Foucault’s Daughter Exists!

Posted: June 17, 2011 in Foucault, Mark Simpson, Scribbling On Foucault's Walls, Uncategorized, Writing

I have just completed the first draft (Hopefully nearly the last one) of my  novel about Foucault’s Daughter.

Imagine for a moment, if I was one of those writers who got interviewed. And the interviewer asked me how Foucault’s Daughter came into being. I would find it a very difficult question to answer.You may realise why if you read the story.

But I am afraid, dear long-suffering QRG readers, that part of my answer would involve a one Mr Simpson. I don’t know what you know about Foucault. But he worked in a period and a place when intellectual discussion was not treated as weird, abhorrent even. He was surrounded by ‘peers’ with whom he developed long and lasting, sometimes turbulent ‘dialectic’ relationships.

If you had been interviewing or reading Foucault in the 1960s and 1970s for example, it is quite likely he would mention and refer to the work of Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, and Jacques Lacan, just as much if not more than I talk and write about Mark Simpson. And, I do not know for sure, but I don’t think people then told Michel to go and ‘bum’ Barthes. Or marry him. Or ‘get a room’. Because that is what people who had ideas did. They discussed them with other people who had ideas in the same field.

“The intellectual was rejected and persecuted at the precise moment when the facts became incontrovertible, when it was forbidden to say that the emperor had no
clothes. ”  Michel Foucault

One of my papers from my Phd research was called ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. I did not know then that Foucault had made this statement. But I remember the stony silence when I gave my paper to a conference seminar. And I remember how the chair of the session ignored me and took questions from the floor to all the other speakers. I remember being ‘rejected’.



  1. Mark says:

    It’s because I’m not French, mon cheri…. Or much of a philosopher.

    Congratulations on the good news. Please accept my metaphorical cigar. I look forwards to meeting ‘Foucault’s Daughter’.

    But I should come out to the world about the fact that ‘Metrosexy’ is also ‘almost a collaboration’ — without your enthusiasm, support, insight and occasional nagging it would probably have never have seen the light of day. It would certainly have been MUCH less well-organised.

    Maybe we should get a room one day. Who knows what bum babies we might produce?

  2. very very naughty ones without a doubt.

  3. Scott says:

    Academic conferences are pretty traumatic, and, more crushingly for my idealism, pretty anti-intellectual. You don’t even have to go as far as saying the emperor has no clothes to provoke “stony silence”. Ultimately, they’re self-promotion fests and everyone is looking after their own ass. Chairs especially. There’s nothing sinister going on – he or she just didn’t know what you were talking about or couldn’t handle it. And thats their fault.

    You have *rather* intrigued me about your paper. What was it about?

    • well Scott I know what you mean. But I suppose it depends how you use the term ‘sinister’ or as Foucault might say it ‘power in discourse’.

      I may write a bit more about academia. And that conference. I don’t want to bring my ‘real life’ too far into things at the moment.

      But I am sure it is a common experience.

      • Scott says:

        Oh, I’ve no doubt you’re right. What is “sinister” about discourse is that there’s never anything “sinister” about it – no conspiracy, no evil agency, no malice, rarely anything “personal” as such. I don’t know if you know K-Punk’s (Mark Fisher) blog, but he writes about how institutions produce, zombie-like, people who discourse literally speaks through, effacing the individual voice. The point I was trying to clumsily put across was that often that discourse is no longer even the one Foucault was talking about in your post – of persecuting the dissenting voice. Its much more banal than that – its really about the discourse of careers, the policing of disciplinary boundaries, following the rubric of the call for papers, etc. Which is why these conferences are such a snooze. Though no less alienating for all that.

        One of the reasons I’ve historically been so suspicious, and sometimes downright dismissive of Foucault, is that his name itself is often a marker of this kind of university “discourse”. I still have my differences with Foucault. But one of the reasons I read your blog is that you’ve helped me rediscover Foucault for myself, a Foucault I can work with, and wrestle with. And congrats for finishing your book!

        • thanks Scott!

          Yes my paper wasn’t about Foucault or anything so high falutin’ so you are right it was more bureaucratic than that.

          I have heard of K Punk but need to go back and visit it!

  4. elissa says:

    “Knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting.”

    Yes indeed. And here comes a well serrated steak knife

    His daughter should not feel responsible though….and mazel tov on the great book news.

    And as Hefner likes to say: “you’re only as old as the woman you feel”

  5. Jim says:

    “I love her passion and that is a very very clever essay. But it is full. of. shit.”

    I’ll take your word for it on Foucault since I know nothing at all about the subject, but that essay is word-for-word dead on the money if you aply it to Chomsky-worship in linguistics. Reading anything by one of his devoress is like watching a snake fellate its tail. Google “Principles and Parameters” or any of the related spin-ofs and pervarications and product improvements on the whole Chmoskyan project to see what I mean.
    – it just grinds on year after year putting patches on its own self-made problems.

  6. Elise says:

    Oh is that what you meant by intellectuals? “He was surrounded by ‘peers’ with whom he developed long and lasting, sometimes turbulent ‘dialectic’ relationships.” That is certainly my definition of positive intellectual discourse, and I’ve found it with isolated people in academe… and on the internet. Although academe and the internet do not, on the whole, support it, haha! I thought you meant public intellectuals in a group, whereas these days they, too, seem to be isolated, occasional figures. Not a thriving scene. By the way, I’d like to thank you right here for being willing to disagree with me without taking irretrievable offense (where certainly none is ever personally intended). (My thrivingest, longest-lasting intellectual relationships, in life or online, have this requirement; otherwise, as you say, there is no dialectic.)

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