Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why is the title of this blog called a Penopticon?

A panopticon is a design by Jeremy Bentham to watch prisoners using the least amount of guards. The design exposes all prisoners to the "all-seeing eye" of the guard tower in the middle. It looks a little like this.

This design is used in almost all modern prisons. Imagine yourself as a prisoner in one of the cells, can you truly shit in peace with someone watching you all the time? Essentially, you can't do anything and not get away with it.

I chose to do a word-play on this word to incorporate "pen" because essentially that's what writing is about. The "pen" represents language and through it, ideas and how it can in turn influence us in very subtle ways. The force is not overt, much like the gaze of the guards from the central tower, where the intangible power of simply being visible, can discipline the prisoners into order. It is not perfect, and resistance does occur, however by and large - most people comply.

This blog aims to fight against the panopticon, to keep questioning and investigating the more subtle power struggles in our lives, to ground certain large social issues and make it relevant to our personal lives. I hope, this would be a fruitful project for both myself, the writers to come, and my audience members.

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