Are Foucault & Lyotard postmodernist bedfellows?

I wonder where Foucault's general thesis of 'Part One: We "Other Victorians" ' places him in the spectrum of the rupture v. extension debate in postmodernism:

His central claim seems to be that we have not experienced any sort of liberation from a previous Victorian repressive treatment of sexuality, but instead are still handling sexuality through a new phase of repression. Yes, we may speak more openly about sex, argues Foucault, but "then the mere fact that one is speaking about it has the appearance of a deliberate transgression" (p. 6). Foucault speaks to the power of rehistorization - the ability to rearticulate historical treatments of sexuality as being inherently repressed. This seems to be the essence of the 'repressive hypothesis.'

So if we consider Foucault' mention of a 'third doubt' - "Was there really a historical rupture between the age of repression and the critical analysis of repression?" - along with this thesis of the non-end of the repressive presence, does Foucault then take up a Lyotardian position on the 'development' of postmodernity? Since he seems to be arguing against any break with the end of repression, would he be in accord with Lyotards assessment of postmodernity as the constitutive extension of modernity and pre-modernity?

(I might be misreading Foucault's sense of rupture - please let me know if I'm totally off the mark.)

I won't claim to be able to offer much of an analysis of Foucault's arguments in terms of Lyotard's whole complicated language games and legitimation thesis. But I will say that based on what I have been able to piece together so far, I don't really read this book as having that much to say one way or the other on what other authors have called postmodernity. In fact, I read its logic as almost sort of modernist (or structuralist at least) in that it appears at least to propose some coherently put together structure of power asserting itself as having quite a bit to do with the ways that our society thinks about sex and sexuality. In this way, though, it does remind me of Jameson, Harvey, and a little of Lyotard's intro.

The way I read his repression bit is that the issue isn't sex not being talked about, but where it's talked about and the rules governing those conversations that is problematic. I read his 'scientia sexualis' as arguing that the rules for where sex can be talked about and how shifted in the general movement from faith and religious power structures to a reason-centric clinical sort of model, where sex can be understood (and here I read Foucault as asserting that this 'understanding' is more a norming to a pre-established set of rules than honest rational enquiry) in terms of biology and psychology. So the meaning of repression that Foucault seems to like most doesn't apply- the silence and denial one- but a 'our sex is still sort of not our own (made impure and confused by the extension of evil power structures)' definition I read as still being applicable. However, I read Foucault's "repression"(8,9) as the former and not the latter. This does strike me as sort of similar to the way that Lyotard views postmodernism as not fundamentally different from modernism, so I agree with you there, but I don't read it as concerned with addressing any kind of 'postmodern' culture so much as what was contemporary when Foucault wrote the essay.

I would argue that Foucault's analysis of sexuality as power is very postmodern. Ultimately, this book has little to do with the actual act of sex and more with the existance of sexuality in a postmodern capitalist world. Sexuality does not belong to some grand historical narrative. There has been no progression in the way society treats sex. Rather, the way we discuss sex has simpy become more controlled over the centuries. Now one must be totally aware of his sexuality. The discussion of sex has been silenced, resulting in more secretive discussions. When one views sex as though it should be a secret, one simply has more desire to uncover this secret. By attempting to do this we are feeding into the power relations. Power uses sex to regulate the population. Humans are told that their sexuality is at the core of thier being but really sexuality is nothing more than a social construct. The role of sexuality is similar to Althusser's perception of ideology. We are made to believe that ideology and sexuality are what make up our moral and physcial composition. The fact of the matter is though that they are nothing more than imagined relationships fed to us by capitalism in order to make us believe we have control over our reality. Perhaps I am reading Foucault wrong but that seems pretty postmodern to me.

I also place Foucault in the postmodern. He seems to support an epistemological over an ontological shift (although the longer I think about this the more intertwined these concepts become). He describes a multi-centered or non-centered sexual power structure akin to a Derrida model. The modernist specialization provides multiple avenues for defining sexuality that each have their own intertwined but not cohesive structure. He even explains that those structures themselves shift over time, e.g. the relationship between the psychiatrist, the adult, and the child. An all-encompassing yet unresolvable pattern looks pretty pomo to me.

I read Foucault as siding with the 'rupture' side of the debate pretty forcefully, although the common sense rupture, the casting off of the shackles of sexual repression, disguises and is symptomatic of the true rupture: the transformation of power into biopolitics. The 'third doubt' calls into question the common-sense rupture by revealing criticism of repression to be simultaneous with the age of repression, thus setting the foundation for revealing 'repression' of sex to be at best a partial truth, at worst a necessary myth for the production of discourse about sex, the instrument-effect of the true rupture. This rupture is much more far-reaching than the 'liberation' of sexuality: it signals a profound transformation of power from juridical/taboo based to regulative/norm based reminiscent of Baudrillard's 'death of power.'

I guess what I was getting at here is how Foucault's arguement appears to resonate with Lyotard's dictum on the continuation of modernism into the post-modern, and how something must be at once post-modern in order to have been modern in the first place. Foucault's articulation of our historicized sense of 'repression' seems to be reliant upon our more contemporary understanding of 'liberation from the repression' in the same way. The question was aimed less at whether or not Foucault's writing is postmodern or postmodernist, but instead at trying to situate his historicopolitical sensibility in the context of the logic of the rupture v. extension concept of history.

I needed a few chapters to realize that Foucault, unlike Jameson et al., is not concerned with defining postmodernity. I think it's there, but it's internalized rather than the explicit topic of discussion. More accurately, Foucault shares an analytical mindset with a lot of the other thinkers we've read, perhaps a pioneering one (I equivocate because my knowledge of pm lit consists basically of what we've read in class), since the 1978 publication of History of Sexuality predates the Jameson (1991), Lyotard (1984), and Habermas (1983) that we've read, and comes about 8 years after Althusser's Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.

Foucault's got a characteristic mistrust of conventional wisdom and meta-narratives. He politicizes just about everything he can get his analytical prongs around. He tries to expose cultural assumptions taken for granted as universal essentials--revealing ideology as ideology, a la Althusser, rather than letting it slink around masquerading as reality. That's about all I've got in terms of his macro post-modernness--anyone care to add anything?

In the time I took composing the last comment, a few more sprung up that I hadn't read before writing, such that the sequencing makes it seem like I'm ignoring previous posts, so here are a few more thoughts...

From what I can tell, Foucault goes back and forth on the epistemological/ontological break debate. The only other Foucault I've read is the first 100ish pages of Discipline and Punish, and in that text he discusses at length the ways in which the realignment of state disciplinary/punitive power affects the contemporary condition--that hiding the mechanisms of confinement in isolated prisons, hiding punishment rituals (where before they used to be public and well attended, e.g., stocks, guillotines, and hangings) has created an unseen reality that regulates our lived reality in insidious and mind control-y ways.

So here, he emphasizes concrete policy shifts as bringing about the contemp. repressed, regulated state of mind. In History of Sexuality, the discourse on sex self-defines and redefines, and I get the sense that the abstractions therein drive state policies as much as state policies affect the discourse on sex; there is less of a one-way causal relationship than a hazily conducted conversation. To the extent that Victorian-originating norms define and constrict sex to acceptable domestic, private, heterosexual, generative locales, in codes of conduct, in educational materials, there exists an ontological structure. To the extent that discourses of repression commodify discourses of liberation as a rebellious yin to the conservative yang, pin it to a non-dialectical resistance, and generally keep it at comfortable arm's length, it seems like an epistemological game dependent solely upon who knows what, and when--whether stances are actions or reactions.

Either way, he's very concerned with what is in plain view and what is hidden or coded, and how this affects the psyches of those who participate in said economies. Reading HofS, I was struck by the similarity of analytical premises between the two works--both hinge on what concealment can do to power relations.

In this sense, I think Foucault's emphasis on the relevance of concealment speaks pretty directly to Jameson's oft-cited theory of cognitive mapping--that the technological/social/sexual/disciplinary/gold-standard-less unfathomable sublime is extremely difficult to apprehend, and that this wages war on our ability to self locate and function with any degree of confidence.