Kristeva: “The Ethics of Linguistics”

In her essay “The Ethics of Linguistics,” Julia Kristeva argues whether or not the study of linguistics should expand to include other modes of poetics.

Kristeva begins her argument by outlining the ethics of linguistics and mentioning several famous figures, such as Freud and Roman Jakobson, and their contributions to the field of linguistics. She also offers a brief historical context of the field of the study of the linguistics in order to introduce the grounds of her argument. Kristeva divides her argument into sections: “The Struggle between Poet and Sun,” “Rhythm and Death,” and “The Futurist’s Future. Each of these sections outlines and presents a different argument in relation to linguistics. In the first section, Kristeva outlines rhythm and its relation to ego, eventually concluding that rhythm is a basic and essential part of poetics. In the second section Kristeva examines the “death” of a poet and in the third and final section, Kristeva analyzes Roman Jakobson and his argument for the integration of poetics and linguistics.

I was very interested by Kristeva’s explanation of rhythm and ego in the first section of her essay entitles “The Struggle between Poet and Sun.” I was especially struck by the analogy Kristeva utilizes in order to explain this concept to the reader. In this passage, Kristeva writes a passage in which the rhythm is slightly off, thus throwing off the cadence of the passage. As Kristeva states, “…rhythm is the basis of any poetic work…” and therefore is is extremely important for the rhythm of the piece to match up (211). In order to illustrate this point, Kristeva employs the analogy of having a tooth crowned, and having the dentist try on (what seems to be) hundreds of caps before finding the perfect one that clicks on. Kristeva likens this experience to that of finding the right rhythm of the piece, “The analogy is all the more apposite in my case, because when at last the crown fits, I (quite literally) have tears in my eyes, from pain and relief” (211). I felt this analogy to be especially prominent and really helped me to understand the point Kristeva was attempting to make in this section of her argument. I can relate to this feeling of immense gratitude in finally finding the right rhythm in my own writing, especially in the essays and blogs for this class where, once I find the perfect word that adequately defines and describes what I am attempting to say, the entire piece works much better.

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