The Aesthetic of the Gay Askesis


Here, Michel Foucault philosophizes in an 1981 interview. Central to his thinking in this back and forth is that being gay transcends the established laws and common customs. It is important to think with him on this. The struggle by LGBTQ for equal protection from discrimination should not reduce down to the wholesale adoption of already established structures. We must continue inventing and evolving not from but toward the improbable. This does not mean there will not be the development of new customs or the transformation of old ones. But new customs should not begin with the already customary. Our way forward toward the possibility of our freedom must be anarchocynical.

Asceticism as the renunciation of pleasure has bad connotations. But ascesis is something else: it’s the work that one performs on oneself in order to transform oneself or make the self appear which, happily, one never attains. Can that be our problem today? We’ve rid ourselves of asceticism. Yet it’s up to us to advance into a homosexual ascesis that would make us work on ourselves and invent-I do not say discover-a manner of being that is still improbable.

via Michel Foucault, “Friendship as a Way of Life” | caring labor: an archive.

One thought on “The Aesthetic of the Gay Askesis

  1. Given the monstrous site which is our point of departure, how could any of us ever know the truth of our sexualities? It would require events of intense intimacy and experimentation in order to overcome such historical and contemporary social-construction.

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