Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection - Chapter 3, From Filth to Defilement Summary & Analysis

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According to many anthropologists and psychologists, incest and murder are the two acts which are condemned almost universally by all societies. It is is easy to make the case that the incest taboo develops out of the abject, repressed lust towards one's mother; it is little more than a codification of one's own repressed desires. However, even if the incest taboo is the most fundamental and obvious effect of that abject, it is not the only one. Indeed, a case can be made that any number of laws and religious conventions regarding the regulation of sex, diet, and other activities—anything, in short, relating to the rather vague notions of "purity" and "defilement."

Kristeva posits that the fear of impurity is a phobia that develops as a response to the abject of mother-lust. Mary Douglas' work...

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