Saturday, January 14, 2023

Paul Veyne, Foucault: His Thought, His Character 

As he works, a writer depersonalizes himself in his anony­mous oeuvre. He writes 'in order to have no face','so as to get rid of himself', 'slowly and arduously changing for the constant sake of the truth'. Yes, that is what he wrote: 'for the sake of the truth'; 'this work of changing one's own thought and that of others seems to me to be the reason for being an intellectual'.20 It is so as to abolish one's individual­ ity, one's here and now and attain to a state of indifference, illimitation and independence from everything, a state that is a living death.

This is what Flaubert, a Schopenhauerian without knowing it, called objectivity. When one's personality becomes 'dis­course', it no longer exists. 

James in his novels is like the best French critics in maintaining a point of view, a view-point untouched by the parasite idea. He is the most intelligent man of his generation.

I had provided myself with the popular books of the day (this was sixteen or seventeen years ago), and for two weeks I had never left my room. I am speaking now of those books that treat of the art of making nations happy, wise and rich in twenty-four hours. I had therefore digested—swallowed, I should say—alI the lucubrations of all the authorities on the happiness of society—those who advise the poor to become slaves, and those who persuade them that they are all dethroned kings. So it is not astonishing if I was in a state of mind bordering on stupidity or madness.... 

It was always so obvious what Foucault was and wasn't. I'd read almost nothing and understood.

"A gentleman never lets politics get in the way of a friendship."

Arendt's "truth", and Flaubert's "truth

"...the impersonal in art and technocracy, though the product of the same events are very different things."

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