KRISTEVA'S interview... I'm shocked...

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Posted by Mai-Thu A. Perret on February 05, 1997 at 17:45:53:

what struck me there is l'impotence de son propos au niveau politique.
she ahs a very western, indeed very christian (essentially grounded in a
belief in the self, the individual as the only determining and meaningful
way of understanding society, people) view of freedom, of revolte. the
botom line is, as she says it., that this type of constant remise en
question of the self and of social formations is only possible within a
liberal bourgeois society, with fairly rich and non alienated individuals
free to take part in a democratic dialogue in the sort of public space of
exchange about 'le sacre' she dreams of.
now tell me what the fuck does
the peasant woman in afganistan give a shit about finnegan's wake and
joyce's acheivement in his individual revolte against the language o
reification and order? i guess kristeva would say that she is preocupied
with the problem of 'vraie revolte' and that as this type of revolte is
impossible in non liberal western states, she is not under the need to
talk about it.
now this is fucked up because it feeds on a partial, screwed up
vision of the structures of political and economic domination which
create the world as it is, as a whole (ie including both west and rest).
the space that exists for democratic exchange and self questioning in
europe and in the us is contaminated, implicated and indeed predicated
upon the misery, the absence of space to talk in and create in in the rest
of the world.(this is not so much post colonial theory, its just plain
basic economics)
it is fully irresponsible, if she considers herself as an intellectual
with a conscience (who wants to attend to truth as far as this is
possible), how can she really believe that hervlittle half measure of a
revolte based on the self satisfied identity questioning of the western
subject is a true revolte? the truth is, this is no more a true revolte
than the political compromises for the sake of praxis she is so keen to
for example: let us take the work of art which she seems to
consider like such a wonderful space for revolte. she is blind to the very
negativity she pretends to want to attend to when she elevates these works
to the status of pure revolte, pure truth in the face of the corrupted
world of praxis. the work of art (here i follow adorno) has a
revolutionairyu potential only insofar as it is autonomous, ie insofar
as it has become incapable of having any effect on the world. the
work of art is an act of memory in a way mcuh more profound than kristeva
with her half baked psychoanalysis cares to think about. the work of art
is literally a memorial to the separation of beauty from truth and ethics.
it has its value as critique, as critique of identity only insofar as it
is also a=n indictement of this failure to make the link with the world
possible. it serves much more than a psychoanalitic function (at least
adorno cares to see art for itself as well as art for the world. with
kristeva here, to an extent which i don't think was that potent in her
earlier writing, art seems to be a purely somatic thing: it expresses and
questions identity, it exists for the subject. that's the derive of
psychoanalysis). to go back to my point, in this interview i find it sad
that k. is so unequivocal about the work of art: it's a retreat, a refuge
for the desillusioned intellectual, whereas i would like to see it as the
site of both the critique and the failure of the critique of modernity.
(not dialectical enough, k.)
and this from someone who wants to think negativity again!

one or two more things:
i don't belive for one second that my generation is inculte and
ininterested by knowledge. it is cynical, maybe (and that's healthy, it's
called not fooling yourself). this kind of age d'or melancholy about
better days is just a sad thing that happens to ageing intellectuals. its
pure mystification.
i agree with all your misgivings about le sacre

i'm quite shocked by these two comments:1 "que ces gens la au
rwanda ou au zaire ils vont arriver a nos problemes quand leurs problemes
economiques seront resolus" . that's plain silly. it implies a
construction of the relationship between developed and devoloping world
not as differeent realities within the same time, modernity and its
different faces, but rather as a difference on a evolutionairy temporal
scale. (cf homi bhabha) the problem is not that they will be where we are
when they will have sorted out their economy but rather that right now our
economy enables us to have these problems and perpetrates their problems
on their parts of the planet. zaire and rwanda are as much a product of
modernity, are in fact only possible within the structures of modernity,
as contemporary french problems of self-expression. this confusion of time
and space is theoretically complacent and fully ideological. (it's yet
another version of the idea that africans are children, that natives are a
younger versionof whites, that they live outside of history. it's been
global for a least 400 years!)
2."vous avez droit a votre creativite dans un ghetto et personne
ne s'interesse a ca" but when you live in a ghetto, you can't really care
less about finnegan's wake!

okay, i think that's it. all i had to say was anyways a reiteration of a
few points about negative dialectics and the ambivalent position of the
autonomous artwork which would i pull kristeva's propos out of its
individualistic muddle of sacredness and self.
it's a bit harsh, i guess. i just find it upsetting that someone so
intelligent can be so irresponsible.

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