Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing

Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction

FOREWORD BY Clayton Crockett
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    Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing
    Book Description:

    A former student and collaborator of Jacques Derrida, Catherine Malabou has generated worldwide acclaim for her progressive rethinking of postmodern, Derridean critique. Building on her notion of plasticity, a term she originally borrowed from Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and adapted to a reading of Hegel's own work, Malabou transforms our understanding of the political and the religious, revealing the malleable nature of these concepts and their openness to positive reinvention.

    In French to describe something as plastic is to recognize both its flexibility and its explosiveness-its capacity not only to receive and give form but to annihilate it as well. After defining plasticity in terms of its active embodiments, Malabou applies the notion to the work of Hegel, Heidegger, Levinas, Levi-Strauss, Freud, and Derrida, recasting their writing as a process of change (rather than mediation) between dialectic and deconstruction. Malabou contrasts plasticity against the graphic element of Derrida's work and the notion of trace in Derrida and Levinas, arguing that plasticity refers to sculptural forms that accommodate or express a trace. She then expands this analysis to the realms of politics and religion, claiming, against Derrida, that "the event" of justice and democracy is not fixed but susceptible to human action.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52166-6
    Subjects: Philosophy, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xxvi)
    Clayton Crockett

    Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing is at once an intellectual autobiography, a highly condensed summa, and an explosive manifesto from one of the most important contemporary philosophers at the height of her intellectual powers. Its brevity belies its significance. Based upon previous books on Hegel, Heidegger, and Derrida, it is also marked, although less explicitly, by her most recent publication in French, Les nouveaux blessés [The New (or Newly) Wounded], which is a reading of Freud from the standpoint of contemporary neurology. Combined with her book What Should We Do with Our Brain?, these works establish Catherine Malabou as...

  4. Translator’s Introduction
    (pp. xxvii-xxxiv)
    Carolyn Shread

    Typically, a translator’s note might seek to take responsibility for errors, lament the losses inherent to translation, justify translational choices, or expose some of the challenges of the text. Alternatively, the translator might offer conceptual exegesis or guidance in understanding the historical or cultural context of the original text. But this is not what I have to say. Translating Catherine Malabou’s Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing, engaging with her exposition of plasticity, has done something to translation. Rather than describing what this translation does to Malabou’s text, therefore, I focus on what Malabou does to translation.

    Unlike her mentor...

    (pp. 1-64)

    This book is a portrait. It paints the portrait of the concept of plasticity. To be more precise, it outlines the shape of a history, the form of a movement during which the concept of plasticity gradually asserted itself as the style of an era.

    From Hegel to Heidegger and then from Heidegger to Derrida, a grand formal adventure unfolded, a revisiting of form that now prohibits us from confusing form purely and simply with presence, for form has secretly transformed itself. Today form reveals its true colors: form is plastic.

    By exhibiting this new arrival, in one sense I...

    (pp. 65-82)

    To explain why Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing is both an autobiography and a conceptual portrait, I will talk about the impossibility of fleeing. The impossibility of fleeing where flight, however, would appear to be the obvious and only solution. The impossibility of fleeing in those moments when an extreme tension, a pain, a sensation of uneasiness surges toward an outside that does not exist. Something that is so constituted as to make fleeing impossible while also making it necessary to flee this impossibility. What is a “way out”; what could a “way out” be when there is no...

  7. Notes
    (pp. 83-96)