Adventures in the Vegetality of Time: Sexual Difference, Diachrony, and Other Plant Matters
A lecture by Professor Michael Marder.
Plants are among the pioneers of sexuality in the history of life. In many plant species, sexual reproduction coexists with asexual reproduction, which, in this case, is called “facultative." Focusing on vegetal sexuality, we notice that it renders the time of plants diachronous. When plants are in the phase of vegetative growth, they do not develop new reproductive organs, such as flowers; when plants are in the phase of sexual reproduction, their vegetative growth slows down. In this talk, we will consider the diachronic nature of plant growth and sexual development as a miniature model for the diachronic nature of time itself. Our thesis will be the following: plant sexual ontology condenses in itself all the promises and paradoxes of plant ontology proper, with vegetal being as the expression of vegetal time. Their slipping away from the principle of opposition liberates plants from two things at once: the dominion of a principle and the logic of oppositionality. This double move is temporalizing; it is incompatible with the fiction of an atemporal static identity and with the equally immobile, deadlocked non-identity of pure opposition. Vegetal temporalization then becomes a figure of temporalization as such, well beyond the confines of the biological kingdom Plantae.
Michael Marder is an Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz. His work spans the fields of environmental philosophy and ecological thought, political theory, and phenomenology. He has published numerous books including Plant-Thinking, and Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives in collaboration with Luce Irigaray. This summer he is publishing Plants in Place.