I just want to clarify something I said during the course of the Foucault episode: that Foucault and Deleuze did a lot of drugs together.
This could be false.
This is one of those rumors you pick up gradually when you take a few classes in contemporary continental philosophy. You hear a lot of anecdotes of the dubious kind that always seem to begin, “I can’t remember where I heard this, but…”
Now here are some things we think we know about Deleuze and Foucault on drugs:
Foucault’s biographer, James Miller,tells us that Foucault dropped acid exactly once, in Death Valley, CA in 1975. Interestingly, we are also told that this experience may have been responsible for the break (or the perceived break) between his middle period works, like Discipline and Punish, and his later “ethical” period in which he considers the ways in which people can transform themselves (rather than merely being shaped by power).
Deleuze and Guattari specifically caution against the use of drugs, even if drug experiences can be revelatory, in their work A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia.
What I will defend is my statement that it sounds like they’re sharing some kind of inside joke. When I read Foucault and Deleuze in conversation with each other, I find them both harder to understand than when I read either alone (though I find Deleuze to be very difficult at the best of times). When I read Deleuze, or Foucault in conversation with him, I can’t help but wonder if I’m being Sokaled. I give them both more credit than that, and I think the hard work of making sense of their philosophies, jointly or separately, has been fruitful for me and for the field of philosophy. But it’s like reading Clockwork Orange; if you’re not fully engaged and you reflect too much on the language, you end up thinking, “srsly?”