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Julia Kristeva. "Approaching Abjection"

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Dylan Canter

on 5 September 2013

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Transcript of Julia Kristeva. "Approaching Abjection"

Julia Kristeva. "Approaching Abjection"
The Way out
Neither Subject nor Object:
-There is, in abjection, one of those violent and obscure revolts of being against that which threatens it and which seems to it to come from an outside or an exorbitant inside; something that is thrown next to the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable
-Fearful, it turns away. Sickened, it rejects
-Tirelessly, like a wild boomerang, a pole of attraction and repulsion
draws the one inhabited literally out of himself
-The abject is not on object in front of me
-The abject shares only one quality with the object—that of being opposed to I
-The abject, on the contrary, is a fallen object, is what is radically excluded, drawing me towards the point where meaning collapses
The Unclean:
-The distaste for certain foods is perhaps the most elementary and the most archaic form of abjection
-I abject myself in the same movement by which ‘I’ claims to be me
-The corpse indicates to me what I keep permanently at a distance in order to live
-The corpse, the most sickening example of refuse, is a limit which
has invaded everything
-The corpse—seen without God and outside science—is the height of
abjection. It is death infesting life
-It is not then an absence of health or cleanliness which makes something abject, but that which perturbs an identity, a system, an order; that which does not respect limits, places or rules. It is the in-between, the ambiguous, the mixed
The Abjection of the Self
-The abjection of the self would be the culminating form of this experience by the subject to whom it is revealed that all his objects exist only by virtue of the inaugural loss founding his own being
-Christian mysticism has made this abjection of the self the ultimate proof of humility before God
-Abjection is constructed through the non-recognition of what is close to it: nothing is familiar to it, not even a shadow of memories
-Fear; the phobic has no other object than the abject. But this word ‘fear’—a fluid mist, an ungraspable clamminess—scarcely has it come into being than it blurs like a mirage all the words of language
Beyond the Unconscious:
-The theory of the unconscious assumes, as is known, a repression of contents (affects and representations) which, due to this fact, do not accede to consciousness
-The ‘unconscious’ contents here remain excluded but in a strange way: not radically enough to allow a solid differentiation subject/object, and nevertheless with sufficient clarity for a position of defence
An Exile who says: ‘Where?’
-The one through whom the abject exists is thus an outcast who places (is placed), separates (is separated), situates (is situated) and therefore wanders, instead of recognizing himself, desiring, belonging or refusing
-Instead of asking himself about his ‘being’, he asks himself about his place: ‘Where am I?’ rather than ‘Who am I?’
-An outcast never stops delimiting his own universe

Before the Beginning: the Separation
-The abject confronts us, on the one hand, with the fragile states where man wanders in the territories of the animal. Thus, through abjection, primitive societies have marked out a precise zone of their culture in order to detach it from the menacing world of the animal or of animality, imagined as the representatives of murder and sex
Perverse or Artistic:
-The abject is related to perversion
-The abject is perverse for it neither abandons nor assumes an interdiction, a rule or a law; rather, it turns them aside, leads them astray, corrupts them; it helps itself to them, uses them the better to deny them
-Corruption is its most widespread and most evident
-The writer, fascinated by the abject, imagines its logic, projects himself into it, introjects it, and in consequence perverts language—both by style and content
-One could then say that which such a literature, a
traversing of the dichotomous
categories of Pure and Impure, Interdiction and Sin,
Moral an Immoral, is accomplished
-In purifying (us of) literature, in constitutes our lay religion

Like Abjection – Like Sacredness:
-Abjection appears as a rite of impurity and pollution in the paganism which accompanies societies with a dominant or surviving matrilinear kinship structure. Here it takes on the aspect of the exclusion of a substance (either nutritive or linked to sexuality)
-Abjection persists as exclusion or taboo
-Finally, with Christian sin, it is given a dialectical elaboration in becoming integrated as a menacing but always nameable and totalisable alterity in the Christian word
-Viewed from this angle, artistic experience, rooted in the abject that it expresses and purifies by that very means, appears as the essential component of religiosity. This is why perhaps it is destined to survive the collapse of the historic forms of religion

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