ISSN : 2266-6060

subtraction

As soon as we are born, we are saturated with inscriptions: first names and surnames given to us, sanctuarized in civil status documents, our height and weight measured while we barely breathe, the various samples and tests to which others consent in our name. And yet our primary bodily experience, touch, drink, heat and cold seems to remain raw, escaping networks of inscriptions.
Our parents, so imbued with a world of univocal signs and objectifying numbers, feel compelled to introduce quantification to address ordinary concerns. “Do they drink well?” is less about a perceptual analysis of suction and the facial expressions that accompany it, than about durations, intervals or volumes.
So without a high-tech probe turning our stomachs into self-quantification laboratories, they tinker: knowing how much water and milk powder has been offered is one simple thing, measuring how much has actually been consumed – notwithstanding overflows and regurgitations, is another.
Fortunately for them, this little bottle that survived the maternity ward and its tight graduations acts as an abacus. The unused milk is then transformed into a quantity and, even in the middle of the night, exhausted, a simple subtraction allows them to be reassured.