coromandal


crisis and deviation (heterotopia 2)

This the second post on Michel Foucault’s of Other Space, 1967.  The first post is called the discovery of infinite space.

On my first day in boarding school, I was eight and, I think, brimming with expectation.  It was bright and cold and the mountain air was thin:  I was wearing jeans and a jean jacket, I could see my breath and smell eucalyptus.  We met my dorm mother, put my tin trunk in the tiny dorm room and said our good byes, my mom and I, on the narrow grassy edge between the dorm and a drop off to the lake 50 yards away.  I sat on a swing while she tidied up emotional loose ends with some questions about feelings and some advice.  And then she was gone.

My new roommate waited and we walked up the hundred covered steps through the academic quad, past the dining hall and down to the squash courts where we played frisbee.  And that’s all I remember of that day.  Someone told me I would, and perhaps should, be homesick and once or twice in the first few weeks I lay in bed, under flannel sheets and prickly black wool blankets, and tried to cry. Continue reading

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the discovery of infinite space (heterotopia 1)

Heterotopias are kinds of places described by Michel Foucault in his essay Of Other Spaces in 1967.  They approximate, or maybe more accurately reflect, utopias; approximate because heterotopias exist and utopias can’t, by definition.  They are ‘outsider’ spaces, meaning they exist outside of the influence of dominant cultures or hegemonies; and the people and events in them are involved in undesirable, outsider missions.  They are places that are real and unreal at once, complex and contradictory.  For Foucault, heterotopias are places that allow escape from places that are authoritarian and repressive.

This is the first of four posts on heterotopias and based on the essay Of Other Spaces.

Galileo’s rediscovery, that the earth rotates around the sun, upended the Medieval us.   It began the inexorable smashing of orthodoxies and institutions that led to the Enlightenment and modernism.  It accomplished this because it fundamentally challenged our way of thinking about how the world works and is ordered.

Medieval space was hierarchical – celestial, supercelestial, terrestrial, sacred and profane – and oppositional and stable – urban and rural.  But Galileo’s discoveries made us believe that space is open, dissolved, infinite, and that our normal perception of place is an illusion, a shapshot in time of something that is actually – maybe slowly, but irrevocably – moving and dissolving and changing.  Nothing is fixed, there is no still reference point, the center can no longer hold, said Galilleo.

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discipline, control, contribution

Gilles Deleuze’s Postscript on the Societies of Control, 1990

Here is a fascinating documentary on the shift from Foucault’s disciplinary society to Deleuze’s control society.  Disciplinary society is made up of bounded institutions through which we all pass in our lives:  family, school, hospital, prison, factory.  The control society, dominated by the corporation, is like an all encompassing gas which pits us against each other, in a shifting, never certain obligation to aims of the new global market.

What follows control? Watch the film.

From the documentary:

The factory constituted individuals as a single body to the double advantage of the boss who surveyed each element within the mass, and the unions who mobilized a mass resistance; but the corporation constantly presents the brashest rivalry as a healthy form of emulation, an excellent motivational force that opposes individuals against one another and runs through each dividing each within.

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