This essay presents a critique of Luce Irigaray’s contribution to Through Vegetal Being, one of several contemporary theoretical works involving a “turn to plant life.” Irigaray there adopts a “reject” position drawn from her intellectual life that she sees as well in plant life, still very much exploited and left to ruin in our ecologically conscious epoch. From that position, Irigaray is able to acknowledge and appreciate plant life as not only a key element for our individual existence in the world but also for our apprenticeship in coexisting with others. However, her work ignores plants’ violent impotentiality and thus reduces plant life to mere passive, hospitable nature. To avoid this reduction (a violence of theory), this essay argues that an “auto-reject” position might be a better approach for a more veritable “critical plant studies.”
Le rejet of Luce Irigaray in Through Vegetal Being
irving goh is President’s Assistant Professor of Literature at the National University of Singapore. He is also the author of The Reject: Community, Politics, and Religion after the Subject (Fordham University Press, 2015), which won the Modern Language Association Twenty-third Jean and Aldo Scaglione Prize for French and Francophone Studies. His next monograph (in French), L’Existence prépositionnelle, will be published by Galilée in 2019.