Michel Foucault (1998): “This contact between the technologies of domination of others and those of the self I call governmentality” (p. 19).
In ToS Foucault was more interested in the latter.The Greeks believed it was important to take care of oneself but this was replaced by the now more common concept of know thyself. But in ancient times knowing oneself came out of taking care of oneself. This has occurred possibly due to the Christian idea of self renunciation being essential for salvation. We are also conditioned to accept external rules as the basis of morality rather than something internal. Additionally, since Descartes, self-knowledge is important for the development of the thinking subject.
Epimelesthai: An activity that involves taking care of ones health and wealth. “Taking pains with oneself” (p. 25). What is the self to which Alcibiades was to be concerned? The question really becomes, rather than “what is the self?”, “what is the plateau on which the self might be found?”. When we take care of the body we don’t take care of the self. It’s taking care of the activity of taking care of the soul that is care of the self. (p. 25) How can we take care of the soul? First, we must know what it is by looking into a mirror. We must contemplate the divine element of the soul which will then give us the right rules for action. Writing was seen in ancient Greece as an important technique of taking care of the self.
“Taking care of oneself became linked to constant writing activity. The self is something to write about, a theme or object (subject) of writing activity. This is not a modern trait born of the Reformation or of romanticism; it is one of the most ancient Western traditions. It was well established and deeply rooted when Augustine started his Confessions” (p. 27).
This style of writing marked a shift to a new experience of self that involved introspection. Writing and vigilance were connected. A new range of experiences were opened up as a result.
Anachoresis: As in the retreat of an army, a retreat into oneself, a spiritual retreat, a retiring into the self to uncover, not faults but to “remember rules of action, the main laws of behavior” (p. 34).
Askesis: A Stoic technique, “not a disclosure of the secret self but a remembering” (p. 35).
Stoics believed the truth was in the logoi, the “teaching of the teachers”. You remember what you hear and convert that into rules of conduct and a subjectivity based on this truth. It’s not a renunciation of the self or of reality but a progressive working on oneself through the “acquisition and assimilation of truth” and allows one to access the reality of this world rather than some future reality (p. 35).
Truth is tested by melete (meditation), a form of remembering certain truths and arguments so as to have them available during (real or imagained) dialogue and gymnasia (testing oneself through bodily training).
Christianity is both a salvation and confessional religion. One must believe certain truths and dogma and show that you believe them and accept institutional authority. (p. 40) Individuals must know who they are so they can confess their sins and weaknesses to God or another.
Exemologesis: The public recognition of the fact of ones Christianity and faith, the recognising oneself as a sinner seeking penitence. (p. 41) “The acts by which he punishes himself are indistinguishable from the acts by which he reveals himself.” Exemologesis “rubs out the sin and yet reveals the sinner” (p. 42). The thinking behind this revealing behaviour is the appeasement of the judges by being contrite and the way a person should face martyrdom before relinquishing his faith. “The theories and practices of penance were elaborated around the problem of the man who prefers to die rather than to compromise or abandon the faith. The way the martyr faces death is the model for the penitent. For the relapsed to be integrated into the church, he must expose himself voluntarily to ritual martyrdom” (p. 43).
*Interesting aside here in relation to Armstrong who had a similar defiance after being fired. It appears that her ritual martyrdom may have been performed in an attempt to be (re)-integrated back into the folds of the secular church (main-stream society); and we could analyse her pre-dismissal interview with her immediate manager as a way of being offered penance but accepting the offer. A bit speculative possibly but worth considering.*
“Penance is the affect of change, of rupture with self, past, and world. It’s a way to sho that you are able to renounce life and self, to show that you can face and accept death. Penitence of sin doesn’t have as its target the establishing of an identity but serves instead to mark the refusal of the self., the breaking away from the self: Ego non sum, ego…It represents a break with one’s past identity. These ostentatious gestures have the function of showing the truth of the state of being of the sinner. Self-revelation is at the same time self-destruction” (p. 43).
Exemolgesis is not verbal but, rather, ritual and symbolic and the truth about the self is imposed by violent dissociation and rupture, whereas in the Stoic techne self-knowledge is achieved through memorising rules.
Exagoreusis (p. 42-49): a Christian tradition based on obedience and contemplation; a continual verbalisation of thoughts to the master; all aspects of ones life is addressed in this techne; attempts to still the consciousness through awareness of thoughts that lead to, or away from, God. We must be like the miller who sorts the good grains from the bad or the money changer who examines and weighs coins to determine their value. The way to know if a thought is “good or “bad” is to tell all to a master, a “permanent verbalization of our thoughts” (p. 47);
“By telling himself not only his thoughts but also the smallest movements of consciousness, his intentions, the monk stands in a hermeneutic reations not onlyy to the master but to himself” (p. 47).
*Armstrong may have performed a similar act through creating her readers as a master and continually expressing her inner thoughts on her blog to her reader-masters and therefore being guided to the “right” answer. It appears that Penelope Trunk is on a similar path.* Everything that can’t be expressed becomes a sin and therefore the techne relies on a vigorous and all-encompassing confession.
The common theme between exomologesis and exagoreusis is that one “cannot disclose without renouncing” (p. 48). In the latter the permanent disclosure of self and permanent obedience to master renounces the self but it is possible to use this constant verbalisation of the self as a means to create a new self. *Which is what I contend was Armstrong’s project.*
Foucault, M. (1988). Technologies of the Self. In L. Martin, H. Gutman & P. Hutton (Eds.), Technologies of the self. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Press.