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Kristeva, J. Vieira, P. Marder, M. (2010). The Impudence of Uttering: Mother Tongue. Psychoanal. Rev., 97(4):679-694.

(2010). Psychoanalytic Review, 97(4):679-694

The Impudence of Uttering: Mother Tongue

Julia Kristeva, Patricia Vieira and Michael Marder

Sublimation and Culture

Is it a prejudice of the psychoanalyst—of the linguist, gossipers would say—to think that culture determines “from the beginning” the dynamics of sublimation, in that culture is subtended by language? Without going as far as to say, along with the Scripture, that “in the beginning was the Word,” I claim, together with a few other scholars, that signification is what determines the human species; that it is handed down by the family and by society on the basis of genetic maturation; and that all so-called cultural achievements allowing “our life to distance itself from that of our ancestors […] serve two ends: protection of man against nature and regulation of the relationships between men.”1 These cultural achievements, therefore, are built upon the capacity of making sense, on the semiotic capacity, on semiosis. Consequently, it seems to me to be impossible to speak of sublimation if its experience and its concept are not articulated, “from the beginning,” with semiosis and, particularly, with language.

Certainly, the buttressing of sublimation by the semiotic and/or linguistic capacity did not escape Freud's attention.

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