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Wesleyan University | Center for the Humanities



Carving the Vegetarian Brain:  A Real Story

Kalpana Seshadri • Boston College

May 6th @ 6pm • Daniel Family Commons 

From a philosophical perspective, the anthropocene can be said to disclose nothing if not the abyssal non-relation between Reality and the Real. By situating Han Kang’s novel, The Vegetarian in this abyss, this paper takes up the implications of Catherine Malabou’s theorization of neuro-plasticity for an understanding of the kind of trauma that ensues from a violence that is ontological. Han Kang’s novel suggests that when one’s quotidian sense of reality is disrupted by an encounter with the veridical force of the real, social “realism” as a genre governing the subject must suspend itself. What is at issue in this novel is the solution to a trauma that exceeds the individuated subject, and is unlike any other personal, collective or historical trauma. This paper explores the trauma of ineradicable ontological violence, its implications for our understanding of neuro-plasticity, and the shape of the desire that emerges in this space as a solution. 

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