“Those who fail to reread are obliged to read the same story everywhere.” —
Roland Barthes, S/Z
“[I]magine a somewhat peculiar dictionary entry for the word reader. Instead of referring one to the verb with a phrase like “someone who reads,” it says, “you at this moment.” That’s all.” —
Jacques Derrida, “Reading Between the Blinds,” A Derrida Reader
“Silence is inside the word as something to be read.” —
Edmond Jabès, From the Book to the Book, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop
Domingo / Sunday by Ralph Gibson
Martine’s Legs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1968
Everyday language calls a cat a cat, as if the living cat and its name were identical, as if it were not true that when we name the cat, we retain nothing of it but its absence, what it is not.
Reading is anguish, and this is because any text, however important, or amusing, or interesting, it is empty - at bottom it doesn’t exist; you have to cross an abyss, and if you do not jump, you do not comprehend.
Could it be that the meaning of a word introduces something else into the word along with it, something which, although it protects the precise signification of the word and does not threaten that signification, is capable of completely modifying the meaning and modifying the material value of the word? Could there be a force at once friendly and hostile hidden in the intimacy of speech, a weapon intended to build and to destroy, which would act behind signification rather than upon signification? Do we have to suppose a meaning for the meaning of words that, while determining that meaning, also surrounds this determination with an ambiguous indeterminacy that wavers between yes and no?
[A] language that speaks through enigma, the enigmatic Difference, but without complacency and without appeasing it: on the contrary, making it speak, and, even before it be word, already declaring it as logos, that highly singular name in which is reserved the nonspeaking origin of that which summons to speech and at its highest level, there where everything is silence, “neither speaks nor conceals, but gives a sign.”” —
Maurice Blanchot, The Space of Literature
“I like to read because
it kills me.” —
Mary Ruefle, Apparition Hill
“For me, the word writing is the exact opposite of the word waiting. Instead of waiting, there is writing. Well, I’m probably wrong — it’s possible that writing is another form of waiting, of delaying things. I’d like to think otherwise. … The truth is, reading is always more important than writing.” —
Roberto Bolaño, from a 2002 interview in BOMB, trans. Margaret Carson
“He has [read] himself to pieces.” —
Adapted from Elias Canetti.
“On these occasions I read quickly, voraciously, almost skimming, trying to get as much into my head as possible before the next long starvation. If it were eating it would be gluttony of the famished; if it were sex it would be a swift furtive stand-up in an alley somewhere.” — Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“Books are finite, sexual encounters are finite, but the desire to read and to fuck is infinite; it surpasses our own deaths, our fears, our hopes for peace.” —
Untitled (Nude Reading Financial Times) by Marcel Mariën, 1980s
“What is there of Desire in reading? Desire cannot be named, not even (unlike Demand) expressed. Yet it is certain that there is an eroticism of reading (in reading, desire is there with its object, which is the definition of eroticism). Of this eroticism of reading, there is perhaps no purer apologue than that episode in Proust’s novel where the young Narrator shuts himself up in the Combray bathroom in order to read…
Thus, a desiring reading appears, marked with two institutive features. By shutting himself up to read, by making reading into an absolutely separated, clandestine state in which the whole world is abolished, the reader is identified with two other human subjects—actually quite close to each other—whose state also requires a violent separation: the amorous subject and the mystic subject.” —
Roland Barthes, The Rustle of Language, trans. Richard Howard
“As the vowels and consonants of an alphabet interact symbolically to make a certain written word, so writer and reader bring together two halves of one meaning, so lover and beloved are matched together like two sides of one knucklebone. An intimate collusion occurs.” —
Anne Carson, Eros the Bittersweet