Barbara Creed explains: The abject [...] must be "radically excluded" (p. K.]) from the place of the living subject, propelled away from the body and deposited on the other side of an imaginary border which separates the self from that which threatens the self.
6 For the child, abjects are closely linked to the figure of the mother of the semiotic chora.
frontispiece (Courtesy of Tri Star) In 1992 Candyman was released; it is a moderately successful horror movie (now spawning, as reports have it, its second sequel) that has since received considerable critical attention for its complex representation of a variety of issues.1 Gender-based approaches, however, have been rare so far, which is surprising in the discussion of a film that, as I would argue, both centers on and problematizes a specifically female subjectivity.
Significantly, this subjectivity is inextricably linked to notions of monstrosity.
Kristeva describes her function as follows: Maternal authority is the trustee of that mapping of the self's clean and proper body; it is distinguished from paternal laws within which, with the phallic phase and acquisition of language, the destiny of man will take shape.4 Since the child experiences himself as one with the mother and with nature, this authority is not yet associated with guilt and shame and is therefore radically different from the 'Law of the Father' which structures the Symbolic.
Kristeva conceptualizes the Semiotic as contrast and precondition to the Symbolic, bound to be overcome and outgrown in order for 'culture,' society and subjectivity to exist.
Her manifestations can usually be found in a film's mise-en-scene as a representation of her phantasmagoric aspects as in the first half of Alien (Ridley Scott, USA, 1979); Creed writes: Although the "mother" as a figure does not appear in [...] the entire film-her presence forms a vast backdrop for the enactment of all the events.
She is there in the images of birth, the representations of the primal scene, the womblike imagery, the long winding tunnels leading to inner chambers, the rows of hatching eggs [...] She is the generative mother, the pre-phallic mother, the being who exists prior to the knowledge of the phallus.20 Because she concentrates solely on her reproductive function and is posited outside morality and the law, she threatens the patriarchal symbolic order and has to be negated and discredited.
Kristeva calls this space chora (Plato's "empty space"); it presents a preverbal dimension of language structured by sensual impressions and the bodily needs of the child, not by language.3 Here the child learns to differentiate proper and improper, clean and unclean areas of the body.
The maternal figure is of the utmost importance in this process.