THE ETHICAL AND POLITICAL FUNCTION OF REVOLT IN JULIA KRISTEVA’S NOVELS by Laura Bianca Rus B.A., Babes-Bolyai University, 1998 M.A., Central European University, 1999 M.A., Babes-Bolyai University, 2001 A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Women’s and Gender Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) January 2011 © Laura Bianca Rus, 2011 ii Abstract This study examines the various ways in which Julia Kristeva’s novels complement her theoretical writings in reflecting on and responding to the cultural and political crises of European identity and the urgency of assuming responsibility for its heritage. By foregrounding Eastern and Western European aspects of her thought, Kristeva’s novels develop and illustrate the view that the crisis of Europe is not just collective, cultural and political. It also entails the suffering of individuals who are physically and/or psychologically oppressed and repressed, with a particular focus on female foreigners whose capacity to participate in the production of “what” and “who” is counted as European is limited or stifled. Kristeva’s notion of revolt, seen as an important aspect of European tradition, serves as a framework to examine her four novels, and the first chapter presents a critical account of the ethical, therapeutic and political functions of revolt in her novels. The four subsequent chapters provide a detailed analysis of the novels, each examining one particular aspect of revolt. In analysing The Samurai, the notion of writing as thought serves to examine the impact of the French Revolution and May 1968 on women and foreigners. The Old Man and the Wolves illustrates individual resistance against a totalitarian regime through action as thought. In Possessions, a focus on imaginary decapitations in relation to matricide reveals the emergence of specular thought as a form of revolt. Murder in Byzantium provides an account of thought as freedom, in a Europe (past and present) where the society of the spectacle (from religion to consumerism) leaves little room for individual creative or critical expression. This research shows how Kristeva situates feminine sensibility and creativity as alternative spaces that can generate new ways for rethinking the cultural and political memory of Europe, in such a way as to assume responsibility for its heritage as well as for its future. Table of Contents Abstract.............................................................................................................................. ii Table of Contents ......................................................................................................................... iii Acknowledgements....................................................................................................................... v Dedication .................................................................................................................................... vi INTRODUCTION: Framing Kristeva’s Fiction...................................................................... 1 Approaches to Kristeva’s Work.................................................................................................... 2 Feminist Contexts and Controversies ........................................................................................... 5 The Shift to a Concern with Politics and Ethics ........................................................................... 6 Kristeva’s Novels .......................................................................................................................... 8 Problematizing “Europe.............................................................................................................. 11 The Foreign Woman as Witness ................................................................................................. 15 Novels of Revolt ........................................................................................................................ 16 The Variants of Revolt ............................................................................................................... 19 The Logic of Revolt in Kristeva’s Novels ................................................................................. 21 CHAPTER 1. THE FUNCTIONS OF FICTION FOR KRISTEVA ...................................... 24 Types of Texts and Intertextuality............................................................................................. 24 Self-Performing Poly-Texts....................................................................................................... 26 Writing as a Psychoanalyst: Countertransference and Personal Therapy ................................ 29 How the Personal Becomes Political Through Fiction ............................................................. 33 Thinking Novels........................................................................................................................ 35 Narrative Revolts ...................................................................................................................... 39 The European Scene .................................................................................................................. 41 The Detective-Journalist as Witness ......................................................................................... 44 Kristeva and Arendt on Aesthetics and Politics ........................................................................ 46 Individual and Collective Memory ........................................................................................... 49 Feminist Critiques ..................................................................................................................... 51 Kristeva’s Debt to Arendt ......................................................................................................... 52 The Imaginary As Revolt .......................................................................................................... 54 Representative Thinking and the Politics of Representation .................................................... 56 CHAPTER 2. THE SAMURAI: NOVEL (OF) FOREIGNNESS ............................................ 62 Reactions to The Samurai ......................................................................................................... 62 The Role of Women and Foreigners in Re-thinking the Legacy of the French Revolution...... 65 (Dis)Connections between Strangers and The Samurai ............................................................ 69 Writing as Thought .................................................................................................................... 74 The Interaction Between Literature and Psychoanalysis .......................................................... 75 Feminist Interpretations of The Foreigner................................................................................ 77 I. Foreignness Within: The Search for “Lost Time”................................................................. 80 The Journey to China as a Quest for Anti-Origins/ Otherness in the Self............................. 81 Revolt as Heterogeneous Temporality .................................................................................. 83 II. The Foreigner Outside: The Paradoxical Logic of the French Revolution ......................... 86 The Paradoxical Tenets of the French Revolution ............................................................... 87 Dissidence as Revolt ............................................................................................................ 88 The Cosmopolitics of the Now Group .................................................................................. 90 Maoism: A Failed Revolt? ................................................................................................... 93 Feminism and The Chinese Cultural Revolution ................................................................. 95 III. Psychoanalysis as a Politics of ........................................................................................... 98 iii CHAPTER 3. THE OLD MAN AND THE WOLVES: BETWEEN REVOLT AND FORGIVENESS ......................................................................................................................... 108 Reactions to The Old Man ....................................................................................................... 109 Arendt on Totalitarianism and Authority ................................................................................ 114 Thought as Action ................................................................................................................... 118 Variants of Revolt: The Story of the Old Man ........................................................................ 120 Sadomasochism as Part of the Logic of Revolt ....................................................................... 122 Meaning as Making Connections ............................................................................................ 124 “Whatever Singularity”........................................................................................................... 127 What Makes Revolt Impossible: The Story of Vespasian and Alba Ram ............................. 132 Hatred and the Misdirection of Revolt .................................................................................. 134 Narration as a Means to Finding Meaning ............................................................................ 138 Public Forgiveness ................................................................................................................ 145 Readers in Revolt .................................................................................................................. 147 CHAPTER 4. POSSESSIONS: A NOVEL OF INTIMATE REVOLT ................................ 150 Possessions: an Overview ...................................................................................................... 151 Reactions to Possessions ......................................................................................................... 154 On Matricide, “Thought Specular,” and the Role of the Imaginary ....................................... 161 The Imaginary and Sadomasochism ....................................................................................... 167 “Thought Specular” ................................................................................................................. 169 The Logic of Intimate Revolt in Possessions ......................................................................... 171 Modes of Representations: Between Sensation and Thought ................................................ 173 Images of Decapitation .......................................................................................................... 175 Eastern/Byzantine and Western Art: Iconography and Iconoclasm ........................................ 178 Possessions and Visions Capitales ......................................................................................... 180 Detective Fiction by Women Writers ..................................................................................... 184 Women’s Intimacy with Suffering and the Mother-Son Relationship ................................... 187 The Role of the Detective in Possessions .............................................................................. 192 The Maternal as a Transitional Space .................................................................................... 195 CHAPTER 5. MURDER IN BYZANTIUM: NOVEL POLITICS OF REVOLT................. 200 Murder: An Overview ............................................................................................................. 201 Reactions to Murder ................................................................................................................ 204 Re-Mapping “European Cultural Memory” ............................................................................ 207 Free Association and the “Optimistic Model” of Language.................................................... 212 Narration as a Link Between Politics and Psychic Life ......................................................... 210 A Critique of Freudian Psychoanalysis ................................................................................... 214 The Spectacle of the “Desirable, Impossible Europe” ............................................................ 216 Feminine Creativity and the “Illusory” Nature of Women...................................................... 218 The Maternal: Another Model of Politics................................................................................ 220 Freedom: Personal, Religious, and Political Dimensions........................................................ 223 “Western” European Freedom and Its Impasses .................................................................... 225 Freedom and the Western Economy of Representation ......................................................... 230 “Eastern” European Freedom and its Impasses ...................................................................... 232 Stephanie’s “own” Byzantium................................................................................................ 237 Mother Tongues and National Texts ..................................................................................... 240 CONCLUSION......................................................................................................................... 244 BIBLIOGRAPHY.................................................................................................................... 256 v Acknowledgements No one writes alone, in the end. It always seems as though we write alone, but there are others who encourage, inspire and support us throughout the process. I wish to express special thanks to those who have done just that: my supervisor, Prof. Sneja Gunew, and supervisory committee Prof. Valerie Raoul and Prof. Lorraine Weir. I am deeply grateful for their comments, direction and patience, which helped me to strive beyond what I thought possible. This work as it is would have not been possible without their meticulous reading and critical insights. I would also like to thank my family and my friends for their unwavering support over the years. I wish to also acknowledge my colleagues from both University of British Columbia and Wilfrid Laurier University for their encouragement and energizing conversations. Chris Shelley, Sam Samper, Kim Snowden, Cecily Nicholson, Patricia Elliott, Margaret Toye deserve special mention: their generous advice and humour helped me push through the process. I have also benefited tremendously from the rich and stimulating environment of the Centre for Women’s and Gender Relations at UBC. I found in the faculty there both a model and inspiration for my feminist approach and teaching and a source of continuing support and guidance. I owe special thanks to Prof. Veronica Strong-Boag, Dr. Wendy Frisby, Dr. Becki Ross, Dr. Leonora Angeles, Prof. Gillian Creese, Prof. Sunera Thobani. Also the humour, warmth and efficiency of the graduate secretary and administrator, Wynn Archibald and Jane Charles, made the Centre a welcoming place and my time there a joyful experience. Yet this thesis would have not been completed without the unconditional support and love of my husband, Horatiu, who kept me sane and grounded throughout the years. My son, Alex, unknowingly, helped me put things into perspective and gave me the courage to carry on. To all, I owe my deepest thanks. vi Dedication To Alex, Horatiu and Sophie 1 Introduction Framing Kristeva’s Fiction “While the goal of fiction is to create a world, the only world is that of memory.” (Julia Kristeva, Time and Sense: Proust and the Experience of Literature, 193) Since her arrival in France in 1965 as a doctoral student, Bulgarian-born Julia Kristeva has published more than thirty theoretical books, countless articles, four novels, and some texts, including her most recent book on Saint Teresa d’Avila (2008), that are impossible to classify generically. Most of her work has been translated into English, with a few exceptions.1 Her work has received critical attention across the world, in English even more than in French, so much so that it has been the subject, in whole or in part, of more than sixty books, over thirty-five theses and dissertations (in the UK, United States, Canada, France, and elsewhere), and more than five hundred articles in several languages.2 A song entitled “Julia Kristeva” premiered in a rock concert in Norway in 2005, demonstrating the extent to which her name is known.3 On the Anglo-American academic scene, Kristeva’s thought is associated with terms such as intertextuality, semiotic chora, foreignness within, abjection, subject in process/on trial which she has examined differently in different contexts. As critics Chris Weedon and Steve Burniston (1977, 218) noted, “Any understanding of Kristeva’s work demands a willingness on the part of the reader to come to terms with her unfamiliar and, as such, difficult terminology.” In addition, she is famous for her encyclopedic knowledge, referring to a range of disciplines including linguistics, philosophy, literature, art history, psychoanalysis, and religious studies. She has adopted many different approaches, always building on her previous work, so that there 1 Texts that still remain to be translated include Contre la dépression nationale (1998a), Visions capitales (1998f), Lettre ouverte au Président de la République sur les citoyens en situation de handicap (2003), La haine et le pardon (2005a), Seule, une femme (2007b), Cet incroyable besoin de croire (2007a) and Thérèse, mon amour (2008). Since this study is addressed to Anglophone readers, I will refer to the English translations whenever possible (all other translations are mine when mentioned). 2 Helene Volat’s thorough bibliography of Kristeva's work can be accessed at http://ms.cc.sunysb. edu/~hvolat/kristeva/kristeva. htm Kristeva's official web site also has a link to Volat's site. 3 The Kulta Beats feature “Julia Kristeva,” praising her work on depression discussed in Black Sun. Kristeva added the YouTube video to her official web site: http://www.kristeva.fr/kultabeats.html. 2 is no one Kristeva, but many both successive and simultaneous aspects of her mind at work. As Roland Barthes remarked in the early 1970s, Kristeva “always destroys the latest preconception, the one we thought we could be comforted by.… what she subverts is the authority of monologic science and filiation” (11).4 Even a cursory look at the secondary literature on Kristeva’s theoretical writings confirms that she has continued to surprise her readers, and the addition of fictional works to the mix makes it even more difficult to produce a coherent synthesis of all the existing commentary on her writings. Rather than attempting to do so, I will provide an overview of the main critical approaches. My aim is to situate my analysis of Kristeva's novels in relation to her other work, adopting an Anglo-American feminist lens. I will therefore focus primarily on the reactions from critics who take on a feminist perspective. Approaches to Kristeva’s Work Many critics foreground key “Kristevan” concepts, such as those mentioned above, or her particular formulations of revolt and forgiveness, which will be at the heart of the present study. Noelle McAfee (2004), for instance, offers a clear, systematic survey of some of her major terms and the ideas they represent. In 1990 John Lechte had already used a similar approach to explain some of her earlier concepts by suggesting clusters related to the broader discourses of psychoanalysis, literary theory, art history, philosophy, and theology. In 1993 Kelly Oliver, in Reading Kristeva: Unraveling the Double-Bind, offered a comprehensive analysis of the controversies surrounding Kristeva’s work at that point. Many Anglophone critics since then have examined the interdisciplinary nature of Kristeva’s ideas, often classifying their analysis as “Kristeva and post-structuralism,” “Kristeva and literary theory,” “Kristeva and psychoanalysis,” “Kristeva and feminism,” “Kristeva and religion,” or “Kristeva and the political.” 4 Initially published in the early 1970s, in La Quinzaine Littéraire, Roland Barthes’s essay “The Foreigner” is reprinted in The Kristeva Critical Reader, edited by John Lechte (2004, 11-15). 3 The connection to one discipline or another is sometimes seen as sequential rather than synchronic, and many critics have adopted the strategy used by Toril Moi (1986) and others in identifying distinct stages in her earlier career focused on structuralism/linguistics, literary theory, and psychoanalysis. Alice Jardine (1986) argued that there were already at that point three “Kristevas,” the first belonging to the ‘60s (the development of semanalysis), the second to the ‘70s with an emphasis on subject formation and its repression in Western history, and the third, in the ‘80s, concerned with the logic of psychic phenomena. Later studies have also tried to distinguish between an “early” Kristeva and a more “recent” one. Sjoholm (2004) discerns a series of “political” Kristevas: radical, with Marxist and Maoist preoccupations, in the ‘60s; feminist in the ‘70s; and psychoanalytical in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Sara Beardsworth (2005) also looks at Kristeva’s rethinking of the notions of revolution and revolt as having developed in two chronological stages, before and after the ‘80s when her engagement with psychoanalysis proved to be a turning point in her career. This division into periods is often associated with “trilogies” of texts that have chronological and thematic connections5 (Lechte 2003; Sjoholm 2004; Carol Mastrangelo Bove 2006). In the ‘80s these are Pouvoirs de l’horreur (1980d) (Powers of Horror 1982), Histoires d’amour (1983) (Tales of Love 1987b), and Étrangers à nous-mêmes (1988) (Strangers to Ourselves 1991); in the ‘90s, Les nouvelles maladies de l’âme (1993a) (New Maladies of the Soul 1995), Le sens et non-sens de la révolte (1996d) (The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt 2000d), and La révolte intime (1998c) (Intimate Revolt 2002c); followed by the explicit trilogy on feminine genius, Hannah Arendt (1999) (Hannah Arendt 2001b), Melanie Klein (2000c) (Melanie Klein 2001d), and Colette (2002b) (Colette 2004a). These divisions tend to reduce the 5 I refer here to the original date of publication of these texts in French in order to clarify their classification into “trilogies,” since the subsequent English translations defy this chronological order. 4 assessment of Kristeva's work to a comparison or contrast with itself, narrowing down the possibilities of situating her concepts in broader contexts. Not surprisingly, Kristeva often refers to moments of mis-recognition of her image, as refracted back by Anglo-American critics. In the introduction to a lecture given at Columbia University in 1998, subsequently published in Intimate Revolt (2002c), she highlighted some of these contradictory aspects: The hospitality Americans have offered me is directed above all to my ideas, to my work….. Some of my research has found a hospitality in America – by which I mean a resonance and a development – that has greatly heartened and encouraged me. Sometimes the image that Americans have of me surprises me; I don't recognize myself in it at all (257-8, my italics). In 2004, on receiving the first Holberg International Memorial Prize for “innovative explorations of questions on the intersection of language, culture and literature” that have had a significant impact on the humanities, social sciences and feminist theory,6 Kristeva emphasized her on-going debt to Anglo-American engagement with her work: If I emphasize the American reception of my work today, here in Norway, it is because I believe that without the English translations of my books, and without the recognition that I have received in the United States, my work would not have been accessible to readers in your country and all over the world, and it is in this context that my work has been recognized and honoured by the Holberg Prize.7 She is aware that the Anglo-American image of “Julia Kristeva” as somehow typically “French” is at odds with her reputation in France, as she went on to remark: This often comes as a surprise to the French themselves who, obviously, do not see me as one of them. Sometimes, after returning from New York, while passionately discussing my work as part of ‘French theory,’ I am even tempted to take myself for a French intellectual. At other times I actively consider settling abroad for good, all the more so when I feel hurt by the xenophobia of that old country which is France.8 6 According to the citation of the Academic Committee for the Holberg International Memorial Prize in 2004. The full text can be accessed at: www.holbergprisen.no/en/julia-kristeva.html. 7 The French version of Kristeva's speech can be accessed at: http://www.norvege.no/education/prix/discours.html. The English version can be accessed at www.holbergprisen.no/en/julia-kristeva.html. 8 The text can be accessed at www.holbergprisen.no/en/julia-kristeva.html. 5 The classification of Kristeva as one of the pillars of “French feminist theory” has been the source of further heated debates, not only about her questionable “Frenchness,” but about whether she can be considered a “feminist.” Feminist Contexts and Controversies Kristeva's relation to feminism has been fraught with difficulties on both sides of the Atlantic, and complicated by the impossibility of reducing her work to a single allegiance or commitment to one school of thought. Whether we consider Kristeva a feminist and how we interpret her relation to feminism in general depends on what sort of feminism we have in mind. McAfee (2004) considers some of the different implications of “feminism” as a movement in relation to “feminist theory,” in France and in the Anglo-American context. The “French feminist theory” studied abroad appears to be concerned primarily with questions of sexual difference in relation to subject formation, rather than with empirical studies of the material lived experiences that condition and oppress women, which were the focus of feminist movements in both Europe and America. Kristeva's exploration of the question of “woman” (based on sexual difference premised on biological, psychological, and symbolic grounds) makes many feminists in the Anglophone context nervous, as they suspect that any perpetuation of the idea of an “essence” of “woman” risks justifying the inferior status conferred by patriarchal categorizations. Nancy Fraser, Judith Butler, Elisabeth Grosz, Toril Moi, Gayatri Spivak, and Jacqueline Rose are among the prominent Anglo-American feminists to have charged Kristeva with essentialism, biologism, compulsory maternity, etc. There is even a “list of crimes” of which Kristeva is accused, put together by Chanter (1993), who finds “ahistorical, biologically reductive, universalist [...] assumptions” among her most serious “sins” (182). Following Chanter, McAfee (2004) argues that Kristeva's critics find her theories problematic because they mistakenly map “the feminist distinction between sex and gender onto Kristeva's distinction between the semiotic 6 and the symbolic, equating the semiotic aspect of signification with biological, including sexual, processes and the symbolic with culturally- defined gender” (80). McAfee agrees with Chanter that this clear-cut distinction implied by the critics obeys an either/or logic that fails to take into account the complexity of Kristeva's thought (80). Oliver (1993a) addresses the apparent gap between French and Anglo-American feminism(s) eloquently, arguing that when American theorists and practitioners talk about feminism, “they refer to a multifaceted conglomerate of different views and strategies that cannot be easily reduced to a single element” (164). What the “French feminist theorists” in fact reject, Oliver argues, is a specific political movement in France that “many of them think engages in, and merely replicates, oppressive bourgeois logics and strategies of gaining power” (164). Their frequent refusal to be identified as feminists does not necessarily imply a rejection of some of the goals and strategies of feminism in the American context. Oliver's contextualization of the differences between “feminisms” on different sides of the Atlantic steers attention away from a limited partisan debate towards a more profound engagement with Kristeva's thought, working with her concepts within a specific cultural and political context, rather than classifying them according to an either/or logic. More recent studies in the Anglo- American context move away from this staged opposition between “French theory” and “Anglo- American practice,” focusing rather on the interface between psychoanalysis and social / political praxis. The Shift to a Concern with Politics and Ethics The tendency now is for critics to expand on and think with Kristeva's theories in relation to multifaceted contexts (bringing in the intersections between race, gender, sexuality, class, and (dis)ability), rather than to condemn her for limitations that are conditioned and determined by the specificity of the cultural and political contexts in which her work has appeared. For 7 example, Margaroni's (2007) article offers a critical survey pinpointing some common questions asked in relation to Kristeva's work, pertaining to the possibility or impossibility of transposing psychoanalytical concepts onto the political realm. Current concerns focus on whether this transposition does or does not do justice to social, economic, and cultural oppression, “rethinking the relevance of her thought for some of the most urgent ethical and political dilemmas we are facing today, caught as we are in the midst of unprecedented changes on political, economic, and cultural fronts” (Margaroni 2007, 803). This urgent need to shift attention to questions of ethics that are relevant to current political dilemmas, on both local and global levels, is apparent in Revolt, Affect, Collectivity: The Unstable Boundaries of Kristeva’s Polis (2005), a collection of essays edited by Tina Chanter and Ewa Plonowska Ziarek. Their declared aim is to address a growing criticism regarding Kristeva's focus “primarily on the personal or the psychic maladies of modern Western subjectivity rather than on group formations or the political structures of oppression” (1). They draw attention to three cross-cutting issues that arise in considering the political and ethical dimensions of Kristeva’s thought: (1) the functions affect and negativity play in power structures; (2) their role in the emergence of collective identities and the transformation of social relations; and (3) some notable gaps in Kristeva's ideas, particularly in relation to racism and (post)colonialism. Oliver’s (2005) essay in that collection focuses on Kristeva’s notions of revolt and forgiveness, and seeks to elucidate the relationship between the nature of subjective agency and the historical and social contexts that determine the extent of that agency (77). This approach to the intersections of the psychoanalytical and the cultural will be central to my own analyses of Kristeva’s novels. Cecilia Sjoholm's book Julia Kristeva and the Political (2004) also traces Kristeva's perspective on the political as situated at the junction between philosophy and psychoanalysis, connecting the public political domain to the intimate (2). Like Oliver, Sjoholm sees Kristeva’s ideas as useful for a psychoanalytic social theory that brings the subject’s social position “back 8 into discussions of the psyche and subjectivity” (82). Margaroni (2007), on the other hand, sees Sjoholm's analysis as converging with Chanter's and Ziarek's project in their “shared concern not only for restoring the political stakes of (Kristeva's) psychoanalysis but also with displacing the very concept of the political ‘from the universal towards the singular’” (803). Seeking like these authors to locate the intersections of the psychoanalytical, the political, and the ethical in Kristeva’s work, I will also bear in mind the feminist debates over the “question of woman,” since this question remains central in Kristeva’s fictions. As McAfee (2004) argues, Kristeva takes into account women’s role as (biological) mothers as well as their contributions to culture; this provides, according to her, a “third way” that avoids binary logic by bringing the natural and the cultural together, without imposing one over the other (76). McAfee's and Oliver's analyses of Kristeva's notion of “herethics” will be reference points in my analysis of Kristeva's articulation, in her novels, of “an/other politics” based on a reconfigured notion of ethics with the feminine at its centre. Kristeva’s Novels The various approaches adopted in the many works on Kristeva mentioned above share one thing in common: they ignore her works of fiction, which have until recently been conspicuously neglected on both sides of the Atlantic. Kristeva has published four texts which she classifies as novels: The Samurai (1992), The Old Man and the Wolves (1994), Possessions (1998b), and Murder in Byzantium (2006). Although the first three appeared in the 1990s, when Kristeva’s theoretical work was receiving a great deal of attention, most of the reviews at the time of their publication conveyed, above all else, the critics’ perplexity. Rather than wondering if Kristeva’s thought was entering a new “stage” (bringing together psychoanalysis and politics), for which fiction seemed to her as useful as theoretical discourse, there seemed to be a widespread 9 assumption that Kristeva’s novels “fail” in comparison with her “outstanding” theoretical work.9 As works of fiction, they disappointed the readers’ expectations, offering neither coherent, straightforward stories with which the reader can easily identify, nor innovative formal experimentation. When she came back to the novel ten years later, reactions were still lukewarm at best. Most readers turn to these works with a prior interest in Kristeva’s ideas, and intellectual satisfaction may be gained by searching out echoes of her various concepts in the stories she weaves. Others may be motivated by curiosity about the autobiographical elements which the author has herself indicated. Most reactions are marked, however, by confusion and frustration, and relatively few critics have attempted to untangle the web of intertextual allusions that sustains her plots, or to pinpoint what it is she tries to achieve by writing fiction. A few have made the effort to examine at least one of the novels more closely: these include Anna Smith (1998), Valerie Raoul (2001), Carol M. Bove (2006), and Margaroni (2007). Only one, Szu-chin Hestia Chen (2008), has published a book-length study of the first three novels, entitled French Feminist Theory Exemplified Through the Novels of Julia Kristeva: The Bridge from Psychoanalytic Theory to Literary Production. Chen focuses on the ways in which these works can be seen as exemplifying the interaction between French feminist theory and Anglo-American feminism, starting from the premise that French feminist theory has provided Anglo-American feminists with a “framework for the development of the feminist culture,” while Anglo-American feminism has managed to politicize French feminist theory through its interaction with it (282). With reference to lesbian feminist and postcolonial theory, Chen seeks to demonstrate that these works of fiction illustrate the subject-in-process and provide examples of possible ways to arrive at a “harmonization of differences” between “rival groups of all kinds (including that of the sexes)” (286). Like Chen, I will focus on the interaction between theory and fiction in Kristeva’s novels, 9 In my analysis of each novel I survey the reviews from both sides of the Atlantic. 10 beginning with a discussion of her own theoretical work on the novel in an attempt to ascertain why she turned to fiction. While Chen engages Kristeva’s theories up to the ‘90s, in relation to only the first three novels, I will include the fourth novel, Murder in Byzantium (2006), and focus on her later work on “revolt,” from The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt (2000d) to Cet incroyable besoin de croire (2007a). The different time frame in relation to Kristeva’s theoretical ideas, and the explicit re-writing of European history in the last novel, produce not only a different approach from Chen’s, but a different interpretation of Kristeva’s position in relation to the personal and the political where Europe is concerned. For Kristeva, fiction provides a way to transpose her own auto-bio-graphical memory10 and to situate herself in relation to the collective memory of history. In Chen’s view, Kristeva’s novels are variations on what she calls (borrowing David Putner’s term) “remembrance.” According to Chen’s interpretation, they convey a series of representations of Western dominance. In Putner’s (2000) analysis of the relationship between postcolonial literature and melancholy, “remembrance” is bound on one side to memory, and on the other to mourning, while it is itself “a challenge and a potential terror, an activity that will be perceived and codified, as required by the state machine, under the heading of the ‘terroristic’” (Putner, quoted in Chen 2008, 28). Using Spivak’s notion of the “privileged informant” (which referred to First World academic appropriations of the Third World) in discussing Kristeva’s characters, Chen argues that these novels (i.e. the first three) offer a view of “the corruption of the East from the perspective of a Westerner” (27). She reads The Samurai as a “‘remembrance’ of the colonial mentality of Western theory” (28), The Old Man and the Wolves as a story of “‘remembrance’ of Western civilization” (28), and Possessions as a “‘remembrance’ of Western humanism” (28). My approach differs from Chen’s in two fundamental ways: (1) regarding the role of 10 Even before writing fiction, Kristeva makes the connections between auto-bio-graphy and memory clear in her article “My Memory’s Hyperbole” (1984a) to which I return in more detail in Chapter 1. 11 memory in relation to literary experience in Kristeva’s work, and the narrative function we assign to her novels; and (2) regarding our assessment of Kristeva’s depiction of Eastern- Western European relationships. To Chen’s analysis of memory and “remembrance” as representing different aspects of the colonial mentality of Western theory, I propose an analysis of memory from a psychoanalytic perspective in order to examine how, through recollection and interrogation, individual stories re-map European cultural memory. As well, where Chen considers the Eastern-Western European relationships as a form of appropriation of the East by the West, following Said’s model of Orientalism, I see that relationship as being much more complex than an unproblematic equation of Eastern Europe with “barbarism” and Western Europe with “civilized humanism” (27). I hope to show through my analysis that Kristeva’s novels serve precisely to challenge the unitary meaning of terms such as “East,” “West,” or “European,” and to blur any clear delineations between Eastern and Western European traditions. This focus no doubt relates to Kristeva’s Eastern European origins in Bulgaria, and my own in Romania. As a person of Eastern European origin myself, I bring together what I perceive to be the Eastern and Western European aspects of her thought, evident especially in Kristeva’s discussions of religion, of the meaning of freedom and its variants, and of the imaginary. Aware of my positionality and possible dangers of appropriating or lapsing into personal and/or cultural forms of identification, I have tried to be as rigorously self-reflexive as possible in my analyses of Kristeva’s work. Problematizing “Europe” For Leslie Hill (1990), Kristeva’s “remarkable appetite for intellectual synthesis” (140) reflects a particular intellectual background shaped at the junction between Eastern European lived experience and Western European cultural tradition. In Moi’s (1986) opinion, Kristeva’s Eastern Europe background and first-hand experience of communism provided her with valuable 12 knowledge of Marxist theory and of the Russian formalists, including Bakhtin (2). In “Europhilia-Europhobia,” published in Intimate Revolt (2002c), Kristeva emphasizes the contribution of her work to the “Western” tradition in terms of a constant effort to bring various traditions together, and by this intertextuality to present a more complex approach to European cultural memory. This synthesis is complicated by her position in France as a foreigner educated in a Francophone Catholic school in communist Bulgaria, neither completely inside nor outside the “Western” European tradition: I contributed - and continue to contribute – a French and European cultural memory in which the Germanic, Russian, and French traditions are mixed: Hegel and Freud, Russian formalism, French structuralism, the avant-gardes of the New Novel and Tel Quel. […] And through the intermediary of the foreigner that I am, access can thus be gained to this French and European culture that often proves so inaccessible and guarded in terms of its purity (2002c, 257-8, my italics). My aim in this study is to bring out the Eastern and Western aspects of Kristeva’s work, as re-presented in her novels, in order to suggest that Kristeva offers a hybrid space of inter- action that points to the strengths as well as the limitations of both the “East” and the “West.” Kristeva’s novels construct a universe where various cultural elements of the European tradition, through their interactions, relativize and transform each other. My focus is not on the “harmonization of differences,” as perceived by Chen (2008), but on how fiction enables Kristeva to explore the cultural and political crises of Europe, ranging back and forth in time from the French Revolution and the revolt of May ’68 (in The Samurai) to the fall of the Roman Empire and of the Berlin Wall (in The Old Man and The Wolves), and from the “crisis of the imaginary” experienced by the “society of the spectacle” (in Possessions) to the crisis of belief related to Christianity (in Murder in Byzantium). Fiction allows Kristeva to demonstrate the inseparability of both theoretical thought and lived experience (as it is remembered) from the imaginary realm. The stories she weaves engage with philosophy, psychoanalysis, history, and religion, to provoke the reader to reflect differently on the concepts of subjectivity, freedom, and 13 authority, as well as interpersonal relations, especially motherhood. Her characters are situated in imaginary contexts that evoke both Eastern and Western Europe. Their “stories” convey the crises of European culture and identity, as reflected in the absence of narrative forms that are “meaningful” and not only “useful” for adequately addressing the heterogeneous populations living in Europe. 11 It would be easy to infer that Kristeva’s focus in her novels on the crisis of “European” subjectivity and cultural identity reflects a form of Eurocentrism. This accusation was already part of Spivak’s (1982) critique, in “French Feminism in an International Frame,” and is echoed to some extent by Chen (2008). My approach is more closely aligned with Ella Shohat and Robert Stam’s (1998) argument that Eurocentrism is not the same thing as being interested in European thought or in Europeans, but the reduction of cultural heterogeneity into a “single paradigmatic perspective in which Europe is seen as the unique source of meaning” (1). According to them, Eurocentrism attributes to the “West” an almost “providential sense of historical destiny,” while at the same time belittling the “East” and the “rest” (2). I argue that Kristeva’s fiction can be more accurately read as an attempt to pluralize the meanings of the “East” and the “West,” by exploring the heterogeneity of “European” identity. This process begins with the demystification of the idea of a “monumental” Europe, which Kristeva already began in “Women’s Time” (1986e). Fiction has played a significant role in perpetuating imaginary constructs of a mythical, harmonious Europe that has never existed. From the perspective of postcolonial studies, Cornel West (1993), in “Beyond Eurocentrism and Multiculturalism,” conveyed a similar idea when he claimed that any dismantling of the “fiction of Europe,” must pay attention to “the power that fiction has wielded” (153). Imaginary worlds, West argues, have the power to “lead to war” (153). Closer analysis of Kristeva’s work on 11 In Crisis of the European Subject (2000a), Kristeva makes a similar point when she addresses different paradigms of freedom and subjectivity that are “meaningful” and not only “useful” for reestablishing a European cultural identity, on grounds other than economic and political ones (116). 14 fiction and her own novels will reveal how she deploys various novelistic techniques to dramatize or poke fun at some myths of European identity. I will also attempt to situate her representations of “West,” “East,” “Europeanness,” as part of debates that include the perspectives of writers like Milan Kundera and Jacques Derrida, who also bring together “Eastern” and “Western” perspectives. In The Art of the Novel (1998), Kundera defines Europe not so much as a territory, but as a spiritual tradition that extends beyond its geographical borders (4). Derrida, in The Other Heading: Reflections on Today’s Europe (1992), imagines Europe as a space torn between two “contradictory imperatives,” a “drive for unity,” on the one hand, and a “reality of disunity,” on the other hand (2). He argues that Europe must acknowledge responsibility for its cultural heritage: “We did not choose that responsibility; it imposes itself upon us” (28). In Spectres of Marx (1994), he explains that an inheritance is “never a given, it is always a task” (12). Responsibility toward the heritage and memory of Europe is necessarily also a responsibility to the “other” (13). Commenting on Derrida’s genealogy of European responsibility, Rodolphe Gasché (1994) argues that this act of assuming responsibility implies “the double injunction of being faithful” not to “an idea of Europe, to a difference of Europe, but to a Europe that consists precisely in not closing itself off in its own identity” (74). Kristeva’s novels need to be located in the midst of this debate concerning the crisis of Europe’s identity, and the urgency of assuming responsibility for its heritage. She shares with Kundera and Derrida an insider/outsider perspective, yet her point of view is different from theirs because she is a woman. While Kundera’s and Derrida’s analyses are apparently genderless, Kristeva includes feminine sensibility and creativity as essential elements for any formulation of memory and responsibility. Her novels develop and illustrate the view that the crisis of “Europe” is not just collective, cultural and political, but entails the suffering of individual bodies which are oppressed and repressed, with a focus on female foreigners whose 15 capacity to participate in the production of “what” and “who” is counted as “European” is limited or stifled. The Foreign Woman as Witness One of the things that fiction allows Kristeva to accomplish is to interrogate various aspects of European cultural memory from multiple positions: those of a woman, a mother, a foreigner, an artist, a psychoanalyst, and a political journalist-turned-detective. These are marginal perspectives that bear witness to the difficulty of belonging, of formulating relations with others premised on respect, responsibility and accountability. I borrow the term “witness” from Oliver’s Witnessing: Beyond Recognition (2001). Oliver distinguishes between “eyewitness testimony,” based on the gathering of evidence through vision, and “bearing witness,” which offers an account of something beyond recognition that cannot in itself be seen (16). Bearing witness is, for Oliver, the process that lies at “the heart of subjectivity” (16) and requires a “response- ability” to oneself and to others (223), placing an ethical obligation at the core of subjectivity-as- performance (115). Kristeva’s women characters, from both Eastern and Western European backgrounds, provide an opportunity to focus on ethical dilemmas facing Europeans, from liminal border positions. These stories highlight the importance of women as/and foreigners as witnesses to a long and convoluted history of repression and marginalization, obscured by conventional history as well as by various religious, metaphysical, psychological and political discourses and power structures. Both women and foreigners have been denied access to language and the means to record their experiences in the unfolding of the European tradition. The foreign woman, in Kristeva’s novels, is a crusader on a mission to expose the mentality of European civilization that led to the exclusion or repression of women and foreigners. Fiction offers Kristeva alternative, more concrete, ways of thinking about the issues of freedom, femininity, 16 motherhood, ethics, and politics that she addresses more abstractly in her theoretical writings. Writing novels constitutes one means to convey what she means by “revolt.” Novels of Revolt The notion of revolt emerges as central to the underlying logic that connects subjective expression with cultural representation, as both unfold within various contexts of social and political crises. Revolt is an aspect of the European tradition that Kristeva wants to revive and preserve, as she discussed in The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt (2000d), Intimate Revolt (2002c), and Contre la dépression nationale (1998a). Some of the ideas developed in these texts were already introduced in her fiction, as will be demonstrated in the chapters on each novel, and others were developed further in the novels. Kristeva (2000d) presents her theoretical discussion of revolt as part of an analysis of what she considers the “new world order,” involving a general crisis of European culture and politics, with authority, law, and values reduced to “empty, flimsy forms” (24). The resulting “power vacuum” that occurs as political authority is replaced with an “amorphous, fluctuating global market” (4-5), deprives the individual of a stabilizing centre. The legal system becomes part of a certain “theatricalization,” as crime becomes “theatrically media-friendly” (5). This leads to a normalization of crime, which eventually encourages indifference, with the perverse effect of engendering all sorts of further “breaches and transgressions” (5). The new world order renders one less capable of critical thinking and therefore less likely to assume responsibility (198). Kristeva (2000d) is concerned with the effect of the new world order on the status of the individual as well, noting for example the replacement of terms such as the “subject” or the “person” in certain provisions set forth by the European Economic Community by “patrimonial individual” (24). In her view, this means that questions of human rights and human dignity no 17 longer concern a “person with rights,” but a “patrimonial person,” defined as an “assemblage of organs that are more or less negotiable, that can be transplanted, converted into cash” (24-25). Technology and the market assign a utilitarian value to the meaning of life. In the current context of the European Union, individuals are subjected to an “undifferentiated supranational identity” that elides differences (25). In his introduction to Kristeva’s Crisis of the European Subject (2000a), Samir Dayal (2000) calls this process a “desubjectivization of the (European) subject” that goes hand in hand with an ongoing “depoliticization of the public sphere,” and produces an absence of participation (4). In his view, this is not only “the effect of apathy or consumerism” but also the result of “ideological manipulation of public discourse”(4). He uses as an example the fact that any issues involving the family are seen as “matters exclusively of private morality and private ‘character’” (14). This “desubjectification,” to use Dayal’s term, produces a decline in psychical life, inducing depression, anxiety, and stress, which ultimately lead to a loss of interest in representing one’s inner life. Kristeva diagnosed this condition as the “new maladies of the soul” in her book with this title (1995). The deficiency of representation also affects sexual, sensory, and intellectual life, as psychic life becomes “blocked, inhibited, and destroyed” (1995, 8-9). A revival of interest in religion may stem from a “psychological poverty that requests that faith give it an artificial soul that might replace an amputated subjectivity” (1995, 7). Kristeva also examines the rise of religious fundamentalisms as a direct consequence of the new world order in Intimate Revolt. In Contre la dépression nationale, she discusses the “new maladies of the soul” as a crisis of representation at both individual and national levels, suggesting an analogy between individual and national depression. Referring specifically to the case of France, she argues that this depression manifests itself as an inability to deal with the influx of immigrants, to make itself heard in international negotiations, and to find solutions for unemployment and 18 poverty (67). As for the individual, national depression manifests as a severance of social ties, making the transformation of social relations difficult. In Intimate Revolt, Kristeva traces the seeds of the new world order back to “the French Revolution and the development of democracy that followed” (25). In Crisis of the European Subject, she explains that the French Revolution marked a radical break with tradition and religious authority, and made the universality of the citizen the foundation of public jurisdiction and public morality (99). Yet the legislation that made the French Republic “one of the most egalitarian regimes in the world” excluded foreigners and women from participation in the political sphere (100). In an interview with Arnaud Spire entitled “The Future of a Defeat” (2003), Kristeva argues that the notion of revolution has been “wrongly defined as meaning destroying earlier political systems and social controls in order to promote their renewal” (21). In their call for “more justice” for the “excluded and the underprivileged,” the French Revolution and other revolutions, such as the 1917 Russian Revolution, acquired a restrictive meaning that led to Terror (in the case of the French Revolution) or to the totalitarianism “that was born of the proletarian revolution” in the USSR (21). At the same time, the notion of revolution has glossed over other forms of revolt, in the sense of individual forms of expression and interrogation, making freedom a meaningless word (21). Kristeva’s concern is that attention to singularity of expression and particular forms of protest became lost in the political revolutions of 1789 and 1917. This led to a paradox: on the one hand, the rise of capitalism encouraged individuals to express their singularity by measuring their ability to accumulate goods; on the other hand, it made it possible for communist ideologies to point to liberal individualism as illustrating the failure of capitalism to achieve a social transformation that would rehabilitate the poor. As communism was replaced by “an arbitrary law that took into account neither desires (ultimately desires for freedom) nor needs (ultimately economic)” it became totalitarianism (2002c, 201). In 19 both cases (capitalist or communist), Kristeva argues what has been stifled is creative expression and critical thinking based on questioning of one’s own situation in the midst of economic, social, and political realities. Kristeva’s work on revolt appeared around the same time as her study of Hannah Arendt (2001b), with whom she shares many ideas on the crises of the European tradition. In her analysis of the Eichmann trial, Arendt defined the “banality of evil” as the inability to think for oneself, to make judgements that take a plurality of perspectives into account. Kristeva echoes Arendt when, in Intimate Revolt, she defines the aptitude for judgment as synonymous with interrogation, and declares this to be “our only remaining defence against the ‘banality of evil’” (2002c, 4). For Kristeva, losing the aptitude for thought and judgement also means obscuring “an essential component of European culture- a culture fashioned by doubt and critique” which then becomes in danger of losing “its moral and aesthetic impact” (4). Arendt (2000) regarded remembrance as the only defence against the annihilation of the depth of human experience: “We are in danger of forgetting, and such an oblivion would mean that we would deprive ourselves of the dimension of depth in human existence. For memory and depth are the same, or rather, depth cannot be reached by man [sic] except through remembrance” (464). For Kristeva (2000d, 2002c), the “forgetting” of the past manifests itself not only in the loss of tradition, of authority, of religion and values, as deplored by Arendt, but also in the erasure of any acknowledgement of the repression of the feminine/ maternal as well as of the violence and desires that lie at the foundation of culture and civilization. Kristeva follows Freud in situating revolt not only in opposition to utilitarianism, dogmatism, or totalitarianism, but also in the interface between the social and political, on the one hand, and the body, sexuality, affect and drives, on the other. The Variants of Revolt Revolt for Kristeva is not simply a confrontation with authority, law, or tradition. It is not based 20 on the dialectical logic of law and transgression, as was, for instance, her notion of revolution in Revolution in Poetic Language (1984b). In a context where there are no laws or authority to revolt against, Oliver (2005) argues that Kristeva is talking about a revolt that occurs as a displacement of authority within “the psychic economy of the individual” (79). This perspective challenges the conventional understanding of authority as externally situated and proposes a more nuanced formulation where the individual “sees that authority as its own” (79). In Intimate Revolt, Kristeva defines revolt as “return/turning back/displacement/change”: “What makes sense today is not the future (as communism and providential religions claimed) but revolt: that is the questioning and displacement of the past. The future, if it exists, depends on it” (5). In other words, revolt takes on the form of a necessary retrospective questioning that is as much recollection as it is interrogation: “the suspension of retrospective return amounts to a suspension of thought” (6). She concludes that “questioning remains the only possible thought: an indication of life that is simply alive” (223). Fiction enables Kristeva to represent the intellectual process of questioning in a context that also evokes the complex interaction of psychical, physical, and social elements that make up the individual subject’s position – an interaction that affects both the questions and the possible responses. One of the original contributions of Kristeva’s analysis of revolt is her engagement with Freudian theories in order to challenge the philosophical conception of a thinking ego which appears to be “ageless” and “sexless,” as she writes in Hannah Arendt (2001b, 190). Another important insight is her perception of thought as inseparable from negativity and from a kind of timelessness that Freud associates with the death drive. These are concepts that will be developed further in analysing the individual novels. Kristeva’s ideas on revolt are part of a psychoanalytic social theory that places conflict, antagonism, and contradiction at the core of what Margaroni (2005) explains in terms of the inseparable dialectical understanding between self and society (28). It is a model that Kristeva 21 emphasizes in The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt, when she argues that any discussion of social integration or inclusion must take into account the fact that contradictions are “permanent,” and not solvable: “When one recognizes that the contradictions of thought and society are not soluble, then revolt – with its risks – appears as a continuous necessity for keeping alive the psyche, thought and the social link itself” (144). In her novels, Kristeva attributes the role of investigation to women, who examine and question various social and cultural aspects of the European tradition. It is women who point to the marginalized and repressed elements of different components of the European heritage, from the French Revolution to both Orthodox and Catholic religious traditions. The novels draw on psychoanalysis, philosophy, historical research, scientific reason, and theology, combining these with political analysis, fantasy, and emotions. They enable the author not only to emphasize the role of thinking and desiring women and their creative ability to lead various forms of inquiry, but also to propose, from a place that forges together thought and sensory intimacy, new ways of thinking about authority, laws, and values. The Logic of Revolt in Kristeva’s Novels I propose a reading of Kristeva’s novels that illustrates the notion of revolt as “thought as return,”12 at the interface between (political) philosophy (with an emphasis on the works of Kant, Arendt and Giorgio Agamben) and psychoanalysis (with a focus on Freud and Melanie Klein). By insisting on the interface between (political) philosophy and psychoanalysis, I want to prevent the limitation of the notion of revolt to a psychoanalytic vision of subjectivism, on the one hand, or to the abstract theoretical thinking of philosophy, on the other. At the same time, the point of this synthesis is also to stress that the crisis of the new world order, of European culture, cannot be adequately addressed unless one attends simultaneously to both psychic and 12 I follow here Kristeva’s definition of revolt in Intimate Revolt, p.5. 22 political life. As Kristeva argues in Intimate Revolt, revolt is realized in “psychical life and its social manifestations (writing, thought, art)” which also have political implications (11). In The Human Condition (1958), Arendt argues that thought is a form of action that “interrupts the flow of time” to begin something anew (186). Action is the precondition of political life, since it is never possible in isolation, but always part of what Arendt calls the “web of the acts and deeds of other men [sic]” (188). Imagination is essential in order to see from multiple perspectives, and so create the possibility of plurality. While action makes political life possible, speech is essential for remembrance, for actualizing that dimension of the “past” that is threatened by “forgetting” (176). Recollection through narration engages the imagination, allowing one to “think horror,”13 while at the same time creating the distance necessary for representation. New beginnings start with birth, and since each birth begins something anew it contains an element of action, and creates the possibility of political life, as Arendt explains: If action as beginning corresponds to the fact of birth, if it is the actualization of the human condition of natality, then speech corresponds to the fact of distinctness and is the actualization of the human condition of plurality, that is, of living as a distinct and unique being among equals (178). By forging a link between new beginnings and political action, Arendt places birth at the centre of political life. This notion makes it possible to re-think Kristeva’s theories of motherhood and of the feminine through a political lens. It prompts us to reconsider the function of fictional narrative for Kristeva, as will be discussed in Chapter 1. Kristeva’s representation of women’s lives and perspectives acquires a political as well as a theoretical dimension. The novel form enables her to challenge the aestheticization of the political and the politicization of aesthetics, by reconfiguring both politics and narrative as “open structures” and “living relations.”14 In analysing each novel, I will focus on particular aspects of revolt. I will move from a 13 In Kristeva, Hannah Arendt: Life is a Narrative, p.28. 14 As Kristeva defines them in Hannah Arendt: Life is a Narrative, p. 43. 23 general discussion of the ethical, therapeutic, and political functions of revolt in Kristeva’s novels in Chapter 1, to detailed analysis of each of the four novels. In Chapter 2, on The Samurai, I use the notion of writing as thought to examine the legacy of the French Revolution and its impact on women and foreigners. In Chapter 3, on The Old Man and the Wolves, I look at action as thought to consider the possibility of individual expression in a totalitarian regime. In Chapter 4, on Possessions, the concept of specular thought allows me to consider the relationship between matricide and the emergence of thought, in the framework of (imaginary) artistic decapitations. In Chapter 5, on Murder in Byzantium, I focus on thought as freedom in a context where the religious imaginary and the society of the spectacle leave little room for creative expression. The Conclusion will summarize what emerges from these analyses in relation to the theoretical framework introduced here. 24 Chapter 1 The Functions of Fiction for Kristeva “In my own case, the clinical practice of psychoanalysis, the writing of novels, and work in the social domain are not ‘commitments’ additional to my theoretical and scholarly work. Rather, these activities are an extension of a mode of thinking at which I aim and which I conceive as an energeia in the Aristotelian sense: thought as act, the actualization of intelligence.” (Julia Kristeva, “Rethinking ‘Normative Conscience:’ The Task of the Intellectual Today,” 20). Types of Texts and Intertextuality Kristeva’s theoretical writing, whether it addresses primarily linguistics, literature, or psychoanalytic casework, is always preoccupied with the use of language in self-construction through communication with others. Several of her major works focus on fictional narrative texts, from her early work on the origins of the novel to her later studies of Proust and Colette. As a literary critic belonging to the intellectual community of Parisian structuralists and post- structuralists, Kristeva takes for granted the problematization of traditional notions of literary “genre” associated with convention, conformity, predictability, and standardization. Since she is inevitably in dialogue with authors of nouveaux romans, like her husband Philippe Sollers, she can be expected to produce fiction that will be what Barthes (1977) termed “writerly” (texte scriptable rather than texte lisible) (156). Her novels invite the reader to participate in an act of writing that lays bare its techniques, calling attention to its production and narrative construction. Like all the members of the Tel Quel group, Kristeva refers to texts, rather than “works” (oeuvres), and one of her major contributions has been a theory of intertextuality. In “Intertextuality and Literary Interpretation” (1996b), she argues that the term “novel” can be applied to various experiences of writing, in which case we can define the novel as an “interminable” process in which any type of writing can participate. She writes: ever since the rise of the novel in the West we have had an interminable novel, and the word becomes the generic term for a drastically expanded experience of 25 writing. The term roman can now be applied to poetic writing incorporating a narrative element. It can also be applied to récits of a journalistic type that integrate the possibility of narrative, provided the category can be expanded. It can be applied as well to the intermingling of autobiographical elements with essays and theoretical texts. These are all romans - as long as we understand ‘novel’ as an intersection of genre and as a generalized form of intertextuality. If one identifies the novel with intertextuality, then every contemporary type of writing participates in it (191-2, italics in original). In her case, theory and fiction intertwine inextricably, with autobiographical elements added to the mix. These elements are often emphasized by her own commentary on her writings in interviews and articles. Even before she began to write novels, Kristeva’s academic and theoretical work came under scrutiny for its juxtaposition of personal elements with abstract argument. Jacqueline Rose (1993a), for instance, in “Fleshy Memories,” a review of Kristeva’s New Maladies of the Soul, commented on the ways in which Kristeva inscribes her own subjectivity in her academic texts, deploying what Rose calls “partial autobiography” (6). For some critics, like Anne-Marie Smith (1998), Kristeva’s crossing of disciplinary and generic borders and mingling of heterogeneous discourses is confusing. In the case of Kristeva’s analysis of a poem by Nerval, Smith claims that “we are unaware whether she is reading this poem as a literary critic, clinician, or as a lyrical poet” (1998, 68). One might object that Kristeva reads as all three at once in this case, and refuses to choose. This may be an example of “subjectivity challenging the establishment, revolt in practice,” but it also constitutes a “shock to those of us educated in the heyday of structuralism and post-structuralism, who learned to ignore biography, both the writer’s and our own, when writing academic papers” (Smith 1998, 68). In fact, several of the nouveaux romanciers or theorists most closely associated with “the death of the author” went on to produce their own life-stories, albeit in unconventional formats (Robbe-Grillet, Barthes, and Derrida among them).15 Since Kristeva became a psychoanalyst, it is less surprising in her case that the personal 15 For further details, see Gabara 2006, X. 26 should have a place in her writing. What is more difficult to explain is why she turned to relatively conventional fiction, rather than confining herself to hybrid theoretical texts. Kristeva has produced at least one apparently more straightforward autobiographical document. The essay is entitled “My Memory’s Hyperbole” and is included in The Female Autograph (1984), an anthology of essays on women’s auto/bio/graphy edited by Domna Stanton. The title itself, which draws attention to the non-reliability of memory, challenges the conventional “autobiographical pact” discussed by Philippe Lejeune (1974) and other theorists of the supposed specificity of autobiography. For Kristeva, writing about her life as she remembers it is not an attempt to obey the rules of mimesis, of “truthful” recording of events, but is rather a self-conscious performance that assumes an ethical stance. As Oliver (1993a) explains, for Kristeva the logic of alterity implied by writing for a reader takes on an ethical function, in that it demands acknowledgement of the fragility of meaning, its dependence on inter-subjectivity and social relations. It forces us to set aside universal claims of objectivity and requires us to learn “to live within the flexible, always precarious borders of our subjectivity in order to learn to live within the flexible, always precarious borders of human society” (Oliver 1993a, 13). Close analysis of her novels will show that the personal and subjective elements in them are inseparable from a political and ethical analysis that links her life to her thought and to collective history in complex ways. Self-Performing Poly-Texts The novel seems to have drawn Kristeva’s attention early on precisely because it is what Northrop Frye (1957) called an “impure” genre, one that grew out of autobiographical accounts “by a series of insensible gradations” (307). The novels or novelists Kristeva has chosen to analyse reflect the nouveau romancier Ricardou’s (1967) famous claim that “writerly” texts are 27 less “l’écriture d’une aventure” than “l’aventure d’une écriture” (111).16 The inseparability of writing and life for those who spend a large part of their life writing blurs the superficial distinctions between exterior and inner reality. As Paul de Man (1979) argued, for those who attempt to record their life “the autobiographical project may itself produce and determine the life” (920). Philippe Lejeune’s (1974) early conviction that autobiography is “all or nothing” (14), that a recognizable “I” must claim to tell the “truth,” proved untenable even for Lejeune himself, as he had to admit later that it can take a wide variety of forms, including third-person narration and imaginary events. In an interview in 1973 (cited by Caws 1973, 4) Sollers conveyed the Tel Quel group’s adoption of Barthes’ (1977, 143) distinction between an “author” and a “writer” (scripteur), when he described his aim as a type of writing that is “plural.” Rather than linear and univocal, it is polivocal and participates in an on-going dissemination and transformation of texts. These terms obviously resonate with Kristeva’s concept of intertextuality, but also with the self-in- process, since the self and text are inextricable. In “My Memory’s Hyperbole” she uses the first- person plural to postulate a process of writing whose subject is “alive only if it is never the same” (1984a, 220). Her essay illustrates Stanton’s aim, in her anthology, to demonstrate that women often “graph” the “auto,” rather than narrating a “bio” as in conventional male autobiographies. Stanton (1984) sees Kristeva’s text as indicating a non-referential understanding of the self, a self seen as “a dramatis personae, not only as a critical observer, but as a major protagonist” (x, italics in original). This opinion is echoed by Dawne McCance (1996), who refers to Kristeva in “My Memory’s Hyperbole” as a “player in the drama,” who does not give us “a treatise on ethics” but a “performance of ethics” (145). In McCance’s view, 16 “Writerly” texts are rather more about “the adventure of writing than about the writing of an adventure” (my translation). 28 this performance brings the speaking body to the forefront, since the text, incorporating both conscious and unconscious elements, is “constitutive of soma” (145.) Projecting a plural self enables Kristeva to distance herself from a view of the writing subject as having “assumptions of ownership and control of his or her propertied body,” an attitude that places the “reified body ‘before’ and ‘outside’ the object-text” (McCance 1996, 145). Similar performative strategies are apparent in several of her theoretical works (Strangers to Ourselves (1991b), “Stabat Mater” (1986c), Tales of Love (1987b), and Powers of Horror (1982) among others), where Kristeva uses the personal pronouns “I” or “one” (on) to develop her notion of foreignness within in relation to motherhood, love, and abjection. In an essay on Powers of Horror, Thea Harrington (1998) expresses the view that these personal and performative elements in Kristeva’s theoretical writings enact a critique of traditional philosophy and psychoanalysis, allowing “that which cannot speak (the abject)” to emerge, and to articulate the space for a new ethics (139-40). This new ethics challenges the traditional notion of ethics, which Kristeva defines in “The Ethics of Linguistics” as a “coercive, customary manner of ensuring the cohesiveness of a particular group, through the repetition of a code” (1980c, 23). In contrast, a new conception of ethics needs to take into account heterogeneous representations, the “free play of negativity, need, desire, pleasure and jouissance” (23). This type of ethical practice dissolves “narcissistic fixations (that are narrowly confined to the subject)” and the “univocal enunciation of such a message,” and aims to pluralize and pulverize meanings offered as “truths” (1984b, 233). Following Kristeva’s definition of ethics, Oliver (1993b) claims that, “By linking ethics and negativity Kristeva tries to steer between tyranny and delirium” (1). Ethics is therefore integral to the notion of practice as performance, playing a central role in the pluralization of the meanings of the text and the construction and representation of plural selves. For Harrington (1998), “practice as performance” allows Kristeva to open up the writing “I” to a plurality of speakers and stories that allow contradictions to emerge, while at the same 29 time drawing attention to the fact that the contradictions are perhaps only a construction of the “I.” In Harrington’s view, it seems that the “only way one can tell the story of these tense contradictions is to create/perform these ruptures as well” (1998, 139). For Harrington, “Stabat Mater” illustrates this well, as two columns of text in different formats tell the personal story of Kristeva’s experience of pregnancy and giving birth, and the collective/historical story of the erasure of the experience of motherhood in constructions of the Virgin Mary (141). The split text seeks to convey this “battle” by performing two roles at once. As Oliver (1993a) points out, the text enacts emotions and affects that indicate both a loss and a birth (53), as a double process of identification is performed, involving Kristeva’s loss of her own mother even as she became a mother herself. In Oliver’s interpretation, the two columns leave the “impression of a scar or a wound,” gesturing to the repression of maternity in religious and scientific discourse, as well as in theory in general (53). Oliver stresses the effects of the intermingling of theoretical and autobiographical elements in this text. In her view, this intermingling is related to the countertransference experienced by the psychoanalyst in relation to the analysand. Writing as a Psychoanalyst: Countertransference and Personal Therapy In Tales of Love (1987b), Kristeva defines countertransference as the “ability to put myself in their place; looking, dreaming, suffering as if I were she, as if I were he. Fleeting moments of identification. Temporary and yet effective mergings. Fruitful sparks of understanding” (11). This identification occurs not only with case studies, but with literary figures (authors or characters) such as Dostoyevsky (his need for forgiveness) or Camus’s The Stranger. According to Oliver (1993a), “She [Kristeva] speaks as if she is speaking for them. She performs the task of the analyst and provides words, symbols, fantasies, in order to name the unnamable” (135). Kristeva speaks “as” and not “for” these others, indicating by quotation marks that these are her fantasies, in a manner that bears some resemblance to the creation of fictional characters. 30 Conversely, Oliver (1993a, 136) also suggests that one can read Kristeva’s stories in Strangers to Ourselves as transposed accounts of her own experiences as a foreigner in France. Even her concept of the semiotic evokes a “lost territory” that can never be recuperated, and becomes the “foreignness within” that continues to shape the relationship between the self and others. From this perspective, Kristeva’s “embrace of Western culture” is always “in the shadow” of her Eastern European past (Oliver 1993a, 138). Kristeva’s practice of writing as performance draws attention to the element of play, of staging of self-positionings that introduce an element of pleasure, of pretence and “make believe,” while indicating that the writing “I” is an effect of this spectacle of self-dramatization, rather than a pre-existing interiority. In her theoretical writings, as Harrington, McCance and Oliver demonstrate, Kristeva uses performance and practice to enact a critique of the traditional discourses discussed, while performing elements that were repressed or left unsaid by them. She also engages in a process of working through her own affective responses to the constraining limitations of those discourses on her life by acting them out in representations. For example, in The Samurai, by staging the stories of Olga and Joëlle in dialogue with each other, Kristeva manages not only to reveal the conflictual aspects of her own intellectual trajectory but also to use irony and probe the limits of her own theories. This interrogation of her own “self” and links with others constitutes the basis of the logic of revolt, as will emerge in analyzing the novels, where Kristeva shifts attention from the notion of the “revolutionary” poetic text, which demonstrates the dialectic of law and transgression, to that of writing as experience/revolt, founded on return, recollection, and critical interrogation (Kristeva 2002c, 6). An emphasis on writing as the transposition of experience (as well as an experience in itself) appears in a semi-autobiographical essay entitled “The Love of Another Language” (included in Intimate Revolt (2002c)), where Kristeva discusses the loss of her maternal language, Bulgarian, her adoption of French, and “translation” as a continuous sublimation of the 31 sensory, “a ‘language’ in quotation marks, a chaos and order of pulsations, impressions, sorrows and ecstasies at the borders of unformulable biology” (2002c, 249). This language is the “true foreignness, more foreign than any already established idiom, that the writer hopes to formulate” (249). In her studies of Proust and Colette, she reinforces the idea that the writer, even when using a native tongue, “does not cease to be a translator of his unveiled passions, that the fundamental language that he takes pleasure in translating is the language of the sensory” (2002c, 246). Writing fiction, seen in a psychoanalytic framework, is comparable to a type of translation that conveys affects related to “true foreignness,” analogous to the psychoanalytic process of anamnesis. Kristeva describes anamnesis as a process of return to the past in order to repeat it, interrogate it, and work through the experience of trauma, to give it new meanings and create possibilities for change in one’s life (2002c, 21). She defines her use of the term “experience” as that which “marks a fragile, painful and jubilant link from the body to the idea, which makes their distinctions obsolete” (2002c, 252). Her emphasis is on the therapeutic function of translating experience into/through writing fiction, rather than on the process of sublimation: When I write, whether The Samurai, or The Old Man and the Wolves, or Possessions, I am on a voyage, in transit – to the end of the night, intoxicated by a pregnancy carried through the ‘swamps of the Atlantic,’ the impossible tears that the murder of my father in Bulgaria inflicts on me, the murderous passions that a woman suffers but also inflicts in the experience of the feminine condition that we speak so much about but hesitate to see as a ferocious detective novel. This perturbation, this plunge, this ‘I am another,’ certainly delivers me from the dark continents of my unconscious but also from the regions of meaning before signification –sensation, perception…. (2002c, 252). Writing as experience is integral to the logic of revolt, as Kristeva explains in The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt: “I will try to introduce the notion of experience, which includes the pleasure principle as well as the rebirth of meaning for the other, which can only be understood in view of the experience of revolt” (2000d, 8). In her novels, the translation of personal and sensory experience into/through writing also takes on an ethical aspect in the sense that it calls 32 attention to Kristeva’s own “implication” in narrating the cultural and political crisis of European tradition. In her theoretical work, Kristeva’s incorporation of autobiographical, personal elements is relatively minimal, although it is enough to unsettle traditional philosophical or academic discourse. In writing texts labeled “novels,” she can give free rein to her imagination to mingle the personal, cultural, and political in ways that illustrate the interconnectedness of collective history and the individual’s experience of the sensory and affect. In doing so, she also integrates aspects associated with the feminine/maternal into accounts of the European tradition that abjected them. Telling stories in this form has a therapeutic function for her, as it provides a means to work through her own suffering, melancholia, and mourning of her parents, in relation to a lost language and personal past. Yet Kristeva does not use autobiographical elements to translate or work through her stories of suffering; her novels also respond to the loss of authority, laws, values in European tradition. In the context of the new world order, characterized by the loss of authority, values, laws, that open the way to a return to faith, to a “higher authority” and fundamentalism, one of the implications is that, by introducing the thinly disguised autobiographical elements along with her theoretical views, Kristeva tries to lend some validity (credibility, authority) to her stories. Since her novels engage various aspects of the cultural and political crisis of the European tradition, that have directly or indirectly affected her life experiences, her use of autobiographical and theoretical elements suggests that she is both an accomplice and a witness to the events narrated. In that sense, her personal and theoretical insights are important to help shape the meaning of not only what happened, but also how what happened is important to her (and possibly to others). Kristeva engages theoretical thought to lend some “authority” to the meanings conveyed, suggesting that, more than a narrative ploy or autoanalytic process, she offers stories that have some cultural relevance whose meanings need to be further examined and thought through. It 33 would be easy to infer from here that Kristeva responds to the loss of authority of the new world order, or to its obverse, the return to a “higher authority,” by offering her own instead. One can argue that her abundant use of theories gives a certain air of intellectualism to her novels, and risks imposing an authoritarian view. There might be some truth to such claims, if one judges her novels by her use of theories. Yet one can reframe the question of “authority” from the perspective of Kristeva’s notion of performance and her use of interplay of self-positionings present in all novels, perhaps most evident in Murder in Byzantium, where we have the two characters “Julia Kristeva.” Such interplay of self-positionings challenges the very idea of fixity of the self or of historical/cultural “authority,” while ironically exposing the persistence of the need to create “authority.” How the Personal Becomes Political through Fiction In commenting on Kristeva’s analysis of Arendt’s notion of the polis, McAfee (2005) claims that Kristeva is “one of the few philosophers of our day to provide a language for thinking how the personal becomes political, namely, how affective and somatic forces enter the language and culture” (113). Yet McAfee regrets that Kristeva is “curiously silent on how her own theory of language can supplement Arendt’s philosophy of the public sphere” (113). I propose that if we read Kristeva’s novels through the lens of Arendt’s notion of the political, as well as through her own psychoanalytical prism, they do offer an account of how the personal, the political, and the poetic (conscious and unconscious use of language) are inextricably woven together. In The Human Condition (1958), Arendt defines the political as a form of willingness to expose oneself, “to insert one’s self into the world and begin a story of one’s own” (186). She writes: “With word and deed we insert ourselves into the human world, and this insertion is like a second rebirth, in which we confirm and take upon ourselves the naked fact of our original physical appearance” (176, my italics). This second rebirth also grounds human life, according to 34 Arendt, what is specific to it, and that is the possibility of sharing the events of one’s life with others through narration: The chief characteristic of this specifically human life, whose appearance and disappearance constitute wordly events, is that it is itself always full of events which ultimately can be told as a story, establish a biography; it is of this life, bios as distinguished from zoe, that Aristotle said it ‘somehow is a kind of praxis’ (1958, 97, italics in original). Challenging the formulation of life as zoe (its physiological aspect), Arendt argues that it is through this second rebirth that human beings become political beings, insofar as this linguistic rebirth is the birth of the unique self, of the “who” through the action of narration. In other words, the birth of the political self coincides with the story of its actions. Or as Kristeva (2001c) explains, commenting on Arendt’s formulation of the political that links narratives and life together: it is because a story is a memory of an action that is itself a birth and a foreignness that endlessly begin anew in the public space, and whose ontological possibilities are established in the initial fact of our birth. […] Through this narrated action that story represents, man corresponds to life or belongs to life to the extent that human life is unavoidably a political life. Narrative is the initial dimension in which man lives, the dimension of a bios – and not of a zoe – a political life and/or an action recounted to others. The initial man-life correspondence is narrative; narrative is the most immediately shared action and, in that sense, the most initially political action. Finally, and because of narrative, the ‘initial’ itself is dismantled, is dispersed into ‘strangeness’ within the infinity of narrations. (25-7, italics in original) Kristeva’s incorporation of autobiographical elements in her novels can be read in light of this second, linguistic birth. Her decision to open the first page of her first novel, The Samurai, with a date – 24 June 1989 - that marks the beginning of the story of the samurai as well as the anniversary of her birthday (24 June 1941), and 24 years since her arrival in France, indicates a renewal of subjectivity and French identity, in an attempt to open up the French language and cultural memory to new forms of expression, to its own foreignness. At the same time, this “graphing” of her date of birth takes on a political dimension insofar as we conceive of politics in the Arendtian sense as the narration of a life that can “be told as a story” (1958, 97). 35 It is this kind of interconnection between life-writing-thinking that Kristeva considers to be the defining feature of the works of Arendt, Klein and Colette, the three women writers to whom she devoted book-length studies. Each produced a “body of work” that is “rooted in the biography of their experience” (2001b, x), and their “genius” lies in the ability to show that “our experience can be perpetually revived by that which is extraordinary” (x). Their thought is extra- ordinary because they put themselves into question, and raise questions about the social and political through a constant process of self-reflection and self-projection into the position of others. This is what Kristeva strives to achieve in her novels. Thinking Novels Like Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins, to which it has often been compared, Kristeva’s first novel, The Samurai, depicts the intellectual scene in Paris during a specific historical period, and is encoded as both a roman à clef (inviting the reader to identify the barely disguised public figures represented) and a roman à these (a novel of ideas (re)presenting a certain philosophical position, even if that position is to expose the weaknesses of idées reçues). While it incorporates aspects associated with the nouveau roman (writing as play or the “throw of a dice,” dissemination of characters and dissolution of plot, self-reflexive commentary on writing), it nevertheless maintains a narrative structure that is in many ways relatively conventional. The text is seen as part of an inter-textual constellation, and claims to adopt the non-linear shape and trajectory of a star, “in which things may move without necessarily intersecting and advance without necessarily meeting, …. it corresponds to what seems to be an essential tendency in the world itself: its tendency to expand, to dilate” (1992, 214). The title itself connotes contestation and combat, resistance to an oppressive sociopolitical system as well as to entrenched literary conventions. Kristeva uses heterogeneity and discontinuities in this novel to raise questions about belonging, to explore foreignness, and to direct the reader to psychoanalytic concepts, in a 36 way that ultimately makes it a novel of ideas represented through characters, rather than one focused on formal experimentation. According to Susan Suleiman (1994), the roman à thèse, which promotes certain ideas, is “an authoritarian genre” (10) related to the tradition of religious or political allegory, but distinguishable from the latter because of its realist as well as didactic mode (11). Like novelists before her (such as André Gide) who also wished to promulgate unconventional ideas, Kristeva produces an anti-roman à thèse which, ironically, has a thèse constituted by the blurring of boundaries between discourses to allow meanings to emerge in conflicting, contradictory fashion. Both the roman à clef and the roman à thèse become models to parody rather than imitate, inviting the reader to engage in a (serious) game, to solve the puzzle by becoming a player in co-construction of the “writerly” text. Bearing in mind these aspects of Kristeva’s first experiment in novel-production, it is not too surprising that she should have turned to another conventional genre involving an enigma or interrogation in her three subsequent works of fiction, which adopt some of the characteristics of the detective novel or polar (roman policier). The latter is in fact difficult to pin down as a genre, since it can take a wide range of forms, from the thriller to the cerebral “whodunit,” from the “metaphysical” to social commentary or satire. For Tzvetan Todorov, who attempted to analyze its mechanisms as early as 1977, the “true” detective story “must be perfectly transparent….; the only requirement it obeys is to be simple, clear, direct” (1977, 46). In a circular argument common in generic formulations, he claims that if it does not conform to the model, it becomes something else: “Detective fiction has its norms; to ‘develop’ them is also to disappoint them: to ‘improve upon’ detective fiction is to write ‘literature,’ not detective fiction” (43).17 More recent critics, especially those dealing with Anglophone texts, do not agree that detective fiction has to (or 17 Todorov examines closely the possible variations and provides a solid genealogy of detective fiction, but excludes anything that does not fit into his definition of the genre. 37 should) remain a sub-literary, formulaic genre. Catherine Nickerson (1997) argues that ever since Poe’s Auguste Dupin stories, the detective story as produced in America has challenged the normative model by becoming “deeply enmeshed with most of the thorniest problems of the Victorian, modern and postmodern eras, including gender roles and privileges, racial prejudice and the formation of racial consciousness, the significance and morality of wealth and capital, and the conflicting demands of privacy and social control” (744). Other critics have focused on the narrative construction of the detective story and its emphasis on the decoding of meanings. Shawn Rosenheim (1989), also referring to Poe’s stories, examines their incorporation of the cryptograph as a strategy that disrupts a superficial reading and brings into question an assumed “metaphoric identity between self and script” (379). For Michael Holquist (1971), post-war “metaphysical detective stories” focused less on the plot and more on the detective’s thought process, implying that “there are no mysteries, there is only incorrect reasoning” (141). The detective is a mathematician who solves not crimes, but puzzles, and the detective novel acquires postmodern characteristics as it raises questions about how meanings are constructed and challenges the traditional discourses of literary analysis, history, and psychology (148). This type of detective story may ultimately have more in common with the nouveau roman, as it abandons the linear, teleological plot and neat ending in which all questions are answered, inviting the reader rather to share in constructing a possible explanation. Kristeva herself has shown an interest in Anglophone detective story models, particularly the work of Patricia Highsmith. In the fourth chapter of Murder in Byzantium, the epigraph is a quotation from Highsmith’s Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction (1990): Perhaps I have a strong criminal tendency buried deep within me, otherwise I wouldn’t be so interested in criminals and I wouldn’t write so often about them…. A suspense novel is quite different from a detective novel…. Its author will take a much greater interest in the criminal mind, because the criminal often takes up the whole thing from start to finish and the writer has to get down what happens in his head. Unless one is attracted to him, one does not succeed (2006, 89). 38 Here Highsmith excludes the “psychological suspense thriller” from the category of detective fiction, assuming like Todorov that the latter is formulaic, a way of “organizing experience and life itself,” for which there is still a need (Highsmith 1990, 80). Kristeva makes direct reference to Highsmith’s text in Murder in Byzantium, when she insists on the analogy between living and writing detective fiction: Like a detective novel, life itself needs detours and subplots to be readable, livable. Not to follow the same leads, the same ideas: a good investigation does not follow the laws of parthenogenesis but instead requires a second angle if it is going to develop. Patricia Highsmith even made this into a rule of thumb in the art of suspense (110-1, my italics). Identifying with both the criminal and the detective may be seen as representing the kind of countertransference discussed above, in reference to a psychoanalytic approach to the writing of novels as representing a plural self/selves. While The Samurai includes a psychoanalyst as character/commentator, Stephanie Delacour, a journalist-cum-detective, takes over this function in the three other novels. It is, of course, not original to compare the detective to a psychoanalyst (Jacques Lacan (1988), Jacques Derrida (1971), and Barbara Johnson (1988) have all done so). As Juliana de Nooy (2003) argues in her analysis of Possessions, both psychoanalysis and the detective story were inventions of the late nineteenth century, and both are concerned with “cases” (114). Both seek to unravel a mystery, to reveal the hidden meaning of an action (crime or trauma), through the rehearsal of past events and examination of clues/symptoms, with special attention to anything uncanny or pathological (114). Other critics, such as Slavoj Zizek, insist on the differences between detective fiction and psychoanalysis. In Looking Awry (1991) he argues that the main difference lies in the promise of solving the murder that the detective novel usually guarantees. Whereas psychoanalysis suggests that we are “all murderers in the unconscious of our desire,” Zizek writes, the detective reconstructs the crime and promises that “we will be discharged of any guilt…. and that, consequently, we will be able to desire without paying the price for it” (59). 39 In “Psychoanalysis, Detection, and Fiction: Julia Kristeva's Detective Novels” (2002), Colin Davis (also focusing on Possessions) argues that for Kristeva the detective novel represents “the immersion in desires that can no longer be identified with any particular subject" (295). Drawing a parallel to psychoanalytic discourse in general, Davis notes that in Possessions Kristeva “tracks the emergence of a story out of the troubled material of the mind” (295), rather than seeking to establish guilt or innocence. He sees Kristeva as “an author of dark, violent, enigmatic fictions that attempt to trace in words the passage of trauma and desire, and the permeable identities of self and other” (298). From a psychoanalytic perspective, what matters is not the truth of the story but the exchange of meanings, in a situation where the identity of both self and other is “in play and at stake” (298). In Kristeva’s detective fictions, it is not a case of the criminal transgressing the law, and the detective/policeman catching the culprit who will be punished. Rather, the “criminal,” the detective, the victim, and the witnesses may all be seen as caught in ethical dilemmas that lead them to engage in various kinds of revolt. Narrative Revolts In the light of the above discussion, it is not surprising that readers who approach Kristeva’s novels expecting pure entertainment, conformity to any model, obvious information about her life, or direct discussion of her theories, are likely to be disappointed. My chapter on each of the four novels will begin with a review of the reviews, conveying the range of responses each has provoked. My aim is to show that the interest and value of these works of fiction may be seen to lie elsewhere, in their illustration of Kristeva’s turn to the political and ethical (in relation to her theories of the feminine-maternal as abjected), and the various functions of both intimate and public “revolt.” Kristeva’s choice of form and distribution of characters in all the novels relates, as Chen (2008) has discussed, to her early work on Greek Menippean discourse and on the 40 “carnivalesque,” as analyzed in her study of Bakhtin (1970, 1986f). Both embody dialogic/polyphonic structures that can accommodate elements of dramatic personae, play/acting, masks/costumes, and the fantastic/dreams, elements that allow the speaking body and the logic of nonexclusive opposition to be foregrounded. Such narrative constructions lend themselves well to Arendt’s (1958) formulation of the polis as that which “arises out of acting and speaking together,” whose “true space lies between people living together for this purpose, no matter where they happen to be….” (197). Arendt herself borrows from drama and theatre to advance the notion of the political as “the space of appearances.” In her reading of Aristotle, she argues that this space is actualized when people have the courage to leave their “private place,” and expose themselves through action and speech (1958, 186), as occurs in drama. Arendt’s notion of the political is thus closely tied to notions of performance, and Kristeva’s novels offer an example of how to actualize Arendt’s space of appearances, to set the stage for the exploration of various aspects of cultural and political crisis by acting out individual situations. Kristeva not only consciously reiterates Arendt’s model of the relationship between aesthetics (in this case fictional narrative) and politics, she also reworks some of its major tenets. By using the context of revolution and revolt (from 1789 to May 1968 and the Chinese Cultural Revolution) in The Samurai, and the detective story framework in the three other novels, Kristeva is able to explore the logic of violence and sadomasochism that psychoanalysis reveals as animating both individual and political interpersonal bonds, based on “another politics, that of permanent conflictuality” (2002c, 11). I do not mean to suggest that Kristeva uses her novels to propose a particular political model or concrete solution to the crises examined. Rather, my intent is to demonstrate how her notion of revolt is central to the production of narratives that illustrate the kind of interaction (aesthetic, personal, and political) that she sees as essential to the reinvigoration and renewal of individual and social bonds. This renewal is urgently needed, in a 41 context marked by a new world order that entails the collapse or crisis of the “European” tradition that fostered creative and critical self-reflection and revolt. Chen (2008) concludes her discussion of Kristeva’s ideas on the novel, as conveyed in her earlier theoretical work, by drawing attention to the importance accorded to time in Kristeva’s study of Proust (1993c, 1996e). Chen suggests that the “idea of a novel in search of time.… has an impact on Kristeva’s actual novels” (16). I hope to demonstrate that Kristeva’s novels serve as both witness and accomplice in her psychoanalytic/detective inquiry into the cultural and political crisis of “European” identity, involving actions and reactions in relation to individual and collective crimes, with ethical and political implications. The European Scene In Le texte du roman (1970), Kristeva argues that the Russian formalists saw the novel as bringing together various narrative forms by focusing on a single character, whereas for structuralist and poststructuralist theorists new types of novel were seen as reflecting a loss of mythic unity, conveyed by innovative narrative explorations (15). Other approaches drawing on sociology and Marxist theory perceived the novel as a by-product of the socio-economic rise of the bourgeoisie on the European political scene (16). Kristeva herself described the novel as a post-epic narrative that emerged in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages, around the time of the dissolution of what she calls the first attempt at a “European Union,” based on the unifying force of Christianity (16). Already, for Kristeva, the birth of the novel was inseparable from issues surrounding “European” (comm)union and its dissolution, movements which it both reflected (as witness) and participated in (as accomplice). It also recorded and produced a larger cultural and historical process of transformation, namely the transition from symbol to sign in aesthetic and narrative representation. By defining the novel in terms of constant “transformation,” with a protean form, Kristeva emphasizes its capacity to engender endless structural (and interpretive) 42 possibilities (18). The novel subverts any attempt to offer a static classification of its narrative function, and hence constantly undermines any stable meanings where (inter)personal and collective relationships are concerned. As she explains in “Word, Dialogue and Novel” (1986f): The novel, and especially the modern, polyphonic novel incorporating Menippean elements, embodies the effort of European thought to break out of the framework of causally determined identical substances and head towards another modality of thought that proceeds through dialogue (a logic of distance, relativity, analogy, and non-exclusive and transfinite opposition) (56). One might consider that one of the attractions of the detective story for Kristeva is that it is, like the novel in general, constantly changing and impossible to pin down. Meaning can be seen to emerge, not from a fixed structure but from dynamic processes. In The Old Man and the Wolves she argues for a reading that transgresses the compartmentalization of discourses and allows a plural understanding of the text: “the novel opens up into philosophy.… the interfusion of one with the other abolishing the frontiers once drawn up between different genres for the benefit of lazy boys” (65). Hybridity becomes a sign of subversion of the inertia of convention, opening up the texts to trans-cultural conversation and heterogeneous temporality. What emerges in each novel is a formulation of revolt that takes on ethical and political dimensions through thought, which Kristeva sees as a kind of action. The narrative space brings together a plurality of cultural and political dimensions, as Europe is seen from Eastern and Western perspectives, as well as from outside, allowing a diversity of opinions to emerge. The view of a text as an intertextual “mosaic of quotations” and “the absorption and transformation” of one (or several) sign systems into another (1986f, 60) evokes a transposition akin to the Freudian notions of condensation and displacement (typical of dreams). Such a transposition implies the abandonment of a former system, the passage to a second, and the articulation of a new system with its own, new representability. This results in a pluralization of signification, which is better able to address multiple manifestations of complex subjectivities 43 (1986f, 60). In “’Nous Deux’ or a (His)Story of Intertextuality” (2002d) Kristeva reformulates intertextuality as a “mental activity able to open a psyche to the creative process,” making diverse temporal and spatial connections and producing “a social melting pot,” along with “a political openness” and “a mental plasticity” (9). Her novels adopt structures that enable the author to investigate all sorts of political crises, without being circumscribed by national frontiers. The emphasis on “mental plasticity” and “political openness” resonates with Arendt’s formulation of narration as an “open memory” (cited in Kristeva 2001c, 43) which challenges the notion of the political as being tied to a national language or national aestheticism, as will be discussed later. The novels convey a sense of continuous movement in the transitory temporal stages of the “European” identity crisis, through spatial metaphors. In Murder in Byzantium, for example, a “mental surface” is punctuated by intimate historical and geographical co-ordinates, with “traces” left everywhere to be returned to. Maps and images of spaces and buildings serve to actualize past events. The incorporation of roman à clef or detective novel conventions directs the reader to see these traces as “clues” in an investigation into stories of individual suffering and historical crimes against humanity. The trans-cultural and trans-historical search brings to the fore semiotic elements, what Kristeva calls the “trans-verbal-reality of the psyche from which all meanings emerge” (1986f, 9). We must remember that the etymological root of “semeion” is a distinctive mark, a trace; this connects to the Freudian “psychical” marks which Kristeva describes as rhythmical articulations of embodied impulses and psychical movements (9). “Trace” and “mark” (in both literary and psychoanalytic terms) initiate a process of return/remembrance and displacement of the past, transforming collective cultural memory through the unique stories of the individual characters. “Tracking” becomes a metaphor connecting the subjective and the cultural, conveying a form of openness to others and to the past, a “mental plasticity” played out at the personal and collective levels. 44 The Detective-Journalist as Witness The recollection or rediscovery of the past is conveyed specifically in the last three novels by the reappearance of Stephanie Delacour, who concludes each novel with a promise to return, and begins the next one by reminding readers of her previous assignments. Possessions ends with her promise to carry on: “And the investigation is starting up again…. Everything is starting over…” (249). In The Old Man and the Wolves the technique of anamorphosis (which is also the title of the novel’s second chapter) suggests that any understanding of the situation depends on the angle from which it is looked at. As Lawrence Wright explains in Perspective in Perspective, “We prefer an ordered world, regular patterns, familiar forms, and when flaws or distortions occur, provided they are not too gross, our mind’s eye tidies them up. We see what we want or expect to see….” (1983, 27). Anamorphosis introduces a riddle into the field of vision, and the viewer must seek out an unconventional viewpoint in order to “solve” it. In The Old Man and the Wolves, we are reminded that “There is meaning here .… but it’s a hidden meaning” (65), in a context where “Any phrase may be interpreted as meaning the opposite of what it actually says…a harmless or even flattering remark can become an accusation, a criticism, or a threat” (73). The plurality of perspectives sought by Arendt in the polis is played out in the narrative. Menippean discourse was described by Kristeva as a “kind of political journalism,” as it exteriorized the political and ideological conflicts of its time and constituted “the social and political thought of an era fighting against theology, against the law” (1986f, 54). On a mission to document human rights abuses, the political journalist-cum-detective Stephanie Delacour not only records such events for her paper, The Event, but also bears witness to individual stories of suffering, abuse or murder. As discussed previously, Oliver’s (2001) concept of witnessing serves also to construct the observer’s subjectivity. Stephanie becomes implicated in events, as her own past experiences are interwoven with the stories she recounts or records. She not only 45 remembers her own stories of loss and suffering, she also writes them down, which becomes a personal form of testimony with a therapeutic function. This model of subjectivity recreated through witnessing seems similar to the psychoanalytic process of anamnesis, which aims at the end of the analysis to open up the interpretation of trauma to new meanings. Yet if we turn to Oliver’s definition of witnessing, it also entails an ethical obligation of response-ability to others. Thus, subjective recollection and historical recording or commemoration are brought together to rethink the relationship between the psyche and the political as an open structure of inter-action. Stephanie’s role as both witness and actor recalls Kristeva’s analysis of the canivalesque. In “Bounded Text” (1980a), she argues that in the scene of the carnival there is “no stage, no ‘theater’” but it is “both stage and life, game and dream, discourse and spectacle” (49). Language is no longer bound to linear laws of communication, but becomes a “split speech act” where the actor and the crowd are “each in turn and simultaneously subject and addressee of the discourse” (46). The writer is, according to this logic, both author and actor, and the text is conceived as “both practice (author) and product (actor); process (actor) and effect (author); play (actor) and value (author)” (44-5). Commenting on Kristeva’s analysis of the logic of the carnival, Lechte (1990a) argues that what is at stake in carnivalization is not so much a blurring of distinctions between these categories, but rather an attempt to incorporate ambivalence, otherness, and contradiction within representation, in contrast to “monological”discourses: To understand exactly what is at stake in carnivalization, we must recognize that all monological discourses – discourses which operate according to the laws of representation and identity – cannot assimilate otherness, negation, opposition – contradiction, in a word. Such discourses include: theology, science, philosophy, ‘everyday’ language – all those depending, in fact, on definition and the exclusion of falsity. The discourses are bi-valent (either one or the other), homogenous, and subject to the law of ‘One’” (109). For Kristeva the irrelevance of “falsity” relates to the ambivalent position of the author/narrator, who is complicit in the distortions of meaning and plot. For instance, in Part II of The Old Man and the Wolves entitled “Detective Story,” the “author” denies responsibility for the story of the 46 Old Man in Part I, supposedly written by the “author in disguise,” while claiming responsibility for “the twists and turns of the plot, the changes of genre” (63). Similarly, in The Samurai, the title refers to a children’s book by Olga Morena, relativizing the notion of “authorship.” Olga tells us (echoing Kristeva), that “the novel is descended from the carnival…. in which “dialogue is irony, a sign of both impossibility of understanding and of fragmentation of totality….” (21). In Murder in Byzantium, the interplay of authorial self-positionings, from Julia Kristeva, the author of the novel, to “Julia Kristeva,” the specialist in migrations, foreigners etc, to “Julia Kristeva,” the expert in female sexuality, provides an example of how to turn the dynamics of subjectivity into a spectacle of interiority, with the irony that provides the necessary distance to see oneself as both character and author at the same time. What results (as in other self- referentail fictions, from Gide to the nouveau roman) is a dramatization of the creation of meanings, in which the story becomes “the stage machinery behind the performance,” “the string that moves the puppet” (The Old Man and the Wolves, 66). Kristeva and Arendt on Aesthetics and Politics Like Menippean discourse, Arendt’s notion of the political has its roots in Socratic thought; but unlike Menippean discourse it considers narration as a kind of political action that opens up towards the singularity of individual experience. Kristeva finds in Arendt’s connection of aesthetics to politics a model for her narratives that show how singular forms of expression, of revolt, come up against or are stifled by various aspects of the new world order (be it communism, the society of the image, or a fundamentalist religion). Such a narrative framework does not operate on the basis of exclusion or purification of “foreign” elements that do not “belong,” either in a nation or in a type of textual genre. Arendt’s model connecting aesthetics and politics draws on Kant’s notion of an “enlarged mentality” (Arendt 1982, 14) to propose a type of political thought that involves considering others and their viewpoints, and allows 47 Kristeva to emphasize the central role of imagination in fulfilling what Oliver (2001) calls our “responsibility/response-ability” to others (15). In terms of aesthetic choices, Chanter and Ziarek (2005) believe that Kristeva demonstrates a preference for “a ‘culture of words’ over a ‘culture of images’,” since she sees narrative/art as able to “re-establish the connection between the semiotic and the symbolic,” thus endowing it with a therapeutic role (8). There is a risk, they argue, of valuing art “only insofar as it plays a therapeutic role,” and lapsing into an “aesthetics of malady” (8). Yet Kristeva attributes other functions to narrative, albeit possibly “minimal”: “Alongside and in addition to the culture of the image – […] - the culture of words, the narrative and the place it reserves for meditation, seems to me to offer a minimal variant of revolt” (2002c, 5). In fact, she ascribes to her novels both therapeutic and ethical/ political functions. In my view, her focus on interrogation, on distancing suffering through representation, and the integration of dialogism and carnivalesque elements, ensures an ironic self-reflexive stance on the part of the (implied and actual) author that prevents the novels from remaining purely therapeutical. The emphasis does not lie on personal crisis and “malady,” mourning or melancholia, related to a private therapeutical kind of writing, but rather on how these experiences can be endowed with new meanings and transformed through intertextual and interpersonal dialogue into something else, which ultimately has a more polemical or political goal. In Between Past and Future (1961), Arendt writes: “The common element connecting art and politics is that they are both phenomena of the public world…. They are in need of some public space where they can appear and be seen” (218). Kristeva’s theoretical formulations based on revaluing the marginal/abjected have been useful to advance a more dynamic model of literary texts, shifting the focus away from more formalist and conventional approaches to literature to the signifying practice of publicly shared texts in relation to the construction of meaning and subjectivity. This model, as Ziarek (1993) 48 argues, “anticipates a different understanding of language that takes into account interweaving of heterogeneous elements” (93). Kristeva proposes a version of fiction as a signifying practice that engages Freud’s notion of the unconscious and the logic of dreams with Hegel’s notion of negativity, to postulate the “subject-in-process/on trial” as a “theory of the subject in literature that was designed to be non-reductive” (Hill 1990, 143). Initially developed as a critical response to Althusser’s concept of history as a “process without a subject,” as Hill (1990) explains, the notion of a subject “in process/on trial” conveys a split speaking subject divided between unconscious and conscious motivations, between physiological processes and social constraints. In Roudiez’s (1980) view, this formulation, which introduces the semiotic into the symbolic order, allows Kristeva to elaborate a theory where instincts can “challenge authority without producing anarchy,” and authority is able to “contain instincts without resorting to concentration camps” (4). Similarly, for Oliver (1993a), the subject in process calls attention to the death drive and eros, and postulates an ethical position by bringing to the fore the force of the drive in its capacity to transgress the Law, “because it assumes that we recognize, on the one hand, the unity of the subject who submits to the law - the law of communication among others; yet, who, on the other hand, does not entirely submit, cannot entirely submit, does not want to submit entirely” (16). While some critics, like Oliver, value the political and ethical possibilities of this approach, other feminists, like Fraser (1990) or Diane Coole (2000), see Kristeva’s displacement of the political onto aesthetic practices as problematic. Neither Fraser nor Coole discusses the difference between an aestheticization of the political and the politicization of national aestheticism, which would be a more adequate description of Kristeva’s project as seen through her reading of Arendt. 49 Individual and Collective Memory Kristeva herself provides her own definition of politics in The Crisis of the European Subject, when she challenges the equation of “power” and “politics” and argues that politics is “the experience of a debate in which free individuals come forth and measure themselves against one another in their plurality, so as to better think about the public interest” (2000a, 97). It should be a “living interrogation and polemic, life of the mind remote from all archaism, investigation that can shed light on other peoples as well” (98). Like Arendt, Kristeva challenges two assumptions: the link between art and a national aesthetic, and the alignment of the political with a national belonging that is based on the exclusion of foreigners. Kristeva points out that Arendt’s formulation of narration “participates in another politics, that of open memory, a renewed and shared memory” that leaves “the structural potentialities of narration as wide-open” to accommodate an “infinite political action, offered to the judging perspicacity of inter-esse” (2001c, 43). The political is an “open memory” because, Kristeva explains, it is through remembrance that the meaning of the story is articulated, and the action that the story recounts is elucidated through the thought that follows. Arendt (1961) saw this kind of narration as a challenge to the crisis threatened by modern culture, which she saw as stifling the ability to think and to remember by subordinating them entirely to a teleological function: The tragedy began…. when it turned out that there was no mind to inherit and to question, to think about and to remember. The point of the matter is that the ‘completion,’ which indeed every enacted event must have in the minds of those who are to tell the story and to convey its meaning, eluded them; and without this thinking completion after the act, without the articulation accomplished by remembrance, there simply was no story to tell (6). The European cultural memory that Kristeva maps out in her novels is constituted through stories that bear witness to the construction of individual subjectivities as inseparable from collective remembrance. In contrast to the perspective of Fraser or Coole, we can argue that Kristeva’s novels insist on the subjectivization of the political, rather than its aestheticisation. They offer the 50 example of narrative works in which both subjective and political meanings are re-created through acts of remembering that depend on a plurality of open-ended inter-actions. The political importance of this approach emerges if one recognizes that one of the premises of Kristeva’s critique of the new world order is that European cultural identity is unable to take into account different conceptions of the human person and subjectivity. In other words, Europe lacks what Samir Dayal (2000) calls “a narrative, a discourse comprehensive enough and particular enough to give meaning to the diversity and the specificities of European subjectivity” (13). If we agree that narrative is both an art and a praxis, then we can argue that Kristeva’s novels provide examples of how to accommodate diverse European subjectivities, enacted through the stories of her foreign women characters who share both Eastern and Western European heritages. Arendt’s formulation of the political as an “open memory” emphasizes a form of narration that, in opposition to national-aestheticism, is based an inter-esse, an “in-between” founded, as Kristeva explains, on “action and speech” (2001c, 14) and open to all who consent to act and speak, regardless of their cultural and national belonging. This still begs the question of who can speak and in what language. Kristeva argues that, in Arendt’s view, what is essential is the “narrative and not language itself (though language is the pathway to narrative) that provides the mechanism for innately political thinking” (2001c, 86). In Arendt’s view, the most important thing is for the narrative to reveal and draw attention to a “who,” to “identify the agent of the story” (2001c, 73-4). Similarly, Kristeva is not so much concerned with the stylistic effects of her narratives (which many critics consider “too cerebral” if not “utterly bad”), but rather with revealing the singularity of individual experience in a collective context. Like Arendt, she is concerned with “looking at what is becoming of the individual, the singular subject, in this new normalizing and pervertible economic order” (2002c, 6). Literature becomes what Kristeva (1996a) calls a “way of getting to a politics of singularity, of keeping ‘foreignness’ within discourse” (42). 51 Feminist Critiques Yet the idea of individualism is linked, for many American feminists, to a discourse that is liberal, positivist, and middle-class, and serves patriarchal and capitalist structures. In the Anglo- American context, where collective grassroots activism has played a crucial role in women’s ability to voice their concerns and combat oppressions, Kristeva’s focus on the singularity of individual experience has been received with suspicion and even hostility. These critiques emerge directly or indirectly out of Kristeva’s own disavowal of “mass” feminism, following her return from China and disillusionment with the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Her emphasis shifted to the singularity of each woman’s experience, on what constitutes difference within herself rather than commonality. As early as in “Women’s Time,” where she breaks down the evolution of feminism into three stages, Kristeva promotes the “demassification of the problematic of difference,” and the acknowledgement of the singularity of each woman, without attempting to subsume it into a group identity (1986e, 52). Seyla Benhabib’s (1992) critique of Kristeva’s politics of identity and difference captures many feminist concerns over this stance, when she argues that Kristeva’s concept of the political is tied to notions of privileged entitlement arising from whiteness, first-world hegemony, middle-class affluence, and heterosexuality assumed as the norm. Moi (1986) also raises questions about the usefulness of such an approach for a feminist practice of transformation, arguing that “the specificity of the individual subject is fore-grounded at the expense of a general theory of femininity and even of political engagement tout court” (168). Fraser (1992) sees the tendency to idealize singularity as going hand- in- hand with a tendency to consolidate an “ahistorical,” “apolitical,” and undifferentiated feminine identity, alternating with moments that repudiate women’s identity altogether. Spivak (1982) went so far as to declare that she is “repelled” by Kristeva’s politics, seeing in it “an unproblematic analogy 52 between the single-person situation of analysis and the vastly multitudinous, multiracial, and multinational political arena” (271). The debate over whether Kristeva’s view of women is essentialist fails to address accusations by Marxist-Socialist and postcolonial feminists who do not see Kristeva’s notion of politics as providing a feminist direction for political emancipation and social transformation. More recently, Ziarek (2005) has re-directed discussion of these issues by juxtaposing Kristeva’s notion of revolt with Franz Fanon’s theory of revolutionary violence in order to address some of the limitations of Kristeva’s work, particularly in the context of racism and colonialism. Oliver (1993a) calls for a more sympathetic understanding of Kristeva’s politics, emphasizing that it grows out of the ethics of psychoanalysis (12). She sees Kristeva as concerned with an analysis of unconscious structures that may allow us to recognize difference in ourselves, which Kristeva considers the condition for interacting with others in non- exclusionary ways. For Oliver, like Kristeva, language and artistic practices may be sites for ethical engagement and for embracing alterity, and lead to “a new ethics and politics” (61). This argument has been reinforced by Marilyn Edelstein (1993), who coined the term “poléthique” to suggest the inseparability between ethics and politics in Kristeva’s work, where they are not opposed to each other but on a continuum, just as self and other are always in a continuing dialogic relation (206). Neither Oliver nor Edelstein refers to Kristeva’s novels, which had mostly not yet been published at that time, but their emphasis on the inseparability of ethics and politics in Kristeva’s work is, as I hope to demonstrate, illustrated and corroborated in her fictional texts. Kristeva’s Debt to Arendt More recent work focused on the political aspects of Kristeva’s thought (such as Sjoholm 2005) further develops the implications of her psychoanalytical focus, but few have looked closely at 53 the extent to which Kristeva’s notion of the political (particularly in her most recent works) is indebted to the kind of politics proposed by Arendt. Three texts, by Oliver (2005), McAfee (2005) and Birmingham (2005), do take up this comparison. Oliver examines Kristeva’s notion of revolt and forgiveness in dialogue with Arendt’s notion of forgiveness and hope (which I will discuss in relation to The Old Man and the Wolves). In “Bearing Witness in the Polis: Kristeva, Arendt and the Space of Appearances” (2005), McAfee demonstrates how Kristeva’s reading of Arendt challenges conventional understandings of political discourses premised on the distinction between the public and the private, or between thought and bodies. She sees Kristeva’s contribution as providing a framework for understanding how “affective and somatic forces enter into language and culture” (113), as illustrated by Truth and Reconciliation Commissions where subjectivity and the polis are constructed through narration. Kristeva’s notion of the imaginative capacities of psychic space is relevant to this kind of public testimony and bearing witness to stories of suffering, since having their story heard may allow the narrators’ own psyche to heal. In my reading of Kristeva’s novels, I stress the importance of imagination and how it is deployed to create a plurality of perspectives which rethinks Arendt’s notions of the “enlarged mind” and “representative thinking.” I disagree with McAfee’s (2005) argument that Kristeva’s notion of psychic space remains caught in an individualistic subjectivity, unable to move on to inter-subjective dialogue. She writes: “Even though Kristeva argues that subjectivity is constituted dynamically by heterogeneous processes, the subject seems always to be by herself. She is a speaking being creating herself” (2005, 116). My position is that Kristeva does move from a subjective to an intersubjective space in her novels, and I hope to show how her model of representative thinking – of putting one’s self into the shoes of another – stresses this politics of relationality. 54 Birmingham’s essay, “Political Affectations: Kristeva and Arendt on Violence and Gratitude” (2005), provides an important insight into the “affection” that animates the political bond of a “we” (128). Her reading of Kristeva’s and Arendt’s understanding of violence and fear as the animating affects of the political bond is of particular relevance for my own analysis of Kristeva’s novels. In them the adoption of some aspects of the detective fiction format facilitates an exploration of violence, fear and abjection, which (unlike Arendt) she locates in both the psyche and the political bond. Birmingham uses Kristeva’s reading of Melanie Klein to show how Kristeva situates the logic of violence and abjection in “the conflict between the inherent destructiveness of the sadistic aim (the paranoid-schizoid position) and reparative aim of gratitude (the depressive position)” (137). She goes on to demonstrate how Kristeva’s attention to the logic of violence and sadomasochism emerges as a concern for keeping foreignness within the political sphere, and this move “becomes a challenge or call for the gratuitous embrace of the alien” (142.) In my analysis, I reach a slightly different conclusion from Birmingham’s by taking a different approach, one which locates Kristeva’s “reparative aim of gratitude” in the very ability to keep questioning and thought alive by adopting different points of view. The Imaginary as Revolt In Arendt’s view, “plurality,” as Linda M.G. Zerilli (2005) explains, is not an “ontological condition,” but an activity that has a “distinctly political sense,” since it requires the ability to take into account the viewpoints of others and then to form an opinion (174). Arendt’s model, which developed from her reading of Kant’s philosophy of taste and aesthetic judgment, involves a kind of ethical obligation to others based on “representative thinking,” which implies the effort to think in the place of others. One can “enlarge one’s own thought so as to take into account the thoughts of others” (Arendt 1982, 42). This point is important to Kristeva, since it links political practice to the question of affect, and critical thinking to its place in social relations. 55 Ziarek (1995) argues that Kristeva turns to Arendt’s revision of Kant’s theory of aesthetics in her analysis of the status of the foreigner and reconstruction of an alternative “group psychology” (10). Ziarek explains that what Kristeva finds useful in Arendt’s reading of Kant is an alternative sense of politics premised on “judgments rooted in affect” that challenges the assumption that judgments based on affectivity remain “outside” the political realm (10). This allows her to incorporate such judgments into her discussion of the formation of modern nation states through the imaginary logic of identification.18 Kristeva’s emphasis on the role of affectivity in the process of national identification constitutes, in Ziarek’s view, a departure from Arendt’s aesthetics. While Arendt turns to an analysis of “the pleasure of the beautiful” in order to reconstruct a sense of community based on identification with others, according to Ziarek, Kristeva draws on the Freudian aesthetics of the uncanny to offer a more complex understanding of politics by stressing the uncertainty of judgment, the negative affect of the uncanny, and the ways in which they reveal “the erosion of the communicability of language and the instability of communal boundaries” (10). In examining Kristeva’s reading of Arendt’s aesthetics my interest lies in bringing out the function of representative thinking in Kristeva’s novels. My argument is that by positing critical thinking as an exercise in narrative reflection grounded in imaginary encounters with others and common experiences, these fictional texts fulfill their political function in the Arendtian sense of the term. By emphasizing the interplay between imagination and representative thinking in her novels, Kristeva challenges both the classical assumption that the narrative imaginary offers only 18 Ziarek explains that Kristeva’s emphasis on the ambivalent role of affectivity in the process of national identification advances further other similar analyses on the relationship between nationalism and the imaginary logic of identification. She offers as an example Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism, in which he considers the formation of modern states premised on the imaginary logic of identification (14). His argument is that nation can be seen as “an imagined political community” despite the dispersion of people or mass migrations, because the members of the nation imagine their belonging together as a “community.” Yet Ziarek argues that Anderson’s analysis fails to explain the crucial role of affect in the formation of national imaginary and consciousness as well as to show how the relationship between “love for the nation” and “hatred of racism” reconfigures these imagined communities (14). For Ziarek, Kristeva’s aesthetics of the uncanny not only explains the role of affectivity in the process of national identification, but also posits an ethics of respect for the other at its core, premised on the recognition of otherness within. 56 “fictive” constructions, with little political value, and the realist novel’s view that the narrative imaginary is a “correct” reflection of reality.19 In her emphasis on a plurality of perspectives that allow contradictory meanings to emerge, as well as on women’s “embodied imagination” that allows their critical reflections to be situated in relation to their experiences, Kristeva comes close to many Anglo-American feminist analyses of the relationship between women and politics. Her ideas finds an echo in Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto” (1998), which calls for “embodied objectivity” and “situated knowledges,” arguing that standpoint claims are insufficient as critical theory since they ignore the complex framework of social relations that mediate the connections between knowledge and power. What is needed, Haraway argues like Kristeva, is a plurality of perspectives that allows contradictions to emerge and is able to take into account disagreement and rival perspectives. According to her, such a plurality is “not afraid of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints. The political struggle is to see from both perspectives at once because each reveals both dominations and possibilities unimaginable from the other vantage point” (439). “Single vision,” she warns, “produces worse illusions than double vision or many-headed monsters” (439). Both Kristeva and Haraway identify critical thinking, imagination, and contestation from diverse perspectives as crucial in reconfiguring the understanding of women’s contribution to politics. Representative Thinking and the Politics of Representation Kant’s term for what Arendt calls “representative thinking” is “enlarged mentality,”20 which arises from the imagination rather than from reasoning. As Arendt (1961) explains: 19 In rejecting the naturalism of the European novel, the Marxist critic Gyorgy Lukacs, in Studies of European Realism (1950), argues that the novel reflects reality in the sense that it uses psychological realism to render a more complete, “truer” account of the world. 20 Kant defines a person of “enlarged mind” as someone who is able to shift the “ground to the standpoint of others” (151), offering three maxims of taste to support his argument: a) “to think for oneself”; b) “to think from the standpoint of everyone else”; c) “always to think consistently” (152, my italics). It is the second maxim – to think 57 Political thought is representative. I form an opinion by considering a given issue from different viewpoints, by making present to my mind the viewpoints of those who are absent; that is, I represent them. This process of representation does not blindly adopt the actual views of those who stand somewhere else, and hence look upon the world from a different perspective. This is a question neither of empathy, as though I tried to be or feel like somebody else, nor of counting noses or joining a majority, but of being and thinking in my own identity where actually I am not. The more people's standpoints I have present in my mind while I am pondering on a given issue, the better I can imagine how I would feel and think in their place, the stronger will be my capacity for representative thinking, and the more valid my final conclusions, my opinion (241). As is clear here, for Arendt representative thinking is not possible in isolation, but requires the ability to take into account the standpoints of those who are not present. Imagination is the faculty that “makes the others present:” The trick of critical thinking does not consist in an enormously enlarged empathy through which one can know what goes on in the mind of all others.… To accept what goes on in the minds of those whose standpoint (actually the place where they stand, the conditions they are subject to, which always differ from one individual to the next, from one class or group to another) is not my own would mean no more than passively to accept their thought, that is, to exchange their prejudices for the prejudices proper to my own station (Arendt 1982, 43). Rather, representative thinking requires us to be able to take into consideration points of view with which we might not identify at all, allowing disagreement and conflict to emerge and be addressed in an open-ended debate. In commenting on Arendt’s formulation, Kristeva argues that this kind of thinking does not aim at generating answers or at creating new values, but rather at dissolving preconceived notions or accepted rules of conduct before they become rigidified sociosymbolic structures (2001b, 216). Thus Arendt’s representative thinking is important to Kristeva for two reasons: first, because it places imagination at the core of political thought; and second, because it defines a kind of thinking that resembles psychoanalytical interpretation, particularly the effect of countertransferance, as discussed earlier. from the standpoint of every one else – that Kant chooses for his formulation of the notion of “enlarged mind” as the basis for “making appropriate judgments in particular situations” (152). 58 Kristeva uses this capacity for representative thinking to define her notion of revolt (2002c), and in creating her fictional characters. Revolt, in this case, means “being capable of questioning things from the place of another subject” (2002c, 237). Kristeva’s fictional characters also emphasize this logic of revolt. What defines Stephanie Delacour’s detective work is not the intellectual ability to solve the “puzzle,” but the capacity to put herself into somebody else’s shoes. As Stephanie explains: “All I had was the adaptability and the nerve to put myself in someone else’s place” (1994, 143). As well, the Old Man stays alive under communism because he “put himself in the place of the artists dead and gone” (48). All the characters who revolt against various aspects of the new world order demonstrate this capacity for self- estrangement. This capacity is the source of subjective freedom and independent thinking, in contexts where the social system attempts to control perception and communication: “When barbarism reigns, the only form of civilization might be migration, a nomadism based on the strange ability some people possess of never identifying with ‘themselves’ or ‘here’ or ‘now’” (149-50). Similarly, Joëlle Cabarrus, the psychoanalyst in The Samurai, notes that “caring comes from an abolition of the self…. You yourself are being transfused, and your dissemination disperses the unhappiness of others” (286). In Arendt’s view, the aesthetic model that best enacts this kind of representative thinking is drama, since it involves actors undertaking self-estrangement and spectators who distance themselves in order to form an opinion. As Leonard C. Feldman (1999) notes, Arendt’s emphasis on the uninvolvement of a non-participating spectator is difficult to reconcile with her formulation of the transformative possibilities that arise from speaking and acting together (7). Ronald Beiner (1982), the editor of Arendt’s Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy, reframes the issue from the perspective of Arendt’s critique of the crisis of culture. He argues that it is possible to see Arendt’s insistence on the spectator’s detachment as a way to “give meaning and dignity to the human particulars that make up historical and political events” (146). By 59 interrupting the flow of time such judgment provides “a meaning that it would otherwise lose to the movement of time. Judgment thus anchors people in a world that would otherwise lack existential reality for them” (147). Feldman claims, however, that “this dignity comes with a price: the depoliticization of the act of judgment itself” (8). The emphasis on distance places the conflicts and instabilities of politics “out there” in the realm of appearances judged, “while the act of judgment itself performs a stabilizing function, anchoring the judging self in the world” (8). This effect limits the extent aesthetic/political events can “transform the selves who come to judge by exposing internal conflicts and involving those who judge in an event of being that challenges their settled self-understanding” (8). In her novels, Kristeva overcomes some of these difficulties by engaging the reader in a “writerly” text demanding involvement, and reaches an opposite conclusion from Arendt about the potential political effect of the aesthetic text. Unlike Arendt, she does not place conflicts “out there” but rather at the very core of subjectivity, as author, actor, and reader identify with each other’s roles, forming a political and aesthetic bond. For Kristeva, in her novels, achieving the kind of representative thinking that Arendt talks about and the kind of ethical obligation and response-ability to another that Oliver proposes in her formulation of bearing witness, begins with the process of self-examination and putting into question one’s links with others. This entails the logic of return, of revolt, which is simultaneously “interrogation, recollection and thought” (2002c, 6). The subject-object divide is blurred, not only by putting oneself in the other’s shoes, but by acknowledging strangeness in the self. Narrative “play” creates the to-and- fro movement that allows for both involvement and distance, through self-estrangement. Ultimately, there is no clear distinction between actors and spectators, as in the carnivalesque. Unlike Arendt, Kristeva suggests that playing-acting is not something that the subject does occasionally as a diversion; rather performativity is part of the dynamic process of social relations that is always already there and draws the subject into its movement. The distance that Kristeva talks about is not disinterest, but a drawing back necessary 60 for self-reflection. In The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt (2000d), she states: “To write and/or to think can become, in this perspective, a constant calling into question of the psyche as well as of the world” (19). This is not in the Arendtian sense of abstracting one’s particular beliefs to arrive at a more universal level by considering the possible viewpoints of others, but rather “pushing the need for the universal and the need for singularity to the limit in each other, making the simultaneous movement the source of both thought and language” (2000d, 19). The notion of adopting multiple roles or positions can also be framed in terms of “play,” as Kristeva brings out in her study of Melanie Klein (2001d), where she describes play as the necessary condition of an inner life that must be continuously recreated. For Kristeva, following Klein, to play means to be free, in the sense that one is able to resist both the “tyrants of external reality” and the “desires of the drive”: “After Klein, free means to internalize the outside (the mother to begin with) provided that this outside allows for play and allows itself to play” (2001d, 185). This emphasis on play brings to the forefront the formative role of the mother, which allows a negotiation between external (repressive) authority and the internal driftings of dreams, desires, fantasies. In The Old Man and the Wolves, Stephanie recollects her childhood memories: “If it hadn’t been for Mother, we might have been in danger of going off the rails altogether – the Professor, my father and I. Thanks to her, it was clear that this special speech of ours was only a game, a permissible curiosity” (166). It is the maternal intervention that paves the way for the possibility of formulating (inner) life as a question, a curiosity to be investigated. It is this playful quality of thought as questioning, related to recognition of the maternal and the feminine, that characterizes Kristeva’s version of representative thinking, and ultimately her reformulation of Arendt’s notion of the political. Her version of the “enlarged mentality” involves taking into account repressed elements and marginal discourses that have been excluded or obscured, to arrive at a plurality of perspectives that grants women and foreigners the chance to “enlarge the thought” of the 61 European tradition. The women in Kristeva’s novels not only open up representative thinking to a sensorial universe, they also expose repressive ideologies and suggest alternative ways of thinking about the cultural and political crises in which they live. Detailed analysis of the novels will show that it is on the logic of revolt – return, displacement, change and transformation – that Kristeva builds this “enlargement” of thought, which is played out in subjective, cultural, and political arenas. 62 Chapter 2 The Samurai: Novel (of) Foreignness “For since he belongs to nothing the foreigner can feel as appertaining to everything, to the entire tradition, and that weightlessness in the infinity of cultures and legacies gives him the extravagant ease to innovate.” (Julia Kristeva, Strangers to Ourselves, 32) Reactions to The Samurai In the French announcements heralding the arrival of Les Samouraïs in 1990, critics wondered whether Kristeva would, or could, achieve as astounding a success on the literary scene as for her theoretical work. Many expected her first novel to offer a personal insight into the intimate lives of the Parisian intelligentsia of the ‘60s to the ‘90s. The title led some to believe it would be a response to the Sartre-Beauvoir generation, staging an encounter between fictionalized French intellectuals of Kristeva’s milieu as “Samurai” and those of an earlier period as “Mandarins.” Expectations were high, but the publication of the novel failed to fulfill many of them. One commentator for La Revue des Belles Lettres (J.-M.O. 1990, 157) complained that Kristeva offered, rather than a novel, a lamentation on “the collective suicide of thirty years of intellectual Parisian life.”21 Yet he urged his readers to forgive her, since she was also the author “of the most interesting and fascinating theoretical books, such as Black Sun, Powers of Horror, Strangers to Ourselves” (157).22 Taking a more favourable position, Bernard Fouconnier (1990) also read the novel as an echo to Simone de Beauvoir’s roman à clef, Les Mandarins (1954), yet deplored Kristeva’s unfortunate choice of the “autobiographical genre” for her first work of fiction (64).23 Josyane Savigneau’s (1990) review replayed similar ideas, suggesting that Kristeva wanted to become the witness for her generation that de Beauvoir had been for hers. In 1997, Josiane Leclerc Riboni dedicated an entire book to the analogies and (dis)connections 21 My translation. 22 My translation. 23 My translation. 63 between Les Mandarins and Les Samouraïs, suggesting how both texts tried to “engage” literature in order to present and defend the authors’ own specific social realities and intellectual concerns.24 The unfavourable French reception of Kristeva’s novel was particularly surprising when compared to mostly positive responses to her theoretical works. On the other side of the Atlantic, where her theories were even more popular, reactions ranged from biting irony and sarcasm to restrained expressions of disappointment. Most of the Anglo-American reviewers used a similar framework of comparison, finding her fiction unsatisfying as fiction and of interest only in relation to her theories, although fewer emphasized the links to de Beauvoir’s novel. Michael Levenson (1994), for instance, argued that Kristeva failed to live up to “her audacious theoretical challenges,” and accused her of “all the time remembering the other, older incarnation of a glistening intellectual” (7). Wendy Steiner (1992) launched a sarcastic attack against what she described as “Europe’s academic super-heroes” (ranging from Louis Althusser to Kristeva and Paul de Man), suggesting that Kristeva’s novel is nothing more than a reiteration of stereotypical constructions of an “infamous” European intellectual past (2).25 One exception to these negative reviews was Margaret Whitford’s (1992) thoughtful analysis of Kristeva’s depiction of her generation of intellectuals living in Paris. Although Whitford also uses Kristeva’s theoretical work to measure the success of her fiction, and finds it lacking in some respects as a novel, she proposes a reading that is attentive to how the lives of the thinkers depicted unfold in relation to their ideas. She urges readers to avoid the trap of 24 Two years before the publication of Riboni’s book, Marie-Paule Meda (1995) had already analyzed similarities between de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins and Kristeva’s The Samurai, in a doctoral dissertation defended in the French Department at the University of British Columbia. Meda also undertook a completely different approach, calling for an interpretation of The Samurai as an “auto-fiction,” which she defines as a “homodiegetic narration disguised in an extradiegetic story, where the author brushes the painting of the society, hers – [...] by assigning herself the role of witness-narrator” (191-2). Riboni’s book, on the other hand, undertakes a detailed and rigorous textual analysis of both novels, even comparing precisely the space occupied by the diaries in each novel. 25 In Steiner’s review, Althusser becomes “the insane and the criminal” who “forgot to read his Marx carefully before strangling his wife,” while Paul de Man is reminded of his “Nazi past.” Kristeva does not fare better: she is called “a semiotician of desire,” a “Maoist psychoanalyst,” and a “sentimentalist” whose heart “thrills to the cadence of the Harlequin romance” (2). 64 reductionism by limiting their reading to a mere decoding of the “keys” of the text (i.e., names, situations, intrigues, analogies with “real” life characters). Rather, she sees the fictional format as lending itself well to showing how the events are interconnected with a world of ideas, language, and passions (140). Overall, however, Kristeva’s The Samurai has not had a good press on any side of the Atlantic. While her theories have been praised, her novel has been condemned as ill-conceived, or a mere reiteration of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Mandarins. Indeed, if we take the relationship between “the Mandarins” and “the Samurai” to be the only theme of the novel, then we have to concur with the critics. We would also have to agree with Margaret Atack’s (1997, 249) observation that the fictionalisation of the French intellectuals as “Samurai” represents a critique of the Mandarins and their ideologies. Atack pointedly concludes her analysis with the remark that Kristeva’s juxtaposition of “the Samurai” and “the Mandarins” takes the focus away from other important cultural and political events discussed in the novel, such as the May ’68 events. Such juxtaposition, Atack insists, minimizes the May ’68 events to the extent that they are turned into “a pale imitation” of the French Revolution (252). One problem with the critiques based on the relationship between “the Mandarins” and “the Samurai” is that they tend to blur the broader contextual and political differences between Beauvoir’s and Kristeva’s novels. Another problem is the tendency to overlook what is specific to each novel. Carol Mastrangelo Bove (2006) provides a close reading of The Samurai, but also remains caught up in analogies with The Mandarins. She does address the controversy surrounding the publication of Kristeva’s book About Chinese Women (1986a), as does Chen (2008), whose engagement with Kristeva’s novel is more nuanced.26 The focus on Kristeva’s depiction of prominent intellectuals shared by most analysts tends to divert attention away from 26 Chen (2008) writes: “Over a twenty-five year period, the characters in the novel experience countless battles involving love, depression, maternity and disease, as they move from Paris to China to New York and back to Paris. Kristeva thus provides a study of the intellectual history of her generation in the form of a novel” (18). 65 some specific elements that will be central to my discussion, namely the role of women and of foreigners in her interrogation of the legacy of the French Revolution and of the events of May ’68. Most existing studies also marginalize the importance she assigns to both literature and psychoanalysis in examining the relationship between psychic and political life, between the individual and collective experiences of revolt/revolution. These are the aspects I will concentrate on here. The Role of Women and Foreigners in Re-Thinking the Legacy of the French Revolution By overlooking the role of women and foreigners (and women as foreigners) in the novel, one risks side-stepping Kristeva’s contribution and originality in relation to her theoretical writing, as well as failing to address another issue raised in some reviews, namely the “autobiographical” aspects of this work of fiction. The Samurai not only provides a new framework for situating some of Kristeva’s main theoretical concepts in their intellectual and political context, but by adopting the perspective of women and foreigners and acknowledging their creative and intellectual insights, it enables the author to question the legacy of the French Revolution in a new way. The focus on the viewpoint of an “outsider” from Eastern Europe brings together two European intellectual traditions, and Kristeva’s valorisation of women’s viewpoints suggests that “feminine” inquiries, reflections, and personal writings have the potential to revive a culture of revolt. The latter is reframed by placing the emphasis on singular, unconventional or dissident perceptions and discourses, and on the aptitude to care for others associated with women. Two stories unfold and intertwine in the novel, each involving a female protagonist with strong resemblances to certain aspects of Kristeva’s own life. The first, Olga Morena, is a literary student and journalist from “down there” (an Eastern European communist country), the second, Joëlle Cabarus, is a psychoanalyst. Olga arrives in Paris to conduct research on the nouveau roman, and goes on to achieve literary acclaim which takes her to Peking, then New 66 York, and back to Paris where her journey ends when she gives birth to a son, Alex. Olga’s story covers May ’68, and ends at the time of preparations for the bicentennial of the French Revolution in 1989. Central to her story is the reflexive trope of a two-fold journey. On one hand, there is her intellectual voyage through the cultural and political struggles of the Parisian intelligentsia from the ‘60s to the late ‘80s, including glimpses of Maoist China and the underground avant-garde of New York. On the other hand, there is her inner journey of self- discovery, which culminates with the realization that her brief infatuation with the Chinese Cultural Revolution was part of an on-going effort to repress her own “foreign” and “Eastern” origins. Kristeva uses the story of Olga, who finds it difficult once she is established in Paris to unproblematically claim a “European” identity, to investigate the status of the foreigner from a place of dissidence. Olga’s experiences provide a means to include femininity as part of a critical interrogation of two major features of cultural and political crisis in both Eastern and Western Europe: the rule of communism in the East, and the growth of a capitalist consumer society in the West. By presenting Olga as a young woman from Eastern Europe arriving to continue her studies in Paris, Kristeva is able to examine how the unique French intellectual milieu of the late ‘60s opened up to foreigners and particularly to dissident writers from the “East.” Simultaneously, she shows how intellectuals in the communist countries of Eastern Europe were threatened at that time with persecution for expressing any dissident ideas in public. Kristeva deploys fiction, which allows her to deal with individual cases without being overtly autobiographical, to individualize the pan-European context of this period and present examples of how foreigners and women call into question the purpose and effects of political revolution or revolt. At the same time, she suggests that other forms of more personalized revolt that rely on the aptitude for self- interrogation, recollection and thought can enable the individual to retain a sense of dignity and freedom in the face of exclusion or an oppressive regime. 67 Joëlle Cabarus, the female psychoanalyst, undertakes a more obviously introspective journey to unravel the meanings of her name, which takes her back to the time of the French Revolution. Her introspective journey takes her to the times and life of Thérésa Cabarrus (aka Madame Tallien, or “Our Lady of Thermidor”), a leading social figure during the French Revolution who became famous for influencing her husband (Jean Lambert Tallien) to join the conspiracy to oust Robespierre on July 27, 1794. The psychoanalytical reflections recorded in her journal open up a network of connections that link the events of May ‘68 to 1789. In Joëlle’s notes, Sade joins Freud to reflect on “the right to experience pleasure without killing anyone else” (136). These juxtapositions of the personal/sexual/private with the impersonal/political/public open up the meaning of “revolution” to an examination of the role of affect, desires, negativity, and various forms of violence. By drawing a tentative link between the logic of sadomasochism, which she sees as inherent in subject-formation, and the logic of collective violence inherent in political revolution, Joëlle brings into sharp focus the uneasy relationship between the disintegration of personal, private, psychic space and the transformation of shared, public, political space. Since my reading of Kristeva’s novel will focus on notions of foreignness and the feminine, the relationship between psychoanalysis and literature, and the ways in which Kristeva uses both to address the legacy of the French Revolution and the post-war condition of the female intellectual dissident, some of her theoretical texts will be highly relevant to this discussion. These include Strangers to Ourselves (1991b) and Nations without Nationalism (1993b),27 where the theme of the foreigner is central. Here I will refer to both to demonstrate two points: first, that Kristeva attributes to women the role of rethinking the relationship between foreignness and the feminine; and second, that she opens up the legacy of the French Revolution 27 Further references to Strangers to Ourselves will appear as Strangers, and further references to Nations without Nationalism as Nations. 68 to an inquiry into the role played by affect, uncanny strangeness, and negativity in both the formation of psychic life and the transformation of social relations. A critical examination of the legacy of the French Revolution is important to Kristeva, since it marked a radical break with the past, giving way to the rise of imperialism and capitalism, on the one hand, and on the other, to two totalitarian regimes, communism and Fascism. In tracing a tentative link between the Eastern European communist regime and the Western European consumer society, I will argue that Kristeva appeals to the Kantian notion of trans-national human dignity and symbolic value, an idea that shaped one aspect of the legacy of the French Revolution, to propose an alternative way of thinking about the cultural and political crisis faced by modern Europe. At the same time, it is important to remember that the French Revolution made the citizen the foundation of the French Republic and its legislation, and in doing so it excluded foreigners and women from participation in the political scene. In other words, the social and political revolution of the 1793 French Terror betrayed the very principles that made the Revolution possible (liberty and equality), while suppressing all other types of revolt which take the form of individual expression and free questioning.28 A second point is that Kristeva uses the relationship between literature and psychoanalysis to advance possible ways of rethinking questions pertaining to “European” values. “Dissident thought” becomes a privileged place from which to rethink the European tradition, and psychoanalysis serves to promote a politics of care, stressing the importance of including the universal principle of human dignity and the right to be different/dissident in a notion of human rights that inherits the contradiction between the rights of “man” (implying all humans and therefore ultimately including women and people of other races/nationalities) and the rights of the (national, native-born, male) “citizen.” 28 Kristeva develops this argument in Crisis of the European Subject (2000a, 110-112). 69 (Dis)Connections between Strangers and The Samurai In Strangers, Kristeva examines the condition of the foreigner along two lines: one historical, the other philosophical-psychoanalytical. The historical line re-constructs the figure of the foreigner during the formative course of Western tradition, beginning with the Greek tragedies, the Bible, the literature of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, up to Albert Camus’s L’Etranger (The Stranger/Outsider) published in 1942. We learn, among other things, about the origins of the notion of barbar(ian)ism, the status of foreigners in Homeric times, Hellenistic cosmopolitanism, the relationship between exile/ migration, pilgrimage, and religion. We also learn about how the theme of the foreigner was used in Renaissance literature to represent the “good savage” (a term which Rousseau also used in the 18th century) and how it underwent a metamorphosis during the Enlightenment period when it entered into philosophical fiction, with Montesquieu’s Persian Letters and Voltaire’s Zadig and Candide. With Montesquieu and Voltaire, the theme of the foreigner became predominant in philosophical fiction, being used in a double sense. On the one hand, the theme of the foreigner invited the reader to leave one’s homeland in order to explore other cultures, mentalities and political climates; on the other hand, it was used only to stage the return to the homeland and to examine “as if” from a distance, one’s own cultural, political limitations, peculiarities and inadequacies. The foreigner thus became a metaphor of the distance at which one places oneself in order to critique and “revive the dynamics of ideological and social transformations” of their homeland (134). In The Samurai Kristeva also uses the figure of the foreigner in a double sense: both as a metaphor of distance and as the one who makes a twofold journey. The twofold journey involves taking distance from herself and from the country of origin, as well as retaining a distance from the host country, to become better able to judge the limitations, peculiarities, and political ideologies and institutions of both places. The story of Olga Morena serves as a good example of 70 this twofold journey, opening up towards both a process of self-examination, self-estrangement, and to a critical interrogation of the cultural and political contexts through which she travels. The theme of the foreigner is also suggested in the title of the novel, albeit differently. “The Samurai” of the title evokes a code of ethics and a practice that are foreign to the European tradition. The title is not only that of Kristeva’s novel, but also of a children’s book that Olga writes for her son, as well as the name of the game her son plays with his father. It connotes the imaginary and the exotic, elevating physical conflict to a spiritual level, and the term unfolds at the centre of the novel, “like some hybrid flower,” caught “between the lucidity of the West and the spirituality of the East” (43). Kristeva also introduces another fictional text, Hagakure, and the Art of War, written by Dan, another dissident intellectual from Eastern Europe and Olga’s former lover, as a commentary on hybridity between Eastern and Western cultures. “European” culture is exposed as far from unified or immune to “contamination.” By inserting the “foreign” ethical code of the Samurai into the European tradition, Kristeva recognizes the centrality of death and violence, as the result of repression of the “foreignness within” by any exclusive grouping. By learning how to confront and deal with the excluded other and the return of the repressed, it is possible, Kristeva suggests, to reconfigure the relationship between “East” and “West” in terms of another politics, one that she calls “permanent conflictuality” (2002c, 11). A politics of “permanent conflictuality” in The Samurai calls for the recognition that cultural, economic, spiritual and psychological contradictions exist and that they are not “solvable.” Or as Kristeva explains later (2000d): “When one recognizes that the contradictions of thought and society are not soluble, then revolt – with its risks – appears as a continuous necessity for keeping alive the psyche, thought, and the social link itself” (144). In The Samurai, such politics of “permanent conflictuality” brings into sharp focus the fact that “East” and “West” are not homogeneous categories that can be defined only in terms of historical constructs, or unproblematically conflated with “Eastern” or “Western” Europe. The 71 emphasis on the “Samurai” code, which Kristeva uses to define both the dissident intellectuals from communist Eastern Europe and the avant-garde Parisian intellectuals, presents European identity as a heterogeneous process that insists, on the one hand, on the contamination and pluralization of the meanings of “East” and “West,” and on the other hand, on the recognition of foreign elements and ideas as central to the formation of “European” identity. At the same time, Kristeva’s reworking of the code of Samurai in such a way as to define the variants of revolt of both Eastern European dissidents and Western European avant-garde intellectuals draws attention to the dangers of appropriation of the “other” and their ideas, and how such appropriation risks erasing their context or specificity. In order to make visible this process of appropriation and exclusion, Kristeva’s politics of “permanent conflictuality” calls for bringing to the fore the logic of violence and desire for death, destructiveness, and everything that puts the very possibility of unitary meanings to the test. Kristeva’s “Samurai” call on Yamamoto, Freud, Sade, Marx, Proust, Mallarmé, Mao and others to suggest that it is only through writing, thought and representation that the logic of one’s desires and violence can be exposed, examined and interrogated. By alluding to foreignness in her title, Kristeva evokes three things: first, an investigation into the situation of the foreigner in the European context, since the cultural specificity of the French Revolution cannot be adequately addressed unless one opens up European culture to “other” forms of cultural interaction; second, that such an opening requires an examination of the ways in which one reworks or appropriates “other” cultural models in order to give a name to certain types of experience that have been excluded or repressed in the European tradition (i.e. the participation of women in the cultural and political realms), and therefore lack a discourse to represent them; third, that an investigation of foreignness at both discursive and inter-subjective levels needs to take a particular type of temporality into account, one that includes the time of childhood and the child’s relationship with the mother (and the mother-tongue). It is by 72 acknowledging various types of appropriation of the other and diverse experiences of temporality that the theme of the foreigner in Kristeva’s novel engages with the problem of self- reflexivity, which will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter. In Strangers Kristeva reminds us that the first foreigners represented in classical Greek literature were women, the Danaides, whose adventures Aeschylus recounted in The Suppliants (17), advancing the idea that women were already associated with foreignness.29 In The Samurai, Kristeva makes a direct link between Olga, the foreign woman from Eastern Europe, and the Danaides in Aeschylus’s play. It is Joëlle Cabarus who formulates the connection: “In Greek, ‘lousy foreigner’ is Barbara Kaka – I assure you, I’m not making it up, my dear lady. Aeschylus said it, and Benserade quoted it as recently as yesterday. Perhaps you knew that already, and I’m wasting my time here. Wasting, losing myself. Barbara Kaka” (69). The word “barbarian,” Kristeva explains in Strangers, was used to refer to non-Greeks, denoting their language as inarticulate and incomprehensible babble: foreigners’ speech emerged as a counterpart to the Greek logos, seen as the intelligible principle in the order of things (51). In The Samurai, Kristeva also turns the question of the foreigner into a language issue, as the non-native speaker introduces difference into the logos of the natives, slowing down by clumsiness and dissonance the fluidity and ease of the native language. The link between the extraneous position of women and foreigners in relation to language proves to be a productive place from which to rethink the European tradition in general. Kristeva uses the woman-as-foreigner to re-claim dignity and difference, in a context where the frontier between Eastern and Western Europe played an 29 By stressing the link between foreigners and women at the starting point of Greek thought, Kristeva also challenges some of the existing literature on the relationship between foreigners and the European cultural heritage. For instance, Derrida, in Of Hospitality (2000), also reflects on the question of the foreigner, reminding us that with the arrival of the foreigner, the first question was born. It is the foreigner, in Plato’s Sophist, Derrida tells us, that asks the first question. In other words, the very possibility of formulating a “question” is premised on the figure of the foreigner. Derrida establishes the question of the foreigner as a question of hospitality and hostility, in a complex discussion on the possibility or impossibility for the foreigner to participate in the life of the polis. Yet Derrida’s analysis of the foreigner leaves the question of the foreign woman unaddressed, overlooking the fact that in ancient Greece, traveling and participation in the political realm were a male privilege. Kristeva’s insistence on the link between the first foreigners and women challenges the views invoked by Derrida. 73 essential role in the definition of freedom and rights, obscuring the role of women and their participation in the cultural and political scene. In The Samurai Kristeva also uses the story of Ruth Dalloway, a Jewish mother who left the United States to help found the state of Israel, in order to suggest the idea that unity can be achieved only if a “foreign” element is recognized as an integral part of the “same.” This is a direct reference to the Biblical story of Ruth the Moabite, which Kristeva cites in Strangers as representing a woman as both a foreigner and an ancestor of the royal house of David, the founder of Judaic tradition: “Thus at the heart of sovereignty there is an inscription of a foreign femininity” (75). In The Samurai, the parallel story of Ruth Dalloway inserts the feminine as foreign at the very root of the newly formed Jewish state, providing an example of what Kristeva calls a “constant quest for welcoming and going beyond the other in oneself” (1991b, 76). It also reminds us that one aspect of the European tradition, namely its cosmopolitanism, is based on the recognition (and acceptance) of foreignness. A second line of investigation in Strangers engages with eighteenth-century philosophical, legal, and political reflections on cosmopolitanism30 by Montesquieu, Diderot and Kant, bringing them together with Freud’s notion of the uncanny to show how types of exclusion that are necessary to the formation of subjectivity and of nation-states can be reconsidered, when one recognizes the foreigner within as part of our own identity. Oliver (1993b) offers a clear explanation of why Freud’s theory enables Kristeva to explain exclusion at both the subjective and cultural/national levels: Kristeva argues that what we exclude as a society or a nation – in order to be a society or a nation – is interior to our very identity. It is our own unconscious which is projected onto those whom we exclude from our society/ nation. In this way we protect our own proper and stable identity both as individual subjects and as nation-states. Kristeva argues that when we flee or combat strangers or 30 In Strangers, Kristeva argues that Montesquieu’s cosmopolitanism can be seen as the “metaphor of political thought itself” (131). Kant’s cosmopolitanism is inseparable, in her view, from a political ethics that bases the status of the foreigner on the acknowledgement of difference inscribed “at the very heart of the universal republic” (173). In other words, Kant formulates the idea of cosmopolitics on “the notion of separation combined with union,” which Kristeva explains as a “coexistence of differences” (173). 74 foreigners, we are struggling with our own unconscious. The stranger or foreigner is within us (14). In The Samurai, Kristeva links Kant’s notion of cosmopolitanism with Freud’s notion of the uncanny in the story of Olga, to provide an example of how the foreigner can be integrated at a cultural and political level, and how such a cosmopolitics depends on the recognition of foreignness within as well as on learning how to deal with the return of the repressed (in Olga’s case the repression of her origins and of the maternal). Thus, from a psychoanalytic perspective, Kristeva explores the relationship between individual narcissism and national identity in her novel, as she did in Strangers. Freud’s notion of the uncanny acquires a political dimension when aligned with Kant’s notion of cosmopolitanism based on a universal principle of human dignity.31 Kant’s universalism, in turn becomes individualized through the creation of fictional characters. Writing as Thought The Samurai does not simply reiterate the ideas developed by Kristeva in her theoretical works. What the novel adds to Strangers is a focus on how the feminine and the role of women continue to remain repressed or obscured in both Freud’s notion of the uncanny and Kant’s notion of cosmopolitanism. In The Samurai, Kristeva attempts to reconstruct a genealogy of foreignness combined with femininity, by representing women as narrators, intellectual thinkers, and writers. Reading and writing are depicted as inseparable from thought, and when undertaken by these 31 Though I am aware that both Kant’s principle of universal dignity and Freud’s notion of a universal “uncanny” raise difficult questions, I argue that the principle of universality refers here only to a particular European context, with a paradoxical effect. On one hand, it helps to explain the cultural and political contexts that both Kant and Freud addressed, and the ways in which both accentuated the need for “universality” as a strategy to counteract the political forms of exclusion manifest in their times. Kant’s universal principle of human dignity was formulated in opposition to Herder’s idea of a Volksgeist, that led to the rise of nations and nationalism. For Freud, the “uncanny” tried to counteract the idea of an “other” or “otherness” as being on the outside, and thus, on the socio-political level, vulnerable to exclusion, discrimination and abuse. In short, both Kant and Freud tried to posit a philosophical and psychoanalytic principle of universality to counteract the socio-political realities of their times. On the other hand, if “universal” means only a “European universal” then it raises many complex questions about colonial heritage etc. 75 women they turn into creative, dissident thought about the status of the foreigner, the legacy of the French Revolution, and the crisis of European identity. Two types of writing by a woman play a central part in the narration: the first is produced by Olga, the journalist-critic who once in Paris finds an immediate “kinship” in the intellectual milieu of the Now group; the other reveals the reflections of Joëlle, who keeps a journal as an exercise in meditation and self-reflection as well as to record fragments of everyday events. Extracts from Joëlle’s diary-writing, her psychoanalytically inspired reflections, provide the beginning and the end of The Samurai, framing the novel as a self-reflective interrogation of the relationship between the stories of outsider women and their cultural and political realities. By projecting a dissident foreign woman writer (Olga) and a female psychoanalyst as the main protagonists and narrators in the novel, Kristeva further advances the idea that women’s writing/ thought can construct a narrative, a language, for types of experience that formerly remained obscured in the European tradition. These women characters return to the legacy of the French Revolution to examine its tenets, expose its repressed elements, and reflect on how they continue to shape their personal experiences intertwined with the cultural and political events of their times. The concept of writing as thought provides a framework for the encounter between literature and psychoanalysis, between Olga and Joëlle, who both emphasize feminine creativity and illustrate dissident thought that aims to be ethical, seeking creative ways to achieve what Olga calls “learning how to be different with different people” (319). The Interaction between Literature and Psychoanalysis Noelle McAfee (2004) argues that Kristeva’s dialogue between literature and psychoanalysis casts literature (i.e. creative writing from both the writer’s or reader’s perspective) as a space for “working through conflicts so that the subject [author] is not doomed to act them out” (50, italics in original). It is this process of working through, of distancing conflicts through (fictional) 76 representation, that McAfee considers as central to the role of literature and to its ethical function. She claims that “in addition to displaying the symptoms of some kind of malady of the soul, literature can be cathartic. This is certainly true for abjection” (50). Megan Becker-Leckrone (2006) also argues that the intersection of literature and psychoanalysis provides a privileged position from which to address the experience of abjection, “an experience of unmatched primordial horror, putting the subject in the most devastating kind of crisis imaginable” (20). Both Becker-Leckrone and McAfee believe that in her attempts to bring literature and psychoanalysis together around the notion of abjection, Kristeva provides a broader cultural framework for interpreting the relationship between individuals and society, in which conflicts are worked out through representation rather than acted out through violence. In The Samurai, the encounter between literature and psychoanalysis represented by Olga and Joëlle enables Kristeva to emphasize two important transformations. For Olga, the foreign woman, the question of foreignness/abjection is transformed into acknowledgement of the value of dissident thought, and for Joëlle, the “native,” it is transformed into a politics of care. In Strangers Kristeva argues that “the ethic of psychoanalysis implies a politic,” involving a “cosmopolitanism of a new sort” founded on taking into account the “foreigner within” with its unconscious “desiring, destructive, fearful” logic (198). In The Samurai, Kristeva uses psychoanalysis to provide an example of a politics of care that arises out of Joëlle’s self- reflection and interactions with others, beginning with the search for the “other” in herself. Central to the encounter between literature and psychoanalysis in The Samurai is the logic of revolt, whose movement of return, displacement and transformation implicates the two discourses in a relationship that engages the themes of the foreigner and the feminine in an open process of reflexivity and interrogation. Implication is a term that Shoshana Felman (1987) used to describe the relationship between psychoanalysis and literature, defining it as “being folded within” (17). For Felman, the aim of such an implication is to bring out the dynamic nature of 77 the text, as well as to challenge classical hermeneutic models of interpretation that set out to find “the meaning” of the text, when there is not one but many meanings. She writes: the interpreter’s role would be here, not to apply to the text an acquired science, a preconceived knowledge, but to act as a go-between, to generate implications between literature and psychoanalysis – to explore, bring to light and articulate the various (indirect) ways in which the two domains do indeed implicate each other, each one finding itself enlightened, informed, but also affected, displaced by the other (17-8). While Felman’s definition of implication emphasizes the ways in which these two domains are engaged in an intertextual dialogue, expanding on and transforming each other, in The Samurai implication also involves a process of reflexivity, as Kristeva uses psychoanalysis to critique the limitations of the “revolutionary” literary ideals of Olga and her cosmopolitan intellectual group. Joëlle’s version of psychoanalysis as a politics of care emerges as a reflection on and alternative to Olga’s version of literature as a cosmopolitics of singularity. Pivotal to their interaction is the figure of the foreigner, and women play a central role in reconfiguring the foreigner’s place in European cultural memory. Feminist Interpretations of the Foreigner Kristeva’s ideas on the foreigner generated many critical responses particularly from Anglophone feminist critics. For instance, McAfee (1993) aligns Kristeva’s theories of foreignness in relation to abjection with Heidegger’s notion of nothingness, in order to propose a model for an ethics of difference and examine the ontological underpinnings of Kristeva’s formulation of an “ethics of respect.” McAfee effectively demonstrates that in Kristeva’s analysis the foreigner “performs a necessary function for subjectivity and political identity” (117). She nevertheless remains skeptical about Kristeva’s analysis of exclusion and proposals for change that involve the recognition of foreignness within, since they do not elaborate on how it can subvert nationalism or other forms of collective extremism. Yet McAfee concludes that it is positive to recognize that the foreigner “presents an opportunity and not an abyss” (132). 78 Norma Claire Moruzzi (1993) is less convinced by Kristeva’s theories about foreignness, and argues that Kristeva’s analyses blindly avoid any discussions of race and racism, although she refers to texts and contexts where race and colonialism are implicated at various levels. For instance, Kristeva’s psychoanalytic discussion of Camus’s The Stranger, in which the main protagonist, Meursault, is a “modern colonial,” a “pied noir in Algeria” (137), ignores the implications of Meursault’s political and social circumstances. Moruzzi writes: In her discussion of Meursault, Kristeva’s emphasis on the psychoanalytic (the person and the language of his story) elides the political; in her larger discussion, her choice of texts is surprisingly canonical, so that what is missing, estranged from her own texts, is not a discussion of formal politics, but an acknowledgement of racial configurations (138-9). In Moruzzi’s view, part of the problem with Kristeva’s analysis lies in her return to an Enlightenment conception of the subject that poses a real challenge to her desire to valorize foreignness and heterogeneity. There is certainly some justification for Moruzzi’s complaint that Kristeva leaves out specific discussion of race and racism in Strangers, and her return to the Enlightenment period does risk subverting the potential of her notion of the foreigner. However, I argue that it is precisely this return to the Enlightenment project and to the legacy of the French Revolution that allows Kristeva, in The Samurai, to anchor the theme of the foreigner to the Kantian transnational principle of universal dignity. By doing so, she challenges the perception of foreignness as primarily an issue of economic and political concern, and opens it up to the cultural realm, attributing a symbolic dignity to it. Ziarek (1995) also argues for the importance of recognizing the liminal figure of the foreigner as having the potential to subvert the homogeneity of a national identity: “Fracturing the imagined unity of the national body, the figure of the foreigner – a supplementary double of the Enlightenment’s political rationality – anticipates the Freudian ‘logic’ of the uncanny” (2). She explains that the Freudian uncanny arises from a specific historical formation of the 79 Enlightenment, and emerges as “the obverse side of the modern subject and its scientific, secular rationality” (4). She claims that the uncanny can be understood as the obverse of another legacy of the Enlightenment: the dissolution of religious communities and subsequent formation of modern nation-states (4). In Ziarek’s view, this plural signification of the figure of the foreigner opens up a new understanding of the relationship between psychic space and the transformation of social space, in such a way as to take into consideration the political violence of nationalism and xenophobia. Ziarek’s analysis of Kristeva’s discussion of the uncanny emphasizes the ambivalent role of affectivity in the formation of nationality, arguing that “the national bond is inseparable from the negativity of the uncanny” (6). This emphasis on ambivalence and heterogeneity in the process of national identification is what Kristeva (1991b, 9) uses to posit an “ethics of respect” for alterity. In other words, the turn to ethics emerges as a call for “the transformation of this affect – of the political love haunted by the hatred of the other – into respect for alterity” (9). Ziarek’s analysis of the uncanny is important since it allows us to understand the ambivalence and liminality of the figure of the foreigner in Kristeva’s work, while calling attention to the ambivalent role of affectivity and of negativity at work in the relationship between psychic and social space. In analyzing The Samurai, I will add an emphasis on how the uncanny emerges as a confrontation between the feminine and the death drive, which Kristeva employs in the story of Olga to rethink the condition of the foreigner in a cosmopolitan context. I suggest that by revealing repressed femininity as the basis of the relationship between the foreigner and cosmopolitics, Kristeva develops in The Samurai an ethics premised not only on respect for alterity but also on the recognition of the feminine (foreignness) within. In the next section that begins my more detailed analysis of the novel, I argue that Olga’s experience of motherhood effects a shift away from the politics of engagement to the dynamics of subjective revolt; the latter emerges as an inquiry into the meaning of childhood as well as of 80 giving birth, of links with others. In the second section, “Foreigners Outside: The Paradoxical Logic of the French Revolution,” I trace a tentative line to connect Olga’s Eastern European intellectual formation with Kant’s notions of hospitality, cosmopolitics, and the principle of universal dignity, in order to argue that it is her intellectual adherence to this particular aspect of the Enlightenment project that allows Olga to find a spontaneous kinship with the Parisian members of the Now group (the thinly disguised Tel Quel group). Central to my analysis is the notion of revolt as dissident thought, which I see as offering a certain form of cohesion between the Eastern European Olga and the Western members of the Now group. However, although Olga’s belief in the principles of universal dignity, cosmopolitics, and dissident thought does allow her to find a space that accommodates both her condition as a foreigner and her intellectual contribution, it does not help her to come to terms with her “foreignness within.” In “Psychoanalysis as a Politics of Care,” I consider the ways in which Kristeva uses psychoanalysis to address the paradoxical legacy of the French Revolution inherited from Enlightenment thinkers, and to reflect on Olga’s trip to China and her naïve belief in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. My underlying argument is that through Joëlle’s politics of care Kristeva offers an example of how psychoanalysis can be considered as contributing to the reconfiguration of the relationship between the personal and the political. I. Foreignness Within: The Search for “Lost Time” Kristeva proposes an understanding of the European context that includes recognition not only of the rights of foreigners in nation states but also of the continuous presence of the “other” within the individual or collective “self.” Olga’s story serves to illustrate the intersection of these two elements, linking the subjective (memory as personal, auto-bio-graphical, related to family dynamics and sexuality) and the cultural (memory as historical, political, European), with shifts in allegiance at both levels depending on language use as well as geographical mobility. 81 The Journey to China as a Quest for Anti-Origins/ Otherness in the Self By telling Olga’s story, Kristeva finds a framework to explain her own journey to China as indicating a failure to acknowledge her intellectual adherence to France and French culture as part of an effort to free herself from her origins, from childhood memories, the communist regime, and her mother-tongue. In her reflections on her Chinese experience, Olga explains her flight from her origins in abstract philosophical terms that construe foreignness as only a symbolic construction: In short, Olga's ultraphilosophical education seemed to have taught her that origins, roots, are a kind of inevitable atavism, and that a person is civilized to the extent that he can do away with them. This being so, her experience as a foreigner was an opportunity to cast off her origins, or even to forget them (147, my italics). In Nations, Kristeva explains that our relationship to our origins can produce paradoxical effects. On one hand, it can lead to “hatred of those who do not share my origins and who affront me personally, economically and culturally” (2-3). On the other, the origins may be rejected, by those who “repress their roots, who do not know where they come from,” who think that “they can settle matters by fleeing” (3-4). Thus there are two opposite reactions to the state of being a foreigner, depending on a person’s attitude to detachment from a lost space/past. In Strangers, Kristeva posits two irreconcilable categories: the advocates of emptiness, who agonize between what has been lost and what will never be (10), and those who attempt to transcend their condition, living “neither before nor now but beyond,” and by doing so risk remaining forever unsatisfied (10). They tend to concentrate all their efforts on doing something that keeps them away from remembering their condition, such as pursuing “an occupation, a love, a child, a glory” (10). Olga belongs to this category, and China emerges for her as a quest for “anti- origins,” as she explains: “So China became a kind of antiorigin: the most profound and ancestral one possible with its slant-eyed forebears, but also utterly strange, and therefore 82 painless, impersonal, uncolored by childhood memories; just a jigsaw made up of mirages” (147, my italics). This image evokes Olga's flight from her origins as an example of what Kristeva calls in Strangers “the actor's paradox”: multiplying masks and “false selves” without being “true” or “false” to anything but the performance itself (48). For Olga, China represents an opportunity to play out the actor’s paradox, the scene of “a theater of identities,” where she comes to realize that “she was a true actress: nothing was true but the play” (147). This acknowledgement leads to a questioning of her desire to be assimilated into French culture: For a long time France had been a China to her, and she knew exile could be liberation. She hadn’t become really integrated, though, and she knew she never would be, even if she became the mother of a dozen little Frenchmen. But the events of May had revived her liking for the incongruous. And the incongruous, for Olga, was first and foremost Olga herself (146, my italics). As Olga begins to address her feelings of incongruity, she starts an inner journey of self- interrogation that turns into a search for “lost time:” (….) now this hunger was changing into self-questioning. Not 'Who am I?” but more meditatively, more intellectually: ‘What are the extravagances, the chinoiseries, I feel within myself but cannot formulate? How is it you can write things you can't say? How is it a woman may be invisible, ignored and repressed (by Confucius) and yet essential and even all-powerful (in the Tao)? Isn't a mother always a kind of China – eternal and unknowable?’ (147, my italics). What Olga is looking for, in her attempt to understand the experience of Chinese women, is a confrontation with the unnamable/unknowable feminine/maternal. In French, “Chinese” represents everything that is incomprehensible, strange or uncanny: “What can be more ‘Chinese’ – in the French sense of strange, absurd, quirky – than China?” (146). On realizing that it was repression of the feminine/ foreignness within her self that took her to China on a supposedly intellectual journey of discovery, Olga begins to formulate a way out from the “atavism of origins,” through a continuous interrogation of her narcissistic projections, of her desire to “connect” with others because of her internal “emptiness”. 83 Revolt as Heterogeneous Temporality Kristeva describes Olga’s process of self-interrogation in terms of the logic of revolt, founded (as discussed earlier) on return, recollection, and thought. She invokes Nietzsche’s idea of an “eternal return” to advance the metaphor of a journey of retrospection and recollection that opens up a heterogeneous conception of temporality: You may think you are going away, but a journey is always an eternal return. And while certain brief hallucinations make us think the place we’re in isn’t new but the recurrence of a landscape familiar to us from another life – an impossible life, delightful, stormy, and forgotten - with the exception of such experiences the eternal return operates in the dimension of time, not space. Thus, when a journey reaches a peak of pleasure or disgust, the time in which it operates becomes circular and turns you in upon yourself (193, my italics). This heterogeneous experience of temporality evokes another time, associated with childhood memories and maternal space. By connecting Olga’s search for “lost time” to metaphysical and literary traditions that run from Heraclitus to Nietzsche, and include Borges as well as Proust, Kristeva suggests an analogous process of repression of the feminine/maternal in both individual/subjective and cultural/collective/ self-formation. As Olga reflects on the cyclical nature of “woman’s time,” she projects maternity into the future (of giving birth) as well as acknowledging her own childhood: “An eternal return that transforms the abjectness of hope and the pathos of despair into the brief equilibrium of childhood. And into adult's ordinary yet mysterious power to engender a child. What does that mean?” (194-5). It means, if we follow Kristeva’s later explanation (2002c, 29) that she formulates this other logic of temporality in contrast to the Greek conception of time as coextensive with consciousness and thought. Kristeva’s conception of time gives primacy to the role of language as essential to subjective consciousness in language, concluding that “there is time because there is language” (2002c, 29). Olga recalls Heraclitus’s comments on time in relation to language: Heraclitus encumbered posterity – and eternity – with thousands of translations of the same sentence, all of them possible and unsatisfactory. 'Time is a child who behaves like a child and plays.'... So time behaves like a child, and like a child it may throw away the dice, the pawns, the balls, the kites, the computers. And start all over again. But what else? (194). 84 By turning to a psychoanalytic conception of time, Olga goes on to challenge the logocentrism of the concept of consciousness/time (as) language and chronology by incorporating a pre- psychical/maternal time that evokes the semiotic and the presence of the death drive from the moment of birth. Olga proposes a conception of time that includes both the relationship with the maternal and the unbinding force of the death drive: “(…) in the supreme game where we play at being parents though deep down we're still children, we don't mention death even though it's implicitly in charge. For what matters is that the game should go on, and that should include death” (194-5, my italics). Heraclitus kept death and childhood separate, and his metaphor of time as a child that plays eliminates any maternal presence. Olga asks: “Was Heraclitus haunted by matriarchy? But the idea of the eternal return as a child’s play engendering children removes the tragic aspects of procreation and, without either degrading or glorifying it, gives it the serious insignificance of all children’s games” (195, my italics). Through Olga’s reflections Kristeva conveys a revalorization of foreignness and femininity in relation to time, from the perspective of a woman-foreigner preoccupied with maternity in relation to death. Like Freud, Kristeva uses confrontation with death to reveal the mechanism of repression and the way uncanny strangeness is generated. In Strangers, Kristeva explains that the representation of this confrontation is “initially imperative, for our unconscious refuses the fatality of death” (185). She writes: The fear of death dictates an ambivalent attitude: we imagine ourselves surviving (religions promise immortality), but death just the same remains the survivor's enemy, and it accompanies him in his new existence. Apparitions and ghosts represent that ambiguity and fill with uncanny strangeness our confrontations with the image of death (185, my italics). In The Samurai, Kristeva writes something similar: “the dead accompany the generations and urge them on” (194), but goes further to suggest that the recognition of this confrontation with death and its integration into collective cultural memory is what creates “civilization”: “Death,” 85 Armand (alias Barthes) says, is what “makes civilizations” (170). Moreover, Kristeva links the confrontation of death with the feminine, suggesting that at both subjective and cultural levels, reconsideration of the condition of being a foreigner relies on recognition of the feminine/ foreignness within. Kristeva concludes Olga’s journey of investigation into the question of foreignness with Olga’s giving birth to a baby boy, Alex. This evocation of the experience of maternity allows Kristeva to return to her earlier elaboration of the Kantian notion of freedom as a “spontaneous beginning.” Parturition as a transitory space between the biological and the cultural opens up the Kantian notion of the universal principle of dignity and freedom to the symbolic importance of maternity: giving birth can be seen as the basis for an ethic of respect for the unnamable foreignness within, a subjective and cultural manifestation of the other-in-the-self. Kristeva also links Olga’s experience of maternity to the logic of revolt, not in the form examined elsewhere as resistance and subversion of totalitarian and ideological regimes, but in the form of continuing movement between the self-as-mother and the other-as-child. This movement engenders a corporeal and sensorial transformation which amounts to a veritable transubstantiation, as Olga tells us in reflecting on her experience as a mother: Time recovered. You have opened the present to me: events have no more weight since you've existed... (317)... My own childhood only comes back if you give me signs of it, your reminders only revive my memory in order to please you, there are two of us in my story now, and that's the very reason it exists, and I give it to you if it can help you to come toward me, hear me, speak to me. And you've turned the future into a riddle: it's not a plan anymore. ... the future takes the form of a life that I accompany with trust and anguish. ... you've reconciled me with another future: to slowness, surprise, to the strange and so brief happiness... to the awaiting that awakens and cures (318). I'm not in a hurry. I'm not going anywhere. We're going to take all the time that's necessary to solve the riddle of life together. We will continue it in our own way.... (318)... I myself don't move anymore, my migration has a new meaning. Thanks to you I travel in the time of a memory looking back and forward, I'm not even sure it's mine, for your smell, your cries, your tastes graft unknown worlds on me. ... I inhabit the fantasies of another, you reshape my memories and my words just as you reshaped my body, I'm learning now how to be different with different people, starting with you… (319, my italics). 86 Olga’s reflection on the experience of maternity emerges in contrast to the European philosophical tradition since Heraclitus, whose conception of childhood excluded both the maternal and any confrontation with death. At the same time, it adds to the Kantian formulation of cosmopolitics the logic of introspection, an aptitude for interrogation, recollection and re/volt (turning around) that looks “back and forth” in an attempt to learn “to be different with different people” (319). Giving birth illustrates the emergence of the individual other from within the individual self, the need for the mother to let go of part of oneself as it becomes separate. Migration represents a reverse phenomenon, a collective reaction to the insertion of foreign others who may be more or less assimilatable into the collective self. The individual foreigner abandons his/her maternal origins and faces a demand to become something else by wearing a mask, or risks remaining abject, the unacceptable outsider within the collective whole. II. The Foreigner Outside: The Paradoxical Logic of the French Revolution In The Samurai Kristeva uses the story of Olga to reflect on the condition of being a woman intellectual/mother and a foreigner in France, while at the same time examining the legacy of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.32 Here I will consider more closely the paradoxical tenets of the French Revolution through Olga’s projective identification with Kant’s trans-national principle of universal dignity. Obviously, Kristeva incorporates many autobiographical elements into her depiction of Olga’s fascination with the Chinese Cultural Revolution, including her relationship with the militant feminist group psych & po, which led to the publication of her controversial book About Chinese Women. Negative Anglo-American feminist reactions to that text, in particular Spivak’s charge of Eurocentrism, must be seen as part of a critique not only of Western colonialism but of a French intellectual dominance that Kristeva is seen to have chosen although in fact she felt excluded. 32 Further references to the Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen will appear as Declaration. 87 The Paradoxical Tenets of the French Revolution As already mentioned, in Strangers Kristeva analyses the terminological slippage from “man” to (male, native-born) “citizen” that excluded foreigners and women from participating in the political scene: with the result that, “The spreading of the French Revolution’s ideas over the continent triggered the demand for the national rights of peoples, not the universality of mankind” (151). Yet this result was opposed to the principles of respect for universal dignity, personal freedom, and the singularity of individual experience, which gave rise to parallel efforts to accommodate foreigners and foreignness at the heart of institutions which legally threatened to exclude them. In The Samurai, Kristeva turns to this aspect of the French Revolution that emphasizes Kant’s principle of universal dignity, hospitality and cosmopolitics, to provide a framework for understanding Olga’s story. It is Olga’s belief in the principle of universal dignity that allows her initially to experience a sense of belonging to French cultural memory, of sharing a “spontaneous kinship” with the members of the Parisian group Now. Yet her previous reading of French books in her Eastern European homeland had produced a textual/imaginary cultural memory that proved to be at odds with the material and political reality of the City of Lights. As a result, upon her arrival in Paris, Olga is confronted by an incongruity between her expectations and what she sees, which brings out the two conflicting aspects of the legacy of the French Revolution and of the “universal” Enlightenment project. One of the implications of Olga’s criticism of the City of Lights, which has been reduced to “nothing more now than merchandise being contemplated by the deification of merchandise” (13), is that the society of consumption has led to the homogenization of individual and collective differences, stifling the capacity for singular forms of expression. Olga is presented as a young journalist, who “down there” had the courage to publish “passionate and severe” articles, seen as threatening in the eyes of the communist regime. Such rebellious acts were 88 punished by long hours of interrogation or even incarceration, and Olga remembers how her family feared for her safety: “Her parents began to be frightened again, and to listen anxiously for the sound of the elevator in the small hours. Was it ‘them,’ the officials, coming to haul them off to some interrogation or – who knows – some camp?” (8-9). For Olga, living in a repressive totalitarian regime, the only way to maintain a margin of freedom and create connections with others across geographic boundaries and national ideologies was through textual connections. This margin of freedom became synonymous with dignity, when freedom of movement and expression was suspended and replaced by fear and anxiety. Dissidence as Revolt In her depiction of Olga as a foreign woman and dissident intellectual, Kristeva invokes some of the main arguments developed in her 1977 article “A New Type of Intellectual: The Dissident.” In her brief introduction to Kristeva’s article, Toril Moi (1986) considers it an important example of Kristeva’s political thought in the late 1970s, arguing that her description of a new politics of marginality, exemplified in the figure of the intellectual dissident, has the potential to “spearhead a certain kind of subversion of Western bourgeois society” (292). A re-examination of some of Kristeva’s main arguments in that article may help to clarify the connections she proposes in The Samurai between exile, dissidence, criticism of the society of consumption, and recourse to the principle of universal dignity. Kristeva (1986b) argues that a breakdown in the value system that formed the backbone of the European tradition before the French Revolution led to the advent of both Fascism and Stalinism, as well as contemporary consumerism. In other words, Kristeva laments the crisis of the European tradition that since the French Revolution led to what she later (2002c) called the “normalizing and falsifiable” new world order (4). In her opinion, this crisis can be addressed only if an essential component of European culture – whose “antecedents lie in Cartesian doubt 89 and Hegelian negativity, the Freudian unconscious and the avant-garde” (2000d, 7) – is re- examined and revived. For that to happen, one needs to take into account the role of the intellectual: So far, only bitterness and regret have been felt over the crisis in social groups, the decline of the family and the nation, or religion and the State (as seen in the difficulties seen in the paternal function), or the codes of sublimation and law, and the ensuing advent of Fascism and Stalinism. There has been no radical analysis of the symbolic and political causes of these phenomena, let alone a fundamental questioning of the relationship of the individual to the masses, and a fortiori, of the intellectual to society (1986b, 293, italics in original). For Kristeva, the intellectual has a responsibility to take on a response to this crisis of the European tradition and analysis of its causes, by spearheading a type of political and cultural dissidence. She claims that “A spectre haunts Europe: the dissident” (1986b, 295), whose task is to defend the political value of individual forms of expression and call into question the identity and language of individuals and groups in a “fight against all power, beliefs and institutions” (295). She distinguishes three types of dissident: 1) the rebel who attacks political power; 2) the psychoanalyst who, through his/her analysis of the dialectic of law and desire, tries to distance himself/herself from religion; and 3) the experimental writer who puts into question the law of the symbolic order (295). Kristeva adds that exile or migration is itself a form of dissidence, since “it involves uprooting oneself from a family, a country or a language” (298). In addition to these three groups, there is the dissidence of the feminine, of women, who from their marginal positions are well placed to challenge the symbolic order and assess the crisis of tradition: “This female exile in relation to the General and to Meaning is such that a woman is always singular, to the point where she comes to represent the singularity of the singular – the fragmentation, the drive, the unnameable” (296). In commenting on Kristeva’s views on dissidence, Sjoholm (2004) argues that, by claiming femininity as dissidence, Kristeva presents “her extreme view of the political as singularity, rejecting all formations of negotiated bonds as sacrificial and as alienating for political subjectivity” (47). Sjoholm’s point is important since it reinforces the 90 political value of the female intellectual, while at the same time stressing femininity itself as dissidence, as a form of singularity, of non-conformity to a male model, and capable of undermining ossified socio-political bonds. For Kristeva, the kind of dissidence she is calling for may be “singular,” but it is never possible in isolation. It requires “ceaseless analysis, vigilance and will to subversion, and therefore necessarily enters into complicity with other dissident practices in the modern Western world” (1986b, 299). What distinguishes intellectual dissidence is the imperative of adopting an analytical position, “For true dissidence today is perhaps simply what it has always been: thought.” She adds, “Now that Reason has become absorbed by technology, thought is tenable only as an ‘analytic position’ that affirms dissolution and works through differences” (299, italics in the original). We can see that Kristeva’s analysis of intellectual dissidence prefigures her notion of revolt, which she later (2002c, 6) defines as the aptitude for thought as a re-turn, simultaneously recollection of the past and interrogation of the present and future. Her emphasis on the singularity of individual experience, in her analysis of both dissidence and revolt, further reinforces analogies that become evident in Kristeva’s construction of Olga’s story. The Cosmopolitics of the Now Group Kristeva’s representation and analysis of dissidence reveals two important aspects: first, that Olga’s dissidence is a form of thought that has political implications; and second, that her form of dissidence as thought is attuned to other dissident practices that call into question a rationalist, universalist concept of Europe. It is their common engagement with revolt as dissident thought that produces a form of cohesion between the Eastern European Olga and the Western members of the Now group. In so far as this cohesion lasts, it provides an example of the formulation of a pan-“European” identity, not in terms of national and geographic belonging or border-crossing, but as a shared interrogation based on self-reflection, self-estrangement, and intellectual 91 nomadism. A sense of belonging across national boundaries and different ideological and political regimes arises from their cosmopolitan reading practices. As Olga observes: “They’d all read the same books” (18), with the result that they feel “as if they’d all lived together since they were children” (18), and she can temporarily forget her uprootedness. Olga’s integration into the Now group (like Kristeva’s into Tel Quel) is possible because of a very specific French context. The French participants are interested in her because she comes from Eastern Europe, rather than in spite of that fact, at a time when interest in socialist models was high, and the communist experience (especially in China) was dangerously elevated to a utopian myth. As Olga remarks, “they [the Now group] were less interested in the ‘Stalinist error’ than in what they called the ‘groundswell,’ the ‘wind from the East’, which they tended to elevate into a myth” (18). Their interest arises from a desire for an alternative to the French consumer society’s increasing pursuit of the accumulation of goods to the exclusion of all else, as suggested by Olga’s observation of people’s preparations for Christmas: “Gift-wrapped packages politely following automatic trajectories, slumped like shapeless old raincoats” (17). The critique of a capitalist society that turns citizens into amorphous and anonymous consumers is reinforced at meetings of the group, where they draw inspiration from the “origins of the Revolution” (18). Olga remains sceptical: “They made idols out of the ‘origins of the Revolution’ and ‘aesthetic avant-gardes,’ probably to bring out the contrast with the gift- wrapped packages they saw all around them” (18). Her personal experience of an absence of consumer goods and ominous presence of communist control ensures a certain distance from the thinking of the French intellectuals, in spite of their “kinship.” She is an outsider within, a dissident among dissidents. Olga also refers positively to the “origins of the Revolution,” acknowledging that aspect of the Enlightenment that tended towards an internationalist spirit based on the principles of hospitality and universal dignity. The Kantian notion of cosmopolitics as an example of “just 92 political action” (19) appears in contrast to both consumerism and the totalitarian regime “down there.” The group’s “clandestine space” is presented as a challenge to all norms, a “port or haven that was cosmopolitan and yet uniquely French, perhaps simply Parisian in its liveliness, casualness, and gaiety” (19). It becomes a kind of political laboratory where the Now group test the ideas of the “idols of the origins of Revolution” (19). However it soon becomes apparent that their forms of contestation are somewhat artificial, as Olga remarks, creating a temporary utopia “in the midst of incomprehension, indifference, and hostility….” (19). At the same time, this haven provides a space for Olga’s projective identification, which emerges initially as an expression of free subjectivity, only to be later questioned, doubted and re-examined. Olga’s self-reflection and interrogation bring her face-to-face with her denial of her origins and of her difference. A few days after her arrival in Paris, Olga believes that all she has is “white pages to be offered to all sorts of experiences” (18). She erases her past and her mother-tongue and undergoes a transformation that she describes as bordering on complete emptiness, on an absolute sense of freedom: “She doesn’t have consciousness or sensation (of being brutal or greedy). Free. Empty.… Her memory started to tone down… She was ready to translate it. To betray it. The agility of the body and soul without weight” (18). She feels totally free from her ties to her family and from her former lover, Dan, and yet this sense of freedom is short-lived and soon appears as a kind of mirage. She begins to feel a profound sense of solitude, of discomfort, that becomes a litmus test for her capacity to engage with her intellectual work. It is at this point that Olga learns how to transform her solitary freedom and feelings of unease into reading, writing, and learning (57). Yet she continues to remain dis-engaged from her past, a denial which betrays a failure to question the foundation and implications of her “spontaneous” relationships with the Now group, and to examine her own intellectual and cultural bonds. 93 Maoism: A Failed Revolt? Olga’s refusal to engage in retrospective thought and acknowledge her own negative experience of communism allows her to share the Now group’s fascination with the Chinese Cultural Revolution, in the period following the events of May ’68. Those events contributed to the end of a purely intellectual interest in socialism and Marxist theory, and turned towards questions of human rights and anti-totalitarian discourses. The Maoist Cultural Revolution emerged as a counterbalance to the failures of communism in the Eastern European countries, as we learn from Olga’s reflections: The wind from the East was sweeping away bureaucracy and urging the young to oppose all the ossified establishments. The whole world was turning in the same direction: the Taoist anarchism now advocated by hundreds of millions of Chinese was being seen by the Paris rebels as an example for the next millennium. Were they rioters? Dogmatists? ... The Maoists are spontaneists who want everything – in other words, the impossible (96, my italics). There is a striking similarity between what the Now group sees as Mao’s focus on spontaneity and Kant’s notion of freedom, characterized by the capacity to spontaneously begin something anew. In her discussion of the turn to Maoism, Kristeva gives us a sense not only of the political climate of the early ‘70s, but also a framework for understanding the background to her earlier work, most notably “The Atomistic Subject of Practice in Marxism.”33 That essay’s main arguments are replayed in Olga’s efforts to frame Maoism in terms of a theory of subjectivity that emphasizes personal experience. It is Maoism’s conception of a subject caught up in continuous contradictions that shape social history that provided the inspiration for Kristeva’s own formulation of the “subject-in-process”: ‘Direct’ and ‘personal’ experience is perhaps stressed in Mao’s writings more than anywhere else in Marxist theory and Mao’s emphasis on it tends to bring to the fore a subjectivity that has become the place of the ‘highest contradiction’… Maoism, it would seem, summons and produces above all this kind of subjectivity, one that it views as the driving force behind the practice of social change and revolution ((1984b, 200-1). 33 “The Atomistic Subject of Practice in Marxism” is a chapter in Revolution in Poetic Language (1984b). 94 It is this formulation of personal subjective experience as the basis for social and political transformation that is attractive to Olga. As a foreigner, despite her intellectual ties to the members of the Now group she remains painfully aware that her inner experience, her subjectivity, does not count in the eyes of the others except as an object of “intellectual curiosity.” In Olga’s view, which reiterates Kristeva’s own position, Maoism presented itself as an opportunity to continue her critique of repressive ideologies, which began “down there.” Her criticism is aimed at both communism and the consumer capitalism she discovers in Paris, since both stifle the singularity of individual experience. At the same time, supporting Maoism was also seen as an opportunity to further the political value of dissidence as thought, while incorporating personal experience into what Kristeva (1986b, 293) called the “fundamental questioning” of a the rationalist, universalist concept of Europe as a whole. Olga’s fascination with Maoism takes her and a few other members of the Now group on a three-week journey to China, in an attempt to better understand how Maoist theories are put into practice, and in her case specifically how this practice foregrounds and affects women’s lives. Olga believes that the Maoist focus on inner experience as the motor of social transformation included openness towards women’s contributions, and intertwined with a revaluing of the personal, including women’s experiences. Like Kristeva, Olga privileges the role of women in her own critique of the crisis facing the European tradition, and brings together the feminine and foreignness to question the foundation of that tradition. In seeking to assert the political value of the feminine, and especially of the inner experience of motherhood, as well as foreignness (within or without) as essential to dissidence and critical thought, Olga as narrator/character asserts the authority of personal, subjective experience, author-ized by Kristeva in her non-fictional writings. 95 Feminism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution As for Kristeva, Olga’s interest in feminism emerges at the same time as her fascination with Maoism, and can be explained in terms of her continuing desire to assert the political value of the feminine. Olga’s visit to China has a specific purpose, to fulfill a commission from a militant feminist group (based on psych & po) to write a book on Chinese women. The outcome proves to be a failure, since Olga’s heterogeneous representation of Chinese women conflicts with the demands of the militant feminist group, who want to confirm a feminine essence as revolutionary per se. The divergence becomes manifest in a dialogue between Olga and the feminist leader: I put in different points of view on the subject. I'm not competent to give a final opinion.’ ‘That's what I mean -you don't commit yourself!’ ‘What about intellectual integrity,’ Olga inquired. ‘That's nothing to do with it: if you are a woman you feel these things inside you’ (181). Despite Olga’s declared intention to offer a range of views on and of Chinese women, her efforts are subverted because of her projective identification with the cosmopolitan Parisian milieu on one hand, and with the Chinese Cultural Revolution on the other. Since Olga’s experience is emblematic of Kristeva’s, in what follows, I will address some of the Anglo-American responses to her book, About Chinese Women (1986a), to ask whether or not the charge of Eurocentrism can be justifiably applied to Kristeva’s/Olga’s perception and representation of Chinese women. Oliver (1993a) correctly observed that Kristeva, in her representation of the image of Chinese women, offered in fact a subjective reflection of herself: “she sees herself in those little red guards and those high cheekbones of the silent women of China because it was only herself for whom she was looking” (135, my italics). In a compelling manner, Oliver argues that Kristeva uses her own foreignness (Bulgarian) to better allow her to foreground the Parisian voice: “when we do see the shadow of the Bulgarian it is only to more distinctly foreground the Parisian voice. In her account of Chinese women, when Kristeva recognizes herself in them, she also recognizes herself superior to them” (135). Oliver’s argument brings us to Spivak’s (1981) 96 well-known critique of Kristeva’s representation of Chinese women in relation to foreignness as a form of “naturalization transformed into privilege” (163). Not only does Spivak question Kristeva's epistemic privilege in her investigation of Chinese women, which she sees as a first-world feminist intervention and appropriation of Third World women (164), but she also claims that Kristeva relies on the binary logic of opposition between East (in this case China) and West (Europe). According to Spivak, Kristeva reproduces Orientalist stereotypes, offering a generalized view of history, and her attitude can at best be understood as “colonial benevolence” (161). While Spivak asks whether Kristeva's representation of Chinese women is the product of a specifically French intellectual context, and doubts whether the doctrines of French “High Feminism” are applicable outside that context (164), she also insists in the end that the difference between “French” and “Anglo-American” feminism is “superficial” (179). Instead, she argues, we need to shift the focus away from formulating the differences between Western feminists, to ask the question “Who is the other woman? How am I naming her? How does she name me?” (179). In Spivak's view, Kristeva fails to let the “other” woman speak. Ironically, Spivak ultimately seems to re-enact precisely what she blames Kristeva for: decontextualization, and an unproblematic appropriation of the “other” woman's position. In other words, Spivak chooses to ignore Kristeva's own explanations that precede the question cited above, which is criticized at length in her essay. In her Introductory Note to About Chinese Women, Kristeva does in fact call attention to the impossibility of writing about Chinese women in a manner that is free of colonial condescension, and the risk of appropriation, of stereotyping the other's image. She addresses the pitfalls of speaking “with” or “against” China, of “proving that the Chinese are like us, against us, or to be ignored” (12). She comments: “To write “for” or “against”: the old trick of the militant committed to maintaining his position.... what is lost is the chance that the discovery of ‘the other’ may make us question ourselves about what, here and 97 now, is new, scarcely audible, disturbing” (12-3). Further, Kristeva also casts a critical glance at her own position as a first-world intellectual on a journey to investigate and represent Chinese women’s experiences: “…. molded as I am by universalist humanism, proletarian brotherhood, and (why not) false colonial civility” (13). Drawing attention to the dangers of the desire to analyze or even exhaust the meaning of “China,” Kristeva acknowledges the need to reflect on her own position, her own epistemic privilege, to interrogate her own form of investigation, and she demonstrates an ethical concern for the “knowledge” she may produce about the Chinese women she sees. She forestalls Spivak’s accusation, when she writes: “Rather it is a vigilance, call it ethical, that keeps us on guard not to project onto the women of China thoughts which they may evoke but which, in fact, are the products of western experience and concern that alone” (16). Warning that such an approach will convey only a “western vision,” Kristeva insists that her study of Chinese women is characterized by “refusing, therefore, to know more than they do; and refusing, as well, to endow them with a knowledge that would hold the answer to our own problems” (16). After a concise survey of religious, literary, philosophical, and psychoanalytic conceptualizations of “woman,” Kristeva reminds her readers, yet again: Could those be the lenses that keep us from seeing China? The same lenses which, if adjusted, might bring it into our field of vision? But understanding China will involve much more than fitting these lenses over the reality of China as it is given to us by sinology, by contemporary history, or by our own observations. To do so during our own journey through China would mean that the reality of China is accessible through our models, our habits; that it lends itself to our way of seeing. I'm not saying that this reality is invisible to the Westerner, who is condemned forever to the relativity of his knowledge. I'm saying that we must adjust our glasses before trying to look close up at what's going on on the other side. In the meantime, the notes that follow are nothing but a first hesitant step in that direction (42). Though Kristeva’s description of Chinese women has provoked much controversy among many postcolonial feminists, of which Spivak is just one representative, other feminists have tried to situate Kristeva’s analysis in more complex ways. I tend to agree with Lisa Lowe (1993), who argues that Kristeva's text occupies a rather paradoxical position which is at once “both 98 strikingly different from the earlier French colonial orientalism and yet disturbingly reminiscent of its postures and rhetoric” (150). This paradoxical position is manifest in The Samurai as well, where Kristeva, in her attempt to revive the Kantian notion of cosmopolitics and universal principle of human dignity, used Olga’s experiences in China as a foreigner to raise questions about the condition of Chinese women in relation to Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution, suggesting that the Chinese women (like “European” women) are “foreign” to the patriarchal order that continues to repress them. Yet by so doing, Kristeva also uncritically made assumptions about Chinese women, sometimes erasing the specificity of their social and cultural context. Olga’s experience in China leads her to reconfigure the question of foreignness, shifting it from a focus on the situation of the foreigner as migrant/exile in relation to a collective nation/society, seen from the perspective of political philosophy, to a consideration of foreignness within, seen through the psychoanalytic tradition. It is a move that leads her from a naïve belief in the value of “cultural revolution” as a collective enterprise based on political dissidence, to recognition of the value of subjective revolt, which entails a movement of return, self-interrogation, and confrontation with her origins. For Olga, this revolt includes a confrontation with the unnamable/repressed feminine-maternal, and with death. By providing Joëlle Cabarus’ journal notes on her patients, including Olga, Kristeva’s novel develops this concept of subjective revolt in relation to a concern for the comparable crises experienced by other individuals. III. Psychoanalysis as a Politics of Care In Strangers, Kristeva argues that the French Revolution left behind “a tradition that is as complex as it is paradoxical, with its emphasis on dignity, liberty and equality, along with the image of the guillotine, of terror and persecution” (127). In The Samurai, Kristeva places Joëlle 99 Cabarus’ psychoanalytically inspired reflections at the centre of her investigation into some of the aspects of the Revolution that led to the Terror and the guillotine. Through Joëlle’s eyes, we observe the revolutionary barricades of May ’68, located “where Dr. Guillotine tried out – on sheep – his famous and aptly named ‘philanthropic’ beheading machine” (132). Reflecting on the acting out of violence in the streets, Joëlle suggests that not only is the French Revolution unfinished, but it is an anachronistic, recurring process that continues to have an impact, at various times, on different social and cultural structures: But are our own barricades being put up for the sake of an ideal? What if the Revolution of 1789 finished only yesterday, at the end of May 1968? Young rioters are breaking up the last remains of the terror of ideologies and parties. They claim the right to pleasure, desire, imagination.... And so, after the explosion of the last few days, will there be a new Directory, a new Empire? - a new Ego – just like Thérésa's [Cabarrus]? (136, my italics). By reframing the unfinished process and legacy of the French Revolution through Joëlle’s psychoanalytical lens, Kristeva proposes two ideas: first, that there is a certain continuity between its paradoxical legacy (the contradiction between the rights of man and the rights of citizens) and psychoanalysis; second, that psychoanalysis acquires a political function through the very act of interpretation. By tracing a tentative connection between the Enlightenment project and psychoanalysis, Kristeva reiterates some of the arguments made in Strangers that link psychoanalysis to ethics. This enables her to develop a notion of trans-historical dignity and to open up the question of rights to include the logic of desires and symbolic values. She explains: (…) the distinction set forth in the Declaration between ‘humanity’ and ‘citizenry’ maintains the requirement of a human, trans-historical dignity, whose content nevertheless needs to be made more complex, beyond the eighteenth-century optimistic naiveté. Such a transformation is not within the competence of the courts of law alone: it implies not only rights but desires and symbolic values. It falls within the province of ethics and psychoanalysis (153, my italics). The version of psychoanalysis that Kristeva advances in both Strangers and The Samurai is not the kind that is ahistorical, universalist, or deterministic, as Spivak (1981), Nancy Fraser 100 (1992), and Judith Butler (1993) have all claimed. In fact, we could turn the universalist criticism around, and argue with Oliver (1993a) that psychoanalysis, for Kristeva, provides a “new way of identifying the other, the stranger, not in order to reify it and exclude it, but in order to welcome it” (8). This process requires taking into account both the specificity of the other and the historical context. In other words, the ethical and political value of psychoanalysis lies in its attempt to analyze the processes through which we exercise exclusions, opening up the possibility of learning how to become more receptive to the excluded elements. It is this emphasis on the ability to learn how to live differently with different people that Kristeva advances as the symbolic value that can constitute the basis of new community bonds and the transformation of social relations. It therefore reconfigures the radical break marked by the French Revolution that ended in the loss of values, authority, and laws. The kind of symbolic value that Kristeva advances is not a set of moral codes imposed from the outside, but rather internally constituted, in which responsibility for others emerges as an inner condition of psychic life. In the conclusion to Strangers, Kristeva argues that this symbolic value offered by psychoanalysis is founded on the aptitude to recognize frailty and foreignness within, and by so doing, to transform them into an openness to and caring for others: In the absence of a new community bond – a saving religion that would integrate the bulk of wanderers and different people within a new consensus, other than ‘more money and goods for everyone’- we are, for the first time in history, confronted with the following situation: we must live with different people while relying on our personal moral codes, without the assistance of a set that would include our particularities while transcending them. A paradoxical community is emerging, made up of foreigners who are reconciled with themselves to the extent that they recognize themselves as foreigners. The multinational society would thus be the consequence of an extreme individualism, but conscious of its discontents and limits, knowing only indomitable people ready-to-help- themselves in their weakness, a weakness whose other name is our radical strangeness (195, my italics). The version of psychoanalysis that Kristeva promotes in The Samurai echoes the main tenets of the one put forward in Strangers. Yet Kristeva ended the latter without elaborating on how to help others in their weakness (as opposed to helping ourselves), while in The Samurai 101 Joëlle’s analytic sessions and psychoanalytically inspired writings offer an example of how to transform pain and anxious thinking into tenderness and caring for others. What emerges from Joëlle’s reflections is the question of how to take into account the singularity of each individual without sacrificing it to the common goal of the masses, which appears to have been the case in the two political revolutions (1789 and May ’68). In other words, the task is to show that the right to be unique, to claim pleasure, desire, and imagination, is not incompatible with the happiness of others. It is this idea that Joëlle emphasizes at various times in the novel, articulating it clearly in one conversation that she has with some American psychiatrists: “I looked as serious as I could and said that if human rights didn’t include the right to be an exception, a unique individual, they’d be in danger of collapsing into Terror or Empire. Of course, no one understood what I was talking about” (141, my italics). For Joëlle, the recognition of this right to be an exception begins with an examination of the logic of political revolution, demystifying the idea that the only thing at stake in a political revolution is the desire to overthrow the power of a repressive regime. In Joëlle’s opinion, revolution is not merely the medium that manifests or overthrows power, it is also the object of desire: “The power of desire comes down in the streets, and I ask myself what these rebels will think when they realize that they also desire the power” (175). She invokes Kant’s notion of “asocial sociability” to suggest that the relationship between desire and power, between the individual and the political, still remains to be thought out as a relation of non-exclusive opposites, in order to avoid the illusion of “being free of all law” that permits the acting out of violence: “They [rebels] seek an asocial happiness…They chop off reactionaries’ heads. Only verbally, of course” (131). I have already noted that in the story of Olga, Kristeva traces a tentative line connecting Kant and Freud in order to stress the importance of acknowledging foreignness within, so as to be able to accommodate better the foreigner “outside.” This enables her to reconfigure the notion of cosmopolitics by including the feminine and foreignness inside. Through Joëlle, Kristeva adds 102 Sade to Kant and Freud. By so doing, she emphasizes the logic of sadomasochism at the core of both subjectivity and cultural formation, positing the death drive as integral to both the pleasure principle and the logic of power. Joëlle remarks: “As for Sade – a Freudian before Freud, a natural researcher in the laboratory of eroticism – he was well aware of both the pleasures of evil and the perversions of murder” (133-4, my italics). For Joëlle, there is an emphasis on the logic of violence as integral to the right to pleasure, to desire, and to political revolution. A process of reflexivity emerges, aimed at analyzing conflict and crisis in order to better understand the uneasy relationship between the disintegration of psychic space and social transformation. It is this emphasis on the analysis of crisis that Oliver (1993a), for instance, sees as constituting the ethical and political function of psychoanalysis. Calling attention to the fact that Kristeva’s ethics of psychoanalysis is premised on the structure of the relationship between the unconscious and the conscious, Oliver writes: “Real political dissidence is not waging one fundamental ideal against another. It is neither taking up a position nor absorbing conflict. Rather, for Kristeva, it is analyzing conflict in an ‘attempt to bring about multiple sublations of the unnamable, the unrepresentable, the void’” (8). Oliver goes on to explain that this elaboration of crisis sets up an ethics which respects the irreconcilable foreignness within (8). A similar effort to bring out and analyze the crisis and conflict between individual dissidence as revolt and political revolution is manifest in Joëlle’s reflections. It is through Joëlle’s psychoanalytic lens that Kristeva also casts a critical glance at Olga’s and the Now group’s infatuation with the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Just before Olga and the group leave for China, Joëlle suggests that their engagement with Maoism, and its emphasis on inner experience, is nothing but an expression of a pretentious belief in the universality of human rights. She claims that what is absent from their belief is an interrogation of their own logic of desire in relation to power, noting in her journal: 103 How many deaths have been caused by the Cultural Revolution? We don't know yet. In Paris, people don't even ask the question. The question they do ask is: How can one become unique, an exception? Mao is regarded as an exception who has carried a nation with him. A billion Chinese may be a uniform and manageable mass, but in comparison with our Western tradition, what an exception he is, how unique, with that lunar linguistic elegance combined with acts, with strokes, with pictures (140). Thus, for Joëlle, psychoanalysis emerges as an invitation to introspection and reflexivity, in an attempt to reduce the violent acting out in the streets by shifting the focus on the analysis of conflict and aggression to the inside. This is mirrored by Joëlle when she contemplates some change within herself: “Have I become less aggressive through contemplating the darkness of others?” (281). As a psychoanalyst, Joëlle offers another form of revolt through a type of reading and writing which, unlike Olga’s, begins with a quest for the meaning of her origins, an analysis of her self and her relationships with others. Kristeva invites us to an imaginary return to the time of the French Revolution with Joëlle, as she searches for the meaning of her name through the archives of the French national library that take her back to the life and times of Thérésa Cabarrus (Tallien). We learn that Thérésa Cabarrus was a courtesan, who played a major role in the conspiracy to oust Robespierre and put an end to the Terror and the guillotine. Yet her role remains largely unacknowledged, Kristeva explains, because she was a courtesan who thought of “revolution through Eroticism, unbridled Sex versus the Reason of the goddess Terror” (337). In Joëlle’s journal, Thérésa is portrayed as “that undistinguished but successful seductress,” who “decapitated several myths: the myth of Great Ideas and the romantic myth of Love,” and sought through the pleasures of the body the right to be an exception. By tying Joëlle’s search for the meaning of her surname to Thérésa Cabarrus, Kristeva suggests that the process of introspection, recollection, and interrogation of the relationship between subjective and political crises cannot be adequately addressed unless one considers the logic of desire, including sexuality. “Myths” about the neat separation between body and mind, desire and power, past and present, personal 104 and political, must all be demystified in order to better understand the individual and collective dimensions of revolution, as Joëlle notes: I was interested enough to read up on the revolutionary press in the enfer – the 'inferno' or forbidden books department – at the Bibliotheque Nationale, and the license our predecessors allowed themselves leaves us standing! .... To pursue my fantasy about the link between Thérésa and the Cabarus family ... I look for myself in books, ...I look for witnesses of Thérésa Cabarus....a pretext to relive 1789 (175, my italics). Joëlle’s politics of care contrasts with and challenges the politics of individualism predominant in the consumer society. Joëlle’s reflections on caring constitute a direct attack on the notion of a stable and selfish “self” advanced by the positivist scientific claims that emerged after the French Revolution. Nor does this type of care for others depend on a religious kind of devotion: “Caring mustn’t be confused with devotion: devotion is egotistic, and self-love has never done anything but conceal self-hate. But caring comes from an abolition of the self” (286). Joëlle conceives of care as a space of transition, of transfusion, as she explains in her journal, drawing on the psychoanalytic notion of transference: “That’s it: in caring I use the knowledge in order to do away with myself, but quietly. A constant transfusion of what I might have been but am not and never shall be, I leave it to the others to try, in their regeneration, to become it” (286). Joëlle associates care with the capacity for understanding pain in the other and the self, which also involves taking into account the movement of negativity, of the death drive, and its potential for rupture and transformation. As such, care is a way of “making the unbearable bearable,” as Joëlle explains, of transforming pain or the threat of suicide into a question, a thought, a fragile bond to be shared with others: I substitute caring for care. I refuse to refuse. I play the game…. I go even further: I bet that the ‘pure within’ of death-dealing rays can be swept away too… And this results in a detachment from life that has neither the fine gravitas of Stoic suicide nor the insouciance of a freethinker, who regards himself as outside the game, refuses the wager, and makes his own rules. On the contrary, caring gives back the ability to enter into it all. The simple happiness of shared facts like the happiness of breathing (284, my italics). 105 Care constitutes a way of life for Joëlle, it becomes the basis on which she builds her relations with others. Care also emerges as a necessary precondition in her analytical sessions, as the ability to transfuse her self into the place of another enables and to give meaning to an experience of suffering. This form of self-estrangement, of putting one’s self into the shoes of another, gives way to the possibility of giving those in suffering another life, as Joëlle records in her journal: Tried to live through their words, reading them over and over, trying to give these people another life. Not mine, theirs, but made new. I didn’t put down anything about myself, except insofar as my interpretations of others are my links with them, or rather the space between me and what they think is the meaning of what they say (280). Joëlle’s politics of individualized care also offers an alternative model for thinking about the relationship between the foreigner and the native. In Strangers, Kristeva advances an “optimal model,” in which their relationship is based on a movement of transition, on the ability to put oneself into the place of another. She writes: “Living with the other, the foreigner, confronts us with the possibility or not of being an other. It is not simply – humanistically – a matter of our being able to accept the other, but of being in his place, and this means to imagine and make oneself other for oneself” (14, italics in original). In a similar manner, in Joëlle’s reflections on care, cosmopolitanism emerges reconfigured, by placing the responsibility for others as a symbolic value at the very core of its foundation. Kristeva’s originality in The Samurai lies in her ability to bring to the fore the critical aptitude and role of women and/as foreigners in analyzing and putting into question the meaning of a universalist, homogenous “Europe,” as well as the purpose and effects of some of the major political revolutions that have shaped or impacted the European tradition. Though her first novel had been eagerly awaited by critics, curious about the autobiographical elements which Kristeva herself indicated, and hoping to find compelling insights into the intimate lives of the Parisian intelligentsia of the 60s to 90s, it failed to live up to the critics’ initial high expectations. This 106 was partly due to the fact that many read it as a dialogue between “the Samurai” and “the Mandarins,” the Parisian intellectuals of Sartre-Beauvoir’s generation, in which case the novel did not have much to offer. Yet the novel’s failure to satisfy the critics’ curiosity might also have something to do with the ways in which Kristeva weaves together, in the events described, some of her difficult and/or controversial ideas (as it was her depiction of the Chinese women) without further clarifying her (previous) theoretical positions. Although there is some justification in the critics’ negative reaction, I think that Kristeva’s turn to fiction enabled her to present in more concrete ways her ideas and personal experience as a woman, foreigner, dissident intellectual, psychoanalyst and mother in relation to the broader social, political and cultural contexts that took place in Europe from the 60s to the 90s. This allowed her to raise questions about European identity, the differences and similarities between Eastern and Western Europe in relation to a shared past, the relationship of Eastern Europe to “East,” in particular China and Japan, and to integrate aspects associated with the feminine and the maternal into accounts of the European tradition that abjected them. By staging the stories of Olga and Joëlle in dialogue with each other, Kristeva has also managed not only to reveal the conflictual aspects of her own intellectual trajectory, but also to poke fun at and probe the limits of her own theories. Her first novel also enabled her to introduce and develop her ideas associated with the notion of revolt, six years before it appeared in The Sense and Non Sense of Revolt.34 In the next novel, revolt is also central to the way in which Kristeva relates personal experience to the political crises that marked the European tradition, but the focus of her inquiry is very different. In The Old Man and the Wolves, the focus shifts from dissident thought and critical inquiry of the legacy of the French Revolution in both Eastern and Western Europe to the effects of totalitarian rule on individual lives. Communism (its ideologies and totalitarian rule), which appeared in The Samurai as the regime from “down 34 The novel was first published in French in 1990, and Le sense et non-sense de la révolte was published in 1996. 107 there,” occupies a central place in the second novel, where the emphasis is placed not on the right to be an exception but on the affirmation of the singularity of individual experience. 108 Chapter 3 The Old Man and the Wolves: Between Revolt and Forgiveness “This forgiveness does not absolve acts. Under the act, it raises the unconscious and makes it encounter another, in love, another who does not judge but hears ‘my’ truth in the availability of love and for this very reason allows rebirth.” (Kristeva, Intimate Revolt, 20) Kristeva’s first novel, The Samurai (1992), provoked a great deal of interest because of its depiction of a whole generation of Parisian intellectuals, about whom readers were curious. As it was her first work of fiction, critics were also eager to see how well she would perform in this genre. The generally negative reactions did not deter her from continuing to pursue fiction as an alternative to theory or autobiography as a means to convey her ideas in relation to her own personal experiences. When her second novel, The Old Man and the Wolves21 (1994) appeared a year later,22 it received much less attention, and was disregarded by some as a diversion from critical thought, a therapeutic attempt by the author to come to terms with the death of her father and her memories of the communist regime in Bulgaria, which she had earlier suppressed. Her development in this second novel of ideas relating subjectivity to the political sphere and, in particular, the evolution of her notion of personal revolt in relation to reconciliation and “forgiveness,” did not receive the attention it deserves. 21 Further references to The Old Man and the Wolves will appear as The Old Man. 22 Les Samouraïs was published in French in 1990, and Le vieil homme et les loups was published in 1991. I use the dates of publication of the English translations to avoid any confusions, since I refer to them throughout this chapter. 109 Reactions to The Old Man The Old Man was considered by some to be an “unreadable” detective novel, but it can be approached as a novel of ideas dealing with concepts that the author was developing in her other writings. In it Kristeva evokes two totalitarian regimes – the end of the Roman Empire and communism in Eastern Europe– to examine possible ways of reviving a culture of revolt, placing the emphasis on the preservation of the uniqueness of each individual and the aptitude for interrogation, recollection and thought that had been associated in The Samurai with dissidence. The setting is Santa Varvara, an imaginary global village that could be anywhere. In this case it serves as an example of any “barbaric” totalitarian regime, in which corruption and the absence of respect for the law and authority have led to fear, violence, and mass murder. The wolves that roam around the city embody the degradation of the rule of law and authority into terror and bureaucracy. A concrete example of “wolfish” behavior is provided by the story of Vespasian, a surgeon who takes it upon himself to decide which patients in his care will live or die. His disdain for his patients also extends to his wife, Alba Ram, whom he despises, particularly when she becomes ill. Their marriage emerges as an individualized parallel to general social breakdown, a prototype of hatred, fear, and domestic violence, as both partners concoct plans to murder each other. Both find a source of inspiration for their plans in the tyrannical rule of Vespasian, Augustus, Caligula, and Nero at the end of the Roman Empire. Neither succeeds in carrying out their murderous plans, but their hatred for each other persists. In contrast with the barbarity of these individuals who have succumbed to the influence of the “wolves,” Kristeva offers the story of the “Old Man” as an example of virtue, generosity, and love. A former teacher of Latin, and passionate about the works of Ovid, Tibullus, Goya, and Dostoyevsky, the Old Man tries to encourage anyone who listens to him not to give in to the paralyzing fear caused by the wolves. He urges his students to live life in the mind, and to continue to create imaginary communities as an alternative to their horrific and meaningless 110 everyday experiences. Also known as Septicius Clarus (meaning Septicius “the clear, the bright”), aka the Professor, aka the Father, the Old Man becomes a father figure for both Alba, his former student, and Stephanie Delacour, a political journalist who comes to Santa Varvara from France to investigate allegations of corruption, human rights abuse, and mass murder. Stephanie learns from the Old Man about the many forms of violence committed by the wolves, and how people “disappear” if they speak up against the regime. Intrigued by the long absence of Alba, who the Old Man fears has “vanished,” Stephanie investigates her background and uncovers Alba’s murderous plans against Vespasian. Meanwhile the Old Man, who suffers from an ulcer, is taken to hospital where he dies under mysterious circumstances. This event reminds Stephanie of the death of her own father, which also occurred in suspicious circumstances. Mourning the death of the Old Man as well as that of her own father, Stephanie is determined to bring those responsible to justice, but before she can investigate further, the Old Man is cremated against his expressed wishes. Realizing that there is little she can do in a world where fear and murder rule in the absence of effective laws, Stephanie goes back to Paris. She promises to return to Santa Varvara to continue to investigate future crimes, a task she pursues in Kristeva’s next novel, Possessions. Contrary to the reception of The Samurai, where reviewers from both sides of the Atlantic focused mostly on Kristeva’s depiction of her milieu and (lack of) talent for writing fiction, reactions to The Old Man paid more critical attention to the novel’s style and composition as well as its supposed therapeutic role for the author. Whereas The Samurai was analyzed as a roman à clef, this text was perceived as an allegory. One French reviewer, F.C. (1991) for Lire, situated it between “legend and cruel realism,” seeing the wolves’ invasion as a metaphor for the ruthless regimes and widespread crime in Eastern Europe (108). Others focused on the novel’s intertextuality with Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Sartre’s No Exit, Camus’ The Plague 111 and Ionesco’s Rhinoceros (Donadey 1993; Montgomery 1996) or read it as an unsuccessful psychological thriller (Swartwout 1996). More academic analyses have been proposed by Anna Smith (1996), Anne-Marie Smith (1998), Maria Margaroni (2005), Carol Mastrangelo Bove (2006), and Chen (2008). Anna Smith (1996) argues that the novel centres on Stephanie’s idealization of her father, establishing a polarization between two kinds of love: eros, attributed to a devouring Mother, and agape, identified with a loving Father (195). According to Anna Smith, this polarization forecloses the possibility of answering some of the novel’s provocative questions, especially those concerning the relationship between spirituality and sexuality. Smith concludes that these questions are impossible to answer because they are always asked “against the backdrop of a perfect father” (194). Challenging Anna Smith’s (1996) analysis of the novel as based on this polarization, Anne-Marie Smith (1998) argues that such a distinction is “fundamentally symbolic” (35), rather than acted out in personal relationships. She proposes a reading of the novel as a “work of mourning,” in which autobiographical and fictional elements blend to create an imaginary setting for “the death and dreams of a dying man” (59). Invoking the death of Kristeva’s own father as a result of a medical experiment in an Eastern European hospital, Smith (1998) argues that it is possible to read the novel as an imaginary inquest into that death. She concludes that Kristeva undertakes a “search for truth against a background of criminality and loss of meaning” (35). Sharing Smith’s (1998) focus on the ambivalent role of the father in the construction of The Old Man, Margaroni (2005) argues persuasively that Kristeva’s novel re-stages the patricide placed by Freud at the beginning of civilization, with a twist. While in Freud’s case it is the murder of the father that marks the beginning of civilization, in Kristeva’s novel the father is already dead and his murder symbolizes the end of civilization. According to Margaroni, in Kristeva’s scenario what is represented is not the family rivalry between father and son, but a “scission within the symbolic site of the father” (55, italics in original). In her view, the Old Man 112 clearly stands for the “Imaginary Father in Stephanie’s prehistory,” and creating this character opens up an alternative symbolic space where the author, along with the character, tries to work through the death of her father (53). However, this configuration of the imaginary father as a site of mourning is not enough to allow Stephanie to come to terms with the loss of her own father, Margaroni concludes, since the paternal function is itself in crisis and Stephanie realizes that she is complicit in the barbarity of the wolves that killed him (54). Bove (2006) also reads the novel as a “familial drama,” but presents the loss of the father in its social context (123). Her analysis offers a detailed description of characters and situations, while paying little attention to the symbolism of the novel. More recently, Chen (2008) has also examined this work of fiction as an allegory of the “uncivilized East,” in which the wolves that inhabit Santa Varvara are seen as an example of “Eastern barbarians” (4). This aspect of the novel certainly echoes some elements of The Samurai, where “East” evoked both Eastern Europe and China as “foreign” in relation to Western Europe. However, Eastern Europe has a different relationship to the “European” tradition from that of “the Orient.” Building on the critical reactions that focus on patricide and the work of mourning, but also considering the political implications of a crisis in the patriarchal function and bearing in mind the novel’s allegorical aspects, my reading of The Old Man looks at how Kristeva’s construction of a fictional narrative space allows her to examine the conditions that can produce a culture of revolt – revolt as individual dissidence and thought in the face of totalitarianism. Before embarking on a detailed discussion of the novel, I will review the ideas drawn from Arendt’s political philosophy that provide a framework for Kristeva’s depiction of totalitarianism. The latter entails not only terror and barbarity in the form of moral and physical violence, but as well, the destruction of human bonds and of the individual’s capacity to act and think independently. 113 In my discussion of the novel I will focus first on the variants of revolt illustrated by the Old Man, who has recourse to the life of the mind and takes refuge in an imaginary realm that contrasts starkly with the terrifying everyday invasion of the “wolves.” This relates to Kristeva’s emphasis on the notion of singularity, on the uniqueness of each individual, and its potential to counteract the terror and hatred produced by totalitarianism. Duns Scotus’ principle of individuation and Giorgio Agamben’s notion of quodlibet (“whatever singularity”) will be central to this discussion. In their depiction of being incapable of nurturing an inner life or independent thought, the story of Vespasian and Alba Ram illustrates what prevents revolt. Their situation reflects Arendt’s argument that totalitarianism implies the destruction of thinking, and is set in motion and sustained by the fabrication of “soulless men,” whose psyche “is destroyed before their bodies are destroyed” (Kristeva 2001b, 139). Unlike the Old Man’s story, theirs does not reflect the power of narration in relation to reconciliation or forgiveness. Stephanie’s fictional investigation allows Kristeva to mourn the death of her own father, by attributing meaning to her own experience of suffering and creating a memorial to him in the novel. For Kristeva, the aesthetic act of imaginatively shaping a story to give meaning to suffering, is tantamount to reconciliation, but she differentiates between the intimate and public dimensions of forgiveness. The future of revolt-as-forgiveness is closely connected to the role of women (as daughters), who inherit the ideals embodied by the loving/lovable father figure. They can see the evolution of totalitarian regimes from an insider/outsider perspective that enables them to “investigate” political and historical events, as Stephanie does, without losing a concern for the singularity of each individual, preserving an ethics of care as proposed by Joëlle, the psychoanalyst in The Samurai. 114 Arendt on Totalitarianism and Authority Arendt’s work provides Kristeva with a framework for examining the relationship between totalitarianism and the loss of respect for authority, laws, and tradition. Arendt (1961) claims that “authority has vanished from the modern world,” arguing that its disappearance has resulted in “the loss of worldly permanence and reliability” (90). She goes on to explain that in pre-modern societies authority served to stabilize the world by preserving the foundations of the body politic and tying the people back to its beginning: “Authority, resting on a foundation in the past as its unshaken cornerstone, gave the world the permanence and durability which human beings need precisely because they are mortals….” (95). The disintegration of authority in the modern age, which Arendt traces back to the French Revolution (as discussed earlier), was tantamount to the loss of the groundwork of the world, which indeed since then has begun to shift, to change and transform itself with ever increasing rapidity from one shape to another, as though we were living and struggling with a Protean universe where everything at any moment can become almost anything else (95, my italics). This insight is important to Kristeva’s representation of the breakdown of authority in The Old Man, which opens with a quotation from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: “I resolved to tell of creatures being metamorphosed into new forms.” This reference emphasizes, from the outset, that the totalitarian state depicted in the fictional world evoked is the result of a violent process of change in which everything can become transformed into something else. This idea is repeated later in a reference to Rome: “No, Rome was not dead – it had undergone a metamorphosis and taken on new forms. Barbaric ones, you say? Perhaps. New, at all events” (18). In this Protean universe, the loss of a sense of permanence and reliability coincides with the loss of respect for authority, respect for the law, and common values. In Santa Varvara, laws “were made to be ignored,” and judgments “resembled hatred and folly” (126). In other words, “when everything is forbidden, nothing is prohibited,” with the result that chaos, corruption and barbarism prevail (126). 115 For Kristeva the loss of authority and respect for the law is symbolized by the figure of the “dead” father: “In Santa Varvara they had killed the ‘dead’ father…When there’s no father, the wolves prowl, metamorphoses multiply and cancel one another out, canine jaws invade the fashionable parts of town, and the suburbs too” (140, my italics). In contrast, the Old Man is presented as an embodiment of the respect-able old “law,” representing criticism of the totalitarian regime and resistance to it. The position adopted by Kristeva, following Arendt’s analysis, that the collapse of authority and respect for tradition and law has a negative effect, might initially seem puzzling, since in other contexts authority, law, and tradition are often seen by Kristeva, as by many feminists, as oppressive and needing to be challenged. Totalitarian regimes are notorious for their abuse of authority and power, including unjust laws and surveillance enforced by violent means. What Arendt and Kristeva refer to as “authority, law, and tradition,” which the Old Man represents and defends, evokes a positive and necessary type of authority granted with the people’s consent and implemented to protect them, precisely the framework that totalitarian regimes suppress. Arendt (1961) insists that we have to distinguish between different kinds of authority and different methods of political coordination: “Since authority always demands obedience, it is commonly mistaken for some form of power or violence. Yet authority precludes the use of external means of coercion; where force is used, authority itself has failed” (466). The type of authority that Arendt emphasizes and favors was specifically Roman in origin and foundation. She claims that “the word [authority] and the concept are Roman in origin” (104), and that the binding force of authority is closely connected with the preservation of the foundation of a community: At the heart of Roman politics, from the beginning of the republic until virtually the end of the imperial era, stands the conviction of the sacredness of foundation, in the sense that once something has been founded it remains binding for all future generations. To be engaged in politics meant first and foremost to preserve the founding of the city of Rome (120). 116 In other words, creating a community and its public space was understood to be constitutive of all subsequent actions, to the point that all political acts thereafter had to be tied back to that initial act of foundation. The binding power of the foundation itself was religious, with religion in this case meaning literally re-ligare, “to be tied back, obligated, to the enormous, almost superhuman and hence always legendary effort to lay the foundations, to build the cornerstone, to found for eternity” (121). Thus, to be religious meant “to be tied to the past,” in which case religious and political activities were considered as almost identical (121). Drawing on the etymology of the word “authority” (auctoritas) which she links to augere, meaning “augment,” Arendt argues that what those in legitimate authority “constantly augment is the foundation” (121-2). She goes on to explain that the Romans distinguished between auctoritas and potestas, authority and power, and that auctoritas consisted in giving advice or counsel to those vested with the formal power (potestas) as to whether the laws proposed conformed to the foundation or constitution of the city (122). Auctoritas, Arendt (1990) explains, was lodged in a specific institution, the Senate, composed of the fathers of the republic (patres), and they held their authority because they represented, or rather reincarnated, the ancestors whose only claim to authority in the body politic was precisely that they had founded it, that they were the ‘founding fathers’. Through the Roman Senators, the founders of the city of Rome were present, and with them the spirit of foundation was present, the pricipium and principle (200-1, italics in original). It is important to emphasize the fact that Arendt links the notion of authority (auctoritas) to the figure of the father (pater) and to the act of foundation, including the creation of community bonds. She argues that the specific function of the authorities (or the “founding fathers”) was to give advice about how the community could adapt to changing circumstances, yet remain true to its founding principles. Since change is inherent in the human condition, calling for new laws and institutions, the task of those in authority was to ensure that any changes would be an augmentation of the original founding act. In this way, “by virtue of 117 auctoritas, permanence and change were tied together, whereby… change could only mean increase and enlargement of the old” (201). In other words, the role of the Roman authorities was to provide a certain stability in the public realm by the preservation of tradition, connecting the present to the past. Arendt (2005) explains that to remember the past became customary for the Romans, and was tantamount to the manifestation of “common sense” in the public realm: “Historically, common sense is as much Roman in origin as tradition … With the Romans, remembering the past became a matter of tradition, and it is in the sense of tradition that the development of common sense found its politically most important expression” (42, my italics). “Common sense” is another “traditional value” that was derided and critiqued by French and other intellectuals of Kristeva’s generation, who wanted to deconstruct everything that is taken for granted and look at who benefits from unquestioned assumptions in terms of power. For Arendt, common sense, like remembrance of the past, conservation of tradition, and (justified) respect for authority, are all values related to knowledge and experience transmitted by the (fore)fathers, and are demolished or ignored with disastrous results. It is for this reason that the figure of the father-professor is particularly important in The Old Man. In her novel, Kristeva reinforces Arendt’s notion of the links between authority, the figure of the father, and the creation and preservation of community bonds. She portrays the Old Man as a professor of Latin, who despite the terror and violence of the “wolves” tries to keep alive the Roman tradition of Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, reciting verses from Ovid, Tibullus and Suetonius. His continuous efforts to revive the Roman culture admired by Arendt constitute his only form of revolt against the communist regime. The Old Man, aka the Professor, aka Septicius Clarus, is described as never reading anything but Latin: “Books in early Latin, late Latin, ecclesiastical Latin...” (10). For him, Kristeva goes on to explain, 118 these verses belonged to the end of a world, the end of the Roman world, which existed before us just as we exist now before some new barbarism or some mere metamorphosis: whatever it was, the Professor was trying to face up to it… No doubt, he would always belong to that world of long ago that he called civilization (14). As an academic and above all a Classical scholar, this paternal figure appears to be the epitome of “conservative” values, yet he is also constructed as the most effective rebel against the totalitarian system around him, because he is a free thinker, and thought is not only the ultimate sanctuary of privacy and freedom but also has the power to change both individuals and communities. Thought as Action In The Old Man, paternal authority is not associated with the misuse of power and coercive violence, but rather with loving support and the aptitude to conserve and pass on thoughts and recollections as well to interrogate the past, on which the future depends. This idea is clearly expressed several times by the Old Man, aka Septicius Clarus, when he explains that his continuous efforts to revive the period of Roman civilization before the fall of the Roman Empire are motivated by a desire to find possible solutions to the present situation of crisis, violence, and barbarity, in the hope that things will change: “Septicius knew the present was a period of transition. So he looked at Santa Varvara through the eyes of Ovid and Tibullus” (17, my italics). A similar idea is emphasized earlier: Whereas what his contemporaries liked about Rome moving toward decline was its rank atmosphere of unconscious decay, its languid indulgence in squalid display, insipid debauch, and unsated lust for pleasure, Septicius Clarus was interested in any pointers the period might contain to its problematic future (16, my italics). Like Arendt, who regards thought and life as one (1958), Kristeva formulates the Old Man’s aptitude for thought as coextensive with life, and as a metaphor for the endurance of an inner resistance that allows him to ward off fear of the “wolves” and the hatred they provoke. 119 Thought allows him to maintain a form of autonomy and independence in a context where movement is curtailed. His reading replaces social interaction, which is forbidden. While thought as action might appear as an artificial kind of existence or resistance, it is the only possible self- defense in times of decadence, barbarity, and fear: (…) he was now autonomous, detached from his departing body because of the artificial existence he had created for himself, from childhood onward, by learning how to speak, read, write, and even identify with a dead language. Dead for his contemporaries, but for him a source of revelation, showing that there was such a thing as the happy chance of being able to live in the mind (113, my italics). The aptitude for thought is premised on having an inner life. While for Arendt (1958) action and speech constitute the specificity of human life, making it inseparable from the conception of the political as a “living relationship” (187), for Kristeva the specificity of being human is having a psychic life. She combines Arendt’s thought with that of Freud in such a way as to emphasize psychic life as integral to political life. Her (1995) definition of psychic life connects it to the ability to have a “soul.” For her, the “soul” is a “structure of meaning” that represents “the bond between the speaking being and the other, a bond that endows it with a therapeutic and moral value” (4). She goes on to explain that “because of the soul, you are capable of action. Your psychic life is a discourse that acts” (1995, 6, my italics). Kristeva’s definition of psychic life resonates with the Arendtian conception of life in relation to politics, a formulation which she also uses in her description of the Old Man’s revolt against the totalitarian regime. Yet Kristeva adds aspects which Arendt’s emphasis on the life of the mind does not adequately address; through her engagement with Freud, she articulates psychic life not only in the aptitude for thought, recollection, and interrogation, but also in the context of embodiment and the unconscious. The variants of revolt illustrated by the Old Man take both these dimensions into account, as inseparable from thought and memory. 120 Variants of Revolt: The Story of the Old Man In The Old Man, Kristeva emphasizes the need for a culture of revolt, if life is not to become a “life of death.” This idea is also clearly expressed in The Sense and Non-Sense of Revolt (2000d, 7), where she explains that this culture of revolt needs to begin with an examination of the aesthetic and intellectual heritage of European civilization, as well as historical memory, in order to create new variants of that civilization. By endowing civilization with a critical conscience able to assess the past through collective memory, Kristeva also leaves open the possibility of adding an unconscious dimension to that memory. This possibility is explicitly addressed in Intimate Revolt, where she claims that “memory is unconscious” (2002c, 34). Moreover, because memory is situated where psychic energy and representation meet, it is “indestructible and yet displaceable, because it is intra- and intersystemic” (34). Kristeva's comments on the unconscious memory of civilization resonate with Freud's (1989) representation of the collective psyche, which Kristeva draws on in The Old Man in order to make the idea of a conscious and unconscious memory of civilization part of her attempt to formulate a culture of mental resistance and revolt. Such a culture of revolt depends on singular forms of expression, on the subjective capacity to create an inner life where various forms of cultural representation are revisited and renewed. Memory becomes a montage where subjective and cultural layers are organized in a heterogeneous fashion, through “scraps of ancient poetry” and “bits of forgotten paintings” (115), in a process that is always incomplete, unfinished yet ready to be started anew. When fear paralyzes any other form of action, as in Santa Varvara, the psychic space of memory and creativity becomes the only space where revolt is possible. In the case of the Old Man, this domain where he can communicate with others across space and time is the only thing that enables him to survive. 121 To confront the tangible and palpable terror caused by the “wolves,” the Old Man has recourse to the imaginary realm, not as something which removes fear from day-to-day existence, but as a way of tuning it down, through the hope of freedom created by his dreams. Through his reading, he also has the “strange feeling” that his experience of suffering has been shared by others who managed to survive without giving in to compromise, paralysis, or fear (13). The Old Man turns back to Ovid, Tibullus, and Goya, as guides to lead him out of the problematic future shaped by the regime. They also provide him with examples of how to transform pain and suffering into communicable narratives, stories that he conveys in the lectures he gives to his students. Freud's representation of the psyche, constructed by analogy with the historical site of Rome, “the Eternal City,” is invoked by Kristeva in her description of the Old Man's references to Roman civilization: Now let us, by a flight of imagination, suppose that Rome is not a human habitation but a psychical entity with a similar and copious past – an entity, this is to say, in which nothing that has come once in existence will have passed away and all the earlier phases of development continue to exist alongside the latest one (34, my italics). Similarly, Kristeva insists that past layers of memory, psychic and cultural, are not lost, but displaced and transformed. In their efforts to keep the memory of Rome alive, to unearth its mnemonic traces and imagine its metamorphoses in new present-day forms, the Old Man and his students turn their attention to Tibullus' elegies and Ovid's Metamorphoses, reading or reciting them aloud: “they repeated those dreamy, inspired verses as if the language of Rome had never been forgotten” (18, my italics). Like Freud before her, Kristeva uses Latin as a metonymy for the archaeological excavation of Rome/the past, which the Old Man tries to unearth and revive. She switches to the Latin variant of the many pseudonyms of the Old Man, calling him Septicius Clarus to emphasize the fact that he is in search of the “lost time” of civilization, which he finds echoed in 122 Some lines of Latin poetry ... Their resonance reconciled Septicius with lost time... These verses belonged to the end of a world, the end of the Roman world, which existed before us just as we exist now before some new barbarism or some mere metamorphosis... No doubt about it, he would always belong to that world of long ago that he called civilization (14-15, my italics). The period of Roman history that the Old Man likes to recall is, significantly, before the barbarity of the final years of the Roman Empire, when the actions of the supposedly “civilized” Romans became more horrific than those of the colonized/uncivilized barbarians. The situation in Santa Varvara is closer to the barbaric version of Rome, but for the Old Man hope for the future can be found in remembering that Rome’s decline brought about its fall, and newly civilized successors sought their model in Rome’s foundation. Civilization, like the Phoenix, can rise from its ashes, if thinkers recall how it began. Such a renewal does not occur, however, without revolt, implying the necessity for suffering and sacrifice, mental or physical. Sadomasochism as Part of the Logic of Revolt In his search for pointers that might contain alternative solutions to the problematic future of Santa Varvara, Septicius turns to the stories in Ovid's Metamorphoses, which indicate the ambiguity of the pleasure inherent in acts of transformation. Septicius remarks: For a while, the changes that took place in Ovid were punishments - or, at the very least, tokens of disapproval – the being who imposed them seemed to take as much pleasure in the obloquy of the offense as in its chastisement. Was his intention to wipe out the sin, or to immortalize it? (17, my italics) This ambiguity is reflected in some elements of Septicius' revolt against the totalitarian regime, which confirm Kristeva’s insight that revolt (even when it takes the form of thought) has sadomasochistic aspects. His research into the past and preoccupation with the ambivalent history of Rome is not entirely innocent. It begins with a process of self-examination that makes him aware of his own potential for violence and the force of his own desires. In reading Ovid’s text, Septicius is searching for a way to understand his own indecision, his own ambivalence regarding possible ways of transforming pain into pleasure, and vice versa. It is in this interval 123 between pleasure and punishment, immortalization or annihilation of sin, that Kristeva situates the similarity between Ovid and Septicius: “Ovid and Septicius hovered somewhere between the two [pleasure and punishment], on the edge of indecision, of the baleful human condition that hadn't yet chosen its cross but already overflowed with passion” (17, my italics). Ovid’s painful exile in Tomis (where he eventually died) and his ability to transform brutal events, human suffering and conflicts (his own included), into narratives that recount the story of human civilization until the death of Julius Caesar in 44 BC, offers the Old Man the example of how to transform his own pain, and feelings of anger and violence against the injustice and terror of “wolves” into inner monologues and lectures he shares with his students. The Old Man “bears his cross,” accepting pain and suffering as martyrdom seeking, like Tibullus in his elegies, to sublimate subjective horror at mass murder into an aesthetic and elegiac contemplation of death. Loneliness and his own approaching end lead to a paradoxical connection to others, including Tibullus: As for Tibullus, steeped in love, he fed Septicius sweetness like a ripe fruit that knows it must rot but still gorges itself to bursting on the sunshine. The elegies sing of infinite death. They drink deep of death, they grow drunk on it, but they don't believe in it; for them, there is no quietus (17, my italics) Shifting between repulsion and fascination with death, his in-between position forces the Old Man to remain alert and vigilant to the truths as well as the dangers revealed by the turmoil inside and outside himself: “[he] saw himself as standing on a dividing line: as a bone between two cavities, a boat between two waves, always eager for the turmoil that affords a glimpse of the worst, the vortex that throws up the strange images in which philosophers may later read truths” (17, my italics). Fascinated by the past, and fearful of the future, for the Old Man the present is seen as an interval between “then” and “not yet”: “Septicius knew the present was a period of transition. So he looked at Santa Varvara through the eyes of Ovid and Tibullus” (17, my italics). For Septicius, this period of transition can only be lived as a form of intellectual nomadism, which is 124 temporal rather than spatial, as the wandering of his thoughts becomes tantamount to being free to roam. This mental nomadism is also a way to keep the memory of civilization alive, by connecting with others across time and space. Reflecting on Septicius's search for the “lost time” of civilization, Kristeva explains that his decision to be a nomadic thinker, not to be fixed in any one place, especially not the “here and now,” is not simply a critique of the current regime or a “sign of crisis,” but rather a choice, an option, an attitude, taking the form of a quest for what is the best, for what sets out from what has been, without a fixed plan, but free to open up all kinds of avenues. For example, the avenues of memory, which once made Santa Varvara one of the capitals of metamorphosis, as Ovid and Tibullus and even Suetonius could confirm (150, my italics). Just as there is something “artificial” about dissident thought as equivalent to political revolt, there is also something artificial about this concept of mental nomadism being equivalent to the freedom of physical mobility. Connections with others across time and space are in this case only possible in the life of the mind, and the communication or movement is only one-way. Aware of this artificiality, Kristeva defends it by suggesting that under extreme circumstances, having recourse to artificial solutions may be the only way to remain sane and alive. For Septicius, the artificial life of his mind provides an escape, and is the only means available to survive the “transmogrifications” taking place around him (150). It is also his only source of pleasure: “ (…) because of the artificial existence that he created for himself (…) there was such a thing as the happy chance of being able to live in the mind” (113, my italics). Meaning as Making Connections Recollection, imagination, and interrogation allow Septicius the freedom to make connections with other thinkers, to construct links between times and places that make his present incomprehensible circumstances meaningful. As he explains to Stephanie “meaning is always a kind of connection... There used to be links between people then, and yet they weren't bound. 125 Freedom – neither passion nor indifference – is a link, perhaps” (58, my italics). This paradoxical formulation of freedom as a link, with its Arendtian overtones, also draws on what Kristeva (2001b) claims to be a Christian definition of freedom as rebirth through living thought (128). In tracing the genealogy of Arendt's notion of freedom to Christian thought, Kristeva states: “This 'other beginning' is a life of the mind… it carves out a space for the interior man, and it becomes a will-to-power, which is essentially a will-to-live” (203). While Kristeva in this instance relates freedom to Christian thought, she remains critical of other aspects of religion, and in The Old Man she differentiates between religion as adherence to a dominant faith and religious belief or practice as an act of transgression based on freedom of dissident thought, in an anti-religious totalitarian system. In Santa Varvara, any expression of religious belief is forbidden, and the Old Man, who is deeply religious, is considered a dangerous rebel by authorities. So great is the regime’s fear of religion's potential for resistance, that they shut down churches, and even demolish them or turn them into museums (76), as occurred in communist Bulgaria. They develop various methods for persecuting those who continue to express their religious faith, and harassment extends to the entire family, including children. When the Old Man becomes a persona non grata, the whole family is forced to leave Santa Varvara (153). The Old Man's daughter cannot attend the school of her choice, as her application is rejected on the basis of his father's non-adherence to the Party and his non-conformist religious beliefs, as the letter of refusal explains: Comrade Ambassador…. Your daughter…. you are not a member of the Party…and, let me remind you, you are a believer and very involved with certain local believers. You will agree that this, quite objectively, places you among the enemies of Santa Varvara…. I am amazed you should have thought your daughter worthy of such a distinguished establishment…can only reiterate our categorical refusal (155, my italics). Thus, for the Old Man, religious belief emerges as a way of transforming his anguish into “the humility of a faith that was hidden but not in the least craven” (151), and part of the mental 126 freedom that enables him to resist oppression. Elsewhere Kristeva (1995) explains that Christian thought may allow the displacement of hatred into thought by devising a logic that prevents one from participating in murder and madness (120). In the case of the Old Man, Christian thought allows him to work through the hatred that he feels towards the officials by sublimating it into inner visions that he calls his “active monsters” (51): “Like some mad painter, the dying dreamer made pictures out of the hatred that was killing him, yet whose impact he was taming by absorbing into his vision the horror of which he was the victim” (113, my italics). As Septicius learns to transform hatred and horror by giving them aesthetic form and meaning, he looks at other periods in the history of civilization for examples of how others managed to transform their own inner monsters into cultural representations. He feels particularly close to Goya, who chronicled Spanish history. While Goya deplored the “bestiary carnival” of human passions, and the “grotesque” and deceitful practices of the supposedly civilized Spanish society, he transformed his contempt and hatred into compelling paintings (115). By linking Septicius to Goya, as well as to Ovid and Tibullus, Kristeva suggests the “eternal return” of common elements in different periods of moral decadence, violence, and corruption, as well as the on-going desire to narrate/represent such experiences. There is relatively little variation, other than the increasing sophistication of technologies of murder: (....) my dear Ovid. I borrow old Goya's palette to translate into dream what you once wrote by the Black Sea. For the Spanish painter, though deaf, was not blind to the stupidities, corruptions, and revolutions of his contemporaries, nor to anything else in the whole range of their rather unimaginative cruelties.... nothing has changed... The dreams of dying men all paraphrase the same theme: consider the persecuted old age of Goya, the lewd old age of Picasso, the crazy old age of Septicius. Abductions, kidnappings, murders, swindles, violations of international law, invasions of sovereign territory, poison gas, germ warfare. Holy war! Terrorism offered up as a sacrifice to God! (115-6, my italics) The similarities of these different periods of violence and corruption are so striking, they erase the specificity of the historical period, turning the present into an eternal reliving of the past, to the extent that the Old Man can no longer recognize what century he lives in: 127 What century was it? Was he in the first century, in exile on the shores of the Black Sea, dreaming of the metamorphoses that took place in human beings as they entered upon a new era, a new age just as steeped in brutishness as the old? Or was he in the present, in Santa Varvara, where a Bogeyman would soon come to disconnect the artificial lung that was still keeping the Ovid-haunted ancient alive? (120, my italics) Although the experience of horror and oppression and desire to give them meaning through artistic form are similar over time and across space, collective and political resistance and revolt may take various forms, including revolutions. When open revolt is not possible, freedom of individual thought and artistic expression has always provided a last recourse for personal, individual revolt. The power of such thought lies in the uniqueness of each life, in a “singularity” that makes a life like the Old Man’s worth living. “Whatever Singularity” The Old Man’s story emerges as a tribute to the singularity and uniqueness of human life, to the capacity to make a new beginning, premised on the aptitude for thought which is tantamount to that of acting. Kristeva uses the notion of quodlibet as a plea for human uniqueness, whose very meaning “whatever singularity” invokes a desire to appreciate that life matters “no matter what,” as Stephanie explains: “So I go on telling you about my whims and fancies, because, like the Professor, I persist in thinking that quodlibet ens means not ‘no matter what being’ but ‘a being that matters, no matter what” (145, my italics). Kristeva’s notion of quodlibet resonates well with that of Giorgio Agamben’s, developed in The Coming Community (1993).23 It is useful to juxtapose their interpretations of the term, to look at how Kristeva’s association of quodlibet 23 A close reader of Arendt, Agamben defines the “coming community” in opposition to any sovereign regime that reduces human life to “bare life,” that is a life deprived of any rights. In making the distinction between “bare life” (zoe) and “qualified life” (bios), Agamben invokes Arendt’s distinction between bios and zoe, which Kristeva, in Hannah Arendt, explains as a difference between a life that acquires meaning through narration and interrogation (bios) and a life without questions (zoe). Though Agamben’s book was originally published in Italian in 1990, a year before Kristeva published The Old Man, it is possible that Kristeva read the book in the original, since there are striking similarities between Kristeva’s description of the notion of quodlibet and Agamben’s analysis. 128 with a beloved father figure enables her to rethink Arendt’s ideas on authority and the rule of law, as mentioned earlier. Agamben (1993) argues that the common translation of quodlibet as “whatever” in the sense of “it does not matter which, indifferently” is inaccurate or incomplete, for its use in the Latin phrase “quodlibet ens” conveys the opposite. He claims that this phrase does not mean, as is often assumed, “being, it does not matter which,” but rather “'being, such that it always matters'” (1, my italics). As quoted above, Kristeva uses similar terms, rejecting the translation “no matter what being” in favor of “a being that matters, no matter what” (145, my italics). For Agamben, the basis of the coming community is the singular being, “whatever being,” in the sense that “I care for you 'such as you are'” (2). In The Old Man, Stephanie defines her relationship with her father in similar terms: “Father mattered to me, no matter what, despite the difference we both affected” (145, my italics). The singularity of human identity, for Agamben, is not mediated by a person’s belonging to a set or class (1). Kristeva also emphasizes that the singularity of the father cannot be circumscribed by ascribing him to any category. She describes him as “not belonging to the category of fathers in general, of ambassadors, foreigners, Santa Varvarians, Frenchmen, friends, or enemies of the Professors, or any other classifications whatsoever, human, inhuman, or superhuman” (145). This refusal to classify the individual simply as representative of some group does not imply, for either Agamben or Kristeva, a negation of all forms of belonging. For Agamben, the singular being occupies a “space of appearance” that is not rooted in a “here” or “there,” but belongs “everywhere” and “nowhere” (2). Rather, he places the focus on the singularity of “being-such,” beyond the notion of belonging: “Thus being-such, which remains constantly hidden in the conditions of belonging,” as in the example “there is an X as it belongs to Y,” is in no way “a real predicate” of the singular being (2). Agamben insists that the singularity exposed “as such” is “whatever you want, that is, lovable” (2, my italics). Similarly, 129 in The Old Man Kristeva also uses “X” and “Y” to describe the relationship between Stephanie and her father as a loving space, situated everywhere and anywhere: for me [Stephanie], his virtue consisted in being an X who was such... and in being content to appear as such, just as he was, and therefore thinkable and lovable by others who were the same as he, other ordinary beings. By me, for example, who am a Y to his X, and so appear to him in all my ordinariness (145, my italics). For Kristeva, the singularity of quodlibet is not determined by any belonging, but resides in the ability to expose oneself “anywhere” and “anytime,” to transgress cultural and social identity markers. Referring again to Stephanie’s father, Kristeva writes: “He was really exposing himself, with trusting gentleness, with a kind of shattered tension of eye and skin, in permanent prayer” (163, my italics). Kristeva’s horror at the mass murders of totalitarianism is expressed as a plea for the uniqueness of “whatever life,” and Kristeva also makes reference to Duns Scotus’ principle of individuation in order to emphasize this idea. This type of individuation is, paradoxically, associated with “ordinariness” rather than “greatness,” if each “ordinary” person has unique value, rather than value being assigned only to the extraordinary person: Father and the Old Man both had the simplicity of ordinary men, no matter who, and that was why they mattered, no matter what. Yes, amid the darkness of great men, my light, my argument is based on the principium individuationis, the principle of individuation. And that’s what would need to be saved if ever there were another Noah’s Ark, since it was by its abolition that Santa Varvara set out on the downward path. Yes, what needs preserving is the principle of individuation, the quodlibet, the Old Man, and my father (146, italics in original). Duns Scotus (whom Stephanie quotes in her plea of the singularity of her father) offers Kristeva a chance to refine her meditation on the quodlibet, by calling attention to the co- presence of thinking, action, and love. Commenting on the principle of individuation, Kristeva argues later (2001b) that Scotus “not only individualizes the power of mind, but he also adorns this power with desire and reasoning and endows the unique man with an untold freedom…” (176). This freedom resides in the capacity to recognize that willing and loving have primacy over the intellect and are at the root of thought. The singularity of individual experience is based 130 on a dynamic between thought and sensory perception, and as a result freedom consists in the internal ability to initiate something, to begin something anew in the life of the mind. In a context where totalitarianism destroys the individual capacity for thought and therefore for life, simultaneously suppressing the common space and loving family ties, it is only the capacity for beginning something anew that “guarantees spontaneous uniqueness” (2001b, 141). In The Old Man, this capacity to make a new beginning is what defines the singularity of the Old Man’s experience, his own “manner” of being happy: You are, we are, completely ordinary; examples of the being that does not belong to us and yet by which, by making use of it in our own ordinary manner, we make ourselves happy. Being created by one’s own manner is the only happiness possible. It is the happiness of simple folk, of ordinary people (146). By making the learned and respected father figure loving and “ordinary,” a “simple” person who believes that life matters no matter what, Kristeva proposes an alternative way of thinking about authority and law. As discussed earlier, like Arendt, Kristeva links the notion of authority to the figure of the father and to the possibility of creating community bonds. But while Arendt reconfigures paternal or patriarchal authority and tradition in transcendental terms, Kristeva turns to psychoanalysis to provide a different framework. By associating the Old Man with a loving fatherliness, Kristeva also challenges traditional psychoanalytic conceptions of the paternal function as stern and tyrannical. Without denying Freud’s or Lacan’s models of authoritarian fathers, she suggests that there are also various other paternal functions. In Tales of Love (1987b), Kristeva had already advanced the notion of the imaginary father, which she defines in clear contrast to Lacan’s Father of the Law: Maintaining against the winds and high tides of our modern civilization the requirement of a stern father who, through his Name, brings about separation, judgment and identity, constitutes a necessity, a more or less pious wish. But we can only note that jarring such sternness, far from leaving us orphaned or inexorably psychotic, reveals multiple and varied destinies for paternity - notably archaic, imaginary paternity (46). 131 Later, in Contre la dépression nationale (1998a), Kristeva outlines some of the many other facets of the father, including his femininity, passion, and desire, making the paternal figure a much more complex authority than the one represented by Lacan (29), closer to the “beloved authority” illustrated by the Old Man in her novel. In The Sense and Non Sense of Revolt (2000d), Kristeva argues that the imaginary father, or the “father of the individual prehistory,” is the “keystone of our loves and imagination,” and incorporates characteristics usually associated with both parents (53). Oliver (1993a) demonstrates that Kristeva had already set up this formulation of the imaginary (combined) parent as a primary identification in subject formation: “The identification with this conglomerate is the vortex of primary identification within what Kristeva calls the ‘narcissistic structure.’ This identification is the originary identification that sets up all subsequent identifications, including the ego’s identification with itself” (77). Oliver also provides a useful explanation of how the paternal and maternal functions are embodied in the notion of the imaginary father: This identification with the imaginary father is a transference between the semiotic body and an ideal other who lacks nothing. It is called a father in spite of the fact that it is also a mother because, following Lacan, Kristeva identifies the Symbolic with the Father. She explains this curiosity by arguing that even though the child’s first affectations are directed toward the mother, these archaic ‘object’ relations are already ‘symbolic’ and therefore associated with the father. This is to say that the logic of the Symbolic is already within the maternal body. Although it seems strange, this combination is called a father because it is a metonymic relationship-in-the-making (78). Oliver (2002) emphasizes the fact that this loving imaginary father plays a primary role in the subject’s psychic development, making creativity and love possible, and also providing the guarantee of communal meaning as the element that can “supply the missing link between social and psychic space” (82). In The Old Man, the loving father figure serves precisely as a link between psychic and social space, and Kristeva insists on the quodlibet aspects of this imaginary parent as necessary to a loving identification not only with the father but with others, as well as a 132 condition for becoming an autonomous, thinking subject. The role of this bond in nurturing an inner life capable of adaptation and change is conveyed by Stephanie’s relationship with her father: But he [my father] believed in things for me .… But I, Stephie Delacour, was there, he said, to stir up the ebb and flow, and perhaps to get some happiness out of it one of these days.… Why me? No reason at all. Wasn’t I programmed for the low tide too: to contemplate the mud, to be a part of it? But no – come, come! Stephie wasn’t like all the rest, she’d come through, she’d go far….What a hope! But he had a reason: he loved me. It was a reason so unassuming it made the chivalrous, protective expression on his face unbearable to contemplate (162-3, my italics). The beloved authority of the father emerges not only as a support for Stephanie’s elaboration of an inner psychic life, stimulating her capacity for thought and interrogation, but also as necessary for the possibility of individual resistance and revolt. The Old Man’s continuous efforts to revive Roman culture also reflect the notion of a beloved and respected type of authority as integral to the possibility of collective revolt. Personal forms of attachment to individuals, and intellectual attachment to certain types of thought and aesthetic expression, are antidotes to any totalitarian regime and may be as, or more, effective than other types of resistance and revolt in maintaining some kind of freedom. In some cases they may be all that makes life worth living, and their absence can produce monsters, as illustrated by the parallel story of Vespasian and Alba Ram. What Makes Revolt Impossible: The Story of Vespasian and Alba Ram Since revolt as thought depends on the ability to have a psychic life, a reduced private life, which suspends interrogation, reflection, and recollection, eliminates the possibility of this type of revolt. This is exemplified in the case of Vespasian, a surgeon whose lack of a psychic life precludes the ability to act or think on his own. Vespasian is a man entirely preoccupied with his own image, with how others perceive him, with little or no concern for any form of inner experience. This character can be seen as a forerunner of the individual cases that Kristeva later (1995) analyzed as suffering from “new maladies of the soul.” Published in translation in 1995, 133 two years after The Old Man,24 the book with that title examines the consequences of the absence of an inner life, especially in the context of the “society of the image.” Vespasian shows similar symptoms of psychological poverty resulting in an inability to revolt against or even to be revolted by the horrors happening around him. Vespasian’s lack of a satisfactory personal or interpersonal psychic life is disguised by his fabrication of various masks to suit the roles he performs solely for his own benefit. This form of masquerade manifests itself as a complete absorption in the contemplation of his own image, accompanied by a total lack of interest in or care for others, who serve only to confirm the image he projects of himself. The negative effects on others of this narcissistic behavior are even more striking since Vespasian is a doctor, and therefore professionally obligated to care for others. Vespasian is unable to care for or about others, even within the confines of his medical duties, and expresses little respect for the medical procedures that constitute treatment as an essential aspect of care in a medical context: In his view, caring for patients involved not only sentimentality but also – worse still – hypocrisy, inevitably fueled by morbid pity....Vespasian, ruthless and brusque, considered his time too precious for that sort of thing, and as for charity - his term for caring and all that it entailed - it only made people weak by depriving them of what little power or resistance they still possessed (38, my italics). Vespasian’s complaint that his patients fail to “resist” their illness is ironic, in view of his own failure to resist the ruthless totalitarian regime in any way. Rather, his lack of care or respect for individual human life blurs any distinction between the physical and moral violence of the “wolves” and his own form of unfeeling barbarity. So profound is his dislike and contempt for those who are ill that Vespasian undertakes the mechanical application of various methods and technologies of treatment, which he performs in a robotic fashion, oblivious of the fact that “he 24 The original French, Nouvelles maladies de l’âme, was published in 1993, and Le viel homme et les loups in 1991. 134 was ever dealing with an actual man or woman” (38). In Santa Varvara, this kind of performance is admired as a great achievement, whatever the result: Thus all Vespasian's operations were exploits of the greatest virtuosity, and his way of thinking so prevailed in Santa Varvara that if, as was often the case, his patient happened to die, instead of blaming the surgeon everyone put the mishap down to chance or fate or the patient's ‘nonviability’” (38, my italics). Vespasian’s treatment of people as objects, his lack of an ethics of care, illustrates what Arendt (1994a), in her analysis of totalitarianism, called “the banality of evil.” In her analysis of the Eichmann trial Arendt associated this with the inability to think and take decisions for oneself (24). Commenting on Arendt’s definition, Kristeva (2001b) notes that evil can become “banal,” when the individual’s capacity to think and aptitude for judgment are imperceptibly destroyed, prefiguring the “scandalous annihilation of life” (144). Arendt (1994a) regarded this gradual dehumanization and banalization of what would otherwise be considered horrific as the “worst offense of totalitarianism,” as it produces “soulless men” (Kristeva (2001b, 139). In Vespasian’s case, indifference towards his patients literally leads to their death, as occurs when the Old Man is left to die in the hospital without any medical attention or other form of care. Kristeva associates totalitarianism’s destruction of thinking, of the inability to act and judge on one’s own, not only with the lack of care manifest in the story of Vespasian but also with the destruction of all social bonds based on mutual recognition and respect, a destruction that leads to moral and physical violence and makes hatred commonplace. Hatred and the Misdirection of Revolt Hatred leads to the cultivation of fear in Santa Varvara, manifesting the annihilation of empathy and a sense of responsibility for the other, to the point that each person has the capacity to engage in “a potential Hiroshima – a war motivated by the ego, without frontiers, and without such paltry refinements as ‘good’ and ‘evil’” (97). Hatred and fear are used by the “wolves” as 135 techniques to paralyze and dehumanize people, making them turn on each other like “beasts”: “people quarreled and shouted at one another in the subway and on the buses, their faces fierce and distorted; famished crowds waited in line outside the stores, exchanging insults” (82). Hatred also defines the relationship between Vespasian and Alba Ram, making the word “together” “unthinkable” (56). Reflecting on her feelings towards Vespasian, whom she married because she felt lonely and vulnerable after her parents suddenly “disappeared,” Alba describes her own inner existence as dominated by hatred: “When I look inside myself, I find nothing but hatred” (103, my italics). So powerful is Alba’s hatred that it becomes the only thing that gives coherence and stability to her life, as she explains to Stephanie, her former friend who has come to Santa Varvara to document human rights abuse and visits her there. She describes herself as “Hating in silence, paralyzed with humiliation and yet at the same time ecstatic. For hatred is painless when you think it’s justified …. Did I catch it from Vespasian, or had I gotten it already? Like perfect love, invulnerable hatred is uneventful – it contains no surprises” (103, my italics). For Alba and Vespasian, hatred emerges as the only thing the couple shares. So profound is Vespasian’s hatred of Alba that the mere thought of her falling ill and requiring care angers him to the utmost: “She didn’t dare fall ill any more…. For it is possible to stay well out of sheer terror. Alba did so for fear that Vespasian might explode…. If Alba actually got influenza, it only made Vespasian even less sympathetic: wasn’t a wilting wife simply asking to be disliked?” (74). The hateful and hurtful relationship between Alba and Vespasian serves to demonstrate that totalitarianism not only entails the destruction of public spaces and of social bonds, but also diverts any power to resist and act to the wrong target - against others who are also victims of dehumanization, rather than against the system that produces
UBC Theses and Dissertations
The ethical and political function of revolt in Julia Kristeva's novels Rus, Laura Bianca 2011
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