-heresiarchs have come to routinise their heresies. Today one might think, in this context, perhaps especially of all those still working in the continuing space made possible by Duchampian art. Shock, horror, sensation. But there is something predictable and formulaic, for Bourdieu, about latter-day artistic forms of transgression. One cannot pretend to be Baudelaires and Flauberts today because the structure of the field is not the same now as it was at its genesis. To do so is only to hold on to an ahistorical fetishism of the field. Baudelaire, Flaubert and the others did all
within the historical situation, as Foucault suggests that limits can be breached and transgression can lead to us to grasp the truth of the situation, if only fleetingly and with difficulty. To me, Foucault suggests that far from being trapped in the quagmire of relativism, action entails that there are general principles or concepts that can assist interpretation in specific contexts, and that can usefully give reasons to guide ethical conduct that are not simply relative or arbitrary. For Foucault, action is contextualized in terms of the ‘limits’ and points of
attitude of disposition to critique’ ( 2019 : 133).
This captures Foucault’s emphasis on critique well and establishes education as a critical institution in problematizing the present and evacuating the ghosts and superstitions carried forth from previous times. Because one’s gaze on the world is always partial, distorted, blinkered, layered, ideological, the task of education is, as Ball says, to increase the horizon, to widen the perspective. It is to perform this task that Foucault pairs critique with transgression, ‘testing limits’, to establish the possibilities
desire is to break through the appearance of the way things are, so as to highlight the contingency, indeterminacy,
and incompleteness that lie at the heart of the extant world, that things could
have been and can still be otherwise.
For Bloch, as for his fellow-
travellers in the Frankfurt School, thinking
means transgressing. It is a form of venturing beyond the given: ‘Only thinking directed towards changing the world and informing the desire to change it
does not confront the future (the unclosed space for new development in front
of us) as embarrassment and the
all citizens (the representatives are merely the people’s ‘agents and cannot
decide anything finally’).
The ‘English people’ were therefore ‘unfree’ (III: 429) because once they
have delegated power they could not – and cannot – control the
government, or the ‘elected dictatorship’, to use the late Lord Hailsham’s
apt phrase. Rousseau did not, therefore, want to abolish representative
government, but merely to complement this system with mechanisms of
direct participation of the citizens, lest the delegates should transgress the
boundaries of their authority
transgressor of boundaries, as,
under his tutelage, mind over matter threatens to transform into matter over
mind. However, while Cupid himself might be an intermediary being, a god who
provides a link with humanity, his work is resolutely located in the realm of appearances. It is the quotidian that he rules not the transcendent universal. In threatening to bring the experience of love to the fore, Cupid has always signified that
there’s more to love than the rational.
For Martha Nussbaum, the key to reading Plato’s account of love in the Symposium
lies in the closing
’, as opposed to the monologic
of being and identifying determination (Edelstein, 1992: 32, citing Kristeva, 1980:
The semiotic in fact routinely transgresses the borders of the symbolic,
which becomes apparent for Kristeva in the excessive signifying possibilities of,
for example, poetry, art, music, religion, and even childbirth, all of which push
the limits of signification towards the horizon of non-meaning. She sees these
discourses as welling up from, and symbolically representing, the semiotic within
the symbolic, and being granted a certain strategic
phallocentrism, and thus, ironically, to the
perpetuation of injustice. At one point in the essay – which is illustrative of the
way Cixous is so allusive in her engagement with institutional religion – she lyrically sings the transgressive possibilities of Freud’s Dora, whose hysteria, she says,
is the embodied, feminine, and sexual subversion of Freudian, phallic, and Mosaic
law. And to signify still further the very material connection between patriarchy,
religion, and the oppressive discourses of power, she notes that this feminine
See Genevieve Lloyd
regarded as the presupposition of structures, Foucault charged science with the production of non-science or even
more impressively, as far as terminology is concerned, with the orientation
towards ‘a false science’.4
In essence, Foucault invalidates, in epistemological terms, both dialectics and structuralist practice. Both appear to reduce the conflictual potential of scientific and political reality. They serve as ideological functions that
stand in virtual opposition to scientific truth and political transgression of
the established modernity. Foucault radicalizes
modernist writers were interested
in –there is not the clear distinction between modernism and realism that
Crowley identifies when comparing the modernist Under the Volcano to The
Lost Weekend’s ‘stark realism’ and ‘tough-minded pragmatism’. Crowley,
The White Logic, p. 140.
30 Jackson, Weekend, p. 19.
The Existential drinkers
1 Ibid., pp. 14–15.
32 Ibid., p. 31.
33 Ibid., pp. 162–3.
34 Ibid., p. 31.
35 ‘What’s all the fuss’ is a refrain for Birnam, usually when he has ‘transgressed’
accepted behaviour. He has the same reaction when he is