Appendix to my Foucault rant

In an earlier post, I criticised the lax approach of many Foucault interpreters: none of the authors in my sample explicitly criticised Foucault’s weak definition of ‘governmentality’, and about half of the sampled accounts of governmentality would be of little help to anyone who didn’t already know what governmentality is.

Since then, a couple of people have asked me for the references to two of the better accounts, so I’m posting those links here: by Patrick Fitzsimons, and by Ronnie Lipschutz: Lipschutz

Toilet advertising

German advertising in toiletWe Brits like to think that Americans are the best at advertising, but on a recent trip to Marburg I discovered that the Germans have come up with a new trick: printing adverts on the paper towels you dry your hands with in toilets.

Gutenberg would have been proud!



Where Arendt and Heidegger had their affair

The house in the centre of this picture is where Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger had their affair, in Marburg.

Apparently, Arendt would light a candle in one of the top windows to tell Heidegger when she was available.

Arendt Heidegger affair house Marburg

Hobbes on the 1838 Papal Index

The Papal ‘Index of Prohibited Books’ was a list of books banned by the Vatican for being immoral or theologically wrong.

Below you can see the 1838 edition of the Index, which shows Hobbes’s Leviathan being banned in 1703. Curiously, they’ve banned the Latin translation of 1668, not the original English version of 1650. To cover themselves, a few years later they banned all of his other writings too.

Papal Index 1838Hobbes on Papal Index 1838










Thanks to Professor Dr Winfried Schröder of Marburg University for allowing me to take these pictures.




Simplistic rhetorical questions in news stories

The titles of news stories often feature unnecessarily simplistic rhetorical questions to which the answer is obviously ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example:

3D Character and Question MarkIs England a nation on anti-depressants? No.

Could cricket have a big future in China? Yes. (Will it? Probably not.)

Do slimming clubs work? Yes. (Do they always work, for all people? No.)

Can Tiger Woods end wait for a major at the PGA Championship? Yes. (Will he? Probably not, because there’s too much luck in golf, which makes it harder to predict the winner than for any other major sport.*)

* Discuss.

Please give your own examples by clicking on ‘Leave a Comment’ below!