Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
"The examination combines the techniques of an observing hierarchy and those of a normalizing judgement. It is a normalizing gaze, a surveillance that makes it possible to qualify, to classify and to punish. It establishes over individuals a visibility through which one differentiates them and judges them. That is why, in all the mechanisms of discipline, the examination is highly ritualized. In it are combined the ceremony of power and the form of the experiment, the deployment of force and the establishment of truth. At the heart of the procedures of discipline, it manifests the subjection of those who are perceived as objects and the objectification of those who are subjected. The superimposition of the power relations and knowledge relations assumes in the examination all its visible brilliance"(185).
The examination, a central feature of Foucault's Discipline and Punish, is the mechanism through which we become individualized, categorized and judged. It is the technique that places us, as individuals within a community. In the examination the gaze becomes joined with a particular kind of knowledge. Knowledge finds itself embedded in this procedure as the eye of the knower observes, makes notes, and then places. The examination gives the observer be it doctor, prison warden, teacher, priest, pastor, knowledge. This knowledge, in turn, allows a person to be known, and once known to be subjected. The examination is a fundamental technique in creating docile bodies.
When one comes under examination there is no hiding. The whole individual becomes exposed be in the measure of their intelligence or their health. The examination is a through rendering of the body. In every area of our lives, through every stage, the examination is there to tell us (and our observers) where we need to place our bodies. At birth, the APAR tests performed by both doctor and delivery nurse rates our body against a normalized standard. The infant body is scored, recorded and judged as either normal or abnormal. If abnormal, a battery of tests pinpoints that abnormality (even within abnormality there are standards). For a child to enter school, there are more tests. Is the child ready? Can they read? Will they socially function within a classroom? These tests are often extensive involving a teacher observing and questioning the young child. The results will determine which kind of classroom a child belongs. If abnormal, again tests will follow to determine what techniques will be needed to fix the child's abnormality. And so on as we grow older from the SAT to the GRE, to observations from employers. Our lives become encoded through examination. We know our places by how we perform.
All these examinations involved formalized settings, ritualistic procedures that begin and end. Pick your pencil up, hold your pencil over the paper, began, end. In order to take the tests one must be documented with proof of their identity. Rules must be laid out to begin. In order to judge fairly all must be made equal in order to individualized. We must all start in the waiting room of the GRE with our proof of our existence. We must all began with the same equipment, the same room, the same chair, the same computers.
The examination crosses institutions. As seen above, both the medical and education field employ this technique in a highly formalized manner. They test and record, leaving a permanent record of our normalcy or the abnormal traits that must be furthered examined. Religion, like these other institutions, also makes use of the examination. In fact, this examination one might argue (as Foucault later does) that the examination originates in the confessional where the priest must vigorously examine the penitent. In the FDLS church, this examination comes from all quarters. Not only does the file leader of the group observe, question, and seek out the dark places of the soul but the whole community engages in this observing, filing away the actions, words, and thoughts of each other. The dark cellars were one couple goes to make love is exposed by another wife with the pulling of a cord. She makes in that moment of discovery, a judgment based on the observation, the examination in her mind of what is acceptable. Through constant scrutiny, these individuals become their own examiners. All thoughts, actions, and desires become subjected to the normalizing standard set forth by the group.
This is what is so insidious about the examination. It begins with the observing of the knower. There is someone, something, someones, somethings, that have to know. This knowledge/power relation enables them to place other individuals. They subject bodies into categories they create and refine. Knowledge brings about a proliferation of new categories, new ways of placing human bodies. It holds them to certain places. But what happens is that these bodies start to know their places. They become their own examiners. They learn to govern their bodies according to the norms created by this power/knowledge. The examination becomes an individual touch stone which one goes to examine themselves. The ritual of examination becomes one in which the figure of power becomes embodied within the individual.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I would say that in the West, sexuality is not generally something about which people are silent and that must be kept a secret; it is something one has to confess." Foucault
Would I really push the limits of exposure? Would I dare to confess in a photo my sexuality in such a public space?
And for the record, we're not....
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
We possess all our memories but not the faculty of recalling them [...] What then is a memory which we do not recall? Or indeed let us go further. We do not recall oru memories of the last thirty years; but we are wholly steeped in them; why then stop short at thirty years, why not extend this previous life back to before our birth? If I do not know a whole section of the memories that are behind me, if they are invisible to me, if I do not have the faculty of calling them to me, how do I know whether in that mass which is unknown to me there may not be some that extend back much further than my human existence? If I can have in me and round me so many memories which I do not remember, this oblivion (a de facto oblivion, at least, since I have not the faculty of seeing anything) may extend over a life which I have lived in the body of another man, even on another planet. The being that I shall be after death has no more reason to remember the man I have been since my birth than the latter to remember what I was before it.
The title is my memory failing...a call back to H's blog.
Who writes these stories of the past? Who writes your stories of the past?
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Monday, October 08, 2007
 Sarah Ahmed cites as one of her aims “I want to reflect on the processes whereby ‘being emotional’ comes to be seen as a characteristic of some bodies and not others, in the first place. In order to do this, we need to consider how emotions operate to ‘make’ and ‘shape’ bodies as forms of action, which also involve orientating towards others.” Sarah Amed, The Cultural Politics of Emotions, New York: Routledge, 2004, 4. This argument presents a framework for the aforementioned argument concerning how the FDLS shapes Palmer’s emotional discourse."
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
There are vast realms of consciousness still undreamed of
vast ranges of experience, like the humming of unseen harps,
we know nothing of, within us.
Oh when man has escaped from the barbed-wire entanglement
of his own ideas adn his own mechanical devices
there is a marvellous rich world of conact and sheer fluid beauty
and fearless face-to-face awareness of now-naked life
and me, and you, and other men and women
and grapes, and ghouls, and ghosts and green moonlight
and ruddy-orange limbs stirring the limbo
of the unknown air, and eyes so soft
softer than the space between the stars,
and all things, and nothing, and being and not-being
when at last we escape the barbed-wire enclosure
of Know Thyself, knowing that we can never know,
we can but touch, and wonder, and ponder, and make our effort
and dangle in a last fastidious fine delight
as teh fuchsia does, dangling her reckless drop
of purple after so much putting forth
and slow mounting marvel of a little tree.
D. H. Lawerence