Gaze in Correspondence


In “Self Writing,” Foucault stresses that correspondence — although it has a similar function of providing introspection, even as the writer writes to an audience other than himself — is distinct from hupomnemata in that it simulates a face-to-face conversation. In writing a letter to someone, one is placing himself in the gaze of the recipient, exposing his “presence,” as Foucault writes, even more profoundly than if he were to send a photograph. Thus, writing to a friend, even if only to recount the details of one’s day and overall health — is more than simply a writing exercise in disciplining the mind; it also serves a social function quite similar to a physical meeting with a friend.


One Reply to “Gaze in Correspondence”

  1. Placing yourself in the gaze of the recipient might cause ourselves to write in a way that is influenced by who the recipient is. You touched on what was discussed in class in the way that the presence of someone else is always in our mind as we write, whether that someone can respond or not. There’s usually some audience we think of as we write, and instead of it being a “meeting with a friend”, it might be a meeting we have with ourselves.

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