So, I’ve come down with a rather nasty flu in the midst of preparing for the upcoming Laruelle events at Warwick and Nottingham. I haven’t been able to give much thought to the Malabou book besides my initial impressions which are likely not so interesting. As it has so far played out in the comments, especially between Adam, Bruce, and Clayton, there has been a real excitement over Malabou’s work. While her What Should We With Our Brains? did very much excite me I think I’m not as enthusiastic about this work because my own interests do not lie so heavily with Hegel, Heidegger, or Derrida. In some ways it strikes me as an oblique way to investigate the problem of change as she has to excavate the idea from the forms of the negative that seem to dominate dialectic, destruction, and deconstruction. So, in my slightly feverish state, my only real question is how the concept of plasticity is determined, if at all, by the negative? Would it take a different shape if she were working more closely with Spinoza, Bergson, and Deleuze? That is, what tests can the affirmative present to plasticity?
4 thoughts on “Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing Response: URA Fever”
The negative, if we keep the brain at the focus, is maybe the lesion. I would love to hear from Malabou a comparison of certain neurological disorders due to lesions (inability to lay down new memories, for example) and, since she works with Hegel, stages in the development of natural consciousness. Wouldn’t a Hegelian reading of the Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat be perfect? How about The Man Who Mistook His Life for Hat?
This is where destructive plasticity as discussed in Les nouveaux blessès is relevant, because she contrasts cerebralitè with sexualitè in the more conventionally Freudian sense. Cerebralitè (brain events, including wounds) is in a sense more intimate than sexualite, but it is also completely disappropriative, insofar as an event like a lesion can completely alter who you are.
On the larger question of the negative, that’s interesting that plasticity, which is not itself negative, is related genealogically from three masters of negativity, so to speak, but at the same time this negativity is negated, in a way, in order to extract plasticity as a motor scheme. But plasticity still contains a kind of explosive negativity, which is the destructive plasticity that Bruce was asking about. In any case I don’t follow Deleuze’s constitution of the history and practice of philosophy here, and Malabou helps me to blow it up. It’s too representational rather than operational.
I tend to read Malabou as greatly influenced by Deleuze, in addition to Derrida, and she poses this great question to Deleuze: “One or several Hegels?” [“Who’s Afraid of Hegelian Wolves?,” in Deleuze: A Critical Reader (Blackwell)]. Why would Hegel be this singular name and figure of philosophy, THE philosopher of the negative, “the unalterable and univocal signifier of a signified…”? What if Hegel is read affirmatively through Deleuze, would it resemble Malabou’s reading of Hegel in The Future of Hegel and elsewhere?
Also I can’t help taking seriously Derrida’s affirmation of Deleuze in Works of Mourning: “As regards…the thesis concerning a difference that is not reducible to dialectical opposition, a difference ‘more profound’ than a contradiction, a difference in the joyfully repeated affirmation (‘yes, yes’) [Caputo is right, deconstruction is essentially about affirmation!], this taking into account of the simulacrum, Deleuze remains no doubt, despite so many dissimilarities, the one to whom I have always considered myself closest among all of this ‘generation.'”
Not to turn this into a discussion about Deleuze but can you say more about this statement: “In any case I don’t follow Deleuze’s constitution of the history and practice of philosophy here, and Malabou helps me to blow it up. It’s too representational rather than operational.” I’m not sure I follow.
Yes, just that while I am incredibly influenced by Deleuze, and even more so recently after rereading Difference and Repetition and Cinema 2, I don’t accept the distinction between negative (Hegel, Heidegger, Derrida) and affirmative (Spinoza, Nietzsche, Bergson, Deleuze) that is at work here, at least in terms of the classification of philosophers. I appreciate why Deleuze created his genealogy, and also his deep criticism of Hegel as the Master he has to oppose, but I don’t have to simply follow it. This is one reason I find Malabou so fascinating, because she is Hegelian but it is influenced-inflected by Deleuze.
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