The symposium of which this paper is part will illustrate how power operates across different practices of lifelong learning and how confession is an important technology through which subjects are shaped and governed. On a general level, we are all inscribed in relations of confession. Foucault (1998: 59) argues, ‘[T]he confession became one of the West’s most highly valued techniques for producing truth. We have since become a singularly confessing society… Western man has become a confessing animal’. This argument supports the idea that confession operates almost everywhere. If this contention would be within the “true”, we pose the following question: are we trapped within the confessional in which the end product is a self-governing lifelong learner?
As Foucault’s genealogy of confession illustrates, there have been other modes of governing and other ways through which we construe the relation of the self to the self. Additionally, the point of genealogy is to render the taken-for-granted-ness of the present visible in order to open a space to live the present otherwise (cf. Fejes & Dahlstedt, 20120; Simons and Masschelein 2009). However, living the present otherwise will not take us outside of power relations. Power is everywhere and it is productive. Thus, living otherwise may traverse power relations that allow different subjectivities to emerge. In this paper, we will provide three examples of how subjectivity might be shaped in a different way compared to the way subjectivity is shaped through the technology of confession in the present. These alternatives should not be seen as prescriptions. Rather, they should be seen as “examples” of how it might be otherwise than what is. The three examples provided are; Pierre Riviére who slaughtered his mother, brother and sister (Foucault, 1975); books of life (Foucault, 1994) and humour, satire and laughter.