walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

a passage from Foucault

"Paradoxically, this liberation was the fruit of a luxuriant growth in meanings, a multiplication of signification, as the web of connections between objects became ever more complex. Meaning created links so numerous, so rich and involved that only esoteric knowledge could possibly have the necessary key. Objects became so weighed down with attributes, connections and associations that they lost t heir own original face."

Who is this? Foucault, in _The History of Madness_. What is he talking about? That time, maybe a little after Bosch's "Ship of Fools" illustrated the same ideas present in Brant's _Ship of Fools_, when visual depiction and textual description quit moving in lockstep. Today, of course, they have become so distant that we often forget that they did, once, move in lockstep, and people have to give tours of Cathedrals to help us "read" the "book" in the stained glass pictures that illiterate worshipers had no trouble understanding (or at least retained enough community knowledge of to explain to each other).

Lately, I've been reading a lot about how google is inadequate now to how people want to use the web, and something about this particular passage connected Foucault to foolishness in the here-and-now.

I'm sure I'll be posting more bits and pieces, but right at the moment, I am fascinated by the line he draws from lepers and how communities dealt with them, through sexually transmitted diseases, to madness. I don't know if I accept it, but it's an interesting line to draw. Also, I'm finding him overwhelmingly modernist with his obsession with death and nothingness, which just strikes me as juvenile (<-- probably not the right word, altho he was quite young when he wrote this).

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