chapter  Chapter 9
11 Pages

Kristeva’s Melancholia

Not Knowing How to Lose
WithDawne McCance

Melancholia, for Kristeva, is a destabilising psychic imprint of this kind, ‘imprint of separation and beginning of the symbol’s sway’. Judging from the few biographical details she has given us, Kristeva’s life is marked by this unsettling strangeness. Kristeva arrived in Paris, she says, with Céline and Blanchot in her suitcase and — in a move that seems unlikely given these sources — she went immediately to midnight mass. The mirror stage, in Kristeva’s second sense, refers to ‘the “spatial intuition” which is found at the heart of the functioning of signification’. In her auto-graphical performance of this borderline identification-incorporation drama, Kristeva returns again and again to the maternal fantasy in which our culture is caught, the eternal feminine against which the sign and self emerge. The same questions have been brought to Kristeva’s auto-graph text, ‘Stabat Mater’, in Tales of Love.