The Subject of Time in Foucault’s Tale of Jouy


While the intersection of the work of Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault may appear dated in the present conjuncture, I hope to demonstrate that the force of this encounter can only truly be appreciated today. The recent emergence of thing theory and speculative materialism has drawn renewed attention to the anti-humanist effort to divorce thought from the being of a human subject. Through highlighting the difficulty of thinking an ancestral reality that precedes human life, Quentin Meillassoux’s After Finitude makes the case for an absolute ontology of the in-itself that exists independently of the human subject. Meillassoux succeeds in articulating this as a necessary task for contemporary philosophy; he fails however to develop a coherent strategy for achieving access to the absolute outside of the in-itself. In what follows, I would like to argue that it is precisely such a strategy that emerges from the intersection of Foucault’s and Deleuze’s engagements with Maurice Blanchot’s notion of the absolute outside. I will closely read a single story from the first volume of The History of Sexuality through the lens of Deleuze’s posthumous study of Foucault’s work in order to demonstrate that Foucault develops a strategy for accessing the absolute memory of the inhuman outside, which both precedes and exceeds the life of any given present.

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