Discourse is not life: its time is not your time

I understand the unease of all such people. They have probably found it difficult enough to recognize that their history, their economics, their social practices, the language (langue) that they speak, the mythology of their ancestors, even the stories that they were told in their childhood, are governed by rules that are not all given to their consciousness; they can hardly agree to being dispossessed in addition of that discourse in which they wish to be able to say immediately and directly what they think, believe, or imagine; they prefer to deny that discourse is a complex, differentiated practice, governed by analysable rules and transformations, rather than be deprived of that tender, consoling certainty of being able to change, if not the world, if not life, at least their ‘meaning’, simply with a fresh word that can come only from themselves, and remain forever close to the source. So many things have already eluded them in their language (langage): they have no wish to see what they say go the same way; at all costs, they must preserve that tiny fragement of discourse — whether written or spoken — whose fragile, uncertain existence must perpetuate their lives. They cannot bear (and one cannot but sympathize) to hear someone saying: ‘Discourse is not life: its time is not your time; in it, you will not be reconciled to death; you may have killed God beneath the weight of all that you have said; but don’t imagine that, with all that you are saying, you will make a man that will live longer than he.’

Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (211; #)

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