May 19, 2017

Sentence of the day.

"It is a mildly disconcerting experience, seeing conscious evolutions and experiments in style; baroque, ornate, urgent, dyspeptic; the repetitions and modalities at various points and the stylized categorizations and oppositions – prudes and perverts, monsters and insanity, measures and tests, inquiries and examinations, bodies and boys, punishment, pleasure, asceticism, suicide; the going back over old themes in new ways; how the old becomes new but how the new can never entirely disown the old; the desire for both fidelity in the evocation of moods and worlds, but not necessarily strict historical accuracy, whatever that might in the end be taken to mean; and the desire to write all this up somehow as a history of the present."

From a TLS article with a nicely short title, "Foucault investigates."

21 comments:

Bob Ellison said...

The name, in American, is pronounced "foo-coe".

Etienne said...

The sentences with semi-colons are like harmonious-colored Lego's snapped together for no reason.

St. George said...

Key phrase: "the desire to write all this up somehow"

Key word: "Somehow"

Ann Althouse said...

There's no end to how long a sentence can be if you embrace punctuation's superhero, the semicolon.

Ann Althouse said...

If you have a text -- including a whole book -- written by an author who eschews all semicolons, you can turn the whole thing into one sentence by stripping out all but the last period all replacing them with a semicolon. Just de-capitalize the words after the the semicolons unless they are proper nouns.

Bob Ellison said...

You can do something similar-- using m-dashes (typed as double hyphens)-- but I was taught in typing class to do the m-dash right after the previous word, with a space afterward-- not that such teaching is perfect-- my dog just went outside and pooped.

Bob Ellison said...

There is a problem with semicolons. I'd like to convene a convention, headed by Colin Powell, to confront the problem. The main problem is people who think the semicolon is sorta like a super-comma; a thing to divide things in a list; like a dog or a cat; some punctuation the purpose of which is mysterious; but which can jump in and make the text holy; somehow.

Ann Althouse said...

I hate half-attached em-dashes. I think the reason for them is to get the software to make line breaks. I think the dashes should be attached on both sides or neither side, and since I care about line breaks, I chose to go with nonattachment.

rhhardin said...

He uses the Oxford semicolon.

tcrosse said...

The semicolon is a class indicator. It says, "I went to college".

rhhardin said...

There's no limit to how long a sentence can be, period.

Bob Ellison said...

The solution might be to go with unattached n-dashes, like this: "There's a shark in the water - you might get eaten."

That would simplify typing, texting, and the NYT style book. I don't think the unattached n-dash is spoken for. Let's make it happen!

Balfegor said...

It's a kind of long, jangly sentence, but it has the meandering rhythm of spoken speech. Read out loud it doesn't sound half bad.

Fernandinande said...

I guess I'll have to reject subcultural dematerialism. Again.

wildswan said...

Reading Foucault is like watching an ant run along a Moebius strip, a thing my father, a trained scientist, encouraged us to observe. Before you know it you are on the other side, upside down and going in the opposite direction.

Foucault wanted to just observe the stratas of thought influencing public policies at different times as if he were an archaeologist studying the evolution of pottery through time in a dig at Jericho. But can Twentieth century state policies - which include Fascism, Nazism, Communism and capitalism - can they be so studied? And why study them? Metaphysics asks and answers these questions but Foucault does not accept metaphysics as able to ask and answer and so he ducks away from using it. He chooses skepticism. But as he does so, by the very act of doing so he, like the ant on the Moebius strip, crosses to the opposite side of the paper and goes in the opposite direction. He is now justifying his metaphysical position which is metaphysics while on the other side of the paper rejecting metaphysics while trying to know while rejecting knowing.

Since with French clarity he is aware of all the dilemmas and traps he is popular with intellectuals who like to run the maze of thought with him. But, to me, his thought is more than a maze. He is trying to say that a system of thought just like the discredited metaphysical system of thought underlies twentieth century political thought. But we cannot analyze it because that would be metaphysics. Yet these thoughts control what the modern scientific centralized welfare state does to people. So that's all good.

But you could get to the same place by reading Shakespeare instead of running and running in order to briefly outrun contradictions and stay in one place.

wildswan said...

And who is this Althusser who suddenly appears as an opponent of Foucault?

FullMoon said...

Dang it ! Wildswan at 8:37 beat me to it!

YoungHegelian said...

I was surprised that the article didn't cover Foucault's --- what shall we call it? --- turn to the "kinder & gentler" in the The Care of the Self, Volume 3 in the History of Sexuality.

Foucault swam against the tides of academic French philosophy of his time. Foucault privileged the philosophy of history & historical understanding itself as the center of human thought e.g the Archaeology of Knowledge. No one else on the French scene gave a damn about history. Derrida was about Continental philosophy's own "linguistic turn". The Marxist humanists around Sartre saw history as something to leave behind in the existential creation of the Self. And, finally, the neo-Marxists like Althusser thought that the answers lay in a renewed attempt at Marxist economic "science" (you can guess how that turned out...).

The problem I have with Foucault is that for someone who sees historical phenomena as so central, his history is often, well, bad. Cherry picked, tendentious, & often just wrong. Historians by & large aren't too found of ol' Mikey, & for good reason.

YoungHegelian said...

By the way, a very good & eminently readable introduction to 20th C French philosophy can be found in Descombes' Modern French Philosophy.

And, by golly, it's available through our hostess' Amazon portal, for all of you who've forgotten that fact!

Lewis Wetzel said...

Perhaps we should not look to an insane homosexual bourgeois for clues on the meaning of existence.
Just a thought.

Anga2010 said...

Women are better writers, I think, because they occasionally have periods.