Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Children of Famous Academics Part 1: Murray Foucault

Some people like to sit around and talk about Michel Foucault. I know a young married couple who had an Order of Things-themed wedding. It started at six o'clock Saturday afternoon and ended when everyone stopped talking.

Foucault's been dead for twenty-plus years, but his work's just as relevant today as it was, say, in 2004. So he'll always be remembered. In fact, I had an undergraduate friend who vowed that he’d never forget The Archaeology of Knowledge. It was the book he’d read just before his father died. “Gee, what a day,” he told me. “First that, now this.”

But what about Murray Foucault? Murray Foucault, Michel's son, doesn't have his pop's literary credibility. Once, Murray claims, he tried to write a book: "I couldn't get past the first page." Then he tried to dictate a book: "I couldn't even get out a word." Then he tried to buy a book: "They wouldn't even take my money! They tried to trick me into stealing! I said, 'That's it! The Geneva Public Library has lost Murray Foucault's business. For good!"

Murray Foucault doesn't have Michel's talent for puzzles. Murray Foucault doesn't even have a cell-phone. So what does Murray Foucault have?

"I'll say this about me and my dad: I've got a beautiful head of hair."

A few months ago Murray gave an interview with The Sewanee Review in which he explained the difficulties inherent in being a Great Man's son:

"People expect me to be smart," he said, "but it's not that way at all. Sure, I'm my father's son. But people don't know he was a great card player. People don't know that. They only know the smart stuff. So it's always, 'Yeah, Murray, you're a fine Hearts player. But was Plato right?'"

You've got to feel for the guy. "I don't even like Sartre," he told his interviewer. "Simon...Simon's my favourite. Always has been, always will be. You wanna see smart! You wanna see insights and powerful thoughts! Simon. I'm telling you--Simon." He waved his hands. "But I think the whole thing's fixed. You wanna tell me that David Archuleta came in off the street? Please. If you believe that, I've got a bridge I'm willing to sell ya."

He continued: "I grew up in a house with all these books, but did anyone ever read me a story? OK, OK. Once. And," here he paused, "to this day I still don't know if The Royal Porcupine was Dennis Lee. I kept asking pop, and all he would say was, 'Mur, open another bottle of wine. Open another bottle of wine, Mur. I was eight years old! 'White or red?' I'd ask.

"For my tenth birthday he bought me an hourglass. When I was eleven I got a lock. Finally, when I was twelve, he gave me the combination."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"You're a fine Hearts player, but was Plato right?"

Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.

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