The sovereign is an idea that really hasn't been covered up to this point in our adventure through postmodernism; the original source of power, I feel, has been neglected for the end product of that power, namely structures and institutions within society that have come to manipulate it for their own ends and purposes. These institutions and structures I speak of are things such as the media, MNCs, and political institutions, yet none of these things are sovereign in and of themselves; they all derive their power from something else whether it be money or some idea of power.
Perhaps this is my utter ignorance of the chronology of this postmodern strain of critical theory, but there is something in Butler's central thesis that strikes me as not especially revolutionary. She writes as if no one, to date, has made the connection between political power and domination of the psyche. Indeed, she offers this most in depth exploration into the theoretical underpinnings of the ways in which Freud and Foucault can be navigated to create a theory that acknowledges power's supression on a psychic level.
I am very interested in the way that, aside from its relationship to sexuality, Foucault crafts his nuanced definition of power. At times, it seems he almost airs on the edge of depoliticizing the presence of power by making claims that about its omnipresence and everywhereness. However, what is most powerful about this conception, is that he artfully manages to posit this evasive power within a political framework of dominance and oppression. Foucault is most clear on the many faces of power in his section on 'Metho' (p.
To go along with my previous blog about power as a simulacrum, I want to delve deeper into Foucault's claim that sex is nothing more than an imagined construct. Sex is simply a term used to discuss the discourses on sexuality. Centuries ago, sexual intercourse was nothing more than an activity done in everyday life. There was nothing that needed to be assessed or fixed. Now, sex is an act that requires its own knowledge.
While trying to get a grasp on Foucault's position on power, I was very intrigued by his negation of the "juridico-discursive" model of power. This maintains that there is always a negative relationship between sex and power where power's ultimate objective is to suppress sex. Of course, Foucault adamently contradicts this belief throughout the book as he claims that power works to bring sex into discourse. Rather than supressing sex, power wishes to approach it in a more controlled manner.
The majority of the second half of the History of Sexuality, when not discussing sexuality and alliance, deals with the relationship between power and sex. While I think the two can be mutually exclusive - you can have sex without a struggle and you can have power without sex - Foucault seems to intertwine them to the point where there is relatively no difference. By the end of his introduction to sex, power=sex. "Sex is without any norm or intrinsic rule...
One of the assumptions of the 'repressive hypothesis' is that sexual desire is inefficient, and threatens to unbalance the system of production and consumption if it is not channeled and repressed -- sexuality (as a discourse, as a set of power relations and taboos around sex) is an effect of economic relations, and consequently has an easily intelligible motivating force, the imperative to maximize production. Foucault's move is to place sexual and economic, as well as knowledge relationships, on a single level.