Michel Foucault and Walker Percy: Loss Power In Michel Foucault's essay " Panopticism", he discusses how power can be taken from people in different ways and how people in authority can control the lives, actions and minds of people. He does this by discussing how a town in the end of the 17th century was taken over and turned into a 'prison' by the government because of the plague. He also talks about Panopticon, a prison where people were held in cells and basically 'controlled' by a man in a tower. Walker Percy also talks about control, in a different sense, in his essay, "The Loss of Creature." Percy discusses how experts control the mind of the consumer. He believes that commercials, postcards, books and many different advertisements take away from people seeing the true meaning of something. In this essay I will compare and contrast both authors opinions on the ways a person can and can't have power over his/her life and the decisions they make and those that are made for them.
In Foucault essay he argues that power of the people to be true individualist is lost in the plague town and the Panopticon he talks about how leper and plague victims were subjected to, 'strict spatial partitioning: the closing of the town, they were prohibited from leaving the town and the town was divided into distinct quarters, each governed by an intendant.' This demonstrates power over mind and body because people did not have the liberty of leaving their homes whenever they wanted, the simple decision of eating when they were hungry was taken away from them and replaced by the schedule that the intendant and set for them. Percy felt that experts were controlling people's minds teaching them to see things in certain ways. This was locking people's minds down and allowing them see what they wanted them to see and not giving them the option to see, experience and form their own options. Percy states that, " sovereignty meant. . .the danger of seduction and deprivation of the consumer." (Percy(8))Percy is saying that experts have taken away people right to learn and experience things on their own. Therefore, both authors are discussing how people with more authority can control people with less authority and that in the case of the people living in the plagued town they were held down physically and Percy discusses the mental constraints that experts put on people when they tell them what they should look for and what can only be seen. In general, someone's ability to be independent, in mental and physical context, is confiscated.