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.
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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.
Why is it better to last than to burn?
- Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse
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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…
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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.
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(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.)
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"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.
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
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The heart is the organ of desire (the heart swells, weakens, etc., like the sexual organs), as it is held, enchanted, within the domain of the Image-repertoire. What will the world, what will the other do with my desire? That is the anxiety in which are gathered all the heart’s movements, all the heart’s ‘problems’.
Speech is irreversible; that is its fatality. What has been said cannot be unsaid, except by adding to it: to correct, here, is, oddly enough, to continue. In speaking, I can never erase, annul; all I can do is say “I am erasing, annulling, correcting,” in short, speak some more. This very singular annulation-by-addition I shall call “stammering.” Stammering is a message spoiled twice over: it is difficult to understand, but with an effort it can be understood all the same; it is really neither in language nor outside it: it is a noise of language comparable to the knocks by which a motor lets it be known that it is not working properly; such is precisely the meaning of the misfire, the auditory sign of a failure which appears in the functioning of the object. Stammering (of the motor or of the subject) is, in short, a fear: I am afraid the motor is going to stop.
Roland Barthes, “The Rustle of Language”
Am I in love?—yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits.
To know that one does not write for the other, to know that these things I am going to write will never cause me to be loved by the one I love (the other), to know that writing compensates for nothing, sublimates nothing, that it is precisely there where you are not—this is the beginning of writing.
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In the other’s perfect and “embalmed” figure (for that is the degree to which it fascinates me) I perceive suddenly a speck of corruption. This speck is a tiny one: a gesture, a word, an object, a garment, something unexpected which appears (which dawns) from a region I had never even suspected, and suddenly attaches the loved object to a commonplace world. Could the other be vulgar, whose elegance and originality I had so religiously hymned? Here is a gesture by which is revealed a being of another race. I am flabbergasted: I hear a counter-rhythm: something like a syncope in the lovely phrase of the loved being, the noise of a rip in the smooth envelope of the
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