Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"I could tell you that these things were trails to be followed, that it didn't matter where they led, or even that the one thing that did matter was that they didn't lead anywhere, or at least not in some predetermined direction. I could say they were like an outline for something ... I felt a bit like a sperm whale that breaks the surface of the water, makes a little splash, and lets you believe, makes you believe, or want to believe, that down there where it can't be seen, down there where it is neither seen nor monitored by anyone, it is following a deep, coherent, and premeditated trajectory.

"That is more or less the position we were in, as I see it: I don't know what it looked like from where you are sitting. After all, the fact that the work I described to you looked both fragmented, repetitive, and discontinuous was quite in keeping with what might be called a 'feverish laziness.' It's a character trait of people who love libraries, documents, references, dusty manuscripts, texts that have never been read, books which, no sooner printed, were closed and then slept on the shelves and were only taken down centuries later. All this quite suits the busy inertia of those who profess useless knowledge, a sort of sumptuary knowledge, the wealth of a parvenu ... It should appeal to all those who feel sympathetic to one of those secret societies, no doubt the oldest and most characteristic in the West, one of those strangely indestructible secret societies that were, I think, unknown in antiquity and which were formed in the early Christian era, probably at the time of the first monasteries, on the fringes of invasions, fires, and forests. I am talking about the great, tender, and warm freemasonry of useless erudition."

-- Michel Foucault, "Society Must Be Defended": Lectures at the College de France, 1975-76 (trans. David Macey), 4-5