I broke up with Michel Foucault. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. I sort of ghosted him. Let me explain.
When I was in grad school I fell in love with Foucault. He was just exactly what I was looking for- he made me see gender differently, and he helped me to finally piece together what I thought I was trying to say in my thesis. It was magical. He just really ‘got me.’ You know?
But then things changed. I was introduced to theorists like Judith Butler, bell hooks, Aimee Cesaire, and Frantz Fanon and I started to realise I just couldn’t be exclusive with Foucault anymore. He pretended class just didn’t exist and I hated that we could never talk about race. We would go out and talk abut gender with his friends, but when I took him to parties and my friends brought up patriarchy he got all weird. So I ghosted him. It’s awkward because he’s in so many old publications. I still call him sometimes, but we mostly don’t have anything to say to one another- he says I’ve changed, I say he hasn’t. Sometimes at conferences friends ask me about him. They’re like, ‘hey you’re close with Foucault, can you ask him x.’ And I have to politely tell them that Foucault and I don’t really talk anymore. I try to be nice and say ‘he’s great, but it was time to move on,’ or something like that. But what I really want to say is, ‘he’s really not that great. He turned out not to be as smart as I thought he was. And I got tired of everyone talking about him.’
Oh and since the break up a bunch of friends have tried to set me up with other theorists. They don’t understand that I’m happy just having solid friendships with a bunch of thinkers. Most of my Canadian friends tried to get me to date Georgio Agamben. ‘He’s amaaaaazing. Ask him about the camps and Zoe,’ they say. But we went out a few times and- between you and me- he’s a real misogynist jerk. Why do people love him so much? And don’t even get me started on Zizek. I’ve been set up with him a bunch of times by my white hipster friends and I finally had to tell them ‘yeah I know Zizek…and I’m just not that into him.’
So there it is. I ghosted Foucault and ended up happier for it. Sometimes at conferences I see academics with their theorist loves and I think they might be better off if they did the same.
*Inspired by the blog post ‘Fuck you Zizek‘
Thank you, Megan Mackenzie for this interesting and amusing post. To re-use your terminology, I “ghosted” and “broke up” with Emmanuel Levinas long ago for similar reasons. His theories about proximate and distant neighbours/strangers etc. are interesting on the surface until you really dig (not too much more) deeply into his published essays that discuss issues of ‘race’ and racism. Apparently, beyond Europe – which, according to Levinas (I’m paraphrasing for brevity here!) is categorised as the world’s thinking/intellectual space – everywhere and everything else (and presumably, in his view, ‘everyone’ else) is just ‘exotic dance’!
See context on the following quote by Levinas: “I often say, though it’s a dangerous thing to say publicly, that humanity consists of the Bible and the Greeks. All the rest can be translated: all the rest – all the exotic – is dance” (Levinas, in “French Philosophers in Conversation”, (ed.) by Raoul Mortley. New York: Routledge, 1991, p. 18). And see also, for more recent secondary analysis on Levinasian stranger theory, John Drabinski’s excellent book “Levinas and the Postcolonial: Race, Nation, Other” (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Glad you liked it Carol!
The real issue here is that one would be exclusive with any single ‘thinker.’ Yes, ‘thinker.’ With the single quotation marks, because the ‘thinker’ is what you should be yourself without using the crutch of randomly citing other more renowned philosophers. Because a philosopher or theorist is nothing more than a famous thinker. And like many famous thinkers Foucault is as useful as the context that you are attempting to place him in. But probably his most useful ideas in today’s world are those that touch upon Bio-power, which is why I don’t really understand the Agamben jab. Not that I’m a fan of Agamben, but since he is a follower of Foucault in the line of Bio-political theorists, it seems strange that you would mention Foucault in every context where he really wasn’t really revolutionary and then backhand Agamben in the one area where Foucault was innovative.
You’re right…Chill. :-)
It’s very rare that I’m ever correct. Foucault would probably say that I’m only correct based on my current episteme.
I think you misunderstood my punctuation. But no worries.
This is hilarious :D a little too relational and not very introspective [id] /thing in itself; nevertheless enjoyable. I applaud your efforts.
Awesome funny truth Megan!!! Personally I found Foucault to be a ken ham creationist French guy with cooler glasses and a better accent. As I am sitting here on the Oregon coast, hanging out with the seagulls, listening to the ocean sing, it is interesting how little of any of this, ever makes it into the academic fantasy without being highly distilled into some brain centric reality. I sit literally with objectivity in front of me, next to me, all around me, mother nature always ignored by philosophers such as Foucault. . I would say Foucault was a man caught in the mirror of himself which I just call normal. society, is a strange and crazy breed. Thanks for the laugh!!!