By Pete Hamill
A journalist and writer of Loving girls recreates the hard-drinking Brooklyn-Irish way of life that educated each point of his adolescence and early profession and that finally destroyed his marriage.
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Extra resources for A Drinking Life: A Memoir
41 If Emile is significant in the context of the relationship between politics and aesthetics in Rousseau's oeuvre, it is because of his programmatic faith in "natural" or "negative" education, which dictates that through infancy and adolescence his Pupil be consciously isolated from virtually all contact with the wider and supposedly corrupt social world. The Tutor conducts his model education in a totally controlled environment remote from the corruptions of urban life—an environment, moreover, in which the exercise of power is all the more sinister because, although ubiquitous, it is also invisible: [L]et him [the Pupil] think he is always the master, but you will always be.
As he indicates in a brilliant sentence, Rousseau was aware of this—"Making his Misanthrope fall in love was nothing; the stroke of genius was in making him fall in love with a coquette" (75)—but he resents the resulting ridiculousness of the figure. It is as if Rousseau, in this case at least, wants to deny the possibility of the divided self or subjectivity in the modern psychoanalytic sense of the word; in the face of so much evidence in himself and others, Rousseau clings to the dangerous illusion of homogeneity and transparency within and without, of full accessibility of self to self and of self to others.
Finally, there was in Foucault's life and work a visible ambiguity in the attraction of anonymity or of self-effacement, on the one hand, and openness to a public role, on the other. The ambiguity is effectively summed up in the cryptic final remarks of an interview he gave in English in 1983. In response to a query as to how he felt about "a popular status" consecrated by a column on him in Time magazine, he deliberately left open the question of the relationship between an author and his work as well as that of the degree to which a private life should be made public: "As far as my personal life is uninteresting, it is not worthwhile making a secret of it.