chapter  Chapter 8
14 Pages

‘Death, then, how could I Yield to it?’

Kristeva’s Mortal Visions
WithGrace M. Jantzen

Kristeva wrote ‘Stabat Mater’ with direct reference to Pergolesi’s musical composition of that name, in which he represents Mary the mother of Jesus standing with John the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross, watching Jesus die. It is this scene of motherhood and death upon which the connected prose, including the right-hand column, reflects. The death that is most to the fore in ‘Stabat Mater’, the death of Jesus, has been formative of the entire constellation of the Western Symbolic which has Christendom at its centre. Kristeva’s emphasis on death is part of her ongoing conversation with Freud and his appropriation by Lacan. The characterisation of the life and death drives in terms of thermodynamic theories of quantum physics has not found universal favour even among psychoanalysts. The death drive and the death-work, as presented in the writings of Freud, Lacan, or Kristeva, are presented in naturalising terms; that is, they are presented as rooted in human nature.