Care of God as Care of the Self: Foucault, Gnosis, and Curation of the Divine Mirror in John of Morigny’s Ninth Vision

In: Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies
Author: Claire Fanger1
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  • 1 Department of Religion, Rice UniversityHouston TXUSA
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This article draws on Foucault’s understanding of “thought” as “freedom” and his description of “care of the self,” connecting these concepts with the account of a vision of Christ recorded by the fourteenth-century French monk, John of Morigny (fl 1300–1315). I argue that John’s account reflects “thought” as “freedom” very much in the Foucaldian sense, even as it defers to Christ as the authority to whom the monk vows obedience. In the first part of the article I outline ways in which Foucault’s thought both is and is not “theological.” Since Foucault draws on Christian models, and John’s visionary practice involves repentance and confession, it might seem to be almost a too-perfect prototype of the self-care Foucault was interested in; yet the results of the analysis are unexpected. The vision, is induced by John’s own unorthodox prayer practice, begins with Christ appearing in penitential garb and asking to confess his own sin to John of Morigny. I demonstrate that it is only possible to make sense of this vision by looking at the ways Christ acts as an intimate mirror of John’s self, reflecting the stance and penitential practice John must follow to reconcile himself with God.

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