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within a "subject on the verge of death." Abjection is nothing more than a flaw in Oedipus' impossible sovereignty, a flaw in his knowledge. If rituals are called upon to purify it, it is nevertheless in the sayings of Oedipus concerning divine Law as well as Theseus that it is assumed. It has nothing to do with confessing a sin; abjection, in a Greece in the process of becoming democratic, is taken over by the one who, through speaking, recognizes himself as mortal (so much so that he leaves no male issue) and subject to the symbolic (one will note the purely nominal handing down of his mortal jouissance to the foreigner, Theseus). A bridge has been built toward another logic of abjection: it is no longer defilement to be excluded ritually as the other facet of the sacred (social, cultural, one's own) but transgression due to a misreading of the Law. Oedipus the King handed over to Freud and his posterity the strength of (incestuous) desire and the desire for (the father's) death. However abject these desires may be, which threaten the integrity of individual and society, they are nonetheless sovereign. Such is the blinding light cast by Freud, following Oedipus, on abjection, as he invites us to recognize ourselves in it without gouging out our eyes. But after all, what saves us from performing that decisive gesture? The answer can perhaps be found in Oedipus at Colonus, and yet that play does not seem to have preoccupied Freud. The border between abjection and the sacred, between desire and knowledge, between death and society, can be faced squarely, uttered without sham innocence or modest self-effacement, provided one sees in it an incidence of man's particularity as mortal and speaking. "There is an abject" is henceforth stated as, "I am abject, that is, mortal and speaking." Incompleteness and dependency on the Other, far from clearing a desiring and murderous Oedipus, allow him only to make his dramatic splitting transmittable—transmittable to a foreign hero, and hence opening up the undecidable possibility of a few truth-effects. Our eyes can remain open provided we recognize ourselves as always already altered by the symbolic—by language. Provided we hear in language—and not in the other,

Powers of Horror  

Powers of Horror-Julia Kristeva

Powers of Horror  

Powers of Horror-Julia Kristeva

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