“isn’t desire always the same, whether the object is present or absent? Isn’t the object always absent?” —
Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
“In short, a word can be erotic on two opposing conditions, both excessive: if it is extravagantly repeated, or on the contrary, if it is unexpected, succulent in its newness… In both cases, the same physics of bliss, the groove, the inscription, the syncope: what is hollowed out, tamped down, or what explodes, detonates.” —
Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
“(Amorous passion is a delirium; but such delirium is not alien; everyone speaks of it, it is henceforth tamed. What is enigmatic is the loss of delirium: One returns to…what?)” — Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (trans. Richard Howard)
“errance / errantry
Though each love is experienced as unique and though the subject rejects the notion of repeating it elsewhere later on, he sometimes discovers in himself a kind of diffusion of amorous desire; he then realizes he is doomed to wander until he dies, from love to love.” — Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (trans. Richard Howard)
“Those who fail to reread are obliged to read the same story everywhere.” —
Roland Barthes, S/Z
“The only sure thing [in me] is a desperate resistance to any reductive system. For each time, having resorted to any such language (expressive or critical, and at the heart of the critical, the several discourses of sociology, of semiology, and of psychoanalysis) to whatever degree, each time I felt it hardening and thereby tending to reduction and reprimand, I would gently leave and seek elsewhere: I began to speak differently.” —
Roland Barthes, Critical Essays
“The text needs its shadows; this shadow is a bit of ideology, a bit of representation, a bit of subject: ghosts, pockets, traces, necessary clouds: subversion must produce its own chiaroscuro.” —
Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
“For me, the Photographer’s organ is not his eye (which terrifies me) but his finger: what is linked to the trigger of the lens, to the metallic shifting of the plates (when the camera still has such things). I love these mechanical sounds in an almost voluptuous way, as if, in the Photograph, they were the very thing—and the only thing—to which my desire clings, their abrupt click breaking through the mortiferous layer of the Pose. For me the noise of time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches—and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, and perhaps in me someone very old still hear in the photographic mechanism the living sound of the wood.” —
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida
“I am caught in this contradiction: on the one hand, I believe I know the other better than anyone and triumphantly assert my knowledge to the other (“I know you - I’m the only one who really knows you!”); and on the other hand, I am often struck by the obvious fact that the other is impenetrable, intractable, not to be found; I cannot open up the other, trace back the other’s origins, solve the riddle. Where does the other come from? Who is the other? I wear myself out, I shall never know.” — Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (trans. Richard Howard)
“Why is it better to last than to burn?” —
- Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse
In order to suggest, delicately, that I am suffering, in order to hide without lying, I shall make use of a cunning preterition: I shall divide the economy of my signs.
The task of the verbal signs will be to silence, to mask, to deceive: I shall never account, verbally, for the excesses of my sentiment. Having said nothing of the ravages of this anxiety, I can always, once it has passed, reassure myself that no one has guessed anything. The power of language: with my language I can do everything: even and especially say nothing.
I can do everything with my language, but not with my body. What I hide by my language, my body utters. I can deliberately mold my message, not my voice. By my voice, whatever it says, the other will recognize “that something is wrong with me.” I am a liar (by preterition), not an actor. My body is a stubborn child, my language a very civilized adult…” — Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (trans. Richard Howard)
“I waken out of this forgetfulness very quickly. In great haste, I reconstitute a memory, a confusion. A (classic) word comes from the body, which expresses the emotion of absence: to sigh: “to sigh for the bodily presence”: the two halves of the androgyne sigh for each other, as if each breath, being incomplete, sought to mingle with the other: the image of the embrace, in that it melts the two images into a single one: in amorous absence, I am, sadly, an unglued image that dries, yellows, shrivels.” — Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (trans. Richard Howard)
“(The other is disfigured by his persistent silence, as in those terrible dreams in which a loved person shows up with the lower part of his face quite erased, without any mouth at all; and I, the one who speaks, I am too disfigured; soliloquy makes me into a monster: one huge tongue.)” — Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (trans. Richard Howard)
"I am crazy"
fou / mad
It frequently occurs to the amorous subject that he or she is going mad.
1. I am mad to be in love, I am not mad to be able to say so, I double my image: insane in my own eyes (I know my delirium), simply unreasonable in the eyes of someone else, to whom I quite sanely describe my madness: conscious of this madness, sustaining a discourse upon it.” — Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (trans. Richard Howard)
“absence / absence
But isn’t desire always the same, whether the object is present or absent? Isn’t the object always absent? —This isn’t the same languor: there are two words: Pothos, desire for the absent being, and Himéros, the more burning desire for the present being.” —
Roland Barthes, The Absent One from A Lover’s Discourse, translation by Richard Howard