"power is everywhere" is an assemblage of various writings/talks by Foucault. The singer is observer, actor, and deliverer of the message. She is not there to simply sing the text – she is there to instigate the way the music unfolds by way of what the words tell us. She is powerful, taking note of what happens and how to move forward. She is everywhere all the time. My piece is influenced by opera, song cycles, theater, and might even be considered a surreal singspiel.
Left Coast Ensemble, with Nikki Einfeld (soprano)
TEXTS (indicates omitted words)
Power (is everywhere.)
We must cease once and for all to describe the effects of power in negative terms: it "excludes," it "represses," it "censors," it "abstracts," it "masks," it "conceals." In fact power produces; it produces reality; it produces domains of objects and rituals of truth. The individual and the knowledge that may be gained of him belong to this production.
Discourses are not once and for all subservient to power or raised up against it... We must make allowances for the complex and unstable process whereby a discourse can be both an instrument and an effect of power, but also a hindrance, a stumbling point of resistance and a starting point for an opposing strategy. Discourse transmits and produces power; it reinforces it, but also undermines and exposes it, renders it fragile and makes it possible to thwart.
Freedom of conscience entails more dangers than authority and despotism. In its function, the power to punish is not essentially different from that of curing or educating. Madness is the absolute break with the work of art; it forms the constitutive moment of abolition, which dissolves in time the truth of the work of art.
Justice must always question itself, just as society can exist only by means of the work it does on itself and on its institutions. The judges of normality (are present everywhere.) We are in the society of the great teacher-judge, the doctor-judge, the educator-judge, the social worker-judge.
The lyricism of marginality may find inspiration in the image of the outlaw, the great social nomad, who prowls on the confines of a docile, frightened order. What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something, which is only related to objects, and not to individuals, or to life. As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one, perhaps, nearing its end.
But there exists a system of power which blocks, prohibits, and invalidates this discourse and this knowledge, a power not only found in the manifest authority of censorship, but one that profoundly and subtly penetrates an entire societal network. (Intellectuals are themselves agents of this system of power - the idea of their responsibility for "consciousness" and discourse forms part of the system.) The intellectual's role is no longer to place himself "somewhat ahead and to the side" in order to express the stifled truth of the collectivity; rather, it is to struggle against the forms of power that transform him into its object and instrument in the sphere of "knowledge," "truth," "consciousness," and "discourse."
Truth is a thing of this world: it is produced only by virtue of multiple forms of constraint. And it induces regular effects of power. Each society has its regime of truth, its “general politics” of truth: that is, the types of discourse which it accepts and makes function as true; the mechanisms and instances which enable one to distinguish true and false statements, the means by which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedures accorded value in the acquisition of truth; the status of those who are charged with saying what counts as true.
Power exists only when it is put into action; it does not require your consent.
If no one knows who you are, can you be forgotten? If memory is power, are those who are forgotten powerless? The powerless are everywhere.
- new, alternative, on the margins