Forgetting Foucault Acts, Identities, and the History of Sexuality
When Jean Baudrillard published his infamous pamphlet Forget Foucault in. March 1977, "Foucault's intellectual power," as Baudrillard recalled ten years later, "was enormous." After all, the reviews of La volonte de savoir, the first volume of Michel Foucault's History of Sexuality (published the previous November), had only just started to appear. At that time, according to Baudrillard's belated attempt in Cool Memories to redeem his gaffe and to justify himselfby portraying his earlier attack on Foucault as having been inspired, improbably, by sentiments of friendship and generosity-Foucault was being "persecuted," allegedly, by "thousands of disciples and ... sycophants"; in such circumstances, Baudrillard virtuously insisted, "to forget him was to do him a service; to adulate him was to do him a disservice." Just how far Baudrillard was willing to go in order to render this sort of unsolicited service to Foucault emerges from another remark of his in the same passage: "Foucault's death. Loss of confidence in his own genius . . .. Leaving the sexual aspects aside, the loss of the immune system is no more than the biological transcription of the other process."l Foucault was already washed up by the time he died, in other words, and AIDS was merely the outward and visible sign of his inward, moral and intellectual, decay. Leaving the sexual aspects aside, of course.