From Necrotic to Apoptotic Debt: Using Kristeva to Think Differently about Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy


  • Benigno Trigo Vanderbilt University



Kristeva, Puerto Rico, maternal hold, reliance, debt


Without the maternal hold, without its herethical ethics and sublimation, without the stability (fragile as it may be) that this hold can bring, we are melancholically or defensively driven to commit the most heinous acts of atrocity and violence in the name of eternal life, development, and progress. For the most part, Kristeva has described the combination of personal loss and social, cultural, and historical pressures brought to bear on the vexed (but ultimately successful) sublimation of the maternal hold by artists like Giovanni Bellini. More recently, however, her attention has turned to other contemporary examples, in particular, Max Beckmann whose works, she claims, sublimate the loss of the maternal hold itself. They are examples of a Sacred Family, a Pietà, or a Dormition that have undergone a radical transformation. They are representations of a society, a culture, indeed a world, that is losing its maternal hold; a world that is losing both its herethical ethics, and the capacity to sublimate its apoptotic inheritance. Following Kristeva, I will put Eduardo Lalo’s book of poems and drawings Necrópolis (2014) in a tradition of representation of the maternal hold that is close to a thousand years old. This tradition goes from the confrontation with nothingness in Theophane the Greek’s Dormition (1392) to the modern matricide represented in Pablo Picasso’s Maternity Apple (1971).