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By Rina Arya (auth.)

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Additional info for Abjection and Representation: An Exploration of Abjection in the Visual Arts, Film and Literature

Sample text

When faced with the abyssal fear of death as present in the corpse, we can bear a signifier that indicates the absence of life, as is present in the flat encephalograph. But what is unbearable is the tangible presence of death, as found in the suppurating wound intimating the reality of the corpse. We refuse these sights in order to continue living and to preserve a sense of the Lacanian Symbolic realm of law, order and society. Bringing these sights into view prompts a rupture not only in understanding but also in signification, which is the point at which meaning falls apart.

By threatening the boundary, the immoral criminal can be described as abject. This chapter focuses on various systems of regulation that have been used in society and culture and investigates the role of the boundary in protecting the system from rupture. In the Introduction two conflicting operations of abjection were discussed, where it was viewed as being both foundational and disruptive of order. Here we look at abjection as a process of regulation, where ‘the operation to abject is fundamental to the maintenance of subjectivity and society alike’ (Foster, 1996a, p.

Building on Darwin’s research, they argue that disgust involves activating biological processes of rejection but involves more than an instinctual response to spoiled or unsavoury food. , 2008, p. 763). The academic backgrounds of these various writers convey the interest and applicability of the subject in fields as wide-ranging as philology, literature, biology, aesthetics and law. These many texts detail the pervasiveness of disgust that affects the behaviour of individuals and social groups on an aesthetic and moral level, but what is apparent throughout is how abjection had been overlooked.

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