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

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Columbia University Press, 2010 - Philosophy - 96 pages
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.

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a remarkable extension of her work on plasticity and in ways that inviite/require broader ways of "reading"



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About the author (2010)

Catherine Malabou (Author)
Catherine Malabou (PhD, Philosophy, Ecole normale superieure de Fontenay-St. Cloud) is Professor of Comparative Literature at UC Irvine. She is the author of a number of books, including (translated into English) Before Tomorrow: Epigenesis and Rationality (Polity, 2016), Ontology of the Accident (Polity, 2012), The New Wounded: From Neurosis to Brain Damage (Fordham, 2012), The Heidegger Change: On the Fantastic in Philosophy (SUNY, 2011), Cganging Difference: The Feminine and the Question of Philosophy (Polity, 2011), Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing (Columbia, 2009), What Should We Do with Our Brain? (Fordham, 2008), The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality, and Dialectic (Routledge, 2004), (with Jacques Derrida) Counterpath (Stanford, 2004), and (with Adrian Johnston) Self and Emotional Life: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Neurobiology (Columbia, 2013).

Carolyn Shread (Translated by)
Carolyn Shread (PhD, French University of Massachusetts at Amherst) is a Lecturer in French at Mt. Holyoke College. Her articles have appeared in TTR; NeoHelicon; Palimpsestes; French Literature Series and The Journal of Haitian Studies. In 2012, her article "On Becoming in Translation: Articulating Feminisms in the Translation of Marie Vieux-Chauvet's Les Rapaces" won a national research award, the Florence Howe Award for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship.She has translated ten books, including four by Catherine Malabou.

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