The Powers of Horror (Kristeva 1980)
My personal favorite Kristeva. Great work on Lacan’s objet petit a, the object of desire. Whereas the object permits the creation of a symbolic order, the abject (death, shit, sewage, skin, vomit, et al.) is “radically excluded” and brings us to a place where meaning collapses, where the distinction between subject and object or between self and other breaks down.
I’ve always wanted to take this reading and the subsequent work done with it, say Kristeva through Zizek and other later Lacanians, and apply it to poetics, and to mix traditions. It seems the Germans, via Holderlin, have an answer to this via poetry and poetics, in a way the French don’t. I don’t know how to put it because I’ve never spent time with it more than to quickly ponder it.
We’ve also got theater and the novel as primary examples where protagonists experience the loss of meaning when confronted with the abject. It’s a predominant mode in high modern works of drama and fiction. It becomes a method to experience the difference between subject and object, or to call forth that experience in viewers and readers. It certainly works in cinema. Poetry on the other hand demarcates such difference qua poetry without the need to worry about a collapse between distinctions and the loss of meaning, and poetry dwells in its demarcations, that liminal space, the margins, so to speak.
what I’m actually working on, P.