Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bronouncement: New Kind of Thing (On the Blog, Not in General. Sorry Metaphysicians.)

Hey kids!

I've noted before that summarizing a particular text is by far the most exhausting part of the blog - it involves tracking down the text, familiarizing myself with it, outlining it, and finally summarizing/translating it into what you get to read. It's also super-rewarding because it's the thing that teaches me the most things, which, fuck yeah, but part of the reason I'm so inconsistent is that when I can't find the time to do a text right, I just don't do it, so you get something like the Summer Of Only Mailbags or... whatever the fuck happened this semester.

There's this other thing where sometimes an idea runs through lots of texts, or gets developed over time, or, I mean, who the fuck knows. For example, I've received a ton of questions about Foucaultian biopower, which I assume are mostly from lazy debaters who want to use Foucault to avoid having to do new thinking every single round, because Biopower Ks are easy and thinking is hard. (Sorry, that got away from me.) The point is, biopower is a confusing but interesting idea, except it's really only laid out in one text, and isn't the main point, and then it's also used all over the literature... it's really out of hand. And if I try to force the textual summary to be about biopower, then you miss out on all the really sexy sex stuff in History of Sex and now no one is happy even though all Mommy wanted was a summary of biopower on the table when she got home from work and what? I blacked out for a second.

I mean, there's no reason I can't summarize what 'biopower' is supposed to be and give some helpful examples and everyone goes away happy. Except that there isn't a clear primary text to work from, which isn't really a problem so much as just the way I was doing thingsThe whole point of this blog is to make philosophy easier for you guys, since as you can tell I pretty much already get it, so when someone asks a question about a text that isn't the main point of that text I'm like, "Do I do a summary that doesn't really answer their question? Do I burn a precious, precious Mailbag on something not very broad?" Then I end up using the Monday Mailbag to do long-form, single topic posts like my post on the Double Effect, so you only get those sorts of things on Mailbag Mondays. I originally intended Mailbag Mondays to be more of a general sort of thing, where I answer shorter questions like these.

Aaaaaaaaaanyway, my point is that I was limiting myself in a stupid, stupid way and since I make the fucking rules on this blog I hereby declare that I can do more conceptual analysis whenever the hell I damn well please, and you're going to like it. 

No, really, I think you'll really enjoy the change. It means I don't feel entrapped by my own voluntary project that I started for fun, which is about the stupidest fucking thing I've ever let happen to me anyway. (Except maybe that one time I got tricked into going to the world's worst youth group when I was 15. No matter what you believe, I think we can all agree there are some stupid fucking youth groups out there.) Which also means I'll be inclined to post more often.

These new things that fall between a text summary and a Mailbag Monday post will also be from the perspective of the author as often as I can make them, because that's the most fun thing for me. So, yeah.

Finally, I'm not saying I'm going to stop doing summaries of texts, just that I'll pick those more carefully now instead of trying to finagle them into something they're not. I'm still going to shoot for... once a week? Maybe? We'll see. But this way if I stop having time to do a full summary I won't have to cut back so severely on the number of posts I do.

Okay. You may go back to enjoying my hilarious and quite frankly revolutionary blog. 


  1. We care. We care profoundly.

    1. Right on. Care or get of the pot. The pot of caring into. Or something.

      Anyways, yes. Carry on.

    2. I wrote "of" instead of "off". ~hangs head, disgraced~

  2. Philosophy is not for those for whom it hurts to think.

  3. yay i missed philosophy bro

  4. Philosophy Bro, you do just what makes you happy, please. I think a happy blogger is a prolific blogger and I love your blog. I have to cut down on the spurious internet marriage proposals though as I'm seeing someone. Sorry.

  5. one's life improves iff philosophy bro posts increase

  6. History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, sure. But it can't be read without "Security, Territory, Population," and "Birth of Biopolitics." And I'm not just trying to be a hipster snob, here. Just the way it is if you're looking for clarity. Maybe more importantly, though, Foucault wasn't an analytic philosopher. His terms--biopower, governmentality, even "power"--never got a singular definition by him. Looking for an analytic definition is an American thing; Foucault was clear that how he used his terms were mostly ad hoc and changed over time. Maybe the best advice you can give to somebody wondering what "biopower" is is to say that being intelligent about its use usually requires not using the term at all.