Thursday, October 04, 2007

Purity and Danger

Kristeva views anti-Semitism as a rather literary psychological phenomenon:

Anti-Semitism, for which there thus exists an object as phantasmic and ambivalent as the Jew, is a kind of parareligious formation; it is the sociological thrill, flush with history, that believers and nonbelievers alike seek in order to experience abjection. One may suppose, consequently, that anti-Semitism will be the more violent as the social and/or symbolic code is found wanting in the face of developing abjection. That, at any rate, is the situation in our contemporary world, and it is also, for more personal reasons, that of Céline. Do not all attempts, in our own cultural sphere at least, at escaping from the Judeo-Christian compound by means of a unilateral call to return to what it has repressed (rhythm, drive, the feminine, etc.), converge on the same Célinian anti-Semitic fantasy? And this is so because, as I have tried to explain earlier (see pp. 90ff.) the writings of the chosen people have selected a place, in the most determined manner, on that untenable crest of manness seen as symbolic fact–which constitutes abjection.

In this sense Céline's pamphlets are the avowed delirium out of which the work emerges to venture into obscure regions at the limits of identity. If delirium is indeed involved, and Céline himself suggests that it is, that is also the nature of all anti-Semitism, the daily banality of which surrounds us; Nazi excesses or Célinian outbursts, which are cathartic upon the whole, give us a warning while we thirst for sleep and jouissance.

(The Powers of Horror, p. 180)

Hmm. What kind of problem is Kristeva's enjoyment of Céline? (Or my enjoyment of Kristeva?) Is it a question of being persuaded, of losing one's bearings amidst textual pleasures, delirium? Maybe not quite. The feeling of a dirty secret, relishing it. Its exposure. Can I speak of excess here without meaning mass murder?

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posted by Fido the Yak at 8:43 AM.


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