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Artaud could then write, “[t]he dead little girl says, I am the one who guffaws in horror inside the lungs of the live one. It is not so much that we are horrified of what the corpse signifies (death), but of what the corpse may make of us if we bring it inside, or meet it at its horizon.The corpse takes us to the border of the “I” as we have come to understand this “I” in the symbolic order.“It lies there quite close, but cannot be assimilated”, as Kristeva writes, but it shares one important characteristic of the object, that is, it stands there before us, facing us and opposing us, the “I”.
Here, is the case of the child who has yet to distinguish itself from the father or mother.
Freud calls this “primary identification”, the first form of emotional attachment to something or someone, which comes before any defined and conscious distinction between subject and object.
Kristeva blends this primary identification of the baby in the process of eating and the becoming “I” or becoming subject/object in birth, with the experience of the abject (for the adult, we might say).
The whole experience of watching a child eat from the multitude of perspectives (whether we are the parent, an onlooker, the child) brings the abject into focus.
That detail, perhaps an insignificant one, but one that they ferret out, emphasize, evaluate, that trifle turns me inside out, guts sprawling; it is thus that they see that “I” am in the process of becoming an other at the expense of my own death, During that course in which “I” become, I give birth to myself amid the violence of sobs, of vomit. This Other for Lacan is language in the broadest sense, it is the community we live in, of shared ideas and accepted ways of being that existed long we as subjects came into the world.
Mute protest of the symptom, shattering violence of a convulsion that, to be sure, is inscribed in a symbolic system, but in which, without either wanting or being able to become integrated in order to answer to it, it reacts, it abreacts. By sitting outside that, the abject is territory-less, it wades in the unthinkable corners, not Other, not “I”.
Thus, a baby cannot distinguish itself from the world and experiences the world as a part of itself, “The breast is a part of me, I am the breast” (Freud).
The experience of the abject forces us into this liminal experience of infancy once again.
First, I’d like to further discuss examples of the abject.
Second, I’d like to put the abject into a much larger scheme in order to open up this text for our discussion today, that is, I’d like to look at it from the perspective of our conscience and the experience of the abject.