09 Kristeva

“But it can also be a hopelessly painful experience. Some of my students have adopted a foreign language (French on occasion, English by obligation) to apply like a plaster on top of old childhood and family hurts: the foreign language helps them to forget, for a while. Then this remedy doesn’t pass the test of time, the person sinks into depression before turning up at the hospital of the Cité Universitaire, where I find them somatic or suicidal, because they no longer possess their own words. The newly acquired tongue is no better than a dead skin, a borrowed code that fails to internalize the person’s affects. Until it has incorporated the unconscious, it is not a language.”

 

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