(99) Prophylactics, Foucault and Unplanned Life

In an age that has found its hygene, both mental and physical, conditioned by all too real STDs, it should be noted that the isolation of experience and materials by any number of prophylactics (material and immaterial) still also conditions transgression, and indeed highlights it. As an AIDS activist I know in Africa noted, the unwillingness to discuss why one would not use a condom creates many communication problems … anyways no reason to belabor the obvious, but one aspect I failed to get across yesterday is the adminsitered or disciplinary strucutre of these health programs. Despite many of these public health campaigns being often driven by insurance companies and concerns, despite the moral campaigning, there is a comforting justification of the greatest good for the greatest number.  I won’t bring up the still distrubing end of Foucault who may or may not have courted his own death from AIDs, but the prophylactic always defines and positions the unsafe, the fluid and Out of Control. This too is highly moralized (is there a prophylactic against moralizing). Anyway, all of which is a long winded way of saying that the Catholic idea of wasting life by not following the natural methods available has a more radical shadowside which is a dance with death. If waste is thought of as a design problem that can be solved by capturing, isolating and disposing of danger in a million rubber “body hats” then it is inevitable that the majority of people will undoubtingly  what embrace such prophylactic measures, but if rational, administered life also grounds resistance to control, a pleasure in transgression and a sense of being a more alive individual, then as my friend from Africa notes, people will keep doing they enjoy despite what they know and there will be no dialog about the consequences or meaning of a choice that the administrators of life believe can be eliminated. It all may seem rather obvious, but when was the last time someone other than a Right to Lifer actually criticized the rationalism of planned parenthood. The sensible is that which is too obvious for words.

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2 Comments»

  jessica wrote @

99 – I think this is a provocative debate and I appreciate your efforts to both open up the territory and to bring it back to the matter of waste, but I do think the life/death framework as you are suggesting it here is taking things too far afield for the course. The challenge for us now is to reign it in so that we can productively assist Tassos toward a targeted exploration of the way the condom circulates across the rhetorics of waste in the city, and moreover, to help Elizabeth, Vicky, and Tassos together position this part of the research into the larger context of the thing. Others are completely welcome to disagree with me on this one, but from a pedagogical standpoint, I simply can’t see this thread evolving toward that end!

  99hooker wrote @

Luckily Tassos and I ran into each other tonight and we were able to chat a bit amongst ourselves over a self-polluting cigarette. His professor has studied with Foucault and I had had some conversations with people in SF a long time ago, so we both had some interesting stories about him … and also today there was a big battle to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood which I did not know about … but yes, all far afield … I think “Junkware” has me thinking about junk and waste at the genetic / reproductive level which is not on topic. I still think there is a Foucault-like administrative question about public health programs and condoms which could animate the debate over waste as that which is outside of order (irrational, self-destructive behavior for one) and whether waste is a problem to be solved or the dark shameful secret of reproduction … but enough of that


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