Notes, Judith Butler's Imitation and Gender Insubordination
12. Although miming suggests that there is a prior model
which is being copied, it can have the effect of exposing that prior model
as purely phantasmic. In Jacques Derrida's "The Double Session"
in Dissemination, trans. Barbara Johnson (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1981), he considers the textual effect of the mime in Mallarme's
"Mimique." There Derrida argues that mime does not imitate or
copy some prior phenomena, idea, or figure, but constitutes-- some might
say performatively-- the phantasm of the original in and through the mime:
He represents nothing, imitates nothing, does not have
to conform to any prior referent with the aim of achieving adequation or
verisimilitude. One can here foresee an objection: since the mime imitates
nothing, reproduces nothing, opens up in its origin the very thing he is
tracing out, presenting or producing, he must be the very movement of truth.
Not, of course, truth in the form of adequation between the representation
and the present of the thing itself, or between imitator and imitated,
but truth as the present unveiling of the present... but this is not the
case.... We are faced then with mimicry imitating nothing: faced, so to
speak, with the double that couples no simple, a double that nothing anticipates,
nothing at least, that is not itself already double. There is no simple
reference... this speculum reflects no reality: it produces mere "reality-effects"...
in this speculum with no reality, in this mirror of a mirror, a difference
or dyad does exist, since there are mimes and phantoms. But it is a difference
without reference, or rather reference without a referent, without any
first or last unit, a ghost that is the phantom of no flesh... (206) .