Lips that Speak as One?

                                                

Following the impact of Derrida, a distinctive form of poststructuralist feminism began to emerge in France. Unlike Marxist-socialist and liberal-egalitarian strains, this group repudiated aspirations to ‘equality’ with men. Why, they asked, should women wish to be on a par with their oppressors? Why not celebrate difference, developing new forms of association and representation as appropriate? This is what they chose to do. Their work focuses on feminine practices of speech and writing, in relation to a dominant patriarchal symbolic order. My account here draws on the work of three principal contributors: Luce Irigaray, Helene Cixous and Julia Kristeva.

Irigaray’s best-known work – ‘Speculum of the Other Woman’ – appeared in 1974 and secured her prompt expulsion from Lacan’s Ecole Freudienne de Paris. Its purpose was to appropriate psychoanalysis towards feminist ends. This is worthwhile because Freud acknowledges the social construction of gender relations and, implicitly, the significance of the ideological process whereby meanings are assigned to sexual difference. But although Freud’s insight is potentially subversive of patriarchal social relations, his account of the Oedipus Complex negates this potential by focusing on anatomy and reinforces the very norms it threatened to undermine. His performance exemplifies what Irigaray calls the Logic of the Same, which works to reinstate the single vision it proclaims, even as it seems to put this in question. Such ‘logic’ is particularly evident in Freud’s attempt to universalize the construction of gender relations, which neutralizes his insight that sexuality is not just biologically ordained. For if ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ get their meanings within a universal structure of interpretation (penis envy, incest taboo etc.) which is universal because of its links with human anatomy, the scenario remains non-negotiable. It is also gratuitous – what happens is that Freud, working from visible anatomical difference (the presence as opposed to absence of a penis), looks at the girl and sees nothing but a lack. Thus she becomes the negative of a male norm. Irigaray argues that this episode is characteristic of patriarchal thought, which is incapable of representing woman as anything other than the negative of its own reflection.  Indeed, she continues, in the period from Plato to Freud covered by ‘Speculum’, patriarchal tradition posits a subject who is capable of transparent reflection on his own being, constructing himself as self-present and in control. This account of (masculine) rationality echoes Derrida on ‘phallogocentrism’.

For Irigaray, patriarchal thought is obsessively reflexive. It always aspires to return to itself, conserving and extending positions from which it begins. The philosopher’s (masculine) speculations are fundamentally narcissistic. They recapitulate the scene of an infant before a Lacanian mirror, the speculum of Irigaray’s title. For just as the infant misrecognises itself in the mirror phase, so the patriarchal thinker contrives to (mis)recognize himself in the fantasy of his own speculations. The pun is relentless: Irigaray’s insight is that patriarchal speculation is never open-ended. It bears the imprint of its subject’s ‘specularizing’ tendencies: his propensity to ‘fix’ things by means of his gaze – as Freud ‘fixes’ the girl-woman – such that he constantly projects the structure of his own internal disposition, thereby reducing the world to a series of reflections of his fantasy. But because presence and consistency (sameness) are so central to this, there is no space for woman (difference) in his discourse. Thus the Logic of the Same represses woman, except in her negative guise as man’s Other.

Effectively, women are denied subjectivity. They are objectified in a discourse which constructs them as stable objects for specularizing male subjects. Man exists in a mirroring relationship with woman where he represents all that she aspires and fails to be. ‘He’ is stable and assured, knowing, (self-)present and in charge; ‘she’ is volatile, hysterical, impressionable. He believes himself to be the phallus which she, lacking, is said to want but can access only through him. She is cultured to maintain his illusion by affording complementary reflections: by becoming what he needs her to be. But if she were to move out of her own discretion the stability of his presence would be undone. Her difference would become his chaos. A comprehensive ‘fixing’ of woman is therefore required. This ‘fixing’ is what Irigaray purports to undo in her readings of patriarchal tradition. Her argument is that – granted the prevalence of the Logic of the Same, which subordinates absence and difference – ‘woman’ is strictly excluded from representation in patriarchal culture. She can only appear there as a construct articulated from the male point of view, as the negative of his obsessive self-reflections. Whence the title of her work: Speculum of the Other (who is) Woman. Speculum: Latin for mirror, metaphorical site of primary misrecognition in Lacan, and gynaecological instrument of presumptuous violation by objectifying males. In this Speculum, however, Irigaray wields the mirror, turning patriarchal reflections back on themselves, exposing their construction of ‘woman’ as Other, the negative of their idealised ‘self’. Her book is a speculum of the Other. In usurping the mirror, she appropriates her determinations and speaks back through them.

Emboldened, Irigaray goes on in later works to propose a ‘parole des femmes’, a women’s speech which she associates with a female as distinct from male libido. The male/masculine libido is unified according to the promptings of the penis in the physical sphere of sexual relations and of the phallus in the sublimated sphere of cultural relations. Its corresponding linguistic forms are logic and analytic rationality. The feminine libido, by contrast, is autoerotic, multiform and plural. Unlike the singular penis/phallus, it is polycentric, being characterised by diverse sites of pleasure in the vagina, clitoris, breasts, labia, cervix and uterus. This variety is reflected in feminine languages, and in their association with magic, mysticism, poetry and other categories of irrationality. Irigaray advocates the assumption of such ‘languages of irrationality’ in order to subvert the dominance of patriarchal discourse. Beyond the discretionary aspect of political choice, however, she insists that women’s speech is fundamentally associated with feminine ‘morphology’: ‘A woman ‘touches herself’ constantly without anyone being able to forbid her to do so, for her sex is composed of two lips which embrace continually. Thus, within herself she is already two – but not divisible into ones – who stimulate each other…’

 

This morphology is apparent also in woman’s speech, which seeks to avoid definition: ‘In her statements – at least when she dares to speak out – woman retouches herself constantly … One must listen to her differently in order to hear an ‘other meaning’ which is constantly in the process of weaving itself, at the same time ceaselessly embracing words and yet casting them off to avoid becoming fixed… For when ‘she’ says something, it is already no longer identical to what she means…’

 

Woman as embodiment of difference and dissemination, now become the prerogative of her speech rather than of language per se. For just as the condition of language as differance is repressed by phallogocentrism according to Lacan, so also is ‘womanly speech’, which Irigaray identifies with the repressed of patriarchal discourse. One question we must raise, therefore, is how it is that a mooted association between women and a repressed order of language is brought about. Helene Cixous provides an answer: echoing Irigaray’s ‘specular’ reading of penis envy as a displacement – a projected negative reflection – of male castration anxiety, she notes that women, not being so afflicted, have less need to fortify themselves with ego defence mechanisms. Hence they enjoy easier access to the unconscious. Being more responsive to her inner promptings, ‘woman’ is less fixed by identities assigned via a patriarchal symbolic which are not compellingly rooted in her experience. Accordingly, when she operates in language, she is never quite identical to what she intends. This is a fundamental principle in both Lacan’s and Derrida’s philosophy of language. What is novel here is the extent to which women are said to realise it, experientially, within themselves. This speech becomes apparent when they speak together, in the absence of men. Otherwise it disappears and phallocratic norms are re-asserted. Against this, woman ‘retouches herself’ when she dares to speak out (of herself, rather than the mould imposed by patriarchal fixing). Her meanings are never self-identical. They touch and go, as in Derrida’s dissemination. Thus we cannot ask what is behind it all, what a woman actually thinks. For her answer, as in the condition of ‘full speech’, must be, paradoxically: ‘Nothing. Everything.’

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Helene Cixous came to prominence in the mid-70’s with a series of ‘poetic’ writings that explore relationships between women, femininity and textuality. She identifies the poststructuralist text as ‘feminine’, meaning that it works towards meaning rather than from it. It exhibits recalcitrant, trans-structural features which Derrida shows to be suppressed by the absolute text of phallogocentric tradition. This tradition, we have seen, is governed by the imperatives of binary thinking. Cixous argues that pairings like Activity/Passivity, Sun/Moon, Culture/Nature, Day/Night,  Father/Mother and so on ultimately derive, within a patriarchal value system, from a fundamental, endlessly transposed Male/Female couple, where the latter term is always cast as the passive, negative element. Each presents an instance of what Derrida calls ‘violent hierarchy’, in which the ‘feminine’ aspect is always subordinated. These ‘couples’ never balance. The first term always dominates the second in order to secure its own meaning. Hence the patriarchal Symbolic leaves no positive space for woman. It annihilates her integrity. ‘Death’ is at work in such thinking. Cixous proposes an alternative view which re-establishes woman as a centre of life and creativity. Towards this end, she attempts to transcend logocentric ideology by promoting a ‘feminine’ language-writing that will undermine patriarchy’s lop-sided binarism.

This is crucial, for ideology functions as a kind of membrane which envelops our awareness, keeping it small and subjected. But Derrida’s analyses, like Lacan’s analytic practice, show how it is possible to open gaps occasioned by differance. Cixous’ ‘feminine’ writing swells through these gaps, expanding the artificially constrained sense of self within which humans, and especially women, have been imprisoned. This produces texts that favour difference, heterogeneity and motility over permanence and sameness. Such ‘feminine’ texts are distinguished by particular kinds of writing, rather than their authors’ biological sex. Most women produce masculine writing, imbued with patriarchal forms and values. Men sometimes produce writing that is feminine. Cixous stresses this because she wants to reassert the inherently bisexual nature of all human beings. This ‘other (bi)sexuality’ predates Oedipal fixing of gender relations. It is plural and fluid, hinging on non-exclusion, either of difference or one sex. Yoking woman into a binary male-female structure, by contrast, reduces her to the negative of man’s fantasy and shelters him from her real ‘Otherness’, including the uncontrollable difference that he fears in her.

Cixous describes feminine writing as ‘poetic’ rather than ‘theoretical’. Theoretical discourse is inherently repressive; a sublimated form of interrogation that expresses a ‘masculine libidinal economy’. Being governed by a fear of ‘castration’, it is marked by a structural urge to control: to be in charge and stay there. The result is a masculine ‘Realm of the Proper’, where everything has its place. Classification, systematisation and hierarchies prevail. Thus, even when a masculine thinker seems to put things in question, he is really putting them in (a more favourable) place and banking on some return, namely a consolidated position of control. Think of scientific method and what Kuhn says about paradigm thinking, for example. Contrast this with the ‘Realm of the Gift’, which Cixous associates with a feminine libidinal economy. Here, the woman gives without thought of return, unafraid to be generous. She is unafraid because she is not affected by castration anxiety and thus not preoccupied with issues of presence and control. However, due to effects of cultural formation, there is room for slippage between man’s association with a masculine libidinal economy and woman’s assumed identification with a feminine one.

Beyond this, Cixous posits an integral link between feminine writing and the Mother as ultimate source of the voice heard in feminine texts. Such texts re-present the traces of a primeval voice once heard, wherein each woman sings of ‘the first nameless love’ between Mother and child in a time before the Father’s No:

 ‘The Voice, a song before the Law, before the breath was split by the symbolic, re-appropriated into language under the authority that separates. The deepest, most ancient and adorable of visitations…’

 

Writing and voice weave together so that the woman, speaking, becomes one with her voice, which rises from her deepest core. This voice is not (just) her own, in the sense of Lacan’s subject of enunciation, whose identity is assigned by the Symbolic. It passes to the woman from her Mother, and her Mother, and hers, and so on till we have exhausted the sense of ‘Mother’ as metaphor for all that she has come from and been nourished by. This is the source of her being and her voice: ‘inexhaustible milk. She has been found again. The lost mother. Eternity: it is the voice mixed with milk.’ This voice precedes naming and syntax, all operations of division and linear re-integration which characterise patriarchal/analytic language. It expresses an Imaginary disposition which predates the Oedipus/Symbolic in Lacan. Thus Cixous proclaims herself a ‘feminine plural’, able to assume countless subject positions via a prodigious capacity of Imaginary identification. Reading/writing, she becomes Dido, Medusa, Cleopatra, Antigone, Electra. She participates in Eternity through the text: ‘The book – I could reread it with the help of memory and forgetting. Start over again. From another perspective, from another and yet another. Reading, I discovered that writing is endless. Everlasting. Eternal. Writing or God. God the writing. The writing God.’

Women enjoy relatively privileged access to this repressed potential because, as we have seen, their lack of castration anxiety means they are less bound than men by ego defence mechanisms. Hence they are less likely to repress the Mother’s Voice and are moved to write, as though uncontrollably, by some mysterious force or ‘breath’:

‘Because it was so strong and furious, I loved and feared this breath. To be lifted up one morning, snatched off the ground, swung in the air. To be surprised. To find in myself the possibility of the unexpected. To fall asleep as a mouse and wake up as an eagle! What delight! What terror. And I had nothing to do with it, I couldn’t help it…’

 

This forceful breath arises from ‘another limitless space’ within the body. Echoes of Derrida’s ‘force’ are self-evident but it is the association with breath (before it was split by the symbolic) that gives Cixous’ words their distinctively feminine character: ‘She alone dares and wishes to know from within, where she, the outcast, has never ceased to hear the resonance of fore-language. She lets the other language speak – the language of 1,000 tongues which knows neither enclosure nor death.’

 

Fore-language: the langue before parole. The language of the unconscious, as Lacan would have it, which becomes ‘fore-language’ by virtue of repression. When this happens, the subject of enunciation, of culturally fixed gender and identity, is swept aside by the unconscious’ erotic quest for unity. The mouse awakens as an eagle, having restored contact with elemental energies that are repressed and canalised by imposition of the Law. This is not a matter of actively engaging the ‘other’ language but of opening to its always latent presence and becoming a conduit for it. Like Lacan’s subject of ‘full speech’, Cixous offers herself as a channel, terrified because familiar coordinates are overwhelmed, yet delighted by the surge of latent powers. And fore-language, the langue of the unconscious before it is made ‘dynamic’ via repression, is restored. Thus nourished and regenerated (‘I was eating the texts, I was sucking, licking, kissing them’), she aspires to feed back into the Eternal (condition of textuality) which has awakened her: ‘Write? I was dying to do it for love, to give the writing what it had given to me. What an ambition! What impossible happiness. Feed my own mother. Give her, in her turn, my milk?’

 

But there is also an external Symbolic, incorporating particular languages which we acquire by virtue of our genius for fore-language, whose impact is required in order for fore-language to become significant. Cixous evokes this process as a splitting of the breath. As a child, I learn my native tongue. I have always ‘spoken’ fore-language. Now I must learn to speak/write in French, English or whatever: ‘One writes in. Penetration. Door. Knock before you enter. Absolutely forbidden… How could I not have wanted to write? When books took me, transported me, pierced me to the depths of my soul, let me feel their disinterested potency? … When my being was populated, my body traversed and fertilized, how could I have closed myself in silence?’

Sexual imagery arises implicitly here in relation to the ‘rape-text’ of patriarchal language rather than the ‘mother-text’ of fore-language. ‘One writes in’ – entailing submission to the phallic order of language spoken in the Father’s Name/No. Penetrated by it, ‘one’ becomes a subject. Knock before you enter: ‘one’ is interpellated into a structure of manners which hinges on taboo. Absolutely forbidden. But penetration, piercing and transporting, effects a symbolic fertilization, opens ‘one’ in some way. How could ‘I’ close myself as I am being so prolifically invested from without? Mesmerised, I succumb to the insistence of the text. This seems paradoxical since, on the one hand, we are asserting that patriarchal Law impinges as a rape (and not just on women) while also arguing that this violation opens us up, as it were. There is one point I would like to make now regarding this: it anticipates Foucault’s observation (chapter 17) that even as power seems to prohibit, it shapes us to produce. The discourse of sexuality is a paradigm case. It engages our yearnings and moulds them as desires. In late to post- modern culture, it disposes us to ‘write’ beyond stuttering formulations of desire towards an enhanced sense of our own indecipherable longing. Cixous, echoing Lacan, names this longing Mother. Surpassing him, she identifies with the matrix of our planetary being: ‘I am myself the earth, everything that happens on it, all the lives that live me there in my different forms…’

 

Because of its pre-Oedipal origins, feminine writing gravitates towards evocation of a plenitude known in early childhood, before there was differentiation between Mother, ‘I’ or anything else. It moves in the condition described by Lacan’s Imaginary. Hence there is apparent tension between Cixous’ advocacy of difference within the Symbolic and her enthusiasm for the self-sameness of the Imaginary, where difference cannot exist. How can she maintain this disparity? She couldn’t if she played by philosophy’s rules, but she doesn’t: ‘I let myself be carried off by the poetic word.’ This restores an Imaginary awareness but can’t abolish the Symbolic any more than it would be possible to cancel ‘penetration’. Thus, in Cixous’ writing, visions of lost depth and integrity burst through the constraints of the Symbolic, pour through its gaps, inhabit its absences and swell to evoke a totality formerly known: ‘I have the tireless love of a mother, that is why I am everywhere, my cosmic belly, I work on my worldwide unconscious, I throw death out, it comes back again, I am pregnant with beginnings.’

 

Cixous makes no attempt to theorise this relation. She just expresses it. Nevertheless, such evocations of the Imaginary are possible only from within the Symbolic. The Imaginary affords neither means nor occasion. We don’t evoke that by which we are already suffused. And Cixous doesn’t transcend subject positions, nor does she fail to acknowledge them. Rather she experiences from all of them in headlong erotic pursuit – ‘… she is the erotogeneity of the heterogeneous: airborne swimmer, in flight, she does not cling to herself; she is dispersible, prodigious, stunning, desirous and capable of others, of the other woman that she will be, of the other woman she isn’t, of him, of you.’ The point is not that the Imaginary resolves differences but rather that difference has not been introduced there. What we witness in Cixous, in the form of feminine writing, is a process of utopian revisioning wherein the poetic text, embracing difference, expresses a residual longing for Imaginary wholeness. This is not just an illusion, as Lacan would have it. It is the germ of an alternative vision for life and community, which might achieve manifest form and certainly enriches the experience of one capable of it. No ‘seer’ was ever asked to yield a more substantial gift. That Cixous is criticised for political irrelevance says much about the pragmatic tenor of our vision-hungry times.

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Julia Kristeva also uses Lacan as a point of departure, charting the friction between pre-Oedipal eros and paternal Law. She is more explicit in positing a relationship between political repression and the psychic repression associated with entering the Symbolic order of culture (religion, law, economics and so on). These are patriarchal discourses and function to subdue the primary pleasure of the body as experienced in spontaneously erotic early Mother-child interactions. In view of this, Kristeva’s appraisal of the pre-Oedipal period is very different than Lacan’s. He associates ‘cure’ with openness to the play of signification, something that becomes possible only after the Imaginary ego has been renounced as illusory. Like Cixous, Kristeva disputes his tendency to relegate the Imaginary in this way for, she argues, it encompasses a lived reality whose loss is tantamount to actual privation and is felt as a subsequent sense of lack. She substitutes the term ‘Semiotic’ for Lacan’s ‘Imaginary’ to refer to our pre-Oedipal dispositions. The semiotic is repressed by the Symbolic and enters into an adversarial relationship with it. The process of signification is thus established as a continuing dynamic interaction between an erotically charged Semiotic and the conventionally patterned Symbolic. This precludes stasis and permits constant renewal of codes. It means that the subject is never finally ‘fixed’. Thus Kristeva speaks of a ‘subject-in-process’, where the process of subjectivity is also a process of signification, but not in the deterministic manner of classic structuralism, for the impact of the semiotic affords a degree of freedom lacking in orthodox accounts.

The ‘Semiotic’ resembles Freud’s primary process in that it posits a commitment to pleasure before guilt or shame is introduced. It constitutes a wellspring of resistance to the Symbolic. Investment by the Father’s Name represses what Kristeva calls jouissance. This is an earthy, elemental energy. It expresses the intrinsic excitement and delight of being alive. Jouissance flows freely within what Kristeva calls the chora – a term which derives from the Greek word for ‘receptacle’ or ‘womb’. It refers to a primordial experience of plenitude and abundance which is possible only when one is held within the warmth and safety of the mother’s being. The nature of this holding is such that it requires total participation. Hence the mother also is bound by the relationship. No individuation is possible within it. But the advent of the Symbolic pushes the child towards a kind of psychic autonomy, as the subject of her/his own signifying practice. Kristeva refers to this as a splitting of the semiotic continuum. This incorporates and contextualises Lacan’s theme of the split subject. Individuation would not be possible but for this development.

The chora persists as a repressed psychic space, where the ‘pulsions’ of repressed jouissance are gathered up. They achieve expression through movement, gesture and nonverbal vocalisation. They also appear in discourse when the vigilance of the ego is relaxed or overcome – in creativity or analysis, for example. There is more than the obtrusion of outlawed signifiers involved here, for the semiotic retains its own expressive capacities. These include nonverbal vocalisations such as babbling and crying, and are marked by rhythms and intonations which have no significance. Initially, the Semiotic takes the form of rhythmic, playful, non-sense which accompanies the child’s erotic explorations of its own/Mother’s body. This is curtailed by the impact of the Symbolic, which splits the continuum in the dual sense of 1) positioning the child as a subject of language, according to its newly acquired sense of ‘I’, and 2) organising its rhythmic babble into a system of signifying differences which constitutes language as the object of structural linguistics. Focusing this second aspect only is not enough. The Semiotic remains vital, for language is heterogeneous as well as structural. Indeed, it is this quality which explains its dynamism and powers of self-renewal. With the splitting of the Semiotic, however, a thetic phase begins. The subject shifts to propositional language, which involves the marking of distinctions. It has to, since language is intrinsically analytical.

Within the Symbolic, the chora is more or less successfully repressed depending on the extent to which particular subjects identify with the father or the mother. As we have seen, the Father’s Law demands a movement away from the primary Mother-child bond. The positions available to the boy here are relatively straightforward: he identifies with the father. The girl’s condition is more complex, for she must identify with her mother in a way which is no longer immediate, having been restructured by paternal Law. This allows a less decisive break than the boy’s. Hence, because of the relative fragility of their standing in the Symbolic, it can be more difficult for women to question radically the identities they are assigned there, and more difficult for them to put this identity at risk by opening to the disruptive influences of a repressed semiotic. Accordingly, Kristeva argues (unlike Cixous and Irigaray), it is more likely to be men – exceptional men such as Joyce and Mallarme – who produce literary texts celebrating semiotic values of playfulness and musicality. They can afford to do this because of the extent to which their identities are securely anchored in a Symbolic which educates and moulds them well. So tenuous is women’s place in a patriarchal Symbolic, however, that efforts to confront the semiotic risk psychotic regression and loss of identity. Nevertheless, the achievement of mother-identification offers women privileged access to the Semiotic, as do experiences of pregnancy and birthing.

It has become a common practice among literary feminists to ‘write’ returns to the mother as known prior to the incursions of patriarchal Law. Kristeva’s apparent deprecation of women’s writing in this respect – as distinguished by the specificity of its themes rather than notable feats of semiotic innovation – has angered critics, who see her neglect of material constraints on women’s creativity as naive. For Kristeva, however, there can be no such thing as women’s writing or, indeed, men’s writing. There is only writing as such, more or less permeable to ‘pulsions’ of the Semiotic. To imagine otherwise is to lapse into facile belief in a distinctive feminine essence which sets all women apart from all men, irrespective of socio-cultural formation. Against this, Kristeva favours ‘an understanding of women that would have as many feminines as there are women’. Hence it is doubly impossible for women to exist in the Symbolic – not only is it patriarchal, there is also no abiding essence of ‘woman’ to be represented there. The same is true of men. It is also true of individual subjects who, because they are in process, cannot be characterised in terms of a static essence.

Nevertheless, the Symbolic serves to ‘fix’ identity. As it does, the Semiotic undergoes restriction. The impact of the Symbolic is necessary, however, if thought, signification and a sense of individual identity are to emerge. Thereafter the Semiotic is fated to press against borders of rational discourse, but only in so far as it may be contained by them. To push beyond this point would risk lapsing into psychosis, forfeiting sense rather than expanding its range.  Hence jouissance must continue to surface in poetic/experimental texts just as the subject must stay in process, without a fixed identity, allowing its effects. The chora remains the source of driving, dissipative pulsions that can be contained but never expunged: ‘Grammar and memory, authoritarian and paternal, are broken up so that a new potential for signifying (a return to fusion with the mother) can arise…’

 

And yet, dominant groups consolidate their dominance by manipulating the process of meaning production through fixing signs. Any movement which threatens to subvert this fixity threatens the Symbolic order it supports. Nevertheless, subjects-in-process retain sufficient latitude to dissent in so far as they stay responsive to their culturally overwritten semiotic urges and absorb them into consciousness in some way. Such promptings tend to evoke a more fulfilled order of life. They project without representing utopian fantasies that grow out of infantile roots: when one was held, safe and warm, in the Mother’s body. Such memories of plenitude might well inspire social revolution. Certainly, Kristeva insists, a truly revolutionary politics must entail a transformed notion of subjectivity. Otherwise there is a tendency for new codes – including feminism – to impress a new standard. This has the effect of reducing semiotic fluidity to Symbolic fixity yet again. It leaves us moulded in a new image but moulded nonetheless. Alternative politics must draw on pre-Symbolic memories and ‘counter-languages’ for the integrative vision we have been missing far too long.

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