Thursday, 1 December 2011

28.11. Foucault

Of Other Space: Utopias and Heterotopias

As is well known, the great and obsessive dread of the nineteenth century was history, with
its themes of development and stagnation, crisis and cycle, the accumulation of the past, the
surplus of the dead and the world threatened by cooling. The nineteenth century found the
quintessence of its mythological resources in the second law of thermodynamics. Our own era,
on the other hand, seems to be that of space. We are in the age of the simultaneous, of
juxtaposition, the near and the far, the side by side and the scattered. A period in which, in my
view, the world is putting itself to the test, not so much as a great way of life destined to grow in
time but as a net that links points together and creates its own muddle.
There also exist, and this is probably true for all cultures and all civilizations, real and
effective spaces which are outlined in the very institution of society, but which constitute a sort
of counter arrangement, of effectively realized utopia, in which all the real arrangements, all the
other real arrangements that can be found within society, are at one and the same time
represented, challenged, and overturned: a sort of place that lies outside all places and yet is
actually localizable. In contrast to the utopias, these places which are absolutely other with
respect to all the arrangements that they reflect and of which they speak might be described as

Intellectuals and Power: A conversation between Foucault and Deleuze
"In this sense theory does not express, translate, or serve to apply practice: it is practice. But it is
local and regional, as you said, and not totalising. This is a struggle against power, a struggle
aimed at revealing and undermining power where it is most invisible and insidious. It is not to
"awaken consciousness" that we struggle (the masses have been aware for some time that
consciousness is a form of knowledge; and consciousness as the basis of subjectivity is a
prerogative of the bourgeoisie), but to sap power, to take power; it is an activity conducted
alongside those who struggle for power, and not their illumination from a safe distance. A
"theory " is the regional system of this struggle."

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