tions o f the beginnings o f psychiatry.

L in d ro th did n o t feel any m o re e n lig h ten ed , and F o u cau lt did n o t


defend his thesis in U ppsala. It is tru e th a t he seem s to have b een

W X/j W
U p p s a L a , W a rs a u ‫׳‬, H a m n u r (,

sw am ped by his m aterials, and th a t he had a lo t o f tro u b le p u ttin g his


b o o k to g e th e r. D u m ézil, w ho supervised his w ork and c o n sta n tly asked
h im fo r new s a b o u t it, and w ho also read and c o m m en ted o n th e pages
alread y w ritte n , had advised h im ag ain st try in g to defend his thesis in
S w eden. “ P u b lish it in F ra n c e ,” he told him . H e knew th e so rt o f reser-
v atio n s th e Sw edes had; he knew th e m b e tte r th a n anyone. H e knew
also th a t P ro fe sso r H a sse lro th was rig h t in tellin g F oucault, sp eak in g
o f his colleagues, “You will n ev er g e t th e m to accept th a t.” A cco rd in g
to J e a n -C h ris to p h e O b e rg , F o u cau lt nev er really serio u sly co n sid ered
d e fe n d in g his thesis in Sw eden. Je a n -F ra n ç o is M iq u el, o n th e o th e r
h an d , said th a t L in d r o th ’s re je c tio n was one o f th e m ain reasons fo r his
d e p a rtu re . In any case th e Sw edes rem ain ed insensitive to F o u c a u lt’s
n a sc e n t w ork. In a re c e n t co n tro v e rsy in S w eden th e u n fo rtu n a te L in d -
ro th was c o n d e m n e d fo r having ig n o re d signs o f such genius. P erh ap s
th e tra d itio n o f th e h isto ry o f science p rev en ted this th o ro u g h ly G e r-
m an ic p ro fesso r, w ho had som e reservations a b o u t “ lite ra tu re ,” fro m
u n d e rs ta n d in g th e b o o k ’s significance. B ut th e fact rem ains: F o u cau lt
w ould have to w ait several years to defend his thesis. W h e n he le ft
S w eden, a c o u n try th a t he co n sid ered th o ro u g h ly unfrien d ly , his w o rk
was finished as far as d o c u m e n ta tio n was co n cern ed . B ut a g re a t deal o f
w ritin g and o rg a n iz in g rem ain ed to be done.
P a rt o f a n o th e r b o o k was p erh ap s w orked o u t d u rin g F o u c a u lt’s stay
in U p p sala. A few k ilo m eters fro m th e little city sto o d L in n a e u s’ house,
a w o o d e n house, lo st in som e o f th e m o st b eau tifu l c o u n try sid e o n e
could ever h o p e to see. F o u cau lt o fte n to o k his g ro u p o f friends o n
p ilg rim ag es to this m ecca o f th e h isto ry o f sciences. T h e c h a p te r o n
L in n aeu s in Les Mots et les choses certain ly owes a g re a t deal to th o se
lo n g , ex h au stin g walks.
F o u c a u lt had m an y o th e r o p p o rtu n itie s to m an ifest his in te re s t in
science. T h e U n iv e rsity o f U p p sala boasted tw o N o b e l p rizew in n ers in
ch em istry : T h e o d o r S v ed b erg and his stu d e n t A rne T iseliu s, in 1926
and 1948, respectively. F o u cau lt becam e frien d s w ith th em , and Sved-
b e rg to o k F o u c a u lt d o w n in to th e th ird u n d e rg ro u n d level in U p p sa la ’s
la b o ra to ry c e n te r and sp e n t a w eek explaining h o w th e cy clo tro n fu n c-
tio n e d . F o u c a u lt’s c o m m e n t was: “ B ut w hy d id n ’t I stu d y science in -
stead o f p h ilo so p h y ? ”

W h y did F o u cau lt decide to leave U ppsala? H is first c o n tra c t p ro -


vided fo r a tw o -y e a r stay, and it had b een renew ed for a n o th e r tw o.
A c c o rd in g to G u n n a r B rõ b erg , th e reaso n was ra th e r sim ple: his te a c h ­

‫׳‬vv 85 -W
-
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

in g o b lig atio n s had b een increased to tw elve h o u rs a w eek. C o n se -


quently, it w ould have b een im possible fo r F o u c a u lt to w o rk o n his
thesis. M o re o v e r, because he knew th a t he could n o t d efen d it in Sw e-
den, h e p re fe rre d resig n in g at th e end o f his th ird year. T h e u n iv e rsity
d ire c to ry a n n o u n c e d M ich e l F o u c a u lt’s courses fo r th e b e g in n in g o f
th e te rm in O c to b e r 1958. T h e T h u rs d a y lectu res w ere su p p o sed to
deal, o n ce again, w ith “ religious experience in F re n c h lite ra tu re fro m
C h a te a u b ria n d to B ern an o s.” T h e y nev er to o k place. F o u c a u lt le ft
U p p sala, tak in g w ith him , acco rd in g to n u m e ro u s w itnesses, a ra th e r
u n p le a sa n t m em o ry , desp ite th e frien d sh ip s he fo rm ed (he w ould keep
u p his c o n n e c tio n w ith Je a n -F ra n ç o is and C h ristin a M iq u el, w ith J e a n -
C h ris to p h e O b e rg , and especially w ith E rik N ilsso n ) and d esp ite th e
alm o st c o m p leted thesis. T h e n ex t stage o f his jo u rn e y w ould be P o lan d .

F o u c a u l t h a d p l e n t y of ti me to w ork o u t th e p a rtic u la rs o f his


d e p a rtu re for W arsaw d u rin g a lo n g visit to P aris in 1958. I t was a
ra th e r odd, alm o st im p ro m p tu visit, decided o n e M ay ev en in g w hile
F o u cau lt and J e a n -C h ris to p h e O b e rg — in tu x ed o s— w ere a tte n d in g a
re c e p tio n a t a chateau n e a r U ppsala. T h e y h ad b e e n invited by th e
heiress to o n e o f th e g re a t Sw edish fo rtu n es, w ho had fallen in love
w ith th e y o u n g F re n c h in stru c to r. D u rin g d in n e r O b e rg w e n t off alo n e
to listen to th e new s o n th e radio. W h e n he cam e back he to ld F o u -
cault, “ S o m e th in g is g o in g o n in F ran ce.” W h ic h was p u ttin g it m ildly.
G e n e ra l de G au lle, b o rn e alo n g by th e su p p o rte rs o f a F re n c h A lgeria,
was o n th e verge o f re tu rn in g to pow er. T h e r e was h ard ly a m o m e n t’s
h e s ita tio n b efo re th e y decided to go. T h e y re tu rn e d to U p p sala ju st
lo n g e n o u g h to ch an g e th e ir clothes, and off th e y w e n t to F ran ce in th e
Ja g u a r. O b e rg d escribes th e escapade:

M ichel and I left on W ednesday, M ay 2 8, 1958. W e spent the night in


a little hotel in D enm ark, in T appernõje. T h e next m orning, M ay 29,
we took a ferry from G edser, D enm ark, to G rossenbrode, G erm any.
W e spent the second night in Belgium at La Calam ine in a very small
hotel, the Select. T h e n we kept on tow ard Paris, arriving on M ay ‫סן‬
around three in the afternoon. Paris was in com plete tu rm o il— for
no apparent reason, since the game was already over. W e headed to-
ward the C ham ps-Élysées via Rue de Bassano, which the police had
blocked near the G eorge-V m etro stop. W e left the Jaguar on Avenue
M arceau, slipped th rough the police cordon, and began to walk along
the C ham ps-Élysées, w here we were quickly caught up in a wave o f

w 86 ‫׳‬w
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

dem onstrators. I found m yself perched on the ro o f o f a car heading


tow ard the Arc de T rio m p h e, while M ichel followed, surrounded by
youths w ho were waving the blue-w hite-and-red flag. T h e Place de
l’E toile was also blocked by police, and the car had to tu rn around.
T h a t gave m e a chance to jum p to the ground, but M ichel had disap-
peared into the crowd. W e found each o th er back at the Jaguar and
w ent off to eat to g eth er on S ain t-G erm an -des-Prés. T h e n we sepa-
rated. I w ent to the Swedish embassy, w here my parents were w aiting
for me, w orried because they did n o t know w here we were o r w hether
we had got to Paris, and M ichel w ent to m eet his brother, w ith w hom
he was living.

F o u c a u lt stayed in P aris for a go o d m o n th . W h e n he re tu rn e d to


U p p sa la it w ould be sim ply to pack his bags, a fte r a m eal w ashed d o w n
w ith p le n ty o f w ine in th e co m p an y o f th e sm all g ro u p w ith w hich he
had s p e n t th e p ast th re e years.
W h y W arsaw ? O n c e again, th e h an d o f D u m ézil m u st be seen b e-
h in d this a p p o in tm e n t. H e had frien d s ev ery w h ere— p articularly, in
this case, o n th e Q u ai d ’O rsay, w here P h ilip p e R ebeyrol, a fo rm e r stu -
d e n t a t th e E N S , w orked as c h ie f o f th e service in charge o f te a c h in g
F re n c h ab ro ad . W ith h im as in term ed iary , th e F re n c h g o v e rn m e n t had
ju st n e g o tia te d a cu ltu ral c o n v e n tio n w ith th e P o lish g o v e rn m e n t th a t
p ro v id e d fo r th e c re a tio n o f a F re n c h cu ltu ral c e n te r in th e U n iv e rsity
o f W arsaw itself. T h is a rra n g e m e n t im plied th e p resen ce o f a native
in s tru c to r w ith an office and lib rary at his disposal, w ho w ould also o r-
ganize cu ltu ral events. A t th e tim e this was ra th e r exceptional, and it
was c o n sid e re d a g re a t d ip lo m atic success, m ade possible by im p ro v ed
E a s t - W e s t re la tio n s a fte r p erio d s o f g re a t strain.
B u t it was n o t e n o u g h m erely to create th e p o st o f F re n c h in stru c to r;
it was also n ecessary to find so m eo n e qualified to fill it. T h is risked
b e in g a d elicate task. D u m ézil asked P h ilip p e R ebeyol to give th e p o st
to F o u cau lt. H e did so, chiefly because he had co m p lete confidence in
D um éziP s ju d g m e n t, and seco n d ly because th e official assessm ents o f
F o u c a u lt’s w o rk in S w eden had b e e n especially laudatory.
In O c to b e r 1958, th e re fo re , F o u cau lt flew to W arsaw and p re se n te d
h im se lf to E tie n n e B u rin des R oziers, w h o had re c e n tly b een a p p o in te d
F re n c h am b assad o r to P o lan d . “ I re m e m b e r a sm iling y o u n g m a n ,” he
said, “ nice, relaxed, h ap p y to take o n a job w hose in terest, im p o rtan ce,
and g re a t difficulty he u n d e rsto o d fro m th e s ta rt.” 9
F o u c a u lt was lo d g ed at first in a seedy ro o m at th e B ristol H o te l,
n e a r th e university, w hich was a clu ster o f buildings o n K rak o w Ave­

** 87
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

nue. H e th e n m oved to an a p a rtm e n t th a t was also v ery close to w h ere


he w orked. H e w orked o n his thesis o n th e o n e h an d and, o n th e o th e r,
fulfilled th e u n iv ersity and ad m in istrativ e fu n ctio n s e n tru ste d to him .
H is first task was to give this “ C e n te r o f F re n c h C iv ilizatio n ” a m a te -
rial existence. T ables and chairs had to be o rd e re d , as w ell as books and
review s. F o u cau lt also gave classes and lectu res at th e university, w h ere
he was co n n ected w ith th e R om ance L an g u ag e In s titu te in th e facu lty
o f m o d e rn philosophy. H e rep eated th e course o n F re n c h c o n te m p o -
ra ry th e a te r th a t he had b ro k e n in at U ppsala. H e im m ed iately sed u ced
his stu d e n ts and colleagues w ith his in tellig en ce, his seriousness, and
his kindness. T o d a y th e exquisite co u rte sy th a t he show ed o n ev ery
occasion is still talked ab o u t. H e also stru ck up a frien d sh ip w ith th e
p re sid e n t o f th e A cadem y o f Sciences, P ro fe sso r K o tarb in sk i, a figure
o f m ajo r im p o rta n c e in th e P olish u n iv ersity b u t one re g a rd e d by th e
a u th o ritie s as a “ b o u rg eo is p h ilo so p h e r,” since he to o k his in sp ira tio n
fro m th e th e o rie s o f th e V ien n a C ircle.
B it by b it F o u c a u lt’s ro le changed. T h e em bassy’s cu ltu ral adviser,
J e a n B ourilly, asked fo r several leaves o f absence to p re p a re his d o c-
to ra l thesis, and because F o u cau lt and B u rin des R oziers g o t alo n g fa-
m ously, F o u cau lt served as de facto cu ltu ral adviser fo r alm o st a year.
In th a t capacity h e gave a series o f lectu res o n A pollinaire d u rin g a to u r
th a t to o k him fro m G d an sk to K rakow , p re se n tin g th e ex p o sitio n th a t
P ro fe sso r Z u ro w sk i created fo r th e fo rtie th an n iv ersary o f th e p o e t’s
d eath .
“ H e p u t h im se lf in to this ro le [of cu ltu ral adviser] w ith a g re a t deal
o f go o d grace and, it seem ed to m e,” B u rin des R oziers w e n t on, “ n o t
a t all disliking it, sacrificing him self, p u ttin g in an ap p earan ce a t cul-
tu ra l events in th e fo u r co rn ers o f P o lan d , o b serv in g w ith a c e rta in
a m o u n t o f in d u lg en ce and am u se m e n t th e so m ew h at vain rites o f d ip lo -
m a d e m u m b o ju m b o .” As a result, w h en J e a n B ourilly an n o u n c e d th a t
he w an ted to q u it th e p o st fo r good because his thesis was finished and
he expected to be ap p o in te d to a ch air a t th e S o rb o n n e, th e am b assad o r
p ro p o se d th a t F o u cau lt replace him . B ut F o u cau lt set several co n d i-
tio n s fo r his acceptance: “H e th o u g h t,” said B u rin des R oziers, “ th a t
th e Q u a i d ’O rsa y was o n th e w ro n g track in th e w ay it set u p co rp s o f
agen ts fo r o u r fo reig n cu ltu ral activity. S om ehow , these agents w ere to
be polyvalent, as if a cu ltu ral adviser o r a F re n c h in s tru c to r was equally
qualified fo r service in S o u th A m erica, in Scandinavia, in th e Slavic
co u n tries, o r in th e F ar E ast. T o stick w ith P o lan d , M ich e l F o u c a u lt
was w illing to stay as h ead m an o n ly if allow ed to recru it, as he was co n -

‫־‬w 88 ‫׳‬w
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

fid en t he w ould be able to, y o u n g Slavists w ho w ould act as aides in


W arsaw , K rakow , and th ro u g h o u t th e te rrito ry .” 10
T h is p ro je c t n ev er cam e to an y th in g , because F o u cau lt had to leave
P o lan d in a h u rry . T h e sto ry is ra th e r m u d d led b u t a p p a re n tly q u ite a
co m m o n p la c e in E a s te rn E u ro p e . H e m e t a boy, w ith w h o m he b eg an
to sp en d som e h ap p y h o u rs in this gloom y, stifling co u n try . B ut th e
y o u n g m an was w o rk in g for th e police, w ho w ere try in g to in filtrate
th e W e s te rn d ip lo m a tic services. O n e m o rn in g B u rin des R oziers in -
fo rm e d F o u c a u lt th a t he had to leave P oland. “W h e n ? ” asked F o ucault.
“ In th e n ex t tw e n ty -fo u r h o u rs,” th e am bassador replied.
O n c e again, M ic h e l F o u cau lt left w ith a glo w in g re p o rt, extrav ag an t
praise, w ritte n by J e a n B ourilly:

A clear, precise and p en etratin g intellect, with a wealth o f great cul-


ture, M ichel Foucault possesses a sense o f authority. H e is capable o f
fulfilling im p o rtan t foreign functions m ost satisfactorily, w h eth er in
a teaching position or in a position th at includes adm inistrative re-
sponsibilities. In his direction of the C entre d ’Etudes at the univer-
sity, a post he took on in 1958- 1959, he had to confront num erous
difficulties, w hich involved m aterial conditions (the absence of any
location for the center o r apartm ent for him self for m any m onths) as
m uch as they involved the specific nature and aims o f the activities o f
the cen ter itself. H e was, nonetheless, able to guarantee a propitious
beginning for this new Franco-Polish organization.

/W

F o u c a u l t w e n t back to see P h ilip p e R ebeyrol o n th e Q u ai d ’O r-


say and to ld h im th a t he w ould like v ery m uch to go to G erm an y . H e
had tak en up G e rm a n w hile at th e E N S so th a t he could read H u sserl
and H e id e g g e r, and th e n he had becom e fascinated by N ietzsch e. I t is
easy to see w hy G e rm a n y could have b een p a rticu larly attractiv e to
him . So he w ould follow in S a rtre ’s and A ro n ’s footsteps; before the
w ar each o f th e m had sp e n t a year in o ne o f th e g re a t G e rm a n cities.
R eb ey ro l p ro p o se d several possibilities, in clu d in g M u n ic h and H a m -
b u rg . T h e r e was a th ic k n etw o rk o f F re n c h cu ltu ral in stitu tes in G e r-
m any. F o u c a u lt chose H a m b u rg .
F o u c a u lt’s fu n c tio n s in H a m b u rg w ere alm ost id en tical w ith th e
ones he had alread y p e rfo rm e d in U p p sala and W arsaw . T h e y involved
d ire c tin g th e C u ltu ra l In stitu te , receiving lectu rers (it was th e re th a t he
w o u ld m e e t A lain R o b b e -G rille t), and giving courses in th e D e p a rt-
m e n t o f R o m an ce L an g u ag es at th e U n iv ersity o f H a m b u rg .

•w‫ ׳‬89 ‫׳‬VV


P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

H is stu d e n ts re m e m b e r th a t his courses dealt, as was to be expected,


w ith F re n c h lite ra tu re and th a t he discussed c o n te m p o ra ry th e a te r (be-
cause it was o n e o f his favorite subjects), S artre, and Ç a m u s— a fte r a
lin g e rin g look a t th e e ig h te e n th century. Because his course was listed
as a s u p p le m e n ta ry o n e and re q u ired no exam , o n ly te n o r fifte e n at-
ten d ed . T h e s e stu d en ts w ere tru ly passionate a b o u t lite ra tu re , h o w -
ever, and this situ a tio n was m o re to his liking th a n th e o n e he had
ex p erien ced in U p p sala, especially because he ta u g h t o n ly tw o h o u rs
a w eek.
In fact, essentially, he was d ealin g w ith th e F re n c h In stitu te , lo cated
a t 55 H e id e m e r Strasse. F o u c a u lt sp e n t th e y ear 1 9 5 9 -6 0 in th e d ire c-
to r ’s a p a rtm e n t, w h ich occupied alm o st th e e n tire th ird floor. O th e r
th a n th e d ire c to r, th e In s titu te consisted o f fo u r p ro fesso rs w h o gave
F re n c h courses in th e city o r o n th e prem ises. A m o n g th e m w ere J e a n -
M a rie Z e m b , w h o is to d a y a p ro fesso r a t th e C o llèg e de F ran ce, and
G ilb e rt K ah n , th e n e p h e w o f L é o n B runschvicg and a frie n d o f S im o n e
W e il’s.
As in U p p sala, F o u cau lt devoted p a rt o f his tim e to th e a te r, w ith a
sm all tro u p e o rg an ized by G ilb e rt K ahn. A t his su g g estio n , C o c te a u ’s
L ’Ecole des veuves was p ro d u ced in J u n e i960. H e discussed C o c te a u at
g re a t le n g th w ith som e o f th e stu d en ts w h o had b eco m e his frien d s,
such as J u rg e n S c h m id t and Ire n e Staps, tw o pillars o f th e th e a tric a l
g ro u p .
A nd th e n , n o t surprisingly, he sp e n t a lo t o f tim e a t th e u n iv ersity
library. H e had co m p leted his p rin cip al thesis, Folie et déraison, and it
was d u rin g his stay a t H a m b u rg th a t he w e n t to P aris to show it to J e a n
H y p p o lite , w h o m he had ch o sen as his “ thesis d ire c to r.” F o u c a u lt was
n o w c o n c e n tra tin g o n his seco n d ary thesis, a tra n sla tio n o f K a n t’s
Anthropology, fo r w h ich he in te n d e d to w rite a long, h isto rical in tro -
d u c tio n . W h e n his tw o theses w ere in th e ir final stages and read y to
su b m it to th e o rd eal o f a defense, F o u cau lt w ould find a p o s itio n in
F re n c h h ig h e r e d u c a tio n — n o t w ith th e title o f “p ro fe sso r,” because
fo r th a t th e defense had to have tak en place, b u t as a charge d'enseigne-
ment in a v acan t chair, w ith a ran k th a t c o rre sp o n d e d ap p ro x im ately to
w h at is n o w called maitre de conference in F ran ce. S uch an o ffer cam e
fro m C le rm o n t-F e rra n d , and F o u cau lt decided to end, a t least te m p o -
rarily, his exile fro m F rance.

N e v e r again w ould he hold th e sam e so rt o f ad m in istrativ e o r cul-


tu ral posts as th e ones he was a b o u t to leave, a lth o u g h o n several occa­

'W 90 H
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

sions th e re was a serio u s po ssib ility o f his d o in g so. In 1967, w h en


E tie n n e B u rin des R oziers b ecam e am bassador to Italy, he p h o n e d
F o u c a u lt— th e n in T u n is ia — to p ro p o se th a t he becom e his cu ltu ral
adviser. F o u c a u lt fo u n d th e offer te m p tin g , b u t th e p ro je c t was cu t
s h o rt because th e C o llèg e de F ran ce was already o n th e h o riz o n . E a r-
lier, in 1963, he had accepted resp o n sib ility for th e F re n c h C u ltu ra l
In s titu te in T o k y o , b u t th e d ean o f th e faculty at C le rm o n t-F e rra n d
had b eg g ed th e m in iste r n o t to steal this professor, w ho was in d isp en s-
able to th e sm o o th o p e ra tio n o f his in stitu tio n . M u c h later, in 1981,
w h en th e le ft cam e to p o w er in F rance, th e re was talk o f n a m in g
F o u c a u lt as cu ltu ral adviser in N e w York; b u t th e discussions n ev er
cam e to an y th in g .
T h e r e w ould be o th e r ways in w hich F o u cau lt w ould c o n tin u e his
w o rk as “ am b assad o r o f F re n c h cu ltu re th ro u g h o u t th e w o rld ,” as th e
ad m in istra tiv e re p o rts re fe rre d to him : as a p ro fesso r in T u n is, as a lec-
tu re r in d o zen s o f c o u n tries, and, above all, th ro u g h his books and
th e ir e n o rm o u s in te rn a tio n a l success.

F o u c a u l t h a d left F r a n c e in 1955 feeling th a t his life fro m th e n


o n w o u ld be m ark ed b y travel, n o t to say exile. H e seem ed to be o b -
sessed w ith b e in g always so m ew h ere else. B ut was he nev er to live in
F ra n c e again? Yes, p erh ap s, b u t he w ould use this country, w ith w hich
he had such c o n flic tin g relatio n s, as a strateg ic base to org an ize stays
o f v ary in g le n g th in o th e r p arts o f th e w orld. W h e n he re tu rn e d to
S w eden in 1968 fo r a series o f lectures, he said in an in terv iew th a t
w h e n he left F ran ce in 1955, he had firm ly in te n d e d to spend th e re st
o f his life “b e tw e e n tw o suitcases,” to traip se a ro u n d th e w hole w orld,
“ and especially n ev er again to to u c h a p e n h o ld e r . . . T h e idea o f de-
v o tin g m y life to w ritin g seem ed co m p letely absurd to m e th en , and I
n ev er d re a m e d o f it. I t was in Sw eden, d u rin g th e lo n g Sw edish nig h ts,
th a t I c o n tra c te d this m ania, this filthy h a b it o f w ritin g for five o r six
h o u rs a day.” H e felt th e n th a t he was “ a so rt o f w orld to u rist, useless
and su p e rflu o u s.” A nd he added (this was in M a rc h 1968): “I still feel
th a t I am ju st as useless, th e difference b ein g th a t I am n o lo n g e r a
to u rist. N o w I am glued to m y w o rk ta b le .” 11 M ich el F oucault, in 1955,
a to u ris t to w h o m th e idea o f w ritin g had never occurred? T h is seem s,
p erh ap s, an ex ag g eratio n ; he had already pu b lish ed several texts. B ut it
is tru e th a t th ro u g h o u t his life he did co n sid er th a t he had nev er really
c h o se n to be a w rite r. T h is th e m e w ould com e up again and again in

* v 91
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

co n v ersatio n w ith his frien d s w hile he was w o rk in g o n his last b o o k s—


w ith so m an y p ro b lem s, hesitatio n s, and reg rets, and p erh ap s a ce rta in
w eariness deep w ith in , a desire to d ro p it all. “I sta rte d w ritin g by
chance. A nd once o n e has b egun, o ne is a p ris o n e r o f this activity; it is
im possible to escape.” H e was certain ly te m p te d to flee this b o d y o f
co n strain ts. B ut it is p ro b a b ly n o t all th a t easy to escape roles in to
w hich o ne has p o u re d o n e ’s e n tire existence.
F o u cau lt left F ran ce in A u g u st 1955. In th e su m m e r o f i960, n o t y e t
th irty -fo u r, he m oved back. T w o im p o rta n t th in g s h a p p e n e d d u rin g
his absence. F irst was th e absence itself. As a re su lt F o u c a u lt re m a in e d
o n th e o u tsid e o f all th e p o litical changes o c c u rrin g in F ran ce at th e
tim e o f th e A lg erian W a r and de G a u lle ’s re tu rn to p o w er. H e was iso-
lated fro m all th e upheavals p reo ccu p y in g th e left— th e em e rg e n c e o f a
stro n g m o v e m e n t u n io n iz in g th e stu d en ts, th e ap p earan ce o f p o litical
m o v em en ts th a t w ere o u tsid e C o m m u n ist influence, m ain ly in u n iv e r-
sity settin g s. M a n y p h e n o m e n a h elp ed trig g e r th e events o f M a y 1968.
D u rin g th e years F o u cau lt sp e n t abroad, h id d e n fissures w ere p ro d u c e d
th a t w ould end u p v io len tly shaking F re n c h so ciety several years la te r.
B ut th e n , once again, F o u cau lt w ould be absent. D u rin g th e stru g g les
te a rin g F ran ce a p a rt over th e A lgerian W ar, he was in S w eden, P o lan d ,
and G erm an y . W h ile M arch , A pril, and M a y 1968 w ere rip p in g a p a rt
th e social, political and in stitu tio n a l fram ew o rk o f th e co u n try , he was
in T u n is.
T h e second im p o rta n t ev en t was th a t F o u cau lt began, w ro te, and
co m p leted his thesis, Folie et déraison. Histoire de la folie à Vage classique.
T h e w o rk was supposed to be called “ L ’A u tre T o u r de folie,” in ref-
eren ce to a q u o ta tio n fro m Pascal w ith w hich F o u cau lt b eg an his p ref-
ace. B ut since it was a thesis th a t had to be sub jected to a defense,
F o u cau lt finally o p te d for a m o re academ ic title.
T h e b o o k begins:

Pascal: “M en are so necessarily mad, th at n o t to be m ad w ould am ount


to an o th er form o f m adness.” And Dostoevsky, in his Diary of a Writer:
“It is n o t by confining o n e’s neighbor that one is convinced o f o n e ’s
own sanity.”
W e have yet to w rite the history of that o th er form o f madness, by
which m en, in an act of sovereign reason, confine th eir neighbors,
and com m unicate and recognize each o th er th rough the m erciless
language o f non-m adness; to define the m om ent of this conspiracy
before it was perm anently established in the realm o f tru th , before it
was revived by the lyricism of protest. W e m ust try to retu rn , in his-

*v 92 44‫׳‬
U p p s a l a , XVa r s a w , H a m b u r g

tory, to th at zero p o in t in the course o f m adness at w hich m adness is


an undifferentiated experience, a not yet divided experience o f divi-
sion itself. W e m ust describe, from the start o f its trajectory, th at
“o th e r fo rm ” w hich relegates Reason and M adness to one side o r the
o th e r o f its action as things henceforth external, deaf to all exchange,
and as th o u g h dead to one another.

In o rd e r to explore th is “u n c o m fo rta b le re g io n ,” F o u cau lt an n o u n ces


at th e o u ts e t th a t it will be n ecessary to “re n o u n c e th e co n venience o f
te rm in a l tru th s ,” th a t is, lose o n e ’s fondness for th e concepts developed
b y c o n te m p o ra ry p sy ch o p ath o lo g y : “W h a t is co n stitu tiv e is th e actio n
th a t divides m adness, and n o t th e science elab o rated once this division
is m ad e and calm re s to re d .” M ed ical categories isolate th e m a d m a n in
his m adness. T h e m a d m a n and th e m an o f reaso n n o lo n g e r c o m m u n i-
cate. “As fo r a c o m m o n language, th e re is n o such th in g ; o r ra th e r,
th e re is no su ch th in g any longer; th e c o n s titu tio n o f m adness as a
m en tal illness, at th e end o f th e e ig h te e n th century, affords th e evi-
d en ce o f a b ro k e n dialogue, posits th e sep aratio n as already effected,
and th ru s ts in to o b liv io n all th o se stam m ered , im p erfect w ords w ith o u t
fixed syntax in w hich th e exchange b etw een m adness and reaso n was
m ade. T h e lan g u ag e o f psychiatry, w hich is a m o n o lo g u e o f reaso n
about m adness, has b een established o nly o n th e basis o f such a si-
le n c e .” T h e n com es th e su p erb and o fte n -c ite d d ec la ra tio n d efin in g
F o u c a u lt’s p ro ject: “ I have n o t trie d to w rite th e h isto ry o f th a t lan-
guage, b u t ra th e r th e arch aeo lo g y o f th a t silence.” 12
W r itin g th e a rch aeo lo g y o f th a t silence involved excavating all o f
W e s te rn c u ltu re . B ecause “ E u ro p e a n m an, since th e b e g in n in g o f
th e M id d le Ages, has had a re la tio n to so m e th in g he calls, in d iscrim i-
nately, M ad n ess, D e m e n tia , In san ity ,” one m u st acknow ledge th a t
th e R e a so n -M ad n ess c o n n e c tio n co n stitu tes “ o ne o f th e dim en sio n s o f
its o rig in a lity ,” and th a t it is defined by th e d ep th s th re a te n in g it.
F o u c a u lt in te n d s to d raw us in to these depths, in to this “ realm . . .
w h ere w h a t is in q u e stio n is th e lim its ra th e r th a n th e id e n tity o f a cul-
tu re .” A “ h is to ry o f th ese lim its” m u st be w ritte n , a h isto ry “ o f th o se
o b scu re acts, fo rg o tte n o f necessity as so o n as th e y are p erfo rm ed , by
m ean s o f w h ich a c u ltu re rejects s o m e th in g th a t will re p re se n t th e E x-
te rio r fo r it; and th ro u g h o u t th e course o f its history, this e m p ty hole,
th is b lan k space w ith w h ich it isolates itself, designates it just as m u ch
as d o its values . . . T o q u e stio n a cu ltu re o n th e extrem ities o f its expe-
rie n ce is to q u e stio n it o n th e confines o f history, o n a b reach th a t is
like th e v e ry b irth o f its h isto ry .” 13
‫׳‬W
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P s y c h o l o g y in H ull

A t this p o in t F o u cau lt an ch o rs his w o rk in th e N ie tz s c h e a n tra d i-


tio n : “A t th e c e n te r o f th ese extrem ities o f ex p erien ce in W e s te rn cul-
tu re eru p ts, o f course, th e experience o f tra g e d y itse lf— N ie tz s c h e
having d e m o n stra te d th a t th e trag ic s tru c tu re o n w hich th e h is to ry o f
th e W e s te rn w orld is based is n o n e o th e r th a n th e re je c tio n and fo rg e t-
tin g o f tra g e d y and its sile n t fallo u t.” B u t th e re are “ m an y o th e r expe-
rien ces c e n te rin g o n ” this experience, each o f w hich traces o n th e
fro n tie rs o f o u r cu ltu re “ a lim it th a t im plies, at th e sam e tim e, an o ri-
ginative division.” F o u cau lt w ants to b eco m e th e arc h a e o lo g ist o f all
th o se th re a te n in g b u t rejected experien ces— rep ressed , fo rg o tte n , and
always p resen t. H e p ro p o ses to c a rry o u t a series o f studies “ in th e
lig h t o f a g re a t N ie tz sc h e a n in q u iry ” in an a tte m p t to disco v er and
re c o u n t o th e r divisions u p o n w hich o u r cu ltu re has b e e n c o n stru c te d .
H e m e n tio n s two: first, “th e ab so lu te div id in g off o f th e d ream , th a t
m a n c a n n o t keep h im se lf fro m c o n su ltin g o n th e su b ject o f his ow n
tr u th — w h e th e r th e tru th o f his d estin y o r o f his h e a rt— b u t th a t h e
consults o n ly fro m th e o th e r side o f a basic rejectio n , derisively co n -
s titu tin g and re p re ssin g th e d ream as h a llu c in a tio n ” ; th e n , “ th e his-
tory, and n o t ju st in te rm s o f eth n o lo g y , o f sexual p ro h ib itio n s: to
speak o f th e c o n sta n tly sh iftin g and o b stin a te fo rm s o f re p re ssio n in
o u r o w n cu ltu re, and n o t to w rite a ch ro n icle o f m o ra lity o r o f to le r-
ance, b u t to reveal h ow th e lim its o f th e W e s te rn w o rld and th e o rig in s
o f its m o ra lity are its trag ic division fro m th e h ap p y w o rld and fro m
d esire.” B ut th e re rem ain ed one vital task: “ to speak o f th e ex p erien ce
o f m ad n ess,” to red isco v er it befo re its cap tu re by k n o w led g e and sci-
entific discourse, and, even m o re vital, to le t it express itself, to le t it
speak itse lf w ith “th o se w ords, th o se texts th a t com e fro m b e n e a th lan -
guage and w ere n ev er m ade to a tta in sp eech .” 14
T h is was th e p ro je c t th a t F o u cau lt an n o u n c e d in th e te n -p a g e p re f-
ace d ro p p e d fro m th e 1972 ed itio n . B u t w h a t a b o u t th e b o o k itself?
O bviously, it is im possible to re c o n stru c t all th e analyses, w hich ru n to
m o re th a n six h u n d re d pages o f p rin t in F ren ch . So rich, so te e m in g , so
involved are th ese analyses, so m etim es d isc o n c e rtin g as well as co n -
tra d ic to ry ; th e y m ove fro m o n e re g iste r to a n o th e r, discussing th e
eco n o m ic level (m u ch in evidence in F o u c a u lt’s books o f a h isto rical
n atu re) as readily as th e juridical o r a rtistic level to m ake his a rg u m e n t.
B ut it is w o rth w h ile to ex tract a few th in g s he said in th e co u rse o f this
vast d e m o n stra tio n , in o rd e r, above all, to h e a r F o u c a u lt’s voice. T h e
style is ra th e r d ifferen t fro m w h at it will becom e.
W h e n m adness still had an established place in society, th a t is, in th e
m iddle o f th e R enaissance, th e re was alread y a sp lit fo rm in g b etw een

W w-
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

tw o fo rm s o f m adness. T h e r e was th e m adness o f th e p a in tin g s o f


B osch, B reu g h el, o r D ü re r o n th e one. hand, tro u b lin g , obsessive, and
th re a te n in g , seem in g to reveal th e deep secret in to w hich th e tru th o f
o u r w orld o f ap p earan ces w ould vanish. I t was a m adness like th a t in
E ra s m u s ’ In Praise o f Folly. R eason was in a dialogue w ith this folly,
w h ich was h o w ev er a m adness already set at a distance, c a u g h t in
th e u n iv erse o f dicourse, o n e evoked o n ly to d ire c t its critical pow ers
ag ain st h u m a n illusion and its p re te n sio n . O n th e o n e h an d a p ro -
fo u n d ly tra g ic m adness and o n th e o th e r a m adness, a folly, th a t was
a lm o st tam ed , w hose violence subsided u n d e r th e h u m a n ist’s iro n ic
gaze. T h e gap is alread y th ere, and it will o n ly g ro w d e e p e r w ith th e
p assin g c e n tu rie s. T h is is, p erh ap s, th e p o in t o f diverg en ce b e tw e e n
tw o paths: th e p a th o f critical consciousness th a t will lead to m edical
science, and th e p a th ta k e n b y th o se trag ic figures w ho are supposed to
re m a in sile n t y e t w ho re em erg e in th e w orks o f G oya, V an G o g h ,
N ie tz sc h e , and A rtau d . In any case, and in spite o f ev ery th in g , m adness
is still p re s e n t and fam iliar at th e tim e th e ru p tu re is alread y o c c u rrin g .
In th e s e v e n te e n th c e n tu ry m adness finds itse lf rejected and b an -
ished. F o u c a u lt calls this d ev e lo p m e n t “ th e classic ev en t,” and it has
tw o “ asp ects.” 15 O n th e o n e h an d , m adness is ch allenged b y a sover-
eig n a ct o f reaso n , w hich excludes it and co n d em n s it to silence, w ith
D e s c a rte s ’s p a ra d ig m a tic w ords, “b u t so w hat? th ey are m a d m e n ,” in
th e first M editation , w h en he evokes and th e n dism isses w h at fo u n d a-
tio n s th e re m ig h t be for a possible d o u b t c o n c e rn in g th e tru th s th a t
th o u g h t believes are obvious to p e rc e p tio n . A m an m ay w ell be m ad
w ith o u t je o p a rd iz in g th e rig h ts o f th o u g h t. O n th e o th e r h an d , m ad -
ness is locked up, p u t away. In this case th e re are eco n o m ic, political,
m o ral, and relig io u s m otives ex ertin g th e ir full force: in this “ g re a t
c o n fin e m e n t” sp a n n in g th e se v e n te e n th century, th e p o o r, th e idle,
b eg g ars, and vagabon ds, la ter to be joined by th e d eb au ch ed , th o se
w ith v en ereal diseases, lib ertin es, and hom osexuals, w ould all find
th em selv es b e h in d th e walls o f th e H ô p ita l G é n é ra l w ith th e insane.
“ P e rh a p s,” w ro te F o u cau lt, “ this is w here, fo r cen tu ries, th e kinship
b e tw e e n u n re a so n and g u ilt w ould be fo rm ed , o ne th a t to d ay th e in san e
p e rso n ex p erien ces as d e stin y and th e d o c to r discovers as a tru th o f na-
tu re .” 16 S o m eh o w w e have m oved fro m m adness to u n reaso n , fro m th e
p e rio d in w h ich m adness h ad its ow n specificity to th e p e rio d in w hich
it is based in th e g ro u p o f th o se confined, th o se w ho m u st be “ co r-
re c te d .” F o r this c o n fin e m e n t organizes p u n ish m e n t and c h astisem en t
ra th e r th a n m edical tre a tm e n t fo r th e ones sen t in to it, all to g e th e r.
B u t in th u s d efin in g th e features o f w h a t was to be c o n d em n ed , and

W 95 **
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

in radically b a n n in g it fro m society, th e “g re a t c o n ta in m e n t” did n o t


play a m erely neg ativ e role. It also “ c o n stitu te d a realm o f e x p e rie n c e ,”
by b rin g in g to g e th e r, “ in an area u n itin g th em , figures and values
am o n g w h o m e arlier cu ltu res had perceived n o resem b lan ce a t all; im -
p e rc e p tib ly it sh ifted th e m in th e d ire c tio n o f m adness, p re p a rin g an
ex p erien ce— o u rs — in w h ich th e y stand o u t as b ein g alread y in te -
g rated in to th e set o f th o se b elo n g in g to th e m en tally ‫ ׳‬d e ra n g e d .” 17
O n th e o th e r h an d , u n re a so n is lo cated and isolated as a c o n c re te
presen ce. It can b eco m e an “ o b ject o f p e rc e p tio n .” A nd F o u c a u lt u n -
d o u b te d ly sees this as a crucial m o m en t:

W h a t was the horizon against which it was seen? Clearly, against th at


o f a social reality. S tarting in the seventeenth century, unreason is no
longer the w orld’s great obsession; it also ceases to be a natural,
adventurous dim ension o f reason. It comes to be seen as a hum an
phenom enon, a spontaneous variety in the realm o f social species.
W h a t form erly was an inevitable danger in h eren t in things, in m an’s
language, in his reason and his world, now assumes the figure o f a
character— or rather, o f characters. T h e m en o f unreason are types
recognized and isolated by society: the debauched, the dissipated, the
hom osexual, the m agician, the suicide, the libertine. U nreason be-
gins to be m easured according to a certain gap dividing it from social
norm s . . . T h is is the essential point: madness, abruptly invested in a
social world, now puts in a privileged and alm ost exclusive appear-
ance. A lm ost from one day to the next, it has been provided w ith a
lim ited sphere in w hich everyone can recognize and denounce it—
the m adness form erly seen prow ling at every border, surreptitiously
inhabiting the m ost fam iliar places. From this point on, it can be ex-
orcised all at once by dealing with each of the figures in w hich it is
em bodied, to m aintain o rder and as a police precautions.

A nd at th is p o in t F o u cau lt asks th e qu estio n : “ Is it n o t im p o rta n t to o u r


c u ltu re th a t u n re a so n could beco m e an o b ject o f u n d e rsta n d in g o n ly to
th e e x ten t th a t it first had b e e n an o b ject o f ex co m m u n ic a tio n ? ” 18
B u t th e figure o f m adness w ould gradually, o n ce again, w in fo r itse lf
a p a rtic u la r place w ith in this c o n ste llatio n fo rm ed by u n reaso n . F o r, in
th e end, th e value o f in te rn m e n t fro m an eco n o m ic p o in t o f view was
called in to q u e stio n and th e co n clu sio n was reach ed th a t it was b e tte r
politics to r e tu rn to th e w ork force all th o se w ho w ere capable o f o p e ra t-
ing in it. H o w could p o v erty be tre a te d by in carceratio n ? M ad n ess, in
this d ev elo p m en t, w ould once again find itse lf sep arated fro m its o th e r
h ousem ates in this e n tity called U n reaso n . It alone e n d ed u p o ccu p y ­

++ 9 6 ++
U p p s a l a , W a r s a w , H amburg

in g th o se places o f c o n fin e m e n t th a t it had sh ared w ith th em . T h e


insane fo u n d them selves alone w ith th e d o cto rs w ho te n d e d th em .
T h is was th e b irth o f th e asylum , th e m ed icalizatio n o f in te rn m e n t.
T h e c o n d itio n s w ere n o w p ro v id ed for m adness to be c o n stitu te d as
“ m e n ta l illness.” H e n c e fo rth lunatics w ere loosed fro m th e ir chains,
b u t o n e m u st bew are o f naively accep tin g th e po sitiv ist m y th o lo g y th a t
sings th e v irtu es o f this lib e ra tio n and takes c re d it for it: “T h e asylum
o f th e age o f positivism , w h ich it is P in e l’s g lo ry to have fo u n d ed , is n o t
a free realm o f o b serv atio n , diagnosis, and th erap eu tics; it is a ju rid ical
space w h ere o n e is accused, judged and co n d em n ed , and fro m w hich
o n e is n ev er released except b y th e versio n o f this trial in psychological
d e p th , th a t is, by rem o rse. M ad n ess will be p u n ish ed in th e asylum ,
even if it is in n o c e n t o u tsid e o f it. F o r a lo n g tim e to com e, and u n til
o u r o w n day at least, it is im p riso n e d in a m o ral w o rld .” A nd F o u cau lt
adds: “ I t is th o u g h t th a t T u k e and P in el o p en ed th e asylum to m edical
k n o w led g e. T h e y did n o t in tro d u c e a science, b u t a personality, w hose
po w ers b o rro w e d fro m science o n ly th e ir disguise, o r at m o st th e ir
ju stificatio n . . . I f th e m edical p erso n ag e could isolate m adness, it
was n o t because he k n ew it, b u t because he m astered it; and w h a t for
po sitiv ism w ould be an im age o f ob jectiv ity was o nly th e o th e r side o f
this d o m in a tio n .” 19
M ed ical science, how ever, was sin g in g its v ictories in vain; it had
n o t, fo r all th a t, w o n th e stru g g le. Because, for F oucault, th e asylum
c o n s tru c te d b y P h ilip p e P in el did n o t serve to p ro te c t th e m o d e rn
w o rld fro m m adness. M ad n ess m ay no lo n g e r be set up as n ig h t co n -
fro n te d b y th e lig h t o f day, b u t as an observable reality w hose tru th can
be to ld b y th e n o rm a l h u m a n being. B ut in re tu rn it m u st be acknow l-
edged th a t this tru th is b o u n d to m adness: “In o u r tim e m an has no
tru th ex cep t in th e en ig m a o f th e m ad m an , w ho he b o th is and is not:
each m a d m a n b o th bears and does n o t b ear w ith in him this tru th o f
m an, w h ich he exposes in th e co n sequences o f his h u m an ity .” In short:
“M a n and m a d m a n are b o u n d by an im palpable c o n n e c tio n o f tru th
th a t is b o th recip ro cal and in c o m p a tib le .” A nd th en , above all, at th e
m o m e n t at w h ich u n re a so n seem s d o o m ed to disappearance, th e voice
o f th o se w ho again pick up its to rc h m u st be heard. It is a to rc h o f
darkness and n ig h t, o f in fin ite n eg atio n . S uch was th e case for G oya;
“ th is m adness so fo re ig n to th e experience o f its c o n te m p o ra rie s . . .
does it n o t tra n s m it— to th o se able to receive it, to N ie tz sc h e and
A rta u d — th o se b arely audible voices o f classical u n reaso n , in w hich it
was always a q u e stio n o f n o th in g n e ss and n ig h t, b u t am plifying th e m

~ 97
P s y c h o l o g y in H e l l

no w to shrieks and frenzy? B ut giving th e m fo r th e first tim e an expres-


sion, a droit de cite, and a h old o n W e s te rn cu ltu re, w h ich m akes p o s-
sible all c o n te sta tio n s, as well as total co n testatio n ? B u t re s to rin g th e ir
p rim itiv e savagery?” T h e n th e re was Sade, fo r w h o m , as fo r G o y a,
“u n re a so n c o n tin u e s to w atch by n ig h t.” B ut “in this vigil it joins w ith
fresh p o w e rs.” T h r o u g h G oya and Sade, “ th e W e s te rn w o rld received
th e p o ssib ility o f tra n sc e n d in g its reaso n in violence and o f re c o v e rin g
tra g ic ex p erien ce b ey o n d th e prom ises o f d ialectic.” 20
F o u c a u lt co ncludes w ith this p ro clam atio n : “R use and new triu m p h
o f m adness: th e w o rld th a t th o u g h t to m easu re and ju stify m adness
th ro u g h p sy ch o lo g y m u st justify itse lf b efo re m adness, since in its
stru g g les and agonies it m easures itse lf by th e excess o f w orks like
th o se o f N ie tz sc h e , o f V an G o g h , o f A rtaud. A nd n o th in g in itself,
especially n o t w h a t it can k n o w o f m adness, assures th e w o rld th a t it is
justified b y such w orks o f m ad n ess.” 21*

*v 98
Part II
W

T he O rder of T h in g s
8
WV

The Talent o f a Poet

egiin d u rin g th e lo n g Sw edish n ig h t” and co m p leted “ in th e


o b stin a te , h o t sun o f P o lish fre e d o m ,” 1 Folie et déraism tu rn e d
in to a m o n stro u s m an u scrip t: 943 pages, acco rd in g to G e o rg e s
C a n g u ilh e m — n o t c o u n tin g appendixes and bibliography. T h e p ref-
ace, w ritte n a fte r th e text itself, was d ated “H a m b u rg , F e b ru a ry 5,
i9 6 0 .” In this p e rio d th e aw ard o f th e h ig h est F re n c h d eg ree, a doctorat
d'etat, re q u ire d th e p re se n ta tio n o f tw o theses, and Folie et déraison was
to c o n s titu te th e p rin c ip al thesis. T h e a n n o ta te d tra n sla tio n o f K a n t’s
Anthropology, p reced ed by a lo n g in tro d u c tio n , w ould serve as th e sec-
o n d a ry thesis.
E v en b efo re m o v in g back to F rance, F o u cau lt had so u g h t a “ p a tro n ”
w h o w ould be w illing to play th e ro le o f “ research d ire c to r,” in this
case so m e o n e to be sim ply th e rapporteur sp o n so rin g him fo r his de-
fense, because th e re was n o th in g left to direct. B o th theses w ere al-
re a d y finished. W h ile o n a b rie f visit to P aris he w e n t to see J e a n
H y p p o lite to ask if he w ould p e rfo rm this role. H y p p o lite , w ho was at
th a t tim e d ire c to r o f th e E co le N o rm a l S u p érieu re, agreed to do so for
th e se c o n d a ry thesis, because he was well acq u ain ted w ith G e rm a n
th o u g h t and th e h isto ry o f philosophy. T h is was his field. B ut for th e
p rin c ip al thesis, w hich he read “w ith a d m ira tio n ,” 2 he th o u g h t his fo r-
m e r p u p il sh o u ld w ork w ith G eo rg es C an g u ilh em . C an g u ilh em had
b e e n te a c h in g th e h isto ry o f science at th e S o rb o n n e for several years,
and H y p p o lite co n sid ered him in a b e tte r p o sitio n to be th e academ ic
su p erv iso r o f this vast p o rtra it o f m adness th ro u g h th e ages, w hich
b o re little resem b lan ce to a classic thesis in philosophy. H e th o u g h t it
w ould in te re s t C a n g u ilh e m , w ho had h im self defen d ed a thesis in
m ed icin e title d Le Normal et le pathologique. F o u cau lt th e re fo re w e n t to
find th e m an w h o had already officiated at th e first tw o rites o f passage

++ IOI *v
T he O r de r oe T h i n g s

o p e n in g his w ay to an academ ic career: th e e n tra n c e exam s for th e


E N S and th e o ral fo r th e agrégation. T h is tim e th e y m e t in th e ves-
tib u le o f an a m p h ith e a te r a t th e old S o rb o n n e w h ere C a n g u ilh e m was
a b o u t to give a lectu re. F o u cau lt o u tlin ed w h a t he w an ted to do: to
d e m o n stra te h ow th e ad v en t o f classical ratio n alism had in stitu te d th e
division th a t m ade m adness a th in g apart, and h o w p sy ch ia tric k n o w l-
edge h ad in v en ted , m o ld ed , and carved o u t its o b ject— m e n ta l illness.
C a n g u ilh e m listen ed and c o m m e n te d laconically, in a single sen ten ce,
p ro n o u n c e d in th e g ru ff voice he liked to use: “ If th a t w ere tru e it
w ould be k n o w n .‫ ״‬B ut he read th e w o rk and ex p erien ced “ a real
sh o ck .” C o n v in ced th a t he was lo o k in g at tru ly first-ra te w ork, he im -
m ed iately agreed to serve as its rapporteur. H e sim ply su g g ested th a t
F o u cau lt change o r to n e d o w n som e o f th e fo rm u la tio n s he th o u g h t
w ere to o p e re m p to ry . F oucault, how ever, was a p p a re n tly v ery a tta c h e d
to th e fo rm he had given his b o o k and refu sed to change a n y th in g in it.
T h e thesis was d efen d ed and th e w o rk p u b lish ed in th e fo rm in w h ich
C a n g u ilh e m first read it.
T h is is, p erh ap s, th e place to take a closer look a t th e individual w h o
w ould q u e stio n and judge F o u cau lt once m o re , a t this final h u rd le o n
th e in stitu tio n a l track lead in g to th e ra n k o f “u n iv ersity p ro fe sso r.”
F o u cau lt reg ard ed “ C a n g ,” as he was called a t th e E N S , w ith som e
h o stility follow ing th e ir first tw o en co u n ters, b u t he en d ed u p re a d in g
his w orks all th e sam e and fin d in g th e m useful. H o w could h e have
ig n o re d th e m com pletely, w h e n A lth u sser n ev er m issed a ch an ce to call
his s tu d e n ts ’ a tte n tio n to this herald o f th e p h ilo so p h y o f science d u r-
in g a p e rio d in w hich th e existentialists prevailed? F o u cau lt th e re fo re
o v ercam e his p erso n al an n o y an ce and read Le Normal et le pathologique
and th e articles th a t C a n g u ilh e m p u b lish ed fro m tim e to tim e in spe-
cialist review s. C a n g u ilh e m was, above all, a p ro fesso r and, as D e sa n ti
describes h im , “ an o rg a n iz e r o f th e ph ilo so p h ical trib e .” H e p u b lish ed
v ery little at a tim e, over a co nsiderable p e rio d — o ne carefully defined
article a fter a n o th e r, grad u ally c o n stru c tin g w h at w ould o n ly la te r
fo rm th e volum es th a t b ecam e ra th e r fam ous in academ ic circles: La
Connaissance de la vie, Etudes d ’histoire et de philosophic des sciences, Ide-
ologie et rationalité dans les sciences de la vie. In th e preface to Folie et de'-
raison, F o u cau lt cited C a n g u ilh e m as one o f his m asters, and h e w ould
re n d e r h o m ag e again in his in au g u ral lectu re at th e C o llèg e de F ran ce,
in D e c e m b e r 1970. B ut basically, C a n g u ilh e m ’s in fluence o n h im m ade
itse lf felt p rim a rily b etw een th ese tw o events. T h u s Naissance de la cli­

++ 1 0 2 **
T h e T a l e n t of a P o e t

nique show s m o re o f his in fluence th a n does Folie et déraison. F o u cau lt


seem s to ack now ledge this in a J u n e 1965 le tte r to C an g u ilh em :
W h e n I began to work, ten years ago, I did n o t know you— n o t your
books. But the things I have done since I certainly would n o t have
done had I n o t read you. You have had a great im pact on [my work]. I
cannot describe to you precisely how, n o r precisely w here, no r w hat
m y “m eth o d ” owes to you; b u t you should be aware that even, and
especially, m y counterpositions— for example, on vitalism — are pos-
sible only on the basis o f w hat you have done, o n this layer o f analysis
introduced by you, o n this epistem ological eidetics that you invented.
A ctually the Clinique and w hat follows it derive from this and, per-
haps, are com pletely contained w ithin it. Some day I shall have to
com e to grips w ith exactly w hat this relationship is.

T o “ com e to grips w ith exactly w h at this re la tio n sh ip is” and, p e r-


haps, to u n d e rsta n d th e influ en ce this d iscreet p ro fesso r h ad o n an en -
tire g e n e ra tio n o f p h ilo so p h ers, one m u st refer to th e lo n g p reface
w ritte n by F o u cau lt for th e A m erican e d itio n o f Le Normal et le pa-
thologique, in 1977. In this tex t he em phasizes C a n g u ilh e m ’s ro le in th e
d eb ates sw eep in g F re n c h th o u g h t d u rin g th e 1960s and 1970s: “T h is
m an , w hose au ste re w o rk — a w o rk th a t is lim ited by choice and m eric-
u lo u sly d ev o ted to o n e p a rtic u la r area o f th e h isto ry o f sciences, w hich,
in any case, is n o t seen as a p articu larly spectacu lar d iscipline— fo u n d
itse lf so m e h o w p re se n t in th e debates in w hich he h ad b e e n careful
n ev er to play a p a rt him self.” 3 H e w ould, how ever, play a p a rt in it
o n ce, ju st once: w h en h e c o m m e n te d o n Les Mots et les choses, in a v ery
v ig o ro u s article th a t received m u ch a tte n tio n .4 H e w ro te it, C a n -
g u ilh e m recalls today, “ because I was an n o y ed at th e S a rtre a n s’ c riti-
cism o f F o u c a u lt.” A fter F o u c a u lt’s d eath C a n g u ilh e m w ould pay
h o m a g e to his d e p a rte d frien d in a m ag n ificen t article re c o n stru c tin g
th e c o h e re n c e o f F o u c a u lt’s th o u g h t, fro m Histoire de la folie to th e final
vo lu m es o f Histoire de la sexualité {The History o f Sexuality ).‫ י‬In J a n u a ry
1988 h e p resid ed o v er th e co llo q u iu m in Paris, “ F o u cau lt p h ilo so p h e ,”
th a t a ttra c te d scholars fro m all over th e w orld.
G e o rg e s C a n g u ilh e m was b o rn in 1904 at C astelnaudary, in so u th -
w e s te rn F ran ce. H e was á m e m b e r o f th e fam ous class o f 1924 at th e
E N S th a t in clu d ed A ro n , S artre, and N izan . A fter having passed his
agrégation in p h ilosophy, he started to stu d y m edicine. H e d efen d ed his
thesis in 1943— th a t is, in th e m id st o f w ar in occupied F rance. T h e
U n iv e rsity o f S trasb o u rg , w h ere he was teaching, had w ith d ra w n to

*v 103 *v
T he O r de r oe T h i n g s

C le rm o n t-F e rra n d for th e d u ra tio n . C an g iiilh e m c o n tin u e d to teach


th e re and at th e sam e tim e w orked actively in th e R esistance. A fter
F ran ce was lib erated he again ta u g h t in S tra sb o u rg b efo re b e c o m in g
th e in sp e c to r g en eral o f n a tio n a l ed u catio n . D u rin g this p e rio d he
aro u sed p ro fo u n d h o stility am o n g th e se c o n d a ry sch o o l teach ers
w hose ped ag o g ical co m p eten ce he was resp o n sib le fo r evaluating. H is
fits o f a n g er and his a b ru p t m an n ers m ade h im feared, even d etested .
T h e r e are m an y u n k in d stories still g o in g a ro u n d to d ay a b o u t th in g s
he did and said w hile p e rfo rm in g his job as “ in s p e c to r” — th e title
alone is e n o u g h to create m istru st. B ut in 1955 h e was a p p o in te d to th e
S o rb o n n e , w h ere he succeeded G a sto n B achelard, and it was m o st cer-
tain ly fro m th a t p o in t o n th a t he beg an to have a real in flu en ce o n th e
F re n c h p h ilo so p h ical landscape. T h a t in fluence was alm o st invisible; in
fact it rem ain ed in th e shadow s u n til F o u cau lt m ad e such a p o in t o f it.
T h r o u g h o u t his life C a n g u ilh e m had reflected o n th e p ro b le m s o f sci-
en tific p ractice, tak in g th e ro u te m arked o u t by B achelard b u t c o n c e n -
tra tin g o n th e life sciences ra th e r th a n physics. H e was especially
in te re ste d in th e rela tio n sh ip b etw een id eo lo g y and ratio n ality , in th e
p rocess o f discovery, in th e role o f e rro r in th e search fo r “ tr u th ,”
th e v ery n o tio n o f w hich he also q u estio n ed . By so doing, as F o u c a u lt
d e m o n stra te s v ery w ell in his 1977 text, he in scrib ed h im se lf in th e
tra d itio n o f co n cep tu al p h ilo so p h ers, em b o d ied by B achelard, J e a n
C availlès, and A lexandre K oyré, w ho fu n d am en tally (and as if fro m
th e d ark b eg in n in g s o f tim e) c o n fro n te d th e o p p o site p h ilo so p h ical
tra d itio n o f experience and sense, as it was em b o d ied in S a rtre and
M e rle a u -P o n ty , th e existentialists and p h en o m en o lo g ists.
C a n g u ilh e m , th e n , served as a rallying p o in t. H is n am e b ecam e
s o m e th in g o f a m ilita n t passw ord for all th o se w h o w ere try in g to es-
cape th e w e ll-tro d p ath s o f a p h ilo so p h y o f th e su b ject— th a t is, fo r all
th o se w ho, fro m th e 1950s u n til th e 1980s, a tte m p te d to in ject n ew life
in to th e th e o re tic a l discourse o f philosophy, sociology, o r p sy ch o -
analysis. C an g u ilh em , we m ig h t v en tu re, is a so rt o f p re c u rso r o f stru c -
tu ralism ; o r ra th e r, he acclim ated m an y y o u n g scholars to w h a t w ould
b eco m e stru ctu ralism , by laying o u t for th e m w h at could be called a
stru c tu ra l h isto ry o f science.

A t t h a t t i m e , to be d efended a thesis had to be p rin te d . A nd th e


d ean o f th e faculty th a t was b ein g asked to aw ard th e title o f d o c to r had
to a u th o riz e this p rin tin g . C a n g u ilh e m th e re fo re to o k o n th e task o f

*V 1 0 4 *V
T he T a l e n t oe a P o e t

w ritin g in F o u c a u lt’s b e h a lf th e “ rep o rt: to o b tain th e p rin tin g p e rm it


as a p rin c ip al thesis for th e d o c to ra te o f le tte rs .” O n A pril 19, i960, he
su m m arized th e thesis and expressed h igh praise for it in several closely
spaced, ty p ed pages, w hich he k ep t afterw ard in his personal files. T h e
fo llo w in g ex cerp t gives som e in d ic a tio n o f his o p inion: “T h e signifi-
cance o f this w ork is clear. Since M . F o u cau lt has nev er lost sig h t o f th e
w ide v arie ty o f ways in w hich m adness has b een useful to m o d e rn m an,
fro m th e R enaissance u n til today, its m irro rin g in th e plastic arts, in
lite ra tu re , and in p h ilo so p h y ; since he has so m etim es u n ta n g le d and
so m etim es en m esh ed n u m ero u s vital leads, his thesis p resen ts itself as a
w o rk th a t is sim u ltan eo u sly analytic and sy n th etic, w hose rig o r m akes
its re a d in g n o t always easy, b u t always rew ard in g to th e m in d .” C an -
g u ilh em added:

As for docum entation, M . Foucault has, on the one hand, reread and
looked at a considerable num ber o f records once again, and, on the
o th er, he has read and m ade use o f m any records for the first tim e. A
professional historian cannot help but like the effort by a young phi-
losopher to gain access to prim ary docum ents. O n the o th er hand,
there is no philosopher who could reproach M . Foucault for having
given up autonom y o f philosophical judgm ent by being submissive to
the sources o f historical inform ation. M . F oucault’s thought, in im-
plem en tin g his considerable docum entation, has preserved from be-
ginning to end a dialectical rigor that derives in part from his
sym pathy with a H egelian view of history and his fam iliarity w ith
Phenomenology of Spi?‫׳‬it. T h e originality of this work consists, essen-
dally, in its taking up once again, on a higher level o f philosophical
reflection, m aterial that up to now has been left by philosophers and
by historians o f psychiatry up to the sole discretion o f those psychia-
trists interested in the history o r prehistory o f their specialty, m ost
often for reasons o f m ethod o r convention.

C a n g u ilh e m e n d ed his re p o rt w ith a fo rm u la tio n c o rre sp o n d in g to


official re q u ire m e n ts: “ I believe th a t I can conclude, th e re fo re , con-
vinced as I am by th e im p o rta n c e o f M . F o u c a u lt’s research, th a t his
w o rk deserves to be p re se n te d for th e defense befo re a ju ry o f th e fa -
cnlté des lettres, and I p ro p o se th a t th e d ean au th o rize its p rin tin g .”
I t goes w ith o u t saying th a t a u th o riz a tio n was g ran ted . A n e d ito r still
h ad to be fou n d , b u t F o u cau lt had m ade his ow n choice lo n g ago. H is
d re a m was to be p u b lish ed at G allim ard , w here the g re a t nam es o f th e
p re c e d in g g e n e ra tio n , specifically S artre and M e rle a u -P o n ty , had b e e n
p u b lish ed . H e su b m itte d his m a n u sc rip t to B rice P arain, a m e m b e r o f

‫ל‬
T he O rder of T h i n o s

th e ed ito rial c o m m itte e th a t read subm issions fo r G allim ard , o n R ue


S é b a stie n -B o ttin , and a frien d o f G eo rg es D um éziPs. T h e s e tw o m en
had m e t at th e R ue d ’U lm after the F irst W o rld W ar, d u rin g a tim e
w h en all th e classes w ere m ixed to g e th e r at th e E N S , follow ing th e
re sto ra tio n o f peace and th e d em o b ilizatio n o f th e arm y. F ro m 1941 to
1949 P arain h ad ed ited several o f D um éziPs w orks. B ut every series he
had lau n ch ed had b een sh o rt-liv ed because sales w ere to o sm all.6 It
was, p erh ap s, in resp o n se to th ese failures th a t P arain had b eco m e sus-
picious o f an y th in g resem b lin g academ ic w ork. In th e early 1950s he
tu rn e d d o w n a co llectio n o f articles by an e th n o lo g ist w h o at th e tim e
had p u b lish ed o n ly o n e book, w hose title in E n g lish becam e Elemen-
tary Structures o f Kinship. T h is was, o f course, C lau d e L év i-S trau ss,
w ho several years later g o t these essays p u b lish ed at P lo n w ith a title
d estin ed to be k n o w n far and wide: Structtiral Anthropology.1 Sim ilarly,
d esp ite D um éziP s k in d ly p atro n a g e (D u m ézil was always th e re , at
ev ery step o f F o u c a u lt’s career), P arain rejected th e w ork s u b m itte d by
th e y o u n g p h ilo so p h e r. “W e d o n ’t publish th ese s,” was th e su b stan ce
o f his ex p lanation, to F o u c a u lt’s g re a t fru stra tio n . L a te r F o u c a u lt
w ould fre q u e n tly tell his friends: “T h e y d id n ’t w an t m y book, because
it had fo o tn o te s.” H o w ev er, th e d e to u r via G allim ard was n o t co m -
p letely futile. A n o th e r re a d e r fo r th e press had b e e n co n su lted : R o g er
C aillois. H e had b een D um éziP s s tu d e n t in th e fifth se c tio n o f th e
E cole P ra tiq u e des H a u te s E tu d es. C aillois was o n th e ju ry fo r th e
p restig io u s C ritic s ’ P rize, and he decided to have a n o th e r m e m b e r o f
th e ju ry read this im pressive m an u scrip t. H e w an ted his o p in io n :
w ould such a w o rk stand a chance o f w inning? M a u rice B lan ch o t did
n o t have tim e to read th e w hole book, b u t he read en o u g h to judge its
im p o rta n c e . H e expressed his en th u siasm to C aillois and, w h en th e
v o lu m e cam e o u t th e follow ing year, expressed it again publicly.
B la n c h o t’s favorable im p ressio n was n o t en o u g h for th e b o o k to be
aw arded th e C ritic s ’ P rize, just as C aillo is’s o p in io n had n o t b e e n
e n o u g h fo r G allim ard to accept it. N e v e r m ind th at. F o u c a u lt w ould
find a so lu tio n . Je a n D elay had already offered to pu b lish it in a series
he ed ited at P resses U n iv ersitaires de F rance, b u t F o u cau lt really
w an ted his b o o k to escape th e thesis g h e tto . H e had b een im p ressed by
ho w L év i-S trau ss had b een able to dem olish th e fro n tie r se p a ra tin g th e
specialist academ ic audience fro m th e b ro ad er, c u ltu re d one. A fter
G a llim a rd ’s rejectio n , L évi-S trauss had g o n e to P lo n , w h ere he th e n
pu b lish ed Tristes Tropiques in 195 5 and Anthropologie structurale in 1958.
F o u cau lt h ap p en ed to know Jacq u es B ellefroid, th e lite ra ry adviser

**‫ ׳‬1 0 6 + +
T h e T a l e n t oe a P o e t

a t P lo n , v ery w ell. H e had m e t h im in L ille. B ellefroid a t th e tim e was


in L ycée and was v ery close to J e a n -P a u l A ron. Since th e n B ellefroid
had m oved to P aris, w h ere he had b e g u n an ed ito rial and lite ra ry ca-
re e r. H e su g g ested th a t F o u cau lt su b m it his m a n u sc rip t to th e e d ito r
w ho h ad in tro d u c e d th e w o rk o f L évi-S trauss. F o u cau lt re c o u n te d this
ep isode m o re th a n tw e n ty years later: “ O n th e advice o f a frien d , I
to o k m y m a n u sc rip t to P lo n . A few m o n th s later I w e n t back to g e t it.
T h e y said th a t to re tu rn it to m e th e y w ere g o in g to have to find it first.
T h e n o n e day it tu rn e d up in a d raw er and th e y even realized th a t it
was a b o o k o f history. T h e y had A riès read it; th a t was ho w I cam e to
k n o w h im .” 8
P h ilip p e A riès was th e e d ito r o f a series called C iv ilisatio n d ’H ie r e t
d ’A u jo u rd ’hui. P lo n had w an ted to m o d e rn iz e by p ro m o tin g in flu en -
tial collections: th u s E ric de D a m p ie rre was p u t in ch arg e o f so ciology
and p u b lish ed , am o n g o th e r th in g s, tra n slatio n s o f M ax W eb er; J e a n
M a la u rie lau n ch ed th e series T e rre H u m a in e ; and A riès d ealt w ith his-
tory. A lread y p u b lish ed in his series w ere L ouis C h e v a lie r’s Classes la-
borieuses, classes dangereuses and a b o o k he had w ritte n him self, U Enfant
et la fam ille sous VAncien Regime. T h e n o n e day, as he w ro te in his m e m -
oirs, “ a th ick m a n u sc rip t arrived: a p h ilo so p h y thesis o n th e relatio n s
b e tw e e n m ad n ess and u n re a so n in th e classical age, by an a u th o r I
d id n ’t know . I was dazzled w h e n I read it. B ut I had to go th ro u g h hell
and h ig h w a te r to talk th e m in to it.” 9 T h e b reeze o f o p e n m in d e d n e ss
th a t blew th ro u g h P lo n had p roved to be sh o rt-liv ed , and th e new
m an ag ers o f th e press looked w ith disfavor u p o n th ese series th at,
th o u g h in flu en tial, w ere clearly u n p ro fitab le. A riès w e n t to b a ttle —
and w on. Folie et déraison w ould th e re fo re be p u b lish ed by P lo n .
F o u c a u lt was fo rev er im m en sely g ratefu l to A riès, w ho w ould seem
to have h ad ev ery reaso n to be h o stile. T h e r e was n o th in g banal a b o u t
th e m e e tin g b e tw e e n th ese tw o perso n alities. T h e y w ere like n ig h t and
day, like th e devil and C h rist. A riès was a C a th o lic w ho had lo n g b een a
m o n a rc h ist, and he still h eld rig h tis t (n o t to say ex trem e rig h tist) ideas.
I t is h a rd to im ag in e an y o n e m o re tra d itio n a list th a n this h isto ria n w ith
n o u n iv e rsity a p p o in tm e n t, this m arg in al m an, k ep t at a distance by
academ ic in stitu tio n s. Yet p erh ap s A riès, w ho defined h im se lf as a
“ S u n d ay h is to ria n ,” was p recisely th e m o st capable o f reco g n izin g th e
inn o v ativ e force p erv ad in g this w o rk so resista n t to th e academ ic clas-
sifications to w hich it had ju st b e e n subjected.
W h e n A riès died, F o u cau lt w ro te: “ P h ilip p e A riès was a m a n w h o m
it w o u ld have b een h ard to dislike: he insisted o n a tte n d in g his p arish

W 107 A*
T he O rde r oe T h i n g s

m ass b u t was careful always to w ear earp lu g s so he w o u ld n ’t have to


face th e litu rg ical b o th e ra tio n s o f V atican II.” A nd he ad d ed th ese
c o m m en ts a b o u t th e h isto ria n ’s books:

H e studied dem ographic facts each in its turn, n o t as a biological


background to a society, b u t as a means o f behaving tow ard himself,
tow ard his posterity, tow ard the future; then childhood, w hich for
him was a figure o f the life th at outlined, actualized, and shaped the
attitude and sensibility o f the adult world; and finally death, w hich
m en ritualize, make a p ro d u ctio n of, exalt, and som etim es, as they do
today, neutralize and nullify. “H isto ry o f m entalities” was a phrase he
him self used. But reading his books suffices to show th at he has w rit-
ten a “history of practices,” o f the practices th at take the form o f
hum ble and stu b b o rn habits, as well as o f the practices th a t can create
m agnificent art; and he has tried to define the attitude, the way o f
doing, being, acting, o r feeling that could be at the ro o t o f b o th kinds
o f practice. In his a tten tio n to the silent gesture th at lives on th ro u g h
the ages, as well as to the singular w ork o f art sleeping in a m useum ,
he has established the principle o f a stylistics of existence. By this I
m ean the principle o f a study o f the form s with which m an m anifests
himself, invents, forgets, or denies himself, in his destiny as a living,
m ortal b ein g .10

T h is a p p reciatio n , w ritte n in F e b ru a ry 1984, expresses F o u c a u lt’s


feelings in th e special v o cab u lary o f th e w o rk he was ju st th e n c o m p le t-
in g o n th e a rt o f self-co n tro l, o n the aesth etics o f th e self, a w o rk th a t
w ould com e to an end fo u r m o n th s la ter o n th e eve o f his ow n d e a th in
tw o volum es titled UUsage des plaisirs and Le Souci de soi. B ut it is easy
to see w hy th e re could have b een a lasting, th o u g h in itially stran g e,
rela tio n sh ip b etw een th e tw o m en. I t is especially a p p a re n t th a t F o u -
cau lt had a sin cere and e n d u rin g a d m ira tio n for A riès, and he d o g g ed ly
re ite ra te d th e “ p erso n al d e b t” h e “o w ed ” h im .11

W '

S a t u r d a y , M ay 20, 1961. M ich e l F o u cau lt co n clu d ed his defense:


“T o speak o f m adness o n e m u st have th e ta le n t o f a p o e t.” 12 H e had
dazzled th e ju ry and au d ien ce by the b rillia n t p re se n ta tio n o f his w ork.
“ B ut you, sir, have it,” was G eo rg es C a n g u ilh e m ’s response. B etw een
th e tim e th e tw o m e n had m e t in th e v estib u le o f an a m p h ith e a te r at
th e S o rb o n n e to discuss this defense, and this sp rin g a fte rn o o n o n
w hich th e ap p lican t co m p leted th e ritual, slightly m o re th a n a y ear had
gone by. As req u ired , F o u cau lt had set fo rth th e b ro ad o u tlin es o f his
research for th e m em b ers o f his ju ry b efo re th e y subjected h im to th e

*v 10H H
T h e T a l e n t oe a P o e t

business o f close q u e stio n in g . T h e session had b eg u n at h a lf p ast o n e in


th e Salle L o u is-L ia rd : a place reserved fo r im p o rta n t theses. It was im -
pressive in its solem nity, w ith a raised dais and a lo n g w o o d en p o d iu m
o n to p o f th a t, ru n n in g its full len g th . T h e a n c ie n t pan elin g , th e row s
o f o v e rh a n g in g seats o n b o th sides as in an Ita lian -sty le th e a te r, th e
dull, fuzzy lig h t— it was alm o st d a rk — c o n trib u te d to this effect. T h e r e
was a co n sid erab le crow d; o f course, n o t y et th e m ob th a t w ould push
in to h e a r his in au g u ral lectu re te n years la te r a t th e C o llèg e de F ran ce.
B ut th e ro o m was full; th e re w ere alm o st a h u n d re d p eo p le, each o f
w h o m h ad co m e k n o w in g this was g o in g to be an event.
H e n r i G o u h ie r h ead ed th e jury. H e is a h isto ria n o f philosophy, a
p ro fe sso r a t th e S o rb o n n e since 1948, and had b een ch o sen as p resi-
d e n t because he, o f all th e m em b ers o f th e jury, had b een “ te n u re d p ro -
fessor lo n g e st a t th e h ig h e st ra n k .” T h a t was th e rule. G o u h ie r was an
affable, o p e n m an, a sch o lar w ith m an y in terests and always m eticu lo u s
in w h atev er he did. H e was well k n o w n for his w o rk o n D escartes,
M a le b ra n c h e , and M a in e de B iran, b u t also for books such as Auguste
Comte et la naissance du positivisme. H e was also k n o w n for his passion
for th e th e a te r, m an ifested in 1952 in an essay, uL e T h e a tr e e t l’exis-
te n c e ,” and in 1958 in a n o th e r, “ L ’O eu v re th é â tra le .” D u rin g this p e-
rio d he also w ro te a th e a te r co lu m n in th e review La Table Ronde. W ith
h im o n th e ju ry w ere G e o rg e s C a n g u ilh e m , o f course, and D a n ie l
L agache, w ith w h o m F o u cau lt had stu d ied p sy ch o lo g y and w ho n o w
held th e p sy c h o p a th o lo g y ch air a t th e S o rb o n n e. C a n g u ilh e m and
L ag ach e w ere old accom plices. N o t o n ly did th e y b o th teach at th e
S o rb o n n e ; th e y had m e t at th e R ue d ’U lm , and th e y had ta u g h t to -
g e th e r d u rin g th e w ar. L agache had b e e n d rafted as a forensic su rg eo n
in 1939. T a k e n p riso n e r, he escaped and jo in ed th e U n iv e rsity o f
S tra sb o u rg at C le rm o n t-F e rra n d . H e re he m e t up again w ith C a n -
g u ilh em , w h o a tte n d e d his classes and his p re se n ta tio n s o f p atien ts.
W h e n C a n g u ilh e m p u b lish ed his m edical thesis, L agache review ed it
fo r th e Bulletin de la faculté des lettres de Strasbourg; his article was re-
p rin te d a few m o n th s la te r in th e Revue de métaphysique et de morale T
H e d efen d ed his these dTtat , La Jalousie amoureuse, in 1946 and was ap-
p o in te d to th e S o rb o n n e th e next year. In 1953, despite th e ir differ-
ences, he h elp ed fou n d th e S ociété F rançaise de la P sychanalyse w ith
Jacq u es L acan. In 1958 he p u b lish ed La Psychanalyse et la structure de la
personnalité and b eg an th e vast p ro je c t o f p u ttin g to g e th e r a “v ocabu-
lary o f psychoanalysis,” for w hich he w ould en list tw o y o u n g collab-
o ra to rs: J e a n L ap lan ch e and Je a n -B e rtra n d P ontalis.
G o u h ie r, C a n g u ilh e m , L agache. T h e can d id ate could expect a fo r-

109 *V
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

m idable e n c o u n te r w ith this trio o f e m in e n t specialists. A fter all, th e


tra d itio n o f defense derives as m u ch fro m in itia tio n rites, in c lu d in g o b -
lig a to ry o rd eals and req u isite traps, as fro m in tellectu al d ebate.
B ut th e au d ien ce w ould have to w ait b efo re rev elin g in p ro n o u n c e -
m en ts and exchanges a b o u t Folie et déraison. F irs t F o u cau lt h ad to re-
sp o n d to q u estio n s o n K a n t’s Anthropology, because th e d efense had to
b eg in w ith th e “se c o n d a ry th esis.” T h e r e h e had to take o n J e a n H y p -
p o lite and M a u ric e de G an d illac, a p ro fesso r a t th e S o rb o n n e , a g re a t
ex p ert o n th e M id d le A ges and R enaissance, and th e tra n sla to r o f m an y
G e rm a n texts. F o u cau lt explained w h a t h e h ad w an ted to do and
p o in te d o u t th a t, to u n d e rsta n d this text by K an t, w hich had b een w rit-
ten, re w ritte n , and tra n sfo rm e d over a p e rio d o f alm o st tw en ty -fiv e
years, it was n ecessary to create a h y b rid stru c tu ra l and g e n e tic analy-
sis. A g e n etic analysis w ould d e te rm in e th e ways in w h ich th e final
w o rk h ad b e e n elab o rated , w h a t its successive sed im en ts w ere. A stru c -
tu ra l analysis w ould d e te rm in e th e status o f this w o rk w ith in th e global
and in te rn a l o rg a n iz a tio n o f th e K a n tia n system , and th e re la tio n sh ip
b etw een th e Anthropology and th e “ c ritic a l” d ev e lo p m e n t laid o u t by
K ant. B o th in this oral ex p o sitio n and in th e tex t o f his thesis, F o u c a u lt
m ad e a b u n d a n t use o f a v o cab u lary th a t was to b eco m e fam ous. H e
spoke o f w ritin g th e “ arch aeo lo g y o f th e K a n tia n tex t” ; his q u estio n s
c o n c e rn e d th e “ layers” o f his “u n d e rly in g geology.”
T h is “ se c o n d a ry th e sis” was n ev er p u b lish ed . O n ly th e tra n sla tio n
o f K a n t’s tex t w ould com e o u t a t V rin in 1963. In d eed , in resp o n se to
c e rta in criticism s fro m th e jury, F o u cau lt claim ed th a t it was n o t in -
te n d e d fo r p u b lic a tio n b u t was m erely an a n c h o rin g device for a g en -
eral in v e stig a tio n o f th e p o ssibility o f a philo so p h ical an th ro p o lo g y .
F o u c a u lt w o u ld p re fe r to let his lo n g in tro d u c tio n lie sleep in g in th e
S o rb o n n e archives, w h ere it is still to be found. B ut it b y n o m eans
re m a in e d a dead le tte r. F o r this essay m ay well be th e p o in t o f o rig in o f
m an y passages in Les Mots et les choses.
F o r th e m o m e n t, how ever, these pages w ere no m o re th a n th e
“ m in o r th esis,” th e h o rs d ’oeuvre to th e cerem ony. N e x t w ould com e
th e plat de resistance: th e “m ajo r thesis.”
A fter a few m in u tes o f in te rm issio n th e show c o n tin u e d . T h e p resi-
d e n t o f th e ju ry tu rn e d th e floor over to th e can d id ate. F o u c a u lt’s voice
rose: tense, nervous, u n fo ld in g in rh y th m ic, staccato sequences. E v e ry
s ta te m e n t was as p o lish ed as a d iam o n d . T h e o rig in o f his research , he
explained, had b een an idea fo r a boo k th a t was m o re a b o u t m ad m en
th a n a b o u t th e ir physicians. B u t this b o o k was im possible to w rite b e ­

*v IK) H
T h e T a l e n t of a P o e t

cause th e voice o f m adness had b een stifled and red u ced to silence.
T h e re fo re , it was necessary to co llect th e signs o f a c o n sta n t d eb ate
b e tw e e n reaso n and u n reaso n , to m ake so m e th in g speak th a t had no
lan g u ag e yet, n o w ords to speak itself. T h is had necessitated im m e r-
sion in archives— w hence th e evidence, discovered in th e d u st-la d e n
d o c u m e n ts, th a t “ m adness was n o t a fact o f n a tu re ” b u t a “ fact o f civi-
liz a tio n .” M ad n ess is always, in any given society, “ an other b e h a v io r,”
“ an o th e r lan g u ag e.” C o n seq u en tly , th e re can be no h isto ry o f m ad -
ness “ w ith o u t a h isto ry o f th e cu ltu res th a t describ e it as such and
p e rse c u te it.” F o u cau lt added th a t to c a rry o u t his in v estig atio n sue-
cessfully h e h ad first had to disabuse h im self o f th e co n cep ts o f co n -
te m p o ra ry psychiatry, since m edical science in terv en es o n ly as “ o n e o f
th e h isto rical form s o f th e relatio n sh ip b etw een reason and m ad n ess.”
F o u c a u lt co n clu d ed b y s ta tin g th e p ro b lem , w hich was to see w h at was
at risk for a c u ltu re in its d eb ate w ith m adness.
A fter this p re lim in a ry sta te m e n t, discussion began. T h e o b jectio n s
raised by L ag ach e have b een fre q u en tly m e n tio n e d since. T o d a y
p eo p le usually speak w ith iro n y a b o u t how little this rep re se n ta tiv e o f
th e F re n c h tra d itio n in p sy ch iatric m ed icin e u n d e rsto o d w h en co n -
fro n te d , at th e b e g in n in g o f th e 1960s, by an individual in te n t o n dyna-
m itin g scientific c e rtain ties and th e psy ch o p ath o lo g ical in stitu tio n . In
his p re lim in a ry re p o rt C a n g u ilh e m had already p re d icted and stressed
this p o in t in m an y ways: “ C allin g back in to q u estio n th e o rig in s o f psy-
c h o lo g y ’s scientific status will n o t be th e least o f th e surprises p rovoked
by his stu d y .” L agache did in fact raise m an y o b jectio n s and express
n u m e ro u s reserv atio n s. B ut th e notes tak en by H e n ri G o u h ie r d u rin g
th e d iscu ssio n also in d icate th a t fro m b e g in n in g to end he rem ain ed
ex trem ely cau tio u s. H is criticism s d ealt p rim arily w ith details, his re-
m ark s w ere n ev er aggressive, and basically he never really d isp u ted ,
m u c h less c o n d e m n e d , F o u c a u lt’s p roject. U ltim a te ly his rem arks w ere
lim ited to calling in to q u e stio n th e lack o f specifically m edical, psychi-
atric, o r p sy ch o an aly tic in fo rm a tio n in th e book, and also to em p h asiz-
in g th a t th e a u th o r had b een u n ab le to d etach h im self com pletely, as he
claim ed, fro m c o n te m p o ra ry concepts. B ut he does n o t seem to have
o v ertly d e n o u n c e d F o u c a u lt’s global vision, w hich n o n eth eless m u st
have b een co m p letely fo reig n to him .
I t was th e p re sid e n t o f th e jury, G o u h ie r, w ho was th e m o st c o n te n -
tio u s d u rin g this m e m o ra b le session. T h is was n o t a resu lt o f h o stility
to w a rd e ith e r th e can d id ate o r his w ork. It was sim ply a m a tte r o f in te l-
lectu al and professional scruples. “ I had b een asked to p artic ip a te in

‫׳‬M■ HI H
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

th e ju ry as a specialist in th e h isto ry o f p h ilo so p h y ,” he explains today.


“A nd th a t is th e ro le I had to play.” G o u h ie r, th e n , had a v ery specific
fu n c tio n to fulfill in im p le m e n tin g th e ritual, and he played his ro le to
th e hilt. W ith im m en se e ru d itio n he q u e stio n e d and c o m m e n te d o n
ev ery asp ect o f th e w ork, p o in ted o u t and c o rre c te d h isto rical in ac-
curacies, and challen g ed c e rtain in te rp re ta tio n s o f texts o r w orks. “ I t is
n ecessary to know if o n e is p ro v id in g th e p h ilo so p h y o f a te x t o r if o n e
is p h ilo so p h iz in g a b o u t a tex t,” he flung a t th e can d id ate. A lth o u g h he
ap p reciated his in te rlo c u to r’s talen t, elegance o f style, and elo q u en ce,
he raised a m u ltitu d e o f o b jectio n s and cited a m y riad o f referen ces in
c o n tra d ic tio n o f F o u c a u lt’s findings. H e p a rticu larly criticized th e dis-
cussion o f th e scrip tu res: “ I am u n su re o f y o u r in te rp re ta tio n ,” he said.
“T h e texts th a t you cite fro m th e scrip tu res and fro m St. V in c e n t de
P a u l’s co m m en ts o n th e m do n o t say th a t Jesus w e n t m ad, b u t th a t he
w an ted to take u p o n h im self th e ap p earan ce o f c e rtain passions, th a t h e
w an ted to be tak en fo r m a d .” H e w en t on: “I believe it is w ro n g to have
discussed th e ‘m adness o f th e C ro ss’ in a ch a p te r a b o u t th e insane, b e-
cause th e re is always th e idea o f a h ig h e r w isd o m .” G o u h ie r also ar-
gued a b o u t th e th e m e o f th e danse 7nacabre; he rejected F o u c a u lt’s view
th a t th e g rin n in g d ep ic tio n o f m adness to o k th e place o f th e d e p ic tio n
o f d eath in lite ra tu re o r p icto rial art. “ O n e can see why: fo r you th e re is
a p h ilo so p h ical c o n tin u ity — m adness is still d eath . A nd you tra n sp o se
this in to c o n tin u ity in th e h isto ry o f a rt.” B ut fo r G o u h ie r this was n o t
a t all th e case; for exam ple, he challenged F o u c a u lt’s in te rp re ta tio n o f
B osch’s p ain tin g s. G o u h ie r also expressed su rp rise at c e rta in o m is-
sions: “You cite S hakespeare, b u t you sh o u ld also cite J o h n F o rd , P e n -
th e a ’s m adness in The Broken Heart.” H e ch allenged w h at he saw as a
w ro n g re a d in g o f D id e ro t’s Neven de Rameau; w h at th e can d id ate
claim ed D id e ro t’s ch aracters said involved a m a n ip u la tio n o f th e text.
F ar m o re im p o rta n t, in G o u h ie r’s view, F o u cau lt had also m a n ip u la te d
th e tex t o f D escartes. F o r exam ple, c o n c e rn in g th e h y p o th esis o f “ evil
g e n iu s” in th e Meditations:

T h e evil genius symbolizes the hypothesis o f an absurd w orld in


w hich I w ould see th at 3 plus 2 equals 5, whereas this w ould be
w rong. But I cannot see any way in which this symbolizes madness.
T h e idea is produced by associating, the notion o f malice w ith the
notio n o f om nipotence. T h e psychology o f this figure was outlined at
the beginning o f the fourth M editation: it is the idea of omnipotence,
suggested by imagery tinged with Machiavellism, th at is one o f the first
principles o f existence. You see there a threat o f unreason. N o, it is

‫׳‬w 1 1 2 ‫׳‬v v
T he T a l e n t of a P oet

sim ply the possibility o f another reason. T h a t is the m etaphysical


foundation for this hypothesis.

G o u h ie r also refused to see in D e sc a rte s’s w ords “M ais quoi, ce s o n t


des fo u s” (B ut after all, th e y are m ad m en ) th e act c re a tin g th e g re a t
division th a t w ould isolate reaso n fro m u n reaso n . G o u h ie r stressed
D esc a rte s because he u n d e rsto o d th a t th e discussion o f h im was cen tral
to F o u c a u lt’s a rg u m e n t. B ut he also rep ro a c h e d F o u cau lt for “ th in k in g
alleg o rically ” : u sin g “ p erso n ificatio n s th a t allow a so rt o f m etaphysical
in vasion in to h isto ry and so m eh o w tra n sfo rm n a rrativ e in to epic, his-
to ry in to allegorical dram a, giving life to a p h ilo so p h y .” In co n clu sio n ,
th e p re s id e n t o f th e ju ry said to th e candidate: “I do n o t u n d e rsta n d
w h a t y o u m e a n t w h e n you defined m adness as th e absence o f w o rk .”
F o u c a u lt ack n o w led g ed th e v alidity o f this re m a rk in a lo n g article re-
p rin te d as an appendix to Histoire de la folie, w here he ch aracterized th e
s ta te m e n t as “ s o m e th in g I said so m ew h at u n w ittin g ly .” 14
T h e c e re m o n y was over. S peaking th ro u g h its p re sid e n t and b efo re
th e assem bled audience, th e ju ry aw arded th e can d id ate th e title o f
d o c to r o f le tte rs, w ith “v ery h o n o ra b le m e n tio n .” A few days la te r
G o u h ie r w ro te an official re p o rt review ing th e defense. T h e tex t is
w o rth in c lu d in g in its e n tirety , because it sum m arizes th e earliest reac-
tio n s to F o u c a u lt’s w ork:

O n M ay 20, M . M ichel Foucault, an instructor at the Faculty of


L etters and H u m an Sciences at C lerm ont-F errand, presented his
doctoral thesis:
— K ant: Anthropology, introduction, translation, and notes. M in o r
thesis. R espondent: M . H yppolite.
— Folie et déraison. Histoire de la folie a Page classique. Principal the-
sis. R espondents: M . C anguilhem , first reader; and M . Lagache, sec-
ond reader.
Also p resen t on the jury were M . de G andillac (for the m inor the-
sis) and the president (for the principal thesis).
T h e two works presented by Foucault, though very different,
nonetheless received quite sim ilar praise and criticism s. It is obvious
th at M . Foucault is extrem ely w ell-read and possesses a strong per-
sonality and rich intellect. T h e defense only confirm s these judg-
m ents. H is two expositions are rem arkable for their clarity, their
ease, the elegant precision o f a thought that knows w here it is going,
advances unhesitatingly, and is, one feels, in control o f itself. But ap-
p aren t here and there is a certain indifference to the drudgery th at
always accom panies the m ost elevated work. T h e translation of the

w 1 1 3 *v
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

K ant text was correct but not sufficiently subtle. T h e ideas w ere
seductive but were rapidly developed on the basis o f just a few facts:
M . Foucault is m ore philosopher than exegete or historian.
T h e two judges o f the m inor thesis concluded th at it juxtaposes
two pieces o f work:
1. a historical in tro d u ctio n that is the outline for a book on an-
th ropology and, as M . H yppolite rem arked, one inspired m ore by
N ietzsche th an by K ant;
2. the translation o f K ant’s text, which now serves only as a pre-
text, should be revised. M . de G andillac advised the candidate th at he
should separate the two pieces, giving the intro d u ctio n its full scope
as a book in its ow n rig h t and publishing separately a truly critical
edition o f K an t’s text.
T h e three exam iners who dealt especially w ith the principal thesis
all recognized the w ork’s originality. T h e author sought w ithin con-
sciousness for the idea that m en in each age have form ed of m adness,
and he defines several m ental “structures” in the “classical age,” th at
is, in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. It
w ould be im possible to recount here all the questions raised by his
work. L et us sim ply m ention the following: C anguilhem asked
w hether this was a dialectics or a history of structures. M . Lagache
questioned w hether the au th o r had really been able to free him self
from the concepts elaborated by contem porary psychiatry to define
his structures and to draw his historical portrait.
T h e president induced the candidate to explain the underlying
m etaphysics o f his research: a certain “valorization” o f the experi-
ence o f m adness in the light o f cases such as that o f A ntonin A rtaud,
N ietzsche, and Van G ogh.
T h e im pression to be retained from this defense is th at o f a curi-
ous contrast betw een the indisputable talent th at everyone recog-
nized in the candidate and the m any reservations expressed from the
beginning to the end of the session. M . Foucault is, o f course, a
w riter, b u t M . C anguilhem criticized the rhetoric of certain parts,
and the president th o u g h t he was too concerned about creating an
“ effect.”
T h e re is no doubt about his erudition, but the president m en-
tioned instances revealing a spontaneous tendency to go beyond the
facts. O n e has the im pression that criticism s o f this sort w ould have
been even m ore num erous if the jury had been able to include an
art historian, a literary historian, and a historian o f institutions.
M . F oucault’s com petence in psychology is real. M . Lagache found,
however, th at the psychiatric inform ation was som ew hat lim ited and
the pages o n Freud a bit cursory:

W 1 1 4 *v
T h e T a l e n t oe a P o e t

H ence, the m ore one thinks about it, the m ore one can see th at
these two theses have provoked num erous and serious criticism .
N onetheless, the fact rem ains th at we are in the presence o f a p rin -
cipal thesis th a t is truly original, by a m an whose personality, whose
intellectual “dynam ism ,” whose talent for exposition all qualify him
for higher education. T h a t is why, despite reservations, this degree
was aw arded unanim ously w ith highest honors.
H en ri G ouhier, M ay 25, 1961

“ D e sp ite rese rv a tio n s,” as th e p re sid e n t o f th e ju ry w ro te in his re-


p o rt, Folie et déraison also received a m edal fro m th e C e n tre N a tio n a l
de la R ec h erch e S cien tifiq u e (C N R S ). E v ery year a gold m edal was
aw arded fo r a w o rk as a w hole, a silver m edal fo r p o std o c to ra l w ork,
and tw e n ty -fo u r b ro n z e m edals for th e b est thesis in each discipline.
T h e b ro n z e m edal in p h ilo so p h y was aw arded to F oucault. A nd since
F o u c a u lt n o w h ad th e title o f “ d o c to r,” he could be n am ed as a “ te n -
u re d p ro fe s so r” at th e U n iv e rsity o f C le rm o n t— w hich was d o n e in th e
fall o f 1962. It re m ain ed th e n fo r th e b o o k to find its readers, tak in g a
stra n g e and c h a o tic ro u te to do so. It also had to find th e cate g o ry — o r
ca te g o rie s— to w hich it b elo n g ed , th ro u g h c o m m en taries th a t w ould
com e and settle u p o n it, tu rn in g this “ event, ” this su d d en ap p ear-
ance, in to th e s ta rtin g p o in t fo r a th o u san d o th e r events as th e read in g s
g rad u ally m u ltip lied , p ro liferate d , and diverged.
9
WV

The Book and Its Doubles

u rin g th e 1970s F o u cau lt co m p lain ed o n several occasions


a b o u t th e re c e p tio n o f Folie et déraison w h en it was p u b lish ed .
“W h e n I b eg an to be in te re ste d in subjects th a t w ere s o rt o f
th e low est d ep th s o f social reality, a few poeple, such as B arth es,
B lan ch o t, and th e E n g lish an tip sy ch iatrists, focused o n it w ith in te re st.
B ut I m u st say th a t n e ith e r th e philo so p h ical c o m m u n ity n o r th e p o -
litical c o m m u n ity was in te re ste d . N o n e o f th e review s in stitu tio n a lly
e arm ark ed to re g iste r th e slig h test con v u lsio n in th e p h ilo so p h ical u n i-
verse paid any a tte n tio n .” 1 H e re F o u cau lt was attack in g Les Temps
modernes and Esprit, fo r w hich he nev er had any g re a t liking. A nd it is
tru e th a t n e ith e r o f these review s m e n tio n e d his book. I t is also tru e
th a t th e w o rk w e n t u n n o tic e d by th e b ro ad cu ltu re d public. B u t did
F o u cau lt really h o p e to reach this public? In 1977 F o u cau lt dev elo p ed
th ese rem ark s fu rth e r to explain th e reasons for w h a t he co n sid ered th e
quasi-silence s u rro u n d in g his book. H e b lam ed th e lead en m o ld th a t
th e p o w er o f th e C o m m u n ist p a rty and M arx ist id eo lo g y fo rced o n to
th e b eh av io r o f in tellectu als, and h en ce o n th e ir capacity for seein g th e
critical force o f a b o o k th a t escaped this rig id ly lim ited fra m e w o rk .2
B ut was this d isa p p o in tm e n t— p erh ap s re tro sp e c tiv e — justified? In
any case, it is h ard to go alo n g w ith F o u c a u lt’s claim th a t o n ly a few,
m arg in al individuals had b een able to m easu re th e im p o rta n c e o f his
w ork. In a d d itio n to th e articles by B lan ch o t and B arthes, m e n tio n e d
by F o u cau lt, th e re w ere an article by M ich el S erres and a lo n g co m -
m e n ta ry signed by R o b e rt M a n d ro u in Annales (w here he was e d ito ria l
se c re ta ry ).3 M a n d ro u ’s article was follow ed by a “N o te ” b y F e rn a n d
B raudel, in w h ich this p o p e o f th e new h isto rical research gave his
blessing to th e b o o k .4
A fter th e official (and confidential; th e re p o rts w ere n o t sh ared
even w ith th e candidate) ju d g m en ts w ritte n by G e o rg e s C a n g u ilh e m

‫׳‬W ] 16 ‫׳‬W
T h e B ook a n d I t s D o u b l e s

and H e n r i G o u h ie r w h en th e thesis was defen d ed , th ese go o d re-


views h e ra ld in g th e b o o k ’s p u b lic a tio n w ere th e first p u b lic re a c tio n to
F o u c a u lt’s w ork. It is useful to q u o te a few passages fro m th em , because
F o u cau lt was still an u n k n o w n and these readings w ere n o t filtered
th ro u g h an y d e fo rm in g , alread y c o n stitu te d im age. M ich e l S erres m ad e
th e c o n n e c tio n b etw een F o u c a u lt’s b o o k and D um éziPs w ork: “In ef-
feet,” h e w ro te, “ th e h is to ry o f m adness will n ev er be u n d e rsto o d as a
genesis o f p sy ch ia tric categ o ries, as a search fo r p re m o n itio n s o f posi-
tive ideas in th e classical age . . . R ath er, w h at are d escrib ed are varia-
tio n s o f th e s tru c tu re s th a t can be applied to this d o u b le fam ily o f
spaces, ones th a t have in fact b e e n applied to it: th e stru c tu re o f separa-
tio n , o f re la tio n sh ip , o f fusion, o f fo u n d a tio n , o f reciprocity, o f exclu-
sio n .” B ut S erres was n o t u naw are o f th e o th e r in sp ira tio n fo r th e book:

T h is architectural rig o r would be in vain if, beyond the structural


com prehension, a m ore secret vision, a m ore fervent a tten tio n was
n o t revealed. T h e w ork would be precise, b u t n o t quite true. T h a t is
why, at the very h eart o f the logical argum ent, at the h eart o f the m e-
ticulous eru d itio n o f historical inquiry, a deep love circulates— n o t in
the least a vaguely hum anist love, but one alm ost religious— for this
obscure population in w hich the infinitely close, the o th er oneself, is
recognized. T h is book, therefore, is also a cry . . . C onsequently, this
tran sp aren t geom etry is the pathetic language o f m en who undergo
the greatest of tortures, th at o f being cornered, o f disgrace, of exile,
o f quarantine, ostracism , and excom m unication.”

In sh o rt, “ th is is th e b o o k o f every so litu d e .” N o r did S erres fo rg e t to


c eleb rate N ie tz s c h e ’s shadow y presence: “M ich el F o u c a u lt’s b o o k is to
classical tra g e d y (and m o re g en erally to classical cu ltu re) w h at th e
N ie tz s c h e a n ap p ro ach was to H e lle n ic tra g e d y and cu lture: it show s
th e la te n t D io n y sia n elem en ts in A p o llonian e n lig h te n m e n t.” 5
B arth es, fo r his p art, liked to im agine th a t L u c ien F ebvre w ould have
liked F o u c a u lt’s book, “ because it re tu rn s a fra g m e n t o f ‘n a tu re ’ to his-
to ry and tra n sfo rm s m adness, s o m e th in g we take to be a m edical p h e-
n o m e n o n , in to a p h e n o m e n o n o f civilization.” A little fa rth e r alo n g he
added: “In fact, M ic h e l F oiicault n ev er defines m adness; m adness is n o t
an o b je c t o f u n d e rsta n d in g , w hose h isto ry m u st be rediscovered; it is
n o th in g m o re , if you like, th a n this u n d e rsta n d in g itself; m adness is n o t
an illness, it is a variable and p erh ap s h e te ro g e n e o u s sense, d e p e n d in g
o n th e c e n tu ry ; M ich e l F o u cau lt nev er treats m adness as a fu n ctio n al
reality: fo r h im it is th e p u re fu n c tio n o f a couple fo rm ed b y reaso n and
u n re a so n , th e g azer and th e gazed u p o n .” B ut B arthes, to o , was c o m ­

‫׳‬w I I 7 ‫׳‬w
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

p letely aw are th a t F o u c a u lt’s heavy volum e was “ so m e th in g o th e r th a n


a b o o k o f h isto ry ,” th a t it was “ s o m e th in g like a c a th a rtic q u e stio n
asked a b o u t m ad n ess.” H e co n clu d ed b y m e n tio n in g , alo n g w ith ques-
tio n s o f know ledge, th e o th e r th em e o f F o u cau ld ian research in years
to com e, dw elling o n th e “v ertig o o f discourse th a t M ich e l F o u c a u lt
has ju st sh o w n in a dazzlin g light, v e rtig o th a t arises n o t m e re ly fro m
c o n ta c t w ith m adness, b u t ra th e r every tim e th a t m an, ta k in g som e dis-
tance, looks at th e w orld as so m e th in g o th e r; th a t is, ev ery tim e he
w rite s.” 6
T h e articles by B arthes and S erres, w ith th e ir v ery d iffe re n t styles
and p o in ts o f view, w ere rem arkable, b rillia n tly acute and in te llig e n t,
read in g s o f Folie et déraison. O f course, B arthes was one o f F o u c a u lt’s
frien d s, and S erres was a colleague a t C le rm o n t. B u t this was n o t th e
case for B lan ch o t, w h o d escrib ed th e b o o k as “ e x tra o rd in a ry . . . ric h
and in sisten t, and alm o st u n reaso n ab le in its n ecessary re p e titio n s ,” and
w ho co n clu d ed his c o m m e n ta ry w ith a m e n tio n o f Bataille."
N o r was it tru e o f M a n d ro u o r B raudel. M a n d ro u first p o in te d o u t
a w ay to g e t in to th e book. R a th e r th a n e n te rin g th ro u g h its “ to o b ril-
lia n t fo rm u la tio n s,” he w ould advise o ne to slip in to it, ta k in g a d e to u r
th ro u g h th e in tro d u c tio n to Le Reve et Vexistence, “w h ere th e d re a m is
stu d ied as a m eans o f know ledge, follow ing processes p arallel to th o se
o f w ide-aw ake reaso n . . . h e considers th a t m adness, like dream , is a
m ean s o f know ledge, a tru th th a t is o th e r and n o t-o th e r. A nd o u r au-
th o r finds h im se lf up against th e fact th a t m adness n o lo n g e r has any
place in th e c o n te m p o ra ry w orld except in a lyrical fo rm u la tio n , fro m
N e rv a l to A rtaud. H e takes a v io len t stan d ag ain st this ex clu sio n .”
M a n d ro u also m ade referen ce to D u m ézil, recallin g F o u c a u lt’s m e n -
tio n o f h im in his in terv iew in Le Monde , and he q u o ted this p a r tia l-
larly D u m é z ilia n sen ten ce fro m th e book: “U n re a so n w o u ld be th e
lo n g m e m o ry o f peoples, th e ir g reatest fidelity to th e p a st.” H e co n -
eluded w ith this ju d g m e n t o n F o u cau lt him self: “H is b o o k p u ts h im in
th e fo re fro n t o f th e research th a t is his passion and o u r passio n as
w ell.” 8
T h is is B rau d el’s “n o te ” :I

I am adding a few lines to the preceding review to stress the origi-


nality, the pioneering nature o f M ichel Foucault’s book. I do n o t see
it as m erely one o f those studies of collective psychology so rarely
attem pted by historians, though m uch in dem and since L ucien
Febvre. I see in it, and adm ire, a singular aptitude for approaching a
problem from three or four different directions, in an am biguity th at

‫׳‬w‫ ׳‬1 18 ‫׳‬w


T h e B ook a n d I t s D o u b l e s

is som etim es m istakenly reflected in practical procedures (one m ust


play close a tten tio n to follow its line o f reasoning). T h is is precisely
the am biguity o f any collective phenom enon. Any tru th o f civili-
zation plunges into the obscurity of contradictory, conscious and
unconscious m otivations. T h is m agnificent book tries to pursue—
apropos o f a specific phenom enon: m adness— w hat the m ysterious
progression o f a civilization’s m ental structures may be; how it has to
free itself from and give up on a p art o f itself, separating o u t those
things it m eans to keep o f w hat its ow n past offered and those things
it hopes to repress, ignore, and forget. T h is difficult pursuit requires
a m ind th at is capable o f being in tu rn a historian, a philosopher, a
psychologist, and a sociologist— never simply one o f these . . . T h is
is n o t a m ethod th at could be offered as an example; it is n o t w ithin
the reach o f just anybody. S om ething m ore than talent is necessary.

Folie et déralson— a w o rk th a t w e n t u n n o ticed ? T h e re is even m o re


evidence th a t it m e t w ith a ra th e r k in d ly w elcom e. T h e r e is, fo r ex-
am ple, B ac h elard ’s v ery nice le tte r a fter F o u cau lt had se n t h im a copy
o f th e book. O n A u g u st 1, 1961, this w ell-know n p h ilo so p h e r, o n e es-
pecially well placed to u n d e rsta n d th e in te rtw in in g o f th e h isto ry o f
sciences and a “p o e tic ” vision, w ro te to him : “ I have ju st finished re a d -
in g to d a y y o u r g re a t b o o k . . . S ociologists go to g re a t len g th s to stu d y
fo re ig n p o p u la tio n s. You prove to th e m th a t we are a m ix o f savages.
You are a real ex p lo rer. I to o k special n o te o f y o u r in te n tio n (p. 624) to
go e x p lo rin g in th e n in e te e n th cen tu ry .” H e co n clu d ed w ith an invita-
tio n : “ I am g o in g to be obliged to leave w o n d erfu l P aris, b u t in O c-
to b e r, you sh o u ld com e see m e. I w an t to co n g ra tu la te you in p erso n ,
to tell you o u t loud again and again all th e subtle pleasures I had in
re a d in g y o u r pages, to express, in sh o rt, m y m o st sincere e ste em .” 9
A n o th e r re a c tio n w o rth n o tin g is th a t o f a v ery y o u n g p h ilo so p h e r
w ho had b e e n o n e o f F o u c a u lt’s stu d en ts at th e R ue d ’U lm and had
since b eco m e J e a n W a h l’s assistant at th e S o rb o n n e. T h is was Jacq u es
D e rrid a . H is resp o n se had a g re a t effect o n th e F re n c h p h ilo so p h ical
lan d scap e in years to com e. J e a n W ahl, w ho was th e d ire c to r o f th e
asso ciatio n called th e C o llèg e de P h ilo so p h ic, asked his assistant to
give a le c tu re th e re . D e rrid a discussed Folie et déraison, p artic u la rly th e
passage c o n c e rn in g D escartes, since he co n sid ered th a t “ F o u c a u lt’s
w h o le p ro je c t can be p in p o in te d in th ese few allusive and so m ew h at
e n ig m a tic p ag es” and th a t “th e read in g o f D escartes and o f th e C a rte -
sian co g ito p ro p o se d to us engages in its p ro b le m a tic th e to ta lity o f this
Histoire de la folie as reg ard s b o th its in te n tio n and its feasibility.” 10
T h is was D e r rid a ’s fam ous lectu re “ C o g ito e t h isto ire de la folie,”
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

given o n M a rc h 4, 1963. H e m e n tio n e d a t th e o u tse t th e delicacy o f


u n d e rta k in g discussion o f a b o o k so “p o w erfu l in its in sp ira tio n an d in
its sty le,” and he added th a t it was “ even m o re in tim id a tin g fo r m e in
th a t, h av in g fo rm e rly had th e good fo rtu n e to stu d y u n d e r M ic h e l
F o u cau lt, I re ta in th e consciousness o f an a d m irin g and g ratefu l dis-
cip le.” T h e n : “T h e d iscip le’s consciousness, w h en he starts, I w o uld
n o t say to d isp u te, b u t to engage in d ialogue w ith th e m aster, o r,
b e tte r, to a rtic u la te th e in te rm in a b le and silen t d ialogue w hich m ad e
h im in to a d iscip le— th is d iscip le’s consciousness is an u n h a p p y c o n -
sciousness.” H e th e n re fe rre d to “ th e in te rm in a b le u n h ap p in ess o f th e
d iscip le” w ho is u n ab le to en g ag e in this d ialogue w ith o u t h av in g it be
“ ta k e n — in c o rre c tly — as a ch allen g e.” 11 I t m ig h t have b e e n w ro n g to
h e a r it so, b u t it was v ery h ard to do o th erw ise; th e lectu re was ra th e r
sh arp in to n e , so m etim es harsh. D esp ite th e a d m ira tio n he felt fo r th is
“ m o n u m e n ta l” book, th e “ discip le” was n o t p a rtic u la rly in clin ed to
spare th e m aster. D e rrid a , like H e n ri G o u h ie r d u rin g th e thesis de-
fense, refu sed to see D e sc a rte s’s “ B u t a fter all, th e y ’re m a d m e n ” as a
b ru ta l asse rtio n o f ostracism , tossed o u t w h en he m e t u p w ith m adness.
T h is , in his view, was a v e ry “ naive” rea d in g o f th e C a rte sia n text. B u t
it was also a d an g ero u s read in g , w hich claim ed to rein scrib e a tex t in a
“ h isto rical s tru c tu re ,” in a “ to tal histo rical p ro je c t,” and w hich w ould
in tu rn w ork violence “w ith reg ard to ratio n alists and sense, ‘g o o d ’
sen se.” 12 A fter tak in g a few rh e to ric a l p re c a u tio n s, D e rrid a risked th e
fo llo w in g fo rm u latio n : “ S tru c tu ra list to ta lita ria n ism h ere w ould be re -
sp o n sib le fo r an in te rn m e n t o f th e co g ito sim ilar to th e violences o f th e
classical age.” 13
W h a t m u st F o u cau lt have felt w h en he h eard th ese rem arks? B e-
cause he was p re s e n t in th e room ! I t w ould seem , a c co rd in g to w h a t
several w itnesses have said, th a t for th e m o m e n t his le g e n d a ry to u c h -
iness lay d o rm a n t and th a t he did n o t h o ld this a rg u m e n ta tiv e a ttack
ag ain st his fo rm e r stu d en t. T h e text o f th e lectu re was p u b lish ed a few
m o n th s la te r in Revue de métaphysique et de morale, w hich J e a n W ah l
also h e a d e d .14 F o u cau lt does n o t seem to have tak en u m b ra g e e ith e r o n
this occasion o r w h en D e rrid a re p rin te d th e text in 1967 in UEcriture
et la différence. F o u cau lt even se n t him a v ery frien d ly le tte r to acknow l-
edge re c e ip t o f th e volum e. T h e in c id e n t did, how ever, p ro d u c e a d e-
layed explosion. A nd it is v ery h ard to k n o w why. W as F o u cau lt in th e
end exasperated a t seein g this lectu re re p rin te d in a book, w hereas up
to n ow it had b e e n addressed to a ra th e r lim ited audience? T h e r e is y e t
a n o th e r possible explan atio n , offered h ere m erely for w h a t it is, a hy-
pothesis, for F o u c a u lt’s ap p a re n tly a b ru p t change o f b eh av io r. W h e n

^ 1 2 0 ‫״‬w
T h e B ook a n d I t s D o u b l e s

UEcriture et la difference was p u b lish ed , b o th F o u cau lt and D e rrid a


w ere o n th e ed ito ria l b o ard o f th e review Critique. A n article by G é ra rd
G ra n e l arriv ed in th e review ’s office, full o f praise fo r D e r rid a ’s collec-
tio n and eq u ally full o f v en o m to w ard F oucault, w ho to o k offense and
asked D e rrid a to p re v e n t th e a rtic le ’s p u b licatio n . D e rrid a refu sed to
in te rv e n e , p re fe rrin g , as a m e m b e r o f th e e d ito rial co m m itte e , n o t to
p ro n o u n c e ju d g m e n t o n m aterial th a t co n c e rn e d him . T h e article was
p u b lish ed . A nd F o u c a u lt sh o rtly afterw ard w ro te an ex trem ely v io le n t
resp o n se to D e r rid a ’s 1963 lecture. T h e reply, titled “M o n C o rp s, ce
p ap ier, ce feu ,” was p u b lish ed in S e p te m b e r 1971 in th e review Paideia;
and F o u c a u lt re p rin te d it in 1972 at th e end o f Histoire de la folie.
F o u c a u lt s e n t th e n ew e d itio n o f his b o o k to D e rrid a w ith a b rie f in -
sc rip tio n : “ S o rry to have answ ered y o u so late.” N in e years later! T h e
end o f F o u c a u lt’s tex t has th e rin g o f a d ec la ra tio n o f w ar. R oles have
b e e n reversed; n o w it is th e te a c h e r’s tu rn to judge his fo rm e r stu d en t:
I agree on one fact at least: it is n o t as a result o f in atten tio n th at
classical in terp reters, before D errida, and like him , have erased this
passage by D escartes. It is system atic. D errida, today, is the m ost au-
th oritative representative o f this system, its final radiance. In it dis-
cursive traces are reduced to textual traces; events o ccurring there are
elided and kept only as m arkers for a reading; voices behind the texts
are invented so as n o t to have to analyze the ways in w hich the subject
is im plicated in discourses; the original is allocated to w hat is said and
not-said in the text, so as n o t to p u t discursive practices back into the
field o f transform ations in which they are carried out.
F o u c a u lt p ro n o u n c e d this final verdict: “I am n o t g o in g to say th a t
th e re is a m etaphysics, the m etaphysics o r its closure, concealed in th is
“ te x tu a liz a tio n ” o f discursive practices. I am g o in g to go m u ch fu rth e r.
I am g o in g to say th a t it is a m in o r pedagogy, one th o ro u g h ly his-
to ric a lly d e te rm in e d , th a t m anifests itse lf in a w ay th a t is h ig h ly visible.
T h is p e d a g o g y teaches th e pupil th a t th e re is n o th in g o u tsid e th e
tex t . . . T h is p ed ag o g y gives th e te a c h e r’s voice th a t u n lim ite d sover-
e ig n ty w h ich allow s it to re p e a t th e tex t indefinitely.” 15 F lere we see
D e rrid a n “ d e c o n s tru c tio n ” red u ced to fu n c tio n in g as th e “ re sto ra -
tio n ” o f tra d itio n and au th o rity . A duel to th e d e a th has n ev er b e e n
fo rb id d e n in th e re p u b lic o f letters. F ro m th a t m o m e n t o n th e re was a
radical and ab so lu te b reak b etw een th e tw o p h ilo so p h ers, and it lasted
fo r te n years. I t to o k D e r rid a ’s a rre s t in P rag u e in 1981 (accused o f
“ d ru g traffick in g ,” w h ereas he had g o n e to p artic ip a te in a sem in ar o r-
gan ized by dissidents) fo r th e m to ren ew th e ir co n n ectio n s. T h e re was
co n sid e rab le s e n tim e n t in F rance c o n c e rn in g this arrest, and w hile th e

‫׳‬w ‫׳‬ 121 ++


T he O r de r oe T h i n g s

g o v e rn m e n t was in te rc e d in g w ith th e C zech a u th o ritie s, F re n c h in te l-


lectuals called in creasin g ly fo r p ro te st. F o u cau lt was am o n g th e first
sig n ato ries, and he spoke o n th e rad io in s u p p o rt o f D e r rid a ’s actio n .
W h e n D e rrid a re tu rn e d to P aris several days later, h e te le p h o n e d
F o u c a u lt to th a n k him . T h e y m e t again o n several occasions a fte r this.

In a d d itio n to th e review s accorded Folie et déraison so o n a fte r its


p u b lic a tio n th e re was an in terv iew w ith F o u cau lt in he Monde as w ell as
an article in th e Times Literary Supplement. 1A B ut all th e sam e, th e b o o k
is difficult read in g . E v en th o se w ho gave it a kind w elcom e em p h asized
its com plexity, its occasional oversubtlety, in d eed its h e rm e tic quality.
F o u c a u lt him self, w h en th e b o o k was reissued in 1972, w ould tell
C lau d e M au riac: “I f I had this b o o k to w rite again today, I w o u ld be
less rh e to ric a l.” 17 Sales, o f course, w ere n o t o v erw h elm in g . T h e r e had
b e e n an in itial p rin tin g o f 3,000 copies in M a y 1961, follow ed b y an-
o th e r 1,200 in F e b ru a ry 1964. B ut a t th e sam e tim e a d rastically
a b rid g ed p o c k e t e d itio n ap p eared , w hich is th e o n e th a t m o st p eo p le
read d u rin g th e e ig h t years th a t w ould elapse b efo re th e re p rin tin g o f
th e co m p lete text.
T h e a b rid g ed e d itio n , u n fo rtu n ately , was th e one tra n sla te d in to E n -
glish in 1965, w ith th e title Madness and Civilization. T h is p u b lic a tio n
in E n g lish d e m o n stra te d th e im m ed iate in te re s t o f “ a n tip sy c h ia trists”
in F o u cau lt. T h e book, ironically, was p u b lish ed in a series called S tu d -
ies in E x isten tialism and P h en o m en o lo g y , ed ited by R o n ald L ain g .
D avid C o o p e r w ro te th e preface for it. L a in g and C o o p e r w ere in th e
p rocess o f in v e n tin g “ a n tip sy c h ia try ” in L o n d o n in th e 1960s. A g ro u p
o f psy ch iatrists, clinicians, and psychoanalysts co m p ared th e ir ex p eri-
ences. In th e ir view, sch izo p h ren ia in th e b ro ad sense was th e co n se-
q u en ce o f full-scale repressive ap p aratu s im p o sed by th e fam ily and
society. T h is “ o rig in al v io len ce” was follow ed by a re le g a tio n o f
sch iz o p h ren ics to p sy ch iatric in stitu tio n s. As th e y saw it, classic psy-
c h ia try re p re se n te d u ltrarep ressio n . T h e an tip sy ch iatrists w ere in flu -
en ced by N ie tz sc h e , K ierk eg aard , and H e id e g g e r b u t also, and above
all, b y S artre, to w h o m L a in g and C o o p e r devoted a book. C o o p e r was
th e first to a tte m p t an e x p e rim e n t in a tra d itio n a l p sy ch ia tric se ttin g .
H e w orked in a ho sp ital o n th e n o rth side o f L o n d o n , and h e b eg an by
g ro u p in g all his p a tie n ts to g e th e r in o n e pavillion. B ut th e e x p e rim e n t
quickly cam e to an en d because o f th e h o stility o f th e h o sp ital m ilieu.
A t this p o in t th e an tip sy ch iatrists fo u n d ed th e P h ilad elp h ia A ssocia-
tio n so th a t th e y could create novel places to acco m m o d ate p atien ts.
T h e y th e n o p e n e d several “ h o u seh o ld s,” am o n g th e m th e celeb rated

^ 122 ^
T h e B ook a n d I t s D o u b l e s

K in g sey H a ll, o p e n e d in 1965. A t th e sam e tim e th e p sy ch iatrists de-


v elo p ed a le ftist po litical p ro g ra m th a t resu lted , for exam ple, in an
in te rn a tio n a l co n g ress d ev o ted to “ th e dialectics o f lib e ra tio n .” L a in g
and C o o p e r w ere a m o n g th e o rg an izers, b u t G re g o ry B ateson and
H e r b e r t M a rc u se also p a rtic ip a te d .18 In any case, F o u c a u lt’s b o o k
c a u g h t th e a tte n tio n o f L a in g and C o o p e r, and th ey tu rn e d a d iffe re n t
lig h t o n it, giving it an e n tire ly d ifferen t in te rp re ta tio n fro m ea rlie r
read in g s, as w ell as fro m F o u c a u lt’s o rig in al c o n cep tio n . T h e fact th a t
th e b o o k h ad had n o p o litical im p act w h en it cam e o u t, as F o u cau lt
c o m p lain ed d u rin g th e 1970s, was largely a reflectio n o f th e fact th a t it
had n o t b e e n w ritte n fro m a p o litical p erspective. R o b e rt C astel m ade
this forcefully clear in his 1986 article o n th e fate o f Histoire de la folie:

T h e role o f flagbearer th at fell to M ichel Foucault in a m ovem ent


p ro testin g certain institutional practices is one th at is inscribed, first
o f all, in a historical process. It had n o t been an im m ediate result o f
his w ork . . . Histoire de la folie had an earlier fate, that of an academ ic
w ork asking academ ic questions. T h is is n o t m eant to be pejorative,
n o r does it question the w ork’s originality. But its novelty was, first o f
all, inscribed w ithin the fram ew ork o f an epistem ological questioning
th a t bore all the m arkers o f its contem porary intellectual arena. T h e
university tra d itio n continued by Foucault (that o f Brunschvicg,
Bachelard, C anguilhem ) questioned scientific discourses’ claim to
tru th and the conditions u n d er which such discourses m ight exist
outside the threshold o f reflexivity th at is the basis for the develop-
m e n t o f the classic history o f sciences as an interlocking of pure intel-
lectual projections.

C astel added: “ It was o n ly in a n o n p ra c tic a l re g iste r th a t F o u c a u lt’s


analyses w ere able to have som e im p act o n th e way o n e could see psy-
c h ia try and m ad n ess in th e b e g in n in g o f th e 1960s.” C astel p ro v id ed a
v e ry g o o d s u m m a ry o f th e first reactio n s to th e b o o k and o f th e various
levels o n w h ich F o u cau lt was u n d o u b te d ly inspired:

It was possible, therefore, to read Histoire de la folie, in the m iddle of


the 1960s, sim ultaneously as an academ ic thesis th at was a continua-
tio n o f the w ork o f Bachelard and C anguilhem , and as an evocation
o f the dark pow ers o f the forbidden— in the m anner o f L autréam ont
o r A ntonin A rtaud. It was this paradoxical m ontage th at provided the
unique status o f this work. T o some it was fascinating, to others ir-
ritatin g , o r b oth at once. But believing in the theses o f the w ork did
n o t im ply any precise political option, o r any project for practical
ch an g e.19

1 23 ‫׳‬M‫׳‬
T he O r d e r of T h i n g s

T h e re fo re , it was n o t u n til a fte r 1968 and th e d e v e lo p m e n t o f “ se c to r-


based stru g g les,” as th e y w ere d escrib ed at th e tim e — c o n c e rn in g p ris-
ons, psychiatry, and so o n — th a t th e b o o k was literally ta k e n o v er by
social m o v em en ts, w h ich im p o sed an e n tire ly d iffe re n t re a d in g o f it,
giving it a po litical significance th a t it did n o t have w h e n it was first
p u b lish ed . F o u c a u lt was p e rfectly aw are o f this. W h e n he revised th e
w o rk in 197 2 h e le ft o u t th e preface w ritte n in 1960, and, a fte r h e sita t-
in g fo r a lo n g tim e o v er w ritin g a new o n e th a t w o u ld p o s itio n h im in
re la tio n to th e an tip sy ch iatrists, he finally d ecid ed to rep lace it w ith a
v ery s h o rt “ n o n p re fa c e ,” and justified his refusal to u p d a te his in tro -
d u c to ry rem ark s b y th e fact th a t an a u th o r did n o t have to p re sc rib e
th e c o rre c t usage fo r a book. “A b o o k ,” h e said in this w o n d e rfu l text,

is produced, a m inute event, a small, handy object. From th a t m o-


m en t on it is caught up in an endless play o f repetitions; its doubles
begin to swarm, around it and far from it; each reading gives it an
im palpable and unique body for an instant; fragm ents of itself are cir-
culating and are m ade to stand in for it, are taken to alm ost entirely
contain it, and som etim es serve as refuge for it; it is doubled w ith
com m entaries, those o th er discourses in w hich it should finally ap-
pear as it is, confessing w hat it had refused to say, freeing itself from
w hat it had so loudly pretended to be.

C o n seq u en tly , it is b e tte r n o t to try “ to ju stify this o ld b o o k o r to re-


in scrib e it today; th e series o f events to w hich it b elo n g s and w h ich
fo rm its tru e law is far fro m b ein g closed.” 20 Is th e re a b e tte r w ay o f
saying th a t books change? and th a t, in any case, this o n e h ad changed?
L ikew ise, th e re c e p tio n fro m th e F re n c h m e d ic a l-p sy c h ia tric p ro fe s-
sio n h ad changed. W h e n F o u cau lt first cam e o n th e scene, h e was n o t
u n a n im o u sly c o n d em n ed . F o u cau lt h im se lf d escrib ed it: “T h e r e w ere
diverse reactio n s am o n g th e physicians and psy ch iatrists. S om e, w ith a
liberal and M arx ist view point, d e m o n stra te d a ce rta in in te re st; o n th e
o th e r h a n d th e re w ere o th ers, m o re conservative, w h o to ta lly rejecte d
[m y w o rk ].” 21 As w e have seen, F o u cau lt as a s tu d e n t h ad b e e n in co n -
ta c t w ith p rogressive p sy ch iatric m ilieus, w hich h ad b e e n try in g ever
since th e en d o f th e w ar to give new life to p sy ch ia tric discourses and
p ractices. A cco rd in g to R o b e rt C astel, “ th e m o st p ro g ressiv e p sychia-
trists o f th e p e rio d all had, o r th o u g h t th e y had, th e ir ow n fo rm u la fo r
ren ew in g th e ir practices. T h e y claim ed, by p u ttin g “ s e c to r p o litic s” in
place, to be b rin g in g o ff a “ th ird p sy ch iatric re v o lu tio n ” (th e first b e in g
P in e l’s, th e seco n d F re u d ’s), w hich w ould reco n cile p sy c h ia try w ith its
c e n tu ry by b reak in g d o w n th e asylum walls and re o rg a n iz in g h elp fo r
T h e B ook a n d I t s D o u b l e s

th e m e n ta lly ill w ith in th e co m m u n ity , o n th e level o f needs expressed


by th e p o p u la tio n .” 22 T h is idea was in c o m p a tib le w ith F o u c a u lt’s th e -
ses. H e saw such p ro g ressiv e o p tim ism as a n ew avatar o f a positivism
still in te n t o n d e n y in g th e fu n d a m e n ta l o th e rn e ss o f m adness, and o n
re d u c in g it to silence. H o w ev er, m o st o f th e d o cto rs c o n n e c te d w ith
th e g ro u p E v o lu tio n P sy c h ia triq u e seem to have b een sy m p a th e tic to
Folie et déraison. C o n d e m n a tio n w ould com e w h e n th e b o o k b eg a n to
serve as a “ to o lb o x ,” as F o u c a u lt liked to p u t it, fo r m o v em en ts rig h tly
lo o k in g in it fo r in stru m e n ts to use in a radical c ritiq u e o f p sy ch ia tric
in stitu tio n s . F ro m th a t p o in t on, th o se w ho had b e e n sy m p a th e tic to
F o u c a u lt’s efforts revised th e ir ju d g m en t. W h e n , several years later, th e
a n tip sy c h ia tric w ave sw ep t o u t fro m E n g lan d , th e p eo p le w hose views
and p ractice s it was c h a lle n g in g h a rd e n e d in to h o stility and ta rg e te d
th e b o o k th a t was b e in g h eld u p to th e m as having d y n am ited th e ir
c e rta in tie s and a ttitu d e s. T h is was tru e o f L u c ien B onnafé, a m e m b e r
o f th e C o m m u n is t party, w h o m F o u cau lt m e n tio n e d as having reacted
p o sitiv ely to his b o o k w h e n it first cam e out. B onnafé w ould p a rtic ip a te
in th e an n u al m e e tin g o f E v o lu tio n P sy c h ia triq u e in T o u lo u se o n D e -
c e m b e r 6 and 7, 1969, w h ich literally ex co m m u n icated th e “id eological
c o n c e p tio n o f Histoire de la folie.” F o u cau lt was n o t p resen t. H e n ri Ey,
th e re o n th e fro n t lines, declared:

T h is concerns a psychiatricide position that is o f such great im por-


tance for the very idea o f m an th at we would very m uch have desired
M ichel F oucault’s presence am ong us, both to pay ou r just respects o f
ad m iration for the system atic m ethods o f his th o u g h t and to chal-
lenge the n o tio n th at “ m ental illness” may be considered as the fan-
tastic m anifestation o f m adness or, m ore exceptionally, as the spark
o f poetic genius, because it is som ething o th er than a cultural phe-
nom enon. If th ere are som e o f us who, w orried by the vulnerability
o f th eir ow n positions or seduced by F oucault’s brilliant paradoxes,
had hoped n o t to have to face up to this debate, for myself, I regret
the absence o f this face-to-face encounter. M ichel Foucault, whose
invitation I saw to, regrets it as m uch as we do, as he expressed it in a
letter, excusing him self because he was unable to be in Toulouse at
this tim e. So we will go on just as if he were here. Physical presence is
n o t very im p o rtan t in a debate o f ideas, precisely w hen the con-
fro n tatio n is one only o f ideas.23

T h e w ra th o f P ro fe sso r B aruk also d escen d ed u p o n F o u cau lt. T h is


e m in e n t specialist en d lessly — in books, articles, conferences, and lec-
tu re s — d e n o u n c e d F o u c a u lt’s disastro u s role, w h ich he saw o n ly as th a t
o f in stig a to r, fo u n d in g fa th e r o f an tip sy ch iatry , for a w hole flood o f

*V I 2 5
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

“in c o m p e te n t” p eo p le w h o w ere w o rk in g to d e stro y th e h u m a n istic


and lib e ra tin g m ed icin e set in place by P in e l.24
F o u cau lt accepted th e w ay his b o o k had b e e n in te rc e p te d and used.
A fter 1968 he w ould draw closer to an tip sy c h ia tric m o v em en ts, so m e-
tim es even v ery close, a lth o u g h he was o fte n an n o y ed by th e in fa n -
tilism o f som e o f th e ir m o st extrem e a d h e re n ts. T h is c o m in g to g e th e r
to o k place, essentially, in th e w ake o f a n o th e r o f F o u c a u lt’s p re o c c u p a -
tio n s, as fo u n d e r o f th e G ro u p e d T n fo rm a tio n su r les P riso n s (G IP ) in
1971. B u t he n ev er b ecam e involved in m ilita n t activism c o n c e rn in g
asylum s to th e sam e e x te n t th a t he was o n th e q u e stio n o f p en al in s titu -
tio n s. F ie n ev er really to o k p a rt in th e a n tip sy c h ia tric m o v e m e n ts b u t
was c o n te n t to go alo n g w ith th e m fro m som e distance, a t th e m o s t to
en co u rag e th e m .25 All th e sam e, he did associate w ith a n tip sy c h ia trists
such as C o o p e r and F ra n c o Basaglia. In 1976 he had C o o p e r in v ited to
th e C o llèg e de F ran ce to give a series o f lectu res, and in 1977 h e p a rtic -
ip ated w ith h im in a d eb ate o rg an ized by J e a n -P ie rre Faye and sp o n -
sored by th e review Change.26 H e su p p o rte d th e tra n sla tio n in to F re n c h
o f th e books o f T h o m a s Szasz, to o k p a rt in a g ro u p fo u n d ed by radical
Ita lia n psy ch iatrists fo r th e c ritiq u e o f in stitu tio n s, and w ro te a p iece
fo r th e collective v o lu m e Crimini di pace to s u p p o rt Basaglia in his
p ro b le m s w ith th e Ita lia n justice system . O th e r c o n trib u to rs to this
v o lu m e in clu d ed S artre, E rv in g G offm an, N o a m C hom sky, and R o b e rt
C a ste l.27 In any event, a lth o u g h , as C astel p u t it, he re sp o n d e d a m i-
nima to so licitatio n s c o n c e rn in g an tip sy c h ia tric a c tio n ,28 F o u c a u lt
n o n e th e le ss ad m itte d p lay in g som e p a rt in this stru g g le. T a k in g sto ck
in 1977, he was able to c re d it th e c a te g o ry “ local and specific s tru g g le s”
w ith “im p o rta n t results o b tain ed in p sy ch iatry .” 29

T h is in te rc e p tio n o f th e b o o k had several results. In th e first place, it


can be seen, as R o b e rt C astel sees it, as “ an im p o v e ris h m e n t” o f th e
book. T h e fact th a t Folie et déraison fu n c tio n e d o n a w ide ra n g e o f levels
is w h a t m ade it possible to d escribe it as a “ stru c tu ra l h isto ry .” I t re -
lated elem en ts o f d ifferen t o rd e rs— eco n o m ic, in stitu tio n a l, p o litical,
p h ilo so p h ical, scientifc— and th e y c o n se q u e n tly to o k o n m ean in g .
N o w it was red u ced to n o th in g m o re th a n a d e n u n c ia tio n o f oppressive
forces: “T h e b re a d th o f th e o re tic a l d e to u rs and th e su b tle ty o f analyses
o f situ atio n s close up a ro u n d several sim plified form ulas, and th e a rg u -
m e n t in th e h ands o f ep ig o n es becom es rep etitiv e: ev ery w h ere and
always th e re is n o th in g b u t repression, violence, th e arb itrary , co n fin e-
m ent, police c o n tro l, seg reg atio n , and exclusion.” 30 A w eak en in g th e n ,

1 26 *v
T h e B ook a n d I t s D o u b l e s

b u t also, p erh ap s, an a n c h o rin g device for th e u n ity th a t F o u cau lt gave


his w o rk in this p e rio d and in th e years to com e, a tta c h in g it to th e
n o tio n o f “p o w e r” and to th e dyad “ k n o w led g e-p o w er.” A fter 1970
th is was th e u n ify in g c a te g o ry th a t he gave his o ld est w orks: “All o f
th a t,” he to ld D u c io T ro m b a d o ri, “ em erg ed like s o m e th in g w ritte n in
invisible in k th a t b eg an to ap p ear o n th e p a p e r w h en th e rig h t re a g e n t
was added, w hich was th e w ord power .” 31

W I 27 *V
IO
v w

T he D andy an d the Reform s

o u c a u lt’s thesis did have to n o t w ait fo r p u b lic a tio n to find a tte n -


tive read ers. T h e m a n u sc rip t was first h an d ed a ro u n d a m o n g a
g ro u p o f friends, and L ouis A lth u sser was n a tu ra lly a m o n g th e
earliest. H e read, liked, and approved it. H e lo an ed th e w o rk to Ju les
V u illem in , w ho was th e n d ire c to r o f th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t a t th e
U n iv e rsity o f C le rm o n t-F e rra n d . A lth u sser and V u ille m in h ad k n o w n
each o th e r fo r a lo n g tim e. As was m e n tio n e d earlier, b o th had e n te re d
th e E co le N o rm a le S u p é rie u re in 1939 and m e t again a fte r th e w ar,
and w h e n A lth u sser to o k o n th e job o f caiman he inv ited V u ille m in o n
several occasions to give lectures. F o u cau lt g o t his job at L ille th an k s to
this frien d sh ip . V u illem in was a good frie n d o f M a u ric e M e rle a u -
P o n ty . U n til th e early 1950s h e was closely c o n n e c te d w ith existen-
tialism and M arxism . T h e r e are signs o f this d o u b le in flu en ce in th e
titles o f th e tw o theses he defen d ed in 1948: “ Essai su r la sig n ificatio n
de la m o r t” and “ L ’E tre e t le travail.” D u rin g this p e rio d h e also p u b -
lished som e articles o n aesth etics in Les Temps modernes. V u ille m in h ad
ch an g ed su b stan tially since th a t tim e, alth o u g h he rem ain ed close to
M e rle a u -P o n ty . F o r o n e th in g , his in tellectu al in terests has sh ifted ; h e
b eg a n to deal closely w ith th e p h ilo so p h y o f science, w ith m a th e m a tic s
and logic. N o d o u b t h e had also changed politically, b u t th e m u tu a l
re sp e c t b in d in g A lth u sser and V u illem in did n o t suffer fro m th e ir rad i-
cally d iv e rg e n t evolutions. In th e years b efo re 1968, th e F re n c h u n iv e r-
sity h ad n o t y et b e e n cu t in tw o by political and ideological in to le ra n c e
as it w ould be later.
In 1951 V u illem in was ap p o in ted to a p o st a t C le rm o n t-F e rra n d ,
th anks to M e rle a u -P o n ty . T h e a u th o r o f Humanisnie et terreur w an ted
his disciple and frien d to succeed h im in his p o sitio n at L yons, w h ich
he was leaving to go to th e S o rb o n n e. B ut u n iv ersity rivalries p re -

w 128 **
T he D a n d y and the R eforms

v en ted re a liz a tio n o f this plan. M e rle a u -P o n ty th e n w e n t p e rso n ally to


th e M in is try o f E d u c a tio n to ask th a t a chair be fo u n d for V u illem in .
S h o rtly afterw ard th e d ire c to r o f h ig h e r e d u c a tio n m e t w ith V u ille m in
to tell him : “T h e r e is a p o sitio n for you in C le rm o n t-F e rra n d , a ch air
in psychology. B u t th e re is o n e co n d itio n : you have to live th e re .”
V u ille m in accep ted and m oved to th e capital o f th e A uvergne. H e ar-
rived at th e sam e tim e as several o th e r professors sen t th e re b y th e
m in istry , w h ich was in te n t o n w aking u p a ra th e r sleepy university.
T h e h isto ria n Jacq u es D ro z and th e H e lle n ist F rancis V ia n w ere p a rt
o f th e sh ip m e n t. F o r several years V u illem in was in charge o f te a c h in g
psychology. H e was th e n assigned to teach p h ilo so p h y and was la te r
m ad e h ead o f th e e n tire sectio n . A rig o ro u s academ ician, obsessively
co n scien tio u s, and a sp irin g above all to h ig h -q u a lity teach in g , he su r-
ro u n d e d h im se lf w ith a b rillia n t team , tu rn in g his p h ilo so p h y d e p a rt-
m e n t in to a s o rt o f ex p erim en tal laboratory. H e re p eated ly w e n t
fishing fo r y o u n g colleagues in th e tan k o n th e R ue d ’U lm . A m o n g his
catches w ere M ich e l S erres, M a u ric e C lavelin, Je a n -C la u d e P a rie n te ,
and J e a n -M a rie Beyssade, all o f w h o m had g re a t careers. S erres, C lave-
lin, and B eyssade are te a c h in g to d a y at th e S o rb o n n e and at N a n te rre .
P a rie n te is still te a c h in g at C le rm o n t and is p re sid e n t o f th e ju ry for
th e agrégation. V u ille m in also w an ted A lth u sser to com e, b u t his frien d
p re fe rre d th e p ro te c te d e n v iro n m e n t o f th e E N S , for reasons to do
w ith his p sy chological h ealth , w h ich was fragile. In i960 V u ille m in ’s
ch o ice fell u p o n M ich e l F oucault. H e had ju st read th e m a n u sc rip t o f
Folie et déraison and h e w ro te to th e a u th o r in H a m b u rg , asking if he
w ould take ch arg e o f th e p sy ch o lo g y courses at C le rm o n t. F o u cau lt im -
m e d ia te ly an sw ered yes. H e w an ted to find a w ay to g e t back to F ran ce
a fte r his lo n g so jo u rn s abroad, and he was all th e m o re w illing to ac-
c e p t because he w ould n o t be obliged to be “in re sid e n c e ” ; he could
th e re fo re live in P aris. T h e re m a in in g fo rm alities w ere g o t th ro u g h
v ery quickly and easily. T o be a p p o in ted to a p o sitio n in h ig h e r ed u ca-
tio n , o n e first had to have b e e n reg istered o n a Uste d'aptitude . 1 G eo rg es
B astide s u b m itte d th e re p o rt o n F o u c a u lt’s candidacy o n J u n e 15, i960:
“M ic h e l F o u c a u lt has alread y p ro d u c e d several m in o r w orks: tra n sia-
tio n s o f G e rm a n w orks, essentially p o p u la riz in g th e h isto ry and m e th o d
o f psychology. T h is is all, m o re o v er, resp ectab le w ork. B ut certain ly
th e th eses o f this can d id ate c o n stitu te his b est b o o k s.” H e concluded:
“W e are re g iste rin g M . M ich e l F o u cau lt o n th e liste large (should his
classification be psychology? o r h isto ry o f science?). T h a t should be
d iscu ssed .” In s u p p o rt o f F o u c a u lt’s candidacy, C a n g u ilh e m added to

*v 129 *V
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

B astid e’s re p o rt th e o n e he h im se lf had just w ritte n to o b ta in th e p r in t-


in g p e rm it fo r Folie et déraison, and H y p p o lite w ro te a le tte r o f re c o m -
m e n d a tio n . A nd so, all th e business h aving b e e n dealt, w ith briskly,
F o u cau lt could be ap p o in te d to C le rm o n t, “ sta rtin g O c to b e r 1, i 960,”
as “in s tru c to r in philosophy, rep lacin g th e ch aired p ro fesso r M . C esari,
w h o is o n ex ten d ed leave,” acco rd in g to th e m in istry ’s official n o tice.
O n M ay 1, 1962, a fte r th e d e a th o f this p ro fesso r, he w ould be p ro -
m o te d to “ th e v acan t chair, w ith te n u re .” All th e official p ap ers des-
ig n ated his field as “p h ilo so p h y ” because p sy ch o lo g y h ad n o t y et
a tta in e d status as an in d e p e n d e n t academ ic discipline; like sociology, it
was a tta c h e d to p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n ts. B u t it was ce rta in ly p sy ch o l-
ogy th a t F o u cau lt was su p p o sed to teach. T h e d e a n ’s re p o rt re q u e stin g
th a t he be given th e te n u re d p o sitio n in 1962 was q u ite specific: “ H is
sp ecialty is p sy ch o p ath o lo g y .” 2 A nd th ro u g h o u t his years at C le rm o n t-
F e rra n d , F o u cau lt w ould be officially resp o n sib le fo r te a c h in g p sy ch o l-
ogy, even if in rea lity he sh irk ed m u ch o f it (th o u g h less th a n o n e m ig h t
think).

T h is was th e b e g in n in g o f a new life fo r him . F ro m th e fall o f i960


to th e sp rin g o f 1966 he m ade th e trip b etw een P aris and C le rm o n t
ev ery w eek o f th e school year. All his classes w ere sch ed u led o n o n e
day, so he h ad to spend o n ly o ne n ig h t in a ho tel. It was a six -h o u r trip ,
and th e train s afforded ra th e r ru d im e n ta ry c o n d itio n s o f co m fo rt. T h e
rid e o n th e “ B o u rb o n n a is” was so ro u g h th a t th e teach ers w h o cam e
fro m P a ris— called “ sp u tn ik s” ; “ tu rb o -p ro fs ” w ere n o t y et in v e n te d —
in v en ted a little gam e th a t involved m a n ag in g to d rin k o n e ’s coffee
w ith o u t sp illin g it. F o u cau lt devised th e d o d g e o f b lo ck in g it w ith his
teasp o o n , and excelled in this risky m an eu v er.
In th o se days th e U n iv ersity o f C le rm o n t was co m p letely c o n ta in e d
in a large w h ite sto n e b u ild in g o n th e A venue C a rn o t, n o t far fro m
th e L ycée B laise-Pascal, w here B ergson had tau g h t. T h e b u ild in g
d ated fro m 1936, and, époque oblige, it looked like a m in ia tu re Palais de
C h aillo t. T h e in te rio r facades had a ra th e r g rim look; as so o n as o n e
e n te re d th e co u rty ard , e v e ry th in g becam e dark and so m b er, as if cov-
ered b y th e black d u st th a t seem ed to have se ttle d o n m o st o f th e city,
w ith its black sto n e cath ed ral, its w h itish houses d e c o ra te d w ith black
trim in volcanic rock fro m n earb y Volvic. T h e first tim e he saw th e
houses, F o u cau lt said th e y lo oked like “ fu n eral a n n o u n c e m e n ts.” T h e
p h ilo so p h y faculty was o n th e g ro u n d floor and occupied a c o rrid o r o f
at m o st te n room s, w hich served as offices and classroom s. T h is co r-
rid o r had “ b e lo n g e d ” to p h ilo so p h y forever. G eo rg es C a n g u ilh e m r e ­

■w 1 30 **
T he D a n d y a n d the R eeorms

m e m b e re d h av in g w orked th e re d u rin g th e w ar. B u t in 1963 th e w hole


crew o f p h ilo so p h e rs had to ab an d o n th e ir te r rito ry and em ig ra te to a
so rt o f p re fa b ric a te d barracks, o n e o f th o se hideous “ te m p o ra ry ” co n -
stru c tio n s fated to en d u re. It is still th e re today, sh e lte rin g th e ad m in is-
tra tiv e services. In this sin ister b lo ck h o u se F o u c a u lt’s stu d e n ts h e a rd
th e o u tlin e o f w h at w ould b eco m e Les Mots et les choses. H e did n o t have
m a n y stu d en ts, b u t th e re w ere m o re th a n th e m ere te n reg iste re d in
philo sophy. T h e ranks w ere sw elled to th irty by stu d en ts w ho w an ted
to take courses in p sy ch o lo g y to o b ta in a diplom a in, for exam ple,
n u rsin g o r social w ork.
D u rin g F o u c a u lt’s first tw o years at C le rm o n t he and V u ille m in be-
cam e q u ite close frien d s. T h e y to o k lo n g walks to g e th e r in th e streets
o f th e old city and o fte n ate to g e th e r, e ith e r ju st th e tw o o f th e m o r
w ith o th e r m e m b e rs o f th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t. T e n p eo p le fo r
lu n ch o r d in n e r was n o t unusual. V u illem in and F o u cau lt g o t alo n g
terrifically, and th e y to o k to th e little g ro u p o f p h ilo so p h e rs at C le r-
m o n t, w h ere frie n d ly re la tio n s and w arm c o m p an io n sh ip prevailed,
like fish to w ater. N e v e rth e le ss th e re w ere m an y th in g s to sep arate th e
tw o professors. V u illem in was o rie n te d to th e p h ilo so p h y o f science;
he looked to th e A n g lo -A m erican s and was p a rtic u la rly in te re ste d in
th e w ritin g s o f B ertran d R ussell, in logic and m ath em atics. D u rin g this
p e rio d he p u b lish ed th e tw o volum es o f his Philosophie de Talgèbre. P o -
litically, to o , th e re was a ra th e r w ide gap b etw een th em : V u illem in
g rad u ally evolved to w ard th e rig h t, and F o u cau lt rem ain ed m o re o r
less a m a n o f th e left. T h e y o fte n argued, and F o u cau lt fre q u e n tly co n -
eluded th e ir exchanges by saying: “ Basically, you are an an a rc h ist o f
th e rig h t and I am an an a rc h ist o f th e left.” W h a t could this co n ser-
vative in te re ste d in logic and this leftist w ho w ro te a b o u t B lanchot,
R oussel, and B ataille have had in com m on? B o th F o u cau lt and V u ille-
m in d e m a n d e d rig o r, and th e ir in tellectu al resp ect for each o th e r to o k
p rio rity over all th e ir differences. O n m an y p o in ts th e y w ere o n th e
sam e w avelength.
T h is w ould be a lastin g a tta c h m e n t w ith im p o rta n t co n seq u en ces
for F o u c a u lt’s career. In 1962 V u illem in left C le rm o n t. M e rle a u -P o n ty
had su d d en ly died o f a h e a rt attack, and V u ille m in was su m m o n ed to
succeed h im at th e C o llèg e de F rance. F o u cau lt had a h an d in th e ap-
p o in tm e n t. H e asked D u m ézil to su p p o rt his colleague at C le rm o n t
and th u s was able to w in approval fro m th o se w h o m th e m y th o lo g ist’s
in flu en ce could m obilize. V u ille m in was elected over R ay m o n d A ron,
w ho h ad to w ait several years b efo re he could ren ew his candidacy.
O n e year a fte r V u ille m in ’s a p p o in tm e n t, Je a n H y p p o lite e n te re d th e

*V I ^ 1 *V
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

C o llèg e de F rance. T h e tw o p h ilo so p h e rs w ere so o n w o rk in g w ith


th e ap p ro ach es and ways o f th in k in g th a t in 1969 w ould p ro m o te
F o u c a u lt’s accep tan ce in th e p restig io u s in s titu tio n o n ^ h e R u e des
E coles, th e h o ly o f holies, th e g lo ry o f F re n c h academ ia. A nd D u m ézil
le n t his su p p o rt. By this tim e th e events o f M a y 1968 had h a rd e n e d
o p p o sitio n s b etw een V u ille m in and F o u cau lt. B ut V u illem in , th o u g h
v io len tly h o stile to th e s tu d e n t revolt, refu sed to place p o litical dis-
a g re e m e n t ah ead o f his re sp e c t fo r F o u c a u lt’s w ork.
In fact th e re was n o th in g su b stan tiv e b efo re 1968 th a t w ould have
caused a b reach , o r even real d isag reem en t, b e tw e e n th em . T h e y fre-
q u e n tly arg u ed over politics, b u t, so far was each fro m b e in g m ilita n tly
involved, n e ith e r even b elo n g ed to a party. P o litics was far fro m
p ro v id in g th e s tru c tu re o f th e ir existence o r th o u g h t. O n e sh o u ld b e-
w are above all o f p ro je c tin g th e im age o f a la te r F o u cau lt o n to th e
F o u c a u lt o f th a t p e rio d . H is colleagues fro m th a t tim e are in g en eral
a g re e m e n t in p lacin g h im “ m o re to th e left,” b u t th e y d escrib e h im
p rim a rily as so m eo n e w h o m a in tain ed a d istan ce fro m any m ilita n t in -
vo lv em en t, d esp ite his v e ry real in te re s t in politics. T h e y w ere v e ry
su rp rise d b y his sw ing to th e far left and b y th e radical p o sitio n s h e
to o k d u rin g th e 1970s. “ I n e v e r m an ag ed to believe it really,” says
F ran cin e P a rie n te , w ho was his assistant fro m 1962 to 1966. T h e r e was
n o th in g to m ake th e m su sp ect th a t h e w ould evolve in th is d ire c tio n .

S om e p eo p le w ho knew h im well d u rin g th ese years a tta c h a differ-


e n t po litical label to him : th e y claim th a t F o u cau lt was a G au llist. Ju le s
V u ille m in challenges th is idea. H e talked en o u g h w ith F o u c a u lt to be
c e rta in th a t it has n o fo u n d a tio n . B ut so m e p eo p le m ay have believed
this because F o u cau lt rem ain ed o n v ery g o o d te rm s w ith E tie n n e
B u rin des R oziers, w ho left his p o st as am b assad o r in W arsaw to b e -
com e se c re ta ry -g e n e ra l at th e E lysée sh o rtly a fte r F o u cau lt le ft P o lan d .
T h is w as an ex trem ely im p o rta n t p o litical p o sitio n , a s o rt o f p rim e
m in iste rsh ip in th e shadow s. F o u cau lt did n o t m iss an o p p o rtu n ity to
go b e h in d th e scenes o f p o w e r and p ay a call o n his frien d in th e p resi-
d en tial palace, o n th e R ue F a u b o u rg -S a in t-H o n o ré . “W h e n h e visited
m e so m e tim e d u rin g 1962,” w ro te B u rin des R oziers, “ th e fu tu re o f
o u r h ig h e r e d u c a tio n was his d earest p ro ject. H e eag erly accepted a
m e e tin g w ith Jacq u es N a rb o n n e , in th e h e a rt o f th e g en eral secretariat,
w ho was in ch arg e o f dossiers p e rta in in g to th e u n iv ersity .” 3 N a rb o n n e
did in fact m e e t w ith F o u cau lt and asked his o p in io n a b o u t possible
re fo rm in th e universities. B ut th is rem ain ed an in fo rm al exchange and
led to n o re p o rt, official o r otherw ise.

M‫׳‬ 1 32 **‫׳‬
T he D a n d y a n d the R efo rms

T h e s e co n tacts w ith G au llist p o w er w en t ra th e r fu rth e r in la te r


y ears— as w h en F o u cau lt was b e in g co n sid ered for a p p o in tm e n t as as-
sistan t d ire c to r o f h ig h e r e d u c a tio n in th e M in is try o f E d u c a tio n . T h e
a p p o in tm e n t seem ed assured, and several recto rs o f e d u c a tio n d istricts
se n t le tte rs c o n g ra tu la tin g h im o n his n ew p ro m o tio n — p rem atu rely .
F o u c a u lt’s n o m in a tio n collided w ith h e a d -o n refusal. In th e fro n t lines
o f th e o p p o s itio n w ere th e v e ry in flu en tial d ean o f th e S o rb o n n e , M a r-
cel D u rry , and his n o less in flu en tial wife, M a rie -Je a n n e D u rry , w ho
was h ead o f th e E co le N o rm a le S u p é rie u re in Sèvres. T h e ir o b je c tio n
was based o n th e “ sp ecial” n a tu re o f th e p ro p o se d individual, m ean in g ,
o f course, his hom osexuality. “J u s t im ag in e h aving a d ire c to r o f h ig h e r
e d u c a tio n w h o is h o m o sex u al!” F o u c a u lt’s d e tra c to rs exclaim ed, and
did n o t h e sita te to recall th e u n fo rtu n a te episode in P oland. F o u c a u lt
did n o t g e t th e post.
T h is an e c d o te reveals th e s o rt o f m a n F o u cau lt was in th o se days—
an academ ic in th e m o st classic sense o f th e w ord, o n e w ho did n o t find
th e p o litical and ad m in istrativ e fu n ctio n s o f assistant d ire c to r o f h ig h e r
e d u c a tio n at all re p u g n a n t. M o re o v e r, in this sam e p e rio d he was n o t
o n ly o n th e ju ry fo r ad m issio n to th e E N S o n th e R ue d ’U lm b u t also
o n th e ju ry fo r exit exam s a t th e E cole N o rm a le d ’A d m in istra tio n , th e
m o st official, m o st e sta b lish m e n ta ria n o f th e elite schools. I t is also
a b u n d a n tly clear fro m this episode th a t F o u c a u lt’s h o m o sex u a lity m u st
have played a role in th e distance he always k e p t fro m in stitu tio n s,
o r th a t in stitu tio n s always k e p t fro m him . F o u c a u lt’s e n tire p h ilo so p h i-
cal and p o litical itin e ra ry was, p erh ap s, at stake h ere. W h a t w ould
F o u c a u lt have b e e n like as an u p p er-lev el a d m in istra to r in a m in istry ?
o r as d ire c to r o f th e O R T F (O ffice de R ad io d iffu sio n T élév isio n F ra n -
çaise), a job he was offered a few years later?
B u t we c a n n o t w rite h isto ry in th e co n d itio n al. L e t us r e tu rn to th e
real h is to ry o f th o se years. In 1965 F o u cau lt to o k p a rt in e la b o ra tin g
th e u n iv e rsity re fo rm s th a t C h ris tia n F o u ch et, th e n a tio n a l e d u c a tio n
m in ister, had b eg u n . T h is re fo rm had b e e n one o f G a u llism ’s g re a t
p ro jects, and especially o f P rim e M in is te r G e o rg e s P o m p id o u , and it
had u n leash ed a s to rm o f passions for years. “T h e F o u ch et-A ig rain re-
fo rm ,” w ro te J e a n -C la u d e P asseron,
began to take effect in 1963. It involved principles of specialization in
scientific and professional tracks, revision o f curricula and program s,
and control o f the n um ber and flow o f students by a selection process
at the university entrance level. As this filtered dow n in 1964, it set
in m o tio n a debate th at was joined im m ediately by the teachers’
unions and U N E F [the national students’ union], groups such as the

W
~ 133
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

C lub Jean M oulin, and reviews (a special issue o f Esprit in M a y -Ju n e


1964)— and w ent on grow ing. T h erefo re, starting in 1965 the Fou-
chet project was the crux o f the debate th a t m ade the university so
central in co ntem porary events.4
C h ris tia n F o u c h e t had estab lish ed a co m m issio n to stu d y th e p ro b -
lem s o f h ig h e r e d u c a tio n as a w hole. T h is g ro u p , k n o w n as th e a E ig h -
te e n -M a n C o m m issio n ,” m e t fro m N o v e m b e r 1963 to M a rc h 1964,
d efin in g th e m a jo r p rin c ip les o f refo rm . All th a t re m a in e d was to ap p ly
th e m . F o r th a t p u rp o se, in J a n u a ry 1965 th e C o m m issio n o n th e
T e a c h in g o f L ite ra tu re and S cience was created to p re p a re th e co n -
crete details o f th e refo rm . T h e m em b ers o f this new co m m issio n in -
eluded p ro fesso rs at th e C o llèg e de F rance: F e rn a n d B raudel, A n d ré
L ich n éro w icz, and Ju le s V u ille m in (w ho resig n ed a fte r th e first m e e t-
ing); several deans: G e o rg e s V edel o f th e law faculty in P aris, and M a rc
Z a m an sk y fro m th e faculty o f science. T h e d ire c to r o f th e E N S ,
R o b e rt F lacellière, was also th e re alo n g w ith u n iv ersity p ro fesso rs fro m
ev ery discipline. A m o n g th e m was M ich e l F oucault. H o w did he land
in th a t spot? O n th e su g g e stio n o f Je a n K n ap p , th e m in is te r’s tech n ical
adviser, w ho h ad b e e n in th e sam e class as F o u cau lt at th e R u e d ’U lm .
In 1962 K n ap p was cu ltu ral adviser in C o p e n h a g e n , and he h ad in v ited
F o u c a u lt to give a le ctu re o n Folie et déraison. F ra n c e ’s am b assad o r to
D e n m a rk at th e tim e was C h ristia n F o u ch et, so he had h e a rd a b o u t th e
s tro n g im p ressio n m ad e b y F o u c a u lt’s talk. W h e n F o u c h e t was ap-
p o in te d m in iste r o f e d u c a tio n h e n am ed K n ap p as o n e o f his advisers,
and th e la tte r su ggested F o u c a u lt’s n am e fo r th e com m ission. T h e r e is
n o th in g su rp risin g a b o u t all th at. T h e im p o rta n c e o f so lid a rity and
n etw o rk s a m o n g normaliens is a co m m o n p lace in F re n c h academ ic,
cu ltu ral, and p o litical life. F o u cau lt accep ted b u t asked th a t Ju les
V u ille m in also p articip ate. T h e co m m ission m e t ap p ro x im ately o n ce a
m o n th , in th e lib ra ry o f th e offices o f th e m inistry, fro m J a n u a ry 2 2,
1965, u n til F e b ru a ry 17, 1966, and F o u cau lt assiduously a tte n d e d all
th e w o rk sessions. T h e co m m issio n re p o rts c o n ta in traces o f som e o f
his rem ark s. F o r exam ple, o n A pril 5, 1965, c o n c e rn in g th e c o n te n t o f
se c o n d a ry school teaching: “M . F o u cau lt asks th a t in th e o rg a n iz a tio n
o f in stru c tio n , stress be laid u p o n disciplines o f a fo rm ativ e n a tu re
ra th e r th a n o n in s tru c tio n p re fig u rin g in s tru c tio n in h ig h e r ed u catio n .
H e ho p es th e fu n d am en tals will be g o n e in to m o re deeply.” O r his
o p in io n a b o u t th e agre'gation: it “provides n o in fo rm a tio n c o n c e rn in g
th e research a p titu d e o f candidates. E ssentially, it is a te st o f in te lle c -
tual sh arp n ess.” H o w ev er, he was “ in a g re e m e n t th a t it sh o u ld re m a in

'W I 34 *V
T he D a n d y a n d the R eeorms

in th e fo rm o f a c o m p e titio n .” T h e m in iste r o f e d u c a tio n was p re se n t


at th e final m e e tin g . T h e re p o rt o f th e m e e tin g co n tain s n o evidence
th a t F o u c a u lt d e m o n stra te d any m ajo r d isa g re e m e n t w ith th e g en eral
d ire c tio n o f th e re fo rm o r w ith th e details o f im p le m e n ta tio n w o rk ed
o u t b y th e com m ission; and F ran ço is C h am o u x , a H e lle n ist w ho served
o n th e co m m issio n , co n firm ed this im p ressio n . M o re th a n th at:
F o u cau lt w ro te several re p o rts laying th e g ro u n d for th e co m m issio n ’s
w ork. O n e o f th ese, w ritte n w ith C h am o u x and dated M a rc h 31, 1965,
p o n d e re d several p ro b le m s c o n c e rn in g th e o rg a n iz a tio n o f th e fac-
u lties, and specifically th e system o f th e d o cto ral thesis, w hich was
ju d g ed to be u n w ield y and o u t o f date. F o u cau lt and C h am o u x p ro -
p osed re p la c in g it w ith a system o f p u b licatio n s spread o u t over tim e:
“T h e c o m p le tio n o f th e p rin c ip al thesis w ould n o t ru n th e risk o f
bein g , as it so m etim es is today, th e cro w n in g ach iev em en t o f so lo n g an
effo rt th a t th e a u th o r is exhausted fo r th e rest o f his days.” A n o th e r
re p o rt, w ritte n by F o u cau lt alone, d ealt w ith th e c u rric u lu m in p h ilo s-
ophy. F o u c a u lt laid o u t a detailed p lan o f w h at should be ta u g h t in v ari-
ous years o f h ig h e r ed u catio n . H e also suggested a tw o -stag e p ro g ra m
fo r th e final tw o years o f seco n d ary school: stu d en ts w ould b eg in p h i-
lo so p h y stu d ies in th e premiere (tw elfth grade) w ith psychology, and
w ould c o n tin u e th e m in th e terminale , w hen th e y w ould be exposed
to p h ilo so p h ical p ro b le m s in th e s tric t sense and to c o n te m p o ra ry
c o n trib u tio n s fro m th e h u m a n sciences (psychoanalysis, sociology,
linguistics).
C o n c u rre n tly w ith th e co m m issio n m eetin g s at th e m inistry, m an y
m e e tin g s w ere held a t universities all over F ran ce to o p en up th e dis-
cussion as w idely as possible. T h e d ebates w ere in ten se. T h e r e was ap-
p a re n t co n sen su s in th e scientific disciplines, b u t th e re fo rm p ro je c t
e n c o u n te re d m u c h o p p o sitio n in th e o th ers. H e n ri G o u h ie r re m e m -
b e re d F o u c a u lt recallin g his colleagues to reality d u rin g a m e e tin g at
th e R u e d ’U lm , a tte n d e d by rep resen tativ es fro m all th e u niversities o f
F ran ce: “ D o n ’t fo rg e t,” he in terjected , “th e w ay we are g o in g we will
en d u p w ith o n e u n iv ersity p e r d e p a rtm e n t.” F o u cau lt th e re fo re to o k
v ery serio u sly his p a rt in im p le m e n tin g th e refo rm s. T h r o u g h o u t this
y ear he talked a g re a t deal to his stu d en ts a b o u t th e discussions g o in g
o n in P aris. O fte n b efo re b e g in n in g his lectu re, he w ould ask th em :
“ D o y o u w a n t to k n o w ho w far w e’ve g o t w ith re fo rm s? ” A nd fo r a
g o o d tw e n ty m in u te s he w ould explain w h at was at stake, th e p ro b le m s
raised, th e answ ers th e y had com e up w ith.
T h e re fo rm to o k effect in 1967. T h e n atio n al s tu d e n ts ’ u n io n had

W
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T he O rde r of T h i n g s

d en o u n c e d its b ro ad o u tlin es as early as D e c e m b e r 1964. In M a rc h


1966 th e u n io n o f teach ers in h ig h e r e d u c a tio n o rg an ized a th re e -d a y
strik e p ro te s tin g th e conclusions reach ed by th e com m issions and th e
m inistry. A cco rd in g to re p o rts in Le Monde, this d e m o n s tra tio n re -
ceived w ide su p p o rt. D id th e F o u c h e t re fo rm play a m ajo r ro le in trig -
g e rin g th e events o f M a y 1968? T h is ex p lanation, th o u g h fre q u e n tly
offered, is certain ly to o sim ple to acco u n t fo r such a com plex p h e n o m -
en o n . C e rta in ly it is ra th e r am using to th in k o f F o u c a u lt’s h av in g p a r-
ticip ated in d ev elo p in g this refo rm . B ut th e fact o f th a t p a rtic ip a tio n
re n d e rs to ta lly rid icu lo u s any claim th a t F o u c a u lt’s w orks p u b lish ed in
th e 1960s created th e re v o lu tio n a ry line o f th o u g h t so closely b o u n d u p
w ith th e events o f M a y 1968.5 W h e n h e w ro te Les Mots et les choses,
F o u cau lt was h a rd ly p re p a rin g a re v o lu tio n o r th in k in g o f b arricad es.
H e was in th e offices o f a G au llist m in ister, discussing th e fu tu re o f
se c o n d a ry and h ig h e r e d u c a tio n in F rance.

T h e r e is o n e political label th a t ev ery o n e agrees u p o n : F o u cau lt was


v io len tly an tic o m m u n ist. A fter leaving th e C o m m u n is t party, and es-
pecially follow ing his stay in P oland, F o u cau lt had d ev elo p ed a fierce
h a tre d o f an y th in g even re m o te ly re m in isc e n t o f co m m u n ism . A ca-
d em ic life in C le rm o n t p ro v id ed h im w ith an occasion fo r m a n ife stin g
this h a tre d . W h e n Ju les V u illem in was elected to th e C o llèg e de
F ran ce, F o u cau lt suggested th a t G illes D eleu ze m ig h t rep lace h im at
th e U n iv e rsity o f C le rm o n t-F e rra n d . F o u cau lt and D ele u z e h ad n o t
seen each o th e r since th e ir d in n e r in L ille te n years earlier. B u t D e -
leuze h ad ju st p u b lish ed a b o o k th a t clearly c a u g h t F o u c a u lt’s a tte n -
tio n . A t th e tim e D eleu ze was a ra th e r classical h isto ria n o f philosophy,
a lth o u g h th e o rig in a lity th a t w ould b u rst fo rth in his la te r w o rk could
alread y be seen daw ning. H is Nietzsche et la philosophie was m u ch ad-
m ire d in professional circles, and it fascinated F oucault. V u ille m in
w elco m ed F o u c a u lt’s su g g estio n and w ro te to D eleu ze, w ho was re-
c o v erin g fro m a serious illness in th e co untry, in th e n e a rb y L im o u sin .
S h o rtly th e re a fte r D eleu ze tu rn e d up in C le rm o n t, w h ere he sp e n t th e
day w ith F o u cau lt and V uillem in. T h e m e e tin g w e n t w ell, th e p h i-
lo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t u n an im o u sly approved D e le u z e ’s candidacy, and
V u ille m in also secured u n an im o u s approval fro m th e faculty council.
N ev erth eless, th e a p p o in tm e n t eluded this can d id ate and his o v er-
w h elm in g m ajority. T h e re was a n o th e r applicant, s u p p o rte d by th e
M in is try o f E d u c a tio n . R o g er G araudy, a m e m b e r o f th e p o litical b u -
reau o f th e C o m m u n is t party, w ould be given th e chair. H e h ad b e e n
T he D a n d y a n d the R eeorms

th e g u a rd ia n o f M arx ist o rth o d o x y for a co n sid erab le tim e w hile S ta-


lin ism was in its heyday. W h y w ould th e m in iste r in te rv e n e in his favor
and force h im u p o n C le rm o n t, w hose faculty w an ted n o th in g to do
w ith him ? R u m o r had it th a t G e o rg e s P o m p id o u had expressly re-
q u este d th e a p p o in tm e n t. W h a t deal had b een struck? T h e answ er re-
m ain ed a m ystery. T h e d ean o f th e faculty m ade an official p ro te st, to
no avail. G a ra u d y was a p p o in te d and m oved to C le rm o n t— and paid
b y h av in g to face F o u c a u lt’s in tra n s ig e n t hostility. A fter V u ille m in ’s de-
p a rtu re and th e failure o f D e le u z e ’s candidacy, F o u cau lt trie d to leave
C le rm o n t, b u t o n ly a fter la u n ch in g a w ar o f a ttritio n against G araudy,
a w ar th a t was all th e m o re effective because F o u cau lt h ad tak en o v er
fro m V u ille m in as d ire c to r o f th e p h ilo so p h y section. H e seized every
occasion and ev ery p re te x t to v e n t his h atred . It was fierce and u n flag -
g in g h a tre d . G a ra u d y trie d to so rt th in g s o u t. O n e ev en in g he ra n g th e
d o o rb e ll at F o u c a u lt’s a p a rtm e n t in P aris and asked to speak to him .
F o u c a u lt trie d to slam th e d o o r in his face, b u t G a ra u d y persisted ,
h o ld in g th e d o o r o p e n w ith his foot. T h e c o n fro n ta tio n e n d ed in a
stre a m o f insults.
F o u c a u lt’s h o s tility was m o tiv ated o n tw o levels. F irst, he c o n sid e red
th e n ew p ro fe sso r “ in tellectu ally n il.” “H e is no p h ilo so p h e r,” he to ld
an y o n e w illing to listen; “ we d o n ’t need h im h e re .” T h a t was his “ ofifi-
cial” reaso n , th e o ne he gave in all his pu b lic v itu p eratio n s. T o his
frien d s, how ever, he explained th a t this p itifu l rep re se n ta tiv e o f
F re n c h -sty le S talinism in sp ired a p ro fo u n d disg u st in him . G a ra u d y
h ad b e e n a h ig h -lev el p a rty official w hile F o u cau lt was a C o m m u n is t
p a rty m e m b e r. So F o u cau lt h ad accounts to settle w ith G araudy. A nd
he w o u ld se ttle th em .
G a ra u d y h ad to p u t up w ith all th e sarcastic rem arks and all th e im -
p re c a tio n s th a t his d ire c to r’s genius could in v en t against him . H e had
to b e a r F o u c a u lt’s fits o f rage as well. I f he spelled so m e th in g w ro n g in
a b ib lio g ra p h y he could expect an im m ed iate su m m o n s fro m F o u cau lt,
follow ed by a d e n u n c ia tio n o f his in co m p eten ce. Life in th e p h ilo so p h y
d e p a rtm e n t was p e p p e re d w ith in cid en ts o f this sort. T h e conflict cam e
to a h ead w h e n G a ra u d y m ade a ra th e r bad m istake assigning a re-
search to p ic to a stu d en t: he asked h e r to tra n slate M arcu s A u reliu s’
Meditations fro m th e L a tin . B ut th e Meditations are w ritte n in G reek .
M ic h e l S erres was a w itness because he sh ared an office w ith G araudy.
W h e n he to ld F o u cau lt th e story, F o u cau lt literally exploded, called
G a ra u d y ev ery n am e in th e book, and even th re a te n e d to d rag h im b e-
fore th e ad m in istrativ e trib u n a l fo r professional m isd em ean o r. A nd th e

*v i 37 *v
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

S talin ist app aratch ik , w ho as an activist m u st have ex p erien ced m an y


o th e r attacks, su ccu m b ed in th e face o f F o u c a u lt’s in creasin g ly v io len t,
rep e a te d assaults. H e asked to be tra n sfe rre d to “ any o th e r e q u iv alen t
p o st.” T w o years a fte r th e m in istry ’s p o w er m ove, G a ra u d y left C le r-
m o n t to teach in P o itiers. F o u cau lt was ju b ilan t. H e had v an q u ish e d an
enem y. A nd sim u ltan eo u sly w o n a frien d . H is re la tio n sh ip w ith D e -
leuze, w h o had in stead received an a p p o in tm e n t at L yons, dates fro m
this tim e. T h e y reg u larly g o t to g e th e r w h en ev er D e le u z e w e n t to
P aris. A lth o u g h th e y n ev er b ecam e ex trem ely close, it was a s tro n g
e n o u g h frie n d sh ip th a t F o u cau lt le n t his a p a rtm e n t to D e le u z e and his
w ife several tim es w h e n he was n o t th e re .
F o u c a u lt also becam e frien d s w ith M ich e l S erres d u rin g th ese years
in C le rm o n t. S erres w ork ed o n L eib n iz and possessed a k n o w led g e o f
science th a t was u n u su al am o n g p h ilo so p h ers. H e discussed m an y p arts
o f Les Mots et les choses w ith F o u cau lt as th e y w ere b e in g dev elo p ed .
F o u c a u lt su b m itte d his h y p o th eses, discoveries, and in tu itio n s to S erres,
w ho exam ined th em , m ade co m m en ts and criticism s. T h e y s p e n t h o u rs
w o rk in g to g e th e r this way. W h e n F o u cau lt left C le rm o n t th e y w o uld
lose tra ck o f each o th e r, m e e tin g again o n ly in 1969, at V in cen n es.

F o u c a u l t wa s a “ d a n d y ” — a su rp risin g d escrip tio n , p erh ap s, b u t


o n e re p e a te d again and again in accounts by colleagues and s tu d e n ts —
a d an d y w ho cam e, o n ce a w eek, to give his class at C le rm o n t. H e w o re
a black c o rd u ro y suit, w h ite tu rtle n e c k sw eaters, and a g re e n lo d e n
cape. P e o p le w ho had k n o w n h im at th e E N S re m e m b e re d h im as a
to rtu re d ad o lescen t, sickly and u n easy w ith him self. O v e r th e n ex t five
o r six years th e y had lo st tra c k o f him . T h e y knew o n ly th a t h e was
ab ro ad , p re p a rin g his thesis, g e ttin g read y to defend it. T h e n , a fte r this
lo n g absence, th e y rediscovered a changed F oucault, a ra d ia n t m an , re-
laxed and ch eerfu l, a m a n w h o had k e p t his taste fo r sarcasm and
p ro v o c a tio n b u t had in te g ra te d it in to a ch a ra c te r th at, th o u g h en ig -
m a tic fo r m any, at least seem ed reco n ciled w ith itse lf and w ith o th e rs.
F o u c a u lt had o rg an ized his w o rk w ith a m in d to avoiding e v e ry th in g
th a t b o re d him . In 1962 he re c ru ite d tw o assistants, N e lly V iallaneix
and F ran cin e P a rie n te . “ F o u c a u lt’s sisters,” as th e y w ould so o n be
k n o w n a t th e university, to o k charge o f courses in social p sy ch o lo g y
and child psychology, tw o subjects th a t F o u cau lt h ated teach in g . H e
k ep t th e co u rse in “ g en eral p sychology” ; th e te rm was vague e n o u g h
th a t h e could p re se n t w h atev er he liked. H e w arn ed his stu d e n ts a t th e

.38
T he D a n d y a n d the R eforms

o u tset: “ G e n e ra l psychology, like an y th in g general, does n o t exist.” H e


lau n ch ed in to lo n g discussions a b o u t language and th e h isto ry o f lin-
g u istic th e o rie s as well as psychoanalysis. O n e day he an n o u n c e d to
P a rie n te : “T h is y ear I ’ll give th e course o n th e h isto ry o f law .” W h ic h
he did. H is w o rk o n m adness was a th in g o f th e re c e n t past, still close
a t h an d , b u t alread y he was e n ro u te to w ard his fu tu re books. F ro m
i960 to 1966 his courses b o re th e m arks o f this te n sio n b etw een w h at
had b e e n w ritte n and w h at w ould be, b etw een th e p ast and th e fu tu re,
b e tw e e n p u b lish ed research and th e g esta tin g w ork. T h is v ery fact in -
dicates th a t at its d eep est in tu itiv e level his th o u g h t was h ig h ly u n ita ry
d esp ite th e d iffe re n tia te d fo rm s it took. H e also gave a course o n sexu-
ality, s ta rtin g w ith a discussion o f F reu d and th e th e o ry o f in fa n tile
sexuality. H e m ade n o se c re t o f his in te n tio n to w rite so m e th in g o n
this su b ject alo n g th e lines o f Histoire de la folie. In 1976, im m ed iately
a fte r p u b lish in g Surveiller etpanir , he cam e o u t w ith th e first volum e o f
a vast e n te rp ris e w hose g en eral title was Histoire de la sexualité. A t th a t
tim e he was asked m an y q u estio n s a b o u t m o v in g fro m o n e field o f in -
q u iry to a n o th e r and a b o u t th e co n n ectio n s b etw een th em . B ut in fact
th ese p re o c c u p a tio n s had b e e n co h ab itin g in F o u c a u lt’s th o u g h t since
th e 1960s. H is lectures, m o v in g fro m sexuality to law and fro m law to
sexuality m ake this p erfectly plain.
P sychoanalysis was a p ro m in e n t to p ic in F o u c a u lt’s courses. F o u -
cau lt had lo n g ago re n o u n c e d M arx, b u t he rem ain ed v ery atta c h e d to
F reu d . H e always discussed Five Psychoanalyses and The Interpretation o f
Df ‫׳‬earns. H e q u o te d L acan o fte n and re c o m m e n d e d th a t his stu d en ts
read L a c a n ’s articles in th e review Psychanalyse. As a p ro fesso r o f psy-
chology, F o u c a u lt invariably offered his stu d en ts a lo n g a p p re n tic e sh ip
in R o rsch ach tests, d e v o tin g o n e o r tw o h o u rs o f class each w eek to
th e m for several years. Sim ilarly, he lin g ered over “ p re se n t-d a y th e o -
ries o f p e rc e p tio n and se n sa tio n .”
B ut h o w ev er u n o rth o d o x th e ir c o n te n t, F o u c a u lt’s lectu res w ere al-
ways p ed ag o g ically u n im p each ab le. T h e r e w ere n o g re a t in sp ired
tirad es flying o u t o v er th e heads o f th e audience, o r rem ark s th a t w ere
to o difficult for th em . T h is was n o lo n g e r U ppsala. A nd it was n o t y et
w h at w ould be th e lectu res at th e C o llèg e de F rance, w hose fu n c tio n is
p recisely to set fo rth , to be, th e te stin g g ro u n d s for new research. A t
C le rm o n t F o u c a u lt alm o st always follow ed th e set p ro g ram ; he defined
n o tio n s, p re se n te d d ifferen t th e o rie s, and gave su m m aries sy n th esizin g
th e m aterial. T h e n o te s tak en by his stu d e n ts m ake this p erfectly clear:
th e y are all o rg an ized b y p arag rap h s, w ith little ex p lan ato ry schem as.

■ W- ‫׳‬w
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

H is courses w ere academ ic in th e b est sense o f th e w o rd , and, d esp ite th e


d ista n t m a n n e r he displayed in his ro le o f p ro fesso r, d esp ite th e lib er-
ties he to o k w ith u n iv e rsity stan d ard s, he rem ain ed a ra th e r tra d itio n a l
te ach er. H e offered his stu d e n ts real in tro d u c to ry w ork, sim ply and
p recisely p re se n te d . O f course, he discussed m aterial he was u sin g fo r
th e books he was w o rk in g on. F o r exam ple, his co u rse o n “ c o n te m p o -
ra ry p ro b le m s o f la n g u a g e ” addressed m a n y o f th e th em es la te r fo u n d
in Les Mots et les choses. B ut he did n o t m ix his tw o activities. H e n ev er
co n fu sed th e tw o au d iences fo r th ese d iffe re n t reg isters o f discourse:
te a c h in g and w ritin g .
F o u c a u lt w as a fascin atin g teach er. H e w alked back and fo rth o n th e
p o d iu m , talk ed n o n -sto p , and o n ly ra re ly co n su lted th e b u n d le o f n o te
cards he h ad se t o n th e desk: o n e quick glance and he w o u ld s ta rt talk -
in g again in his rapid, staccato rh y th m . H is voice seem ed a b o u t to fly
off at th e ends o f his sen ten ces, w ith th e m elo d ic lift o f a q u e stio n , o n ly
to sink again w ith th e c o n fid e n t in flectio n s o f an answ er to th e p ro b -
lem s he had raised. F o u c a u lt liked to m ake his stu d en ts uneasy. H e
w ould sto p su d d en ly in th e m id d le o f a le c tu re an d ask: “ D o you w a n t
to k n o w w h a t stru c tu ra lism is?” A nd since n o b o d y d ared answ er, a fte r
le ttin g a few m in u te s o f silence go b y h e w ould deliver a lo n g explana-
tio n th a t le ft his au d ien ce flabbergasted. T h e n he w ould pick u p th e
th re a d o f his discussion, a b a n d o n e d for th e p a st tw e n ty m in u tes. T h e
co u rse m o st d read ed by th e stu d e n ts— because th e y w ere fascinated
b u t always so m ew h at u n easy — was th e o n e h e dev o ted to th e R o r-
schach m e th o d . T h is to o k place in th e evenings; in th e m o rn in g he
discussed law o r sexuality, and early in th e a fte rn o o n he ta u g h t p sy ch o -
analysis, language, o r th e h u m a n sciences. F o u cau lt divided his stu -
d e n ts in to g ro u p s o f seven, p u ttin g th e in evitable tw o o r th re e extra
ones o ff to th e side. T h r o u g h o u t th e course, he c o n triv ed to su b ject
th ese exiles, w h o m he called “ b ed o u in s,” to a h a ilsto rm o f q u e stio n s—
and gibes w h e n th e answ er was w ro n g . H is sard o n ic rep ly fo r a c o rre c t
answ er was “ C a n d y for M iss S o -a n d -so .” I t was p erfectly clear to th e
stu d e n ts th a t th e ir salv atio n lay in escaping th e c o n d itio n o f “ b ed -
o u in .” B u t h o w could th e y avoid th e d isse rta tio n topics, such as “ th e
n e u ro tic fam ily, th a t is, q u ite sim ply, th e fam ily” ? N o b o d y w ould d are
v e n tu re in to th a t sw am p, and F o u cau lt had n o t a single p a p e r to grade:
ev ery o n e shied off. E v e n m o re d read ed was th e oral exam at th e en d o f
th e year. H e o n ce asked a y o u n g w o m an w h o was alread y p araly zed by
h e r tim id ity : “W h a t do you w a n t to do w h en you g ro w u p ? ” A nd th a t
was to be th e q u estio n . T h e s tu d e n t b eg a n to develop an answ er, and

W 140 *V
T he D a n d y a n d t he R e f o r m s

a fte r a few m in u te s F o u c a u lt in te rru p te d h e r. “ C a n you list five cases o f


n eu ro sis d escrib ed b y F re u d ? ” She did so, and th e exam was over.
D e sp ite ev ery th in g , th e stu d en ts liked and ad m ired th e ir p ro fesso r.
T h e y w e n t to talk to h im a fte r class, th e y w e n t w ith h im to th e statio n ,
had a last d rin k w ith h im b efo re th e y le t h im go. D u rin g his last y ear at
C le rm o n t, F o u c a u lt was ap p lau d ed a t th e end o f ev ery le c tu re — so m e-
th in g th a t had n ev er h a p p e n e d b efo re in th e A uvergne; n o r since.
F o u c a u lt’s m a n n e r, his ap p earan ce, his b izarre re la tio n s w ith stu -
d en ts, his evaluations, w h ich som e suspected o f b ein g d ictated b y his
advisees, did n o t please all his colleagues. F o u cau lt m ay have b e e n
m u c h a p p reciated in th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t, b u t n o t all o f th e re st
o f th e facu lty w ere frie n d ly to w ard h im . F o r som e he was n e ith e r m o re
n o r less th a n th e devil in c a rn a te . As o n e can im agine, fro m w h a t we
k n o w o f him , h e n ev er h e sitated to play up this im age. In a d d itio n to
th e “ d a n d y ” side o f him , th e re was his “ sa rd o n ic ” laugh, th e “ ar-
ro g a n c e ” always, ev ery w h ere, displayed also in his “ e c c e n tric ” behav-
io r (th ese are th e w ords o f w itnesses). All o f this d isco n c erted th e sm all,
v ery p ro v in cial faculty and focused o n F o u cau lt a re s e n tm e n t ag ainst
“ P a risia n in te lle c tu a ls.” “A P arisian in te lle c tu a l”— th a t was c ertain ly
th e p ro b le m . H e lived in P a ris— his a p a rtm e n t was o n R ue du D o c -
te u r-F in la y , in th e fifte e n th a rro n d isse m e n t; h e fre q u e n te d avant-
g ard e lite ra ry circles, c o n trib u te d to review s such as Critique , Tel quel,
and NRF\ in w hich h e w ro te a b o u t B ataille, B lanchot, K lossow ski. H e
seem ed h a rd ly th e a p p ro p ria te p e rso n to com e and teach in this re-
m o te spot.
P e rh a p s stu d e n ts and pro fesso rs to d a y w ould be less asto n ish ed by
all this. B u t b e fo re 1968, F o u c a u lt’s p resen ce was as sh o ck in g as it was
seductive. O u tsid e a sm all g ro u p o f colleagues and frien d s, F o u cau lt
was b ad ly th o u g h t o f and severely criticized for having D an iel D e fe rt
a p p o in te d as an assistan t in th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t. D e fe rt was a
s tu d e n t at th e E c o le N o rm a le a t S a in t-C lo u d w h en F o u cau lt m e t him ,
u p o n his r e tu rn fro m G erm an y . H e had ju st b e g u n a love affair w ith
D e fe rt th a t w ould last u n til his d eath . D an iel D e fe rt w ould share
F o u c a u lt’s life for a lm o st tw enty-five years. A nd F o u cau lt loved him ,
d esp ite m o m e n ts o f te n sio n and difficulty, even m o m e n ts o f crisis, u n -
til th e end. A ny n u m b e r o f p eo p le m e n tio n e d F o u c a u lt’s to rm e n t and
d esp air w h e n a final ru p tu re seem ed im m in e n t. B ut th e re latio n sh ip
survived all its ordeals. F o u cau lt d escrib ed th e in te n sity o f th e affair in
an in te rv ie w w ith th e G e rm a n film m ak er W e rn e r S c h ro e te r in 1981: “ I
am living in a state o f passio n w ith so m eo n e. P erh ap s, a t som e given

>W 141 **
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

m o m e n t, this p assion to o k a tu r n for love. T ruly, this is a state o f pas-


sion b etw een th e tw o o f us, a p e rm a n e n t state w ith n o reaso n to co m e
to an end o th e r th a n itself, o n e in w h ich I am e n tire ly invested, o n e
ru n n in g th ro u g h m e. I th in k th e re is n o th in g in th e w orld, n o th in g , n o
m a tte r w hat, th a t could sto p m e fro m g o in g to see him again, o r speak-
in g to h im .” 6 W h e n he was at C le rm o n t this affair was .just b eg in n in g ,
and F o u c a u lt did n o t h e sita te to use th e p re ro g a tiv e p ro v id ed b y his
status as head o f th e d e p a rtm e n t to offer an assistantship to his lover.
H e could n o t care less a b o u t scandalizing th e university, and w h e n a
m e m b e r o f th e faculty council asked him w h a t c rite ria he h ad used in
th e choice o f this can d id ate ra th e r th a n a n o th e r ap p licant, a w o m an
w ho was o ld e r and had m o re degrees, h e replied: “ B ecause we d o n ’t
like old m aids h e re .”

7W

W as it b e c a u s e h e was fed u p w ith tea c h in g psychology? W as it b e-


cause h e was u n c o m fo rta b le in this ra th e r cram p ed w orld? O r was it
sim ply, as o n e o f his frien d s said, “because h e nev er stayed p u t” ? All
th ese reasons, p erh ap s, co m b in ed to re su lt in his d e p a rtu re fro m C le r-
m o n t at th e end o f th e 1 9 6 5 -6 6 school year. In any case he h ad alread y
trie d several tim es to escape this so m ew h at stifling u n iv ersity scene. In
1963 h e was o n th e verge o f b ein g ap p o in te d d ire c to r o f th e F re n c h
C u ltu ra l In s titu te in T o k y o , b u t th e d e a n o f th e faculty p ersu ad ed him
to stay. O n S e p te m b e r 2 th e d ean had w ritte n to th e m in istry :

M . F oucault’s departure would cause very serious dam age to o u r fac-


ulty. N o t only would it be im possible to replace him for the begin-
ning o f classes next year, b u t the extrem ely critical situation o f the
philosophy d epartm ent at C lerm o n t— a situation I have reviewed for
you several tim es— requires th at the director of the section be re-
tained for the next year. A nother consideration is th at M . Foucault,
as a psychologist, is the only one able to carry th ro u g h the reorgani-
zation of the Institute for Applied Psychology th at we have un d er-
taken. U n d er these conditions, I have pressed M . Foucault very
strongly to decline the offer he has received. W ith an unselfishness
for w hich I am very grateful, he was willing to adm it the validity o f
the argum ents I gave him.

In 1965 F o u c a u lt again in te n d e d to leave C le rm o n t. T h e so cio lo g ist


G eo rg es G u rv itc h suggested th a t he ap p ly to teach a t th e S o rb o n n e
and offered his su p p o rt. B u t C a n g u ilh e m advised F o u cau lt n o t to do
so, because it seem ed ra th e r a bad situ atio n . F o u cau lt w ould have th e

*4‫ ׳‬142
T he D a n d y a n d the R eeorms

m a jo rity o f th e p h ilo so p h y section, w hich in clu d ed n o t o n ly p h ilo so -


p h ers b u t also sociologists and psychologists, ag ain st him . O n th e one
h a n d , th e S o rb o n n e did n o t seem ready to accep t F oucault, and o n th e
o th e r, G u rv itc h was n o t p artic u la rly liked by his colleagues; th e y w ere
likely to reject any can d id ate he suggested. F o u cau lt decided to follow
C a n g u ilh e m ’s advice and se n t h im a lo n g le tte r th a n k in g h im for
h av in g o p e n e d his eyes: “You did m e a great “ service” as it is cu rio u sly
d escrib ed , in p re v e n tin g m e fro m m ak in g th e stu p id m istake G u rv itc h
was u rg in g m e to m ake. T h a n k s to you, I can see it all now w ith b lin d -
in g clarity .” So F o u c a u lt re m ain ed at C le rm o n t. B ut o n several oc-
casions he w e n t to ask J e a n S irinelli, in charge o f fo reig n F re n c h
in stru c tio n , to d ig up a p o st for him . F o u cau lt had k n ow n S irinelli at
th e R u e d ’U lm w h en b o th w ere giving classes th e re in th e early 1950s.
M o re o v e r, S irin elli was a frie n d o f B arthes. So d o in g F o u cau lt a favor
p o sed n o p ro b le m at all. E xcept, sim ply, S irinelli could n o t see w h at
au d ien ce F o u c a u lt could find at C o n g o -K in sh asa, w hose u n iv ersity was
still in th e clu tch es o f professors fro m L ouvain, and he stro n g ly ad-
vised F o u c a u lt— w h o seem ed to w an t to go th e re — n o t to.
F o u c a u lt did n o t go to live in Brazil e ith e r. H e w e n t th e re for tw o
m o n th s in 1965 at th e in v ita tio n o f G é ra rd L e b ru n , w ho had b een his
s tu d e n t at th e R ue d ’U lm in 1954, and w ho had since m oved to S io
P au lo , w h ere he still lives and teaches today. F o u cau lt gave a series o f
lectu res th e re .
B u t in d eed F o u c a u lt refused to stay p u t. In 1966 he was given leave
to go to T u n is. Les Mots et les choses h ad just com e o u t, to a re so u n d in g
and e n tire ly u n ex p ected success. In all th e u p ro a r acco m p an y in g th e
p u b lic a tio n o f this book, w hich his stu d en ts a t C le rm o n t had b een th e
first to h e a r of, M ich e l F o u cau lt said g o o d b y to th a t city.

w 143 ‫׳‬M ‫׳‬


II
>vw

O pening Bodies

o m p le te ly ab so rb ed in w ritin g Folie et déraison, M ich e l F o u -


cau lt had n o t p u b lish ed a n y th in g d u rin g his years in S w eden,
P o lan d , and G erm an y . As soon as he re tu rn e d to F ran ce, h o w -
ever, he p ro d u c e d an in creasin g n u m b e r o f books and p ro jects fo r books.
Les Mots et les choses, p u b lish ed in 1966 ju st b efo re his d e p a rtu re fo r
T u n is, was th e c u lm in a tio n o f a m an y -sid ed p ro g ressio n .
T h e p ro je cts w ere n u m ero u s. T h e first was to be a d ire c t sequel to
Folie et déraison. P ie rre N o ra , w h o was w o rk in g th e n at Ju llia rd , w an ted
to lau n ch a n ew series called A rchives, for w hich h isto ria n s w ould
g a th e r and discuss d o cu m en ts p e rta in in g to a given su b ject o r p e rio d .
N o ra h ad read Folie et déraison, and h e w ro te to F oucault. A t th e ir first
m e e tin g , N o ra recalled, F o u cau lt was “ dressed all in b lack ” and w o re a
h o m b u rg and gold cufflinks. A bove all, h e re m e m b e re d F o u c a u lt’s ac-
c e p tin g his su g g estio n and p ro p o sin g to w o rk w ith texts a b o u t p ris-
o n ers. T h e p ro je c t was advertised as o n e o f th e first volum es o f th e
series: “M a d m e n . F ro m th e B astille to P lo p ital S ain te-A n n e, fro m
th e se v e n te e n th to th e n in e te e n th cen tu ries, M ich e l F o u cau lt re c o u n ts
th e jo u rn e y to th e end o f n ig h t.— F o rth c o m in g .” B ut it n e v e r cam e.
O th e r p ro jects w ere b o rn and th e n vanished, o n ly to re tu rn in o th e r
form s. T h e r e was th e “H is to ry o f H y s te ria ,” fo r w hich he signed a
c o n tra c t in F e b ru a ry 1964 w ith F la m m a rio n and its N e w S cientific L i-
b ra ry h ead ed b y F e rn a n d B raudel. T h is g re a t h isto rian , as we have seen,
had quickly reco g n ized th e y o u n g p h ilo so p h e r’s talen t. T h e m a n u sc rip t
was d ue in th e fall o f 1965. B ut F o u cau lt speedily ch an g ed his p ro je c t
and sig n ed a n ew c o n tra c t for an e n tire ly d ifferen t book, “T h e Id ea o f
D e c a d e n c e .” T h e o n ly th in g th ese tw o texts had in c o m m o n was th a t
n e ith e r ever existed.
F oucault, how ever, was far fro m idle. In 1963 he p u b lish ed tw o dis-

144 *V
O p e n i n g B odies

tin c tly d iffe re n t w orks. O n e was a stu d y o n R ay m o n d R oussel, p u b -


lished a t G allim ard in th e series L e C h e m in , d ire cted by G e o rg e s
L a m b rich s; th e o th e r was Naissance de la clinique. H e v ery carefully ar-
ran g ed for th e m to be p u b lish ed o n th e sam e day. P erh ap s he w an ted
to show th a t th ese tw o areas o f c o n c e n tra tio n w ere equally im p o rta n t.
O r p erh ap s, o n a d e e p e r level, he m e a n t to show th a t in b o th instances
he was ta lk in g a b o u t th e sam e th in g .

*V

T he book on R o u s s e l was one o f several w orks th at, as a w hole,


m ig h t even be d escrib ed as a “ lite ra ry cycle,” just as, in th e 1970s, th e re
w ould be a “ p riso n cycle,” w ith a c o n ste lla tio n o f articles, prefaces, and
interview s p ro life ra tin g a ro u n d a book. F ro m 1962 to 1966 F o u cau lt
p u b lish ed a series o f articles o n w riters. B ut R oussel is th e o n ly o n e to
w h o m F o u c a u lt ever devoted a book. N o t o n ly was this a u th o r n o t a
p h ilo so p h e r; he was th e least p h ilo so p h ic o f th e w rite rs F o u cau lt ad-
m ire d . In any case he was th e m o st en ig m atic and m o st eso teric, a p o e t
and p la y w rig h t w ho was alm o st u n k n o w n a t th e tim e, and w h o m th e
a v a n t-g a rd e novelists, u n d e r th e guidance o f M ich e l L eiris in Biffures,
w o u ld discover as o ne o f th e ir p recu rso rs. P u b lish ed in 1948, this first
v o lu m e o f L e iris ’ a u to b io g ra p h y dw elt at len g th o n m e m o ries o f R ous-
sel, w h o m L eiris had k n o w n v ery well. B u t how did F o u cau lt discover
R oussel? By chance, he explained, in w h at b ecam e th e “ P o s ts c rip t” to
th e 1986 A m erican e d itio n o f his book. I

I can recall how I discovered his work: it was during a period w hen I
was living abroad in Sweden and returned to France for the sum m er.
I w ent to the libraiiie Jo sé-C o rti to buy I can’t recall w hat book. C an
you visualize th at huge bookstore across from the Luxem bourg G ar-
dens? José C o rti, publisher and bookseller, was there behind his
enorm ous desk, a distinguished old m an. H e was busy speaking to a
friend, and obviously he is n o t the kind o f bookseller that you can
in te rru p t w ith a “C ould you find m e such and such a book?” You
have to wait politely until the conversation is over before m aking a
request. T h u s, while w aiting, I found my atten tio n draw n to a series
o f books o f th at faded yellow color used by publishing firms o f the
late nin eteen th , early tw entieth centuries; in short, books the likes o f
which aren’t m ade anym ore. I exam ined them and saw “L ibrairie
L e m e rre ” on the cover. I was puzzled to find these old volum es from
a publishing firm as fallen now in reputation as that o f A lphonse
L em erre. I selected a book out o f curiosity to see what José C orti was

~ 145 W
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

selling from the stock o f the L em erre firm, and th a t’s how I came
upon the w ork o f som eone I had never heard o f nam ed R aym ond
Roussel, and the book was entitled La Vue. W ell, from the first line, I
was com pletely taken by the beauty o f the style, so strange and so
strangely close to th at o f R obbe-G rillet, who was just beginning to
publish his work. I could see a relationship betw een La Vue and
R o b b e-G rillet’s w ork in general, b u t Le Voyeur in particular. At th at
p o in t José C o rti’s conversation had com e to an end, I requested the
book I needed, and asked tim idly w ho was Raym ond Roussel, be-
cause in addition to La Vue, his o th er works were on the shelf. C o rd
looked at m e with a generous sort o f pity and said, “But, after all,
Roussel . . .” I im m ediately understood th at I should have know n
about R aym ond Roussel, and with equal tim idity I asked if I could
buy the book, since he was selling it. I was rath er surprised to find
th a t it was expensive. José C o rd probably told m e th at day th at I
should read How I W?vte Certain of M y Books [Commentfai écrit cer-
tains de mes livres]. R aym ond Roussel’s w ork im m ediately absorbed
me: I was taken by the prose style even before learning w hat was be-
hind it— the process, the m achines, the m echanism s— and no d o u b t
w hen I discovered his process and his techniques, the obsessional side
o f me was seduced a second tim e by the shock o f learning o f the dis-
p arity betw een this m ethodically applied process, which was slightly
naive, and the resulting intense poetry. Slowly and system atically I
began to buy all his works. I developed an affection for his work,
w hich rem ained secret, since I didn’t discuss it.1

R ay m o n d R oussel was b o rn in 1877 in P aris. H e b eg an stu d y in g m u -


sic b u t th e n ab an d o n ed it all, a t seventeen, to sh u t h im se lf u p w ith p e n
and p a p e r and th ro w h im se lf in to w ritin g — le ttin g rad iate a ro u n d h im
th e blazing, so lar g lo ry he felt inside, n eed in g , as he endlessly p ro -
claim ed, n o o n e else’s ack n o w led g m en t. T h e e m in e n t p sy c h ia trist
P ie rre J a n e t fou n d his case fascin atin g and analyzed R oussel’s illu m in a-
tio n s in his b o o k De Vangoisse à Vextase, c o m p a rin g this lite ra ry exalta-
tio n to relig io u s ecstasy. In 1897 R oussel p u b lish ed La Doublure, a lo n g
p o e m re c o u n tin g th e life o f an un d erstu d y . T h e n cam e La Vue, w h ich
d escrib ed a landscape visible only to so m eo n e w ho b ro u g h t his eye
close to th e surface o n w hich it is engraved. As H u b e r t J u in said in his
in tro d u c tio n to Comment f a i écrit certains de ?nes livres, R oussel faced
his p o e m alone, and it ow ed n o th in g to th e o u tsid e w o rld .2 H e was also
alone w ith his novels, w ritte n in accordance w ith p ro c e d u re s to w h ich
he p ro v id ed a key in this p o sth u m o u s w ork. H is first novel was bnpres-
sions d'Afrique, in 1910; n ext was Nouvelles Impressions d'Afrique, w ritte n

W 146 *v
O p e n i n g B odies

en ro u te to A ustralia and N e w Z ealand. H e sp e n t th e trip sh u t up in


th e cab in o f a ship, w ith all th e cu rtain s draw n, stu b b o rn ly refu sin g to
lo o k at th e scenery. H e also w ro te for th e th eater; his plays e ith e r
flo p p ed re so u n d in g ly o r else created a h u g e u p ro a r, and e a rn e d h im
th e s u p p o rt o f th e surrealists. A fter his d eath he was alm o st co m p letely
fo rg o tte n u n til L eiris re lit th e flam e th a t had b een so quickly ex tin -
g u ished. A nd u n til th e “ ra d ia tin g g lo ry ” cau g h t th e eye o f a y o u n g p h i-
lo so p h er, exiled in S w eden b u t v isitin g Paris, w ho was th e n w ritin g a
b o o k o n m adness, in w hich h e w an ted to re tu rn speech to all th o se w h o
tu rn e d m adness in to w orks. F o u cau lt m u st have b e e n fascinated to
discover th a t R oussel h ad b e e n a p a tie n t o f P ie rre Ja n e t, and also th a t
in 193 3 R oussel had ch o sen to be tre a te d at th e B insw anger clinic at
K re u zlin g en . B u t he had tak en a d e to u r b efo re g o in g to S w itzerland,
sto p p in g in P a le rm o , w h ere he was discovered, dead, in his h o tel ro o m .
D id he c o m m it suicide, as th e official versio n has it? O r was he killed
b y a tra n s ie n t lover, as som e think? F o u cau lt accepted th e suicide th e -
ory. H is b o o k b egins and ends w ith a c e rem o n y im ag in ed b y R oussel:
p re p a rin g fo r d e a th and se n d in g his e d ito r a w ork explaining h o w his
b o o k s w ere w ritte n . F o u cau lt discussed R oussel’s suicide in an article
p u b lish e d in Le Monde in 1964.3
A side fro m th e c o n n e c tio n b etw een w ritin g and d eath , m ade b y
R oussel in this stran g e act, b io g rap h ical facts are o f v ery little in te re s t
to F o u c a u lt in this book. O n ly th e lite ra ry m echanism s, th e processes
and w o rd p la y th a t Roussel p ro d u ced in te re st h im — all th e m a c h in e ry
d escrib ed in Comment f a i écrit w ith w hich language could be m ade in -
fin itely prolific. “ R oussel in v en ted language m ach in es th a t have n o
o th e r se c re t o u tsid e o f th e p rocess th a n th e visible and p ro fo u n d rela-
tio n sh ip th a t all language m aintains, disengages itself from , takes up,
and rep eats in d efin itely w ith d e a th .” 4
B efore s ta rtin g Raymond Roussel, F o u cau lt visited M ich e l L eiris, ask-
in g fo r in fo rm a tio n a b o u t R oussel and his w ork. L eiris, how ever, was
n o t p a rtic u la rly sw ayed b y th e p h ilo so p h e r’s analyses: “H e a ttrib u te d
to o m an y p h ilo so p h ical ideas to R oussel, w ho h ad n o n e at all,” he says
to d ay .5 R o b b e -G rille t was scarcely m o re en th u siastic. H e w ro te a lo n g
a rtic le a b o u t R oussel w h en F o u c a u lt’s b o o k was p u b lish ed , b u t m e n -
tio n e d th e la tte r’s “ fascin atin g essay” o n ly in a single sen ten ce as o n e
sign o f th e in te re s t in this “ d ire c t an cesto r o f th e m o d e rn n o v el.” H e
th e n p ro c e e d e d w ith his ow n discussion o f R oussel’s w o rk .6 T o d a y he
acknow ledges th a t he did n o t m u ch like F o u c a u lt’s analyses. B lanchot,
o n th e o th e r h an d , spoke o f “ R oussel’s w ork, as M ich el F o u c a u lt’s b o o k

*V 147 ~
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

has o n ce again m ade it speak for itself.” H e a d m irin g ly q u o te d a sen -


ten ce fro m F o u cau lt, in w hich he discovered th e th em es tra v e rsin g his
ow n in q u iry ech o ed and reflected. “T h is so lar cavity is th e space o f
R oussel’s language, th e void h e speaks fro m , th e absence th ro u g h
w hich w o rk and m adness co m m u n icate w ith and exclude each o th e r.
A nd w h en I speak o f void it is n o t m e a n t as m e ta p h o r‫׳‬: it is a m a tte r o f
w o rd s’ b e in g d eficien t because th e y are few er th a n th e th in g s th e y des-
ig nate, and it is th anks to this eco n o m y th a t th e y m e a n s o m e th in g .” 7

A lth o u g h he celeb rated R oussel, F o u cau lt did n o t fo rg e t th e w rite rs


h e was fond o f b efo re re a d in g th e a u th o r o f Impressions dAfrique. F o r
exam ple, a fte r B ataille’s d eath , he w ro te a v ery lo n g article, “ P réface à
la tra n sg re ssio n ,” fo r a special issue o f Critique , th e review B ataille had
fo u n d ed . F o u cau lt is listed in th e tab le o f c o n te n ts alo n g w ith o th e rs
w h o m J e a n P iel had in v ited to pay th e ir respects: M ich e l L eiris, A lfred
M é tra u x , R ay m o n d Q u e n e a u , M a u ric e B lanchot, P ie rre K lossow ski,
R o lan d B arthes, J e a n W ah l, P h ilip p e Sollers, A n d ré M asson. In th is ar-
t i d e F o u c a u lt reaffirm ed all th e p ro fo u n d reasons fo r his in te re s t in —
his passion fo r— this g ro u p o f w rite rs w h o m h e had discovered te n o r
fifteen years earlier:

T o awaken us from the confused sleep o f dialectics and o f anthropol-


ogy, we required the N ietzschean figures o f tragedy, o f D ionysus, o f
the death o f G od, of the philosopher’s ham m er, o f the S uperm an ap-
proaching with the steps o f a dove, o f the R eturn. But why, in our
day, is discursive language so ineffectual w hen asked to m aintain the
presence o f these figures and to m aintain itself th ro u g h them ? W h y is
it so nearly silent before them , as if it w ere forced to yield its voice so
th at they m ay continue to find their words, to yield to these extrem e
form s o f language in which Bataille, Blanchot, and Klossowski have
m ade th eir hom e w hich they have m ade the sum m its o f th o u g h t? 8

F o r F o u c a u lt th e s tre n g th and lib e ra tin g violence o f B ataille’s w o rk lay


in its h av in g d y n am ited tra d itio n a l p h ilo so p h ical language by d e m o l-
ish in g th e idea o f a sp eak in g subject: “T h is experien ce fo rm s th e exact
reversal o f th e m o v e m e n t w hich has sustained th e w isdom o f th e W e s t
a t least since th e tim e o f Socrates, th a t is, th e w isdom to w hich p h ilo -
sophical lan g u ag e p ro m ised th e serene u n ity o f a su b jectiv ity w h ich
w ould triu m p h w ith in it, b ein g e n tire ly c o n stitu te d by and th ro u g h it.”
W h e re a s B ataille, p erhaps, defined “ th e space given over to an experi-
ence in w hich th e speaking subject, instead o f expressing him self, is ex­

‫׳‬W 148 *V
O p e n i n g B o di e s

posed, goes to e n c o u n te r his ow n finitude and, u n d e r each o f his


w ords, is b ro u g h t back to th e reality o f his ow n d e a th .” 9 T h is article
co n tain s h in ts o f an arch aeo lo g y o f sexuality. B ut it is still far fro m th e
w o rk th a t w ould b eco m e La Volonté de savoir (T h e will to know ledge),
because F o u cau lt was still th in k in g in term s o f th e fo rb id d e n and o f
tra n sg ressio n . “T h e discovery o f sexuality, th e discovery o f th a t firm a-
m e n t o f in d efin ite u n reality , w h ere Sade placed it fro m th e b eg in n in g ,
th e disco v ery o f th o se sy stem atic form s o f p ro h ib itio n w hich w e now
k n o w im p riso n it, th e discovery o f th e universal n a tu re o f tra n sg ressio n
in w h ich it is b o th o b ject and in s tru m e n t— indicates in a sufficiently
fo rcefu l w ay th e im p o ssib ility o f a ttrib u tin g th e m ille n a ry lan g u ag e o f
dialectics to th e m a jo r experien ce th a t sexuality form s fo r u s.” 10
F o u c a u lt w ould also w rite th e in tro d u c tio n to B ataille’s Oeuvres com-
pletes, th e first v o lu m e o f w hich was pu b lish ed in 1970 by G allim ard .
“ B ataille,” he w ro te a t th e b e g in n in g o f this s h o rt text, “ is o n e o f th e
m o st im p o rta n t w rite rs o f his century: Histoire de Voeil and Madame
Edwarda b ro k e th e n a rra tiv e s’ th re a d to re c o u n t th in g s th a t h ad n ev er
b e e n to ld . Somme athéologique b ro u g h t th o u g h t in to th e g am e— th e
risk y g am e— o f lim its, extrem es, heig h ts, and tran sg ressio n . UErotisme
b ro u g h t Sade closer to us and m ade h im m o re difficult. W e are in -
d e b te d to B ataille fo r m u ch o f th e m o m e n t in w hich we n o w e x i s t . . .
B u t n o d o u b t we are in d e b te d to h im also fo r th in g s th a t re m a in to be
d o n e, to be th o u g h t and said, and will be so fo r a lo n g tim e .” 11
In J u n e 1966 F o u cau lt p u b lish ed an article o n B lanchot, “ L a P en sée
du d e h o rs ” (T h e o u tsid e ’s th o u g h t), again in Ciitique. In it he stated:

T h e b reakthrough tow ard a language from w hich the subject is ex-


eluded, the revelation o f an incom patibility th at has no recourse, per-
haps, betw een the appearance o f language in the subject’s being and
the consciousness o f self in the subject’s identity, is an experience
m aking itself know n today in m any different areas in culture: in the
very act o f w riting, as well as in attem pts to form alize language, in
the study o f m yths, and in psychoanalysis . . . W e now find ourselves
facing a gap th at had long rem ained invisible to us: the being o f lan-
guage is apparent to itself only in the disappearance o f the subject.12

H is article o n K lossow ski should also be m e n tio n e d , because


F o u c a u lt u n failin g ly linked th ese th re e nam es: B lanchot, Bataille,
K lossow ski. “ L a P ro se d ’A ctdon” was p u b lish ed in M a rc h 1964 in th e
NRF. F o u c a u lt had m e t K lossow ski th ro u g h B arthes in 1963, and
th e re a fte r th e tw o m e n g o t to g e th e r often. All th re e din ed to g e th e r
T he O rder of T h i n g s

several tim es in th e days b efo re F o u cau lt and B arthes had b e g u n to ar-


gue; la te r th e tw o m e t w ith o u t B arthes. K lossow ski read F o u c a u lt pas-
sages fro m a novel he was w o rk in g on, Le Baphomet^ W h e n it was
p u b lish ed in 1965 he d ed icated it to F oucault: “ because h e was th e first
to h e a r it and th e first to read it,” K lossow ski says today. D u rin g th is
sam e p e rio d K lossow ski was also w o rk in g o n N ie tz sc h e , w ritin g w h a t
was to b eco m e Nietzsche on le cercle vicieux and p re p a rin g his tra n sia-
tio n s o f Gai savoir and its v ariatio n s for a v o lu m e in te n d e d to in a u g u -
ra te G a llim a rd ’s e d itio n o f N ie tz s c h e ’s Oeuvres completes. T h is was an
e d itio n “ for w hich G illes D eleu ze and M ic h e l F o u cau lt are re sp o n -
sib le,” as it says o n th e flyleaf. In fact th e tw o p h ilo so p h e rs w ro te a
s h o rt in tro d u c tio n for this volum e (w hich was p u b lish ed as th e fifth in
th e ed itio n ). D eleu ze also was ra th e r close to K lossow ski at th is tim e ,
and h e w ro te an article o n h im th a t w ould b e re p rin te d in Logique
du sens.
F o u c a u lt rem ain ed a g re a t ad m ire r o f K lossow ski, as can be seen
fro m th e le tte rs he w ro te h im in 1969 and 1970 a b o u t Cercle vicieux and
La Monnaie vivante. “It is th e g reatest b o o k o f p h ilo so p h y th a t I have
read, o n a level w ith N ie tz sc h e h im self,” he w ro te o f th e first in J u ly
1969. A nd d u rin g th e w in te r o f 1970, o n th e second:

O ne has the im pression th at anything that counts in one way or an-


o th e r— Blanchot, Bataille, Beyond Good and Evil also— was insid-
iously leading up to this: but now we have it, it has been said . . . T h a t
was w hat had to be thought: desire, value, and sim ulacrum — a tri-
angle th at dom inates us and that, no doubt for centuries o f o u r
history, has constituted us. T h o se who said, or say, th eir F reud-and-
M arx, w ent after it fiercely: today we can laugh about it, and we know
why. W ith o u t you, P ierre, we would have had no o th er recourse than
to com e to a halt, up against the wall m arked once and for all by Sade,
w hich no one but you has ever got aro u n d — w hich no one else,
really, ever came n e a r.1•

In 1981, w h e n th e left cam e to pow er, J e a n G a tte g n o , a colleague o f


F o u c a u lt’s in T u n is and a t V incennes, was p u t in charge o f books a t th e
M in is try o f C u ltu re . H e p h o n ed F o u cau lt to ask w ho he th o u g h t
sh ould be aw arded th e G ra n d P rix N a tio n a l des L e ttre s. F o u c a u lt re-
plied: “ K lossow ski, if he will accept it.” K lossow ski accepted.
F o u c a u lt co n sta n tly referred to N ie tz sc h e in texts o f th is p e rio d .
A nd it was at this tim e th a t he gave his fam ous lectu re “ N ie tz sc h e ,
M arx, F re u d ” at a collo q u iu m o n N ie tz sc h e at R o y a u m o n t o n J u ly
4 - 8 , 1964. H e m ade no a tte m p t to conceal his p re fe re n c e fo r th e first

*‫ ׳*׳‬1 ^0 ^
O p e n i n g B o di e s

a m o n g th ese th re e. D u rin g a discussion a fte r th e lectu re, this o d d ex-


ch an g e to o k place:

Demonbynes: C o n c e rn in g m adness, you said th a t th e ex p erien ce o f


m adness cam e closest to ab so lu te know ledge . . . Is th a t really w h at
you said?
Foucault: Yes.
Demonbynes: You d id n ’t m ean “ consciousness,” o r “p re sc ie n c e ,” o r
“ p re m o n itio n ” o f m adness? D o you really th in k th a t o ne can have
. . . th a t g re a t m in d s such as N ie tz sc h e can have “ th e experien ce o f
m a d n e ss” ?
Foucault: Yes, y e s.14

A few years later, in 1971, F o u c a u lt’s “N ietzsch e, la g én éologie, This-


to ire ” ap p eared in th e v olum e p u b lish ed in h o m ag e to J e a n H y p p o lite .
D u rin g this “ lite ra ry ” p e rio d F o u cau lt also w ro te a b o u t R o b b e-
G rille t (w ith w h o m he had beco m e frien d s since th e ir m e e tin g in
H a m b u rg ), a b o u t th e av an t-g ard e w riters g ro u p ed a ro u n d P h ilip p e
S ollers and Tel quel (in 1963 he to o k p a rt in a co llo q u iu m o n th e novel
and o n p o e try o rg an ized by th e review ), a b o u t R o g er L a p o rte , a b o u t
M ich e l B u to r and J e a n -M a rie L e C lézio, b u t also a b o u t classical au-
th o rs. H e w ro te a preface to R ousseau’s Dialogues, th a t w o rk o f m ad -
ness, and co m m e n te d o n F lau b ert, Ju le s V erne, G e ra rd de N erv al, and
M a lla rm é . T h e first text in this lo n g series was an article o n H õ ld e rlin ,
“ L e ‘n o n ’ du p è re ” (“T h e F a th e r’s ‘N o ’”), w hich ap p eared in Critique
in 1962.15 J e a n P iel h ad liked Folie et déraison v ery m uch , and he co n -
tacted F o u cau lt to ask him for som e articles. H e had lo n g k n o w n th e
F o u c a u lt family, having b een assistant co m m issio n er o f th e rep u b lic in
P o itie rs d u rin g th e L ib e ra tio n . D r. F o u cau lt had even o p e ra te d o n
him . A fte r th e d e a th o f his b ro th e r-in -la w G eo rg es B ataille in 1962,
P iel did n o t w a n t to take sole charge o f a review , and he asked F o u cau lt
to jo in an ed ito ria l b o ard along w ith R oland B arthes and M ich el D e -
guy. T h e b o a rd ’s m eetin g s to o k place over lu n ch at P ie l’s. O n e o f
F o u c a u lt’s p ro je cts was to ask Ju le s V uillem in , P ie rre K au fm an n , and
A n d ré G re e n fo r articles o n M e rle a u -P o n ty ’s p o sth u m o u s w ork, Le
Visible et Vinvisible, fo r an issue th a t was pu b lish ed in D e c e m b e r 1964.
T h e e d ito ria l b o ard la ter increased in size to acco m m o d ate, a m o n g
o th e rs, Jacq u es D e rrid a in 1967. F o u c a u lt’s last article fo r Critique , in
1970, was title d “T h e a tru m p h ilo so p h ic u m ” and d ealt w ith tw o books
by G illes D eleu ze. It en d ed w ith these w ords: “ In th e s e n try box o f th e
L u x e m b o u rg G ard en s, D u n s S cotus places his head th ro u g h th e cir­

H I5 I *V
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

cu lar w indow ; he is sp o rtin g an im pressive m o u stach e; it b elo n g s to


N ie tz sc h e , disguised as K lossow ski.” 16

/W

N a is s a n c e de la was p u b lish ed in 1963. F o u c a u lt’s fa th e r


c l in iq u e

died in 1959. D id this im m e rsio n in m edical archives re p re s e n t a w ay


for F o u c a u lt to look back o n his ow n past? to settle his acco u n ts w ith
th e lo st fa th e r figure? o r to pay him th e resp ect he had b e e n u n ab le to
convey d u rin g his fa th e r’s lifetim e? F o u cau lt said th a t this book, like
th e o th e rs, had its b irth p la c e in perso n al experience, b u t he was n e v e r
specific. W e c a n n o t p resu m e to answ er fo r him .
T h e p reface begins w ith th ese w ords: “T h is b o o k is a b o u t space,
a b o u t language, and a b o u t death; it is a b o u t th e act o f seeing, th e
gaze.” 17 T h is s ta te m e n t echoes u n can n ily th e th em es and v o cab u lary
h a u n tin g F o u c a u lt’s texts a b o u t literatu re. T h e book, how ever, was
a b o u t th e h isto ry o f science. It was p u b lish ed in th e G a lien series, su-
pervised b y G eo rg es C a n g u ilh e m for th e P ress U n i versi tai res de
F ran ce, and its su b title was Une Archéologie dii regard ?nédical. C a n -
g u ilh em did n o t co m m issio n th e book, as has so m etim es b een re -
p o rte d : “ I n ev er co m m issio n ed a n y th in g fro m F o u c a u lt,” says
C a n g u ilh e m now . “ F o u cau lt se n t it to m e a fte r he had finished it.” B u t
w h at possible c o n n e c tio n was th e re b etw een th e lite ra ry texts and this
book? N ie tz sc h e m ay have served as th e ir co m m o n o rig in . T o an y o n e
w ho seem ed su rp rised a b o u t th e coexistence o f th ese tw o d iv e rg e n t
p ath s o f research , o r to anyone w ho saw a c o n tra d ic tio n b e tw e e n his
N ie tz s c h e a n in sp ira tio n and th e tra d itio n o f th e h isto ry o f science,
F o u cau lt answ ered th a t C an g u ilh em h im self o fte n placed his re se a rc h
in a line o f d escen t fro m N ie tz sc h e — a fact th a t C a n g u ilh e m co n -
firm ed. B u t basically, in rea d in g Naissance de la clinique alongside th e
texts o n lite ra tu re , one is stru ck less by any c o n tra d ic tio n b e tw een re-
search in tw o d ire ctio n s th an , o n th e co n trary , b y th e asto n ish in g co n -
v erg en ce o f th e tw o registers. Several years la ter th e evidence o f this
kinship w ould b u rst fo rth in Les Mots et les choses.
Naissance de la clinique is b o th a d ire c t sequel to Folie et déraison and a
tra n s itio n to th e books th a t follow. It is a d ire c t sequel in th a t it extends
th e analyses used to stu d y concepts o f m en tal m ed icin e to m ed icin e in
general, ex am ining ho w and w here th e y w ere b o rn and w h a t m ad e
th e m possible. B u t un lik e Folie et déraison, w hich covers several cen-
tu ries in six h u n d re d pages, Naissance de la clinique is a sm all b o o k — tw o
h u n d re d pages— and lim its its discussion to th e end o f th e e ig h te e n th

•w‫ ׳‬I 3 2 ‫׳‬vv


O p e n i n g B odi es

c e n tu ry and th e v ery b e g in n in g o f th e n in e te e n th . In these years, w ith


th e ap p earan ce o f p ath o lo g ical an ato m y as a field o f study, m ed icin e
re o rg a n iz e d itself, b o th as a p ractice and as a science. B u t h e re also,
F o u c a u lt applies p rin cip les o f “ stru c tu ra l h isto ry .” H e relates d ifferen t
re g iste rs— eco n o m ic, social, political, ideological, c u ltu ra l— to o ne an-
o th e r to illu m in e th e tra n sfo rm a tio n s th a t affected ways o f sp eak in g
and seein g as a w hole and, m o re p rofoundly, affected w h at it is possible
to say and to see at any given p e rio d , th e seeable and th e sayable. T h e
re o rg a n iz a tio n o f hospitals, th e upheaval in m edical in stru c tio n , scien-
tific th e o rie s, and p ractices, and eco n o m ic p re o c c u p a tio n s— all w o rk ed
to w ard th e ru p tu re . T h e tu rn in g p o in t cam e w h en th e n eed to dissect
cadavers was reco g n ized . T o d e c ip h e r sym ptom s at th e d e e p e st level,
th e d o c to r had to lo o k for th e ir source inside th e body. “ O p e n up a few
co rp ses,” said X avier B ichat, as F o u cau lt vividly re p o rts, “ and you will
dissipate a t o n ce th e darkness th a t o b serv atio n alone could n o t dissi-
p a te .” F o u c a u lt co m m en ts o n B ich at’s w ords w ith o ne o f th o se m ag -
n ific e n t ph rases in w hich th e b o o k abounds: “T h e living n ig h t is
dissip ated in th e b rig h tn e ss o f d e a th .” F ro m th a t p o in t on, “ life, dis-
ease, and d e a th n o w fo rm a tech n ical and co n cep tu al trin ity . T h e co n -
tin u ity o f th e ag e-o ld beliefs th a t placed th e th re a t o f disease in life,
and o f th e a p p ro a c h in g p resen ce o f d eath in disease is b ro k en ; in its
place is a rtic u la te d a tria n g u la r figure th e su m m it o f w h ich is defined
b y d eath . I t is fro m th e h e ig h t o f d eath th a t one can see and analyze
o rg a n ic d e p en d en ces and p ath o lo g ical seq u en ces.” T h e r e was a n o th e r
ch an g e o c c u rrin g , too, o n e th a t involved language. F o u cau lt reco g -
nized P in e l’s texts as p a rt o f this d ev elo p m en t, w ith th e ir stated in te n -
tio n o f p ro d u c in g an exact and exhaustive d e sc rip tio n o f illnesses and
th e b o dies th a t c a rrie d th em . T h is d o u b le m o v e m e n t was n o t ju st a
tra n s fo rm a tio n o f m edical tech n o lo g ies, b u t a re o rg a n iz a tio n o f all o f
m ed icin e and, b ey o n d this, o f th e e n tire p e rc e p tio n o f life and d eath
and th e v ery fo u n d a tio n s o f know ledge: “T h is stru c tu re in w hich
space, language, and d e a th are a rtic u la te d — w h at is know n, in fact, as
th e an a to m o -c lin ic a l m e th o d — co n stitu tes th e h isto rical c o n d itio n o f a
m ed icin e th a t is given and accepted as p o sitiv e.” 18
T h is is th e p o in t at w hich Naissance de la clinique opens o n to
F o u c a u lt’s la te r in q u iries. I t d em o n strates ju st how th e p o ssib ility o f a
“ k n o w led g e o f th e in d iv id u al” was in stitu te d . “ I t will no d o u b t rem ain
a decisive fact a b o u t o u r c u ltu re ,” said F oucault, “ th a t its first scientific
d isco u rse c o n c e rn in g th e individual had to pass th ro u g h this stage o f
d eath . W e s te rn m an could c o n stitu te h im self in his ow n eyes as an o b -

~ '53
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

ject o f science, he grasped h im se lf w ith in his language and gave h im se lf


in h im se lf and by him self, and a discursive existence o n ly in th e o p e n -
in g created b y his ow n elim in atio n : fro m th e ex p erien ce o f U n re a s o n
was b o rn psychology, th e v e ry p o ssib ility o f psychology; fro m th e in te -
g ra tio n o f d e a th in to m edical th o u g h t is b o rn a m ed icin e th a t is given
as a science o f th e in d iv id u al.” 19 T h is idea leads intQ Les Mots et les
choses, in th e sense th a t F o u cau lt saw h e re th a t he had ju st d escrib ed th e
base u p o n w hich all h u m a n sciences w ould flourish: o n m a n ’s p ossibil-
ity o f b e in g sim u ltan eo u sly th e su b ject and th e o b ject o f his o w n
k now ledge.
B ut, he added, le t us m ake n o m istake. T h is b irth o f positive m e d i-
cine, and o f th e scientific w ay o f th in k in g th a t h elp ed m edical p ra c tic e
escape fro m an e m p ire ru led b y chim era, this arrival o f a n ew d iscu r-
sive kno w led g e is c o n te m p o ra ry w ith and p a rt o f th e m o v e m e n t th at,
in all o f c o n te m p o ra ry cu ltu re, p u t d e a th at th e h e a rt o f th e individual:

T h e experience o f individuality in m o d ern culture is bound up w ith


th at of death: from H o ld erlin ’s Em pedocles to N ietzsch e’s Z ara-
thustra, and on to F reudian m an, an obstinate relation to death p re-
scribes to the universal its singular face and lends to each individual
the pow er o f being heard forever . . . In w hat at first sight m ight
seem a very strange way, the m ovem ent th at sustained lyricism in the
nin eteen th century was one and the same as th at by w hich m an ob-
tained positive know ledge o f himself; b u t is it surprising th at the fig-
ures o f know ledge and those of language should obey the same
profound law, and th at the irru p tio n o f finitude should dom inate, in
the same way, this relation o f m an to death, which, in the first case,
authorizes a scientific discourse in a rational form , and in the second,
opens up the source o f a language th at unfolds endlessly in the void
left by the absence of the gods?20

Naissance de la clinique received little n o tice. B u t Jacq u es L a can dis-


cussed it a t le n g th in o ne o f his sem inars, and in th e n ex t few days sev-
eral d o z e n copies o f th e b o o k w ere sold. F o u cau lt w e n t to d in n e r a t th e
L a c a n s’ several tim es, th o u g h th ey n ev er becam e close frien d s. Sylvia
L a can re m e m b e re d well so m e th in g F o u cau lt th re w o u t in th e co n v er-
sa tio n o n e even in g at h e r h o m e o n R ue de Lille: “T h e r e will be no
civilization as lo n g as m arriag e b etw een m en is n o t ac c e p te d .”

W
15 4 ~
12
VW

R am parts o f the Bourgeoisie

n A u g u st and S e p te m b e r 1965 F o u cau lt was in São P aulo, w h ere he


gave G é ra rd L e b ru n a large m a n u sc rip t to read. T h is was p rac-
tically c o n su ltin g th e expert: L e b ru n was a specialist in K a n t and
H e g e l b u t was also ex trem ely well versed in p h e n o m e n o lo g y and th e
w o rk o f M e rle a u -P o n ty . H e read th e m a n u sc rip t F o u cau lt show ed
h im , and th e y talked a b o u t it. W h e n th e b o o k cam e o u t a few m o n th s
later, L e b ru n was su rp rised to see a first c h a p te r th a t had n o t b e e n in
th e v ersio n he h ad read. In an “ o u v e rtu re ” th a t a n n o u n c e d th e th em es
o f th e book, F o u c a u lt analyzed a p a in tin g by V elasquez, Las Meninas.
T h is b it o f b ravura, u n d o u b te d ly added at th e last m o m e n t, played a
larg e p a rt in th e b o o k ’s success. It was an article th a t F o u cau lt had p u b -
lished in Le Mercure de France, and he was v ery h e sita n t a b o u t p u ttin g it
in, a c c o rd in g to P ie rre N o ra . “H e th o u g h t this article was to o lite ra ry
to figure in his book, b u t I th o u g h t, m yself, th a t it was fine.” F o u cau lt
w o u ld have liked to give his w ork th e title th a t w ould ap p ear fo r its
seco n d c h a p te r, “ L a P ro se du m o n d e .” B ut M e rle a u -P o n ty had w an ted
to give this title to a tex t fo u n d am o n g his p apers a fter his d e a th .1
F o u c a u lt was n o t eag er to seem to o m u ch in flu en ced by th e p h ilo so -
p h e r he h ad so lo n g ad m ired . H e th e n th o u g h t o f UOrdre des choses, o r
m aybe Les Mots et les choses. F o u cau lt p re fe rre d th e fo rm er, N o ra th e
la tte r. A nd F o u c a u lt w e n t alo n g w ith his arg u m en ts. T h e E n g lish
tra n sla tio n , how ever, w ould ap p ear as The Order o f Things, and F o u -
cau lt said in several interview s th at, basically, this was th e b e tte r title.

W
“ F o u c a u l t comme d e s p e t i t s p a i n s ” — F o u cau lt selling like h o t-
cakes!— a n n o u n c e d an article in Le Nouvel Observateur devoted to the
b est-sellers o f th e su m m e r o f 1966.2 S u rp risin g as it m ay seem , Les Mots

i ‫ףף‬
T h e O r d e r of T h i n g s

et les choses m e t w ith h u g e success. N o o n e w as m o re su rp rise d th a n th e


a u th o r and th e e d ito r. T h is was an ex trem ely difficult w ork, m e a n t fo r
a lim ited au d ien ce in te re s te d in th e h is to ry o f science.
T h e b o o k was p u b lish ed in A pril 1966 by G allim ard , w h ere F o u c a u lt
had p u b lish ed his stu d y o n R oussel. H e s u b m itte d th e n ew b o o k to
G e o rg e s L a m b rich s, and, since P ie rre N o ra h ad ju st le ft J u llia rd to
s ta rt a B ib lio th èq u e des Sciences H u m a in e s fo r G a llim a rd , it was
u n d e rsto o d th a t Les Mots et les choses w ould be th e first title in his col-
lectio n . All o f F o u c a u lt’s books fro m th e n o n cam e o u t in this series o r
its tw in, B ib lio th èq u e des H isto ire s, and r ig h t fro m th e b e g in n in g he
p ro v id e d th ese co llectio n s w ith a q u ality and p re stig e th a t p ersisted
u n til his d eath .
T h e first ru n o f 3,500 copies was quickly sold o u t. In J u n e th e re was
a n o th e r p rin tin g , o f 5,000; th e n 3,000 in July, in S e p te m b e r, and again
in N o v e m b e r. I t k e p t rig h t o n th e n ex t year: 4,000 in M a rc h 1967 and
5,000 in N o v e m b e r; a n o th e r 6,000 in A pril 1968 and in J u n e 1969; and
so on. I t is v e ry ra re fo r a b o o k o f p h ilo so p h y to a tta in th ese n u m b e rs.
T o d ate m o re th a n 110,000 copies have b e e n p rin te d .
Success cam e first fro m p h ilo so p h ical circles, o f course. In N o v e m -
h e r 1966 J e a n L acroix re p o rte d in Le Monde th a t th e m o st fre q u e n tly
m e n tio n e d nam es in theses w ritte n fo r th e agrégation w ere A lth u sser
an d F o u cau lt. B u t th e success w e n t b ey o n d this acclaim . A c c o rd in g to
n ew spapers a t th e tim e, p eo p le w ere re a d in g F o u c a u lt’s b o o k o n th e
beaches, o r a t least th e y to o k it w ith th e m , le ft it lying a ro u n d o n th e
tab le a t cafes to show th e y w ere n o t ig n o ra n t o f such a m a jo r event. Les
Mots et les choses had such w ide rep ercu ssio n s th a t th e re w ould b e
echoes o f it in L ouis A rag o n ’s Blanche ou Voubli, as w ell as in J e a n -L u c
G o d a rd ’s La Chinoise, in 1967, w hich m ad e g re a t fu n o f its vogue.
G o d a rd even said in an in terv iew th a t it was ag ain st p eo p le like “ th e
R ev eren d F a th e r F o u c a u lt” th a t he w an ted to m ake films. “ I f I d o n ’t
p a rtic u la rly like F oucault, it is because o f his saying, ‘A t such and such
a p e rio d th e y th o u g h t . . .’ T h a t ’s fine w ith m e, b u t ho w can w e be
so sure? T h a t is exactly w hy w e try to m ake films; to p re v e n t fu tu re
F o u cau lts fro m p re su m p tu o u sly saying th in g s like th a t.” 3

A s we h a v e s e e n , in 1961 F o u cau lt p re fe rre d n o t to p u b lish his in tro -


d u c tio n to K a n t’s Anthropology. T h e lo n g ty p e sc rip t ends w ith a lively—
th o u g h stylistically so m ew h at o b scu re— a tta c h o n c o n te m p o ra ry
a tte m p ts to establish an “ a n th ro p o lo g y ,” in S a rtre ’s o r M e rle a u -P o n ty ’s

I 56 *V
R a m p a r t s of t h e B o u r g e o i s i e

sense o f th e te rm , and n o t as L év i-S trau ss used it. H e challen g ed th e ir


“ illu sio n s” and expressed su rp rise th a t th e y could be left to flu o rish
w ith o u t a n y o n e ’s try in g to “ c ritiq u e ” them .
H o w ev er, he co n clu d ed , “we have had th e m o d el for this c ritiq u e for
m o re th a n h a lf a cen tu ry . T h e N ie tz sc h e a n u n d e rta k in g m ig h t be
u n d e rs to o d as finally p u ttin g an end to th e p ro life ra tio n o f q u e stio n in g
a b o u t m an k in d . W as n o t th e d e a th o f G o d , in fact, revealed in a d o u b ly
m u rd e ro u s act th a t, at th e sam e tim e th a t it p u t an end to th e absolute,
assassinated m a n him self? B ecause m an, in his finitude, is in sep arab le
fro m th e in fin ite, w h ich he b o th n eg ates and heralds. T h e d e a th o f
G o d is acco m p lish ed th ro u g h th e d eath o f m a n .” It was th e re fo re nec-
essary to o p p o se th e K a n tia n q u e stio n “W h a t is m an ?” alo n g w ith all
its spinoffs in c o n te m p o ra ry th o u g h t, fro m H u sse rl to M e rle a u -P o n ty ,
w ith “ an an sw er th a t challenges and disarm s it: Der Ubermensch.” T h e
O v e rm a n .4 T h e final pages o f this “ m in o r th esis” seem d ire cted alm o st
e n tire ly ag ain st S a rtre ’s Critique de la raison dialectique (published in
i960, b u t p a rts o f w h ich ap p eared as early as 1958 in Les Temps mo-
dernes) and even m o re certain ly against th e w o rk o f M e rle a u -P o n ty .
T h e s e pages w ould be th e sta rtin g p o in t for Les Mots et les choses. M o re -
over, th e y w ere re p e a te d alm o st u n ch an g ed : “ R a th e r th a n th e d e a th o f
G o d . . . w h a t N ie tz s c h e ’s th o u g h t heralds is th e end o f his m u rd e re r;
it is th e ex p lo sio n o f m a n ’s face in lau g h ter, and th e re tu rn o f m asks.” 5
G é ra rd L e b ru n has re c e n tly n o te d th e e x ten t to w hich Les Mots et les
choses was h a u n te d by M e rle a u -P o n ty ’s negative presence. F ro m b eg in -
n in g to en d , F o u c a u lt’s b o o k is in sp ired and d riv en by polem ics against
H u s s e rl’s th o u g h t and M e rle a u -P o n ty ’s in te rp re ta tio n o f it. Les Mots et
les choses is, first o f all, a g estu re o f refusal, a re je c tio n o f p h e n o m e -
nology. A b u rs tin g “ r u p tu r e ” ! Because this tim e is n o w lo n g past, as
L e b ru n re m a rk e d in a 1988 lectu re, and because th e wave o f p h e n o m e -
n o lo g y has lo n g ago reced ed , Les Mots et les choses has obviously lost
m u ch o f its “ p o lem ical flavor.” “T o d a y ’s read ers ten d to ig n o re o r for-
g e t— d e p e n d in g o n th e ir ag e— th a t this is, first o f all, a fig h tin g b o o k
and a p h ilo so p h ical b o o k .” T h is essential p o in t allows us to u n d e rsta n d
w hy Les Mots et les choses “was n o t seen as an a tte m p t at a new m e th o d ,
b u t as an ag g ressio n ,” 6 D u rin g th e discussion follow ing L e b ru n ’s lec-
tu re , R ay m o n d B ello u r told o f having read th e pro o fs for this b o o k
sh o rtly b efo re it was p u b lish ed . A t th a t stage it co n tain ed n u m e ro u s
attack s o n S a rtre th a t F o u cau lt o m itte d fro m th e final version.
T h is b o o k th a t created such an u p ro a r claim ed to be “ an arch aeo l-
o g y o f h u m a n sciences.” It in te n d e d to locate th e m o m e n t at w hich

157
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

q u e stio n in g a b o u t m an, a t w hich m an b ecam e an o b je c t o f kn o w led g e,


first o c c u rre d in W e s te rn cu ltu re. In su p erb d e sc rip tio n s o f th e fo rm s
o f k n ow ledge elab o rate d fro m th e b e g in n in g o f th e six teen th c e n tu ry
to o u r tim es, F o u cau lt d e m o n stra te d his b re a th ta k in g e ru d itio n . In es-
sence, Les Mots et les choses m ain tain s th a t ev ery p e rio d is c h a ra c te riz e d
b y an u n d e rg ro u n d c o n fig u ra tio n th a t d elin eates its c u ltu re , a g rid o f
kn o w led g e m ak in g possible ev ery scientific discourse, ev ery p ro d u c -
tio n o f statem en ts. F o u c a u lt designates this “ h isto rical a p r io r i” as an
ep istem e, d eep ly basic to d efin in g and lim itin g w h a t any p e rio d can —
o r c a n n o t— th in k . E a ch science develops w ith in th e fra m e w o rk o f an
ep istem e, and th e re fo re is linked in p a rt w ith o th e r sciences c o n te m p o -
ra ry w ith it. F o u c a u lt focuses o n th re e realm s o f k n o w led g e th a t w ere
developed in th e classical epistem e: g en eral g ram m ar, th e analysis o f
w ealth, and n a tu ra l h is to r y In th e n in e te e n th c e n tu ry th ese th re e d o -
m ains gave w ay to th re e o th e rs th a t w ere fo rm ed in a n ew g rid o f
kn o w led g e b e in g in stitu te d a t th a t m o m e n t. T h e s e w ere philology, p o -
litical econom y, and biology. F o u cau lt show s h o w th e figure o f m an
cam e to reside w ith in th e ir e lab o ratio n s as an o b je c t o f know ledge: th e
m an w h o speaks, th e m an w ho w orks, th e m a n w h o exists.
T h e b irth p la c e o f “ h u m a n sciences” is in this global re d is trib u tio n
o f th e epistem e. B u t this v ery v icinity p reclu d es any p o ssib ility o f th e ir
a tta in in g real scientific status. “T h e y are re n d e re d in cap ab le o f b e in g
sciences,” says F oucault, since it is o n ly this situ a tio n o f “v ic in ity ” w ith
reg ard to biology, econom ics, o r p h ilo lo g y th a t m akes th e m possible,
and th e y are o n ly “ p ro je c tio n s ” o f these. H o w e v e r— and this is th e
c o n tra d ic tio n u n d e rm in in g th e m — because th e y are ro o te d a rch aeo -
logically in th e m o d e rn epistem e, th e y are ob lig ed to claim to be scien-
tific: “W e s te rn cu ltu re has c o n stitu te d , u n d e r th e n am e o f m an, a
b ein g w ho, by o n e and th e sam e in te rp la y o f reasons, m u st be a p o sitiv e
d o m a in o f knowledge and c a n n o t be an o b ject o f science. ” 7
W ith in th e fram ew o rk o f gen erally q u e stio n in g th e “ h u m a n sci-
en ces,” F o u c a u lt acknow ledges th a t psychoanalysis and e th n o lo g y
stan d in a place apart, g ra n tin g th e m th e p riv ileg ed status o f “ c o u n te r-
scien ces” : th e y “ ceaselessly ‘u n m a k e ’ th a t v e ry m an w h o is c re a tin g
and re c re a tin g his positivity.” F o u cau lt adds: “ O n e m ay say o f b o th o f
th e m w h a t L év i-S trau ss said o f eth nology: th a t th e y dissolve m a n .”
A nd alo n g w ith th ese tw o co u n ter-scien ces w ould com e a th ird — lin -
guistics— to d istu rb th e c o n stitu te d field o f th e h u m a n sciences, and to
fo rm th e m o st g en eral challenge to th a t field. “In ‘ex p o sin g ’ it, th ese
th re e co u n ter-scien ces th re a te n th e v ery th in g th a t m ade it possible fo r

‫׳‬W 158
R a m p a r t s ot t h e B ourgeoisie

m an to be know n. T h u s we see th e d e stin y o f m an b ein g sp u n b efo re


o u r v e ry eyes, b u t b ein g sp u n backw ards; it is b e in g led back, by th o se
stra n g e b o b b in s, to th e form s o f its b irth , to th e h o m elan d th a t m ade it
possible. A nd is th a t n o t o n e w ay o f b rin g in g a b o u t its end? F o r lin -
guistics n o m o re speak o f m an h im se lf th a n d o psychoanalysis and
e th n o lo g y .” 8
T h is p riv ileg in g o f linguistics b rin g s us back to p ro b lem s raised co n -
sta n tly by F o u cau lt ever since th e early 1960s, in his articles o n lite ra -
tu re: “ By a m u ch lo n g e r and m u ch m o re u n ex p ected p ath , we are led
back to th e place th a t N ie tz sc h e and M a lla rm é sig n p o sted w h en th e
first asked W h o speaks? and th e second saw his g litte rin g answ er in th e
W o rd itself.” T h e q u e stio n o f language th e n o pens u p o n tw o h o ri-
zons: a tte m p ts a t fo rm alizin g th o u g h t and, at th e o th e r ex trem e o f cul-
tu re , m o d e rn lite ra tu re : “T h a t lite ra tu re in o u r day is fascinated by th e
b e in g o f lan g u ag e is n e ith e r th e sign o f an im m in e n t end n o r p ro o f o f a
rad icalizatio n : it is a p h e n o m e n o n w hose necessity has its ro o ts in a
vast c o n fig u ra tio n in w hich th e w hole stru c tu re o f o u r th o u g h t and o u r
k n o w led g e is tra c e d .” A nd once again, in th e o rd e r in w h ich th e y m ade
th e ir e n tra n c e , F o u cau lt discusses A rtaud, R oussel, K afka, B ataille, and
B la n c h o n 9
T h e s e experiences th a t are b o th o pposed to and b o u n d u p w ith co n -
te m p o ra ry c u ltu re — th e fo rm a tio n o f know ledge o n a lin g u istic m o d el
and violence, excess, th e cry, th e “ language red u ced to p o w d e r” o f
lite ra tu re — th ese ex periences p erh ap s an n o u n ce th e en d o f th e epis-
te m e th a t m ark ed m a n ’s accession to know ledge. T h e final page o f th e
b o o k has b e e n q u o te d so o fte n th a t o n e hesitates to do so again: “ O n e
th in g in any case is certain: m an is n e ith e r th e o ld est n o r th e m o st co n -
s ta n t p ro b le m th a t has b e e n posed for h u m a n know ledge. T a k in g a
relativ ely s h o rt ch ro n o lo g ical sam ple w ith in a re stric te d g eo g rap h ical
area— E u ro p e a n cu ltu re since th e six teen th c e n tu ry — o n e can be cer-
ta in th a t m an is a re c e n t in v e n tio n w ith in it. It is n o t a ro u n d him and
his secrets th a t k now ledge p row led for so lo n g in th e darkness . . . As
th e a rch aeo lo g y o f o u r th o u g h t easily show s, m an is an in v e n tio n o f
re c e n t date. A nd o n e p erh ap s n e a rin g its e n d .” 10
T h is flam b o y an t book, w ith its dazzling and com plex style, was an
im m e d ia te and re so u n d in g success. N o t o ne new sp ap er o r review
could resist c o m m e n tin g o n it. F o u cau lt was even invited to ap p ear on
P ie rre D u m a y e t’s television p ro g ra m , “ L e c tu re p o u r to u s.” A few ex-
cerp ts fro m th e press illu strate th e response. “ F o u c a u lt’s w o rk is o ne o f
th e m o st im p o rta n t o f o u r tim e s,” w ro te J e a n L acroix in his p h ilo so p h ­

159 ~
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

ical c o lu m n in Le M onde. 11 R o b e rt K an ters called Les Mots et les choses


“ an im pressive w o rk ” in Le Figaro.12 A nd G illes D eleu ze, in Le Nonvel
Obseruateur, a fter h av in g p ain te d a g low ing p ic tu re o f th e m a n y -faceted
w ork, e n d ed his article w ith these w ords: “T o th e q u estio n : w h a t is
n ew in philosophy? F o u c a u lt’s books b y them selves are a p e n e tra tin g
reply, th e re p ly th a t is m o st acute and co n v in cin g as w ell. W e th in k th a t
Les Mots et les choses is a g re a t book, a b o u t new th o u g h ts .” 13 E v en ear-
lier, in A pril, F ran ço is C h â te le t had w ritte n in La Quinzaine littéraire:
“M ich e l F o u c a u lt’s rig o r, o riginality, and in sp ira tio n are such th a t in -
evitably, fro m re a d in g his new b o o k a radically n ew lo o k at th e p ast o f
W e s te rn cu ltu re and a m o re lucid idea o f th e co n fu sio n o f its p re s e n t
are b o rn .” 14

T h e success th a t g re e te d Les Mots et les choses was due in p a rt to th e


cu ltu ral scene in w hich it appeared. In 1966 th e “ stru c tu ra lis t c o n tro -
v ersy ” was in full sw ing. C lau d e L évi-S trauss had p u b lish ed his A n -
thropologie structurale in 1958 as th e m an ifesto o f a n ew school, a new
“ p h ilo so p h ic a l” m o v em en t. In 1962 L év i-S trau ss h ad m ad e th in g s
plain: he attack ed S artre ra th e r h arsh ly at th e en d o f La Pensée sauvage,
re d u c in g his ad v ersary ’s p h ilo so p h y to th e level o f a c o n te m p o ra ry m y-
thology. F o r th e first tim e in tw enty-five years S a rtre ’s u n d iv id ed d o m -
in a tio n o f F re n c h cu ltu ral spheres was serio u sly challen g ed . T h in k o f
h o w m an y saw this d isp u te as a liberation! P ie rre B o u rd ieu , for ex-
am ple, in th e preface to Le Sens pratique , speaks o f th e e x altatio n th a t
L é v i-S tra u ss’s w o rk p ro d u ced , especially th e “ new w ay to conceive o f
in tellectu al activ ity ” th a t it im posed o n an e n tire g e n e ra tio n .15 L évi-
S tra u ss’s books had had an im p a c t in ev ery cu ltu ral sp h ere; all th e m o re
because he h ad b ro u g h t R o m an Ja k o b so n ’s linguistics back w ith h im
fro m th e U n ite d S tates, p ro v id in g his frien d L acan w ith som e essential
links fo r th e th e o ry h e was fo rm in g . L acan ’s series E c rits w o u ld be
p u b lish ed in 1966. Since th e b e g in n in g o f th e 1960s, ev ery issue o f
ev ery in tellectu al review n o t d ed icated e n tire ly to it h ad c o n ta in e d at
least som e m e n tio n o f stru ctu ralism : stru c tu ra lism and M arx ism , stru c -
tu ra lism ag ain st M arxism , stru ctu ralism and existentialism , s tru c tu ra l-
ism ag ain st existentialism . S om e p ro m o te d it; som e o p p o sed it; som e
w ere d e te rm in e d to com e up w ith a synthesis. E verybody, in ev ery area
o f in te lle c tu a l life, to o k a p o sitio n . R arely had c u ltu re b u b b le d and
seeth ed w ith m o re intensity.
T h e stage was th u s set for a new and p assio n ate b a ttle a b o u t th e
“ d eath o f m a n .” F o u cau lt gave several interview s th a t a ttra c te d m u c h

^ 160 *v
R a m p a r t s of t h e B o u r g e o i s i e

a tte n tio n , in c lu d in g o n e p u b lish ed in La Quinzaine littéraire o n A pril 15,


1966: “W e have exp erien ced S a rtre ’s g e n e ra tio n ,” h e said, “ as a g e n e r-
a tio n th a t was certain ly brave and g en ero u s, o n e th a t had a passion fo r
life, po litics, and existence. B ut as for us, we have discovered so m e-
th in g else, a n o th e r passion: th e passion for concepts and for w h a t I will
call ‘sy stem .’”

Question: W h a t w ere S a rtre ’s in te re sts as a p h ilo so p h er?


Answer: R oughly, faced w ith a h isto rical w orld th a t b o u rg eo is tra d i-
tio n , n o lo n g e r able to keep its b earings, w an ted to co n sid er as ab-
su rd , S a rtre w an ted to d e m o n stra te th a t, o n th e co n trary , th e re was
7,m ailing [sens] ev ery w h ere . . .
Question: W h e n did y o u sto p believing in “ m e a n in g ” ?
Answer: T h e b reak cam e th e day th a t L évi-S trauss d e m o n s tra te d —
a b o u t so cie ties— and L acan d e m o n stra te d — a b o u t th e u n c o n -
scious— th a t “m e a n in g ” was p ro b a b ly o n ly a so rt o f surface effect, a
sh im m e r, a foam , and th a t w h at ran th ro u g h us, u n d e rla y us, and was
b efo re us, w h a t sustained us in tim e and space, was th e system .

F o u c a u lt th e n defined this system , re fe rrin g to th e w o rk o f D u m ézil


and L e ro i-G o u rh a n (w hose nam e he did n o t m e n tio n , b u t ev ery o n e
k n ew th a t was w h o m he m ean t), th e n m e n tio n in g L acan again:

. . . L a c a n ’s im p o rta n c e com es fro m th e fact th a t he show ed h o w it is


th e stru c tu re s, th e v ery system o f language, th a t speak th ro u g h th e
p a tie n t’s discourse and th e sy m p to m s o f his n eu ro sis— n o t th e su b -
ject . . . B efore any h u m a n existence, th e re w ould already be a dis-
cursive k n o w ledge, a system th a t we will rediscover.
Question: B u t th e n , w ho secretes this system ?
Answer: W h a t is this an o n y m o u s system w ith o u t a subject, w h at thinks?
T h e “ I ” has ex p lo d ed — we see this in m o d e rn lite ra tu re — this is th e
d isco v ery o f “ th e re is.” T h e r e is a one. In som e ways, o n e com es
back to th e s e v e n te e n th -c e n tu ry p o in t o f view, w ith this difference:
n o t s e ttin g m an , b u t an o n y m o u s th o u g h t, know ledge w ith o u t a sub-
ject, th e o ry w ith n o id en tity , in G o d ’s place.

In a n o th e r in terv iew tw o m o n th s later, S artre was still in F o u c a u lt’s


line o f sight: “La Critique de la raison dialectique is th e m ag n ificen t and
p a th e tic effo rt o f a n in e te e n th -c e n tu ry m an to conceive o f th e tw en -
tie th cen tu ry . In this sense, S a rtre is th e last H eg elian , and even, I
w ould say, th e last M a rx ist.” 16
In th ese interview s F o u cau lt show ed v ery clearly th e th e o re tic a l

*v 161 **
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

space in w h ich he h im se lf situ ated his book. T h e sam e n am es w ere al-


ways b ra n d ish e d like ban n ers: p rin c ip ally L acan and L év i-S trau ss, b u t
D u m é z il as w ell, and “ c o n te m p o ra ry lite ra tu re .” H o w F o u c a u lt linked
c o n te m p o ra ry lite ra tu re w ith w orks a b o u t p reh isto ry , eth n o lo g y , o r
R o m an m y th o lo g y was also clear. S om etim es he w ould add B e rtra n d
R ussell and “ analytical reaso n ,” form al logic, in fo rm a tio n th eo ry , C a n -
g u ilh em and th e h isto ry o f science, A lth u sser and his “ brave a tte m p ts ”
to d u s t o ff M arxism w ith a C h ristia n slan t as served up by T e ilh a rd de
C h a rd in . In sh o rt, F o u cau lt was evid en tly m o v in g s tra ig h t o n in to th e
“ s tru c tu ra lis t” galaxy.
R eactio n s w ere n o t lo n g in com ing. T h e M arxists w e n t o n th e
co u n tero ffen siv e and ex co m m u n icated F o u c a u lt’s b o o k fro m p a rty
circles. H e was n o t forgiven fo r his s ta te m e n t th a t “M arx ism exists in
n in e te e n th -c e n tu ry th o u g h t in th e sam e w ay a fish exists in w ater; th a t
is, it stops b re a th in g anyw here else.” Jacq u es M ilh a u w ro te in Cahiers
du communisme: “M ich e l F o u c a u lt’s an tih isto ric a l p reju d ice h o ld s u p
o n ly because it is u n d e rp in n e d b y a n e o -N ie tz sc h e a n id eo lo g y th a t
serves to o well, w h e th e r he is aw are o f this o r n o t, th e designs o f a class
w hose o n ly in te re s t is to m ask th e objective choice o f a p a th to w ard th e
fu tu re .” 17J e a n n e tte C o lo m b e l’s attack in La Nouvelle Critique was m o re
m o d e ra te . S he p artic u la rly re p ro ach ed F o u cau lt fo r n e g le c tin g tern -
p o ra lity and h isto ry and fo r p riv ileg in g th e statu s q u o by his vision o f
“ ap ocalypse” and th e a n n o u n c e m e n t o f “ m a n ’s d isso lu tio n .” “ F o u c a u lt
p re se n ts th e w o rld as a spectacle and as a gam e. H is is an in v ita tio n to a
m agical a ttitu d e . . . S tru ctu ralism u n d e rsto o d in this w ay w ould co n -
trib u te to m a in ta in in g th e established o rd e r.” 18 B u t as so o n as o n e left
th e m ilieu o f “p o litical” C o m m u n ists fo r th a t o f th e p a rty ’s “in te lle c -
tu a l” review s, th e criticism becam e m o re professional: Les Lettresfran-
çaises, h ead ed by P ie rre D aix, w arm ly w elcom ed th e book. R ay m o n d
B ello u r h ad in terv iew ed F o u cau lt fo r th e review as early as M a rc h 1966;
he ren ew ed his q u e stio n in g th e follow ing y ear in a second in te rv ie w .19
C ath o lics also joined in th e debate. J e a n -M a rie D o m e n a c h , h ead o f
th e review Esprit, exam ined this “ new passion” and co m m en ted : “T h e
p ro v o cativ e in terv iew given by M ich el F o u cau lt in La Quinzaine lit-
téraire has th e rin g o f a new sch o o l’s m anifesto, and we shall c o n tin u e
to c o n su lt i t . . . W h a t a lo t o f q u estio n s th e re will be to ask! W h a t a lo t
o f q u estio n s we will ask! In th e m eanw hile we m u st hail th e e v e n t.” 20
D o m e n a c h , in fact, w ould ask F o u cau lt these q u estio n s, and F o u c a u lt
w ould fix o n this o n e, th e elev en th and last: “ D o es n o t a th o u g h t in tro -
d u cin g co n stra in ts o f system and d isc o n tin u ity in to th e h is to ry o f th e
m ind rem ove any fo u n d a tio n fo r progressive political in te rv e n tio n ?

*v 162 **
R a m p a r t s of t h e B o u r g e o i s i e

D o es it n o t lead to th e follow ing dilem m a: e ith e r acceptance o f th e


system , o r an appeal to b ru te events, to th e e ru p tio n o f an ex tern al vio-
lence, as th e o n ly th in g capable o f o v e rth ro w in g th e sy stem ?” F o u cau lt
answ ered by clarifying his view o f “progressive p o litic s” : “ a politics
re c o g n iz in g th e h isto rical co n d itio n s and th e stated rules o f a p ractice,
in w h ich o th e r p o litics acknow ledge o n ly ideal necessities, univocal d e-
te rm in a tio n s , o r th e free in te rp la y o f individual in itiativ e s.” 21 T h is im -
p o rta n t s ta te m e n t w e n t u n p u b lish e d u n til M ay 1968. F o u cau lt to o k up
th e m ain elem en ts o f this answ er in LArchéologie dn savoir (The Archae-
010gy o f Knowledge) in 1969.
F ran ço is M a u ria c also c o m m e n te d o n th e g eneral in fa tu a tio n w ith
F o u c a u lt’s theses in his fam ous “ B lo c -n o te s” in Le Figaro littéraire:
“ B u t if this consciousness did exist, w h a t could possibly m ake it n o t
exist anym ore? You end up m ak in g m e feel b ro th e rly to w ard S artre,
w h o was th e en em y .” 22
A nd w h a t a b o u t S artre? S artre was th e n w restlin g w ith in n u m e ra b le
difficulties in w ritin g th e second p ro je c te d volum e o f his Critique de la
raison dialectiqae and in d e m o n stra tin g th e effectiveness o f th e synthesis
he was try in g to w o rk o u t b etw een ex istentialism and M arxism . B ut in
an in terv iew in a special issue o f th e review L A rc , S artre answ ered w ith
a fe ro c ity m a tc h in g th a t o f F o u c a u lt’s attacks. T h e q u estio n , fro m B er-
n a rd P in g au d : “ D o you see som e c o m m o n in sp ira tio n in th e a ttitu d e
o f th e y o u n g e r g e n e ra tio n to w ard y o u ?” S a rtre ’s answ er:

At least some dom inant tendency, because the rejection o f history is


n o t a general phenom enon. T h e success accorded M ichel F oucault’s
last book is characteristic. W h a t do we find in Les Mots et les choses?
N o t an “archaeology” o f hum an sciences. An archaeologist is som e-
one w ho studies the traces o f a vanished civilization and tries to re-
construct i t . . . W h a t Foucault presents us with is— and K anters saw
this very w ell— a geology, the series o f successive layers th at make up
our “g ro u n d .” Each o f these layers defines the conditions o f possibil-
ity o f a certain type o f th o u g h t prevailing th ro u g h o u t a certain pe-
riod. But Foucault does n o t tell us the th ing th at would be the m ost
interesting, th at is, how each th o u g h t is constructed on the basis
o f these conditions, or how m ankind passes from one th o u g h t to
another. T o do so he would have to b rin g in praxis, and therefore
history, w hich is precisely w hat he refuses to do. O f course his per-
spective rem ains historical. H e distinguishes betw een periods, a be-
fore and an after. But he replaces cinem a w ith the magic lantern,
m o tio n w ith a succession o f m otionless m om ents. T h e very success
o f this book is enough p ro o f th at it was expected. But truly original
th o u g h t is never expected. Foucault b ro u g h t people w hat they needed:

*V [ 6 ‫*׳ ן‬V
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

an eclectic synthesis in w hich R obbe-G rillet, structuralism , Lacan,


Tel Quel, one by one, are all used to dem onstrate the im possibility o f
historical reflection.

A nd o f co u rse S a rtre m ade th e c o n n e c tio n b e tw e e n this dism issal o f


h is to ry and th e re je c tio n o f M arxism : “M arx ism is th e ta rg e t. I t is a
m a tte r o f esta b lish in g a n ew ideology, th e final d am th a t th e b o u r-
geoisie can e re c t ag ain st M a rx .” 23

I t seem s clear th a t Les Mots et les choses was in itially seen b y m an y as a


“ rig h t-w in g ” book. R o b e rt C astel, w ho w ould b eco m e a close frie n d o f
F o u c a u lt’s in th e 1970s, p re se n te d it as such in th e in tro d u c tio n h e
w ro te in M a rc h 1968 fo r th e F re n c h e d itio n o f M a rc u se ’s Raison et revo-
lution. In F o u c a u lt’s w o rd s o p p o sin g silen t and p h ilo so p h ical la u g h te r
to “ all th o se w ho still w a n t to talk a b o u t m an, his reig n , and his lib e ra -
tio n . . . all th ese w arp ed and le ft-w in g fo rm s o f re fle c tio n ,” C astel de-
te c te d a d ire c t attack o n M a rc u se .24
“ P o o r old b o u rg e o isie !” F o u c a u lt w ould la te r say ironically. “W ith
o n ly m y b o o k fo r its ra m p a rts!” A nd w h e n he was q u e stio n e d early in
1968 by J e a n -P ie rre E lk ab b ach fo r a radio b ro ad cast, F o u c a u lt o b -
served to h im th a t h isto ry had an o d d s tu tte r — th a t w h e n S a rtre h ad
attack ed h im , he had sim ply re p ro d u c e d th e v o cab u lary used b y th e
C o m m u n ists fifteen years b efo re to ex co m m u n icate existentialism .
F o u c a u lt also had a c u rt rep ly to S a rtre ’s attacks: “ S a rtre is a m a n w ith
to o -im p o rta n t w o rk to d o — literary, p h ilo so p h ical w o rk — fo r h im to
have tim e to read m y book. F ie h asn ’t read it. C o n seq u en tly , w h a t he
says c a n n o t possibly seem p e rtin e n t to m e .” W h e n E lk ab b ach m e n -
tio n e d S a rtre ’s p h rase “ re je c tio n o f h isto ry ,” F o u cau lt answ ered:

N o historian has ever reproached m e for this. T h e re is a sort o f m yth


o f H isto ry th at philosophers have. You know, philosophers are, in
general, extrem ely ignorant o f any discipline that is n o t th eir own.
T h e re is a m athem atics for philosophers, a biology for philosophers.
W ell, there is also a history for philosophers. H isto ry for philoso-
phers is som e sort o f great, vast continuity in w hich the freedom o f
individuals and econom ic or social determ inations come and get en-
tangled. W h e n som eone lays a finger on one o f those great them es—
continuity, the effective exercise o f hum an liberty, how individual
liberty is articulated w ith social d eterm inations— w hen som eone
touches on one o f these three m yths, these good people start crying
o u t th at H isto ry is being raped or m urdered. In fact, it has been quite
som e tim e since people as im p o rtan t as M arc Bloch, L ucien Febvre,

‫׳‬W 1 6 4 **‫׳‬
R a m p a r t s of t h e B o u r g e o i s i e

the English historians, and others p u t an end to this m yth o f H istory.


T h e y practice history in an entirely different way, and they do it so
well th at I am delighted if I have killed this philosophical m yth o f
H isto ry — this philosophical m yth they accuse me o f killing. T h a t is
precisely w hat I w anted to kill, n o t history in general, n o t at all. O ne
cannot kill history, b u t killing H isto ry for philosophers, yes, I abso-
lutely w ant to kill th at.25

T h e p u b lic a tio n o f this sen satio n al c o n v ersatio n in its e n tire ty in La


Quinzaine littéraire aro u sed a g re a t fu ro r, and F o u cau lt w ro te th e re -
view to say th a t he had n o t a u th o riz e d its p u b lic a tio n and did n o t ac-
k n o w led g e any o f it.26 M ay b e he felt it was n ecessary to defuse th e
polem ics.
A y ear befo re, in J a n u a ry 1967, Les Temps modernes had p u b lish ed
tw o v ery h a rsh articles a b o u t Les Mots et les choses, w ritte n by M ic h e l
A m io t and by Sylvie L e B on. C a n g u ilh e m a b a n d o n e d his usual reserve
to re a c t to this m o b iliz a tio n o f S artrean s. H e p u b lish ed a lo n g article
o n F o u c a u lt— u n d o u b te d ly o n e o f th e b est pieces ever w ritte n a b o u t
h im — in Critique . “ S h o u ld o n e lose o n e ’s head, as som e o f th o se we
c o n sid e r to be a m o n g th e fin est m inds o f o u r tim e a p p a re n tly have?”
th e h isto ria n o f science w o n d ered . H e was asto n ish ed a t th e a ttitu d e o f
S artre, w h o had b e e n his sch o o lm ate at th e E N S . “ S h o u ld o n e, a fte r
h av in g refu sed to live acco rd in g to an academ ic ro u tin e , behave like an
academ ic e m b itte re d b y his im m in e n t re p la c e m e n t as th e a u th o rity ? ”
A fter th ese ad hominem rem arks, he lau n ch ed a c o u n te ra tta c k o n th e
basic issue. “ D e sp ite w h at m o st o f F o u c a u lt’s critics have said, th e te rm
‘a rc h a e o lo g y ’ m eans exactly w h a t it says. It is th e c o n d itio n for a n o th e r
h isto ry , in w hich th e c o n c e p t o f ev en t is p reserv ed , b u t in w h ich events
affect co n cep ts, n o t m e n .” C a n g u ilh e m e n d ed w ith a discussion o f th e
p o litical asp ect o f polem ics. F o u cau lt was said to be re a c tio n a ry be-
cause he w an ted to replace m an w ith “ sy stem .” B ut was n o t this th e
task se t by th e logician J e a n C availlès, th e e m in e n t ep istem o lo g ist,
tw e n ty years earlier, fo r p hilosophy: “ to su b stitu te for th e p rim a c y o f a
lived, o r reflected, consciousness th e p rim acy o f co n cep t, system , o r
s tru c tu re ” ? C availlès, w ho, a m e m b e r o f th e R esistance, had b een s h o t
by th e G e rm a n s. C availlès, “w ho did n o t believe in h isto ry in th e
ex isten tial sen se” and w ho n o n eth eless “ re fu te d in advance, by his p a r-
tic ip a tio n in a h isto ry trag ically lived to th e p o in t o f d eath , th e arg u -
m e n ts o f th o se w ho are try in g to d isc re d it w h a t th e y call stru ctu ralism ,
b y se n te n c in g it to e n g e n d e r (am o n g o th e r ravages) passivity in th e
face o f w h a t is a cco m p lish ed .” 27

*v 165 *V
T he O rder of T h in o s

T h e h isto rical im p o rta n c e o f C a n g u ilh e m ’s article sh o u ld n o t be u n -


d e re stim a te d . I t m ade p u b lic this p h ilo so p h e r’s u n d e rg ro u n d b u t m ajo r
im p o rta n c e in F re n c h th o u g h t. Basically, by fo rcin g th in g s slightly, o n e
could say th a t th e real o p p o sitio n ru n n in g th ro u g h specialized areas o f
p h ilo so p h y d u rin g th e 1950s and 1960s fo rm ed a ro u n d th e tw o poles
e m b o d ied b y S a rtre and C an g u ilh em . C a n g u ilh e m had a co n sid erab le
n u m b e r o f disciples w h o fo rg ed th e ir in stru m e n ts p recisely in o p p o si-
tio n to ex isten tialism and p erso n alism . T h e c e n tra lity o f th e fo rm e r in -
sp e c to r g en eral was obvious w h en A lth u sse r’s and L a c a n ’s stu d e n ts
o rg an ized a “ C e rc le d ’E p isté m o lo g ie ” (c o n stitu tin g an e n tire p ro -
gram ) at th e E co le N o rm a le S u p é rie u re and in 1966 b eg an to p u b lish
Cahiers pour Vanalyse. E a ch issue o f this review p re se n te d a q u o ta tio n
fro m C a n g u ilh e m as an e p ig ra p h .28

T h o u g h dism issed as rig h t-w in g by m an y o n th e left, stru c tu ra lism


th riv e d in several g ro u p s fo rm e d a ro u n d L ouis A lth u sser. T h e s e
g ro u p s fre q u e n tly served as th e seeds a ro u n d w hich M a o ist m o v em en ts
crystallized ju st b efo re 1968 and in th e years follow ing. T o d a y it is h ard
to conceive o f th e e x te n t o f A lth u sse r’s in flu en ce o n ev ery class at th e
E N S d u rin g th e 1960s and 1970s. U p o n th e p u b lic a tio n o f Pour M arx
and Lire le Capital in 1965, A lth u sser becam e, as J e a n n in e V erdès-
L e ro u x has w ritte n , th e o b ject “ o f a passion, an in fa tu a tio n , and an
im ita tio n evoked b y n o o th e r c o n te m p o ra ry fig u re.” 29 T h is passion
was sim u ltan eo u sly th e o re tic a l and political, and was firm ly situ ated o n
th e ex trem e left. F o u cau lt stressed this p o in t in an in terv iew p u b lish ed
in S w eden in M a rc h 1968. H e co n tra ste d th e “ flabby, dull, h u m a n is tic ”
M arx ism d efen d ed by G a ra u d y w ith th e dynam ic, re ju v en atin g M arx -
ism p ra c tic e d by A lth u sser’s stu d en ts, w ho, he said, re p re se n te d “ th e
left w in g o f th e C o m m u n is t p a rty ” and w h o en th u siastically s u p p o rte d
th e s tru c tu ra lis t theses. ‘You can u n d e rsta n d w h at th e m a n eu v er by
S a rtre and G a ra u d y was all a b o u t,” F o u cau lt explained to his in te r-
view er, “w h en th e y claim ed th a t stru ctu ralism is a typically rig h t-w in g
ideology. T h a t allows th e m to desig n ate p eo p le w ho are actu ally o n
th e ir le ft as b e in g com p licito u s w ith th e rig h t. W h ic h also allow s th e m
to p re s e n t them selves as th e sole rep resen tativ es o f th e F re n c h C o m -
m u n ist left. B ut it is n o th in g b u t a m a n e u v e r.” F o u cau lt also trie d to
red efin e in a m o re g en eral w ay th e c o n n e c tio n b etw een p o litical ac tio n
and th e o re tic a l refle c tio n co n d u cted in stru c tu ra l term s: “ I th in k th a t a
rig o ro u s, th e o re tic a l analysis o f th e w ay in w hich eco n o m ic, p o litical,
and ideological stru c tu re s fu n c tio n is o n e o f th e n ecessary c o n d itio n s

•w 166 *v
R a m p a r t s of t he B o u r g e o i s i e

for p o litical actio n , in so far as political actio n is a w ay o f m a n ip u la tin g


and p o ssib ly ch anging, drastically d isru p tin g , and tra n sfo rm in g stru c -
tu re s . . . I d o n o t c o n sid e r th a t stru ctu ralism is exclusively an a rm c h a ir
activ ity fo r in tellectu als; I th in k it can and m u st be in te g ra te d w ith
p ra c tic e .” A b it la te r in th e in terv iew he said: “ I believe stru c tu ra lism
sh o u ld b e able to p ro v id e all political actio n w ith an in d isp en sab le, an a-
lytical in stru m e n t. P o litics is n o t n ecessarily d o o m ed to ig n o ra n c e .” 30

B efore lo n g F o u c a u lt w ould refuse to be called a stru ctu ralist, and he


en d e d up c o n sid e rin g it an atta c k sim ply to be so labeled. W h a t are we
to th in k o f all th e polem ics th a t u n fo ld ed aro u n d this loosely applied
te rm , th is appellation mal controlée, o r o f F o u c a u lt’s im p licatio n in th ese
c o n tro v ersies th a t w ere as v io le n t as th e y w ere elusive? W as h e o r was
he n o t a stru ctu ralist? C la u d e L évi-S trauss to d a y says th a t F o u cau lt
was rig h t to reject b e in g so classified, because th e re was n o c o n n e c tio n
b etw een th e ir w ork, and th a t all th e pu b lic u p ro a r s u rro u n d in g a b u n c h
o f scholars was o n ly so m e th in g te m p o ra rily fashionable. W h a t is cer-
ta in is th a t all th e c o m m e n ta to rs b lith ely in te g ra te d F o u c a u lt w ith th e
“ stru c tu ra lis t trib e .” T h e fam ous draw in g by M a u ric e H e n r y in La
Quinzaine littéraire , sh o w in g L évi-S trauss, L acan, B arthes, and F o u c a u lt
w e a rin g “ trib a l” co stu m e and conversing, is o n ly o n e expression o f a
g en eral p h e n o m e n o n .31 T h e p ap ers and review s used th e te rm s struc-
turalism and structuralists even, and especially, w h en th e y asked w h at it
was th a t linked th e m o r d ifferen tiated th em . Basically, th e n , ho w did
th in g s stand? O f th ese th in g s at least w e m ay be sure:
F irst, F o u c a u lt does seem to have acknow ledged this te rm as apply-
in g to him self. In an in terv iew in a T u n is new spaper, o n A pril 2, 1967,
he discussed th e q u e stio n at len g th . W h e n asked “W h y does th e g en -
eral p u b lic co n sid e r you th e p rie st o f stru c tu ra lism ? ” he answ ered: “A t
th e m o st, I ami s tru c tu ra lism ’s ‘altarboy.’ L e t’s say th a t I sh o o k th e bell
and th e faithful fell to th e ir knees and th e no n b eliev ers cried o u t. B ut
th e m ass had b e g u n lo n g ago.” M o re seriously, he w e n t o n to define
tw o fo rm s o f stru ctu ralism : o n th e o n e h an d a m e th o d th a t was v ery
p ro d u c tiv e in specific realm s, such as linguistics, th e h isto ry o f reli-
gion, o r eth n o lo g y ; o n th e o th e r hand, “ an activity w h ereb y th e o re ti-
cians w h o are n o t specialists strive to define th e c u rre n t relatio n s th a t
m ay exist b e tw e e n som e e le m e n t o r a n o th e r in o u r cu ltu re, b etw een
su c h -a n d -su c h a science, a c e rtain p ractical dom ain, and a c e rta in
th e o re tic a l d o m ain , and so on. In o th e r w ords, this w ould be a s o rt o f
g en eraliz ed stru c tu ra lism , o n e n o lo n g e r lim ited to a precise scientific
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

d o m a in .” I t w ould also be a stru c tu ra lism th a t “w ould c o n c e rn o u r o w n


cu ltu re, o u r p re se n t-d a y w orld, th e p ractical o r th e o re tic a l re la tio n s as
a w hole th a t define o u r m o d ern ity . T h is is w h ere stru c tu ra lism has
value as a p h ilo so p h ical activity, if o n e acknow ledges th a t diagnosis is
th e ro le o f p h ilo so p h y .” T h e stru c tu ra list p h ilo so p h e r, th e re fo re ,
w ould be so m eo n e w ho p e rfo rm s th e diagnosis o f “w h a t to d a y is.” P re -
dictive w ords. T h is sta te m e n t heralds m an y o f th e d efin itio n s th a t
F o u cau lt w ould p ro p o se fo r th e ro le o f th e in tellectu al w h e n his p a th
o n ce m o re in te rse c te d w ith politics. B u t in any case, in this tex t he d e -
fines h im se lf v e ry clearly as a “ stru c tu ra list.” 32
S econd, F o u c a u lt was w idely co n sid ered to be one, and n o t ju st b y
his “ e n em ies.” F o r exam ple, in a text in 1967 in w hich he a tte m p te d to
answ er th e q u e stio n “w h a t is stru c tu ra lism ? ” G illes D ele u z e m e n -
tio n e d n o t o n ly L év i-S trau ss and L acan b u t also A lth u sser and
F o u cau lt. H e knew v e ry well th a t th e re w ere h u g e differences a m o n g
th em . T h a t is w h y th e cen tral th em e o f his article was “ h o w is stru c -
tu ra lism reco g n izab le?” H e defined several fo rm al c rite ria p e rm ittin g
o n e to discover, in w orks w hose o rie n ta tio n s and p re o c c u p a tio n s w ere
v e ry differen t, c e rtain fixed lines th a t w ere g ro u n d s for b e lo n g in g to
this m o v e m e n t.33
T h ir d , it is tru e th a t F o u cau lt v e ry quickly, and m o re and m o re
strenuously, refu sed th e label. “ I t is u p to th o se w ho use this label to
d esig n ate diverse w o rk ,” he answ ered in a 1969 interview , “ to tell us
w h a t m akes us ‘stru c tu ra list.’ You know th e riddle: w h a t is th e differ-
ence b e tw e e n B ern ard Shaw and C h a rlie C h ap lin ? T h e r e isn ’t any,
because th e y b o th have beards, w ith th e ex cep tio n o f C h a p lin , o f
co u rse!” 34 In 1981 he w ould tell H u b e r t D rey fu s and P aul R abinow ,
w ho w ere w o rk in g o n a b o o k ab o u t him , th a t n o t o n ly h ad h e n e v e r
b e e n a stru c tu ra list, b u t th a t he had co n sid ered giving his w o rk th e
su b title “A n A rch aeo lo g y o f S tru c tu ra lism ” to situ ate h im se lf m o re as
an o u tsid e o b se rv e r th a n as a p ra c titio n e r o f th e h u m a n sciences. T h e
m o st h e w ould co n ced e to these tw o A m erican au th o rs was th a t h e had
n o t sufficiently “resisted th e sed u ctio n o f th e stru c tu ra list v o cab u lary .”
N o n e o f w h ich p rev en ted D rey fu s and R ab in o w fro m d e v o tin g a
w hole c h a p te r to his stru c tu ra list p e rio d and th e “ failu re” re su ltin g
fro m it.35

A ro u n d th e tim e o f these interview s w ith som e d istan ce o n th e


stru c tu ra list con tro v ersies, F o u cau lt analyzed th e h o stility aro u sed b y
th e stru c tu ra lis t m o v e m e n t in F rance. T u rn in g S a rtre ’s expression
aro u n d , he saw it as M arx ism ’s final bid to resist th e in ex o rab le p ro g -

M‫׳‬ 168 ‫ ׳‬vv


,‘itfyjiffifliiti

K rzysztof Pmszkowski
Left: l he choir boy. Below: With his sister, Francine.
Bottom: In the mountains with his father and his sister.
(Private papers ofMme.Foucault)
SECONDE Left: Academic records of the junior class at College
Saint-Stanislas in Poitiers for the 1940-41 school year.
Instruction religicuse 2•‫ ־‬Ac Patrick Chaumel
i rr P. Jacques Pel! inn
3•' Paul Puiehaud
Claude Hanger
1 (Archives of College Saint-Stanislas)
2C
3'
Paul Foucault
Pierre Hivière
4‫״‬
IP
Hohort Prieur
Pierre Marsul
11
Pr Ac ‫ ז‬Yves Pouvreau G* Maurice Crelel l Belovs: Academic records of the final year at College Saint-Stanislas
Excellence 1’‫ ־׳‬Ac,
2'
Claude Hanger
Jeau Sorín
b
X
for the 1942-43 school year.
1‫ ״‬1‫״‬, ‫ ־‬Pierre Kívíère 2
t> 3° Michel Léger 4
2*' Yves Pouvreau (Archives of College Saint-Stanislas)
4‫׳‬ Jean Cuupy 3
3- Pau! Foucault 2
3g Y’ves Pouvreau !>
l t>r Ac, Jacques Pellion 2 (!‫■י‬ Christian llorubosh‘[ 1
2» Michel Léger 1
3'
4‫׳‬
Hohert Prieur
Claude Hanger
2
2
Histoiri* de 13 liltóraluiu lram;a1so Bottom: Primary classes at the Lycée Henri IV at Poitiers,
$‫״‬
G•
Patrick Chaumet
Jeau Coupy
2
1
t‫ ״‬P : Pierre Hlvíéie
2’ Paul Foucault
0
(‫י‬ 1935 —36 school year. Foucault is in the back row, fifth from
3‫׳‬ Claude Hanger G
Diligence l'r Ac . Jean Coupy 4 the left.
t f Michel Léger ti
1« P. Pierre Hivíére 3
2« Yves Pouvreau 3
3* Patrick Chaumel 4 (Private papers of Mine. Foucault)
Jacques Pel 11011 (i
3‫״‬ Paul Foucault 3 4r Yves Pouvreau G
Jacques Pelliou 3
fr Hubert Prieur .‫ד‬
l*r Ac : Claude Hanger 3 9‫״‬ Christian llorubostel ‫צ‬
2° Michel Léger 2
3‫״‬ Robert Prieur 3 Version latino
4‫״‬ Louis Dupuis 1
5‫״‬ Paul Puiehaud 2 l"' P : Pierre Riviere 7
G« Patrick Chaumel 3 ‫׳צ‬ Paul Foucault 7
\'< Ac. Jacques Pelliou 7
Exarucns 0'

3-
Jeau Folia
Hubert Pfieur
2
1;
Vr P. : Pierre Htviéie 4 Paul Mitleaull 1
2° Yves Pouvreau 4 V
3' Paul Foucault 4
Thdinu latin
lcr Ac. Jacques Pelliou 4
2* Hohert Prieur 4 Pr P ‫ ל‬Pierre Hivíère 8
3‫'־‬ Michel Léger 3 1'■ Michel Léger G
4‫״‬ Claude Hunger 4 1‫ ״׳‬Ac : Patrick Chauiuel 5
ÍP Louis Dupuis 2 'lr Jacques Pelliou 8
1‫״נ‬ Jean Coupy 2 3‫־׳‬ Charles IlugujuleSciPUx 1
4r Paui Puiehaud 3
Cumposiliou iran!;ai.sc
1- P. ‫ ל‬Pierre Hivièrc r. Lilleralure latine
'i*‘ Jacques Pelliou :> P r P. : Paul Foucault s
3 ‫־׳‬ Paul Foucault 3 2* Pierre Riviôre y

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Below: T h e bypokhâgne class in Poitiers, 1944. Foucault is at lhe
very top. Right: On the back o f this photo Lucette Rabaté de-
scribes Foucault as “the number one whiz kid.”
(Private papers of Lucette Rabaté)

pf
xJ• lowJUdt *Hi‫־‬
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C ' >V\ In preparation for his exams for
ç
the agrégation , Foucault wrote
out dozens o f outlines on every
possible subject. Here: “T he
U nconscious.”
(Private papers of Jean-Paul Aron)
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Left: Georges Dumézil in 1949.
(Private papers of Claude Du/uezil)

Below: Louis Althusser in 1976.


(Photo: Keystone)

Bottom: Georges Canguilhem in January


19SS, during the colloquium “ Foucault
Philosophe.”
(Photo: Gerard Uferas/Agence I ’u)

‫״ •׳ ׳‬G

m' m

1
«‫ ׳‬% ‫ו׳יי‬ L eft: Letter trom Foucault to Henri
1 Gouhier, May 4, 1961. O n the upper
left are notes taken by Gouhier during
Foucault’s dissertation defense.
(Photo: D. R.)

Below: A copy o f Folie et Déraison printed


1 for the dissertation defense, 1961.
£
(Photo: D. R.)

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]( w M‫י‬ yY)^ ,
fc? FOLIE ET DÉRAISON
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THÈSE PRINCIPALE
(ft IVN/ , <aT?S <A/ /TOjvirQ /Xjfrff / POUR LE DOCTORAT ÈS LETTRES
PRESENTEE A LA FACULTÉ DBS LETTRES
ET DES SCIENCES HUMA1NES
DE L’ CNIVERSITÉ DE PARIS
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PA R

MICHEL FOUCAULT

1uy A ‫^ו׳ו ו‬, . jf

P A R IS
LIBRAIRIE PLON
Above: The structuralist picnic on the grass: Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and
Roland Barthes. The drawing, by Maurice Henry, was published in La Quinzaine , July 1, 1967
(Photo: D. R.)

Below: Foucault after publication of Les Mots et les choses, 1966.


(Photo: M arc Gar anger)

i
4 bove: Foucault with Jean Genet at a demonstration following the death of Pierre Overney, February 1972.
(Photo:Xavier M artin/Sipa Press)

Below: Foucault and Sartre demonstrate in the Goutte d’Or in support of immigrants, November 2 1 9 7 2 ,‫ ־‬.
( Photo: Gerard Aime)
Left: Le ,M
onde 1 9 7 1 .
(Photo: D. R.)

A la suite (Tune interpellation


Below: Alain Jaubert, Claude Mauriac, Michel Foucault,
Jean-Paul Sartre, Michelle Vian, Gilles Deleuze, and Daniel
Defert on their way to a press conference at the Ministry of
M . MICHEL FOUCAULT Justice on the Place Vendôme, January 18, 1972.
PORTE PLAINTE (Photo: Elie Kaga n)

CONTRE DES POLICIERS


MM. J.-M. Domenach et Michel
Foucault, et une douzaine de
membres du groupe d’information
sur les prisons, ont été interpel-
lés respectivement le l er mai aux
portes des prisons de Fresnes et
de la Santé, alors qu’ils distri-
buaient un texte sur l’abolition
du easier judiciaire. Ils ont été
relâchés vers 17 heures. M. M.
Foucault a porté plainte pour
arrestation illégale, atteinte aux
libertés publiques, injures pu-
bliques et violences légèrés avec
prémédltation.
M. Michel Foucault, professeur
au Collège de France, nous a fait
le récit suivant :
« Auposte de police oü été
emmené avec mon , un
policier, après avoir que
plusieurs de nos noms
pas de consonance
nous a âemandé quels étaient
parmi nous « c e u x qui portaient
» des nom s vraim ent gaulois ».
Quelques instants , faisant
la mimique de quelqu’un qui tire
au revolver, il a crié : « Heil
» H it le r ! » Enfin, un a u t r e
d’entre eux m’a frappé dans le
dos alors que je quittais le coni'-
missariat et que déjà dans
la rue. »
Foucault and Yves Montand at Roissy, September 2 2,1975. Intellect
holding a press conference in Madrid to protest the death sentences of eleven militants.
( Photo: Pascal Lebrun)
ibove: Ivry Gitlis, Claude Mauriac, Simone Signoret, Michel Foucault, and Patrice Chéreau at a demonstra-
ion in support of the Polish people, at the Paris Opera. December 2 2, 1981.
Photo: Laurent Maous/Gamma)

leloiv: Foucault at the T U N IX meeting in Berlin, January 1978.


Photo: Raymond Depardon/Gamma)
Above and below Foucault at home, 1983.
(Photo: M artine Fra nek /Magnu
Above: Foucault at Berkeley in October 1983, wearing the cowboy hat his students gave him. With the
students is Paul Rabinow (second from the right).
(Private papers of Paul Rabinow)

Below: An article by Georges Dumézil in Le Nouvel Observateur (June 1984) on the death of Foucault.
(Photo: D. R.)

Au printemps de 1954, mes amis de Puniver- moi-même que professeur honoraire et je dé-
sité d’Uppsala me demandèrent de leur dési-
gner un lecteur français. Procédure peu ortho-
doxe qu'ignoraient nos Relations culturelles.
UN couvrais tardivement les Etats-Unis : mon rôle
se borna à écrire de Chicago à six collègues
électeurs que, quoi qu’on dít, Michel Foucault
Mais depuis que j ’avais occupé le poste, de
1933 à 1935, des liens étroits m’attachaient à
Uppsala, ou j ’ailais presque chaque année tra-
vailler un mois ou deux dans !,admirable bi-
HOMME n’était pas le Diable. Plutôt le contraire. II fut
plus qu’honorablement élu.
D’autres présenteront son oeuvre. Je ne re-
prendrai que Ie mot de Raoul Curiel. L’intelii-
bliothèque qu’est la Carolina Rediviva. J ’étais
fort embarrassé de ma mission, quand Raoul
Curiel, qui rentrait d ’Afghanistan, me dit qu’il
avait mon homme. Il venait de rencontrer un
HEUREUX gence de Foucault était, littéralement, sans
borne, même sophistiquée. II avait instaílé son
observatoire sur les zones de l’être vivant oò les
distinctions traditionnelles du corps et de Fes-
jeune normalien, agrégé de philosophic, encore prit, de !’instinct et de Fidée paraissent absur-
incertain de sa carrière, qu’il n*hésitait pas à des : la folie, le crime, la sexualité. De là son
qualifier: «Pêtre le plus intelligent qu 7/ eüt regard tournait comme un phare sur Fhistoire
connu ». Je n ’en demandai pas plus et j ’écrivis PAR et sur le présent, prêt aux découvertes les moins
à Michel Foucault, avec un éioge sincère de la rassurantes, capable de tout accepter, sauf de
vie uppsalienne. Il accepta. Comme je passais GEORGES DUMÉZIL s’arrêter dans une orthodoxie. Une intelligence
Pété au pays de Galies, je ne le vis pas avant à foyers multiples, à miroirs mobiles, ou le
son départ. jugement naissant se doublait aussitôt de son
L’année suívante, dès la Fm de mes cours du contraire sans cependant se détruire ni reculer.
Collège, je repr^ ie chemin de ma laborieuse Tout cela, comme il est usue! à ce niveau, sur
Uppsala, curieux de voir à Poeuvre « Pêtre le un fond d ’extreme bienveillance, de bonté. Les
plus intelligent du monde ». Or il régnait sur la trouva, dès ces premières journées, fraternel, attachements qu’il a éveillés dans la jeunesse
jeunesse suédoise, sur la « bonne société » uni- ouvert, dévoué, confiant. II se forma tout intellectueile, en France, aux Etats-Unis, au
versitaire. Ses cours pubiiés faisaient du bruit. naturellement entre nous une amitié qui, pen‫ ״‬Japon même, la résonance des quelques essais
Les mères lui amenaient ieurs filies pour Pen‫״‬ dam ies trente autres années qui suivirent, ne qu’il aura eu le temps de publier s’expliquent
tendre parier de « Pamour en France de Sade à devait connaitre ni ombre ni déchirure, Je le autant par cette générosité que par la puissance
Jean Genet». Et lui-même avait trouvé ras- retrouvái en 1956 à Uppsala, puis il quitta la de sa diaiectique et la séduction de son art.
sembiée dans trois salons de la Carolina une Suede pour Hambourg, pour Varsovie, pour Notre amitié fut une facile réussite. Après
riche bibliothèque mçdicale du xvu* et du Clermont-Ferrand. Je n ’eus plus à intervenir Pierre Gaxotte il y a deux ans, après i’uppsa-
xvn1e siècíe. Un vieux legs qui dormait en Pat- dans sa carrière sauf quand, un peu plus tard, lien Stig Wikander Fhiver dernier, Michel Fou-
ten d an t: V « Histoire de la folie » progressait! en 1970, on pensa à iui pour le College de cault en se retirant me laisse un peu plus dé-
Bref, un homme heureux. C ’est alors que je le France. Ce fut Jules Vuillemin qui le présenta, muni, et non seulement des ornements de la
découvris. De trente ans mon cadet, il se à la mort de Jean Hyppolite. Je n ’étais plus v ie : de sa substance même. G. O■
R a m p a r t s of t h e B o u r g e o i s i e

ress o f ideas. S tru c tu ra lism ran g th e alarm fo r M arx ist d o g m atism , and
F re n c h cu ltu re, b e in g u n d e r C o m m u n ist influence, certain ly felt its
co rro siv e p o w er. W h ic h was n o t su rp risin g , F o u cau lt explained. In th e
first place, stru c tu ra lism was a m o v em en t th a t cam e to us fro m th e E a st
(via Jak o b so n , w ho was R ussian; via th e form alists; and so on), and th e
e n tire S talin ist tra d itio n had w orked to repress it and d e stro y it at its
b irth p lace. T o back u p this claim , F o u cau lt to ld th e follow ing an ec-
dote: in 1967 he w e n t to give som e lectures in H u n g a ry . E v e ry th in g
w e n t just fine, and th e re w ere p le n ty o f p eo p le in th e audiences, u n til
th e day he p ro p o se d to talk a b o u t stru ctu ralism . T h e head o f th e u n i-
v ersity to ld h im th e lectu re had to be given in his office, for a select
g ro u p , because th e su b ject was to o difficult fo r th e stu d en ts. T h is reac-
tio n m ad e F o u c a u lt w o n d e r w h at was so frig h te n in g a b o u t this w ord,
th ese th em es, this idea, and in 1978 he cam e up w ith th e analysis above
fo r D u c io T ro m b a d o ri.36

/W

S u c c e s s wa s F o u c a u l t ’s . E v ery o n e w ho m e t him d u rin g th e sp rin g


o f 1966 d escrib ed a h ap p y m an, visibly d elig h ted w ith his success and
his n a sc e n t celebrity. B ut w h en th e eu p h o ria had ev ap o rated he seem ed
to th in k it was th e w o rst b o o k he had w ritte n . A t o n e p o in t he even
m o re o r less disow ned it, asking P ie rre N o ra n o t to p rin t it anym ore.
B u t this re a c tio n was n o th in g new. As we have seen, he had already
sto p p e d d is trib u tio n o f Maladie mentale et personnalité, co m p letely re-
w ritte n a seco n d version, and en d ed up b a n n in g th a t also. W ith Folie et
déraison F o u c a u lt’s self-criticism to o k a n o th e r tack. W h e n th e second
e d itio n cam e o u t u n d e r th e title Histoire de la folie eleven years a fte r th e
b o o k had first ap p eared , he excised th e first preface, w hich p u t to o
m u c h em phasis o n a “ prim eval ex p erien ce” o f m adness. N o w Les Mots
et les choses re q u ire d a n o th e r w hole boo k to clarify things. In resp o n se
to th e bad read in g s to w hich he th o u g h t he had b e e n subjected, to dis-
pel c e rta in m isu n d e rsta n d in g s, to explain n o tio n s th a t caused p ro b -
lem s, to dissociate h im se lf fro m “ stru c tu ra lism ,” F o u cau lt w ould w rite
UArchéologie da savoir, w hich was p u b lish ed in 1969. A nd in 1972, w h en
Naissance de la clinique was reissued, he m ade som e lexical changes th ere.
F o r exam ple, he ch an g ed th e p h rase “I sh o u ld like to a tte m p t h e re a
s tru c tu ra l analysis o f a signified— th a t o f m edical ex p erien ce— in o n e
p e rio d ” to “ I sh o u ld like to a tte m p t h ere th e analysis o f a type o f dis-
c o u rse — th a t o f m edical analysis— in o n e p e rio d .” H e also rem oved
th e n o tio n o f a s tru c tu ra l stu d y fro m th e next p a g e . ‫׳ י‬

*v !85 **
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

A t each stage, th e n , F o u cau lt seem ed to p ro ceed b y successive re -


w ritin g s. H e w orked and he changed. H e claim ed th e rig h t to d o so in
his p reface to UArchéologie du savoir:

W h a t, do you im agine th at I would take so m uch trouble and so


m uch pleasure in w riting, do you think th at I would keep so per-
sistently to m y task, if I were n o t prep arin g — w ith a ra th e r shaky
h an d — a labyrinth into w hich I can venture, in w hich I can m ove m y
discourse, opening up u nderground passages, forcing it to go far
from itself, finding overhangs th at reduce and deform its itinerary, in
w hich I can lose m yself and appear at last to eyes th at I will never
have to m eet again. I am no doubt n o t the only one who w rites in
o rd er to have no face. D o n o t ask who I am and do n o t ask m e to
rem ain the same: leave it to ou r bureaucrats and ou r police to see th at
o u r papers are in order. At least spare us th eir m orality w hen we
w rite.38

B u t o ne th in g is certain : w h en it was tim e to look back o v er his


w ork, th e “ fo rm a list” books he w ro te d u rin g this p e rio d . Les Mots et les
choses and UArchéologie du savoir, w ere n o t his favorites.

A m o n g all th e reactio n s aroused by Les Mots et les choses, th e re was


o n e th a t w e n t s tra ig h t to F o u c a u lt’s h eart. T h is was a le tte r h e received
fro m R ené M a g ritte , in w h ich th e p a in te r m ade som e c o m m e n ts a b o u t
n o tio n s o f resem b lan ce and sim ilarity. H e in clu d ed a series o f his
draw ings w ith th e le tte r, o n e o f w hich was a re p ro d u c tio n o f Ceci Uest
pas une pipe. F o u cau lt th an k ed h im and asked fo r som e in fo rm a tio n
a b o u t one o f M a g ritte ’s p ain tin g s th a t o b liq u ely a p p ro p ria te d M a n e t’s
Le Balcon, a p ic tu re th a t p artic u la rly in te re ste d F o u cau lt. T h is ex-
ch an g e o f le tte rs was th e source o f a stu d y th a t F o u cau lt did o n
M a g ritte , also title d “ C eci n ’est pas u n e p ip e ,” p u b lish ed first in
Cahiers du chemin and la te r as a sm all volum e. As for M a g ritte ’s re p ly
c o n c e rn in g M a n e t, F o u cau lt in te n d e d to use it in a b o o k h e was b e g in -
n in g to w rite .39

*v 186 ++
13
V W

The Open Sea

o u cau lt, w re a th e d in g lo ry as a resu lt o f Les Mots et les choses, ar-


rived in T u n is. H o w did it h a p p e n th a t he again found h im se lf
far fro m F rance? O f course, he had n o desire to w ork in C le r-
m o n t-F e rra n d an y m o re. B ut, as we have seen, it was n o easy task to
find a p o s itio n elsew here. A nd w h y T unis? O n ce again, it was th e re su lt
o f an o d d c o m b in a tio n o f circum stances. G é ra rd D eledalle, a specialist
in E n g lish and A m erican au th o rs, had com e to th e U n iv e rsity o f T u n is
in 1963 and estab lish ed its first d egree p ro g ra m in philosophy. In 1964
he in v ited his fo rm e r p ro fesso r, J e a n W ah l, to give a series o f lectu res
o n W ittg e n s te in , and w hile he was th e re asked if he w ould stay in
T u n is to teach . W a h l accepted, b u t as a resu lt o f fam ily reasons and
because he felt v e ry h o m esick he re tu rn e d to P aris after six m o n th s.
W h e n he le a rn e d th a t F o u cau lt was lo o k in g fo r a p o sitio n abroad, he
w ro te to D e led alle to ask if th e job was still open. It was, b u t several
fo rm alities h ad to be ta k e n care of. F irst th e T u n is ia n a u th o ritie s had
to be ap p lied to. T h e n , w h e n th e y had given th e ir approval, F o u cau lt
h ad to p re s e n t his can d id acy officially. As far as th e F re n c h w ere co n -
c e rn e d , th e re was n o p ro b le m : J e a n S irinelli to o k care o f ev ery th in g .
T h a n k s to th e M in is try o f F o re ig n Affairs, F o u cau lt w ould be “ o n ad-
m in istra tiv e leave” fro m C le rm o n t-F e rra n d , w ith a th re e -y e a r co n -
tra c t. B ut F o u c a u lt saw his new v o lu n ta ry exile as sim ply a n o th e r place
in w h ich to w ait; w h a t he really w anted was a job in Paris.
H e a rriv e d in T u n isia a t th e end o f S e p te m b e r 1966. “A c o u n try
blessed b y h isto ry , o n e th a t deserves to live forever because it was
w h ere H a n n ib a l and St. A u g u stin e lived,” he to ld Jelila H afsia as th e y
stro lle d th ro u g h th e vestiges o f C arth ag e, an archaeological site o f
b re a th ta k in g b e a u ty ;1 its o p e n sea and b lin d in g sun gave an irre p re ss ­

187 ‫׳‬W
Tm •: O rdkr of T h i n g s

ible sense o f p lu n g in g in to th e d ep th s o f tim e and o f th e w orld. B u t


b efo re C a rth a g e , F o u c a u lt discovered th e s p le n d o r o f a n o th e r lan d -
scape. G é ra rd D eled alle and his wife m e t h im a t th e a irp o rt and to o k
h im to th e village o f Sidi B ou Said, w h ere th e y lived. P e rc h e d o n a h ill-
side o v erlo o k in g th e bay, ju st a few k ilo m eters fro m T u n is it was th e
kind o f place o n e d ream s of. F o u cau lt stayed first a t th e D a r Said,
a sm all h o te l w hose ro o m s s u rro u n d e d a c o u rty a rd flooded w ith th e
frag ran ce o f jasm ine and o ran g e trees. H e rem ain ed in th e village
th ro u g h o u t his tw o years in T u n isia, living successively in th re e a lm o st
id en tical houses w ith w h ite walls and blue blinds. “ In this village w h e re
he was happy,” recalls Je a n D an iel, w ho m e t F o u c a u lt at this tim e,

he was best know n for his habit of w orking from daybreak on at the
windows o f his villa th a t overlooked the bay, and for his greedy ap-
petite for living and loving in the sun. O n each o f m y trips there, I
w ould go to find him so we could take a walk, w hich he liked to be
long, fast, and energetic. H e w ould invite m e into a room carefully
kept cool and dark, at the end o f which was a sort o f big, raised slab
w here he p u t the m at he used for a bed, a m at that, like the Arabs and
the Japanese, he rolled up du rin g the day . . . M y stay in T unis hap-
pened to coincide w ith th at o f D aniel D efert, his com panion. All
three o f us w ent to a beach th at was shaped like a peninsula and p ro -
tected by dunes from the rest o f hum anity. In this im aginary desert
there was a light, sim ultaneously ocher and lunar, th a t rem inded
Foucault o f Le Rivage des Syrtes. T h e last tim e I was in th a t place,
Foucault talked about Julien G racq and G ide, w hom his friend
R oland Barthes was fondly rereading. In this settin g he seem ed to
flee philosophy; literature was a refuge.2

I t was, how ever, to teach p h ilo so p h y th a t F o u cau lt h ad com e to


T u n isia , and he devoted h im se lf to it w ith g re a t success. T h efaculté des
lettres et sciences humaines is located in th e larg e old city lycée, b u ilt in
th e 1950s, o n th e B oulevard du 9-Avril. I t overlooks th e C asb ah and
L ake Sijoum i. A t th e b e g in n in g o f his stay, F o u cau lt to o k th e tra in
fro m Sidi B ou Said to T u n is, th e n w alked fro m th e statio n , cro ssin g
th e M é d in a and g o in g u p A venue B ourguiba. L a te r he b o u g h t a car, a
w h ite c o n v e rtib le P e u g e o t 404.
T h e stu d e n ts a tte n d e d his courses avidly. T h e subjects w ere all v e ry
d ifferent, because he ta u g h t at all th re e o f th e levels p re p a rin g fo r th e
license. H e discussed N ie tz sc h e w ith som e, and D escartes, w h o m h e
read in c o n ju n c tio n w ith H u s se rl’s Canesian Meditations. H e gave a
course o n aesthetics, in w hich he show ed slides and analyzed th e ev o lu ­

‫ ־**׳‬H 1 88
T h e O p e n S ea

tio n o f p a in tin g fro m th e R enaissance to M a n e t. E ven so, he did n o t


n e g le c t psychology. H e lectu red o n “ p ro je c tio n ” and explained th e
basic ele m e n ts o f psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis all at
once. O f co u rse h e in ev itab ly lin g ered over R o rschach th eo ry . T h e n
th e re w ere th e fam ous p u b lic lectures, still a d m irin g ly sp o k en o f to d a y
by his fo rm e r stu d en ts, o n “ m an in W e s te rn th o u g h t.” N o t far fro m
Les Mots et les choses! T h e audience was v ery larg e— m o re th a n tw o
h u n d re d p e o p le ev ery F rid ay — and ex trem ely varied. As in U ppsala,
this le ctu re series was h ig h ly ap p reciated by th e city ’s cu ltu red society,
and ev ery age, ev ery p ro fessio n was rep resen ted .
A lth o u g h th e y o u n g p eo p le w ho a tte n d e d F o u c a u lt’s courses w ere
e n th u sia stic a b o u t his teach in g , th ey had reserv atio n s a b o u t his p o liti-
cal views. A cco rd in g to th e ir te stim o n y today, he was lo n g perceived as
a p u re “ re p re se n ta tiv e o f G au llist tech n o cracy ,” “ to o W e s te rn to u n d e r-
stan d T u n is ia ,” and so on. H is h o stility to M arxism d isco n c erted his
stu d e n ts, w ho w ere even m o re w illing to label h im “ rig h t-w in g ” b e-
cause th e y did n o t p a rtic u la rly like h e a rin g h im q u o te N ie tz sc h e at
ev ery tu rn and so m etim es felt he was d elib erately p ro v o k in g th em .
F o u c a u lt actively p a rtic ip a te d in u n iv ersity and in tellectu al life in
T u n is . H e ru b b e d sh o u ld ers w ith th e F re n c h faculty w hose jobs
b ro u g h t th e m to th e city, o f course, and becam e friends w ith G é ra rd
D e led alle and his wife, and w ith Je a n G a tte g n o , w h o m he w ould m e e t
again a t V in c e n n e s. H e w orked w ith th e p h ilo so p h y club o rg an ized by
th e stu d e n ts, and he lectu red at th e C lu b T a h a r H a d a d o n B oulevard
P asteu r, w hose head, Jelila H afsia, had a passion fo r th e F ren ch p h i-
lo so p h e r. F o u c a u lt lectu red th e re on “ stru ctu ralism and lite ra ry analy-
sis” in F e b ru a ry 1967, and o n “ m adness and civilization” in A pril o f
th a t year.
A lso in 1967 he had J e a n H y p p o lite invited to th e university. F atm a
H a d d a d , w ho was F o u c a u lt’s assistant at th e tim e, re m e m b e re d h o w
e m o tio n a lly he in tro d u c e d his fo rm e r te a c h e r to th e audience. H y p -
p o lite was su p p o sed to discuss “ H e g e l and m o d e rn p h ilo so p h y .” A b o u t
to b e g in his lectu re, he in d icated F oucault, w ho was seated beside him :
“T h e r e m u st have b e e n som e m istake w h en you invited m e, because
m o d e rn p h ilo so p h y is s ittin g rig h t th e re .” F o u cau lt had just in tro -
d u ced th e su b jec t o f th e lectu re in these term s: “All p h ilosophical re-
fle ctio n to d a y is a d ialo g u e w ith H e g e l, and c re a tin g th e h isto ry o f
H e g e l’s p h ilo so p h y is to p ractice m o d e rn p h ilo so p h y .”
T h e “ e n c o u n te r” w ith P aul R ico eu r left th e T u n isian s w ith a less
g lo rio u s m em o ry . A t th e h e ig h t o f th e stru c tu ra list controversy, th e y

/W I 89 *V
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

had expected a fascinating c o n fro n ta tio n b e tw een th e tw o th in k ers.


R ic o e u r h ad b e e n in v ited by th e cu ltural c e n te r in C a rth a g e fo r a series
o f lectu res o n th e p h ilo so p h y o f language. F o u c a u lt and G é ra rd D e -
ledalle a tte n d e d o n e o f these to g e th e r: “H e was s ittin g rig h t n ex t to
m e ,” said D eled alle, “ and he k e p t o n m ak in g fu n n y rem ark s. R ic o e u r
n o tic e d it.” B u t w h en it cam e tim e for discussion, a fte r th e lectu re,
F o u cau lt n ev er said a w ord. D eled alle u n d e rsto o d at th a t m o m e n t th a t
p erh ap s in v itin g th e tw o p h ilo so p h ers to jo in h im fo r d in n e r th a t eve-
n in g h ad n o t b een such a go o d idea. H e n ev er fo rg o t th e ten se, u n -
p leasan t a tm o sp h e re and h o w it spoiled th e evening. Im p o ssib le to
b rin g u p any in tellectu al su b ject at all. W h e n R ic o e u r left T u n is
s h o rtly afterw ard, he saw F o u cau lt p re p a rin g to take th e sam e flig h t as
he. H e to ld th e h ead o f th e cu ltu ral c e n te r o f C a rth a g e , w h o h ad tak en
h im to th e airp o rt: “W e will talk in th e p la n e .” H e w ro te h e r several
days la te r to th a n k h e r fo r h e r w elcom e and to ld h e r th a t th e p re d ic te d
discussion h ad n ev er tak en place. F oucault, p re te n d in g n o t to see him ,
had tak en a seat at th e o th e r en d o f th e plane. B u t a lth o u g h he refu sed
to play th e gam e o f “ th e d eb ate o f ideas,” F o u cau lt had n o tro u b le te ll-
in g his stu d en ts w h at he th o u g h t. “I am g o in g to su m m arize w h a t
R ic o e u r said,” he to ld th em . A fter each p o in t he asked th e m w h e th e r
o r n o t it was a faithful sum m ary. A nd w h en th e y acquiesced, h e to ld
th em : “W ell, n o w w e’re g o in g to te a r it all a p a rt.”

P e rh a p s th e reaso n F o u cau lt sp e n t so m u ch tim e o n th e h is to ry o f


p a in tin g in his lectu res was th a t he in te n d e d to w rite a b o o k a b o u t
M a n e t. O n J u n e 15, 1966, b efo re leaving fo r T u n is (and o n ly a few
m o n th s a fte r th e p u b lic a tio n o f Les Mots et les choses), he h ad sig n ed a
c o n tra c t w ith J é rô m e L in d o n , th e e d ito r-in -c h ie f at M in u it, for an “ es-
say o n M a n e t” w ith th e title “ L e N o ir e t la su rface.” T h e b o o k was
n ev er p u b lish ed , b u t in several o f his lectu res F o u cau lt explained w h a t
it was a b o u t M a n e t’s p a in tin g s th a t c a u g h t his a tte n tio n . T h e c re a to r o f
Bal à VOpéra, Bar des Folies- B ergeres, and Le Balcon in te re ste d h im n o t as
th e p a in te r w h o m ad e Im p ressio n ism possible, b u t as th e p a in te r w ho
m ade all o f m o d e rn p a in tin g possible. M a n e t b ro k e w ith rules th a t had
b een in effect since th e Q u a ttro c e n to . T h e p a in te r had b e e n fo rced to
m ask, to evade, to m ake p eo p le fo rg et th e fact th a t th e p a in t was ap-
plied and in scrib ed o n a certain fra g m e n t o f space, a wall o r a p ictu re.
M a n e t b ro k e this set o f co n v en tio n s and in v en ted th e p ic tu re -o b je c t,
th e p a in tin g th a t re p re se n ts its ow n m ateriality. H e b ro u g h t th e fu n d a-
m ental m aterial elem en ts o f p a in tin g in to th e re p re se n ta tio n . H e in te -
T he O p e n S ea

g ra te d p ic to ria l physics in to th e scene rep resen ted : th e lig h t fro m


o u tsid e, th e s tro n g v ertical and h o riz o n ta l lines re p e a tin g th e fo rm a t o f
th e p a in tin g and th e w eave o f th e cloth. H e did aw ay w ith d e p th , and
th e p ic tu re b ecam e a c o n c re te space b efo re w hich th e sp e c ta to r can
and m u st shift. M a n e t nev er w e n t bey o n d re p re se n ta tio n a l p a in tin g .
B u t h e freed p a in tin g fro m co n v en tio n s b u rd e n in g re p re se n ta tio n .
T h a n k s to M a n e t, p a in tin g w ould be able to play w ith spatial p ro p e r-
ties, w ith its p u re, m aterial p ro p e rtie s, used fo r th e ir ow n sake.

M o s t o f F o u c a u lt’s tim e was taken u p w ith w ritin g UArchéologie du


savoir. H e w ro te fu rio u sly and stru g g led v io len tly w ith n o tio n s o f
e n u n c ia tio n , discursive fo rm a tio n , regularity, and strategy. H e was try -
in g to establish and p in d o w n an e n tire vocabulary, to define and a rtic -
u la te an e n tire set o f in te ra c tin g concepts. T h e s e w ere th e te rm s in
w h ich he p re se n te d his w o rk o n th e b o o k jacket:

W h a t was m y aim in w riting this book? D id I wish to explain w hat I


had w anted to do in m y earlier books, in w hich so m any things still
rem ained obscure? N o t altogether, n o t exactly. By going a little far-
th e r in the same direction, and com ing back, as if by a new tu rn in the
spiral, just sh o rt o f w hat I set o u t to do, I hoped to show the position
from w hich I was speaking; to m ap the space that makes possible these
investigations and others th at I may never accom plish; in short, to give
m eaning to the w ord archaeology, which I had so far left e m p ty . . . And
w here the history o f ideas tried to uncover, by deciphering texts, the
secret m ovem ents o f th o u g h t (its slow progression, its conflicts and
retreats, the obstacles th at it has overcom e), I would like to reveal, in
its specificity, the level of things said: the condition o f th eir em er-
gence, the form s o f th eir accum ulation and connection, the rules of
th eir transform ation, the discontinuities that articulate them . T h e
dom ain o f things said is w hat is called the archive; the role o f archae-
ology is to analyze th at archive.3

F o u c a u lt knew th a t th e stakes w ere co n siderable. H e had b e e n in tro -


d u ced as S a rtre ’s successor, and th e ch allenged m aster had lau n ch ed a
h a rsh c o u n te ra tta c k . T h e fig h t was on, and if he w an ted to m ake off
w ith th e w in n in g s, F o u cau lt m u st n o t d isap p o in t th e expectations o f an
eag er crow d aw aitin g th e n ex t h eated exchange. F o u cau lt was h ard at
w ork: at his desk a t h o m e early in th e m o rn in g , in th e B ib lio th èq u e
N a tio n a le in T u n is in th e a fte rn o o n . H e also sp e n t a lo t o f tim e talk in g
w ith D e led alle because th e b o o k d ealt w ith p ro b lem s th a t w ere related
to th e la tte r ’s in te re s t in linguistics and th e p h ilo so p h y o f language.

191 **
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

F o u cau lt co n su lted h im as an ex p ert o n E n g lish and A m erican p h ilo so -


phy, w hich he did n o t k n o w well. D eled alle talked w ith h im a lm o st
daily d u rin g his walks th ro u g h Sidi Bou Said, and he w atch ed th e stack
o f p ap ers, black w ith n o tes, g ro w h ig h e r w ith ev ery visit. F o u c a u lt chis-
eled his p h rases as m e ticu lo u sly and ferv en tly as a g o ld sm ith . T h e b o o k
was finished w h en F o u cau lt left T u n isia and was p u b lish ed early in 1969.

B u t T u n isia, fo r F o u cau lt, was n o t sim ply divided b e tw e e n th e p lea-


sures o f th e su n and th e asceticism o f philosophy. Since th e day he had
step p ed b ack fro m po litics it had b een just a m a tte r o f tim e b efo re he
was sure to b eco m e c a u g h t u p in it again. E xistence fated th a t this
w ould h a p p e n in T u n is ju st w h en F re n c h in tellectu als w ere o n th e
b rin k o f p lu n g in g in to th e w hirlw ind events o f M ay 1968. F o u c a u lt saw
little o f th ese, h av in g re tu rn e d to P aris o n ly b riefly at th e end o f M ay.
H e was th e re lo n g e n o u g h to a tte n d th e m e e tin g in C h a rlé ty stad iu m ,
am o n g th e leftist g ro u p s w h o shared w ith P ie rre M e n d è s F ra n c e th e
h o p e th a t th e G a u llist reg im e w ould so o n fall. W alk in g w ith J e a n
D an iel, th e e d ito r o f Le Nouvel Observateur, in th e streets o n e day, and
w atch in g th e stu d e n ts m arch , h e told D aniel: “T h e y are n o t m ak in g a
re v o lu tio n ; th e y are a re v o lu tio n .” F o u cau lt re tu rn e d to T u n is c e rta in
th a t th e end o f th e G au llist era was n ear, th a t th e left w ould take
pow er, and th a t M e n d è s F ran ce o r F rançois M itte rra n d w ould be called
u p o n to p lay an im p o rta n t role.
B u t a lth o u g h he was p ersu ad ed th a t th e re w ould be a sw ing in th e
F re n c h g o v e rn m e n t, he knew th a t th e sam e th in g w ould n o t h a p p e n in
th e T u n is ia n reg im e. A g itatio n had b e g u n at th e U n iv e rsity o f T u n is in
D e c e m b e r 1966. A s tu d e n t had b een b e a te n up b y th e police fo r refu s-
in g to p ay fo r a bus ticket. In resp o n se to this in cid en t, th e re b e llio n
spread th ro u g h th e university. By J u n e 1967 th e p ro b le m s w ere far
w orse. F o llo w in g Israel’s ro u t o f A rab arm ies d u rin g th e S ix -D ay W ar,
violence flared and spread in th e T u n isia n capital. P ro -P a le s tin ia n
d e m o n stra tio n s d e g en erated in to a n ti-S e m itic riots. F o u cau lt w as ap-
palled by th ese events. H e expressed his disg u st to G e o rg e s C a n -
g u ilh em o n J u n e 7, 1967:

L ast M onday we had here a day (a half-day) o f pogrom . It was far


w orse th an reported in Le Monde— at least fifty fires. A hundred and
fifty or two hundred shops— the poorest, o f course— were ransacked,
the age-old sight o f a ransacked synagogue, carpets dragged into the
streets, tram pled, and burned, people running th rough the streets,
taking refuge in a building the crowd w anted to set on fire. And since
th en — silence, the m etal curtains down, no one, or alm ost no one, in

‫׳‬w 1y 2 -vv
T he O p e n S ea

the quarter, children playing with broken trinkets. T h e g o v ern m en t’s


reaction was quick and firm, apparently sincere. But it [the violence]
was obviously organized. Everybody knows that for weeks, no doubt
m onths, it was w orking underground, unbeknow nst to the govern-
m en t and against it. In any case, nationalism plus racism adds up to
som ething ghastly. And w hen one also adds the fact that the students,
because they are leftist, lent a hand (and m ore) to all that, well, it
makes one deeply sad. And one w onders through w hat strange trick
(or stupidity) o f history M arxism could provide the occasion (and vo-
cabulary) for that.

F o u c a u lt did n o t hide fro m his stu d en ts his disg u st a t such acts. B u t


th e rio ts o f J u n e 1967 w ere m erely th e b e g in n in g o f a wave o f u n re s t
th a t w ould keep th e u n iv ersity in a state o f ten sio n for m o re th a n
a year. T h e M arx ist stu d e n ts g ro u p ed aro u n d th e m o v e m e n t “P e r-
sp ectiv es” w ere at first p rim a rily T ro tsk y ites b u t in creasin g ly sh ifted
to w ard M ao ism . T h e y m ob ilized o n b e h a lf o f th e ir “P alestin ian b ro th -
e rs,” b u t a t th e sam e tim e th e y engaged in m o re and m o re radical
fo rm s o f o p p o sitio n to th e g o v e rn m e n t and to P re sid e n t B o u rg u ib a ’s
reg im e. F ro m M a rc h to J u n e 1968, a fter a revival o f u n re s t p ro v o k ed
b y V ic e -P re s id e n t H u b e r t H u m p h re y ’s visit to T u n isia, th e re was a
h arsh clam p d o w n . A m o n g th o se p u t in p riso n w ere several o f F o u -
c a u lt’s stu d e n ts. T h e F re n c h teachers joined in p ro te s t ag ain st th e
arrests and to rtu re . B ut som e o f th e m advocated m o re visible and vig-
o ro u s a c tio n to d e m o n stra te th e ir solidarity. A general m e e tin g o f
F re n c h teach ers was called, and F o u cau lt and Je a n G a tte g n o w ere p u t
in th e m in o rity b y th e ir colleagues, w ho felt an o b lig a tio n to be cau-
tio u s in a fo reig n co u n try . F o u cau lt also w e n t to see th e F re n c h am bas-
sad o r to ask h im to in terv en e. T h e d ip lo m a t replied th a t it was
o b v io u sly im p o ssib le fo r him to g e t m ixed up in th e in te rn a l affairs o f
T u n isia .
F o u cau lt, G a tte g n o , and several o th e rs did n o t resign them selves to
b e in g passive. T h e y h elp ed th e stu d en ts w ho had escaped th e ro u n d u p ,
sh e lte re d th e m in th e ir hom es. F oucault, fo r exam ple, hid th e g ro u p ’s
d u p lic a tin g m ach in e, and several tracts w ere p rin te d in his gard en .
A fter th e 1968 su m m e r vacation, w h en F o u cau lt re tu rn e d to T u n isia,
he trie d to testify a t th e s tu d e n ts ’ trial. H e had p re p a re d a s ta te m e n t to
read o n b e h a lf o f A h m ed B en O th m a n . B ut he was n o t given p e rm is-
sion; all th e p ro ceed in g s to o k place b eh in d closed doors. F o u c a u lt’s
s tu b b o rn n e ss e a rn ed h im th re a ts o n several occasions b y p lain clo th es
p o lic e m e n — o r sta n d -in s for th e police? O n ce he was even serio u sly
m a n h a n d le d and struck, a fte r having b een sto p p ed o n th e road to Sidi

‫׳‬W
*93
T he O rde r of T h i n g s

B ou Said. T h e s e w ere w arn in g s sen t w ith a m in im u m o f p ro to c o l by


th e T u n is ia n a u th o ritie s. Officially, how ever, he was n ev er d istu rb e d .
H is p re stig e was to o great, and it w ould have b e e n ex trem ely difficult
for th e g o v e rn m e n t to take h im on. G e o rg e s L apassade was expelled
fro m th e c o u n try and rep ro a c h e d F o u cau lt fo r h aving acted to o feebly.
B ut F o u cau lt p re fe rre d d iscreet and effective a c tio n to w h a t he c o n sid -
ered irre sp o n sib le b eh av io r, d o o m ed above all to failure. As fo r G a t-
teg n o , his c o n tra c t was te rm in a te d at th e en d o f J u ly 1968, and he
w ould be sen te n ced in ab sen tia to five years in p riso n . T h e stu d e n ts
received alarm in g ly heavy p riso n sentences. W h e n he w e n t back to
T u n isia in 1971, F o u cau lt trie d once again to in terv en e w ith th e m in is-
te r o f th e in te rio r and was even g ra n te d an interview , b u t it was a w aste
o f tim e. F o u cau lt th e n d ecided n o t to set fo o t in th e c o u n try u n til th e
po litical p riso n e rs w ere freed.
O n e th in g is certain: F o u cau lt was ex trem ely sh ak en b y th ese events.
H e expressed this stro n g ly in his interview s w ith D u c io T ro m b a d o ri in
1978, as he w e n t back over his political itin e ra ry and experiences.

I had some luck during m y life: in Sweden I saw a social-dem ocratic


co u n try th at functioned “w ell” and, in Poland, a people’s dem ocracy
th a t functioned “badly.” I saw G erm any du rin g the 1960s, at the m o-
m en t it began its rapid econom ic developm ent. T h e n a T h ird W orld
country, Tunisia. I lived there for two and a half years. It m ade a real
im pression. I was present for large, violent student riots th a t pre-
ceded by several weeks w hat happened in M ay in France. T h is was
M arch 1968. T h e u nrest lasted a w hole year: strikes, courses sus-
pended, arrests. And in M arch, a general strike by the students. T h e
police came into the university, beat up the students, w ounded sev-
eral o f them seriously, and started m aking arrests. T h e re w ere trials,
d u rin g w hich som e students were given eight, ten, as m any as four-
teen years of prison. I had an im m ediate and precise n o tio n o f w hat
was at stake w ith all the things happening in the universities o f the
w orld. Being French constituted a certain p ro tectio n as far as the au-
th orities were concerned and allowed me to do (as m any o f m y col-
leagues did) a num ber o f things, to see w hat was going on, and also to
see how the authorities, the French governm ent reacted to all this—
n o t all o f it was pretty.
I have to say that I was trem endously im pressed by those young
m en and w om en who took terrible risks by w riting or distributing
tracts or calling for strikes, the ones who really risked losing th eir
freedom ! It was a political experience for me. M y b rie f tim e spent
with the C om m unist party, w hat I had been able to see in G erm any,
the way things w orked out for me w hen I retu rn ed to France, in rela-

/W I W
T he O pen S ea

tio n to problem s I had w anted to raise concerning psychiatry— all o f


this had left me with a rath er b itter experience o f politics, and a th o r-
oughly speculative skepticism . I make no secret o f that. But there,
in Tunisia, I came around to offering som e concrete aid to the stu-
dents . . . I had to en ter into the political debate somehow.

F o r F o u c a u lt o n e o f th e m o st strik in g aspects o f th e T u n is ia n rev o lt


he w atch ed u n fo ld in g was th e role played by po litical ideology. H is
stu d e n ts “ all claim ed to be in sp ired by M arxism , w ith a violence, in te n -
sity, and passio n th a t was a lto g e th e r rem ark ab le. It c o n stitu te d for
th e m n o t m e re ly a b e tte r analysis o f things, b u t at th e sam e tim e a kind
o f m o ra l energy, a kind o f a lto g e th e r rem ark ab le existential act.” A nd
he ad d ed (this was at a tim e w h en he was excited a b o u t th e effect o f th e
Ira n ia n rev o lu tio n ):

W h a t is there in today’s world th at is able to give you the desire, the


taste, the capacity for, the possibility o f an absolute sacrifice? with no
possible h in t o f profit, am bition, or th irst for pow er behind it? T h a t
was w hat I saw in Tunisia. It was the evidence th at m yth is necessary.
A political ideology or a political perception o f the w orld, of hu-
m an relations and situations was absolutely necessary to begin the
struggle. T h e precision o f th eo ry and its scientific value, on the o th er
hand, w ere entirely secondary and, in discussions, constituted m ore
of a dead end th an a real principle of just and p ro p er conduct.

O n e can see w hy F o u c a u lt felt am azem en t, w h en he re tu rn e d to F ran ce


a t th e en d o f 1968, a t th e “ h y p e r-M a rx iz a tio n ” o f w h at was b e in g said:
“A n u n le a sh in g o f th e o rie s, discussions, an ath em a, expulsions, splin-
te re d s p lin te r g ro u p s, th a t co m p letely co n fo u n d ed m e . . . W h a t I saw
in F ra n c e in 1 9 6 8 -6 9 was exactly th e o p p o site o f w h at I had found in -
te re s tin g in T u n isia in M a rc h 1968.” 4 T h is was h o w he explained his
in te n tio n always to be involved in co n crete, lim ited, specific struggles,
a t a d istan ce fro m all th e verbiage, th e in n u m e ra b le quibbles.

In t h e f a l l of 1968 F o u cau lt was back in F ran ce. H e k e p t his h o u se


in Sidi B ou Said, b u t he knew he was an u n d esirab le in T u n isia. A nd h e
had fo u n d a w ay to g e t back to P aris— o r ra th e r, n e a r P aris. D id ie r
A nzieu had asked if h e w ould jo in the psy ch o lo g y d e p a rtm e n t th a t he
h ad re c e n tly created at N a n te rre . F o u cau lt h esitated , fo r a n u m b e r o f
reasons: first, he felt ra th e r em b arrassed a b o u t c o m p e tin g for th e posi-
tio n ag ain st th e L a can ia n p sy ch o an aly st P ie rre K au fm an n , w ho was
w ell-k n o w n as a m e m b e r o f th e R esistance d u rin g th e w ar. In his le tte r

'W !95
T he O r de r oe T h i n g s

to C a n g u ilh e m w h ere he d escrib ed th e a n ti-S e m itic rio ts he had w it-


nessed in T u n isia, F o u cau lt en d ed b y saying th a t it was “p h y sically u n -
b earab le fo r h im to o p p o se a Jew ,‫ ״‬even if this o p p o sitio n to o k place
m erely in a “ re g u la r academ ic gam e.” A nd th e re w ere o th e r reasons.
F o u cau lt did n o t p a rtic u la rly w an t to teach p sy ch o lo g y an y m o re. “P sy -
ch o lo g y is n o t fo r m e ,” he to ld R o b e rt F rancês, th e n a p ro fesso r at th e
d e p a rtm e n t at N a n te rre , w ho d escrib ed F o u c a u lt’s b eh av io r as a v eri-
table “h e s ita tio n w altz.” A nd above all, F o u cau lt had several iro n s in
th e fire: th e re was a n ew p ro fesso rsh ip o p e n in g u p at th e S o rb o n n e ;
th e re was a p o ssib ility o f s o m e th in g at th e E cole P ra tiq u e des H a u te s
E tu d es; and m o st im p o rta n t, a t th e C o lleg e de F ran ce, V u ille m in ’s and
H y p p o lite ’s efforts w ere slow ly b u t surely h aving som e effect. In th e
end he did accep t A n zieu ’s offer and was elected and a p p o in ted to th e
facu lty a t N a n te rre .
B u t he n ev er w ent. H e chose, instead, to jo in th e g ro u p estab lish in g
a u n iv e rsity at V in cen n es. O n N o v e m b e r 18, 1968, he n o tified th e d ean
a t N a n te r re th a t he was giving up his “ leave” at th e faculty (a u th o riz e d
o n ly th re e days befo re by th e m in istry ) because th e C e n tre E x p é ri-
m en tal a t V in cen n es had ju st offered h im “ th e new ly created p o sitio n
as te n u re d p ro fesso r o f p h ilo so p h y .” T h is m ove occasioned an o d d b u -
re a u c ra tic and financial p ro b lem : w ho was supposed to pay F o u c a u lt
fo r th e p e rio d fro m O c to b e r 1, 1968 (w hen his a p p o in tm e n t in T u n is
expired), to D e c e m b e r 1, 1968 (the effective date o f his a p p o in tm e n t at
V incennes)? T h e M in is try o f E d u c a tio n se n t a v ery official le tte r to th e
d ean a t N a n te rre , in fo rm in g h im th a t he had to pay M ich el F o u c a u lt’s
salary because he had held th e p o sitio n at th a t in stitu tio n d u rin g th e
tim e in q u estio n , even th o u g h he had n ev er p e rfo rm e d th e fu n ctio n s.
C e rta in ly one reaso n F o u cau lt chose as he did was th a t th in g s w ere
n o t g o in g well as far as th e S o rb o n n e was co n cern ed . H is latest at-
te m p t to be a p p o in ted th e re had b een n o m o re successful th a n th e ear-
lier one. G eo rg es C an g u ilh em , ever faithful, confided a b o u t th e m a tte r
to R ay m o n d A ron, w ho was o n e o f his colleagues in philosophy. A ro n
had in v ited F o u cau lt to speak in his sem in ar a few m o n th s earlier. “ I
w ould be d e lig h te d ,” A ro n w ro te h im o n F e b ru a ry 27, 1967, “ to offer
y o u an au d ien ce o f a b o u t fifty, o f a g en erally h ig h level, to w h o m you
can speak freely a b o u t a n y th in g y o u are in te re ste d in, for exam ple,
y o u r c o n c e p tio n o f th e h u m a n sciences as know ledge. I p ro m ise in ad-
vance to abstain fro m any polem ics and to tu rn you over p eacefu lly to
th e y o u n g turks, if th e re are any.” O n M a rc h 7 F o u cau lt replied: “ Since
you w ere kind en o u g h to be w illing to let m e speak, I v ery g ratefu lly
‫׳‬W 196
T he O p e n S ea

accep t th e risk. I shall try to rem ove som e o f th e am b ig u ities fro m


‘k n o w le d g e ,’ as I have trie d to describe it. A nd, by god, if y o u r y o u n g
tu rk s c u t m e in to pieces, it will in any ev en t give m e g re a t p leasure to
h e a r th e m .” T h e session to o k place on M a rc h 17 and w e n t v ery well.
“ F o u c a u lt behaved like a little b o y in th e p resen ce o f A ro n ,” o n e w it-
ness says.
A ron, th e re fo re , seem s to have b e e n p red isp o sed to lend a sym pa-
th e tic ear to C a n g u ilh e m ’s request. A nd o n A pril 2 8, 1967, he se n t th e
follow ing le tte r to F o u cau lt in Sidi Bou Said:

D ear friend, G eorges C anguilhem and I have been talking about


your chances o f g ettin g a tenured position in Paris next year. As he
m ust have told you, the possibilities at the S orbonne are slight. I have
therefore th o u g h t o f a d irecto r’s position at the Ecole P ratique des
H autes E tudes. H eller has told me that [Fernand] Braudel would be
entirely disposed to hire you, but that he is afraid it would com pro-
mise any later chances at the Collège de France if you w ent into the
sixth section (of the Ecole des H autes Etudes], o f which, apparently,
the C ollège de France has a low opinion, because o f the predom i-
nance o f the fourth section th ere.5 O f course, the choice is up to you,
and I will take no initiative before you let me know w hat your feel-
ings are and w here things stand. I do n o t take academ ic careers very
seriously, b u t I hope, in the interest o f your work, th at you are able
to ignore this sort o f w orry and not experience the active hostility
o f colleagues antagonized by too brilliant a talent and success. O f
course, I believe you are capable o f taking this sort o f hostility lightly.
But, for o n e’s inner balance and for the peace required by scientific
work, it is b e tte r n o t to have to overcom e o n e’s defensive reflexes.

H e en d ed by allu d in g to th e discussion in F eb ru ary : “ I to o k g re a t plea-


sure in o u r dialo g u e and I h o p e th a t you d o n o t h old m y teasin g against
m e. H o p in g to see you soon, yours in frie n d sh ip .”
F o u c a u lt saw this le tte r, w hich does seem v ery friendly, as a v erd ict
th a t he was n o t adm issible. H e w ro te C a n g u ilh e m o n M ay 2: “E m
s o rry to w aste y o u r tim e and to b rin g you in to this m ess. It seem s
sim p lest to in clu d e th e le tte r I g o t fro m A ron this m o rn in g . It seem s
v ery clear, and, well, v ery straig h tfo rw ard , because it asks m e to
choose, yes o r no, S o rb o n n e o r C o llè g e .” H e w en t on: “T h e C o llèg e
seem s far to o m uch fo r m e; I have n o t d o n e en o u g h w ork to have any
claim s th e re . As fo r th e S o rb o n n e, if th e g re a t m a jo rity o f th e p h ilo so -
p h ers d o n ’t s u p p o rt m e, clearly I d o n ’t have a chance. W h e n c e a certain
te m p ta tio n to stay w h ere I am — w here th in g s a re n ’t bad, really, as

W '
‘97 ~
T he O r de r of T h i n g s

H y p p o lite m ay have to ld y o u .” C lem en s H e lle r, in any event, co n firm s


A ro n ’s v ersio n o f B ra u d e l’s p o sitio n : th e la tte r ad m ired F o u c a u lt v ery
m u ch and did n o t w a n t to ru in his chances at th e C o llèg e de F ran ce.
M o re o v e r, B raudel v ery actively s u p p o rte d his candidacy. F o u cau lt,
o n ce successfully elected, w ro te a le tte r to h im o n D e c e m b e r 27, 1969,
th a n k in g h im fo r his help.

1968 en d ed . F o u cau lt left T u n isia. H e left Sidi B ou Said and th e hill-


side u n iv e rsity o v erlo o k in g th e C asbah. H e le ft b e h in d th e su n sh in e
and sea he loved so m u ch . H e re tu rn e d to F ran ce and did n o t leave it
again ex cep t fo r ra th e r b rie f trips. S h o rtly a fte r his r e tu rn h e m oved
in to a larg e n in th -flo o r a p a rtm e n t in a m o d e rn b u ild in g o n R u e de
V au g irard , in th e fifte e n th a rro n d isse m e n t, facing A d o lp h e -C h é rio u x
S quare. L a rg e bay w indow s offered a m ag n ificen t view o f all o f w e ste rn
P aris. H e o fte n su n b a th e d o n th e large b alco n y ru n n in g th e le n g th o f
th e liv in g ro o m and study. In stead o f th e h eig h ts o f Sidi B ou Said, at his
b ack th e re n o w sto o d a wall o f shelves o f books and review s.

W 198
Part III
*V

“M ilit a n t and P rofessor at the


C ollege de F r a n c e ”
14
W V

A V incennes In terlu d e

ig h t h ad fallen o n Ja n u a ry 23, 1969, w h en dense g ro u p s o f


rio t p o lic e — th e C R S (C o m p ag n ies R épublicaines de Sé-
c u rité )— advanced u p o n th e odd m ass o f b uildings th a t had
s p ru n g up in just a few m o n th s o n th e o u tsk irts o f th e Bois de V in -
cennes. T h e n ew u n iv ersity had o p en ed its do o rs o n ly a few days
b e fo re — ju st tim e e n o u g h for o rg an izin g th e first strike, th e first oc-
c u p a tio n o f th e prem ises, and th e first fig h t w ith th e police. J a n u a ry 2 3,
1969. T h a t was th e n ig h t o n w hich M ich el F o u cau lt jo in ed th e active
u ltra -le ft— a la teco m er, for it already had a history, tra d itio n s, and
p ro m in e n t figures. W h e n he joined, it was m o re a m a tte r o f ru b b in g
sh o u ld e rs an d in te rs e c tin g w ith it th a n b elo n g in g w ith o u t reserv atio n .
B u t he did do it. H e jo in ed and w en t o n to in scrib e w ith in it a good
deal o f his o w n itin e ra ry d u rin g th e 1970s.
A fter its g re a t frig h t in M ay 1968, th e g o v e rn m e n t so u g h t to m ake
itse lf less v u ln erab le and v ery quickly w e n t a b o u t “ re fo rm in g h ig h e r
e d u c a tio n .” A n o m n ib u s re fo rm bill was p re se n te d a t th e b e g in n in g o f
th e school year by E d g a r F aure, th e b ra n d -n e w m in iste r o f ed u catio n ,
and passed in O c to b e r. H e n c e fo rth th e u n iversities w ould be g o v ern ed
in acco rd an ce w ith p rin c ip les o f autonom y, in terd iscip lin arity , and p ar-
tic ip a tio n by th o se u sin g th em . B ut F aure did n o t w ait for a vote o n th e
law th a t w ould b e a r his nam e: in A ugust he decided to c o n stru c t new
b u ild in g s to h o u se “ ex p erim en tal c e n te rs” n e a r P o rte D a u p h in e , o n
land vacated by N A T O , and in th e Bois de V in cen n es, o n th e o u tsk irts
o f P aris, o n p ro p e rty th a t had b elo n g ed to th e m ilitary for m o re th a n a
h u n d re d years. T h e re , o n a b o u t eleven acres, g ro u p s o f m o d e rn , p re -
fab ricated stru c tu re s w ould sh e lte r th e “ C e n tre E x p e rim en tal de V in -
c e n n e s.” F au re ap p o in te d th e dean o f th e S o rb o n n e, R ay m o n d Las
V ergnas, a w ell-k n o w n specialist in E nglish, to o rg an ize th e lau n ch in g

++ 201 ++
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

o f th is new university. A t th e b e g in n in g o f O c to b e r 1968 h e assem bled


an O rie n ta tio n C o m m issio n (its official nam e) co m p o sed o f a b o u t
tw e n ty p eo p le, in clu d in g J e a n -P ie rre V ern an t, G eo rg es C a n g u ilh e m ,
E m m a n u e l L e R oy L a d u rie, R oland B arthes, and Jacq u es D e rrid a . I t
was th e ir job to choose th e team o f teach ers w ho w ould be resp o n sib le
fo r sele ctin g th e g ro u p o f professors, ju n io r lectu rers, and le c tu re rs
w h o w ould actually w o rk at th e new university. S carcely was th e co m -
m issio n in place b efo re p o p u la r new spapers and th e rig h t-w in g press
d e n o u n c e d it as b e in g a c o llectio n o f leftists. “A m a jo rity o f th e re-
c ru ite rs fo r th e ex p e rim e n ta l faculty at V in cen n es are u ltra -le ftis t” p ro -
claim ed o n e h ead lin e in Paris-Presse. 1T h e y ch eerfu lly categ o riz ed th e m
all, fro m R o lan d B arthes, “ o n e o f th e leaders o f th e stru c tu ra list school
and a m e m b e r o f th e ex trem e le ft,” to V la d im ir Jan k élév itch , “im p o r-
ta n t sig n a to ry o f m an ifesto s o f th e u ltra -le ft.” T h e p o lem ical to n e was
estab lish ed at th e v e ry o u tset. In th e m ean tim e, how ever, d esp ite th is
h o stile clim ate, th e co m m issio n m e t to settle o n a list o f teach ers w ho
w ould fo rm th e “ c o -o p tin g c o re ,” th e selectio n co m m ittee.
E v e ry th in g p ro c e e d e d w ith g re a t fanfare. A d o zen p eo p le w ere
ch o sen d u rin g th e n ext few weeks: Je a n -C la u d e P assero n and R o b e rt
C astel in sociology, Je a n B ouvier and Jacq u es D ro z in h istory, J e a n -
P ie rre R ich ard in F ren ch . A nd in philosophy, at G eo rg es C a n g u ilh e m ’s
req u est, th e choice fell o n M ich e l F oucault. T h is new s created a sensa-
tio n , fo r F o u cau lt was alread y v ery fam ous, and his n am e p ro v id e d a
focus fo r a tte n tio n — p a rtic u la rly th a t o f th e leftists, am o n g w h o m his
re p u ta tio n was n o t exactly b rillian t. F o u cau lt was n o t seen as a m an
w ho was v ery en g ag ed — th e su p rem e sin in th e eyes o f activists o f
ev ery strip e flocking in to in v est w h at w ould b eco m e th e “red b a s tio n ”
in th e years a fte r 1968. H e was “ G au llist,” th e y said. H e h a d n ’t “ d o n e
a n y th in g ” in M a y 1968— a m ajo r rep ro ach . I t was tru e; he h a d n ’t even
b e e n in F ran ce. A nd w h en a h u g e g en eral assem bly convened o n N o -
v e m b e r 6, o n th e prem ises o f th e S o rb o n n e because th e b u ild in g s at
V in c e n n e s w ere n o t y et o p en , to p ro je c t th e ways and m eans fo r g et-
tin g th e C e n tre E x p é rim en tal o n th e road, F o u cau lt was d ire c tly co n -
fro n te d b y his accusers. H e m u tte re d to J e a n G a tte g n o , ch arg ed b y Las
V ergnas w ith o rg an izin g e n ro llm e n t for th e new school: “ I ’m g o in g to
tell th em : ‘W h ile you w ere having fu n o n y o u r L a tin Q u a rte r b a rri-
cades, I was w o rk in g o n serious things in T u n isia .’ ” B ut his fo rm e r col-
league in T u n is dissuaded h im fro m resp o n d in g : “I t w o n ’t do any
g o o d .” F o u cau lt k e p t silent. F ro m th e n o n he knew w h a t was in sto re
for him . H e knew even b e tte r because th e “s tu d e n t o rg a n iz in g c o m ­

•W 202 •W
A V i n c e n n e s In t e r l u d e

m itte e ,” u n itin g th e m o st ex trem ist elem en ts (am o n g th e m J e a n -M a rc


S alm o n and A n d ré G lu ck sm a n n , o ne o f R ay m o n d A ro n ’s fo rm e r p u -
pils, w h o had em b raced th e m o st excessive and sectarian fo rm o f u ltra -
leftism ), h ad ju st p u b lish ed its “ p la tfo rm ” in th e N o v e m b e r issue o f th e
jo u rn a l Action. T h e text was p reced ed by an in tro d u c to ry p a ra g ra p h
w ith these w ords: “ E d g a r F aure begins by try in g to im press us: ‘th e
n ew school will be a p ilo t u n iv ersity ,’ a ‘u n iv ersity o f th e tw e n tie th cen-
tu ry .’ A p p o in tm e n ts o f fam ous professors are an n o u n ced , am o n g th e m
M ich e l F o u cau lt, o n e o f th e stars o f ‘stru c tu ra lism ,’ w ho is to be head
o f th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t. T h e m in istry ho p es to d istract p u b lic
a tte n tio n w ith th ese q u arrels am o n g cliques and schools. J u s t as it dis-
cussed d o in g aw ay w ith L a tin in th e seventh grad e b u t n ev er m e n -
tio n e d a n y th in g a b o u t fre e d o m in th e lycées, France-Soir will h ead lin e
its s u p p o rt fo r o r o p p o sitio n to stru ctu ralism , in th e h o p e o f m ak in g
p eo p le fo rg e t th e re st.” T h e d ia trib e en d ed w ith th ese w ords: “T h is is
n o t w h at th e s tu d e n t m o v e m e n t is in te re ste d in .” 2 W h a t in te re ste d th e
s tu d e n t m o v e m e n t was ra th e r sim ple. D u rin g th e g en eral assem bly,
o n e o f th o se w h o had w ritte n th e p la tfo rm m ade a sta te m e n t th a t was
re p o rte d in Le Monde: “W e m u st re q u ire th a t e d u c a tio n at V in cen n es
develop p o litical reflectio n and fo rm a tio n in such a w ay th a t it will b e-
com e a base fo r ex tern al a c tio n .” 3
B ut F o u cau lt h ad alread y set to w ork. H e w an ted to g a th e r aro u n d
h im p eo p le w ho, in his view, re p re se n te d “ th e b est in F re n c h p h ilo so -
p h y to d ay ,” as he to ld several o f his friends. A b it like w h at V u illem in
h ad w an ted to do te n years earlier at C le rm o n t-F e rra n d . H e b eg an by
asking D eleu ze. B u t o n ce again D eleu ze was v e ry ill and could n o t ac-
cep t F o u c a u lt’s offer; w h en he w en t to V in cen n es tw o years later,
F o u c a u lt h ad alread y left. M ich e l S erres, o n th e o th e r hand, agreed im -
m ediately. H e was even an official m e m b e r o f th e sele ctio n c o m m ittee,
b u t he p re fe rre d to stay o u t o f th e n o m in a tin g process. F o u cau lt th e n
trie d to re c ru it fro m th e y o u n g e r g en eratio n : th e stu d en ts o f A lth u sser
and L acan, in c lu d in g th e g ro u p th a t had fo u n d ed Cahiers pour Vanalyse.
A n u m b e r o f th o se he w ould have liked to recru it, such as A lain
G ro sric h a rd , w ere p e rfo rm in g th e ir m ilita ry service. J u d ith M iller,
L a c a n ’s d a u g h te r, lau g h ed a b o u t it: “It was because I d id n ’t have th a t
p ro b le m th a t I was a p p o in te d !” In a d d itio n to M iller, A lain B adiou,
Jacq u es R an cière, F ran ço is R egnault, and several o th e rs jo in ed th e fac-
ulty. B u t po litical c rite ria w ere c o n sta n tly b ein g su p erim p o sed o n in -
tellectu al ones. T o teach at V in cen n es, at least in philosophy, o n e had
to have “ d o n e ” M ay 1968. A nd o n e had to b e lo n g to o ne o f th e little

203 *V
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

g ro u p s th a t p ro life ra te d and c o n fro n te d o ne a n o th e r a fte r th e g re a t


wave o f fre e d o m b eg an to ebb. In fact, it was to keep th e p h ilo so p h y
d e p a rtm e n t fro m b ein g e n tire ly ab so rb ed b y M ao ists, w h o w ere in a
large m a jo rity am o n g his recru its, th a t F o u cau lt called u p o n H e n ri
W eb er, w ho was head o f th e T ro tsk y ites. E tie n n e B alibar was also re-
cru ited and did n o t have an easy tim e o f th ings, because he b e lo n g e d to
th e C o m m u n is t party. A nd finally, to play th e p a rt o f m o d e ra to r in this
aggressively m ilita n t m ilieu, F o u cau lt called u p o n a sage, F ran ço is
C h â te le t, k n o w n fo r his pedagogical abilities as well as fo r his ab ility to
create alliances.
F o u cau lt was n o t involved o n ly in his ow n d e p a rtm e n t. H e p a rtic i-
p ated in th e m eetin g s p re p a ra to ry to th e o p e n in g o f th e c en ter. T h e s e
w ere h eld at th e S o rb o n n e b y Las V ergnas o r by Je a n -B a p tiste D u -
roselle, a h isto ria n w h o had b e e n ch o sen as a “ d e le g a te ” to th e selec-
tio n c o m m itte e b u t w h o had sw iftly resig n ed in alarm over th e le ftist
tu rn o f events. M e e tin g s w ere also h eld at th e h o m e o f H é lè n e C ixous,
a specialist in E n g lish , w ho was close to Las V ergnas and played an
im p o rta n t role in th e fo rm a tio n o f th e u n iv ersity at V in cen n es. O n e o f
F o u c a u lt’s g re a te st co n cern s was ho w to exclude th e psychologists and
psychology, so th a t he could allocate p o sitio n s and c re d it to a sectio n
o f psychoanalysis. W ith th e su p p o rt o f C astel and P asseron, he arg u ed
in favor o f S erge L e c la ire ’s a p p o in tm e n t. T h e discussions e n d ed in
co m p ro m ise. T w o d e p a rtm e n ts, p sy ch o lo g y and psychoanalysis, w ould
be created . A nd ev ery b o d y n o ticed F o u c a u lt’s talen ts as a “ s tra te g ist”
in th ese discussions, th e “ a r t” w ith w hich he “m an e u v e re d ,” and w h at
som e saw as his “ m a n ip u la tio n .”

O n c e again, how ever, F o u cau lt h im se lf w ould have to be officially


a p p o in ted . W h e re a s e v e ry th in g w en t alo n g sm o o th ly in o th e r disci-
plines, th e p h ilo so p h y sectio n o f th e U n iv e rsity C o n s u ltin g C o m m it-
tee (the g o v e rn m e n t b o d y officially in ch arg e o f th e careers o f
u n iv ersity ed u cato rs) asserted th a t F o u cau lt could n o t be re c ru ite d as a
te n u re d p ro fesso r o f philosophy, because he h im se lf was a re c ru ite r.
O n N o v e m b e r 9, 1968, D e a n Las V ergnas w ro te to th e m in iste r o f
ed u catio n :

O n the advice o f the O rien tatio n C om m ittee at its m eeting on O c-


tober 25, 1968, 1 had suggested that you ask M ichel Foucault to be a
m em ber o f the selection com m ittee for V incennes and asked th at you
appoint him a tenured professor o f philosophy. Follow ing the un-
favorable decision taken by the C C U in its m eeting on N ovem ber 5,
1968, M ichel Foucault inform ed me o f his decision to resign from

**‫ ׳‬204 ‫־‬W


A Vincennes I n t er lu d e

the selection com m ittee so th a t he could be voted on by his future


colleagues. T h is vote took place on N ovem ber 16, 1968. Eleven pro-
fessors had received notification o f their ap pointm ent to the U niver-
sity o f V incennes as o f N ovem ber 11, 1968. T h ese are the results:
V oting, ten (one absent). M ichel Foucault, ten votes.
I have, therefore, the h o n o r o f repeating my suggestion th at
M ichel Foucault be designated as tenured professor o f philosophy
at . . . V incennes, and request th at you please subm it his case once
again to the C C U .

T h is tim e it w e n t off w ith o u t a hitch. F o u c a u lt’s a p p o in tm e n t to o k


effect o n D e c e m b e r 1.
T h e U n iv e rsity o f V in cen n es o p en ed its doors, ad m in istrativ ely
speaking, in D e c e m b e r 1968. T h e first classes b eg an in J a n u a ry 1969,
b u t th in g s did n o t really g et fully u n d erw ay u n til F e b ru a ry and M arch .
“T h e a tm o sp h e re at V in cen n es is like th a t o f a n o isy beehive, each o n e
seeking his p lace,” w ro te Le Monde o n J a n u a ry 15. B ut th e h u m m in g
hive w ould so o n give w ay to ab solute chaos. T h e clim ate o f ten sio n was
n o t re stric te d to th e Bois de V in cen n es. A t th e b e g in n in g o f th e school
y ear in th e fall o f 1968 and th ro u g h o u t th e w in te r o f 1 9 6 8 -6 9 , Le
Monde d ev o ted one, tw o, so m etim es th re e w hole pages daily to “u n i-
v ersity a g ita tio n .” S trikes and m eetin g s, in cid en ts involving m o re o r
less v io le n t c o n fro n ta tio n s w ith th e police, su b m erg ed lycées and u n i-
v ersities in P aris and th e provinces. V in cen n es did n o t take lo n g to join
in th e fun. O n J a n u a ry 23 th e s tu d e n t o rg a n iz in g c o m m itte e o f F y cée
S a in t-L o u is in P aris had decided to hold a m e e tin g at w hich films
a b o u t M a y 1968 w ould be show n. T h e B ureau o f E d u c a tio n had for-
b id d e n th e m e e tin g and had th e e le ctricity tu rn e d off. B ut th re e h u n -
d red lycée stu d e n ts e n te re d th e b u ild in g w ith a g e n e ra to r, show ed th e ir
films, and afterw ard m arch ed o u t as a g ro u p to avoid q u estio n in g .
T h e y th e n p ro ceed ed to a n o th e r m e e tin g close by, in th e c o u rty ard
o f th e S o rb o n n e , o n th e o th e r side o f B oulevard S ain t-M ich el. S oon
th e w atch w o rd was: O ccu p y th e B ureau o f E d u c a tio n , located in th e
b u ild in g s o f th e old S o rb o n n e. N o so o n e r said th a n done. B ut th e p o -
lice in te rv e n e d and cleared th e prem ises. A t th e sam e tim e fig h tin g
b ro k e o u t in th e L a tin Q u a rte r. T o express th e ir solidarity, several
h u n d re d stu d e n ts at V in cen n es and a n u m b e r o f professors decided
to o ccu p y th e ir university. T h e y e n tre n c h e d them selves b eh in d m ake-
sh ift b a rric a d e s— tables, chairs, desks, cabinets, television sets— all th e
b ra n d -n e w e q u ip m e n t th a t had just b een installed. A nd w h en th e p o -
lice in te rv e n e d — tw o th o u sa n d s tro n g — V in cen n es had its first battle:
tearg as g ren ad es versus sto n es and various o th e r m issiles. G rad u ally

w 205 'W
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

th e p olice ro u n d e d up th e stu d en ts and p ro fesso rs in to th e larg e am -


p h ith e a te r. M ic h e l F o u c a u lt and D a n ie l D e fe rt, th e ir eyes red w ith
tears fro m th e gas, w ere am o n g th e last to be q u estio n ed . F o u c a u lt to ld
P asseron: “T h e y b ro k e e v e ry th in g in y o u r office.” T h e n all 2 20 p eo p le
w ere p u t in to buses and tak en to B eaujon, th e cen tral a d m in istrativ e
offices o f th e P aris police. T h e y w ere released in th e w ee h o u rs o f th e
m o rn in g .
T h e g o v e rn m e n t and th e press reacted harshly. F au re d e n o u n c e d
th e “ a b s u rd ity ” o f th e in c id e n ts and d e p lo red th e e x ten t o f dam ag e and
p lu n d e rin g at th e university. C o n serv ativ es re p ro a c h e d F au re fo r his
“ lib eralism ” and ch arg ed h im w ith resp o n sib ility fo r th e d iso rd ers and
th e “ b reak ag e.” T h a t day’s graffiti, d am ag in g P h ilip p e de C h a m -
p a ig n e ’s fam ous p o rtra it o f R ich elieu at th e S o rb o n n e, becam e an u n -
re m ittin g sym bol o f “ le ftist van d alism .” F o llo w in g th ese in cid en ts, 34
stu d e n ts w ere expelled fro m th e V in cen n es and 181 o th e rs w ere th re a t-
en ed w ith p ro se c u tio n . O n F e b ru a ry 10, 1969, th e re was a large m e e t-
in g in th e L a tin Q u a rte r at th e M u tu a lité (site o f all th e le ftist m e e tin g s
in 1968) to p ro te s t th ese m easures. B o th S a rtre and F o u cau lt spoke b e-
fore a h u g e crow d. A cco rd in g to Le Monde, F o u cau lt was o n e o f th e
m o st v iru le n t speakers, d e n o u n c in g p olice p ro v o c a tio n and “ calculated
re p re ssio n .”
A fte r this th u n d e rin g in a u g u ra tio n , u n iv ersity existence c o n tin u e d
to a rh y th m o f g en eral m eetin g s, d e m o n stra tio n s, clashes w ith th e p o -
lice, p itc h e d b attles b e tw een C o m m u n ists and leftists o r a m o n g le ftist
cliques. C lasses w ere held, alth o u g h th e y o fte n to o k th e fo rm o f psy-
ch o d ram a, verbal sp arrin g , endless discussion, and th e exchange o f
m an ic quibbles a b o u t th e rev o lu tio n , class struggle, th e p ro le ta ria t.
M ic h e l S erres, w ho left V in cen n es im m ed iately after this first year,
had ra th e r sin ister m e m o ries o f th a t tim e: “I had th e im p re ssio n ,” he
said, “ o f b e in g p lu n g ed in to th e sam e a tm o sp h e re o f in te lle c tu a l te r-
ro rism as th e o n e im posed by th e Stalinists w h en I was a s tu d e n t at th e
R ue d ’U lm .” H o w ev er, h e m ade it his d u ty to c o n tin u e w ith his course
and to give exams.
F o u cau lt was “ d ire c to r” o f th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t, even th o u g h
th e idea o f d ire c tin g was alm o st m eaningless in such a context. In any
case, a co u rse p ro g ra m was posted. Its e n trie s shed lig h t o n th e p rev ail-
in g in tellectu al clim ate and th e w orldview o f th e “V in c e n n o is.” H e re
are som e o f th e course titles fo r 1 9 6 8 -6 9 : “ rev isio n ism -leftism ” by
Jacques R ancière; “ sciences o f social fo rm a tio n s and M arx ist p h ilo so -
p h y ” by E tie n n e B alibar; “ cu ltu ral re v o lu tio n s” by J u d ith M iller;

*v 206 *v
A V i n c e n n e s Interl ude

“id eo lo g ical stru g g le ” by A lain B adiou. O f course, th e re w ere som e


w h o p ersiste d w ith m o re tra d itio n a l academ ic subjects: M ich e l S erres
discussed p o sitiv ist th e o rie s o f science and th e relatio n sh ip b etw een
G re e k ra tio n a lity and m ath em atics; F rançois C h â te le t ta u g h t “ G re e k
p o litical th o u g h t.” F o u cau lt analyzed “T h e discourse o f sexuality” and
“ th e end o f m etap h y sics.” In 1 9 6 9 -7 0 courses w ere sim ilarly m ixed in
to n e and c o n te n t: “ th e o ry o f th e second stage o f M arx ism -L en in ism :
S talin ism ” by Jacq u es R ancière; “ th ird stage o f M arx ism -L en in ism :
M a o is m ” by J u d ith M iller; “ in tro d u c tio n to tw e n tie th -c e n tu ry M arx -
ism : L e n in , T ro tsk y , and th e B olshevik m o v e m e n t” by H e n r i W eb er;
“M arx ist d ialectics” by A lain B adiou. F rançois C h â te le t stoically co n -
tin u e d w ith “ c ritiq u e o f G re e k speculative th o u g h t” and “ epis-
tem o lo g ical p ro b le m s in th e histo rical sciences.” F o u cau lt offered “ th e
e p istem o lo g y o f th e sciences o f life” and N ietzsch e. T h e la tte r w ould
p ro v id e th e m ate ria l for “N ietzsch e, la généalogie, P h isto ire ” in th e
1971 v o lu m e p ay in g trib u te to Je a n H y p p o lite . T h e first y ear th e re
w ere so m a n y in F o u c a u lt’s class— m o re th a n six h u n d re d — th a t h e
trie d to lim it e n ro llm e n t. “N o m o re th a n tw en ty -fiv e,” he to ld Assia
M e la m e d , w h o was se c re ta ry o f th e section, and chose a ra th e r sm all
ro o m . E v en so, a b o u t a h u n d re d show ed up for his classes.
O n J a n u a ry 15, 1970, O liv ier G u ic h a rd , w ho had replaced E d g a r
F au re as m in iste r o f e d u catio n , d ep lo red th e q u ality o f p h ilo so p h y in -
s tru c tio n in 1968—69. H e q u o ted several exam ples o f course titles over
th e rad io , d e n o u n c e d th e “M a rx ist-L e n in ist” c o n te n t o f th e courses
given, and refu sed n a tio n a l acc re d ita tio n o f degrees aw arded in p h ilo s-
o p h y at V in cen n es. As a d ire c t result, th e stu d e n ts could n o lo n g e r be
can d id ates in th e re c ru itm e n t c o m p e titio n s fo r seco n d ary sch o o l teach -
ing. F o u c a u lt re sp o n d e d o n Ja n u a ry 24 d u rin g a press co n feren ce o rg a-
nized b y th e in stru c to rs: since V in cen n es had as its goal th e stu d y o f
th e c o n te m p o ra ry w orld, h o w could th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t avoid
b e in g a “ re fle c tio n o n p o litic s” ? Several days la ter he again d efen d ed
“ h is” d e p a rtm e n t. “H o w can o n e p rovide developed and diversified in -
s tru c tio n w h e n th e re are 950 stu d en ts for e ig h t p ro fesso rs?” he said in
an in terv iew p u b lish ed in Le Nonvel Observateiir. “W o u ld so m eo n e tell
m e clearly w h at p h ilo so p h y is, and in th e n am e o f w hat, w h at text, w h at
c rite rio n , w h a t tru th , th e th in g s we are d o in g are b ein g re jecte d ?”
T h e n h e c o u n te ra tta c k e d : “ I t is n o t th e reasons th e m in iste r gives th a t
are th e m a in issue, b u t ra th e r th e decision he in ten d s to take. T h is is
clear: s tu d e n ts fro m V in cen n es will n o t have th e rig h t to teach in th e
se c o n d a ry schools. N o w it is m y tu rn to ask q u estio n s. W h a t is th e

*V 207 **
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

reaso n fo r this q u aran tin e? W h a t is so d an g ero u s a b o u t p h ilo so p h y


(p h ilo so p h y class) th a t so m u ch care m u st go in to p ro te c tin g it? A nd
w h a t is so d an g ero u s a b o u t p eo p le fro m V in c e n n e s? ” H e th e n d e-
n o u n c e d th e “ tr a p ” set b y academ ic and political a u th o ritie s fo r th e
V in c e n n e s p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t: th e p ro m ised ab so lu te fre e d o m was
rep ressed th e m o m e n t an y o n e w an ted to exercise it.4
B u t F o u c a u lt’s tro u b le s w ere n o t over. S oon a n o th e r m a tte r flared
up, d raw in g a tte n tio n once again to th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t. T h e
m e th o d s o f pedagogical supervision and exam p ro ced u res, as m u c h
as th e courses them selves, had an g ered a u th o ritie s at th e m in istry .
C o u rse cred its had b e e n aw arded in an ex trem ely u n o rth o d o x way.
T h e r e was n o re q u ire m e n t th a t professors give exams. T h e fo rm e r sec-
re ta ry o f th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t d escrib ed it this way: th e first
year, th e p ro fesso rs sh u t them selves u p in a ro o m and th e stu d e n ts
slipped a little piece o f pap er, w ith th e ir nam e w ritte n o n it, u n d e r th e
d o o r. T h e y w ere listed as having passed. T h e second year, a list o f
th o se w h o had passed was ty p ed up; it in clu d ed anyone w h o asked to
be o n it. J u d ith M ille r caused a n o th e r e ru p tio n o f scandal: in an in te r-
view fo r th e ir book, she to ld M ad elein e C h ap sal and M ic h è le M a n -
ceaux th a t she passed o u t credits o n th e bus, and added th a t “ th e
u n iv e rsity is a piece o f capitalist so cie ty ” and th a t she w ould do h e r
b e st to m ake it fu n c tio n “w orse and w o rse.” W h e n an ex tract o f this
in terv iew was p u b lish ed in UExpress, it was to o m u ch fo r th e m in istry .
O n A pril 3, 1970, M iller, th e d a u g h te r o f Jacq u es L acan and a
p ro m in e n t m ilita n t for th e M a o ist m o v em en t, received a m issive fro m
th e m in iste r in fo rm in g h e r th a t he was co m p elled to “ end h e r a p p o in t-
m e n t in h ig h e r e d u c a tio n ” and was re tu rn in g h e r to th e p o s itio n in
se c o n d a ry school in stru c tio n th a t she had left. N atu rally , this d ecisio n
in creased ten sio n s at V in cen n es. T h e buildings w ere occupied, th e n
e m p tie d b y th e police.
T h is in c id e n t was ju st one o f m an y th a t k e p t V in cen n es in th e new s
and fed th e polem ics s u rro u n d in g th e u n iv ersity and its v ery existence.
O n O c to b e r 8, 1969, th e p re sid e n t o f th e university, Jacq u es D ro z , had
issued this w arn in g : “I f irresp o n sib le in trig u es do n o t m e e t w ith o p -
p o sitio n fro m stu d en ts, I fear th a t V in cen n es is head ed for c a ta stro p h e
and th a t we will be obliged to close it.” T h e press re tu rn e d to this
q u e stio n m o n o to n o u sly fo r several years. D e p e n d in g o n th e ir p o litical
v iew point, th e papers asked: are th ey g o in g to (or sh o u ld they) close
V incennes? M o n th a fter m o n th , headlines an n o u n ced : “V in c e n n e s re-
p rie v ed ,” “V in cen n es m u st live,” like a litan y tro tte d o u t o n th e heels

-w 208 •vv
A V i n c e n n e s In t e r l ud e

o f ev ery in c id e n t. V in cen n es w ould live. B ut fo r a lo n g tim e it w ould


live in th e clim ate o f violence created at th e v ery b eg in n in g .
A cco rd in g to all th e w itnesses, th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t was in th e
fro n t line o f th ese c o n sta n t d isturbances. A p ro fesso r w ho to o k p a rt in
fo u n d in g th e u n iv e rsity was o f th e o p in io n th a t this d e p a rtm e n t was
“ fro m th e b e g in n in g o v erco m e b y a self-d estru ctiv e v e rtig o .” A nd this
all to o k place, if n o t w ith F o u c a u lt’s co m p lete c o n c u rre n c e , a t least
w ith his p a rtic ip a tio n o r backing. H e m oved w ith a c e rta in a m o u n t o f
ease in th is m ilieu o f u ltra le ftist o p p o sitio n , and in th e b e g in n in g he
seem ed to p a rtic ip a te w h o le h e a rte d ly in th e various d e m o n stra tio n s it
devised daily. B u t it also seem s th a t he tire d o f it quickly. T h e r e are
even so m e w h o th in k he was tra u m a tiz e d by his experience a t V in -
cennes, b y th e c o n sta n t challenges to w hich th e pro fesso rs w ere sub-
jected . H e had b e e n seen w ith an iro n ro d in his hands, read y to do
b a ttle w ith m ilita n t C o m m u n ists; he had b een seen th ro w in g rocks at
th e police. B u t th e clim ate at V in cen n es was u n lik ely to su it h im o n a
lo n g -te rm basis. “I had had en o u g h o f b ein g s u rro u n d e d b y half-
m a d m e n ,” he to ld a frie n d s h o rtly a fte r his d e p a rtu re . In an y case, he
did n o t p a rtic u la rly like c o n ta c t w ith th e stu d en ts. A nd he a rra n g e d to
sp en d th e least possible tim e o n cam pus in o rd e r to c o n tin u e his re -
search a t th e B ib lio th èq u e N a tio n a le . Basically, he w ould be v e ry
h a p p y to leave th is place, k n o w in g as he had all alo n g th a t his p resen ce
th e re was o n ly te m p o rary . B ecause a t th e sam e tim e he was cam p aig n -
in g fo r e le c tio n to th e C o llèg e de F rance. H e re w ro te his ap p licatio n
p ap ers, visited w ith in flu en tial professors, and su b m itte d h im se lf to th e
ritu als th a t th is p restig io u s in s titu tio n re q u ire d o f an y o n e h o p in g to be
a d m itte d .

F o u c a u lt re m a in e d at V in cen n es for tw o tu rb u le n t years th a t w ould


have im p o rta n t effects. I t was th e re th a t h e tru ly re tu rn e d to politics
and th a t he e n c o u n te re d history, “ like a deep -sea diver lying a t th e b o t-
to m o f th e sea and picked u p and b ro u g h t to sh o re by a su d d en s to rm ,”
as h e d escrib ed it h im se lf in an im age th a t Ju les V u illem in recalled in
his fu n e ra l address at th e C o llèg e de F ra n c e .5 T h is risin g to th e surface,
th is e n try in to p o litics u n d o u b te d ly ow ed a g re a t deal to D an iel D e fe rt,
w h o m oved in M a o ist sp h eres and had b e e n h ired as a le c tu re r in soci-
o lo g y a t V in cen n es. In fact a w hole new F o u cau lt was b o rn at this cru -
cial tim e. By th e tim e he left V in cen n es he was far fro m th e academ ic
w h o served o n m in isterial c o m m ittees o r ad m in istered th e o ral exam
fo r th e E c o le N o rm a le d ’A d m in istratio n . T h a t m an w ould g rad u ally

•W- 2 0 9 **
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

vanish and be fo rg o tte n . F ro m th e alem bic at V in cen n es e m e rg e d an


en g ag ed p h ilo so p h e r, o n e w ho in terv en ed o n ev ery fro n t, w h e th e r in
a c tio n o r reflectio n . In 1969 F o u cau lt b eg an to e m b o d y th e v ery figure
o f th e m ilita n t in tellectu al. T h is is w h en th e F o u cau lt w h o m ev ery o n e
know s was c re a te d — th e F o u cau lt o f d e m o n stra tio n s and m anifestos;
th e F o u c a u lt o f “stru g g le s” and “ c ritiq u e ,” for w h o m a p ro fesso rsh ip at
th e C o llèg e de F ran ce th e n pro v id ed an even firm e r and m o re p o w e r-
ful base. M o re o v e r, this “ e n tra n c e in to p o litic s” did n o t fo r th e m o -
m e n t m ake a deep im p ressio n o n th e strictly in tellectu al re g iste r. A t
V in c e n n e s F o u c a u lt gave a course o n N ietzsch e, and th e ideas ex-
pressed in his in au g u ral le c tu re at th e C o llèg e de F ran ce in D e c e m b e r
1970 w ere closer to th e p re o c c u p a tio n s o f UArchéologie du savoir th a n
to his la te r ideas o n p o w er. H is articles and lectu res fro m this p e rio d
still b e a r su rp risin g m arks o f his earlier th e o re tic a l p re o c c u p a tio n s and
style. C o n s id e r th e le c tu re he delivered b efo re th e S ociété F ran çaise de
la P h ilo so p h ic o n F e b ru a ry 2 2, 1969: “W h a t is an a u th o r? ” It was
based, o f course, o n B e c k e tt’s w ords: “W h a t does it m a tte r w h o speaks,
so m eo n e said, w h at does it m a tte r w h o speaks.” In this ind ifferen ce,
said F o u cau lt, “ th e m o st fu n d am en tal p rin cip le, p erh ap s, o f c o n te m p o -
ra ry w ritin g is asserted .” F o u cau lt added a second th e m e to this in -
difference: “ th e kinship b etw een d e a th and w ritin g .” A m e m o ra b le
discussion follow ed th e lectu re, b e g in n in g w ith a ra th e r lively exchange
b e tw e e n L u c ie n G o ld m a n n and F oucault. G o ld m a n n criticized “ stru c -
tu ra lism ” and en d ed b y q u o tin g this sen te n ce w ritte n b y a s tu d e n t in
M ay 1968 o n a black b o ard in a ro o m at th e S o rb o n n e: “ S tru c tu re s do
n o t take to th e stre e ts.” A nd he added: “I t is n ev er stru c tu re s th a t m ake
h isto ry ; it is m e n .” F o u cau lt replied ra th e r curtly: “I have never, m y-
self, used th e w o rd ‘s tru c tu re .’ So I w ould like to be spared facile re-
m arks a b o u t stru c tu ra lism .” T h e n h e w e n t o n to discuss “ th e d e a th o f
m a n ” : “T h is is a th em e th a t allows m e to b rin g to lig h t th e ways in
w h ich th e co n c e p t o f m an has fu n c tio n e d in know ledge. I t is n o t a m a t-
te r o f assertin g th a t m an is dead; it is a m a tte r o f seeing in w h a t m a n -
n er, a cco rd in g to w h at rule, th e co n cep t o f m an was fo rm e d and has
fu n c tio n e d . I have d o n e th e sam e th in g for th e n o tio n o f th e a u th o r. So
le t’s h o ld th e te a rs.” A n o th e r speaker cam e to F o u c a u lt’s aid: Jacq u es
L acan. “ I do n o t believe,” said th e psychoanalyst, “ th a t it is at all leg iti-
m ate to have w ritte n th a t stru ctu res do n o t take to th e streets, because,
if th e re is o n e th in g d em o n stra te d by th e events o f M ay, it is precisely
th a t stru c tu re s did take to th e streets. T h e fact th a t th o se w ords w ere
w ritte n at th e v ery place w h ere p eople to o k to th e streets proves n o th ­

^ 210 ‫׳‬w•
A V i n c e n n e s Interl ude

in g o th e r th a n , sim ply, th a t v ery often, even m o st o ften , w h a t is in te r-


nal to w h a t is called a c tio n is th a t it does n o t know itself.” 6
W h a t w ere th e lastin g effects o f th e tim e F o u cau lt sp e n t a t V in -
cennes? F o r h im it was a chance to arran g e th in g s in a w ay th a t w ould
fo rev er a lte r th e F re n c h in tellectu al landscape. F or, despite all th e tu r-
m oil, V in cen n es w ould finally com e in to its ow n, and its p h ilo so p h y
d e p a rtm e n t w ould have a definite influence. G illes D eleu ze, J e a n -
F ran ço is L y o ta rd , and R ené S ch erer w ere th ere; so F o u c a u lt’s a m b itio n
to b rin g in a th e b e s t” was n o t a lto g e th e r futile. T h e d e p a rtm e n t o f
psychoanalysis rap id ly b ecam e one o f th e cen ters o f L acan ian influ-
ence. In J u ly 1969 F o u cau lt had invited L acan h im se lf to com e and
c a rry o n his se m in a r at V in cen n es, at th e tim e w h en th e E N S h ad re-
fused to keep it th e re an y m o re. In th e end th e sem in ar to o k refu g e at
th e law school, o n th e P lace du P an th é o n , b u t L acan accepted th e invi-
ta tio n to V in c e n n e s to give a series o f lectures. T h is series was cu t
s h o rt a t th e first session, o n D e c e m b e r 3, 1969. B aited by stu d en ts,
L a can u tte re d th e n o w fam ous w ords: aW I1at you lo n g for, as rev o lu -
tio n a rie s, is a m a ste r. You will get o n e .” T h e n he g o t up and left th e
ro o m . H e sim ply p h o n e d th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t to in fo rm th e m
he was aM a rd i-G ra s -in g ” th e next lectu re, w hich had b e e n sch ed u led
fo r early F eb ru ary , and was canceling all th e rest.

W h e n he left th e p h ilo so p h y d e p a rtm e n t at V in cen n es in th e hands


o f F ran ço is C h â te le t, M ic h e l F o u cau lt knew he was leaving a so m ew h at
u n m a n a g e a b le legacy: b o th a c e n te r o f conflict and a so u rce o f in tellec-
tu al effervescence.

^211^
15
V W

The Solitude o f the Acrobat

r. D ire c to r, m y d e a r colleagues, ladies and g e n tle m e n . .


T h e r e was silence in th e ro o m , and a voice b eg an to be h eard ,
m uffled, stra in e d w ith em o tio n , alm o st d isto rte d b y stage
frig h t, w ords m o re m u rm u re d th a n p ro jected : . . in this speech th a t
I m u st give today, and in th o se I shall have to give h ere, fo r years, p e r-
haps . . It was D e c e m b e r 2, 1970. M ich e l F o u cau lt was d eliv erin g his
in a u g u ra l lectu re at th e C o llèg e de F rance.
Several h u n d re d p eo p le h ad cram m ed in to th e large a m p h ith e a te r at
th e S o rb o n n e w h ere this cerem o n y h ad tra d itio n a lly ta k e n place fo r
cen tu ries. I t seem ed th a t n o th in g had ever ch an g ed — this w as b efo re it
was m o d e rn iz e d — th e old w o o d en seats, th e ra th e r so m b e r a tm o -
sp h ere. T h a t p a rtic u la r day, as was o fte n th e case d u rin g th o se years o f
a g itatio n , th e L a tin Q u a rte r was in a state o f siege. E v e ry o n e in th e
au d ien ce h ad h ad to pass th ro u g h b arricad es fo rm e d b y police cars an d
lines o f C R S , th e visors o f th e ir h elm ets d o w n and clubs in h an d . T h e y
p ro v id e d a stran g e se ttin g for th e discourse so o n to re v e rb e ra te , evok-
in g “ c o n fin e m e n ts,” “p o w ers,” and “n o rm s .” T h e police h ad n o t com e
o n F o u c a u lt’s account, o f course; b u t ev ery o n e m ade th a t c o n n e c tio n .
W h e n , a few days later, P ie rre D aix d escrib ed in Les Lettres françaises
th e “ g re a t c ro w d ” jo stlin g to h ear philosophy, he m ade sure to m e n -
tio n th e “ row s full o f peo p le standing, m o stly y o u n g people, as if M a y
’68 h ad se n t its loyal d eleg atio n s in to a m o re stale and so b e r assem -
bly.” 1 W L e n E tie n n e W olff, d ire c to r o f th e C ollèg e de F ran ce, deliv-
ered his b rie f speech o f w elcom e to th e new arrival in th is “ lan d o f
fre e d o m ”— th e im p o sin g b u ild in g o n P lace M a rc e lin -B e rth e lo t th a t
h o u sed th e C o llè g e — th o se deleg atio n s im m ed iately m ade them selves
know n, g re e tin g his w ords w ith a m u tte r o f d erision.
T h e n F o u cau lt b eg an to read his text u n d e r B erg so n ’s fixed gaze,

‫׳‬w 212 ‫׳‬W


T h e S o l i t u d e of t h e A c r o b a t

w hose b ro n z e p rofile d o m in a te d th e ro o m : “ B ehind m e I sh ould have


liked to h ear, b e h in d m e, a voice speaking thus: ‘I m u st go on, I can’t
go on; I m u st go on; I m u st say w ords as lo n g as th e re are w ords; I m u st
say th e m u n til th e y find m e, u n til th e y say m e— heavy b u rd e n , heavy
sin; I m u st go on; m aybe it’s b e e n d o n e already, m aybe th e y ’ve al-
read y said m e; m aybe th e y ’ve already b o rn e m e to th e th re sh o ld o f m y
story, rig h t to th e d o o r o p e n in g o n to m y sto ry ; I ’d be su rp rised if it
o p e n e d .’” F o u c a u lt’s au d ien ce was captivated as he slipped in to this
close p a ra p h ra se o f B e c k e tt’s Ulnnommable.1 A m o n g th o se w h o h eard
him : G e o rg e s D u m ézil, C lau d e L évi-S trauss, F e rn a n d B raudel, F ra n -
çois Ja c o b , and G illes D eleu ze.
M ic h e l F o u c a u lt had ju st m ade his e n tra n c e in to th e h o ly o f holies in
th e F re n c h u n iv e rsity system . T h e sam e c e rem o n y had tak en place th e
day b efo re w ith a so m ew h at d ifferen t audience, to w elcom e R ay m o n d
A ro n . O n D e c e m b e r 4 th e C ollèg e received G eo rg es D uby. I t was n o t
e n tire ly b y ch an ce th a t F o u c a u lt’s and A ro n ’s lectu res w ere sch ed u led
so close to g e th e r. T h e y had b een elected o n th e sam e day, d u rin g th e
sam e m e e tin g o f professors. A nd, alth o u g h it was n ev er explicitly
spelled o u t, m o re th a n o n e p erso n has suggested th a t th e re was som e
s o rt o f a rra n g e m e n t— tit for ta t— b etw een th e p artisan s o f each m an.
B u t w e m u s t go back a few years to a c co u n t fo r F o u c a u lt’s electio n .
F irst, to his frie n d sh ip w ith D um ézil. Because he had reach ed re tire -
m e n t age, D u m é z il had left th e C o llèg e by th e tim e th e vote to o k
place. N e v e rth e le ss, he se n t fro m th e U n ite d S tates, w h ere he had
g o n e to teach , five o r six le tte rs to fo rm e r colleagues w h o m he p e r-
ceived as re lu c ta n t o r a little w o rried a b o u t th e ca n d id a te ’s su lfu ro u s
re p u ta tio n , to lo b b y in F o u c a u lt’s behalf. D um éziPs g re a t sto re o f p res-
tig e u n d o u b te d ly m ad e his in te rv e n tio n s ex trem ely useful. Also, above
all, he had b e g u n m e n tio n in g , and th e n su p p o rtin g , F o u c a u lt’s can-
d id acy lo n g b efo re his d e p a rtu re .
As early as 1966, J e a n H y p p o lite had tak en advantage o f th e h u g e
success o f LesM ots et les choses to p u t electio n o f F o u cau lt o n th e agenda.
H e had b e g u n th e p ro c e d u re s n ecessary to m ake his p lan succeed, speak-
in g to this p e rso n o r th a t a b o u t th e p o ssib ility o f such a candidacy, te st-
in g re a c tio n s. T h e reactio n s w ere diverse. Ju le s V uillem in , w h o held
th e o th e r ch air in philosophy, su p p o rted h im in this u n d e rta k in g . D u -
m ézil, H y p p o lite , V uillem in : a trio o f su p p o rte rs w ho w ere n o t to be
ig n o re d . F e rn a n d B raudel also spared n o pains. H y p p o lite n ev er saw
w h a t cam e o f his u n d e rta k in g ; he died o n O c to b e r 27, 1968. W h e n th e
q u e stio n arose o f filling th e ch air left v acan t b y his d eath , F o u cau lt

‫ *׳‬v 213 *V
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

n a tu ra lly cam e to m ind. T h u s V u illem in w ould officially p re s e n t th e


cand id acy o f his fo rm e r colleague at C le rm o n t. M o re ' precisely, he
w ould p ro p o se to a m e e tin g o f professors th e c re a tio n o f a ch air th a t
w ould th e n be aw arded to F oucault. B ecause electio n s to th e C o lleg e
de F ran ce are in tw o stages: first com es th e v ote o n a p ro fesso rsh ip ,
w ith o u t any m e n tio n o f w h o ev er m ay h o ld it, even if in fact ev ery o n e
know s w h o it will be; th e n th e re is a vote o n th e p e rso n w h o w ill h o ld
th is ch air.
O n N o v e m b e r 30, 1969, th e professors g a th e re d to d ecid e o n th e
c re a tio n o f tw o chairs: o n e in sociology, th e o th e r in philo so p h y . F o r
th e la tte r th e re w ere th re e c o m p e tin g proposals. T w o o th e r p h ilo so -
p h ers, P au l R ic o e u r and Y von Belaval, had e n te re d th e lists fo r H y p -
p o ly te ’s p o sitio n . F o u cau lt had w ritte n , as was re q u ire d , a p a m p h le t
listin g his books and pro jects, ro u g h ly d escrib in g his te a c h in g p ro -
g ram , and ju stify in g th e title he had ch o sen fo r th e ch air h e h o p e d to
occupy: “h is to ry o f system s o f th o u g h t.” T h is p a m p h le t was a b o u t te n
pages lo n g and was addressed to all th e pro fesso rs o f th e C o llèg e.
F o u c a u lt first stated his academ ic id en tity : his studies, his d ip lo m as,
th e posts h e h ad held. N e x t h e listed his pub licatio n s: books, articles,
prefaces, tra n sla tio n s. T h e n h e su m m arized his earlie r research , fro m
Folie et déraison to UArchéologie du savoir.
In th is ex cep tio n ally in te re s tin g d o c u m e n t F o u cau lt p re se n te d th e
logic b e h in d his research . I t is w o rth q u o tin g at le n g th n o t o n ly fo r
th a t re a so n b u t also because it is h a rd to com e b y today, h av in g b e e n
p rin te d p riv a tely and in sm all n u m b ers.

In Histoire de la folie à Page classique,3 I w anted to determ ine w hat


could be know n about m ental illness at a given period. Such know l-
edge, o f course, is m anifested in the m edical theories nam ing and
classifying the different pathological types, and attem p tin g to explain
them . T h e y can also be seen in phenom ena o f opinion— in th a t an-
cient fear aroused by m adm en, in how the form s o f credulity sur-
roun d in g them interact, in how they are represented in th eater o r
literature. H e re and th ere analyses m ade by o th er historians could
serve m e as guides. But there was a dim ension th at seem ed unex-
plored to me: it was necessary to study how m adm en were recog-
nized, set aside, excluded from society, interned, and treated; w hat
institutions w ere m eant to take them in and keep them there, som e-
tim es caring for them ; w hat authorities decided on th eir m adness,
and in accordance w ith w hat criteria; w hat m ethods w ere set in place
to constrain them , punish them , o r cure them ; in short, w hat was the
netw ork o f institutions and practices in w hich the m adm an was si­
T h e S o l i t u d e of t h e A c r o b a t

m ultaneously caught and defined. N ow , this netw ork, w hen its func-
tio n in g and the justifications given for it at the tim e are examined,
seems very coherent and very well adapted. It involves an entire, pre-
cise, and articulated system o f knowledge. C onsequently, m y object
becam e apparent. It was the knowledge invested in the com plex sys-
terns o f institutions. And a m ethod im posed itself. R ather than perus-
ing the library o f scientific books, as one so happily does, I had to
visit a group o f archives including decrees, regulations, hospital o r
p riso n registers, judicial precedents. W orking at the Arsenal o r the
N atio n al Archives, I began the analysis o f a know ledge w hose visible
body is n eith er theoretical o r scientific discourse n o r literature, b u t a
regular, daily practice.
T h e exam ple o f madness, however, did n o t seem sufficiently p erti-
nent. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, psychopathology
was still too rud im en tary for one to be able to distinguish it from the
sim ple in teractio n o f traditional opinions. It seem ed to m e th at clini-
cal m edicine, at the m om ent o f its birth, p u t the problem in m ore
rigorous term s. At the beginning of the nineteenth century it was
in fact linked to established sciences, or those in the process o f be-
com ing established, such as biology, physiology, and pathological
anatom y. But on the o th er hand it was also linked to a group o f
in stitu tio n s such as hospitals, establishm ents providing care, and
teaching clinics, as well as to practices, such as adm inistrative inquir-
ies. I w ondered how it was that, betw een these two m arkers, a know l-
edge could have arisen, could have changed and developed, offering
scientific th eo ry new fields o f observation, original problem s, and
objects th a t u n til th at p o int had gone unnoticed; b u t how, in retu rn ,
scientific learning had been im ported into it, and had taken on pre-
scriptive value, and a quality o f ethical norm s. T h e practice o f m edi-
cine makes up an unstable m ixture of rigorous science and uncertain
tradition, b u t it is n o t lim ited to this; it is constructed like a system o f
know ledge w ith its ow n equilibrium and coherency.
It could be generally conceded, therefore, th at there are realms o f
know ledge th at cannot exactly be called sciences and yet are m ore
th an m ere m ental habits. C onsequently, I attem pted in Les Mots et les
choses the opposite experim ent: to neutralize the entire practical and
institutional aspect (w ithout giving up m y in ten tio n to get back to it
som e day) and to consider, at a given period, several o f these realms
o f know ledge (natural classifications, general gram m ar, and the
analysis o f w ealth in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), ex-
am ining th em one by one to define the kind o f problem s they posed,
the concepts they used, and the theories they tested. N o t only was it
possible to define the internal “archaeology” o f each o f these do-
m ains in tu rn ; b u t identities, analogies, and groups o f differences

++ 215 ++
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

could be perceived from one to the next, needing to be described. A


global configuration em erged. O f course, it was far from characteriz-
ing the classical spirit in general, b u t it organized in a coh eren t m an-
n er an entire region o f em pirical knowledge.
I was, therefore, in the presence o f two very distinct groups o f re-
suits. O n the one hand, I had determ ined the specific and relatively
autonom ous existence o f “established realms o f know ledge” [savoirs
investis], and on the other, I had noted system atic relationships
w ithin the characteristic architecture o f each. A clarification becam e
necessary. I sketched it o u t in Archéologie du savoir: betw een opinion
and scientific understanding, one can recognize the existence o f a
particular level, w hich we propose to call know ledge [savoir]. T h is
know ledge takes shape n o t only in theoretical texts or experim ental
instrum ents, b u t in a w hole system o f practices and institutions.
N evertheless, it is n o t the pure and sim ple result o f this sem iconscious
expression. It com prises, in fact, rules th at are its own, and th at thus
characterize its existence, its functioning, and its history. C ertain o f
these rules are specific to a single dom ain; others are shared by sev-
eral. It is possible that, for a particular period, there are others th at
are generalized. Finally, the developm ent o f this know ledge and its
transform ations b rin g into play complex causal relations . . .”

H a v in g th u s explained his “ earlier w o rk ,” F o u cau lt w e n t o n to


p re s e n t his “ teach in g p ro je c t.” T h is teach in g , he said, w ould be su b -
jected to tw o req u irem en ts: “ never to lose sig h t o f referen ce to a co n -
cre te exam ple th a t can serve as ex p erim en tal g ro u n d fo r th e analysis; to
e la b o ra te th e o re tic a l p ro b lem s th a t I m ay have already o r m ay y e t
com e across.” 5
T h e co n c re te exam ple th a t was to o ccu p y h im “ fo r som e tim e ” was
th e “ k n o w led g e o f h e re d ity .” A nd th ese w ould be th e th e o re tic a l p ro b -
lem s: “T o a tte m p t to give this know ledge a statu s— to lo cate it b e-
tw een c e rta in lim its, and to choose in stru m e n ts to d escrib e it.” T h e n it
w ould be n ecessary to p o n d e r th e “ e la b o ra tio n o f this k n o w led g e in
scientific d isco u rse,” th a t is, to p o n d e r w h at “ co n stitu tes a science w h en
o n e w ants to analyze it n o t in tra n sc e n d e n ta l term s b u t in te rm s o f h is-
to ry .” A nd th e th ird th e o re tic a l reg ister w ould c o n c e rn “ causality in
th e o rd e r o f know ledge: to d e te rm in e h o w — th ro u g h w h a t ch an n els o r
w h at codes— k n ow ledge records, n o t w ith o u t choice o r m o d ificatio n ,
th e p h e n o m e n a th a t u n til th e n w ere external to it, how it b eco m es re-
ceptive to processes th a t are fo reig n to it.” 6
F o u cau lt co n clu d ed his p re se n ta tio n thus: “ B etw een th e sciences al-
ready c o n stitu te d (w hose h isto ry is fre q u e n tly reco rd ed ) and th e p h e ­

‫׳‬H• 2 1 6 ‫׳‬w
T h e S o l i t u d e of t h e A c r o b a t

n o m e n a o f o p in io n (w hich h isto rian s know h o w to treat), th e h isto ry o f


system s o f th o u g h t rem ain s to be u n d e rta k e n .” A t a m o re g en eral level,
this task w ould involve “ reex am in in g know ledge, th e c o n d itio n s o f
k n o w led g e, and th e status o f th e k n o w in g su b ject.” 7 B u t F o u cau lt did
n o t p u rsu e th e p ro g ra m th a t he o u tlin ed h ere. A n o th e r “ c o n c re te ”
p ro b le m b e g a n to o ccu p y h im in 1971: p riso n s, n o t h ered ity . It was in
fact a v e ry c o n c re te p ro b le m , fo r it w ould involve n o t ju st archives, b u t
also p o litical actio n s th a t w ould lead to his d ire c t e n g a g e m e n t w ith so-
cial m o v em en ts th a t w ere to shake up th e penal system .
F o r th e m o m e n t, how ever, this was u n im p o rta n t. T h e re p o rt was
w ritte n , p rin te d , and se n t to all th e professors. I t fell to Ju les V u illem in
to arg u e b e fo re th e m fo r th e c re a tio n o f th e ch air. T o p re p a re his
sp eech h e in v ited F o u c a u lt o n several successive evenings to th e little
a p a rtm e n t w h ere he th e n lived in th e M arais. T h e y d eb ated w hich as-
pects sh o u ld be em phasized. A nd, since V u illem in w an ted to p re se n t a
re p o rt th a t was v e ry clear to colleagues in all th e disciplines, he asked
F o u c a u lt to ela b o ra te o n several p o in ts th a t h e felt w ere n o t clearly d e-
fined. E v e ry th in g w e n t w o n d erfu lly u n til th e y cam e to th e n o tio n o f
e n u n c ia tio n ( énoncés) as it appears in UArchéologie du savoir. T h e r e th e
c an d id ate and his sp o n so r w ere at loggerheads: n o m a tte r h o w m u c h
F o u c a u lt explained w h at he m ean t, V u illem in c o n tin u e d to find th is
n o tio n o b scu re. F o u cau lt g o t angry, accused V u ille m in o f in sin cerity ,
and left, slam m in g th e d o o r b eh in d him . A “ ce re m o n y o f reco n cilia-
tio n ” h ad to take place befo re th e tw o could re tu rn to w o rk and
V u ille m in could co m p lete his re p o rt.
V u ille m in ’s re p o rt, seven closely ty p e w ritte n pages, was v ery rig o r-
ous and effective. I t surveyed F o u c a u lt’s th o u g h t, in d ic a tin g its m ain
p o in ts and its ev o lu tio n . T h e re p o rt en d ed w ith a d e fin itio n o f
F o u c a u lt’s u n d e rta k in g as it could be c o n stru e d fro m Les Mots et les
Choses and UArchéologie du savoir (th o u g h w ith o u t ever n am in g th e
b ooks o r th e ir a u th o r, since th e objective was o n ly to spell o u t th e g en -
eral p rin c ip les d e fin in g th e professorship). “T h e h isto ry o f system s o f
th o u g h t is, th e re fo re , n o t at all th e h isto ry o f th e m an o r th e m en w ho
th in k th ese th o u g h ts. In th e last analysis, it is because th e conflict b e-
tw e e n m a te ria lism and sp iritu alism is still c au g h t in th e te rm s o f this
la tte r a lte rn a tiv e th a t th e o p p o sitio n is b etw een b ro th e rs m o re th a n
b e tw e e n enem ies. T h e y are divided b u t share th e sam e q u estio n : as th e
su b jec t o f th o u g h ts o n e chooses individuals o r gro u p s, b u t o n e always
chooses a subject. A nyone a tte m p tin g to d o u b t this sh o u ld reread th e
o fte n -q u o te d allu sio n to M arx, th a t o n e m u st d istin g u ish th e bee fro m

*V2I7**‫׳‬
“ M i l i t a n t a n d P r o f e s s o r a t t h e C o l l e g e de F r a n c e ”

th e a rc h ite c t, h o w ev er u n in sp ire d he m ay be, because th e la tte r first


builds th e h o u se in his head. A b an d o n in g dualism and c o n s titu tin g a
n o n -C a rte s ia n ep istem o lo g y clearly re q u ire so m e th in g m o re: e lim in a t-
in g th e su b ject w hile k eep in g th e th o u g h ts, try in g to c o n s tru c t a his-
to ry w ith o u t h u m a n n a tu re .” 8
T h e m e e tin g o f pro fesso rs b eg an at tw o -th irty o n Sunday, N o v e m -
b e r 30, 1969. T w o o th e r chairs w ere b e in g p ro p o se d at th e sam e tim e
as F o u c a u lt’s: o n e in th e p h ilo so p h y o f action, w hich was arg u ed fo r b y
P ie rre C o u rcelle, a p ro fesso r o f L a tin lite ra tu re , and in te n d e d fo r P au l
R ico eu r; and o n e in th e h is to ry o f ra tio n a l th o u g h t, s u p p o rte d by
A lfred F essard, a p ro fe sso r o f neu ro p h y sio lo g y , in te n d e d fo r Y von
Belaval. T h e la tte r was actively su p p o rte d b y a re tire d p ro fesso r, M a r-
tial G u é ro u lt, w ho had com e expressly fo r this occasion. T h e th re e
“p re s e n te rs ” h ad d raw n lots to d e te rm in e th e o rd e r in w h ich th e y
w ould speak: first P ie rre C o u rcelle, th e n Ju les V u illem in , th e n A lfred
F essard. F in ally it was tim e fo r a ballot. T h e r e w ere forty-six v o tin g .
T h e results w ere:

F o r a c h a ir in p h ilo so p h y o f action: 11 votes


F o r a c h a ir in h is to ry o f system s o f th o u g h t: 21 votes
F o r a ch air in h is to ry o f ra tio n a l th o u g h t: 1o votes
B lank b allots m ark ed w ith an x (th a t is, specifically re fu sin g th e
p re s e n t candidates): 4

A n ab so lu te m ajority, plus o n e vote, was re q u ire d — in this case,


tw e n ty -fo u r v o tes— fo r approval o f a p ro fesso rsh ip . T h e re fo re , an-
o th e r b a llo t was necessary. T h e results o f this v