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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reading Change From A Turtle's Perspective

Deborah Yarock With Turtle

Deborah Yarock, MFT
Oakland, CA
(510) 214-6951

http://deborahyarockmft.com/contact/
Rilke: You must change your life
Foucault: You must change the way you think.
Foucault - Straddling the Abyss

The turtle carries all possessions around with it. 
It is inseparable from its shelter. 
The turtle lumbers on land and lays its eggs there. 
Then leaves them. 
Some get eaten, some hatch and then get eaten. 
Some make it to the water to swim, to live. 
On land the turtle survives. 
It is an ancient species that owes its longevity to its conservatism, its perfect inability to change. 
In this way it survives a thousand years, another thousand, and another and another, a very ancient species. 

The turtle does not change but it continues in its static life. 
It does not risk, it endures. It survives
but it does not live. 
It does not migrate far nor seek other lands that might be happier climes. 
It remains where it is until some impossibility forces it elsewhere.

And some people prefer to do the same.
Are you one of them?
Or do you want to change your life?
Do you want to change the way you think?
Do you want to challenge yourself, to risk what is sure with the unknown?
Are you possessed with the Nietzschean "will to know?"
Are you driven by this "will to know?"
This inner longing for Other?
Agnes Martin Painting - Grid;The Matrix

Cynthis Ozick wrote an article in The New Yorker once. She shocked by taking Otto Frank to task for causing his daughter Anne's death.
Because he had the means and the knowledge to get out of Europe in time.
Instead he moved his family into an attic, with their furniture and belongings
to set up the same life they had had.
Ozick says that he could not leave his bourgeois life
to flee into the unknown
so they all perished save himself. 
-Like the turtle he carried his possessions on his back- 
up the stairs to the attic
until flight to more hospitable climes became impossible,
and he could no longer even endure.

These are questions to be asked.
What are your answers?

The world is not continuous, progressive, historical. The world is ruled by EVENTS! Events come from nowhere. They are unpredictable. They cannot be anticipated. They surprise us. They have consequences, and these consequences have additional consequences. You cannot be prepared for Events. They just happen. 
Pearl Harbor
The death of a loved one.
9-11
The loss of your health.
Meeting someone you never expected to know and love.
An escape from Death.

And these moments of Kairos where your historical life and your Destiny cross will change your life.
Are you ready for them?
Can you welcome them?
Can you come out of your shell and embrace the Other?


Mark Tansey - Continental Divide
I once shared an office with someone who experimented on turtles. He kept them in a large tank.
One day I just stood and watched them swimming in the tank.
Their grace stunned me as they moved their legs and feet/hands waving them, circling, and they looked like birds flying in the sky. Effortless. Joyful. Just playing. Living. Weightless.


Freud: 
Play is the work of the child. Work is the play of the adult. 
Is this true for you?
Do you want it to be?
If you can imagine it, you can desire it.
If you can desire it, you can live it.
By Maria Spelterini
I'll Hold Your Hand
I'll be your balancing pole.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Island of a Book - Jacques Rancière's The Ignorant Schoolmaster, Don De Lillo's Cosmopolis

In 1818, Joseph Jacotot, a professor of French literature, was begining his lecturing days in the University of Louivain, expecting those to be a calm, uneventful period in his eventful life and career which begun when he was 19 and teaching rhetoric at the University of Dijon.

The students loved him and there were Flemish students who wanted him to teach them, but he knew no Flemish and they spoke no French. So Jacotot decided to give it a try, a bilingual edition of the French classic, Fénelon's Télémaque, being published at the time.




The students were given a book and asked to learn the French text using the translation. Jacotot entered the experiment with low hopes but having the bilingual edition (what Jacques Rancière in his work The Ignorant Schoolmaster refers to as the minimal link of a thing in common), he thought it worth a try.

" He expected horrendous barbarisms, or maybe a complete inability to perform. How could these young people, deprived of explanation, understand and resolve the difficulties of a language entirely new to them? No matter! He had to find out where the route opened by chance had taken them, what had been the results of that desperate empiricism. And how surprised he was to discover that the students, left to themselves, managed this difficult step as well as many French could have done! Was wanting all that was necessary for doing? Were all men virtually capable of understanding what others had done and understood?*
*Fénelon’s didactic and utopian 24~volume novel, Télémaque (1699), recounts the peregrinations of Telemachus, accompanied by his spiritual guide, Mentor, as he attempts to find his father, Odysseus. In it, Fénelon proposes an “Art of Reigning” and invents an ideal city, Salente, whose peace-loving citizens show exemplary civic virtue. The book was extremely displeasing to Louis XIV, who saw himself in the portrait of Idomeneus. But it was much admired by Enlightenment philosophers, who proclaimed Fénelon one of their most important precursors. In terms of Jacotot’s adventure, the book could have been Télémaque or any other.
— TRANS."
(The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pg.2)


The Ignorant Schoolmaster is a book about Jacotot's curious educational adventure. It is about teaching as a process not between the teacher as the master of knowledge and understanding and the student as the ignorant one, not between the intelligences of the teacher and the student locked in hierarchical opposition of higher and lower, better and worse, more and less. 


"The pedagogical myth, we said, divides the world into two. More precisely, it divides intelligence into two. It says that there is an inferior intelligence and a superior one. The former registers perceptions by chance, retains them, interprets and repeats them empirically, within the closed circle of habit and need. This is the intelligence of the young child and the common man. The superior intelligence knows things by reason, proceeds by method, from the simple to the complex, from the part to the whole. It is this intelligence
that allows the master to transmit his knowledge by adapting it to the intellectual capacities of the student and allows him to verify that the student has satisfactorily understood what he learned. Such is the principle of explication. From this point on, for Jacotot, such will be the principle of enforced stultification."
(The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pg.7)


" It is this word that brings a halt to the movement of reason, that destroys its confidence in itself, that distracts it by breaking the world of intelligence into two, by installing the division between the groping animal and the learned little man, between common sense and science. From the moment this slogan of duality is pronounced, all the perfecting of the ways of making understood, that great preoccupation of men of methods and progressives, is progress toward stultification. The child who recites under the threat of the rod obeys the rod and that’s all: he will apply his intelligence to something else. But the child who is explained to will devote his intelligence to the work of grieving: to understanding, that is to say, to understanding that he doesn’t understand unless he is explained to. He is no longer submitting to the rod, but rather to a hierarchical world of intelligence. For the rest, like the other child, he doesn’t have to worry: if the solution to the problem is too difficult to pursue, he will have enough intelligence to open his eyes wide. The master is vigilant and patient. He will see that the child isn’t following him; he will put him back on track by explaining
things again. And thus the child acquires a new intelligence, that of the master’s explications. Later he can be an explicator in turn. He possesses the equipment. But he will perfect it: he will be a man of progress."
(The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pg.8)

It is about teaching as a process of emancipation and as a process in which one teaches what one doesn't know.

" Jacotot decided to devote himself to this. He proclaimed that one could teach what one didn’t know, and that a poor and ignorant father could, if he was emancipated, conduct the education of his children, without the aid of any master explicator. And he indicated the way of that “universal teaching”— to learn something and to relate to it all the rest by this principle: all men have equal intelligence." (The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pg.18)

Like Télémaque, Cosmopolis is just another book. 

The book. Télémaque or another one. Chance placed Télémaque at Jacotot’s disposal; convenience told him to keep it. Télémaque has been translated into many languages and is easily available in bookstores. It isn’t the greatest masterpiece of the French language; but the style is pure, the vocabulary varied, and the
moral severe. In it one learns mythology and geography. And behind the French “ translation,” one can hear the echo of Vergil’s Latin and Homer’s Greek. In short, it’s a classic, one of those books in which a language presents the essential of its forms and its powers. A book that is a totality: a center to which one can attach everything new one learns; a circle in which one can understand each of these new things, find the ways to say what one sees in it, what one thinks about it, what one makes of it."
 (The Ignorant Schoolmaster, pg. 21)

To learn something and relate to it all the rest.
Everything is in everything. 
There is no outside.
How many readings of Cosmopolis on this blog, how many things in the thing, the book, itself? 

No man is an island, 
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
  - John Donne





Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Reading the Boston Bombing Through the Panopticon - Foucault

Bentham designed the Panopticon as a Prison
By seymourblogger/abbeysbooks
Foucault is emphasizing that the Panopticon is a TECHNOLOGY of Surveillance.

Surveillance is the primary and most important variable to reduce the occurrence of crime. 

Foucault has told us that surveillance is our most crucial danger today and that resistance should be targeted there in the grid of power/knowledge/capital/normality

Edward Snowden has employed a strategy worthy of Baudrillard.
He has not resisted.
He has imploded the secrecy of the NSA and its spying on American citizens and the rest of the world. 
The American government can no longer stand for the principles on which it was founded: the rule of Law, equality, freedom, liberty, private use of property.

Because the case of the Tsarnaev brothers follows the Snowden Event, It is taking place in a world where the US government is known to lie, assassinate, torture, fabricate evidence, a world in which no one anywhere believes in anything the US government says, writes, proclaims. 
A government disrespected by its people and by the world. This will help influence US and world opinion about the guilt or innocence of the Tsarnaev Brothers. We owe Edward Snowden a lot.
______________________________________________________________________________




The Foucauldian Grid is a spiral of power/knowledge/capital/normality
There is no escape
We are trapped like insects in a spider web and can only resist
Today we are informed that:

(Reuters) - Three college friends of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges that they helped cover his tracks when the FBI was trying to find the people responsible for the April 15 attack.
Dias Kadyrbayev  
Azamat Tazhayakov
Robel Phillipos

These three have just stepped into the Foucauldian Grid

Canetti and Baudrillard have opined that no one thinks to the end of something. 
All the way to  the end. No way out. 
DEATH

This recent action of our government has chilling consequences if we think through it to the end. To Death.

You go to university, even have a roommate from a different country, say Chechnya for example. 
That person is now under surveillance by you.
What if they are secretly terrorists and you have been friends with them. You too will be implicated, faced with proving your innocence, tried and condemned.
Or at least subjected to financial ruin by lawyering up.

Avoid persons who look different, who come from other countries than our western allies. 

Become paranoid of these other persons.
Become paranoid.
While the other will become paranoid also.

It is to teach a fear, a distrust of the Other.
This is the mental template of families who practice incest. Sex with daughters, sisters, mothers is safer than sex with the OTHER, the outsider, the stranger, the unknown.

This kind of surveillance is far worse than spying on your emails, phone calls, internet use. It is insidious and invisible and it is constant. It is like God's eye described by Gaddis in The Recognitions. 

God sees everything, even the dewdrop on the rose at dawn. God has morphed into the technology of the Panopticon.
Do you see where this is going? 
This is incredibly more frightening and dangerous than NSA spying. It is relentless and comes from below, through the interstices of power/knowledge,normality.

And all because three friends are being prosecuted so prosecutors can put 3 more notches on their belt.
It will look great on their CV.


Thinking through to the end, to a metaphoric death, is to know the US Empire is tottering.
It is destroying the integrity of its people. 
The one variable Toynbee found invariant for all 
disintegrating empires.
Therefore, in a totally sickening, mind-fucking way, Edward Snowden might end up being the best thing that ever happened to the NSA and “national security”. His revelation has the power to instill fear and constant vigilance into people, essentially scaring them into submission in a way that the surveillance programs themselves couldn’t.
Couldn't Resist.

When I first read Foucault's account of the panopticon, where the individual at the 

centre can simultaneously see and judge a whole multitude of other individuals, I 

thought it was brilliant but overheated. Now, it actually seems like somebody's 

plan. 



That's what we risk becoming: a society which is in crucial respects a giant 

panopticon, where the people with access to our secrets can see, hear, intercept 

and monitor  everything. LINK HERE


Welcome to the Hunger Games. May the 

odds be always in your favor.















NOTE:  Please scroll down to leave a comment in the box.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Reading The Tsarnaev Brothers Through Sacco and Vanzetti



BAEZ Singing
INDb film site
"If it had not been for these things, I might have lived out my life talking at street corners to scorning men.  I might have died, unmarked, unknown, a failure.  Now we are not a failure.  This is our career and our triumph.  Never in our full life could we hope to do such work for tolerance, for justice, for man's understanding of man as now we do by accident.  Our words--our lives--our pains--nothing!  The taking of our lives--lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler--all! That last moment belongs to us--that agony is our triumph." - Vanzetti

The story of two anarchists who were charged 
and unfairly tried for murder 
when it was really for their political convictions.

Director:

 

Writers:

  (story),  (story),4 more credits »

SACCO AND VANZETTI

Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
That's us folks!
THE ETERNAL RETURN - NIETZSCHE
Which is much worse than Santayana

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Reading Snowden As ParrhesiastesThrough Le Carre and A Delicate Truth

Edward Snowden

The latest book – A Delicate Truth – is centered in modern Britain, on a supposed threat to national security and the use of dubious means towards a justifiable end; the challenge to an individual oppressed by the power of the state. It’s a political tale, appreciated across the political spectrum
On a sunny Sunday early in that same spring, a thirty-one-year-old British foreign servant earmarked for great things sat alone at the pavement table of a humble Italian cafe in London's Soho, steeling himself to perform an act of espionage so outrageous that, if detected, it would cost him his career and his freedom: namely, recovering a tape recording, illicitly made by himself, from the Private Office of a Minister of the Crown whom it was his duty to serve and advise to the best of his considerable ability. 

His name was Toby Bell and he was entirely alone in his criminal contemplations. No evil genius controlled him, no paymaster, provocateur or sinister manipulator armed with an attache case stuffed with hundred - dollar bills was waiting round the corner, no activist in a ski mask. He was in that sense the most feared creature of our contemporary world: a solitary decider: Of a forthcoming clandestine operation on the Crown Colony of Gibralter he knew nothing; rather, it was this tantalizing ignorance that had brought him to his present pass. (ADT p. 47)

This is Edward Snowden who becomes an employee of BoozAllen in order to steal secrets - the truth - from the NSA

This is not the situation Toby Bell, the reluctant whistle-blower, finds himself in by relentless circumstances. His awareness begins slowly, well, here is a quote explaining how.

In coded discussions in Whitehall's sealed basement rooms, new rules of engagement with suspected terrorist prisoners are cautiously thrashed out. ...The word enhance , once used to convey spiritual exaltation, has entered the new American dictionary, but its meaning remains willfully imprecise to the uninitiated, of whom Toby is one. All the same he has his suspicions. Can these so-called new rules in reality be the old barbaric ones, dusted off and reinstated, he wonders? And if he is right, which increasingly he believes he is, what is the moral distinction, if any, between the man who applies the electrodes and the man who sits behind a desk and pretends he doesn't know it's happening, although he knows very well?

But when Toby, nobly struggling to reconcile these questions with his conscience and upbringing, ventures to air them - purely academically you understand - to Giles over a cozy dinner at Oakley's club to celebrate Toby's thrilling new appointment on promotion to the British Embassy in Cairo....Oakley quotes his beloved La Rochefoucauld:

'Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, dear man. In an imperfect world, I fear it's the best we can manage.'(ADT p.53)

In a half-hearted effort to find excuses for Crispin, Toby even wondered whether, deep down, the man was just plain stupid....And from there, he wandered off into an argument with Friedrich Schiller's grandiose statement that human stupidity was what the gods fought in vain. Not so, in Toby's opinion, and no excuse for anybody, whether god or man. 

What the gods and all reasonable humans fought in vain wasn't stupidity at all. It was sheer, wanton, bloody indifference to anybody's interests but their own.(ADT p. 296)


"The greatest fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. People will see in the media all of these disclosures. They'll know the lengths that the government is going to grant themselves powers unilaterally to create greater control over American society and global society. But they won't be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests." - Edward Snowden

And then they get Toby Bell:

The first blows were undoubtedly the most painful and the most surprising....But it was the hail of blows to his stomach, kidneys, groin and then his groin again that seemed never to end, and for all he knew it continued after he had lost consciousness. But not before the same unidentified voice had breathed into his ear in the same tone of command:

'Don't think this is over, son. This is for appetizers. Remember that.'

Le Carre



“I do think we live in most extraordinary period of history,” he says now. “The fact that we feel becalmed is the element that is most terrifying, the second-rate quality of leadership, the third-rate quality of parliamentary behaviour.”

That sense of correctness has a broader resonance, informing, when we discussed it recently, his views about Edward Snowden’s revelations of the extraordinary scale of US surveillance of its own citizens as well as those of other countries. He tells me he is horrified: “There seems to be no limit to the violations to their hard-won liberties that Americans will put up with in the catchall name of counter terror.” But he also recognises that “no country can allow its secret servants to whistle-blow with impunity”.

He has long disabused me of the sense that his family background might have been an impediment to joining the British intelligence services. The attraction of someone with a semi-criminal background was irresistible to the spooks, he says. They were looking for recruits with a broad sense of morality, individuals who were unanchored and wayward, who hankered for discipline (“his father’s a bit bent, we could use a bit of that”).

If the secret service produced so many bad eggs, he tells me, it’s because they looked for them.

Gove probably didn’t pick up on the book’s strong attack on the secret courts for which his government voted (allowing matters of “national security” to be heard behind closed doors). Le Carré is greatly concerned about such courts, which undermine the rights of some individuals while making it easier for others to make the wrong choices. 

 He “smuggles this kind of stuff” into his best-selling stories, conscious that subliminal influence lasts longer than a news story. There is a political agenda, born of personal experience.

Who is his greatest hero? Andre Sakharov, father of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, who came  
to recognise the dangers of his own work (“He realised he’d given the bomb to a bunch of 

gangsters).

And if you have seen Dirty Wars you will know that american Special Ops are in 75 different countries in order to destabilize them. A country in chaos is an easy takeover to exploit their resources.

And the beginning of A Delicate Truth:

Forgive me, Minister: What field would that be, exactly?'

'Private defense contractors. Where've you been? Name of the game these days. War's gone corporate, in case you haven't noticed. Standing professional armies are a bust. Top-heavy, under-equipped, one brigadier for every dozen boots on the ground and cost a mint. Try a couple of years at Defence if you don't believe me.'(ADT p. 9)

Philippe Sands is a writer and barrister who teaches international law at University College. To comment on this article email magazineletters@ft.com

What I want to emphasize here is that Snowden is a parrhesiastes not a whistle-blower. Toby Bell is dragged into it by his conscience, Snowden by a compelling sense of duty from the beginning. to practice parrhesia.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

PARRHESIA: Reading Snowden Through Foucault's Fearless Speech Part 4

Edward Snowden - Parrhesiastes
A parrhesiastes is a person who practices parrhesia - truth-telling. A parrhesiastes differs from a whistle-blower -  which is a nice sounding sort of euphemism for tattle-tale. A conscientious objector resonates with Thoreau and civil disobedience, a practice most often associated with the Quakers's method of opposing violence. In these previous essays I have argued that Snowden is a parrhesiastes, not a whistle-blower and not a conscientious objector, but a person who practices parrhesia. I think distinctions in words are important, else why have different words.

Here are the previous essays and here, on the historical precedents and evolution of parrhesia and some of its genealogy connected with Snowden, all indebted to Foucault's book Fearless Speech, from which I quote profusely.

Plato: The Laws. Trans. Thomas L. Pangle, Book VIII,835c

....what is required, in all probability, is some daring human being, who by giving honor to outspokeness (parrhesia) will say what in his opinion is best for the city and the citizens. Speaking before an audience of corrupt souls, he will order what is fitting and becoming to the whole political regime; opposing the greatest desires, and having no human ally, all alone will he follow reason alone.

Chapter Four: Parrhesia in the Care of the Self begins with Socratic parrhesia and to demonstrate Foucault selects Plato's dialogue Laches.

First, this parrhesia is philosophical:
  1. the philosopher had to discover and to teach certain truths about the world, nature, etc.
  2. taking a stand towards the city, the laws, political institutions, etc required a political role
  3. parrhesiastic activity also endeavored to elaborate the nature of the relationships between truth and one's style of life, or truth and an ethics and aesthetics of the self.
Parrhesia in this domain of Greco-Roman culture is not a concept or theme, but a practice, which tries to shape the specific relations individuals have to themselves....the decisive criterion which identifies the parrhesiastes is not to be found in his birth, nor in his citizenship, nor in his intellectual competence, but in the harmony which exists between his logos and his bios.

Reading Snowden through this paragraph of Foucault's, does Snowden meet these requirements? 

Secondly (back to Foucault again) the target of this new parrhesia is not to persuade the assembly, but to convince someone that he must take care of himself and of others; and this means that he must change his life. This theme of changing one's life, of conversion, becomes very important from the Fourth Century B. C. to the beginnings of Christianity. (And here we see Foucault's approach at about this time to Habermas and the Frankfurt School.)

Archaic Torso of Apollo

We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,


gleams in all its power. Otherwise

the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could

a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.



Otherwise this stone would seem defaced

beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders

and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:


would not, from all the borders of itself,

burst like a star: for here there is no place

that does not see you. You must change your life
Rainer Maria Rilke
...it is no longer just a matter of altering one's belief or opinion, but of changing one's style of life, one's relation to others, and one's relation to oneself. (FS p.106)

Thirdly these new parrhesiastic practices imply a complex set of connections between the self and truth. For not only are these practices supposed to endow the individual with self-knowledge, this self-knowledge in turn is supposed to grant access to truth and further knowledge.
And a final point...about this philosophical parrhesia is that it has recourse to numerous techniques quite different from the techniques of persuasive discourse previously utilized; and it is no longer specifically linked to the agora, or to the king's court, but can now be utilized in numerous diverse places. (FS p.107)

Monday, August 19, 2013

PARRHESIA:Reading Snowden as Parrhesiastes Through Foucault's Fearless Speech-Part 3

"Hence, real parrhesia, parrhesia in its positive, critical sense, 
does not exist where democracy exists." 
Foucault (FS p.83)
EDWARD SNOWDEN -A  PARRHESIASTES
Chapter 3 in Foucault's Fearless Speech is titled:
Parrhesia in the Crisis of Democratic Institutions

What if all Germans had worn yellow stars? What if all travelers going through Customs carried a copy of Foucault's Fearless Speech?
What if all emails contained the words terrorist, bomb, backpack, pressure cooker, etc. What if these words were included in all telephone conversations. All comments on the internet. In all blogs, letters, everyday conversations? Jes' sayin'.

Foucault's genealogy of parrhesia begins with ancient Athens. All male citizens had the right of parrhesia at any time, although often they requested permission from the other to use it. Since there was no ruler, parrhesia  was considered as a critical guide to informing citizens and improving their governance, their city. It was a greatly prized right.  As Democracy transformed so did parrhesia noted especially by Isocrates in 355 B. C.


In the "Areopagiticus" (355 B.C.) Isocrates draws a set of distinctions which similarly expresses this general idea of the incompatibility of true democracy and critical parrhesia. For he compares the old Solonian and Cleisthenean constitutions to present Athenian political life, and praises the older polities on the grounds that they gave to Athens democracy, liberty, happiness, and equality in front of the law. All of these positive features of the old democracy, however, he claims have become perverted in the present Athenian democracy. Democracy has become lack of self-restraint; liberty has become lawlessness; happiness has become the freedom to do whatevr one pleases; and equality in front of the law has become parrhesia. Parrhesia in this text has only a negative, pejorative sense. So, as you can see, in Isocrates there is a constant positive evaluation of democracy in general, but coupled with the assertion that it is impossible to enjoy both democracy and parrhesia (understood in its positive sense). Moreover, there is the same distrust of the demos' feelings, opinions, and desires which we encountered in more radical form, in the Old Oligarch's lampoon.

....Plato's Republic  (Book VIII,557a-b), where Socrates explains how democracy arises and develops. For he tells Adeimantus that:

When the poor win, the result is democracy. They kill some of the opposite party, banish others, and grant the rest an equal share in civil rights and government, officials being usually appointed by lot.

This is Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Socrates then asks: What is the character of this new regime? And he says of the people in a democracy:

First of all they are free. Liberty and free speech (parrhesia) are rife everywhere; anyone is allowed to do what he likes...That being so, every man will arrange his own manner of life to suit his pleasure.

What is interesting about this text is that Plato does not blame parrhesia for endowing everyone with the possibility of influencing the city, including the worse citizens. For Plato, the primary danger of parrhesia is not that it leads to bad decisions in government, or provides the means for some ignorant or corrupt leader to gain power, to become a tyrant. The primary danger of liberty and free speech in a democracy is what results when everyone has his own manner of life, his own style of life, or what Plato calls (Greek untranslated). For then there will be no common logos , no possible unity, for the city.  Following the Platonic principle that there is an analogous relation between the way a human being behaves and the way a city is ruled....And you can see that Plato also considers parrhesia not only as the freedom to say whatever one wishes, but as linked with the freedom to do whatever one wants. It is a kind of anarchy involving the freedom to choose one's own style of life without limit. 
The I Ching

This is what Foucault defines as "problematization", and, in this case political problematization of parrhesia in Greek culture. And he brings our attention to focus and observe two main aspects of this problematization during the Fourth Century B.C. 

And I especially want to point out - here and elsewhere - the correspondence of the destinies of ancient Athens and the present US Empire. The Events that occurred and are occurring that are, while not identical, so similar they cannot be ignored. It is almost as if Toynbee's proposal of "challenge" to an empire, which the empire cannot respond to in a positive way in order to continue to grow, is stalking us from 2500 years ago.

Two main aspects then:
First, in Plato's text for example, the problem of the freedom of speech becomes increasingly related to the choice of existence, to the choice of ones's way of life. Freedom in the use of logos increasingly becomes freedom in the choice of  bios . And as a result, parrhesia is regarded more and more as a personal attitude, a personal quality, as a virtue which is useful for the city's political life in the case of positive or critical parrhesia, or as a danger for the city in the case of negative pejorative parrhesia.  


Demosthenes does not seek or make an issue of institutional guarantees for parrhesia, but insists on the fact that he, as a personal citizen, will use parrhesia because he must boldly speak the truth about the city's bad politics. And he claims that in so doing, he runs a great risk. For it is dangerous for him to speak freely, given that the Athenians in the Assembly are so reluctant to accept any criticism. 
Secondly, we can observe another transformation in the problematization of parrhesia: parrhesia is increasingly linked to another kind of political institution, viz., monarchy. Freedom of speech must now be used towards the king. But obviously, in such a monarchic situation, parrhesia  is much more dependent upon the personal qualities, both of the king (who must choose to accept or reject the use of parrhesia), and of the king's advisors. Parrhesia is no longer an institutional right or privilege - as in a democratic city - but is much more a personal attitude, a choice of bios.
And the "king's" wisdom or folly is revealed by the parrhesiastes. And are we not seeing this today in the US. The parrhesiastes unmasks the smiling face of the tyrant, the fool, the unwise sovereign. And the demos  can see for themselves. 

Edward Snowden has said he doesn't want to live in a world where everything he says and does is subject to surveillance. Well nobody does, so what makes him different from the rest of us who say these things every day? Obviously Snowden has said it very publicly.  Snowden was subject to Foucault's thinking on this: Who can say it, where they can say it, when they can say it, how they can say it,what they can say and why they can say it. Snowden has met every limiting attribute of the practice of parrhesia. This is why he is a parrhesiastes.And this is the difference between Manning and Snowden. This is what makes Manning a conscientious objector or a whistle blower and Snowden a parrhesiastes.

Only by thinking genealogically can we arrive at this conclusion. We are facing another transformation of parrhesia, and this transformation has been driven by the internet. Parrhesia has fused with Cartesian proof, the bio  with the logos. Solzhenitsyn hid his manuscripts of The Gulag with many different people. They were smuggled to the west and published to his dismay and against his desire at the time. It was too dangerous to too many people including himself. His celebrity was too great for him to be snuffed and so he was exiled to Vermont. He said very little about the US but he was not an admirer of our capitalism and said so, but in no great detail. More like a tweet. And as soon as he could return to Russia he went back. And began again, also helping many many ex Gulag survivors, zeks, as many as he could pouring all his financial resources into helping them. His sons went to prestigious New England colleges.

My obsession with parrhesia consists of what the parrhesiastes reveals about the Other, so I hope to get there soon.