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0515 4077


Henri Cartier-Bresson. Roland Barthes, 1963

“From the Desk of Roland Barthes” by Ben Kafka:
In this essay, the author examines a brief account by the historian Jacques Le Goff of Roland Barthes’s years as an administrator in the Sixth Section of the École Pratique des Hautes Études (which eventually became the EHESS). This account provides an opportunity for a more sustained reflection on writing, paperwork, and the problem of the materiality of communication. The author argues that some recent scholarship in book history, media studies, and related fields has neglected the unconscious dimensions of communication.

(via proustitute)


// oAnth




The editors had invited him to take part in a forum on how writers were taking to the portable tape recorder: did he ever dictate to the machine? He answers with a firm no:


I love to write, and not speak, and when I write it’s by hand, not on a typewriter. Several factors contribute to this choice. First there is a refusal: my body refuses to speak out loud to . . . nobody. Unless I’m certain that another body is listening to me, my voice gets stuck, I can’t get it out. If, in a conversation, I notice that that somebody isn’t listening to me, I stop speaking, and it is simply beyond my power to leave a message on an answering machine (I don’t think I’m alone in this). Voices are made to reach out to the other; to speak alone, with a tape recorder, strikes me as terribly frustrating. My voice is literally cut off (castrated). There is nothing to be done, it is impossible for me to be on the receiving end of my own voice, which is the only thing the tape recorder has to offer me. My writing, meanwhile, is immediately destined for everybody. Its slow pace protects me: I have the time to dangle the wrong word from the tip of my pen, the word that “spontaneity” never ceases to generate. There is a great distance between my head and my hand and I take advantage of it in order to avoid saying the first thing that comes to me. Finally, and this is probably the real reason, the challenge of tracing words on paper has a truly sculptural jouissance [une véritable jouissance plastique]. If my voice brings me pleasure, that is only out of narcissism. Writing comes from my muscles. I abandon [jouis] myself to a kind of manual labor. I combine two “arts”: the textual and the graphic.

Here, we might say, is the reductio ad minimum at its most minimalist. And yet isn’t something missing here?

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