Reading Foucault’s “Panopticism” reminded me of a book I read back in elementary. I do not remember the title or author but I remember the plot. There was an orphan who constantly got in trouble and was falsely accused for his best friend’s murder. He was sent to a juvenile facility but was later transferred to a sketchy prison that was deep underground. The setting of the place was very similar to what is described in Panopticism without the actual guards monitoring from above. What replaced the guards were shadow monsters that would spy on the prisoners, learning their behaviors and characteristics then reporting it to the warden. One by one, prisoners were taken out of their cells at night based on their behavior. The orphan’s friends said that the guards and warden keep them in check with the use of fear and control. I remember that one of the prisoners said that the warden is “all-knowing”. The orphan went along with the rest of the prisoners and succumbed to the constant monitoring and pressure in the prison, secretly looking for clues for an escape. So far, there is a resemblance of social control and the power-knowledge concept between the orphan’s situation and Panopticism. The orphan being stuck deep underground in harsh conditions, being forced to mine along with his fellow prisoners while maintaining good behavior in fear of being tortured is definitely a way that the prison is keeping him on line. The shadow monsters (in this case) are the monitoring “devices”. They observe every prisoners actions and report it to the warden. This is the reason why the warden was feared. He knew everything in the prison, making him the most powerful person there. However, the orphan didn’t crack under the constant abuse of control. Instead, the orphan found clues leading to the identity of the warden. The orphan’s resistance and will power led to his escape, only to find himself sent back to the very prison that he escaped from. I personally liked the book because of the orphan’s individuality and the warden’s all-knowing power. The warden was by far my favorite character because with everything he knew, he had the capability to act on it. For example, the orphan’s cellmate told the orphan a clue of the identity of the warden and the warden secretly tortured the cellmate, turning him mute and eventually getting him killed in a mine “accident”.
One Reply to “Third Blog Post”
Chris – I was a big fan of this past week’s read. It seems like a very interesting book and definitely contributes to the idea of panopticism. If you remember the title you should definitely let me know! From what I read, the warden definitely seems like the most interesting character and I would love to find out more about him.