Archive for Michel Foucault

a journal of the plague year [mo’vember reviews]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2020 by xi'an

Read a short manifest [in French], Décarcérer [Uncarcerate] written by Sylvain Lhuissier about the uselessness of the carceral system and the potential alternatives. Much easier to read than Foucault’s Surveiller et Punir, obviously, but the author is also an actor in the construction of such alternatives in France. Most interestingly, he points out that the arrival of the COVID pandemic, with overpopulated prisons being obvious hotspots, led to an almost instantaneous reduction of the carceral population thus brought below its nominal capacity, without a ensuing explosion in criminal activities.

Made a few jars of green tomato marmalade, as there were a few left when I cleaned my vegetable patch. With little sugar and some peppers to stand between marmalade and chutney. And found a bakery cooking kouignou amman almost on my bike path, although the calories input they provide would require a much longer détour..! And also had a long discussion (at a safe distance) with a tea dealer, who made me taste a unique white Pu Ehr from Laos. She also had many tips on Kunming (even though it sounds less and less likely ISBA 2020 will take place there.)

Read a touching novel [in French] by Akira Mizubayashi, Âme brisée [Broken soul], a moving story around music, deracination, lutherie, childhood memories, travelling between France, Japan and China. (Judging from the summaries of his other books, the themes sound central to the author’s work.) 

Watched a few episodes of The Magicians (although Season 1 came out in… 2015!), although I had not much enjoyed the book (volume 1). And found them an improvement, considerably so, with most characters having enough of a depth and flaws aplenty to compensate for the still terrible plot with its Narnia-esque hidden universe. The central characters Quentin and Alice are pleasantly making themselves quite antipathetic. But the inherent dependence on the weak book plot, a growing boredom (and the terrifying perspective of an enormous number of episodes!) made me stop from pursuing the experiment!


Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2019 by xi'an

A very interesting piece about prison abolition in the NYT. Centering on Ruth Wilson Gilmore an US advocate for the abolition of prison sentences and a geographer at Berkeley. Interesting because the very notion of abolition sounds anathema to many and I rarely meet people sharing the conviction that prison sentences are counter-productive, often in a major way. And not only at a philosophical (à la Foucault) or utopian (à la Thomas More) level, quite the opposite in that Gilmore also fight all the myths attached to incarcerated populations in the US, from the inmates being most non-violent drug traffickers to them being relatively innocent, to them being mostly black, to them providing cheap labour… The article also draw a convincing parallel between the sharp rise in incarceration and desindustrialisation in the 1970’s. (And also the rise in the incarceration rhetoric as a political campaign cheap argument.) And the way Gilmore (along with Angela Davis) involves the local communities against the building of new jails based on local needs rather than philosophical or ethical arguments… She clearly has an impact at this local level, but it is harder to see whether the society as a whole is moving towards different and more efficient and more productive ways of handling crime and violence.