Biopolitical Experience: Foucault, Power and Positive by C. Blencowe

By C. Blencowe

An unique, complete interpretation of Michel Foucault's research of biopolitics – situating biopolitics within the context of embodied histories of subjectivity, affective investments and constructions of expertise. Going past lamentation on the horrors of biopolitical domination, the publication develops a positive-critique of biopolitical event.

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Extra info for Biopolitical Experience: Foucault, Power and Positive Critique

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2 Benjamin adopted many of the concepts and values of Bergsonist vitalism, equating communism with a kind of anarchist open state of becoming loose mass, actualising qualitative differentiation in present time. 3 However, Benjamin (in a move that prefigures Foucault’s archaeology of biology) sought to historicise the ontologies, values and political aspirations of vitalist philosophy. He argued that the idea of a ‘creative’ evolutionary life force or ‘élan vital’, that inspired Bergsonist vitalism, as well as the longing for experience in duration, was an artefact of historical transformations in productive technologies (and thus structures of experience) not the expression of metaphysical or timeless truths or values (Benjamin, 1999b).

Whereas humanistic conceptions of experience understand it as what happens to, or is had by, a subject who brings the capacity to interpret and to create to the experiential encounter, Foucault conceives of those capacities (creation, ‘interpretation’) as themselves a part of historical experience; not only the object, but also the subject is created in experience. Experience is not the seeing and feeling that is done by a subject, but what is seeable, what is sayable, what is affectable. The history of bodies and of truth is the history of the formation of experience.

Crucially, Benjamin’s fully immanent conception of duration and creative force or life underpins a set of political aspirations that are considerably more realistic and more faithful to the value of ‘difference in itself’ than is Bergson. Bergson’s theorisations of the actualisation of creativity in human experience buy into the navel-gazing notions of romantic individualism. Given the experiential inadequacy of finite individuals it is no surprise that he effectively (if not formally) re-posits a transcendent by treating the durée as ahistorical.

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