By Rina Arya (auth.)
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Extra resources for Abjection and Representation: An Exploration of Abjection in the Visual Arts, Film and Literature
It is a receptacle that contains a shared space of the mother–child dyad and is ‘unnameable, improbable, hybrid, anterior to naming, to the One, to the father, and consequently, maternally connoted’ (Kristeva, 1980, p. 133). The chora is the place where the subject is made and negated. ‘In the mother–child dyad, there are no clear distinctions of subject and object, inner and outer, “I” and others, but only ﬂuid heterogeneities, rhythmic streamings of libidinal drives and matter’ (Menninghaus, 2003, p.
The abject then is that which traverses and transgresses; that which endangers a structure and ﬁnds itself on the wrong side of the boundary, often giving rise to the prohibitions speciﬁed by the taboo. The boundary is in place to safeguard systems and functions and to separate and demarcate different states, such as life and death, and the sacred and the profane. Without the boundary we risk the threat of slippage between order and disorder and its corollaries – form/formlessness and life/death.
The primal state of abjection is worth recalling here. As young infants, being in a state before language, we did not have the necessary cognitive and linguistic resources to separate ourselves from the mother in spite of our rejection of her. In later life, the grip of this desire and loathing of the maternal takes hold over us when experiencing abjection and we are temporarily unable to mark out our autonomous difference, thus leaving us in this non-subject state. Kristeva clariﬁes the position as follows: ‘The abject is not an ob-ject facing me, which I name or imagine .