The term abjection literally means "the state of being cast off". The term has been explored in post-structuralism as that which inherently disturbs conventional identity and cultural concepts. Abjection prevents the absolute realization of existence, completing the course of biological, social, physical, and spiritual cycles. The abject is, as such, the process that separates from one's environment what "is not me". Kristeva's concept of abjection is used commonly to explain popular cultural narratives of horror, and discriminatory behavior manifesting in misogyny , homophobia , and genocide.
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There looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark re-volts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced. Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects. Unflaggingly, like an inescapable boomerang, a vortex of summons and repulsion places the one haunted by it literally beside himself.
Kristeva decided to write about that which is been repressed, of that at which one does not want to look or smell or experience—the skim on milk, fingernail parings, waste, cadavers and so on. She contrasts the ob-ject to the ab-ject, which is connected to the Freudian mechanism or process of repression, denial and repudiation that are part of the formation of the human subject. She explained,.
The one by whom the abject exists is thus a deject who places himself , separates himself , situates himself , and therefore strays instead of getting his bearings, desiring, belonging, or refusing.. A tireless builder, the deject is in short a stray. Abjection is part of the earliest and forgotten struggle to separate from the mother who is reluctant to recognize the realm of the symbolic or the law of the Phallus.
Before the intervention of the Symbolic, there is a prior impulse compelled to expel the Mother and the mother becomes the Abject. But the symbolic intervention of the Father between the mother and child alone is not enough to ensure the separation.
The human subject is founded upon the imposition of the Symbolic Law of the Father and the abjection of the mother to prevent incest. Inspired by the rejection of the maternal body, the unstable prohibition of incest includes autoeroticism and is located in what Kristeva, borrowing a term from Plato, called the chora. Imagine the chora as a receptacle, a place where the repressed is pent up. The chora will, of course, return, but it is held in tenuous check by the sign or the image the subject has formed narcissistically of itself.
The abject shatters the wall of repression and its judgments. It takes the ego back to its source on the abominable limits from which, in order to be, the ego has broken away—it assigns it a source in the non-ego, drive, and death. Abjection is a resurrection that has gone through death of the ego. The abject is related to perversion.
Kristeva asserts that sex and violence form the primal intersection for humanity, and women are the victims of the symbolic order. The division or separation of mother and child makes up the two sides of the sacred. Maternal milk binds the child to the mother and becomes the sign for incest.
Or is she simply discussing the psychology of language in a way that in elaborating Lacan foregrounds the abject, an unwritten but necessary element in the formation of the subject? This abject is not controlled by the Symbolic but by energy drives. Abjection becomes internalized through language and spoken through the symbolic order. Lechte stressed the liminal condition of the abject: it is neither inside nor outside—human waste, properly not seen, is suddenly expelled.
Over time, there is a steady repression of the maternal element in favor of a political and social rationality of the subject and of the society. The abject becomes the dark side of narcissism: the ambiguous, the in-between, the unassailable, in other words, all that has had to be repressed for the subject to separate from the mother and to enter into society.
But even though it is deposited in the chora , the abject defies boundaries, is resistant to unity, and disturbs the identity, order, and system that is necessary to create the subject. To maintain these tenuous boundaries, the abject is objectified or projected forward and away onto, as Kristeva said, the corpse, waste, filth, the traitor, the liar, the criminal, the rapist, the hypocrite, the amoralist and other social undesirables.
As a social act and a rejection of the symbolic, Associated with the female or that which is unincorporated into Lawful society, abjection is always on the wrong side of the Law of the Father. The question becomes how to reincorporate the female and the abject and separate the pre-Symbolic from the criminal? Kristeva unhinges the binary oppositions through semiotic language as a form of music, leading to an infinitization of meaning the Semiotic. According to Kristeva,. When practice is not laughter, there is nothing new; where there is nothing new, practice cannot be provoking: it is at best a repeated, empty act.
Art, for Kristeva, avant-garde practice can transform society. The work of art can explore aspects of the feminine and the masculine. Mimesis is not the woman or the feminine but the constitution and de-constitution of the subject.
Kristeva posited a third way, following the failures of first and second-generation feminism, suggesting that aesthetic practices should explore and construct the singularity of every speaking being. Subjectivity can become an open system, and art can become an individuating experience of limits. Kristeva thought that a genuine dialectical materialism could be an artistic challenge—a transgression of the historical forms of the Symbolic.
In other words, she is suggesting a transgression of or an inversion of a dialectic, based upon rejection and exclusion. As Kristeva stated,. This conception of the ethical function of art separates us, in a radical way, from one that would commit art to serving as the representation of a so-called progressive ideology or avant-garde socio-historical philosophy.
The subjective process that is the essence of art gains its significance only and through being a remedy for this blockage. Because art comes from the repressed and primal loss of the Maternal, Kristeva proposes that the work of art is at the heart of the Mother.
Art is the mother castrated in the symbolic, but because the Maternal is on the side of the Material, the Mother can be alluded to through the materiality of the work of art. Kristeva seems to assert that the patriarchy and the capitalist system which is its manifestation seeks to repress the materiality of the semiotic and that art becomes a way to disrupt symbolically—through the Language of the Father—by using the texture of paint, or the smoothness of marble, or the intensity of a color, or the hand of a fabric to express the repressed primal tactility experienced through fusion with the body of the Mother.
If you have found this material useful, please give credit to. Jeanne S. Thank you. She explained, The one by whom the abject exists is thus a deject who places himself , separates himself , situates himself , and therefore strays instead of getting his bearings, desiring, belonging, or refusing..
Julia Kristeva The human subject is founded upon the imposition of the Symbolic Law of the Father and the abjection of the mother to prevent incest. The chora is not yet a position that represents something for someone i.
Duality - Approaching Abjection II
In Mediterranean culture and the Arab world , the question is far more complex because different substrata of the pagan cultures that precede monotheism — unlike in Europe — survive almost intact in different cultural and social forms, not limited to the vague memory of Greek culture. Where do one end and the other begin? This gap between the super-ego and the identity. And how do two extreme opposites meet in one psyche at the same exact moment? What is abjection?
Julia Kristeva and Abjection