My Brain in an Exhausted Identity Crisis:
I’ve been looking for change. My last few writings were on identity and how we live out multiple versions of ourselves simultaneously. I’ve reach a point where I need to kill off some versions of myself that have become toxic, self-seeking, and stuck in a cycle. Part of this transition into another narrative is redefining my community. Keeping work as work, not as everything I do. It means finally pursuing the things I’ve talking about doing like volunteer work with house-less, playing music, and writing more. There’s another part that I’m working on and that is my decision making, my personality.
We are our synapses, well in a way, not in a genetic determinism way. We are to account for culture, etc. I sat down to write about this, but I wanted to revisit Catherine Malabou’s book What Should We Do With Our Brains. Specifically, the chapter “You Are Your Synapses.” While this is a heady topic (pun intended) I want to give a few thoughts. I read this book a while ago, but revisiting it at this time in life made this book a little louder as I was reading it. I am out of my element writing on this topic, so bear with me.
There’s the idea that our personality, who we are, is found in the synapses of our brain. In the midst of these synapses there’s an actual space, a void if you will, where a message tavels across. Who you are in found in a physical space. This space/void is what allows for plasticity to exist. What is plasticity? We can simply this word by first considering what “plastic” is. I think we all know what plastic is. Something that can take on any form, able to adapt, and conversely able to destroy i.e plastic explosives. Plastic has the ability to create and destroy. As Malabou notes, “[P]lasticity is situated between two extremes: on one side, the taking on of form (sculpture, molding, fashioning of plastic material); on the other, the annihilation of form (plastique, detonation). Plasticity deploys its meaning between sculptural modeling and deflagration-in other words, explosion” (Malabou, 70). Now back to synapse, the void that exists is where we find our plasticity. Our ability to create something new, outside of our genetic determinism. “Nervous information must cross voids, and something aleatory thus introduces itself between the emission and the reception of a message, constituting the field of action of plasticity” (Malabou, 36). So this is fascinating because who we are is at odds with ourselves. We are our genetic make-up, or “proto self”, and we are who we because of culture, experience, life lived, etc. The proto-self wants constancy and basic survival, a kind of Darwinism. Then there’s the autobiographical self who wants to be something else, and seems to be always changing identity (what I am currently going through). So when I at my life and recent past wondering, “Why the hell did I act that way?” What I do contradicts how I see myself. What I’m seeing is: within this contradiction, opposing natures, that I form my identity in a dialectical way. “What results is a tension born of the resistance that constancy and creation mutually oppose to each other. It is thus that every form carries within itself its own contradiction. And precisely this resistance makes transformation possible” (Malabou, 71).
I am in the midst of this resistance. I am in the midst of exploding parts of me while simultaneously creating something new. I couldn’t be more out of my element in writing on this topic, so I apologize. Life can get to a point where we knowingly, or unknowingly, blow it up. We are creating a rupture, a tear in the sky. It is only at this moment that something new can come about. We look at the cycles, homeostasis, and we decided, self-generate, a new narrative (But this transition from “homeostasis” to “self-generation” is not made without rupture or gap, Malabou, 75).
So I’m learning to accept myself as whole. The good and bad. The bad gives me information on how to be good. Ruptures are not pleasant experiences, and they hurt yourself and those around you. Yet, I like what Malabou says, “Only in making explosives does life give shape to its own freedom, that is, turn away from pure genetic determinism (73). Again I could just be so wrong on all of this, but I’m hoping I can work through it.