[-empyre-] Before the Law / control and cutting, stripped naked

simon swht at clear.net.nz
Sun Oct 28 08:56:02 EST 2012

On 28/10/12 07:07, Johannes Birringer wrote:
> empathy is vital, and moral.
habitual and normal

On 27/10/12 17:29, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> pain is different ... I can't communicate to you I'm dead

> My mother for example, a highly articulate woman, could not saying 
> anything coherent towards the end; pain devouted her. 

Antonio Damasio (e.g. /Looking for Spinoza/) shows, to simplify, the 
material neuronal causes of such feelings as empathy in the brain. 
Catherine Malabou goes further. She invents in /The New Wounded/, 
self-consciously, the philosophical concept of "cerebrality" to provide 
an aetiology for psychic events. She cites the argument of Bruno 
Bettelheim implying a shared causality of psychological symptoms in 
autists and mussulmen - the 1000 yard stare and - why I bring it in to 
this discussion - the indifference.

 From Malabou's preamble: "this book is a belated reaction to the ordeal 
of depersonalisation to which my grandmother was subjected as 
Alzheimer's disease operated upon her. I say "operated" because it 
seemed to me that my grandmother, or, at least, the new and ultimate 
version of her, was the work of the disease, its opus, its own 
sculpture. Indeed, this was not a diminished person in front of me, the 
same woman weaker than she used to be, lessened, spoiled. No, this was a 
stranger who didn't recognise me, who didn't recognise herself because 
she had undoubtedly never met her before."

And: "I was perfectly aware - along with everyone who must endure the 
same spectacle in their own lives - that this absence, this 
disaffection, this strangeness to oneself were, without any possible 
doubt, the paradoxical signs of profound pain. Later, I learned that 
Alzheimer's disease is a cerebral pathology. Could it be that the brain 
suffers? Could it be that this suffering manifests itself in the form of 
indifference to suffering? In the form of the inability to experience 
suffering as one's own? Could it be that there is a type of suffering 
that creates a new identity, the unknown identity of an unknown person 
who suffers? Could it be that cerebral suffering is precisely such 

(I'd also like respectfully to ask the opposite: if it could be that an 
as yet for us unknown person, an identity in the process of creation, 
can be equal to cerebral suffering, in the sense in which Deleuze issues 
the Stoic challenge of being equal to the wound which afflicts us? or in 
other words, acting?)

Simon Taylor

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