“If they sit so close to the screen, it is not simply in order to commune with the film as Ludwig II of Bavaria watched Lohengrin and Tannhäuser from the eminence of a loge in an otherwise empty opera house, but also because they cannot bear not to receive its images first, when they are brand new, still wet, before they have had to clear the hurdles of each succeeding row, before they have been relayed back from row to row, from spectator to spectator, until, worn out, faded, defiled, second-hand, reduced to the pathetic dimensions of a postage stamp and ignored by the double-backed lovemakers in the very last row of all, they return with relief to their source, the projectionist’s cabin.
Besides which, the screen really is a screen. It screens them from the world just as a husband at the breakfast table will erect the barrier of a morning newspaper between himself and his unkempt wife.”—Gilbert Adair, The Holy Innocents
Neither culture nor its destruction is erotic; it is the seam between them, the fault, the flaw, which becomes so. The pleasure of the text is like that untenable, impossible, purely novelistic instant so relished by Sade’s libertine when he manages to be hanged and then to cut the rope at the very moment of his orgasm, his bliss.
Whence, perhaps, a means of evaluating the works of our modernity: their value would proceed from their duplicity. By which it must be understood that they always have two edges. The subversive edge may seem privileged because it is the edge of violence; but it is not violence which affects pleasure, nor is it destruction which interests it; what pleasure wants is the site of loss, the seam, the cut, the deflation, the dissolve which seizes the subject in the midst of bliss. Culture thus recurs as an edge: in no matter what form.
Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (trans. Richard Howard)