From The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1 by Michel Foucault, trans. Robert Hurley, pub. Vintage Books, pp. 71-72
Dating a gay guy is one thing, but lying to your friends about sex is unforgivable.
Perhaps this production of the truth, intimidated though it was by the scientific model, multiplied, intensified, and even created its own intrinsic pleasures. It is often said that we have been incapable of imagining any new pleasures.
We have at least invented a new kind of pleasure: pleasure in the truth of pleasure, the pleasure of knowing the truth, of discovering and exposing it, the fascination of seeing it and telling it, of captivating and capturing others by it, of confiding it in secret, of luring it out in the open–the specific pleasure of the true discourse on pleasure.
The most important elements of an erotic art linked to our knowledge about sexuality are no to be sought in the ideal, promised to us by medicine, of a healthy sexuality, nor in the humanist dream of a complete and flourishing, and certainly not in the lyricism of orgasm and the good feelings of bio-energy (these are but aspects of its normalizing utilization), but in this multiplication and intensification of pleasures connected to the production of the truth about sex.
The learned volumes, written and read; the consultations and examinations; the anguish of answering questions and the delights of having one’s words interpreted; all the stories told to oneself and others, so much curiosity, so much scandal, so many confidences offered in the face of scandal, sustained–but not without trembling a little–by the obligation of truth; the profusion of secret fantasies and the dearly paid right to whisper them to whoever is able to hear them; in short, the formidable “pleasure of analysis” (in the widest sense of the latter term) which the West has been cleverly fostering for several centuries: all this constitutes something like the errant fragments of an erotic art that is secretly transmitted by confession and the science of sex.
Must we conclude that our scientia sexualis is but an extraordinarily subtle form of ars erotica, and that it is Western, sublimated version of that seemingly lost tradition? Or must we suppose that all these pleasures are only the by-products of a sexual science, a bonus that compensates for its many stresses and strains?
In any case, the hypothesis of a power of repression exerted on our society on sex for economic reasons appears to me quite inadequate if we are to explain this whole series of reinforcements and intensifications that our preliminary inquiry has discovered: a proliferation of discourses, carefully tailored to the requirements of power; the solidification of the sexual mosaic and the construction of devices capable not only of isolating it but of stimulating and provoking it, of forming it into focuses of attention, discourse, and pleasure; the mandatory production of confessions and the subsequent establishment of a system of legitimate knowledge and of an economy of manifold pleasures.
We are dealing not nearly so much with a negative mechanism of an exclusion as with the operation of a subtle network of discourses, special knowledges, pleasures, and powers.
At issue is not a movement bent on pushing rude sex back into some obscure and inaccessible region, but on the contrary, a process that spreads it over the surface of things and bodies, arouses it, draws it out and bids it to speak, implants it in reality and enjoins it to tell the truth: an entire glittering sexual array, reflected in a myriad of discourses, the obstination of powers, and the interplay of knowledge and pleasure.
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