Ruins of Identity: Irretrievable Damage.

So finishing up Part One of Malabou’s Les Nouveaux blessés – the remaining chapters of this part (3 and 4) deal primarily with an issue that was already set up through the discussion of what constitutes cerebral (and, by extention, psychic) identity – in these chapters we will see the first elements of what constitutes the primary goal of the study that could be roughly presented as following: what does cerebral trauma tell us about the human identity? how does psychoanalysis (and philosophy in general) deal with the new information given to us by neurosciences regarding the physical processes that define who we are? These issues of identity, of course, are not approached naively and without preparation. Carl Dyke posted a link to his essay on the issues that, I think, gives a great summary of the main problems (with philosophy and neuroscience constituting only a part of the big picture) – you can read it here (PDF).

Chapter 3: L’identité sans précédent (Identity without precedent) Continue reading

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

Neurological Subordination of Sexuality: Reading Malabou.

[continuing from here]

Part One of Les Nouveaux blessés (which Malabou herself proposes to translate as The New Wounds here) is entitled – La subordination neurologique de la sexualité. This part deals primarily with the “struggle for etiological domination” between neurology and psychoanalysis. This struggle, argues Malabou, is basically about defining and redefining the concept of “l’événement psychique.” In neurological subordination of the sexual, the psychic event is no longer considered as the sexual event: “The hypothesis of an emotional brain dismisses the idea of an autonomous sexual drive.” (60) Malabou identifies this specific la ligne de rupture between contemporary neurology and psychoanalysis in a following way: “contemporary neurology fundamentally contests the concept and the very existence of what Freud referred to as ‘psychic energy’.” (61) Neurological stance does not requires a “detour” to libido to deal with neuronal events – Malabou points out that the reason for the present lack of cooperation between neurology and psychoanalysis is precisely this fundamental disagreement – if for neurology there is but one type of energy – l’énergie nerveuse – then there is no need for Freudian notions of drive and libido. (62) Malabou cites Joëlle Proust from Le livre noir de la psychoanalyse (the book I’ve mentioned in my first post on Les Nouveaux blessés): Continue reading