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Biological Plasticity and Performative Possibility in the Work of Catherine Malabou and Curious

Part of the Performance Philosophy book series (PPH)

Abstract

Reading Catherine Malabou’s philosophy of synaptic plasticity with the performance company Curious’ exploration of gut feelings, Katie Schaag theorizes the promise and possibility of biological plasticity as performative and in live performance. She first argues that biological plasticity is structured through a dynamic oscillation between script (DNA) and performance (synaptic firing). Testing her theory of performative plasticity and complicating the relationship between performance art and performance in everyday life, she next suggests that Leslie Hill and Helen Paris’ Autobiology methodology makes possible a new form of durational performance: biological event as live art. Finally, through a reading of Malabou and Curious’ analysis of the lacuna between biology and biography, she proposes that we turn our attention to the performative plasticity of the second brain.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Catherine Malabou, Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing: Dialectic, Destruction, Deconstruction, trans. Carolyn Shread (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 59.

  2. 2.

    Leslie Hill and Helen Paris, Performing Proximity: Curious Intimacies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), 162.

  3. 3.

    Catherine Malabou, “Performance and Power: An Interrogation” (plenary lecture, Theater, Performance, Philosophy: Crossings and Transfers in Contemporary Anglo-American Thought, University of Paris-Sorbonne, June 26–28, 2014).

  4. 4.

    Jacques Derrida, “Signature Event Context,” in Limited Inc, trans. Samuel Weber and Jeffrey Mehlman (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1988).

  5. 5.

    Catherine Malabou, What Should We Do with Our Brain?, trans. Sebastian Rand (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008), 22.

  6. 6.

    Malabou, Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing, 61.

  7. 7.

    Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage Books, 1990).

  8. 8.

    Malabou, What Should We Do with Our Brain?, 5.

  9. 9.

    Joseph LeDoux, Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are (New York: Penguin Books, 2002), 4.

  10. 10.

    Ibid., 96.

  11. 11.

    Jon McKenzie, Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance (New York: Routledge, 2001).

  12. 12.

    Malabou, Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing, 36.

  13. 13.

    Ibid., 43.

  14. 14.

    LeDoux, Synaptic Self, 9.

  15. 15.

    Malabou, Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing, 49.

  16. 16.

    Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1.

  17. 17.

    Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990).

  18. 18.

    Malabou, What Should We Do with Our Brain?, 8.

  19. 19.

    Ibid., 38.

  20. 20.

    Malabou, Plasticity at the Dusk of Writing, 60.

  21. 21.

    Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb, Evolution in Four Dimensions: Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005).

  22. 22.

    Malabou, What Should We Do with Our Brain? 4.

  23. 23.

    Ibid., 7.

  24. 24.

    Ibid., 19–30.

  25. 25.

    Leslie Hill and Helen Paris, Course Description: “Autobiology: Biology and Biography in Live Performance” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2010).

  26. 26.

    Hill and Paris, Performing Proximity.

  27. 27.

    Hill and Paris, “Autobiology.”

  28. 28.

    Michael Gershon, The Second Brain: A Groundbreaking New Understanding of Nervous Disorders of the Stomach and Intestine (New York: HarperCollins, 1998), xiii.

  29. 29.

    Ibid., 17.

  30. 30.

    Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination,” in Inside/Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories, ed. Diana Fuss (New York: Routledge, 1991), 13–31.

  31. 31.

    Hill and Paris, Performing Proximity, 157.

  32. 32.

    Antonio Damasio, Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain (New York: Vintage Books, 2010).

  33. 33.

    Malabou, What Should We Do with Our Brain? 57.

  34. 34.

    Ibid., 58.

  35. 35.

    Ibid.,72.

  36. 36.

    Ibid., 69–70.

  37. 37.

    Ibid.

  38. 38.

    Hill and Paris, Performing Proximity, 87.

  39. 39.

    Ibid., 156.

  40. 40.

    Ibid., 62.

  41. 41.

    Catherine Malabou, Course Description: “Plasticity, Epigenesis, and Life” (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2011).

  42. 42.

    Jablonka and Lamb, Evolution in Four Dimensions.

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Correspondence to Katie Schaag .

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Schaag, K. (2017). Biological Plasticity and Performative Possibility in the Work of Catherine Malabou and Curious. In: Street, A., Alliot, J., Pauker, M. (eds) Inter Views in Performance Philosophy. Performance Philosophy. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95192-5_13

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