If one wants to analyse the genealogy of subject in Western civilisation, one has to take into account, not only techniques of domination, but also techniques of the self. One has to show the interaction between these types of technique. When I was studying asylums, prisons and so on, I perhaps insisted too much on the techniques of domination. What we call discipline is something really important in this kind of institution. But it is only one aspect of the art of governing people in our societies.
Having studied the field of power relations taking techniques of domination as a point of departure, I would like, in the years to come, to study power relations starting from the techniques of the self. In every culture, I think, this self technology implies a set of truth obligations: discovering the truth, being enlightened by truth, telling the truth. All these are considered important either for the constitution or for the transformation of the self.
I don’t know why Foucault makes this assumption, that the practice of working on the self would involve a search for the truth rather than more effective ways of lying, perhaps lying so persuasively that one believes one’s own lies.
This makes me think of Amalia Ulman’s Excellences and Perfections project, which draws explicitly on Foucault’s “technologies of the self” idea but uses social media to construct a false story about the self taken to be real, and thus becoming “real” as it is socially adopted and recirculated. The project takes as its starting point an intention to deceive people online, to attract attention by enacting a familiar, stereotypical narrative. It plays on consumers of social media preferring the story told by images and their eagerness to vindicate them as “real” and “true” — rendering what is not captured in the manipulated images as “not true."
Foucault’s point may be that these technologies of the self need the alibi of authenticity to be effective. I wonder if the "technologies of domination” are really any different from the “technologies of the self,” or whether technologies of the self are merely technologies of domination self-applied.