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1: Some Uncertain Signs

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| Spring 1988 |


Victor Burgin, “Geometry and Abjection”:

“Much has been made of the insecurity of the ‘postmodern condition,’ and of its attendant ‘crisis
of representation.’ There is nothing new in insecurity, it is the very condition of subjectivity; just
as it is the condition of representation to be in crisis. This is not to say, however, that nothing
changes. I have argued that our space has changed around us, and that our former optical models
for negotiating it are now out of their time. In ‘Women’s Time,’ Kristeva has spoken of a
mutation of space, a new ‘generation’ of ‘corporeal and desiring mental space,’ in which ‘the
very dichotomy man/woman as an opposition between two rival entities may be understood as
belonging to metaphysics,’ and she asks, ‘What can ‘identity,’ even ‘sexual identity,’ mean in
a new theoretical and scientific space where the very notion of identity is challenged?’ In this
changed space, this new geometry, the abject can no longer be banished beyond some charmed,
perfectly Euclidean, circle. The postmodern space of our ‘changing places’ can now barely
accommodate its old ghettos; they are going the way of the walled city-state. Perhaps we are
again at a moment in history when we need to define the changing geometries of our changing