Postmodernism, Criminality, and Madness
Something just up at The American Mind.
I wrote at length about Foucault, Deleuze, and some of the other figures in the French pomo/poststructuralist world of the 1960s and 1970s in my first book. Though I never cared for the self-proclaimed American disciples of these writers, nearly all of whom seemed superficial and often quite uninformed about what they claimed were their sources of inspiration, I once thought fairly highly of Foucault, and I still think there are things worth savoring in his late lectures on Stoicism delivered at the College de France. I was less enamored of Deleuze, but his book on Nietzsche is an impressive document.
The TAM piece is however a good summary of what I think their central contribution to Western ideas is at present: an anarchist defense of lawlessness and insanity. They genuinely believed that nothing should ever be prohibited. When I was younger, I did not yet see how utterly mad a perspective that is. Without enough experience of human nature, it can seem reasonable to imagine that people wholly turned loose from constraint, structure, law would live as angels together. But it is the most insidious lie told by men and women of ideas, and those who tell the lie should be kept from positions of influence over the young. Some young people exposed to such ideas are destroyed by them, and whole cultures can be made to collapse if enough people in powerful positions are educated by the perpetrators of such lies.
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