verbal abjection: being changed by a changing language.


The concept of abject is often coupled (and sometimes confused with) the idea of the uncanny, the concept of something being “un-home-like”, or foreign, yet familiar. The abject can be uncanny in the sense that we can recognize aspects in it, despite its being “foreign”. An example, continuing on the one used above, is that of a corpse, namely the corpse of a loved one. We will recognize that person as being close to us, but the fact that the person is dead, and “no longer” the familiar loved one, is what creates a sort of cognitive dissonance, leading to abjection of the corpse.

We all search for home in one way or another. Home is what we know. Home is what creates a sense of safety, at times it might be a false-sense of safety, but safety nonetheless. Home is important to our development. We all search for home in different shapes or forms. The whole idea behind a child holding on to a blanket and taking it with them everywhere they go or while they sleep is this psychological need for home (or safety). To be estranged from our homes it to make us a foreigner or immigrant. This feeling of being an outsider tugs at the very idea of being rejected by others; it challenges our own value. Rather than embracing the life an outsider, we do and try things to make sure we remain the insider.

Acceptance makes us feel like we are back at home again. Acceptance seems to make sense to us in our subconscious, once we lose that feeling, we spend our whole lives trying to get it back. But, what if part of why we’re afraid of being the foreigner is because at times we still feel like an outsider. Chances are, you and I have and will feel like the outsider at sometime in our lives. Maybe we are afraid of the untruth that we aren’t valuable. At one point, the author of Hebrews talks about how we are all foreigners/pilgrims just passing through – that this world is not our home. That all we accrue is temporary. That our status is beyond what we see. That our acceptance doesn’t lie in what we do/don’t have. Our status is transient. It doesn’t dictate who we are or can be.

If this is true, than maybe we need to learn what it looks like to hold the things we might call home, loosely. This isn’t to forget or devalue the importance of the ideas we may have accrued. Let me clear something up, I am not talking about relationships. I am talking about ideas, philosophies, worldviews and personal status.

Maybe the part of being abject, is to treat our ideas and even language with a bit of abjection. If we don’t, no matter how hard we try, our ideas will never evolve – they might be re-packaged but really they haven’t changed. If we learn to hold our ideas loosely than not only does it allow space for those ideas to evolve, but it allows us the space neccessary to evolve with them. If the feeling of abjection can teach us anything, may it be that to renew our ideas, to renew our thoughts, we must hold the words we speak with a spirit of abjectivity. When we do, we can begin to learn to live in a state of perpetual change.


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