- Foucault's Bad Angels of History
Do not believe everything I say. . . . Look for multiple, resistant, rhizomatic readings. This is not the text I intended to produce, and it is not the same as the text you are reading. Read the white spaces, hear the silences, peer into the shadows, look beyond the margins. Reach for "[t]hat voice at the edge of things." I am there as well.—Juana María Rodríguez
What I put into words is no longer my possession.—Susan Howe
In Mad for Foucault, I make much of the Foucauldian image of book-as-firecracker, bomb, or little explosion, something that lights up for a moment and then disappears into the series of events to which it belongs. If we take this seriously, it amounts to saying, as Rodríguez implies: there are multiple books here, or multiple bits of book, swirling through the ether like meteors. But if we think we might still find the "I" who wrote it, even "at the edge of things"—"I am there as well," Rodríguez says, in the spaces, the silences, and the shadows of the book—that "I" is fractured and dispossessed: "What I put into words is no longer my possession."
I begin with an evocation of shattered light and the negative spaces it leaves in its wake as a way to organize my response to these inspiring and challenging commentaries on my engagement with Foucault and queer theory in Mad for Foucault. Both Hengehold and Winnubst offer a double focus, one that splits into questions directed at both the positive and the negative spaces of the book. [End Page 239] The positive space—that which leaps off the page, that which makes Winnubst squirm and raises disagreements for Hengehold—is my discussion of the place of Freudo-Lacanian psychoanalysis in Foucault and in queer theory. I will treat this question of queer Freudo-Foucauldianism in Part 1 of my remarks below. But I also want to heed my interlocutors' invitation to enter the spaces opened up by the book's unsaids. In Part 2 I will address some of Hengehold's concerns about my silence on Foucault and Kant, and in Part 3 I will explore another silence, the historicity of race, in response to Winnubst's questions. This is not to imply that everything has to be said, as if there were some absolute limit between speech and silence. Nor is it to suggest that, once spoken, the silence that haunts me will disappear, like "a shadow in a daydream" (Foucault 1978, 19) dispelled.
1. Queer Freudo-Foucauldianism
Neither Foucauldian philosophy nor queer theory has paid much attention to History of Madness, despite its obvious importance in Foucault's thinking and in the story he tells about sexuality. One of the effects of bypassing Madness in both fields has been a lack of clarity about the role of psychoanalysis in Foucault's critique of the Western subject and in queer antifoundationalist thinking about sexuality. In that context, Winnubst raises some questions to contest my claims about the place of psychoanalysis in queer theory. Hengehold, for her part, provides a link between psychoanalysis and Kant via a queer Lacanian, death-driven antisocial thesis with "the austerity of a proto-Kantian code."
First, regarding Winnubst's assertion that many psychoanalytic concepts work toward the same desubjectivation I find in Foucault: I agree that from a certain perspective, the Lacanian Real, the Borromean knot, the objet a, and the drive can be deployed in myriad contexts for desubjectivating projects of various kinds. As Foucault puts it in The Order of Things, along with anthropology, psychoanalysis is an "inexhaustible treasure hoard of experiences and concepts" (Foucault 1970, 373). But as I insist in my engagement with Judith Butler in Mad for Foucault, the performative, psychoanalytically driven disruption of identity is not the same as Foucauldian desubjectivation; we can see this most clearly if we contrast the undoing of subjectivity that madness signals with a Butlerian dialectical logic whereby the political agency of a subject is achieved by virtue of that subject's failure to cohere as an identity. That dialectical logic is reinforced by...