Saturday, September 22, 2007

Being Without

Some quotes about language from Kristeva's Powers of Horror:

But is not exactly language our ultimate and inseperable fetish? And language, precisely, is based on fetishist denial ("I know that, but just the same," "the sign is not the thing, but just the same," etc.) and defines us in our essence as speaking beings.

(p. 37)

Through the mouth that I fill with my words instead of my mother whom I miss from now on more than ever, I elaborate that want, and the aggressivity that accompanies it, by saying. . . .Language learning takes place as an attempt to appropriate an oral "object" that slips away and whose hallucination, necessarily deformed, threatens us from the outside.

(p. 41)

In abjection, revolt is completely within being. Within the being of language. Contrary to hysteria, which brings about, ignores, or seduces the symbolic but does not produce it, the subject of abjection is eminently productive of culture. Its symptom is the rejection and reconstruction of languages.

(p. 45)

Is there anything without being? Is being a container? A Russian doll? A colander? I can't decide whether being contains anything. I can imagine that saying is without being when I'm in the mood to misrecognize being. Being is not what I mean by saying "Being" (fetishist denial, but its "with-out" that I mean to problematize). Saying is plural and heterogeneous–plurality is my concern, heterogeneity is Kristeva's. When Kristeva refers to the "heterogeneous economy (body and discourse) of the speaking being" (p. 52) I take her to mean that such heterogeneity operates within the being of language. She has already argued that significance is inherent in the human body (p. 10). In Revolution in Poetic Language Kristeva makes clear that the both the semiotic and the symbolic are modalities of signification, and she holds that significance becomes a practice "if and only if it enters into the code of linguistic and social communication" (Revolution, p. 17). Thus there seems to be an unmistakable within to Kristeva's thinking about being (and perhaps another within in the case of the subject who can be threatened from the "outside"). There is nonetheless a plurality to Kristeva's within that distinguishes it from other withins, a plurality that is not the same as the heterogeneous economy, but is included in it. Yet is a contained plurality a genuine plurality? Could withoutness be our essence as speaking beings?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 12:13 PM.


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