Jozef Miskolci

Always between the Two

My paper is a theorisation of the psychical inclination to treat the Other (member of a “different” social group including gender) in an oppressive hierarchical manner through the prism of psychoanalytic theories. It primarily utilises the conceptual framework of Julia Kristeva’s psycho-linguistics and her theoretical account of the concept of “abjection”. But further, my work attempts to propose within this context a means to overcome the undesired repercussions of the inclination to oppress

Is an Oppression of the Other really a form of psychical inclination? Utilising the psychoanalytic models of infant psychosexual development of Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, and Julia Kristeva, this paper aims to expose the pattern of the child’s violent split from the mother-child dyadic relationship as a pattern we transpose to our later contacts with the Other. The psychical motive of this separation (and of all the later ones) is to define one’s subjectivity (identity, sense of the Self) in relation to the Other. In this sense, the nature of our identities is inherently relational, fluid, and malleable. However, by entering the Symbolic order (after the Oedipal phase) we are socially obliged to conform to the rules of the Law of the Father – to the structured character of language. This obligation, together with the threat of falling back under sway of mother-child dyadic unity – of Kristeva’s Semiotic order – as a state of non-identity, non-Self, libidinal chaos, motivates us to react to everything disturbing the rigidity and solidity of the Symbolic with revulsion and abjection. We attempt to dominate and master (to violently split from) the abject in order to keep stable the (Symbolic) integrity of the Self. In this way such a behavioural pattern in relation to the Other becomes a form of psychical inclination. In addition, it constitutes the basis for the social phenomenon of oppressive hierarchisation and marginalisation of various social groups.

How to overcome this psychical inclination to oppress? Looking through the conceptual framework of Julia Kristeva’s psycho-linguistic theory this thesis introduces two proposals. First, it calls for an “inner” admittance and acknowledgement that the nature of our subjectivities is inevitably relational, fluid, and malleable. And secondly, it invites the subjects to play and to queer the rigidity, fixity, and solidity of the (currently) hegemonic Symbolic modality within the present constellation of the “sociosymbolic contract”. In this spirit, it speaks up for a playful Dialectics of the Semiotic and Symbolic spaces, for relative stability, fluid solidity, and solid fluidity as a way out of the oppressive Master-Slave binary logics. Following from this, I do not see a primary need to deconstruct the “twoness” of gender, but rather a need to find the ways how to approach the Other – a person of a “different” gender (no matter what that means) – in a non-hierarchical manner.