Including the excluded

In this panoptic society of which incarceration is the omnipresent armature, the delinquent is not outside the law; he is, from the very outset, in the law, at the very heart of the law, or at least in the midst of those mechanisms that transfer the individual imperceptibly from discipline to the law, from deviation to offence. Although it is true that prison punishes delinquency, delinquency is for the most part produced in and by an incarceration which, ultimately, prison perpetuates in its turn.

The “failure” of the prison system

Penality would then appear to be a way of handling illegalities, of laying down the limits of tolerance, of giving free rein to some, of putting pressure on others, of excluding a particular section, of making another useful, of neutralizing certain individuals and of profiting from others. In short, penality does not simply ‘check’ illegalities; it ‘differentiates’ them, it provides them with a general ‘economy’.

More on individuality

Before the classical age, biographies were less stories of individuals than stories of the holder of some important office of position–e.g., the life of a statesman, general, king, or emperor. For example, Plutarch’s biography of Alexander the Great was the story of a great military leader, not the story of a particular person.

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