Foucault is just an Affectation! Rehashing Old Debates


I’ve been reading Fancois Cusset’s French Theory: How Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze & Co. Transformed the Intellectual Life of the United States. Cusset talks at length about the “Americanization of French Theory” or put differently, the creation of “French” theory by American importers and contextualizes all of this quite nicely within the American social/political background. One of the things that I always find interesting, and I’m not trying to rehash old boring debates, is the utter vitriol that characterizes the backlash against what was/is perceived as “poststructuralism” or “postmodernism” or “French theory” or “deconstruction” and very often, the corresponding caricatures that both the “fans” and detractors of each thinker creates, whether Deleuze, Derrida, or Foucault. This phenomenon is well known. However, Cusset mentions Camille Pagila’s (who is someone I respect) manifesto against Foucault from 1991, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders,” in passing. I had totally forgotten about this 80 page diatribe against Foucault et al. It is worth reading, but only in the same type of way that I crank up the volume when I hear Steve Perry sing “Oh, Sherry” on the radio. Here’s a taste:

Lacan, Derrida and Foucault are the academic equivalents of BMW, Rolex and Cuisinart…French theory is like those how to tapes guaranteed to make you a real estate millionaire overnight. Gain power by attacking power. Make a killing. Be a master of the universe. Call this number in Paris now! Continue reading

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