Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing §§5-8

§5. Dusk and Epoch
In this section Malabou considers the meaning of dusk. Going through the multiple meanings it may take in an investigation of plasticity from the positive where it “might seem to suggest that plasticity is the dialectical sublation of writing as a motor schema” to the more negative signaling of the “onset of insomnia, the melancholic state into which the psyche of someone cannot mourn the lost object descends” (15). Dusks populate philosophy almost as a transformational mask that “reveals nothing, says no more, and does nothing but point to the silent enigma of its profiles” (17). Yet, though Malabou recognizes that these discourses on the dusk will remain like a shadow, she nevertheless holds out the hypothesis that plasticity may bring about a different meaning of dusk.

§6. Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction: Single and Several
Dusk becomes a “fitting image” for triad of dialectic, destruction, and deconstruction. Because they like dusk are each a “vesperal negation that bring together two logics. Malabou then goes on to outline the various forms negation takes in each. For the Hegelian dialectic there are two negations, one derived from the time of Greek thought and the other from the time of Christian thought. The first negation is the “no” of Greek essence, rooting the thing to itself, and the second is the Christian “no” that pushes the thing outside of itself. Heideggerian destruction, she claims, is not a method but a “internal, immanent movement of philosophical content” (18). Thus it’s negativity is not the negative “shaking off” of the tradition, but instead its transformation or “metamorphosis” from a “historical” thought to a new time of thought that remains other to itself. Derrida’s deconstruction, a translation of Heidegger’s Destruktion or Abbau, also has this sense of immanent to philosophy’s movement and, Malabou again claims, is not a method. She constructs this short descriptive definition of deconstruction, “Deconstruction is what happens; deconstruction speaks plus d’une langue [more than a language and no more a language]” (20). Both represent the self-destructive or self-deconstructive tendency of philosophy.

Thought, at least for me, this is where it becomes interesting as Malabou states that negative could not be her subject, that the confrontation of the three on its own account would go nowhere. The reason is simple, “The three conceptions of the negative cannot therefore be taken as objects without being immediately frozen or cut off from their power of metamorphosis” (21).Thus plasticity isn’t a rigid schema into which these three must be fitted, but something which could be tested within them.

§7. What Changes Await Deconstruction?
This section balances a very clear and erudite discussion of the relationship of Hegel and Heidegger with a discussion of the trajectory of Malabou’s work. I won’t reproduce the technical work, as it’s condensed enough in the main text, and instead focus on the biographical aspect. The section mainly focuses on Heidegger’s reading of Hegel since in her The Future of Hegel she set up a thematic confrontation between the two where Heidegger remained silent. Though this is understandable in part because there is a certain Heideggerized Hegel that dominates in French readings from Hyppolite, Koyré, and Kojève. Ultimately, though, this attempt to have Heidegger speak to Hegel after she confronted Heidegger with Hegel leads her to the conclusion that “I needed to interrogate the very concept(s) of change underlying the destruction and deconstruction of metaphysics” (26). Malabou’s project became clear when she turned away from thematic confrontations and recognized that the metamorphic structure articulated all three without belonging to any of them. Thus the she became concerned with the mobile aspect of the mask – its transformability. “This was how I eventually came to recognize and accept that my question was about transformation” (27).

§8. “Form” in Heidegger
Here Malabou speaks about her book Le Change Heidegger where she “discovered another Heidegger” (28) in the triad of change. Her analysis of this other Heidegger focuses on the three words Wandel, Wandlung, and Verwandlung or change, transformation, and metamorphosis. All of this centers around the question of form in Heidegger showing that form is a concept that can metamorphosize itself. This triad of W,V,V becomes a “moving metabolic ground” that is “the secret floor of Heideggerian thought, its difference with itself” (29) by keeping a distance from the traditional conceptions of change both metaphysical and political. In some way W,V,V encompasses both as “there can be no metamorphosis and migration of the person, of the relation to being, speech, thought, or God, without a new visibility of these metamorphoses and migrations themselves” (30). In short, with this notion of plasticity at work in metaphysics, philosophy may be “on the path toward a radical decategorization” (30).

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One Response to “Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing §§5-8”

  1. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Man, if only there was a PDF of Le Change Heidegger floating around somewhere.


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