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

By Elissa Marder | Go to book overview

TWELVE
Bit: Mourning Remains in Derrida and Cixous

One has perhaps to let oneself be taken in a little longer by the words, the
morsels of words or dead bits in decomposition that let the writing go a
bit more unbridled.

—JACQUES DERRIDA, “Ja or the Faux-Bond”


BIT

Bit. In English, the word is “bit.” But which bit is this bit? Is it a noun or a verb? Is it a piece of something torn off with the teeth, or is it an act of biting or having been bitten? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “bit” can mean the thing one bites or the act of biting, the cutting edge of a tool, or the biting part of anything. By extension, the dictionary informs us, “bit” also means the “bite” or “sting” of death or disease or anything else that threatens to destroy me from without. This “bit” is a foretaste of my future death. The dictionary also clarifies that the word is so constitutively confused that even when “bit” clearly means the mouthpiece of a horse’s bridle, “it is not clear whether the word in this sense signifies that which the horse bites or that which bites or grips the horse’s mouth.” Biter or bitten, active or passive, inside or outside, the word resists the possibility of deciding. The word “bit” is also a bit of the word “bite.”

-229-

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