Whereas the objet petit a allows a subject to coordinate his or her desires, thus allowing the symbolic order of meaning and intersubjective community to persist, the abject "is radically excluded and," as Kristeva explains, "draws me toward the place where meaning collapses" Powers 2. It is neither object nor subject; the abject is situated, rather, at a place before we entered into the symbolic order. On the symbolic order, see, in particular, the Lacan module on psychosexual development. As Kristeva puts it, "Abjection preserves what existed in the archaism of pre-objectal relationship, in the immemorial violence with which a body becomes separated from another body in order to be" Powers Kristeva refers, instead, to the moment in our psychosexual development when we established a border or separation between human and animal, between culture and that which preceded it.
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You know, like in a lab. I also wonder whether this desensitization is dependent upon a clinical context or if it would "adhere" to the material across a spectrum of other hypothetical situations. When on a roll, I also wonder if the desensitization is permanent: suppose your duties sorry change, does the desensitization degrade to extinction over time?
Obviously if I wonder stuff like this there is something wrong with me. Psychoanalytic thinkers would likely locate the problem somewhere in that zone where the sexual overlaps with the parental, aka "the ick field. Ah, the subject. In books like this, terms like "subject" and "other" take on meanings quite foreign to their day-to-day usage.
We have yet to form even a concept of "I. Until then we are an unboundaried everything everywhere, undifferentiated from all sounds, sights, smells, skins, sheets, and poop. 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. For a thing to be conceptually isolated, if only to be named, there must first be stuff that it is not, and these things contribute to the definition not only negatively "I am not you" but positively within a larger category "We are people" that provokes distinction more than others in the first place "This neck-tie is not an ascot" as opposed to "This neck-tie is not The Pyramids".
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. 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.
In either case the notion of the self coalesces around and to some degree is conditioned by representations originating from without, rather than emanating from within like how it feels. At least to me. 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. In the context of a laboratory, however, it has found its way into the Symbolic Order.
It has been assimilated into the structure of reason; it has been domesticated by function, place, and significance. It may still be a little gross, but no longer abject. Has it changed on the level of The Real?
No, apart from whatever alterations it suffered being stored and processed some settling may have occurred during shipping. That is my analogy.
OK maybe now and then recreationally, but generally: no. So does Kristeva go straight for the horror? 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.
This then poses the initial organizing structure of cognition as a scheme of fear and desire on an axis of presence and absence. Oh but not the Freudians. The material version of that slash SKIN! Someone needs to read her Burton. What is the opposite of abject? This would be a more intense example of things meaning what they do by what they do not. Or: diners becoming ill when they learn their soup had a cross dipped in it, or local disgust prompting a hotel owner to burn a bed after learning Ghandi had used it.
OK much of my inner life is a Bunuel movie but I admitted something was wrong at the outset. Some nuns are used to recouping this misiteration by claiming self-abjection for the Sacred team, cheering for its triumph in the big Symbolic Order Finals coming up next Fall.
But who will take an abject nun to the Homecoming dance? Anyway, re filth: "A threat issued from the prohibitions that found the inner and outer borders in which and through which the speaking subject is constituted--borders also determined by the phonological and semantic differences that articulate the syntax of language.
Seems obvious, but Why does corporeal waste, menstrual blood and excrement I could go on, trust me. 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.
Pouvoirs de l'horreur : essai sur l'abjection
Pouvoirs de l'horreur. Essai sur l'abjection