Abstract

This essay explores ‘sculptural plasticity’ through neuronal matterings of the brainbody in philosophy, literature and art. The sculptural alludes to differing forms, the outcomes of which register an ongoing preoccupation with the ways in which ideas are material mutations of plasticity’s agential power to act as the guarantor of inevitable change. This is specific to a feminist materialist methodology, in particular the space of ‘experience-dependent plasticity’ in the expanding languages of new materialism (Victoria Pitts-Taylor, 2016). Working with new materialist thinking as a process of decentering the human subject by considering the experiential, affective, phenomenology and neurophysiological body, the essay presents new materialist instances of brainbody phenomena unfolding within difference scenographies (philosophy, literature and art). The first example registers Socrates ‘catalepsy’ through Hegel’s attempts to situate this condition as a necessary stepping stone leading towards pure thought. This account is re-read through the experiential symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Second, the paper exposes a brain-bodily vulnerability in Sartre’s novel Nausea, to consider how the death-drive of the plasticene is a battle between the brain and the environment. This is an existential futurity which problematises Sartre’s existential project. Third, Pierre Huyghe’s installation After ALife Ahead is considered in the context of morphogenetic acts of cell and bacterial formation and self-generation. The intra-active entanglements between organic life forms and the climatic conditions of the physical environment call for a materially-discursive practice of writing, in, with, and through the brainbody, not as a phenomenologically grounded and/or embodied encounter with materiality, but rather as a dispersed act of sculptural thinking with plasticity in a time-based bio-technical system.

This essay is part of a guest edited issue entitled ‘New Concepts for Materialism’. The guest editors are Iris Van der Tuin (Utrecht University) and Adam Nocek (Arizona State University). Sculptural Plasticity features alongside other conceptual formations such as: transversal posthumanities, interology, transcendental biology, oikonomia and morphogenesis. Contributors to this publication include Rosi Braidotti, Felicity Coleman, Dimitris Vardoulakis and from universities in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhilosophy Today
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 May 2018

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Plasticity
Materialist
Art
Materialism
Philosophy
Transcendental
Entanglement
Phenomenology
Morphogenesis
Vulnerability
Methodology
Cells
Materiality
Discursive Practices
Utrecht
Mutation
Death Drive
Socrates
Language
Human Subjects

Cite this

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title = "Sculptural Plasticity",
abstract = "This essay explores ‘sculptural plasticity’ through neuronal matterings of the brainbody in philosophy, literature and art. The sculptural alludes to differing forms, the outcomes of which register an ongoing preoccupation with the ways in which ideas are material mutations of plasticity’s agential power to act as the guarantor of inevitable change. This is specific to a feminist materialist methodology, in particular the space of ‘experience-dependent plasticity’ in the expanding languages of new materialism (Victoria Pitts-Taylor, 2016). Working with new materialist thinking as a process of decentering the human subject by considering the experiential, affective, phenomenology and neurophysiological body, the essay presents new materialist instances of brainbody phenomena unfolding within difference scenographies (philosophy, literature and art). The first example registers Socrates ‘catalepsy’ through Hegel’s attempts to situate this condition as a necessary stepping stone leading towards pure thought. This account is re-read through the experiential symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Second, the paper exposes a brain-bodily vulnerability in Sartre’s novel Nausea, to consider how the death-drive of the plasticene is a battle between the brain and the environment. This is an existential futurity which problematises Sartre’s existential project. Third, Pierre Huyghe’s installation After ALife Ahead is considered in the context of morphogenetic acts of cell and bacterial formation and self-generation. The intra-active entanglements between organic life forms and the climatic conditions of the physical environment call for a materially-discursive practice of writing, in, with, and through the brainbody, not as a phenomenologically grounded and/or embodied encounter with materiality, but rather as a dispersed act of sculptural thinking with plasticity in a time-based bio-technical system.This essay is part of a guest edited issue entitled ‘New Concepts for Materialism’. The guest editors are Iris Van der Tuin (Utrecht University) and Adam Nocek (Arizona State University). Sculptural Plasticity features alongside other conceptual formations such as: transversal posthumanities, interology, transcendental biology, oikonomia and morphogenesis. Contributors to this publication include Rosi Braidotti, Felicity Coleman, Dimitris Vardoulakis and from universities in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.",
author = "Rowan Bailey",
year = "2018",
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Sculptural Plasticity. / Bailey, Rowan.

In: Philosophy Today, 31.05.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issue

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AB - This essay explores ‘sculptural plasticity’ through neuronal matterings of the brainbody in philosophy, literature and art. The sculptural alludes to differing forms, the outcomes of which register an ongoing preoccupation with the ways in which ideas are material mutations of plasticity’s agential power to act as the guarantor of inevitable change. This is specific to a feminist materialist methodology, in particular the space of ‘experience-dependent plasticity’ in the expanding languages of new materialism (Victoria Pitts-Taylor, 2016). Working with new materialist thinking as a process of decentering the human subject by considering the experiential, affective, phenomenology and neurophysiological body, the essay presents new materialist instances of brainbody phenomena unfolding within difference scenographies (philosophy, literature and art). The first example registers Socrates ‘catalepsy’ through Hegel’s attempts to situate this condition as a necessary stepping stone leading towards pure thought. This account is re-read through the experiential symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Second, the paper exposes a brain-bodily vulnerability in Sartre’s novel Nausea, to consider how the death-drive of the plasticene is a battle between the brain and the environment. This is an existential futurity which problematises Sartre’s existential project. Third, Pierre Huyghe’s installation After ALife Ahead is considered in the context of morphogenetic acts of cell and bacterial formation and self-generation. The intra-active entanglements between organic life forms and the climatic conditions of the physical environment call for a materially-discursive practice of writing, in, with, and through the brainbody, not as a phenomenologically grounded and/or embodied encounter with materiality, but rather as a dispersed act of sculptural thinking with plasticity in a time-based bio-technical system.This essay is part of a guest edited issue entitled ‘New Concepts for Materialism’. The guest editors are Iris Van der Tuin (Utrecht University) and Adam Nocek (Arizona State University). Sculptural Plasticity features alongside other conceptual formations such as: transversal posthumanities, interology, transcendental biology, oikonomia and morphogenesis. Contributors to this publication include Rosi Braidotti, Felicity Coleman, Dimitris Vardoulakis and from universities in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

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JO - Philosophy Today

JF - Philosophy Today

SN - 0031-8256

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