Michel Foucault and the Invisible God


Foucault on the disciplinary society (part 2 after the jump)

Michel Foucault died on this date in 1984 (born 1926).

This observation from one of Frye’s late notebooks stemming from Foucault’s Discipline and Punish dovetails with our ongoing consideration of Frye on God:

Michel Foucault has written about the control of a space of visibility as the central idea of the 19th c. hospitals and the like, and cites in particular Bentham’s invention invention of a Panopticon. Ramifications include 1984 and its “telescreen.” The idea of a watching God, developed partly to inspire children with guilt feelings about masturbation, is closely bound up with the sense of shame about sex, the need for covering the body which Adam felt when he realized that God was looking for him and wanted to see him. The etymology of dragon means the all-seer. The God who watches is a demonic God; as I’ve said, the true God is invisible because he does the seeing. But what does he see? Something to do with seeing to recreate and not to judge, much less to punish. The taboo about seeing God is of course the reverse side of this. (CW 6, 559)


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