Yesterday I presented a version of my paper on Antigone, Oedipus and Ismene to the Philosophy Department’s Philosophy Research Colloquia at Penn State.
It was great to see so many Penn State Philosophy graduate students in attendance for a talk scheduled on Friday afternoon prior to spring break. The discussion afterward was very helpful to me as I continue to develop my book project on patriarchal politics.
I thought I might mention a few points from our discussion I intend to integrate into the revised paper in the hope that students and faculty and who were unable to attend or ask questions might contribute something here.
For those who were not there or who want a reminder about the content of the paper, I have a brief abstract on my Sophocles in Utah post from last November.
Kristeva and Abjection
Kristeva’s conception of abjection should be pursued into the second and third moments of touching treated in the paper so that the political significance of Oedipus’s abjection is amplified
I want to articulate more clearly the way the brother/father and sister/daughter ambiguity offers us a way to think a kind of political subjectivity that is non-dominational. Here something of Kristeva’s suggestions about the incest taboo might be introduced.
Touch and Sight
The emphasis on touch in relation to sight will more clearly resist the tendency to fall into a simple dichotomy between the two that privileges touch over sight. In this regard, reading Ismene and Antigone as “supports of light” might help me think through how of the meaning of sight is transformed by Oedipus’s blindness.
I intend to trace this transformation: when the sight of sovereign authority recognizes itself as blind, becomes blind, another possibility for vision emerges: Antigone sight involves seeing for herself and for others. Tracing this will need to focus on specific instances in the text where she sees for him – as when she describes Ismene’s arrival. This might be thought in terms of ethical insight.
With regard to touch, I will need to emphasize more clearly the double meaning of reciprocity: mutual recognition can turn quickly into a grasping violence. The notion of justice as reciprocity can fall easily into the notion of justice as retribution.
I welcome other suggestions, feedback and insights in the comments below.