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Open Access Publications from the University of California

In the Beginning, there was rhythm: Embodiment, divinity, and punk rock spirituality in the music of The Slits


At the opening of the Mystic Fable, Michel de Certeau introduces his readers to the figure of the madwoman. This madwoman is a spiritual figure who occupies an interstitial space, being at once of this world and of the body, while also able to channel the divine. De Certeau’s mad, mystic woman represents an abject body, constructed from humanity’s scraps. She is the embodiment of all that is excessive, and while this places her outside of society, it nonetheless permits her to introduce new possibilities and new means of communicating and speaking. Her words cross lines, existing outside of the modes of speech to which we are accustomed, creating new meanings, resulting in a form of mystic speech.1

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