Civilization of course, implies organization up to a certain point. The freedom of any function is built upon system; and so long as Law and Order make it easier for a man to do his True Will, they are admirable. It is when system is adored for its own sake, or as a means of endowing mediocrities with power as such, that the “critical temperature” is attained.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Future Foucault: Afterlives of Bodies and Pleasures [Publisher, Local Library] ed Jacques Khalip, an issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, v 111 no 3, Summer 2012; with William Haver, Elizabeth Povinelli, and Tim Dean.
Like other recent numbers of The South Atlantic Quarterly, this Summer 2012 one includes an appended “Against the Day” section of essays on a current political topic. In this particular case, the “Encampments and Occupations” of the latter section seem to connect unusually well (and perhaps not even to much intentional design) with the main body of Future Foucault: Afterlives of Bodies and Pleasures.
The principal theme of the journal issue is that of work applying the later “biopolitical” Foucault in various areas of contemporary study and theory. William Haver’s “A Sense of the Common” Is especially apposite to the popular appropriations of space described in “Encampments and Occupations.” Heather Gautney’s article “Occupy x” in the latter explicitly presents “common space” as an alternative to both “private space” and institutionally-controlled “public space.” In “The Will to Be Otherwise,” Elizabeth Povinelli explores the conundrum of biopolitics with questions about how dissent is possible, and Sanchez Cedillo’s essay on 15M in Spain seems to evoke resistance against biopolitics itself, with the emphasis on the refrain “we are not commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers.” The reflections on networked digital media in the context of the popular Occupy movement could probably be read to some constructive effect in the context of the theorizing in Mark Hansen’s “Foucault and the Media,” although I honestly found Hansen’s piece rather jargon-ridden and opaque. Stavors Stavrides’ “Squares in Movement” overtly invoked a number of post-Foucauldian social theorists.
Tim Dean’s “The Biopolitics of Pleasure” and Carolyn J. Dean’s summation of the Foucault section (“The Agency of Sex”) were both interesting and provocative, although they found little echo in the second section. Likewise, the essay on the Egyptian revolution was an engaging corrective to mass media and Internet accounts, without extensive theoretical pleading.
On the whole, this was an enlightening read, and a timely one on the first anniversary of the inaugural Occupy Wall Street protests.
Weishaupt’s concept of virtue stems from his Rousseauian influences. Jean-Jacques Rousseau equated true virtue with the purity of mankind in its infancy before it was corrupted by civilization. This virtue was still apparent in the “savage” races still being encountered by explorers in the forests and jungles of North and South America. By comparison, the despotism of western culture, with its class structures and inherent inequality, was considered inferior and contemptible.
If we could overcome Civilization and establish social harmony, we’d see the Boreal Crown shoot forth a coherent laser-like 1000-hued ray of pure aroma, or stellar jizm, and simultaneously we would receive similar rays projected at us from other planets, like sunbeams but even more concentrated and fruitful.
—Hakim Bey, Moorish Weather Report
By the time he wrote “Long-legged Fly,” he had decided that civilization’s state was hopeless. It was time for revolution. He called for “the topless towers” to be burned (VP, 617). The towers, dead at the top, lacked the guidance of enlightened, purified souls, souls from the upper two realms of the Cabbalistic cosmos. “Topless towers” were inhabited only by souls driven through the instinct and passion of the lower two realms.
There was something rather Elizabethan about him—his casual versatility, his good looks, that effervescent combination of mental with physical activities. Something a bit Philip-Sidney-ish. Our civilization doesn’t often breed people like that nowadays. I made a remark of this kind to Rutherford, and he replied: ‘Yes, that’s true, and we have a special word of disparagement for them—we call them dilettanti.
James Hilton, Lost Horizon: A Novel
“It is not a new story. Again and again the most priceless treasures of antiquity, to say nothing of the structure of the civilizations whence they sprung, have been destroyed utterly and irremediably in the most miserable religious and political quarrels.” [via]
“If the Dutch, as at times has seemed likely, decide that the German cause is that of liberty, civilization, and progress, and determine to fight on their side, will some patriot immediately discover that Rembrandt did not know how to paint? Would it not be better to make up our minds about it now?” [via]
“We have our attention taken away from the business of fighting by the miserable grunts of these self-advertising pigs, who are only guinea-pigs in so far as they can always be counted on to sell their souls for a guinea. It is not only useless and stupid to refuse the benefits of those who at the very lowest estimate were our friends, but the absolute destruction of the whole principle of civilization.” [via]
“We are warring for Democracy, but also for civilization, apparently owing to our inherent love of paradox. We have here a war within a war. We have not only to fight the foe without, and the foe within, but also the foe that is the worst of all, the overzealous friend.” [via]