This weekend, I was introduced to director Terence Davie’s film “Distant Voices, Still Lives”. Described to me as a film worth watching because it is focused on the depiction of a place (working class industrial Liverpool) that no longer exists but is still physically there. Thinking in those terms, I cannot help but feel that when I walk through the streets of Milwaukee in mid-winter, I’m walking through a similar shell of place.
And the meaning of the Earth completely changes: with the legal model, one is constantly reterritorializing around a point of view, on a domain, according to a set of constant relations, but with the ambulant model, the process of deterritorialization constitutes and extends the territory itself.
–Deleuze & Guattari from Treatise on Nomadology
(OR–What is on my mind when I wait for the #15 bus on a early Friday morning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
Though my knowledge of the subject is limited, Foucault’s concept of Service of the Self or Care of the Self has been on my mind lately. Divided roughly into two parts, the Service of the Self consists of:
- Care for Oneself (transformation of the self in relation to the truth/philosophical truth)
- Knowing Oneself (attending to one’s relationship to the truth)
Essential to both facets is parrhesia–the process of telling the truth, without embellishment or concealment for the purpose of criticizing the self, or another. Foucault wrote, shortly before his death in 1984:
The Parrhesiastes is the person who says everything. Thus, as an example, in his discourse “On the Embassy,” Demosthenes says: It is necessary to speak with parrhesia, without holding back at anything without concealing anything. Similarly, in the “First Philippic,” he takes up exactly the same term and says: I will tell you what I think without concealing anything.
How can an individual exist (or flourish) without this essential Service of the Self? Is it not the goal of an individual (as understood as a contemporary subject) to always be the person who says everything?