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418Philosophy and Literature tators, from Paul, Cameron, Shanley, and Anderson to, more recently, Stanley Cavell, Raymond Tripp, Frederick Garber, Sharon Cameron, and Robert Richardson . To this list, add the name of William C. Johnson, Jr. Central Missouri State UniversityMark Johnson Strangers to Ourselves, byJulia Kristeva; translated by Leon S. Roudiez; ix & 230 pp. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991, $29.00. One of the intriguing characteristics of the critic-psychoanalystJulia Kristeva is her creative evocation of ideas of other writers—Jung's types, Ong's masks, Keats's negative capability, Nietzsche's superman, Campbell's hero—without pointing direcdy to either the writers or their ideas. Rather, her studies draw on these interests leaving readers to create connections reflective of their own knowledge and desires. The current work is no exception. Drawing on specific representations from world history and place, she treats the critical-psychoanalytic theme of foreignness . In Chapter One she deals with the "transconsciousness" (p. 25) of Camus's Meursault and the "fragmented memory" (p. 34) of Nabokov's Sebastian Knight, in Chapter Three with the "charm of [Ruth] the Moabite's discreet but firm independence" (p. 73), in Chapter Four with the Christian writings of Paul and Augustine, in Chapter Six with Montaigne's discovery that he was "ruled by desire" (p. 1 19), in Chapter Seven with the "cosmopolitanism" (p. 131) of Montesquieu. Always she treats this material in a way which invites readers to a consideration of their own ideas, desires. Where many critics demand that we see their examples as not open to question, Kristeva, even in her lengthy treatment of Freudian thought in the last chapter, asks us to see what she presents as without boundaries, individualistic, private: "What might be involved, in the final analysis, is extending to the notion offoreigner the right of respecting our own foreignness and, in short, of the 'privacy' that insures freedom in democracies" (p. 195). Kristeva integrates a variety of subjects centered around her concept of the foreigner as she moves relendessly toward the view that foreignness exists not without but within the individual. This nature of the foreigner is set up both structurally and thematically—a critical technique bordering on creative expression —in the first paragraph ofthe book. In its grammatical incompleteness, the first sentence invigorates the necessary incompleteness of the critical-psy- Reviews419 choanalytic thought: "Foreigner: a choked up rage deep down in my throat, a black angel clouding transparency, opaque, unfathomable spur." A few lines later, in a complete sentence she suggests less the incompleteness of thought but the strangeness that is her subject: "Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden face of our identity, the space that wrecks our abode, the time in which understanding and affinity founder" (p. 1). This technique of incomplete and complete sentences and thought is creatively reinforced by her recurrent use of elliptic punctuation (. . .) to suggest the incompleteness ofeven the grammatically complete statement. Again the reader is asked to supply what the analyst—critical or psychological—cannot supply. Throughout, she speaks of the double—an image suited to her techniques and views of incomplete and complete: ". . . an alien double, uncanny and demonical. In this instance the strange appears as a defense put up by a distraught self: it protects itself by substituting for the image of a benevolent double that used to be enough to shelter it the image of a malevolent double into which it expels the share of destruction it cannot contain" (pp. 183-84). In what might recall Ong's masks, Kristeva herself writes of the foreigner as the philosopher's "double, his mask" (p. 134). Her references throughout the work to such other concepts as the abyss (see pp. 18, 59, and 187, for example), chaos (pp. 9, 56, 69), ambiguity (p. 70), and secret (p. 132) reinforce her view of the foreigner's existence both within and without our beings. In Chapter Eight, speaking of Freud, she gives us a summary reflective of this rich study: "By recognizing our uncanny strangeness we shall neither suffer from it nor enjoy it from the outside. The foreigner is within me, hence we are all foreigners. If I am a foreigner, there are...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 418-419
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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