The Mother in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Psychoanalysis, Photography, Deconstruction

By Elissa Marder | Go to book overview

SIX
Avital Ronell’s Body Politics

There is no natural, originary body: technology has not simply added itself,
from the outside, or after the fact, as a foreign body. Or at least this foreign
and dangerous supplement is “originarily” at work and in the place of the
supposed ideal interiority of the “body and soul.” It is indeed at the heart
of the heart.

—JACQUES DERRIDA, “The Rhetoric of Drugs”


IN YOUR EAR

In a certain sense, one might begin by saying “she told us so,” but perhaps we didn’t hear her well enough. For a long time now, over many years and in her many important works ranging from the early Dictations to the recent Test Drive, Avital Ronell has been trying to open our ears to the ramifications of the politics of the body. Recent events in world history and science are only confirming what she has been telling us all along. Before AIDS, terrorism, drugs, information technology, and viruses were on everyone’s lips, she was tuning in to the ways in which the question of the body opens up onto politics, ethics, religion, and war. Throughout her remarkable corpus (which is, as I write, very much alive), she has continued to show that the body calls for thinking. But to say that the body calls for thinking does not mean that the body invoked here is thinkable in any simple sense; it is not an object of thought, but rather a mode, frequency, and tonal field that

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