Pity the poor biographer who must spend the first page of his text persuading serious readers that his subject, Michel Foucault, was in fact, despite having theorized for decades to the contrary, both a distinct human being and a genuine “author.”[1] Apparently, today’s fashionable audience, much influenced by Foucault himself, would prefer to regard the writer in terms of an impersonal “circulation of discourses” somehow flowing through but not truly generated by a discrete living being with a particular character, personal history, sensibility—or even (perhaps especially) a singular corporeal body. This substitution of systemic “functions” for individual personality, and thus for individual responsibility, effectually denies the very idea—or should I say “construct”?—of selfhood. For Didier Eribon, an editor at the Nouvel...


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