Chao-Footnotes to Kristevan Semiotics
 Fred Abraham

The following philosophical and methodological backgrounds are assumed for my discussion:

1.    Philosophical Hermeneutics: The interpretation of the ontology of being, ". . . the primacy of Being, with our dependency on 'the given,' on human nature, language, culture, tradition, and social practices." Rhetoric and hermeneutics are complementary. (Crusius, 1991)

2.    A Chao-theoretical approach to creativity (Abraham, 1995)

3.    A rapprochement of feminist theory/psychology and postmodern discourse (Heilbrun,1996). Similar in deconstructing power bases, but the postmodern approach is complicitous without an agenda, while the feminist approach seeks power with a replacement agenda.

Kristeva, some of her fundamental positions with my chao-footnotes:

She has a "theory of marginality, subversion and dissidence. She believes in the potentially revolutionary force of the marginal and repressed aspects of language. She identifies the semiotic with a repressed feminine libidinal system, and the symbolic with a masculine libidinal system. R. Eisler, & R. Abraham extend this dichotomy to higher dimensional chaos and lower-order lococentricity respectively (chao-footnote 1). The semiotic is anarchic, pre-Oedipal, and polymorphous erotgenically, maternally oreinted, and involves primary processes. The symbolic is Oedipalized, paternally oreinted, and involves secondary processes. It is "order superimposed on the semiotic. The semiotic overflows its boundaries . . . in madness, holiness and poetry.", and avant-guarde art and texts.

Kristeva is Lacanian, whose mirror-image metaphor is also chaoetic when he emphasized not only that we are not possessed of fixed characteristics, but that we never get a stable image of self, from either internal, or external (the mirror) sources. Kristeva's fluid semiotic feminine overflow can thus be seen to have its roots in the Lacanian mirror. Chaos theory can provide models for the inclusion of both stability, instability, and change; chao-footnote 2).

The synthesis of these ideas with those of chaos theory lies in the use of both chaos and bifurcation (self-organized or autopoetic major transformations) emerging from the Lacanian/Kristevan synthesis, and leads to discourse nurturing the emergence of change, internal emancipation and external, social empowerment, from the feminist/chao-theoretical synthesis (Murphy & Abraham). (Chao-footnote 3.)

Slide Show

Brief Paper


Quotes and précis material on Kristeva and Lacan are from M. Sarup (1993), An Introductory Guide to Post-structuralism and Postmodernism, 2nd ed.

  Created for WESS May 10-11, 1998, Washington DC  3/7/98 Updated 4/19/98 & 6/26/98 & 9/17/00