Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pleasures of Analysis

What I find interesting is this need, or rather obsession with the secret and its discovery. What is fueling this desire “to know”? It is perfectly reasonable to assume that the prohibition and censorship of information is repressive for the individual and even for democracy as Galiban writes. However, this focus on the necessity to know, led me to Foucault’s discussion of discourses of sex and the interplay of knowledge and pleasure in the chapter “Scientia Sexualis” of the History of Sexuality Volume I:

“We must ask whether, since the nineteenth century, the scientia sexualis… has not functioned, at least to a certain extent, as an ars erotica. Perhaps this production of truth, intimidated though it was by the scientific model, multiplied, intensified, and even related its own intrinsic pleasures… We have at least invented a different kind of pleasure: pleasure in the truth of pleasure, the pleasure of knowing that truth, of discovering and exposing it, the fascination of seeing it and telling it, of captivating and capturing others by it, of confiding it in secret, of luring it out in the open – the specific pleasure of the true discourse on pleasure” (Foucault, 71).

Although Foucault is specifically talking about the science of sex and its examination and analysis as eroticizes productions, could we think of this interplay in terms of one’s desire to know more generally speaking? Not only the desire to know, but to know that which is hidden? If so, then would this pursuit and obsession with ‘the truth’ or the full disclosure of knowledge come through in sexualized terms? Could knowledge be seen as a means to satisfy a desire, a pursuit for totality?

If desire can be seen, in psychoanalytic terms, as the loss of a full phatasmatic presence, then how can we read Paglan or Galison in this context? Are their projects both caught up in an obsession of knowledge, of a failure or rupture in an ‘incomplete’ knowledge?

Aaron, in his post, pointed to Paglan’s approach to the functioning of gaps in knowledge as symptomatic of a desire for an infinite knowledge:

“To map this cognitively, anything blank is a gap in knowledge, not so much a darkly held secret to be probed. To suggest that, despite how we might imagine the world as a geographical plane, there can be such a thing as infinite knowledge to be aware of the gaps within is, sadly, hubristic.”

It no longer seems to be a question of what is prohibited per se, but rather, the fact that it is prohibited as well as who is prohibiting from whom. Returning back to the idea of desire— if desire is redirected through prohibition and in these cases, secrecy and blank spots of information, do these desires become redirected, not toward the what, but the who? Is this who eroticized? Rather, do the very power relations become sexually charged? Turning specifically to Paglan’s project – does Paglan’s pursuits turn into a ‘pleasure of analysis,’ where there lies a certain pleasure and power dynamic in the very production of mapping?

Monica Garcia

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