Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (European Perspectives) (European Perspectives Series)

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Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (European Perspectives) (European Perspectives Series)

Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (European Perspectives) (European Perspectives Series)

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Until then we are an unboundaried everything everywhere, undifferentiated from all sounds, sights, smells, skins, sheets, and poop. The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. Differentiation, another psychological mechanism, is the lifelong process of changing from a cell in your mother’s body to becoming an independent and distinct human being. One aspect of the abject that Kristeva highlights is the fact that its main characteristic is not about sickness or disease, but rather about meaninglessness.

The author shares some fascinating ideas and insight into abjection and how it relates to women in horror, what society and film makers are saying through their stories about women in horror, and how this reflects contemporary culture and society's attitudes to women through the ages. After spending several years reading French theoretical texts I no longer lack the stamina or patience to care about what half of what is said in them. You have spit in your mouth all the time and frequently swallow it; but, by expelling it from your body, you make it an object apart from you; sort of.The reason for this ambivalence is because differentiation is not the only good thing to be pursued.

This then poses the initial organizing structure of cognition as a scheme of fear and desire on an axis of presence and absence.

I think that Kristeva’s awareness that there is an element of desire within the human approaching the abject. Kristeva has the idea that we are 'subjects in process' and that there is no such thing as a fixed or stable identity. Semiotics has a pretty cut-and-dried conceptualization of the sign: (Object--mental image of object--Sound Image--standing for object [heard word]--Visual Version of Sound Image [print/writing]--motor skill representation, spoken and written). If differentiation is the most fundamental act of cognition, then maybe our first such act is noticing the difference between mom-is-here and mom-is-not-here (but not our complicated idea of "mom," just a warm food-source presence filling eyes and mouth). I had never seen an amputee before and I was horrified in the same way you might be if you slowed down to look at an accident.

This seems obvious, but if we apply it to the subject it suggests that the conceptualization of other people as such precedes the formation of the "I. Important to this book and all others in its field is the idea that the identity of things is not just maintained by what they are, but by what they are not. When mentally feeling my way about such matters, I like to switch stuff out: (a version of Roland Barthes' "commutation test") imagine pious believers bowing before a grand plinth holding up a revered brown coil of crap, or tourists lined up in an American museum to look at glass boxes containing the preserved vomit of our Founding Fathers. One of the book's most compelling aspects is Kristeva's exploration of the abject as a force that blurs the boundaries between self and other.As Kristeva puts it, "The corpse, seen without God and outside of science, is the utmost of abjection. Depending on your inner ego, depending on how much close to death and horror you have been, this is one of the best books I have ever read. In Powers of Horror Kristeva examines the notion of abjection through literature, she traces the role the abject has played in the progression of history, most notably in religion which she spends much time contemplating on. The last third of this book has the most beautiful writing (in translation, anyway) but for that go to Kristeva on Proust, cuz here she just does it on Celine the Nazi. So the subject/object thing is trembly with the tension between two dangers: to seal off into a regressive narcism, or to overidentify with scattered others for a fragmented ego.

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