Roland Barthes Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 154 quotes)
13084Tonight I came back to the hotel alone; the other has decided to return later on. The anxieties are already here, like the poison already prepared (jealousy, abandonment, restlessness); they merely wait for a little time to pass in order to be able to declare themselves with some propriety. I pick up a book and take a sleeping pill, "calmly." The silence of this huge hotel is echoing, indifferent, idiotic (faint murmur of draining bathtubs); the furniture and the lamps are stupid; nothing friendly that might warm ("I'm cold, let's go back to Paris). Anxiety mounts; I observe its progress, like Socrates chatting (as I am reading) and feeling the cold of the hemlock rising in his body; I hear it identify itself moving up, like an inexorable figure, against the background of the things that are here.
Another unary photograph is the pornographic photograph (I am not saying the erotic photograph: the erotic is a pornographic that has been disturbed, fissured). Nothing more homogeneous than a pornographic photograph. It is always a naive photograph, without intention and without calculation. Like a shop window which shows only one illuminated piece of jewelry, it is completely constituted by the presentation of only one thing: sex: no secondary, untimely object ever manages to half conceal, delay, or distract... A proof a contrario: Mapplethorpe shifts his close-ups of genitalia from the pornographic to the erotic by photographing the fabric of underwear at very close range: the photograph is no longer unary, since I am interested in the texture of the material. The presence (the dynamics) of this blind field is, I believe, what distinguishes the erotic photograph from the pornographic photograph. Pornography ordinarily represents the sexual organs, making them into a motionless object (a fetish), flattered like an idol that does not leave its niche; for me, there is no punctum in the pornographic image; at most it amuses me (and even then, boredom follows quickly). The erotic photograph, on the contrary (and this is its very condition), does not make the sexual organs into a central object; it may very well not show them at all; it takes the spectator outside its frame, and it is there that I animate this photograph and that it animates me.
Besides intercourse (when the Image-repertoire goes to the devil), there is that other embrace, which is a motionless cradling: we are enchanted, bewitched: we are in the realm of sleep, without sleeping; we are within the voluptous infantilism of sleepiness: this is the moment for telling stories, the moment of the voice which takes me, siderates me, this is the return to the mother ("in the loving calm of your arms," says a poem set to music by Duparc). In this companionable incest, everything is suspended: time, law, prohibition: nothing is exhausted, nothing is wanted: all desires are abolished, for they seem definitively fulfilled. Yet, within this infantile embrace, the genital unfailingly appears; it cuts off the diffuse sensuality of the incestuous embrace; the logic of desire begins to function, the will-to-possess returns, the adult is superimposed upon the child. I am then two subjects at once: I want maternity and genitality. (The lover might be defined as a child getting an erection: such was the young Eros.)
It is as if the Photograph always carries its referent with itself, both affected by the same amorous or funereal immobility, at the very heart of the moving world: they are glued together, limb by limb, like the condemned man and the corpse in certain tortures; or even like those pairs of fish (sharks, I think, according to Michelet) which navigate in convoy, as though united by an eternal coitus.
We often hear it said that it is the task of art to express the inexpressible: it is contrary which must be said (with no intention of paradox): the whole task of art is to unexpress the expressible, to kidnap from the world's language, which is the poor and powerful language of the passion, another speech, an exact speech.
Charlus takes the narrator's chin and slides his magnetized fingers up to the ears "like a barber's fingers." This trivial gesture, which I begin, is continued by another part of myself; without anything interrupting it physically, it branches off, shifts from a simple function to a dazzling meaning, that of the demand for love. Meaning (destiny) electrifies my hand: I am about to tear open the other's opaque body, oblige the other (whether there is a response, a withdrawal, or mere acceptance) to enter into the interplay of meaning: I am about to make the other speak. In the lover's realm, there is no acting out: no propulsion, perhaps even no pleasure -- nothing but signs, a frenzied activity of language: to institute, on each furtive occasion, the system (the paradigm) of demand and response.
To read is to struggle to name, to subject the sentences of a text to a semantic transformation. This transformation is erratic; it consists in hesitating among several names: if we are told that Sarrasine had 'one of those strong wills that know no obstacle'. what are we to read? will, energy, obstinacy, stubbornness, etc.?
Let us suppose that I have wept, on account of some incident of which the other has not even become aware (to weep is part of the normal activity of the amorous body), and that, so this cannot be seen, I put on dark glasses to mask my swollen eyes (a fine example of denial: to darken the sight in order not to be seen). The intention of this gesture is a calculated one: I want to keep the moral advantage of stoicism, of “dignity” (I take myself for Clotilde de Vaux), and at the same time, contradictorily, I want to provoke the tender question (”But what’s the matter with you?”); I want to be both pathetic and admirable, I want to be at the same time a child and an adult. Thereby I gamble, I take a risk: for it is always possible that the other will simply ask no question whatever about these unaccustomed glasses; that the other will see, in the fact, no sign.
The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent. From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being, as Sontag says, will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.