Paul B. Preciado, Learning from the virus, ArtForum, May/June 2020
IF MICHEL FOUCAULT had survived AIDS in 1984 and had stayed alive until the invention of effective antiretroviral therapy, he would be ninety-three years old today. Would he have agreed to confine himself in his apartment on rue de Vaugirard in Paris? The first philosopher of history to die from complications resulting from the acquired immunodeficiency virus left us with some of the most effective tools for considering the political management of the epidemic—ideas that, in this atmosphere of rampant and contagious disinformation, are like cognitive protective equipment.
The most important thing we learned from Foucault is that the living (therefore mortal) body is the central object of all politics. There are no politics that are not body politics. But for Foucault, the body is not first a given biological organism on which power then acts. The very task of political action is to fabricate a body, to put it to work, to define its modes of production and reproduction, to foreshadow the modes of discourse by which that body is fictionalized to itself until it is able to say “I.”
Paul B. Preciado is a philosopher, a curator, and a trans activist. An Apartment on Uranus: Chronicles of the Crossing, a collection of his columns between 2013 and 2018 for Libération and other media outlets, was published in 2019 by Semiotext(e).
Translated from French by Molly Stevens.