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

By Elissa Marder | Go to book overview

NOTES

INTRODUCTION: PANDORA’S LEGACY

1. For a witty and indispensable treatment of the uncanny, see Nicholas Royle, The Uncanny (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003). Although the thinking in this book runs parallel in many ways to Royle’s, he does not privilege the uncanny status of the mother in the way I am proposing here.

2. Julia Kristeva often uses the term “maternal function” to designate the various operations performed by the mother during the birthing process and in an infant’s early life. However, my use of the term differs radically from hers. My understanding of the maternal function is concerned with modes of mechanical repetition as a critical (and traditionally overlooked) part of the development of the subject. For an excellent treatment of Kristeva’s understanding of the maternal function, see Kelly Oliver’s many writings on Kristeva, including Reading Kristeva: Unraveling the Double Bind (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), Family Values: Subjects Between Nature and Culture (New York: Routledge, 1997), and the lucid editorial prefaces in The Portable Kristeva (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).

3. This is a point that Jacques Derrida makes repeatedly. See “KhMra,” for example, where Derrida writes: “Philosophy cannot speak philosophically of that which looks like its ‘mother,’ its ‘nurse,’ its ‘receptacle,’ or its ‘imprint bearer.’ As such, it speaks only of the father and the son, as if the father engendered it all of his own.” In KhMra: On the Name, ed. Thomas Dutoit, trans. Ian McCleod (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1995), 126.

4. The mother and the maternal function occupy a major place within feminist philosophy and feminist-inflected psychoanalytic theory. As mentioned in note 2, the maternal function (or the primary importance of the mother and the maternal body) occupies a pivotal place in Julia Kristeva’s work. Kristeva’s interest in the maternal function is of course greatly indebted to the important work of Melanie Klein. For an excellent introduction to psychoanalytic accounts of

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