Saturday, August 13, 2011

Kristeva's Black Sun: Matricide or Suicide (metaphorical of course)

A brief summary of Kristeva's Black Sun (1987), at the least her first chapter "Psychoanalysis: A Counterdepressant."
In Black Sun, Kristeva explores the concept of Depression/Melancholia, for she uses them interchangeably, and conceives of Melancholia as a linguistic malady. She p[oints to the failure of the symbolic for the melancholic who communicates at the semiotic level. She uses the image of the “black sun” which she borrows from Gérard de Nerval’s sonnet as to underscore the simultaneous radiance and darkness of the sun. It’s important to highlight that for Kristeva the importance of what Lacan labels the mirror stage where the child is separated from his/her mother’s body and thereby enters the symbolic realm, that is enters into language and becomes subsumed under the father of the law. But, there’s always a return to the maternal through the semiotic, which is not a system of signs as suggested by Ferdinand de Saussure, but for her is the study of marks. The semiotic, then, is at the level of gesture. To use Freudian parlance, it language that belongs to the pre-Oedipal infant. Melancholia/depression, then, arise when the subject fails to mourn the lost maternal, as such, unable to enter the symbolic system. So subjects under this condition, are unable to articulate their suffering yearns for the maternal Thing which belongs to a pre-discursive libidinal economy. In order to acquire a position as subject in the symbolic, one must commit what Kristeva terms, matricide. The melancholic chooses to sacrifices oneself rather than negate the mother and does not turn to a “third party⎯father, form, schema”As Kristeva writes, : “Of this Nerval provides a dazzling metaphor that
suggests an insistence without presence, a light without representation: the Thing is an imagined sun, bright and black at the same time.” However, as the metaphor of black sun suggests, there are two sides to this condition.
As one notes, Kristeva leaves the melancholic subject with few options, both debilitating in one way or another, and both return to the maternal figure.

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