Épistémologie des Bribes

∞ “Epistémologie des Bribes” – Dalie Giroux, 2021

Epistemology of Scraps


Scraps: a small, detached piece; fragments of discarded or leftover food. Figuratively: a fragment of something written or spoken, of a memory. The opposite of totality.

In French, “bribes”: crusts of bread given to a beggar, superficial knowledge.

Derived from “briba”: mischief, fraud, wretch, rascal; “bribia”: the idle life of a panhandler or a thug; “bribar”: to live a beggar’s life. Scattered pieces.

In English, bribes: money or favour given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.

“Briffaud”: a person with a voracious appetite, greedy, gluttonous, gourmand, rude (in Quebec patois: sarf, from serf). “Briffer”: to eat a lot.

Scraps, bribes: words without a known etymology, salvaged from medieval orality.

Bread and vagrancy. Poor thinking, poor thoughts, knowledge acquired through poverty, captured by the present, infused with things that are close, with immediate desires.

Scraps as a way of knowing, to have only scraps to understand the world we live in. To think like a scoundrel. To survive on scraps.


To think about ruins, one needs to borrow a ruined way of thinking, one that fails to achieve the form of a system. To think about ruins is to think but with scraps of thoughts, it is offering a thought made of scraps, which is to be composed in the manner of cubism, or paranoia, or lyricism. It is a form of thought which needs to be rekindled over and over, just like we need to feed ourselves everyday. It is pieces grabbed by chance and necessity, of which we drop most, pieces we gulp down without discriminating, scraps of knowledge coming from every point of a surface that is perpetually bursting, a one and only world blowing up in several plateaus, at various speeds simultaneously, throttling, in staccato, stroboscopic, per inertia. Un-mediated morsels, bits mediated at different scales, fading out, evaporating, blinding – indifferently.

A though made of scraps is multitude-thinking, it comes up and rise and reflux from the bottom – the shallows of a world made impossible and incidentally alive. There is no such thing as a system of the collapse, for the collapse. In ruins is expressed a ferocious creativity, microscopic, topic, flawed, multidirectional, contradictory, without any possible resolution, in vital tension, good and evil. Breadcrumbs, almost nothing.

To eat, to find something to eat, to strive to organize food. Not a metaphysics, but a gastronomics. To get bored, to go crazy, to slave away, to rot. Indeed.


A thought made of scraps is a ruinous form of thinking, winged words on its back, articulating and disarticulating space and time, a form of thinking that is living matter, connective, transitive, one that like molasses is bringing about the collapse which is the object and the subject of the thinking, the slow collapse in which one must persist, live, invent, the collapse that is the very substance of thought, and from which – because this is all there is – one has to feed herself, find shelter, learn and teach, care, keep warm, tell stories.

Thinking in ruins is weaving other worlds into the fabric of the one that is crumbling, in a mud flow, a non linear emergence, poetic, abrupt, constant, restless, here and now while there is too much light, while there is gas and crashes, while little boxes are inserted in little boxes at the end of transit lines that make people sick. Scraps are what there is.

Edouard Glissant wrote:

Its seems to me that the entire history of the arts of all the humanities is kind of a tension toward this melting point, of connivance with the otherness of the animal, the otherness of the three, the other of things, and that this muted tension has always been – et perhaps it is fortunate because it is an unbearable tension – hidden, crossed, by a conception of beauty as agreement to rules, agreement to laws, agreement to an order of things. […] But aesthetics, to me, is the divination of the relation of connivance I spoke about.

A thought made of scraps moves within the substance of the magnetic liaison, where the world starts anew, poorly, in the realm of contiguity.