Prompt: Create and answer 2 questions relating to some aspect of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish.
Me: Docile Bodies are an aspect of Discipline and Punish, right? I’m just gonna focus on that entirely. Fuck breadth, etc.
What is it about modern, contemporary life that renders us docile? What gets us to behave and act in “normal,” “healthy” ways? How are my own habits influenced by this? How do I reproduce these behaviors in others?
[cw: unhealthy body image, self-fatphobia, etc]
Gonna start off with a blockquote for this one:
“By the late eighteenth century, the soldier has become something that can be made; out of a formless clay, an inapt body, the machine required can be constructed; poster is gradually corrected; a calculated constraint runs slowly through each part of the body, mastering it, making it pliable, ready at all time, turning silently into the automatism of habit […]” (135).
Students are numbers and seats; monetary resources to be reproduced through discourse. As this discourse is reproduced either by the majority or via a very vocal minority it becomes the line by which all other action is compared–who goes to high school? finishes? moves forward with their education? etc are all questions which are considered only with relation to comparisons to the “ideal” student. And this is but one example within our neroliberal world.
I’ve always been fat, and I’ve always accepted that I’m fat. That said: I have been varying degrees of “””fat””””” throughout my life.
I found the middle two images (the shirtless ones) on my phone while I was cleaning it out awhile ago. I took them when I was especially unhappy with the way my body was looking, and decided to take them in an effort to shame myself into losing weight.
Protip: That’s A Terrible Idea.
As you can see from the above images, though, I have steadily gained weight since leaving high school, and it has become something I am validly self-conscious about. Why would I denote “validly” there? Because this is a perfect example of how my own habits and thoughts have been shaped by The Discourse. There is no health reason for me to be concerned about my weight (right now, but I will admit I’m on the cusp and have been speaking to my doctor about that), but because I’m not the ideal “soldier” (135) or the ideal docile body “that may be subjected, used, transformed, and improved” (137) I feel shame for that. This is reproduced in the way I interact with others about my weight (ex. choosing to use the word fat to describe myself, wearing loose clothing, etc), and although it is not my want I am showing others that the way I interact with my body is also a line by which they can and should interact with theirs.
PS – It’s something I’m working on being more confident with, but even if I gain that internal confidence we are all still markers by which others judge their own behaviors. Hopefully I can increase the positive impact of that, but in a world of docile bodies we’re all still going to be judged by The Discourse regardless. #nihilistmoments
Why do we divide and partition bodies by ranks of experience? How is this shown to occur in Stranger Things? How is it subverted? Is it? Where are the functional sites? How are these functional sites defined?
[Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking about the use of space and place of the Byer’s residence in the first and second seasons of Stranger Things. I’ve tried to keep it relatively spoiler-free, but if you haven’t yet seen the second season you have been warned!]
Going with another introductory blockquote:
“[T]he place one occupies in a classification, the point at which a line and a column intersect, the interval in a series of intervals that one may traverse one after the other. Discipline is an art of rank, a technique for the transformation of arrangements. It individualized bodies by a location that does not give them a fixed position, but distributes them and circulates them in a network of relations” (145-6).
Dividing, partitioning bodies by ranks of experiences is something which happens in every show (and frankly in every life). Each friend group is going to have norms which are considered to be private, and within those friend groups there will be norms between individuals.
In Stranger Things the friend group of Will Byers, Mike Wheeler, Dustin Henderson, and Lucas Sinclair hold one another as approximate equals with regard to their rank, however with the loss of Will and the addition of Eleven these ranks are challenged. No longer are all four on equal footing, but Mike and Eleven partition themselves into a specific relationship while Dustin and Lucas partition themselves into another, with Dustin acting a mediator. People outside of their group, such as older siblings and associated relationships (ex. Nancy Wheeler, Steve Henderson, etc) are partitioned from the group by virtue of age and experience.
In the second season, however, as the characters have undergone a liminal experience through the traversal of the Upside Down and the battle with the demagorgons they are re-ranked to be more equal with one another. Thus while the the Byers house was previously only a place for specific characters, it becomes a functional site within which everyone who has undergone the same liminal experience may access at varying times. It becomes this way not only due to its location (the buck end of nowhere), but also through Will Byers acting as a locus of relations between the characters.
tl;dr Stranger Things is great, and everyone should watch it if for no other reasons than it works well for Foucaultian analysis. ((also it’s great.))