The idea that S&M is related to a deep violence, that S&M practice is a way of liberating this violence, this aggression, is stupid. We know very well that what all those people are doing is not aggressive; they are inventing new possibilities of pleasure with strange parts of their body – through the eroticisation of the body. I think it’s a kind of creation, a creative enterprise, which has as one of its main features what I call the desexualisation of pleasure … The possibility of using our bodies as a possible source of very numerous pleasures is something that is important. For instance, if you look at the traditional constructions of pleasure, you see that bodily pleasure, or pleasures of the flesh, are always drinking, eating and fucking. And that seems to be the limit of our understanding of our body, our pleasures.
One can say that S&M is the eroticisation of power, the eroticisation of strategic relations … the S&M game is very interesting because it is a strategic relation, because it is always fluid. Of course there are roles, but everyone knows very well that those roles can be reversed. Sometimes the scene begins with the master and slave, and at the end the slave has become the master. Or, even when the roles are stabilised, you know very well that it is always a game; either the rules are transgressed, or there is an agreement, either explicit or tacit, that makes them aware of certain boundaries. This strategic game as a source of bodily pleasure is very interesting….”
“The problem with Foucault, simply put, was his profound perversity, a quality that characterized both his life and his work. In fact, it would be all too easy to explain away Foucault’s work as the predictable consequence of a tortured psychological make-up: in this case, homosexuality and sadomasochism with a strong suicidal component. Miller, to his credit, never sucumbs to the temptation. Without judging or sensationalizing, he sets forth the dark side of Foucault’s life, from incidents of self-mutilation in his university days to his pursuit of the S&M leather-bar life in San Francisco. Miller is in many ways more direct about Foucault’s private torments than was the French journalist Didier Eribon in his recently published biography, Michel Foucault. Miller suggests that Foucault’s indifference to self-preservation was never more dramatically apparent than in his refusal to practice “safe” sex even after he learned about AIDS, the disease from which he died, at age 54, in 1984. (The less pardonable sin, if the rumors that Miller reports are true, was Foucault’s refusal to curtail his promiscuity after he knew that he had the virus.)..”
images from a French AIDS-awareness campaign inspired by Michel Foucault’s death.