By Rina Arya (auth.)
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Extra info for Abjection and Representation: An Exploration of Abjection in the Visual Arts, Film and Literature
In the previous chapter we saw that the maternal body was made abject by the infant, not because the maternal body was unclean (although it may have been) but because it challenged boundaries and threatened identity. The boundary outlines the structure or system, which may refer to something particular and concrete such as one’s body or self, or to an organization, institution or society. Identity is constituted through a process of abjection resulting in clearly delineated boundaries between different states: inside and outside, life and death, and so on.
It is a fantasmatic substance not only alien to the subject but intimate with it – too much so in fact, and this overproximity produces panic in the subject. In this way the abject touches on the fragility of our boundaries . . (Foster, 1996a, p. 153) In contrast, disgust may induce powerful physical and emotional responses but the self remains intact. Menninghaus would disagree with the above evaluation that disgust is separate from fear. In his assessment, disgust involves the loss of self, which is something that invariably involves fear.
In this claim he is using ‘disgust’ as an umbrella term that, amongst other Unpacking Abjection 37 things, includes ‘abjection’ in its vocabulary and manifestation and does not suggest that it is a distinct phenomenon. In their introductory essay to Kolnai’s work on disgust, Carolyn Korsmeyer and Barry Smith make a brief but noteworthy comparison between Kristeva’s notion of abjection and Kolnai’s notion of disgust. They argue that the two are ‘different’ and that what distinguishes them is that while abjection entails disgust, it also involves fear, but the reverse is not true (Korsmeyer and Smith, 2004, p.
Abjection and Representation: An Exploration of Abjection in the Visual Arts, Film and Literature by Rina Arya (auth.)