Scorn and Desire towards the 'Strangers'. On Imaginary Filth in Polish Literature
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The text explores the representation of Jews, women and gays in Polish literature. Writers return to images of us as over-sensualised, offal-smeared dirt. Scorn and desire alike, the Kristevan abject is evoked. Where humans are 'filth', social systems of degradation are constructed to maintain the barrier between imagined purity and imagined contamination. The idea of barriers against 'filth' haunts repeatedly and invokes 'dirty sexuality', from which it emerged. The text traces anti-Semitism and other phobias from the Polish Enlightenment (the recent research of M. Janion is crucial here) to today's Poland where abjection re-appeared in the attacks against C. Milosz, just after his death in 2004, accused of being a 'friend of Jews and sodomites'. The article is an extensively revised and updated version of 'Brief Polish Literary History of Cleanliness and Filth' in: 'Polish Garbage and Dreck-Heroes', Bad Subjects, Issue 55, May 2001, http://bad.eserver.org/issues/2001/55 - 65k.
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