Considering Morgan in the Midst of a Transversal Struggle

Delving into Foucault’s essay can give some clarity and organization to our thoughts on The Avian Gospels and the choices Adam Novy makes, and what he may be saying about modern society. In the first section, Foucault discusses oppositions that can be characterized by several patterns, and have marked many societies — they are “transversal struggles,” ones that appear across countries and throughout societies formed by different administrative systems or social structures (780). In other words, these struggles characterize community. I argue that Novy is grappling with these struggles in the text, and that he’s aiming to portray them in stark relief for us to consider and form our personal thoughts about. The flat characters of The Avian Gospels help him to do so, I think — they are archetypes, aligning clearly and well with the roles that characterize the struggles that Foucault discusses. Indeed, we can look to his description of one of these transversal struggles and apply it to characters in the text: Foucault describes these struggles as “questioning the status of the individual: on one hand, they assert the right to be different…” but they also break an individual’s link with others, force the individual “back on himself, and ties him to his identity in a constraining way” (781). I think this description from Foucault elucidates the very crux of Morgan’s struggle. And indeed, he follows the pattern of a transversal struggle truly — at least in the beginning of the text; his tension lies in rallying against the “immediate enemy” of the administration that is trying to exert authority and control his ways. He is grappling for freedom from an immediate threat, never stopping to consider what deeper and larger flaw or conflict might be causing this oppression (like the greater social structure of his country perhaps — Morgan instead fixates on the Judge and the RedBlacks, whereas Jane ruminates on class order and the overall mechanisms of oppression). Foucault describes a main tenement of these transversal struggles as fighting against the immediate, threatening power force, the enemy assumed to be causing effects. So the focus of Morgan’s struggle — his initial struggle — seems to align with Foucault’s descriptions, but how the struggle shapes him seems to follow Foucault’s predictions as well. His struggle alienates him; his rage and rebellion characterize him as an individual, but they also create difficulty in the relationships he has with the people in his life. So he is faced again and again with himself — and this is certainly another source of tension for Morgan, an almost increased struggle and source of oppression.

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