Other Maternities
[Status confusion.] For months I have been her mother. It is as
if I had lost my daughter (a greater grief than that? It had never
occurred to me.).—rolAnd BArtheS, Mourning Journal
I sometimes think that, “fundamentally,” in a human being,
what makes the difference, his or her difference, is the mother.
Who the mother was, how she left her mark. At times I tell my-
self that we ought to set down the invisible meridian not be-
tween men and women, but between vengeance and patience,
between the insatiable and the nourisher.—hélène cixouS,
Stigmata: Escaping Texts
Science seems to have as its always possible outcome an es-
caping of sexual difference, not a reinforcement of it, so that
what seems like a biological invariant can be gotten around.
That, in fact, is one of the aims of science, and perhaps also
what makes science seem like a not entirely benign force
(Frankenstein: “I thought that I held the corpse of my dead
mother in my arms”).—BArBArA JohnSon, Mother Tongues
I claimed in the foregoing that, beyond the kinds of trouble it causes
generally for Theory, maternity constitutes a special conundrum for
Marxism and psychoanalysis, theories distinguished by their peculiar
conditions of reproducibility. If, as Foucault suggested in “What Is an
Author?,” a proposition counts as Marxist or Freudian only “in rela-
tion to the work of the founders,” then Marx and Freud are “not just
the authors of their own works” but also the producers of “something
else: the possibilities and the rules of the formation of other texts.”1
Pregnant with this unique potential for continuity as well as devia-
tion, Marxism and psychoanalysis thus seem to reproduce themselves
without a trace of maternal involvement. Whether each theory re-
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