Post-Traumatic Plasticity: Digression I

UPDATE: Short video of Malabou can be found here.

The second chapter of Part One of Les nouveaux blessésLes célébro-lésés: du roman neurologique au théâtre de l’absence – deals with some examples of cerebral damages and their general effects (the prevailing one being that of “indifference” and “cold detachment”) and how neurological scientific style itself is a strange co-conspirator in this perpetuation of coldness and detachment in a way it deals with these cases stylistically.  However, Malabou brings up her favorite notion of “plasticity” in order to engage a topic she has already addressed in Que faire de notre cerveau? which leads me to my first digression – what is this plasticity as applied to the discussion of the brain? Continue reading


Islam and the Secular State: The Immanent Frame Discussion

The Immanent Frame blog has a great discussion of Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im’s Islam and the Secular State here. Its nice to see that blogs serve purposes other than continual policing of meaning, narcissistic self-congratulation and annoying sharing of useless private information – I was going to link all those phrases to various examples, but then quickly realized that you don’t really need to go anywhere else to find them, just explore the contents of this particular blog.

The discussion opens with a post by Mark Juergensmeyer whose book on religious violence I’ve used for many of my classes and always find it to be a great source of information and theoretical engagement. 

An-Na’im is especially interested in reaching out to Muslims beyond the Arab heartland, such as those in North Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, who he believes are more receptive to alternative ways of conceiving of the role of shari’a in relation to the secular state.

For this reason, An-Na’im has created a website where chapters of the book are available in a variety of languages-Urdu, Bengali, Bahasha Indonesia, Persian, Turkish, Russian, and French, in addition to Arabic and English.

Cerebral Autoaffection Interrupted.

[I collected all the previous posts on Malabou here in order to avoid constant linking the new post to the old ones, since these are simply reading notes, use them as you see fit, but preferred uses are: to impress someone with knowledge of Malabou without actually opening the book, to cite in defense of claim “I was into Malabou before it was cool” and the like pretentious yet awesome ways…]

What is this “cerebral unconscious” then? One must be careful, argues Malabou, not to fall into the trap of identifying that which is not conscious with that which is unconscious. “Cerebral unconscious” is all that information that brain provides for itself about the internal state of the organism, that it informs itself of, that it auto-represents, i.e. “cerebral unconscious” refers to the whole ensemble of processes of brain’s autoaffection. [83] If we go back to the introduction of this discussion of the relationship between sexuality and cerebrality, we will see that Malabou already emphasized the fact that “neuronal architecture is composed of different systems in constant interaction.” [59] This point should remind the reader, I think, that the discussion of “cerebral auto-affection” or “cerebral unconscious” is not directed as some sort of system-building that would reconcile the struggle between sexuality and cerebrality via some sort of larger synthesis of both into a final system.   Continue reading

Disciplinary Tribalism or Slice and Dice?

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by a historian suggests that on the whole thinkers like Hegel, Freud and Marx are no longer being taught, and if they are being taught it is only outside of each thinkers discipline.  So the broad claim is that Hegel, for the most part, is not taught in philosophy departments, Freud is barely spoken of in psychology departments and Marx won’t be found in any course offerings through the economics department. The author of the article, Russell Jacoby, suggests

The divorce between informed opinion and academic wisdom could not be more pointed. If educated individuals were asked to name leading historical thinkers in psychology, philosophy, and economics, surely Freud, Hegel, and Marx would figure high on the list. Yet they have vanished from their home disciplines. How can this be?  A single proposition can hardly explain the fate of several thinkers across several fields. However, general trends can inform separate disciplines. For starters, the ruthlessly anti- or nonhistorical orientation that informs contemporary academe encourages shelving past geniuses. Continue reading


I’m insulted. It took them ten years to figure out that women would drop out of the work force for the same reason as men?!?!?

“When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”

The whole article after the jump.

Continue reading

Mikhail Iampolski’s Lecture

I came across this public lecture by Mikhail Iampolski (NYU) who, along with another Mikhail (Mikhail Epstein, Emory), is one of most visible Russian intellectuals working in what could be loosely labeled “culture studies” in US and Russia. Give it a listen – nice thick Russian accent and, of course, sort of thought-provoking ramblings without the annoying Zizekian all-over-the-place-ness.

A Form of Time and a Moment of Kairos

Mikhail Iampolski

Other Voices, v.2, n.3 (January 2005)

Copyright © 2005, Other Voices/Mikhail Iampolski, all rights reserved.

Summary: Continue reading