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 Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?

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Kath
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PostSubject: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:00 am

In case you're interested in Kristeva, Barthes & Co.

https://www.chronicle.com/article/was-a-renowned-literary/243719
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Perilagu Khan
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:10 am

The poststructuralists were/are all Marxists of the cultural stripe, and it is hardly surprising that a Kristeva would have worked on behalf of a communist government. I'm sure if global Marxism had triumphed during the Cold War, Kristeva would now hold a position of high honor in the establishment pantheon and that she would proudly regale one and all with her exploits on behalf of the Revolution. But because her side lost, her actions do not cover her in glory. Hence the accusatory and hysterical denials.
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Kath
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:28 am

I am not so sure in the case of Foucault, though. He's the only critical voice quoted in this article.
I mean, look at his concept of the panopticon which is about surveillance and control. Even the title Surveiller et punir (To surveil and to punish)...his work just doesn't quite fit to a communist for me.
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:45 am

Before grad school I read Discipline and Punish, but that was quite some time ago, so my recollections may be imperfect. But if I do recall correctly, Foucault directed his concept of the punishing state--most specifically, its widespread incarceration of criminals--at Western democracies, and left the USSR, which was the very definition of a punishing panopticon, unmolested.

Now if you're really searching for a non-communist poststructuralist, Hans Gadamer may be your best bet. Umberto Eco is another possibility, although I don't know that he was truly a poststructuralist, per se. He was, however, a friend of Foucault's.
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Kath
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Sat Jun 23, 2018 11:31 pm

Discipline and Punish has one major message which does not show up until the very last pages and still informs the backbone of the whole book: shut-down the prisons. Prisons only make things worse because a high percentage of prisoners becomes imprisoned again some time later. Criminals become delinquents, people who are "regulars" at prisons. The prison only creates worse criminals.
Foucault has seen the one or other prison from the inside, so, yes, he has reason for his arguing.
I think it is probably because Western prisons are claimed to be "humane" that he focuses on them. According to Foucault they are not humane, either.

It is just as you said, the panopticon is a perfect representation of surveillance and punishment - let's take the GDR for an example - TOO perfect for my taste. If people claim that Foucault was a communist I never agree with them. That simply doesn't look pro-communist to me. It's too close to 1984 for that, IMO.
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Sun Jun 24, 2018 1:02 am

What Foucault's argument about prison ignores is the fact that criminals, while in prison, cannot commit more crime. And were they allowed to commit crime with impunity, civilization would collapse into utter anarchy. So perhaps Foucault was an anarchist rather than a communist. However, most Leftist anarchists--Noam Chomsky is the perfect example--are actually crypto-communists inasmuch as they desire anarchy because they believe they could erect a communist state from the rubble. Anarchism is therefore simply a necessary stage on the path to communism.

PS--I believe it was The Order of Things I actually read before grad school, and Discipline and Punish while in grad school. It's all a bit of a disordered jumble.
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Kath
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:06 am

Perilagu Khan wrote:
What Foucault's argument about prison ignores is the fact that criminals, while in prison, cannot commit more crime. And were they allowed to commit crime with impunity, civilization would collapse into utter anarchy. So perhaps Foucault was an anarchist rather than a communist. However, most Leftist anarchists--Noam Chomsky is the perfect example--are actually crypto-communists inasmuch as they desire anarchy because they believe they could erect a communist state from the rubble. Anarchism is therefore simply a necessary stage on the path to communism.

PS--I believe it was The Order of Things I actually read before grad school, and Discipline and Punish while in grad school. It's all a bit of a disordered jumble.


Even then he might have wanted a different outcome for communism...one that does not include a panopticon. I simply hate it when people tackle Foucault just like that. Every sentence that starts with "Foucault's work is about…" must fail because he revised his own work repeatedly. "Foucault has said…" (yes, but in another book he has said something else).
Probably his revisions are not as spectacular as Eco's who took his whole understanding of reception theory back, but he did revise his theoretical approaches. I hate it when people try to simplify Foucault and break his theories down into easy chunks. Things are never easy with Foucault because his work is unstable in itself.
Sometimes I wonder if Foucault knew what Foucault's work was about...


(Oh and I forgot to mention that I am no fan of Eco anymore since I know what damage he has done to the work of Fleming. Well, at least he has introduced me to Fleming. Big brownie point for him.)

Have you read Madness and Civilisation? That's his PhD and the fun fact is that he has made up the fact that madmen were incarcerated on ships...
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Sun Jun 24, 2018 6:35 am

Kath wrote:
Perilagu Khan wrote:
What Foucault's argument about prison ignores is the fact that criminals, while in prison, cannot commit more crime. And were they allowed to commit crime with impunity, civilization would collapse into utter anarchy. So perhaps Foucault was an anarchist rather than a communist. However, most Leftist anarchists--Noam Chomsky is the perfect example--are actually crypto-communists inasmuch as they desire anarchy because they believe they could erect a communist state from the rubble. Anarchism is therefore simply a necessary stage on the path to communism.

PS--I believe it was The Order of Things I actually read before grad school, and Discipline and Punish while in grad school. It's all a bit of a disordered jumble.


Even then he might have wanted a different outcome for communism...one that does not include a panopticon. I simply hate it when people tackle Foucault just like that. Every sentence that starts with "Foucault's work is about…" must fail because he revised his own work repeatedly. "Foucault has said…" (yes, but in another book he has said something else).
Probably his revisions are not as spectacular as Eco's who took his whole understanding of reception theory back, but he did revise his theoretical approaches. I hate it when people try to simplify Foucault and break his theories down into easy chunks. Things are never easy with Foucault because his work is unstable in itself.
Sometimes I wonder if Foucault knew what Foucault's work was about...


(Oh and I forgot to mention that I am no fan of Eco anymore since I know what damage he has done to the work of Fleming. Well, at least he has introduced me to Fleming. Big brownie point for him.)

Have you read Madness and Civilisation? That's his PhD and the fun fact is that he has made up the fact that madmen were incarcerated on ships...

Unstable indeed. Alas, incoherence and incomprehensibility are not the strongest recommendations for a philosopher, or even a critical theorist.

Have not read MaS, although I've certainly heard about it. Now making up "facts" or conjunctures (the Ship of Fools) because language is incapable of expressing any knowable reality may be consistent with poststructuralism, but is unlikely to encourage anybody take you seriously outside of the hermetic pomo world. Ultimately, these sorts of shenanigans create an intellectual ghetto for poststructuralists, and will probably precipitate their work into the void in the future. Foucault and his ilk bulk large today, but I suspect they will be mere footnotes on the bizarre thoughtworld of the 20th and 21st centuries 200 years from now.
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Kath
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PostSubject: Re: Julia Kristeva: Was a Renowned Literary Theorist Also a Spy?   Wed Jun 27, 2018 7:07 am

It depends. Foucault's approaches may be doubtful in some places, but his theories are still great tools. I mean, that's what he wanted, a toolbox. It depends on what me make of them.
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