Have also begun my Kristeva kick, as I promised in my last post. (Go and read it! and comment on it! it's really long! and is about male Surrealists and the French feminists! Kind of!)And am in the beginning pages of Black Sun, her work on melancholy/depression in literature. And so far it's wonderful. And so I'm going to mimic Camus with his notebooks and give you some notes/quotes to savor:
p. 3 For those who are racked by melancholia, writing about it would have meaning onlyif writing sprang out of that very melancholia. I am trying to address an abyss of sorrow, a noncommunicable grief at times...
Playing with the almost impossibility of writing in a mood or state of melancholy (which makes me think of the anorexic/bulimic duality, which is in some ways a depressive/manic duality.) What works are written in a state of melancholy? or depression? Collobert's notebooks, again? A line, or a scratch. That is what can be managed. One cannot unleash productive torrents when one is melancholy. It is an interior ailment, one is watchful, perhaps, waiting. This makes me think of Emily Bronte the "Whacher" in Glass Essay.
p. 3 Within depression, if my existence is on the verge of collapsing, its lack of meaning is not tragic - it appears obvious to me, glaring and inescapable.
p. 4 My pain is the hidden side of my philosophy, its mute sister.
p. 6 The child king becomes irredeemably sad before uttering his first words; this is because he has been irrevocably, desperately separted from the mother, a loss that causes him to try to find her again, along with other objects of love, first in the imagination, then in words.
As you can tell, I haven't gotten very far.
Continuing with Kristeva. I'm realizing that my relationship with writers/thinkers is on the level of infatuation, and so many of my texts are about that.
Here she is(she's wearing white overalls! only Julia Kristeva can make white overalls look chic)
UPDATE: I have continued reading the Kristeva, and had hoped it had continued with a philosophical meditation on melancholy, or Kristeva writing about language, but instead for several chapters was more the work of Kristeva the analyst. This was disappointing. I love psychoanalysis - I read it as interesting weird fairytales, also read it for a way to explode these power structures. I don't know. Maybe I've been reading too much Deleuze & Guattari/Foucault/Laing. Kristeva is heavily inspired by Freud's work on masochism/Melanie Klein's whole thing with object relations/the death drive. Everything about depression and melancholia becomes boiled down not to an aspect of the human condition, or a state of consciousness, or perhaps, expressing a state of imprisonment, but about the loss of the maternal object. Everything leading back to the mother. AND I think reducing everything to the Oedipal family romance is quite problematic. I mean, the work I'm writing now, Under the Shadow of My Roof, is a sort of Oedipal family romance, but my characters are also cliches, stereotypes. They lack individuality.
Anyway. Disappointed by all the "MAN v. WOMAN" essentializing going on (esp. since I thought Kristeva was against essentializing, specifically taking on the Psych et Po group for their labelling of writing as feminine?) Especially her chapter on Feminine Depression. When I'm depressed, I don't think my gender has everything to do with it. Or perhaps my gender does, my place in society, a sort of learned passivity. But Kristeva reduces so much to the genital/phallic. And she writes a lot about SSRIs as treatment. And when I'm depressed I don't think it's because I have a castration complex. Or that I'm stuck in the anal phase. Or that I secretly want to murder or fuck my mother. I don't. I think it's reductionist, and biologist, and essentialist, and heterosexist. There's no critique of Freud here, instead she's seemingly using Freud as a main source, and her case studies of "depressive hysteria" don't seem to have much more liberated conclusions than Freud with Dora (although concluding that the issue at hand is the relationship with the mother not the relationship with the father):
The feminine interior (meaning the psychic space and, at the level of bodily experience, the vagina-anus combination) can then cause being the crypt that encloses the dead woman and conditions frigidity.
So in a "frigid" woman the vagina and the feminine interior is a crypt. Where the dead mother is housed. Which seems like a horror movie. Or that episode of Law & Order Criminal Intent where the wacky old lady had a baby die inside of her and it calcified. Well, on to read Kristeva and the abject. I think this might be more in her mother phase, when she became a mother and an analyst. Am glad she wrote about Duras and Hiroshima, mon Amour (which I hope to write about soon).