Foucault's Panopticon Model Of Confession

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According to Foucault, confession is “a ritual that unfolds within a power relationship, for one does not confess without the presence, or virtual presence, of a partner who is not simply the interlocutor but the authority who requires the confession, prescribes and appreciates it, and intervenes in order to judge, punish, forgive, console, and reconcile.” Confession, therefore, is a truth creating mechanism that creates rather than simply state an irrepressible truth. In most circumstances, this truth is constructed under coercion, rather than a free expression of self. Thus, confession is “poietic not mimetic, it constructs rather than reflects some pre-textual truth.”
Despite confession being an activity that deals with the secretive, obscure
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Despite his stereotypical comic-foreigner reputation, he is an obvious panoptic figure who engages in long and intricate theatrical performances to force out the truth and bring out the culprit by imposing a confession onto somebody, as present in his popular reunion scenes, in the absence of spontaneous admission of guilt. He often refers to his ruthless power of vision or insight, that is denied to others - “Me, I know everything. Remember that.” Thus, Foucault’s panopticon model of surveillance can definitely find a suitable literary example in the figure of the detective. The mechanism of power which requires the subject to confess to a higher authority, that is the detective can be categorized under what Foucault describes as “pastoral power” and one could argue that the detective represents a pastoral power that needs to rely on insight rather than simply a panoptic power that is based entirely on sight. We can then read the detective as an embodiment of Foucault’s “pastoral” power who relies for his functioning on a kind of management of confessions from the suspects, that can allow us to better comprehend some of the nuances of the workings of the modes of power represented by detective fiction. Moreover, confession always takes place in some sort of closed sacred space, a space which denotes a kind of solemnity and privacy. This is typically a space that either belongs to the confessor/detective, or is one that the detective controls. Poirot, for instance, creates this magic space by creating his “reunion” scenes and creating a closed circle of people bound by the
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