Nealon’s Foucault Beyond Foucault

Jeffrey T. Nealon
Foucault Beyond Foucault: Power and its Intensifications Since 1984
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Sophists and technology
o    Post critical take
•    Nealon’s first book was on control and control societies
•    Discourse within a discourse
•    How governmental power operates within networks
o    Network v. network
•    Goal aligned in network warfare
•    Discipline will return in some way
o    Dis-intermediated
•    Warrant-less wiretaps—controlled and networked?
•    Does control put something back into discipline that wasn’t there in the first place?
•    Recruitment and marketing schema
•    Discipline enhances the sovereign
•    Maintenance of the same technique
•    Fordist—when it was the ruling technology
o    Everyone’s a producer
•    Everyone has to provide; become someone
•    Nealon turns back certain reading of Foucault
o    Cost and Foucault
•    Can’t be against economics
•    Risk and self sacrifice: turn to ethics
o    Market-logic?
•    Private is the new concern
o    But…are we satisfied with this?
•    Resistance out of the private?
•    Domination and resistance are everywhere
•    Even if private, there’s no more individual
o    Virno: commonplace
•    Exit value and civil disobedience
•    No longer strategies that work
•    Private experiences
•    Cultivated distraction: Shaviro
•    Make the common attractive
o    Drop the connection between
•    The mechanism that capital/culture travels under => Galloway
•    Capital becomes more capitalistic as it becomes more Machinic
o    Subjectivities and techniques they use
•    Control is something like a machine logic
•    How are ideologies technological?
Critical moments in the text
6: (in response to Deleuze): “Perhaps power has to do with investments, as much economic as unconscious.”
14: “The legacy of the Enlightenment is the call to think critically about the present, to emphasize becoming over being, and to practice what Foucault calls ‘a permanent critique of our historical era.”
20: “Cost enacts or dramatizes the effects of social compulsion and their imbrication with individual desires, without any necessity for natural or transcendental backing: if you want it, you have to consider the price, monetary or otherwise.”
21: “The Marxist project highlighted by Foucault here is not the denunciation of capitalism as a misery machine, but the project of mapping the myriad ways in which misery is produced by capital, in the hopes that the machine can be modified to support a different series of outputs.
24: “Foucaultian power is not something held but something practiced; power is not imposed from ‘above’ a system or socius; there is no ‘outside’ power, no place untouched by power; conversely, there is no place of liberation or absolute freedom from power; in the end, power produces desires, formations, objects of knowledge, and discourses, rather than primarily repressing, controlling or canalizing the powers already held by preexisting subjects, knowledges, or formations.”
37: “Foucault two uses for the word ‘intensity’—to signal individual bodily pain and systematic saturation—correspond roughly to what Foucault calls the ‘two images of discipline.’”
43: “If discipline ‘discovers’ the body as power’s primary pivot or relay, disciplineary power also ‘made’ that body: ‘The body becomes a useful force only if it is both a productive body and a subjected body’”
64: “’Money,’ Deleuze writes, ‘perhaps best expresses the difference between the two kinds of society, since discipline was always related to molded currencies containing fold as a numerical standard, whereas control is based on floating exchange rates, modulations depending on a code setting sample percentages for various currencies.”
68: (from Deleuze) “In disciplinary societies, you were always starting all over again (as you went from school to barrackes, from barrackes to factory), while in control societies you never finish anything—business, training, and military service being coexisting meta-stable states of a single modulation, a sort of transmutation of power.”
80: “’A whole political network became interwoven with the fabric of everyday life,’ a whole vast network of confrontations and resistances is configured and deployed.  And that network confronts us every day, all the time, with increasing intensity.  Welcome to amazon.com, Jeffrey, we have some suggestions for you.”
85: “Following the intense saturation of biopower’s concepts and practices within everyday life, contemporary capitalism has not gone about setting boundaries on work, but rather has sought to increase work’s saturation into the very fiber of everyday life.  Think of yourself at home, answering e-mail at midnight.  A highly intensified mode of biopower, then, is what one might call the ‘operating system’ of contemporary economic and cultural life, at least in the so-called first world”
From my previous post on Untimely Mediations:
“In sum, the critical history of thought is neither a history of acquisitions nor a history of concealments of truth; it is the history of ‘verdictions,’ understood as the forms according to which discourses capable of being declared true or false are articulated concerning a domain or thing.  What the condition of this emergence were, the price that was paid for it, so to speak, its effects on reality and the way in which, linking a certain type of object to certain modalities of the subject, it constituted the historical a priori of possible experience for a period of time, an area, and for given individuals” (18).
Nealon’s discussion of Foucault and cost obviously reminds me of Fearless Speech, but I am most interested in the part that mentions the ‘discourses capable of being declared true or false.’  If my memory serves me, to be labeled a parrhesiastes, this assumed that the individual was truthful—there was no ‘being declared’ to be sought.  The cost, here, is the individual coming forth to speak.  The cost was not in the discourse itself since it was assumed to be true because it could cost the individual everything.  Cost would also be found on the side of the King—by listening to he parrhesiastes, he was creating the possibility for his own downfall (well, at minimum he might be proven wrong).  Therefore, cost is an interesting spin on power in general—the one who has the most to lose is the one currently with all the power.
I think this goes against Foucault’s argument in Fearless Speech – or at least my earlier response to it.  In Fearless Speech, Foucault argues that the king, who essentially has nothing to lose, cannot have parrhesia. However, if we look at this from a cost perspective, it doesn’t cost the individual (who speaks the truth to the King) anything—he is only risking what little street cred he might have.  If the individual points out something against the King (a flaw, perhaps), and according to “rules of parrhesia” what is spoken by the individual must be true), then it might cost the King everything simply to listen. An individual, under his power nonetheless, can uproot it.
To summarize, after reading Nealon, I believe that there is a critical difference between “risk” and “cost” that would be interesting to discuss.  I should point out that I do not think these terms are separable; however “risk” does seem to evade the consequential nature of “cost” i.e. “he risked his reputation” = he still has it, compared with “that move cost him his reputation” = he risked and lost.  Anyway, maybe those are bad examples, but my question this week is “what’s the diff or the connections between “risk” and “cost”?”


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