aesthetics, suffering & foucault’s “the care of the self”: new ways of understating the individual

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In The Gay Science Nietzsche observes that:      
  
every art, every philosophy may be viewed as a remedy and an aid in the service of growing and struggling life; they always presuppose suffering and sufferers. But there are two kinds of sufferers: first, those who suffer from the over-fullness of life—they want a Dionysian art and likewise a tragic view of life, a tragic insight—and then those who suffer from the impoverishment of life and seek rest, stillness, calm seas, redemption from themselves through art and knowledge, or intoxication, convulsions, anaesthesia, and madness.              
 
— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Random House, 1974), p 328.
 
All of which leads me to these preliminary thoughts: in much of Michel Foucault’s work the concepts of the individual self, of personal identity, of the atomistic subject, are considered to be little more than the residue of a rejected and decaying metaphysics. Yet when Foucault came to explore what he termed the care of the self, his attitude toward the individual seems somehow different to me: it is as if he is surreptitiously positing a new form of the individual, one markedly different than the traditional concept, with its basic suppositions of personal unity and continuity. It is this older notion of individual personhood that Foucault sought to supplant with his new ideas on the self and action. He sums up this conflict between differing notions of the self as follows:
 
The theory of the subject (in the double sense of the word) is at the heart of humanism and this is why our culture has tenaciously rejected anything that could weaken its hold upon us. But it can be attacked in two ways: either by a "desubjectification" of the will to power (that is, through political struggle in the context of class warfare) or by the destruction of the subject as a pseudo-sovereign (that is, through an attack on "culture": the suppression of taboos and the limitations and divisions imposed upon the sexes; the setting up of communes; the loosening of inhibitions with regard to drugs; the breaking of all the prohibitions that form and guide the development of a normal individual). I am referring to all those experiences which have been rejected by our civilization or which it accepts only within literature.
 
— Michel Foucault, "Revolutionary Action: ‘Until Now,’" Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p 222.
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