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

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For one, the attraction of adolescents to horror—and let's face it, they are the primary horror genre demographic for films and to an extent for literature—is something I would like to see her examine, and for that matter, she could even look into the comparative biology of mammals to be either repulsed or attracted to various forms of danger. For Kristeva, abjection is that which can be experienced as disgust (le dégoût), the body's reaction, phobic or revolting, against the polarization of fusion and separation.

I’m a little nonplussed here, after reading two pages I thought this was going to be a good read, a slow read, but a good one. It’s there, too, when, after a certain age, your mother wants to dress you in certain clothes, but you have your own stuff; when your father wants to know how your date went last night, but it went so well that you don’t want to tell him; and when you think about moving back home and sleeping in your old bed with the Spiderman pillowcases.

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. the topic is in depth beyond any capacity i was imagining, took me two full weeks of attentive reading and rereading just to get through the two hundred pages.

It also helped me to realize how much horror fiction has pulled from ancient and religious sources of abjection.

Uses of the mirror stage have ranged from speculation about the formation of selfhood being dependent upon a baby literally seeing an actual mirror and realizing through this "other" self its own discrete selfhood, to broader theoretical constructs that hold any "others" (mom, dad, a nanny, the cable guy) as the mirrored concept of person that is then applied to the self. Religion, according to Kristevea, is a natural response to the abject, for if one truly experiences the abject, they are prone to engage in all manners of perverse and anti-social behaviors.

Closely related to narcissism, abjection can thereby be equated to Lacan's mirror formation, and women, not men, are even more structurally closer to abjection throughout their lives. Julie Kristeva’s Powers of Horror is a massively important text for any scholar interested in horror or the abject. So, see: the real tension is between our careful Me/not-me mental construct of selfhood and the abject within. Drawing on Freud and Lacan, she analyzes the nature of attitudes toward repulsive subjects and examines the function of these topics in the writings of Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Marcel Proust, James Joyce, and other authors. Finally, although the abject is constantly present, it must be repelled at all costs because it threatens annihilation.You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. Having two categories is twice as good as having one, in which everything is a single, undifferentiated mass, but it’s not as good as having many categories in which you can capture subtle differences. The orphaned turd, once of us, is now abject, viscerally other, yet unlike many other others it has no function; it has no place; it has no purpose: it is shit.

Leon Roudiez (who died in 2004 I believe) translated several of Kristeva's works and I did enjoy reading those but the translation he did for this book seems a little off. There were too many instances where the translation was repetitive, felt embellished and was just plain wordy. Kristeva was the inaugural recipient of the Holberg International Memorial Prize in 2004 “for innovative explorations of questions on the intersection of language, culture, and literature. Although the abject represents self-annihilation, it still awakens our curiosity through its meaninglessness and our innate (because we are raised via language) desire to make meaning. On the level of our individual psychosexual development, the abject marks the moment when we separated ourselves from the mother, when we began to recognize a boundary between "me" and other, between "me" and "(m)other.

And then, to a certain extent, she turns it around with an account of horror and prohibition in the Old Testament, how that relates to Judaeo-Christian and Platonic concepts. In theory this simply means that Kristeva uses her personal experience, and the expressed experiences of others to get some idea of what the abject really is. As a post-modernist thinker, Bulgarian-French philosopher Julia Kristeva believes that the only way one can relate to or understand the world is through the medium of language, and anything that is completely non-linguistic is literally unintelligible.

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