Julia Kristeva
By: Ingrid Schorr | Categories: HiLo Heroes, Philosophy, Semiotics, Theory


Approaching the Bulgarian-French thinker, novelist, and psychoanalyst JULIA KRISTEVA (born 1941) for the first time is like setting sail, solo, on a three-masted schooner. It’s a terrific opportunity, you remind yourself, to view a familiar landscape from a new perspective, ride some swells, and enjoy the bracing, salty wind. But it’s also terrifying and alienating. All those ropes! They’re twisted and knotted and if you tug on one, something ripples way up on top of the mast. Relax, it’s just intertextuality. The nauseating sight of a seagull pecking at a dead fish? That’s just abjection. Stop calling your mother twice a day and you’ll get over it. Read a mystery novel instead.

“I think there are three things worth doing in the world,” Kristeva said. “To think, to heal, and to write.” Though she’s blamed for promoting multiculturalism, more recently she has denounced identity politics as a “dead end.” With the energy of a blast furnace, Kristeva advocates for the individual, whether in her mystery novels, her theoretical works, or her defense of TV reality shows. The psychic relief, she says, can potentially heal the malady of the soul.

ALSO BORN THIS DATE: Ambrose Bierce.

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Ingrid Schorr lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and works at Brandeis University.