Emanations of the Yellow Sign

ghosts and scattered limbs of reading, excisions and marginalia.

Posts tagged Roland Barthes

Jun 8


Roland Barthes’ method of composition was a bit unique: he’d compose brief missives on standard note cards, amassing hundreds before they cohered into a full text. These original manuscript notes are from his posthumous work Mourning Diary, with translations by Richard Howard. (Here’s an interview with Howard on Barthes.)

(via deweypetalchaperone)

May 31
“Nothing is more depressing than to imagine the Text as an intellectual object (for reflection, analysis, comparison, mirroring, etc.). The text is an object of pleasure. The bliss of the text is often only stylistic: there are expressive felicities, and neither Sade nor Fourier lacks them. However, at times the pleasure of the Text is achieved more deeply (and then is when we can truly say that there is a Text): whenever the ‘literary’ Text (the Book) transmigrates into our life, whenever another writing (the Other’s writing) succeeds in writing fragments of our own daily lives, in short, whenever a co-existence occurs.” Roland Barthes, Sade / Fourier / Loyola (1971)

Apr 26
“why not test the “realism” of a work by examining not the more or less exact way in which it reproduces reality, but on the contrary the way in which reality could or could not effectuate the novel’s utterance? Why shouldn’t a book be programmatic rather than painting?” Roland Barthes, Sade / Fourier / Loyola (1971)

Apr 15
“The ultimate subversion (contra-censorship) does not consist in saying what shocks public opinion, morality, law, the police, but in inventing a paradoxical (pure of any doxa) discourse: invention (and not provocation) is a revolutionary act: it cannot be accomplished other than in setting up a new language.” Roland Barthes, Sade / Fourier / Loyola (1971)

Oct 23
Society of the Friends of the Text: its members would have nothing in common (for there is no necessary agreement on the texts of pleasure) but their enemies: fools of all kinds, who decree the foreclosure of the text and of its pleasure, either by cultural conformism or by intransigeant rationalism (suspecting a ‘mystique’ of literature) or by political moralism or by criticism of the signifier or by stupid pragmatism or by snide vacuity or by destruction of the discourse, loss of verbal desire. Such a society would have no site, could function only in total atopia; yet it would be a kind of Phalanstery, for in it contradictions would be acknowledged (and the risks of ideological imposture thereby restricted), difference would be observed, and conflict rendered insignificant (being unproductive of pleasure)” Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (1973)

Jul 29
“The world has surely become unhinged, and only violent movements can put it all back together. But it may be that among the instruments for doing so, there is one – tiny, fragile – which requires to be wielded delicately.” Roland Barthes
(via alanreedwrite)

Mar 25
“[…] all writing is itself this special voice, consisting of several indiscernible voices, and that literature is precisely the invention of this voice, to which we cannot assign a specific origin: literature is that neuter, that composite, that oblique into which every subject escapes, the trap where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes. Probably this has always been the case: once an action is recounted, for intransitive ends, and no longer in order to act directly upon reality — that is, finally external to any function but the very exercise of the symbol — this disjunction occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters his own death, writing begins.” Roland Barthes, The Death of The Author (via toniiu)

Sep 26

1. Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. The emotion derives from a double contact: on the one hand, a whole activity of discourse discreetly, indirectly focuses upon a single signified, which is “I desire you,” and releases, nourishes, ramifies it to the point of explosion (language experiences orgasm upon touching itself); on the other hand, I enwrap the other in my words, I caress, brush against, talk up this contact, I extend myself to make the commentary to which I submit the relation endure.

(To speak amorously is to expend without and end in sign without a crisis; it is to practice a relation without orgasm. There may exist a literary form of this coitus reservatus: what we call Marivaudage.)

Roland Barthes, Talking in A Lover’s Discourse, 1977 (via discursivelacerations)

Aug 8
“The being I am waiting for is not real. Like the mother’s breast for the infant, “I create and re-create it over and over, starting from my capacity to love, starting from my need for it”: the other comes here where I am waiting, here where I have already created him/her. And if the other does not come, I hallucinate the other: waiting is a delirium.” Roland Barthes, Waiting (via frenchtwist)

(via discursivelacerations)

Aug 5
“but for us, who are neither knights of faith nor supermen, the only remaining alternative is, if I may say so, to cheat with language, to cheat speech. this salutary trickery, this evasion, this grand imposture which allows us to understand language outside the bounds of power, in the splendour of a permanent revolution of language, I for one call literature.” Roland Barthes, “Inaugural Lecture at the College de France”
(via alanreedwrite)

Apr 14
“History itself is less and less conceived as a monolithic series of determinations; we know, more and more, that it is, just as is language, a play of structures, whose respective interdependence can be pushed far further than one had thought; History is also a writing [ … ] What is at stake is to increase the rupture of the symbolic system in which the modern West has lived and will continue to live. [ … ] To decentre it, withdraw from it its thousand-year-old privileges, such that a new writing (and not a new style) can appear, a practice founded in theory is necessary.” Roland Barthes, quoted by the Tel Quel group, Division of the Assembly (1968).