Marrigje Paijmans | De zelfkant van de ander


It is a well known fact that Michel Foucault around 1970, quite instantly, lost all interest in modern literature. Although his work from 1976 on shows a regain of his fascination for literary text, his attention had shifted towards texts from antiquity and the early middle ages. In theatre plays by Euripides, rhetoric lectures concerning parrhèsia (truth speech), and confessions of church fathers, Foucault searches for an alternative to literary transgression after the ‘death of the author’. He believes that new engagement consists of a ‘working on the limits from inside out’. This implies a repositioning of the modern subject in the centre of the text, similar to the antique ‘self’, before it was split up in an object and a subject. Reminiscent of Greek ethics, Foucault stresses the importance of taking proper care for our selves before we address the other and the world. Correspondingly, only texts with a personal identity will eventually exercise a ‘speech activity’ on the lingual reality of the power discourse. This lingual confrontation between the self and the discourse always involves social and political engagement; however it will be of a very specific and local character.

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