Monday, April 13, 2009

Wrapping words

A couple of my blogopshere compatriots have been going a bit of handwringing (if such a thing is possible while typing - maybe my crappy spelling proves that it is ).... and I've had my knickers in a know this afternoon - trying to devise a pithy exegesis of Foucault's anit-humanism - for a footnote.

while taking my eyeballs for a walk I came across the following and fell in love -literally:

[...] I would have preferred to be enveloped in words, borne way beyong all possible beginnings. at the moment of speaking, I would like to have perceived a nameless voice, long preceding me, leaving me merely to enmesh myself in it, taking up its cadence, and to lodge myself, when no one was looking, in its interstices as if it had paused an isntant, in suspense, to beckon to me. There would have been no beginnings: instead, speech would proceed from me, while I stood in its path - a slender gap - the point of its possible disappearance.

Behind me, I should like to have heard (having been at it long enough already, repeating in advance what I am about to tell you) the voice of Molloy , [WTF - no idea who Molloy is - but I know how he feels] beginning to speak thus:
'I must go on; I can't go on; I must go on; I must say words as long as there are words, I must say them until they find me, until they say me - heavy burden, heavy sin; I must go on; maybe it's been done already; maybe they've already said me; maybe they've already borne me to the threshold of my story, right to the door opening onto my story; I'd be surprised if it opened.'

A good many people, I imagine, harbour a similar desire to be freed from the obligation to begin, a similar desire to find themselves, right from the outside, on the other side of discourse, without having to stand outside it, pondering its particular, fearsome, and even devilish features. To this all too common feeling, institutions have an ironic reply, for they solemnise beginnings, surorunding them with a circle of silent attention; in order that they can be distinguished from far off, they impose ritual forms upon them.

Inclinations speaks out: 'I don't want to have to enter this risky word of discourse; I want nothing to do with it insofar as it is decisive and final; I would like to feel it all around me, calm and transparent, profound, infinitely open, with others responding to my expectations, and truth emerging, one by one. all I want is to allow myself to be borne along, within it, and by it, a happy wreck,' institutions reply: 'but you have nothing to fear from launching out; we're here to show you discourse is within the established order of things, that we've waited a long time for its arrival, that a place has been set aside for it - a place which both honours and disarms it; and if it should happen to have a certain power, then it is we, and we alone, who give it that power.'

Foucault, M, 'The discourse on language', Swyer, R (trans) Social Science Information, Sage Publications, April 1971, pp. 7-30, reprinted in Kearney, R & Rainwater, M (eds) The continental philosophy reader, Routledge, London & New York, 1996, p. 339.

the typos are mine....

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