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Title: The Subversive Practices of the Desiring Subject
Subtitle: Michel de Certeau between Lacan's Psychoanalysis and Foucault's Genealogy
Author(s): WESTERINK, Herman
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 31    Date: 2021   
Pages: 229-246
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.31.0.3289736

Abstract :
Michel de Certeau is one of the most important scholars theorizing the place, status and character of mysticism and spirituality in the modern secular age as an era of vast decline of established religious institutions and bodies of knowledge. In this context mysticism and spirituality are seismographs of a crisis. They emerge outside or in the margins of new orders of power and knowledge, and are characterized by eruptions of melancholic desire for the lost presence of the divine. On this point, Certeau distances himself from Michel Foucault’s focus on the production of subjects through subjection to power-knowledge regimes. Instead, Certeau stresses individual tactics for thinking, speaking and acting ‘differently’. This article explores and compares Certeau’s and Foucault’s views on modern mysticism, counter-conducts and tactics, arguing that the most fundamental point of discussion between the two ‘genealogists’ concerns the issue of desire. Whereas Foucault will develop his thought through a critique of the primacy of law and desire in Western disciplining practices, notably in the structuralism of Lévi-Strauss and Lacan, Certeau will focus on the subversive and performative potential of desire, thus remaining closer to the Lacanian views of the subject as desiring being.

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