Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Honey: Care of the Self, Discourse and Harbin

For a course called 'Modes of Veridiction and Jurisdiction,' I'll focus here on the problematic in Foucault's “Course Summary” in his "Hermeneutics" of how the self 'functions,' in caring for the self, and examine Foucault's concepts of askesis (self-formation or practice) and discourse, using Harbin Hot Springs as a site of inquiry.

For Foucault, care of the self - epimeleia heautou and cura sui (491) - refers philosophically to taking care of oneself and being concerned about oneself. For Foucault, this involves a kind of therapeutic practice, and also having free time to further this. For Foucault, even as a philosophical activity, it's “a form of activity, where the term epimeleia itself refers not just to an attitude of awareness or a form of attention focused on oneself; it designates a regular occupation, a work with its methods and objectives" (493). So the questions I'll address here are: “how would care of the self 'function' on-the-ground at Harbin Hot Springs?” - And how would we know? What does the concept of discourse refer to for Foucault, using Harbin as a site of inquiry? And what does the concept of askesis (self-formation) refer to, also referring to Harbin. So, what are examples of practices of care of the self at Harbin? Harbin is significant as a site of inquiry because it's an unique assemblage.

Foucault uses the metaphor of a farm as his first example of how caring for the self would function, presumably referring to farming practices - caring for and raising plants and animals, as one would oneself. Engaging this metaphor, the aspect of how caring for the self 'functions' that I'm most interested in, vis-a-vis Foucault, has to do with the flourishing and effortlessness that farms at certain times of the year exhibit.

In a related vein, I'm also interested in:
{ways in which grounded research – field work – might shape the contours of a discourse that then gives rise to a set of practices – askesis – that then leads to self-formation {agency} vis-a-vis Harbin}
{the neurophysiology of bliss vis-a-vis Foucault}

So, the problematization that interests me most, in terms of caring for the self, vis-a-vis the metaphor of the farm, is how one might cultivate this flourishing, as a set of practices (askesis).

Understanding or studying a discourse - referring to a language that shapes knowledge and possibilities - then offers a way to cultivate and use statements that then might lead to practices which lead to flourishing, as a farmer helps a farm to flourish, at times. But since farming is a metaphor for Foucault for caring for the self, and discourse is the 'real farm,' in a sense, I'd like to explore creating an interactive discourse - a field or even field site - such as is possible in creating a virtual world. Creating a virtual Harbin Hot Springs might then even make possible a cultivation of comparable assemblages - real and virtual Harbins - both of which might lead to flourishing, as a discourse, in the ongoing examination of how caring for the self functions.

To further this problematization, and in conclusion, if one constructed a virtual Harbin using OpenSim (open access virtual world software that uses the Second Life library of resources), how would care of the self 'function,' in terms of askesis. What new information technology discourse emerges?

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