Tag Archives: Michel Foucault



For his second book THE SEVENTH FUNCTION OF LANGUAGE—a highly comedic murder mystery about French Theory in the 1980s in which the death of Roland Barthes was not an unfortunate accident but a deliberate hit carried out in pursuit of that seventh function—Laurent Binet turns everything he loves and loathes about European intellectual life into irreverent satire.

Starring Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Umberto Eco, Judith Butler (as a university student), Louis Althusser (and his uxoricide), François Mitterrand (Barthes’ lunch date just before his death), Valéry GiscardMichelangelo Antonioni and Monica Vitti at a fateful Logos Club meeting in Bologna, and Jacques Derrida, Roman Jakobson, Sylvère Lotringer, Camille PagliaFélix Guattari (but not Gilles Deleuze) at a linguistic symposium-turned-orgy at Cornell, the novel’s episodes are punctuated with a series of hilarious examples of the extreme logorrhea and irrepressible vanity of Philippe Sollers.




Translated by Sam Taylor

(New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017).


See: partisanmagazine.com/interview-with-laurent-binet

Roland Barthes. Image credit above: Éditions Grasset et Fasquelle.

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“In 1978, Mathieu Lindon met Michel Foucault. Lindon was twenty-three years old, part of a small group of jaded but innocent, brilliant, and sexually ambivalent friends who came to know Foucault. At first the nominal caretakers of Foucault’s apartment on rue de Vaugirard when he was away, these young friends eventually shared their time, drugs, ambitions, and writings with the older Foucault. Lindon’s friend, the late Hervé Guibert, was a key figure within this group.

“The son of Jérôme Lindon, the renowned founder of Éditions de Minuit, Lindon grew up with Marguerite Duras, Alain Robbe-Grillet, and Samuel Beckett as family friends. Much was expected of him. But, as he writes in this remarkable spiritual autobiography, it was through his friendship with Foucault—who was neither lover nor father but an older friend—that he found the direction that would influence the rest of his life.”*


The Semiotext(e) publication of Lindon’s memoir LEARNING WHAT LOVE MEANS (2017) was translated by Bruce Benderson.*

See Bookforum interview with Lindon.

See Andrew Durbin’s article in Bomb.

Above image credit: Semiotext(e).

Below: Mathieu Lindon (right) and Hervé Guibert in Balthus’ studio, Villa Medici, Rome, 1987. Photograph by Hans Georg Berger.


Revolutionary author, activist, and refugee advocate Serge Livrozet founded the Prisoners’ Action Committee (an extension of his friend Michel Foucault’s Prisons Information Group), was a key figure in Jacques Lesage’s Marge movement, and took up burglary and safe-cracking in order to finance an independent publishing company.

Beyond Baroque and Suzy Williams will host the Los Angeles premiere of a new documentary on this renowned French illegalist—LA MORT SE MÉRITE (DEATH MUST BE EARNED): DIGRESSIONS AVEC SERGE LIVROZET—and its director, Nicolas Drolc (Sur les toits), will be on hand to discuss the film.



BEYOND BAROQUE, 681 Venice Boulevard, Venice Beach



Serge Livrozet at the Ministry of Justice with a copy of the Prisoners' Action Committee (CAP) paper. Image credit: Efemérides Anarquistas

Serge Livrozet at the Ministry of Justice with a copy of the Prisoners’ Action Committee (CAP) paper.
Image credit: Efemérides Anarquistas


‘The Aleph?’ I repeated.
‘Yes, the only place on earth where all places are – seen from every angle, each standing clear, without any confusion or blending’
– Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph”

So begins “Taking Los Angeles Apart: Towards a Postmodern Geography”, the final chapter in Edward W. Soja’s landmark book Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. The book uses Borges’ short story about the Aleph, a mystical point of universal convergence, to explain the postmodern paradoxes of Los Angeles and the ultimate difficulty of capturing the city’s postfordist landscape through traditional language.


Soja, an influential political geographer and urban planner at UCLA, has written half a dozen books and countless essays imploring readers to rethink urban spaces and how they function in the political and social sphere. He is the father of “Thirdspace”, in which he says (in a book by the same title) “everything comes together… subjectivity and objectivity, the abstract and the concrete, the real and the imagined, the knowable and the unimaginable, the repetitive and the differential, structure and agency, mind and body, consciousness and the unconscious, the disciplined and the transdisciplinary, everyday life and unending history.” Thirdspace is derived from Michel Foucault and Henri Lefebvre’s notion of heterotopia, and also resemble’s Homi Bahba’s concept of cultural hybridity. Soja’s work employs a trialectics, rather than dialectics, of human geography–emphasizing the equal importance of history, contemporary social relations, and spatial constructs in understanding the urban environments around us.


A Los Angeles resident, Soja has focused much of his work on his home city, veering from the highly critical and sometimes jaded (think Mike Davis in “City of Quartz”) to the the radically optimistic (a-la-Reyner Banham). Over the years he has collaborated with influential thinkers such as David Harvey, Allen J. Scott, and Frederic Jameson.

In Postmodern Geographies, Soja uses Marxist criticism to outline a new form of spatial awareness before focusing his attention on the capitalist (and postfordist) urban example par excellence: Los Angeles. Yet before dismantling the (arguably) already-dismantled city, Soja assembles it: the chapter that precedes “Taking Los Angeles Apart” is aptly titled “It All Comes Together in Los Angeles”. So for Soja, deconstruction is impossible without its opposite, and precedent, activity. In the book, Soja also introduces a number of interesting concepts, which reoccur in some of his later work:

Flexicity: Deindustrialization has been occurring alongside a potent reindustrialization process built not just on high technology.
Cosmopolis: The primacy of globalization. Globalization of culture, labor and capital. “Re-worlds” the city.
Expolis: The city that no longer conveys the traditional qualities of cityness. No cityness about Los Angeles. Growth of the outer city and city edges. More urban life.
Metropolarities: Increasing social inequalities, widening income gaps, new kinds of social polarization and satisfaction that fit uncomfortably within traditional dualisms based on class or race, as well as conventional. New underclass debate.
Carcereal Archipielagos: A fortified city with bulging prisons (City of Quartz) and increased surveillance.
Simcity: A place where simulations of a presumably real world increasingly capture and activate our urban imaginary and infiltrate everything urban life. An electronic generation of hyper reality.


These concepts can help us understand Los Angeles, but also the postfordist landscape that L.A. exported to the rest of America and the world. Soja’s theories are incredibly useful in analyzing–and ultimately, as he would have it, deconstructing–suburban wastelands and unplanned urban sprawl all over the globe. Hopefully a new critical, trialectic spatial ontology, as outlined in Postmodern Geographies, can provide real solutions for urban planners and theorists in our young century. And until then we can marvel at the complexity of urban life, as multifaceted as the limitless Aleph.


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Sylvère Lotringer was in conversation with Dorothée Perret in the Paris, LA #10 article ‘The Importance of Being Unfinished,’ with an introduction by Barlo Perry.

On Wednesday night he was at Ooga Booga’s second space at 356 Mission Road, to celebrate the launch of Semiotext(e)’s new publication Schizo-Culture, along with Semiotext(e)’s Noura Wedell and Hedi El Khot. For those of us who were only somewhat familiar with Semiotext(e), as an independent publisher inhabiting a lofty space in the art world (Semiotext(e) is included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial) and academia, and who brought the work of many French theorists to the United States, the evening was only somewhat informative. A basis of knowledge and understanding of the topic was already assumed, so the panelists dove straight in.

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Chris Kraus introduces Schizo-Culture at Ooga Booga

The Schizo-Culture conference took place at Columbia University in November of 1975. Lotringer described it as a complete shock. He had expected about fifty people to show up, but instead there were a thousand. He said the conference erupted into creative chaos. Of those who presented at the conference were French philosophers and thinkers Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Félix Guattari, and a wide range of Americans such as William Burroughs, John Cage, and Judy Clark. Lotringer said that when he thinks about schizo-culture, it is all about New York City, and the good energy that was felt there at the time. At the time it was joyful to be in New York City with all of the creative people there, the “old art world,” the punks, the young radicals, and the young academics. “People were afraid to go to New York back then, and they could have never predicted that 42nd St would turn into Disneyland,” said Lotringer.

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Noura Wedell, Sylvère Lotringer, and Hedi El Khot

Three years later, Semiotext(e) published the Schizo-Culture issue of their journal. He described the issue as being very fun to put together, and introduces it in the book as being “…not the same as the Schizo-Culture conference. The issue was put together three years after the conference in a very different context with very different intentions and with different material. …[It] doesn’t recount the shock encounter that took place between French and American philosophers and artists at ‘the Event,’ but instead consummated the magazine’s rupture with academe. It also took Semiotext(e) one step closer to the New York art world at an exciting and innovative time. No one could have anticipated that in just five years it would mutate into an art market, and then into an art industry. It was more than anyone had bargained for.” (v)

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Jack Smith, Jungle Island, 1967

Lotringer’s introduction to the Schizo-Culture conference and the Schizo-Culture issue of the journal was followed with Jack Smith’s film Jungle Island from 1967. Lotringer said that Smith knew nothing about French philosophy, yet he embraced the same ideas. He said he had a presence and a simplicity, that you just need to look at the world around you. His beautiful film was a jungle island dream, a layering of images of tropical plants, water, and a drag queen in heavy colorful makeup sparkling in the sun.

After the film, Noura Wedell and Hedi El Khot asked Lotringer a few questions, trying to start a discussion, but it was mostly Lotringer who spoke. The questions were opened up to the audience, and with each one, Lotringer became more and more impassioned. Towards the end he stated, “We are taught to be individuals, to draw attention to ourselves. That is how we are raised. Subjectivity is a false problem. You have to break from individualism by being mad.”