This 15-minute footage is from a one-hour long interview that was conducted by the Dutch philosopher Fons Elders in preparation for the debate between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, which was broadcasted on Dutch television on Sunday, Nov. 28, 1971. The whole interview was essentially lost for decades and was published in the winter of 2012 for the first time.
At the time of the interview Foucault held a chair self-titled “History of Systems of Thought” at the prestigious Collège de France. The exchange between Elders and Foucault, however, took place in Foucault’s apartment in Paris on Rue de Vaugirard on Monday, Sept. 13, 1971. The video was subsequently kept in the archives of a Dutch TV building which unfortunately burned. As a result, the fifteen minutes shown here is all that is left of the full interview footage. Thankfully, before burning, the whole interview had been professionally hand transcribed from the original French, and the rights had kindly been given over to Elders by Foucault himself at the time of the interview.
As might be noticeable to viewers, the Foucault “profile” presented here is a montage that puts together several parts of the whole interview. As such, it does not fully follow the original interview chronologically, putting together parts that work but which are not faithful to the natural flow of the live interview. To show wherever such interruptions to have taken place, ellipses were included (“…”) in the subtitles. For an unaltered flow of the interview, check out the book “Freedom and Knowledge”, edited by Elders.
«Je ne souhaite pas qu’au cours de l’émission télévisée que vous voulez bien me consacrer, une place soit faite à des données biographiques. Je considère en effet qu’elles sont sans importance pour le sujet traité.»
C’est cet encart, tapé à la machine, qui introduit cette interview, quasiment inédite, de Michel Foucault.
[2:50] Society’s rationalization
[3:40] Knowledge as exclusion
[4:40] “The universalité de notre savoir a était acquis au prix des exclusions”
[5:20] Archaeology of knowledge
[9:10] Systems of relations, structuralistm, questioning of the sovereignty of the subject, drug experience
[11:20] Personal life, the expression of individuality, humanism as imprisonment of man controlled by the sovereignty of the subject
[14:00] “Je ne dis pas les choses parce que je les pense. Je dis les choses pour ne plus les penser”
[14:25] “Je ne crois pas, si vous voulez, aux vertus de l’expression. La langage qui m’ intéresse c’est celui qui peut détruire justement toutes les formes circulaires, closes, narcissiques, du sujet” = “disparition de l’homme”, “Cette figure est en train de disparaître”