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??? COHPAnATIST be read widely, for it elucidates his work as a translator. Like some ofthe essays in Translating Literatures, it points toward the great potential oftranslation studies. Carol MaierKent State University JULIA KRISTEVA. The Sense and Non-sense ofRevolt: The Powers and Limits ofPsychoanalysis. Trans. Jeanine Herman. New York: Columbia UP, 2000. 243 pp. Julia Kristeva's 7Ae Sense andNon-sense ofRevolt (originally published in French in 1996) revisits the theme ofrevolution so prominent in her earlier work, Revolution in Poetic Language (1974). In that book Kristeva identified the possibility of revolution in language—a revolution she deems analogous to social revolution— with (maternal) semiotic forces in avant garde literature. In Powers ofHorror (1980) this semiotic force of drives is associated not only with the maternal but more particularly with the abject or revolting aspects of the maternal. Here, the revolting becomes revolutionary through the return of the repressed (maternal) within (paternal) symbolic systems. Two decades later, in The Sense andNon-sense ofRevolt, Kristeva asks ifrevolt is possible today. She claims that within postindustrial and post-Communist democracies we are confronted with a new political and social economy governed by the spectacle, within which it becomes increasingly difficult to think ofthe possibility ofrevolt. The two main reasons are that, within media culture, the status ofpower and the status ofthe individual have changed. Kristeva argues that in contemporary culture there is a power vacuum that results in the inability to locate the agent or agency ofpower and authority or to assign responsibility. We live in a no-fault society in which crime has become a media friendly spectacle that government and social institutions normalize rather than prohibit. The fact that these institutions are corruptible and full ofscandals, however , undermines even their authority to normalize. The combination ofthe lack of locatable authority and the fact that government and social institutions are corruptible results in the breakdown ofauthority. Kristeva attributes the inability to revolt to this lack of authority. The problem, then, is that there is no authority against which to revolt. In a no-fault society, who or what can we revolt against? Kristeva also identifies the impossibility ofrevolt with the changing status of the individual. The human being as a person with rights is becoming nothing more than an ensemble oforgans that can be bought and sold or otherwise exchanged, what Kristeva calls the patrimonial individual. And, how can an ensemble oforgans revolt? Not only is there no one or nothing to revolt against, but there is no one to revolt. In a provocative if underdeveloped move Kristeva suggests that since we cannot locate power—because it has become both normalizing and corruptible, and because there is no clear-cut authority to obey—we try to abolish our own feelings ofexclusion at all costs by renewing exclusion at the lower echelons ofsociety. We cannot imagine the revolt necessary to make authority our own because we cannot locate it, and so we feel excluded from the social. Therefore, within this paranoid culture where power is both everywhere and nowhere oppressing us, in order to feel included again, we exclude others. Without the possibility of revolt, there are not only unhappy social consequences but unhappy psychic ones. When individuals cannot locate authority and therefore cannot revolt against it to make it their own, they suffer from various "new maladies ofthe soul." Kristeva suggests that entering the social order requires VcH. 25 (2001): 169 REVIEWS assimilating the authority of that order through a revolt by which the individual makes meaning his or her own. Revolt, then, is not a transgression against law or order but a displacement of its authority within the psychic economy ofthe individual . Psychoanalysis and literature become the primary domains ofthis revolutionary displacement, which gives the individual a sense of inclusion in meaningmaking and the social that supports creative activities and the sublimation ofdrives. Without this displacement and the resulting feeling of inclusion, the individual cannot own the meanings ofculture and therefore cannot find meaning in anything. This disowned individual cannot have meaningful experiences but only traumatic ones because meaningful experience requires some assimilation into the social order. Kristeva defines trauma as what is unrepresentable as a result ofthe inability to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-0887
Print ISSN
0195-7678
Pages
pp. 169-170
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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