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University of California Press Berkeley and Los Angeles, California

Translation © 1977 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc. Originally Published in French as Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes © 1975 Éditions du Seuil All rights reserved Published by arrangement with Hill and Wing, a division of Farrar, Straus &_ Giroux, Inc. Printed in the United States of America First California printing, 1994 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Barthes, Roland. [Roland Barthes. English]


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Roland Barthes /by Roland Barthes ; translated by Richard Howard, p. ISBN cm. 978-0-S20-08783-S 2. Semiotics. 1. Title.

I. Barthes, Roland. P8S.B33A3 MO'.92—dc20 [B] 1994

94-7S4S CIP

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The paper used in this publication is both acid-free and totally chlorine-free (TCF). It meets the minimum requirements of ANSI/ NISO Z39.48-1992 (R 1997) (Permanence of Paper). ©

M y thanks t o t h e friends w h o have k i n d l y helped m e i n t h e p r e p a r a t i o n o f this book: J e a n - L o u i s B o u t t e s , R o l a n d Havas, François W a h l , f o r the text; Jacques Azanza, Yousseff B a c c o u c h e , Isabelle Bardet, A l a i n Benchaya, M y r i a m de R a v i g n a n , D e n i s R o c h e , f o r t h e pictures.

ft must all be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel. j / .


makes it the object of an immediate pleasure.To begin with. because of its solitude and material constraint. It follows that the childhood photograph is both highly indiscreet (it is my body from underneath which is presented) and quite discreet (the photograph is not of "me"). So you willfindhere. though to no one else: here I am henceforth in a state of disturbing familiarity: I see thefissurein the subject (the very thing about which he can say nothing). Embracing the entire parentalfield. it no longer has anything to do with the reflection. . skinniness. . hair. but an awkward one. whose units are teeth. a nose. however oneiric. for finishing his book. as it happens. it torments and enthralls itself with a vision which is not morphological (I never look like myself ) but organic. . some images: they are the author's treat to himself. of an identity. When consideration (with the etymological sense of seeing the stars together as significant constellation) treats the image as a detached being. thanks to the affection which surrounded me. only the images of my youth fascinate me. without my knowing why (such ignorance is the very nature of fascination. it provokes in me a kind of obtuse dream. and what I shall say about each image will never be anything but . And. I have kept only the images which enthrall me. long legs in knee-length socks which don't belong to me. Not an unhappy youth. His pleasure is a matter of fascination (and thereby quite selfish). mingled with the ' family romance." only thefigurationsof the body's prehistory—of that body making its way toward the labor and the pleasure of writing.such imagery acts as a medium and puts me in a relation with my body's id. imaginary). For such is the theoretical meaning of this limitation: to show that the time of the narrative (of the imagery) ends with the subject's youth: the only biography is of an unproductive life. So it is not a nostalgia for happy times which rivets me to these photographs but something more complicated.

Once I produce, once I write, it is the Text itself which {fortunately) dispossesses me of my narrative continuity. The Text can recount nothing; it takes my body elsewhere, far from my imaginary person, toward a kind of memoryless speech which is already the speech of the People, of the non-subjective mass (or of the generalized subject), even if I am still separated from itby my way of writing. The image-repertoire will therefore be closed at the onset of productive life (which for me was my departure from the sanatorium). Another repertoire will then be constituted; that of writing. And for that repertoire to be displayed (as is the intention of this book) without ever being hampered, validated, justified by the representation of an individual with a private life and a civil status, for that repertoire to be free of its own, neverfigurativesigns, the text will follow without images, except for those of the hand that writes.

The demand for love

Bayonne, Bayonne, the perfect city: riverain, aerated with sonorous suburbs (Mouserolles, Marrac, Lachepaillet, Beyris), yet immured,fictive:Proust, Balzac, Plassans. Primordial image-hoard of childhood: the province-as-spectacle, History-as-odor, the bourgeoisie-as-discourse

On such a path. a gradual descent toward the Poterne (odors) and the center of town. a little package of Bon Goût in her hand . Here one encountered some lady of the Bayonnaise bourgeoisie walking back up to her Villa des Arènes.

each summer. Utopian spaces of Jules Verne and Fourier. and outside staircases. kitchen herbs in old crates. ladies. except for a tiny orchard of peach trees and raspberry bushes. you didn't go there much. and French windows. though continuous. you accompanied the ladies of Bayonne to the gate. pausing often." The worldly. the domestic. and only down the center path. the wild: is this not the very tripartition of social desire? It is anything but surprising that I turn from this Bayonnaise garden to the fictive. set on one side of a considerable garden. sometimes fallow. The garden. undaunted under their mosquito netting. At the far end. consisted of narrow paths curving around twin lawns.The three gardens "That house was something of an ecological wonder: anything but large. You crossed thefirstgarden to reach the house. sometimes planted with vegetables that needed no tending.) . like a castle in a story. taking tiny steps. was arranged in three symbolically different spaces (and to cross the boundary of each space was a significant action). was undefined. in it grew roses. (The house is gone now. the third garden. this was the "worldly" garden. hydrangeas (that awkwardflowerof the southwest of France). swept away by the housing projects of Bayonne. settled into canvas chairs with their elaborate knitting. down which. here in this garden. With the modesty of a chalet. yet there was one door after another. The second garden. carpet grass. the B. in front of the house itself. a big magnolia whose whiteflowersbloomed on a level with the upstairs bedrooms. rhubarb. it looked like a toy model (the faded gray of its shutters merely reinforced this impression).


At the end. a darker path and two hollow balls of boxwood: several episodes of prepubescent sexuality occurred here .The big garden formed a kind of alien territory— you might say that its chieffunction was to serve as the burial ground for the extra litters of kittens.

What fascinates me here: the housemaid .

The two grandfathers .

. language belonged to the women. who had to be lured to the monthly tea party (the rest in Proust). Matriarchy? In China. a provincial: steeped in bourgeoisie—not in nobility. a Parisienne. which she served up in a fastidious convent French. In both sets of grandparents. safeguarding each imperfect subjunctive. The other was good. long ago.The two grandmothers One was good-looking. the widow of a pharmacist who had made a fortune in coal tar. gossip inflamed her with a passion—an amorous passion whose principal object was a certain Mme Leboeuf. mustached and beringed. this woman was a kind of blackflowerbed. the entire community was buried around the grandmother. from which she was nevertheless descended— she had a lively sense of social narrative.

father's sister: she was alone all her life .

The father. dead very early (in the war). By maternal intermediary his memory—never an oppressive one— merely touched the surface of childhood with an almost silent bounty . was lodged in no memorial or sacrificial discourse.

The white snout of the streetcar of my childhood .

a frequent detour along the Adour. unspecified strollers. boredom's drift: here floated the sexuality of public gardens. abandoned boats.Corning home in the evening. the Allées marines: tall trees. of parks .

. the text . the guarantee of an exchange. the extremity of meaning. c^^jès* *<£ * « * //as « o / writing been for centuries the acknowledgment of a debt. the sign of a representation? But today writing gradually drifts toward the cession of bourgeois debts. toward perversion.+f % t*S>**tê**4. . . .4&6{+# <*.

The line ends in a being pour rien.The family novel Where do they come from? From a family of notaries in the Haute-Garonne. That young man with blue eyes and a pensive elbow will be my father's father. Final stasis of this lineage: my body. a class. . As the (official) photograph proves. Thereby endowing me with a race.

tea: bourgeois sign and specific charm .From generation to generation.

ll.f mirror s'uye vou" "That's .

disposition to despairs (in the plural. in the child. cut off (unfortunately) from all expression. I read quite openly the dark underside of myself—boredom. upon inspection. inward excitement. it is my childhood which fascinates me most. fail to make me regret the time which has vanished. these images alone. . For it is not the irreversible I discover in my childhood. byfitsand starts.From the past. fortunately). it is the irreducible: everything which is still in me. vulnerability.

finishing À la Recherche du Temps perdu.Contemporaries? I was beginning to walk. . Proust was still alive.

This evidently began very early. parties among strangers. lectures.As a child. it has continued my whole life. Might boredom be my form of hysteria? . A panic boredom. group amusements: wherever boredom can be seen. I was often and intensely bored. in gusts (increasingly rare. to the point of distress: like the kind I feel in panel discussions. it is true. and it has always been noticeable to others. thanks to work and to friends).

Distress: lecturing Boredom: a panel discussion .

work. . coffee. holiday from aggressions .: the sun. music. . sexual quiescence."The pleasure of those mornings in U. silence. roses. the house." .

Family without familialism .

'Ourselves. always ourselves .

among friends .

perpetual struggle with this body to return it to its essential slenderness (part of the intellectual's mythology: to become thin is the naïve act of the will-to-intelligence) .Sudden mutation of the body (after leaving the sanatorium): changing (or appearing to change) from slender to plump. Ever since.

lycée students were little gentlemen .In those days.

JAAVA^CLUA.' to.r**vim. < / • >yc • .Any law which oppresses a discourse is inadequately warranted •1*1. . • i f*iH. UM. J&sXuL oh M<x Jut- H U M .*ct a' tic*. Aa/tifwfe.f> qu ijf*.<j<M*> -C* ' IOSAWUM..' h*. ftwfcji 4 'ouiu^tM j Cut. ^MVOUOI t lu» «et»! foA.

I excoriated myselffor getting caught in this uncomfortable trap—while my voice continued its smooth delivery. Through the tiny holes in the mask. at least. while I delivered the dead king's prophecies. my eyes came to rest on inert—free—objects and books. weren't afraid. a piece of the sky: they.Darius. and very far away. . a cornice. had two long declamations in which I was likely to forget my lines: 1 was fascinated by the temptation of thinking about something else. a part that always gave me terrible stage fright. I could see only very high up. a window. resisting the expressions / should have given it.

Where does this expression come from? Nature? Code? .

constraints. one was sick or cured. at the end. tuberculosis projected you into a minor ethnographic society. . part tribe. clean. it had no other signs than its own interminable time and the social taboo of contagion. protections. for the rest. idless.Recurrent tuberculosis {Every month. inconsistent disease. there were yards of them: a farcical way of writing one's body within time. part monastery.) Painless. odorless. and while other diseases desocialize. abstractly. a new sheet was pasted on the bottom of the old one. purely by the doctor's decree. part phalanstery: rites.

' 'But I never looked like that!' ' —How do you know? What is the ' 'you'' you might or might nût look like? y/here do youfmd it—by which morphological or expressive calibration? Where isyour authentic body? YQU are the only one who can never seejicwfsffifexcept a.S an imqge: you never see your eyes unlessthey are~~ dulled by the gaze they rest upon the mirror or the lens fjjiinjnterested in seeing my eyes only whenthey look™ at you): even andespecially for your own body. you are condemned to the repertoire of Its images. .

1942 igyo .

patiently adapted to the pleasure of painting. writing.My body is free of its image-repertoire only when it establishes its work space. This space is the same everywhere. sorting .



Heine . it possesses the major effect: falling back. profuse and distinct as the burst of its fronds. the palm is loveliest.Toward writing According to the Greeks. He drowses: ice and snowflakes Wrap him in sheets of white. trees are alphabets. And of writing. Of all the tree letters. A hemlock tree stands lonely Far north on a barren height. He dreams about a palm tree That far in an eastern land Languishes lonely and silent Upon the parching sand.

Left-handed .

corrected.l '. minor paranoias. this matte quality of human relationships had something exhausting about it. on the side of domination. comfort. which subsists only in patches (mere parentheses). they evidently had no image of me. between oneself and others—adjectives. Cf ^ L'aise ~ Ease f M ^ j Being a hedonist (since he regards himself as one). H e finds the perfection of a human relationship in this vacancy of the image: to abolish—in oneself. he seeks a state which is. so as to obtain a better view of the garden while he was working). my efforts. but this comfort is more complicated than the household kind whose elements are determined by our society: it is a comfort he arranges for himself (the way my grandfather B . scenes. moved by indignations. (In M o r o c c o . a relationship which adjectivizes is on the side of the image.Actif Iréactif ~ Active/reactive In what he writes. whereupon it loses its reactive skin. really. Text I becomes active too. Text I is reactive. defenses. had arranged a little platform inside his w i n d o w . of death. at the end of his life. as a good European. accommodated to the fiction of Style. Initially. but gradually it came to seem a triumph o f civilization or the truly dialectical form of erotic discourse. moved by pleasure. to be this or that received no reply: neither this nor that was returned in the form of a fine adjective. suffers when he is named. But as it is written. unspoken rejoinders. it never occurred to them to gloss me. This personal comfort might be called: ease. Ease can be given a theoretical dignity ( " W e need not keep our distance 43 .^ » t . Text II is active. te% Ladjectif ~ The adjective He is troubled by any image of himself. they unwittingly refused to feed and flatter my image-repertoire.) p. . fears. there are two texts.

teacher of the third form at the Lycée Louis-leG r a n d . either by feigning a spectacularly flat respect (this is the Copy. the similitude of signifier and signified. or call them two ironies w h i c h flout Analogy. e . was a little old man. (The b u l l sees red when his lure falls under his nose. i . w h i c h is rescjiertt. . to Nature. i n the Edenic state of language. Whence the effort o f painters. H o w ? B y two contrary excesses. A l l scientific explanations w h i c h resort to analogy—and they are legion—participate in the lure. . A t the beginning of the year. in the imaginary. photography). . it is actually. a socialist. what stands in beneficent opposition to perfidious Analogy is simple structural correspondence: Homology. analogy used to mean proportion). the captivating hait. His is analogy. W h e n I resist analogy. the homeomorphism ^ _ ^ of images. the " a n a l o g i c a l " methods (academic criticism) are discredited.with regard to formalism. Le démon de l'analogie ~ The demon of analogy Saussure's bête noire was the arbitrary (nature of the sign). he solemnly listed on the blackboard the 44 . even in pleasure. a nationalist. i . and what adds to the curse of analogy is the fact that it is irrepressible: no sooner is a form seen than it must resemble something: frumanity seems doomed to Analopv. 5* f^y ^ ^ ' v I resisting: which is to sav: the coalescence of the sign. i . A s i d e f r o m these transgressions. i n the l o n g r u n . e . o f writers. or hy -rpgtP~ larlv—according to the regulations—distorting the imitated object (this is Anamorphosis). that of rage and that o f the cape: the bull is caught in y??? analogy. w h i c h reduces the recall of the first object to a proportional allusion (etymologically.) e m a g m a r a m Au tableau noir ~ O n the blackboard M o n s i e u r B . and also an ethical force: it is the deliberate loss o f all heroism. they form the image-repertory o f Science. W h y ? Because analogy implies an effect o f Nature: it constitutes the "natu r a l " as a source o f truth. The " a n a l o g i c a l " arts (cinema. to escape it. . merely our ease"). the two ^ r e d s c o i n c i d e . the M i r r o r . e .

around 1954). which he improvised as he strolled around the classroom. schoolbooks. of shoes. . by way of amusement. especially in the theater (many attacks on the théâtre d'argent.. the figure of a home socially adrift: no father to k i l l . H i s formative problem was doubtless money. and no matter how preposterous. money has two contrary meanings (it is an enantioseme): it is very harshly condemned. which is always silent. in real life. he took no part in the values o f the bourgeoisie. no family to hate. This art subsisted. not misery. but embarrassment. nothing was left of this proclaimed mourning—except. thereby testifying to his mastery o f ethics and his ease in composition. i. w o u l d ask a student to suggest a subject for reflection. and as though to a performance).e. a terror of certain terms. and even food. a vestige of school composition. incorruptible. a bourgeois site. then 45 . as an obligatory figure of social writing. what he took part in was the bourgeois art de vivre.students' relatives who had " f a l l e n on the field of h o n o r " . This endurable privation (as embarrassment always is) may account for a little philosophy of free compensation. not sex. uncles abounded. only for vacations: on visits. and cousins. the problems of vacations. but I was the only one who could c l a i m a father. something novelistic. as a family experience. Yet once the blackboard was erased. O n the level o f values. amid every financial crisis. which could not outrage h i m . of the overdetermination o f pleasures. on Saturday afternoons. no milieu to reject: great Oedipal frustration! (This same Monsieur B . anything at a l l . but not declasse: he belonged to no m i l i e u (he went to B .) Parodie affinity of the fragment and the dictation exercise: the latter will sometimes recur here. since he saw them only as scenes o f language. L'argent ~ Money Poverty made h i m a desocialized c h i l d . which proclaims nothing. he would always manage to turn it into a little dictation exercise. . I was embarrassed by this—excessive—differentiation. of ease (which is the exact antonym of embarrassment).

of course. clocks. for nothing is ever carried back and forth. it is money spent. one in Paris. pens. L'arrogance ~ Arrogance H e has no affection for proclamations o f victory. Christian. he wants to go somewhere else (if he were G o d . in reaction to the three moralisms which are set in opposition to it: M a r x i s t . evolution. made brilliant by the luxury of a production.rehabilitated. without having to alter either its name or its form. desks. Yet these sites are identical. whenever a victory appears somewhere. hoarded. f o l l o w i n g Fourier. T h i s ship Argo is highly useful: it affords the allegory of an eminently structural object. blocked. determination. what is defended is not money saved. wasted. inspiration. Between them there is no c o m m o n object. thus money metaphorically becomes gold: the G o l d of the Signifier. Another Argo: I have two work spaces. Troubled by the humiliations of others. This private phenomenon would suffice to shed some light on structuralism: the system prevails over the very being o f objects. each piece o f w h i c h the Argonauts gradually replaced. with no other identity than its form. swept away by the very movement o f loss. as in a paradigm) and nomination (the name is in no way linked to the stability o f the parts): by dint of combinations made within one and the same name. W h y ? Because the arrangement of tools (paper. calendars) is the same: it is the structure o f the space which constitutes its identity. the other in the country. However. he would keep 46 . so that they ended with an entirely new ship. but by two modest actions (which cannot be caught up in any mystique of creation): substitution (one part replaces another. nothjngjs tâ{jrfjhe origin: Argo is an object with no other cauj^ejjianjts name. Le vaisseau Argo ~ The ship Argo A frequent image: that o f the ship Argo (luminous and white). created not by genius. and Freudian.

petit bourgeois Consensus. except for the intellectualremaneTiceTïï'a c ^ the totally ritual and totally arbitrary preparation of a meaning. even a just victory becomes a bad value of language. texts that are free. to opinion. the V i o l e n c e of Prejudice. Transposed to the level o f discourse. the mind of the majority. Y o u yourself can be the arrogant text of another text. H e sometimes used to regret having let himself be intimidated by languages. any such gesture is mad: solemnly to trace a limit of which immediately notjm^j&AeiX. who somewhere mentions the arrogance of science. " for the expression is a pleonasm: ideology is nothing but an idea insofar as that idea dominates. triumphant texts. This gesture appeals to him: it must have been a fine thing to see. encountered in Bataille. the one thing that cannot be marked. the V o i c e of Nature. has been extended to all triumphant discourse. too.reversing the victories—-which. moreover. generous. in those days: that staff marking out the sky. the lexia (the fragment o f the text being read) is compared to that piece o f sky cut out by the soothsayer's staff. Hence I suffer three arrogances: that of Science. that o f the Doxa. you wouldn't have been able to write! Arrogance circulates. The Doxa (a word w h i c h w i l l often recur) is Public O p i n i o n . But I can go further subjectively and say: arrogant ideology. an arrogance: the word. then. discreet. secretly loved texts. but also common. Then someone said to him: But without them. Le geste de l'aruspice ~ The soothsayer's gesture In SIZ. W e can call (using Leibnitz's word) a doxology any way o f speaking adapted to appearance. like a strong wine among the guests of the text. that of the Militant. It is not very useful to say "dominant i d e o l o g y . is what G o d does!). or to practice. ^ 47 . The intertext does not comprehend only certain delicately chosen.

(This kind o f embarrassment started. where the peasants take h i m in: the soldier chooses to remain among them. for h i m . 1956. after w r i t i n g the whole day. each time he writes 48 . Chooses is our language. to add to each sentence some little phrase of uncertainty. everyone w o u l d surely agree. he strives to master i t — f o r otherwise he would have to stop w r i t i n g — by reminding himself that it js language which is assertive. but rather o f a gradual assent: the soldier acquiesces to the Korean w o r l d he discovers . not choice " W h a t is it about? The K o r e a n war. not he. A n absurd remedy. . N o t quite Vinaver's: as a matter o f fact. at any rate. as i f anything that came out o f language could make language tremble. he tried to use this word assent again. to what was under way i n that country. we are in the presence o f neither a choice nor a conversion nor a desertion.) ( B y much the same sense. . somehow: for the aim of his discourse is not truth. This was not understood at all: what the intellectual public wants is a choice: one was to come out o f C h i n a like a bull crashing out of the toril in the crowded arena: furious or triumphant. who leads h i m to her village.) M u c h later (1974). on the occasion o f a trip to C h i n a . Vérité et assertion ~ Truth and assertion H i s (sometimes acute) discomfort—mounting some evenings. he imagines. non le choix ~ Assent. very early. A small group o f French forces is on some sort of patrol in the North Korean highlands. to a k i n d of fear—was generated by his sense o f producing a double discourse. with them. to explain to the readers o f Le Monde—in other words. of his world—that he was not " c h o o s i n g " C h i n a (too much was missing for h i m to shed light on such a choice) but acquiescing in silence (which he called " i n s i p i d i t y " ) . O n e o f them is wounded and found by a K o r e a n g i r l . " (Apropos of M i c h e l V i n a v e r ' s Aujoura"hui ou les Coréens. and yet this discourse is assertive. whose mode overreached its a i m .L'assentiment. like V i n a v e r ' s soldier.

something. La baladeuse ~ The caboose There used to be a white streetcar that ran between Bayonne 49 . the two waiters from the Café de Flore go to the Café Bonaparte for their apéritif. an actor going to the theater on the night his own play is off. Against which there is only one internal doctrine: that of atopia (of a drifting habitation).) L'atopie ~ Atopia Pigeonholed: I am pigeonholed. a writer who read books. assigned to an (intellectual) site. finds no one to procure (for his personal use) the subjects he furnishes his clients. a cook making herself dinner. one has his " l a d y " with h i m . A l l o f which is autonymy: that disturbing (comical and banal) strabismus of an operation that comes full circle: something like an anagram. which is always fascinating: barber getting a haircut. a breakdown of levels. I didn't know this was your l a d y " ) : everything circulates in familiarity and reflexivity. a p i m p . the other has forgotten to take his flu pills. it proceeds from meaning and governs it). it disturbs the infinite sequence of replicas. . cannot write the word " e r a s u r e " without having to erase. etc. A thousand examples of this reverberation. that he will hurt one of his friends—never the same one: it changes. L'autonymie ~ Autonymy The enigmatic copy. an elderly secretary. to residence in a caste (if not in a class). Tonight. a screen writer who sees films. A t o p i a is superior to Utopia (utopia is reactive. who unlike them is on duty ( " S o r r y . they are served (Pernod and Cinzano) by the young waiter o f the Café Bonaparte. is the dislocated copy: at the same time it reproduces and reverses: it can reproduce only by reversing. M . shoeshine boy (in Morocco) having his shoes shined. tactical. M l l e M . an inverted overprinting. literary. . yet the roles remain inevitably separated. the interesting one.

. 50 I r ' . Noms propres ~ Proper names Part of his childhood was spent in a particular kind of listening: listening to the proper naines of the old bourgeoisie of Bayonne. all it takes is f o f a third lanpiyage-tW appear from the ranks for the assailant to be forced to retreat: in the conflict o f rhetorics. that of scissors. what I liked best was not provoking the other team and boldly exposing myself to their right to take me prisoner. That difference should not be paid for by any subjection: no last w o r d . there is no substitute f o r j t Other pleasures come.-exists. paper. in the summer. the catechisms. the movement. This is to say that the art o f living: has. This is not to PPJV3rn^thjc__ejnben to the past. one enjoyed the v i e w . nothing but mutations. Everyone wanted to ride in that car: through a rather empty countryside. Quand je jouais aux barres . . it is no longer the first one). and the trip from Biarritz is anything but a pleasure. the fresh air.it does not evolve: the pleasure which vanishes vanishes for good. In the great game of the powers of speech. language upon language. A s in prisoner's base. The task of this language is to release the prisoners: to scatter the signifieds. that of the onion i n its layers of skin without a core. Today neither the streetcar nor the caboose . or to express a regrets for a lost youth b y p r e t e n d i n g J o regret a streetcar. ~ When I used to play prisoner's base . which replace nothing. to infinity. No progress in pleasures. such is the l a w which governs the logosphere. nn histojy. we also play prisoner's base: one lafrgTïagë~ïïàl~Tmlv temporary rights over another. all at the same time. Whence other images: that o f choosing up hand over hand (the third hand returns. what I liked best was to free the prisoners—the effect of which was to put both teams back into circulation: the game started over again at zero. . the victory never goes to any but the third language. an open car was attached to it: the caboose. stone. . When I used to play prisoner's base in the Luxembourg.and Biarritz.

" says an author of the last century. ~ About stupidity . It is not merely a linguistics o f proper names which is needed but an erotics as well: names. they formed a garland of strange signifiers to my ears (the proof: I remember them very well: why?): M m e s Leboeuf. H o w can one have an erotic relationship with proper names? N o suspicion of metonymy: these ladies were not desirable. infatuated by provincial worldliness. Labrouche. like odors. De la bêtise . perhaps a hallucination? Perhaps we want to put ourselves into the picture? It's lovely. Voulgres. an aesthetic fiction. . Garance. de Ligneroles. binarism became for him a kind of erotic object. . That one 5i . Henriquet. D i d o n . Poques. or even appealing. Froisse. These names were very French. Delay. This idea seemed to him inexhaustible. impossible to read a novel. Chantai. he could never exploit it enough. L'amour d'une idée — L o v e of an idea For a certain time. nothing prevails over it. Léon. T V would entirely collapse). I note with interest the names of the old nobility). without that special greediness (reading M m e de G e n l i s . W h a t is it? A spectacle. or memoirs. Fascination is the correct feeling stupidity must inspire me with (if we reach the point of speaking the name): it grips me (it is intractable. . P u c h u l u . would be the terms of a languor: desire and death: "the last sigh which remains o f t h i n g s . F r o m a musical game heard each week on F M and which seems " s t u p i d " to h i m . he went into raptures over binarism. A n d yet. it's strange. a primitive: no way of decomposing it scientifically (if a scientific analysis of stupidity were possible. N o v i o n . Barbet-Massin. like voices. . Poymiro. and about stupidity. it takes you in an endless handover-hand race). he realizes this: stupidity is a hard and indivisible kernel. Lacape.which he heard repeated all day long by his grandmother. I am entitled to say no more than this: that it fascinates me. it takes your breath away. de Saint-Pastou. de Lasbordes. Pichoneau. and in this very code nonetheless often original.

sport. L'amateur ~ The amateur The Amateur (someone who engages in painting. stupidly. produced a k i n d of Since intellectual things resemble erotic ones. Le jeune fille bourgeoise ~ The middle-class maiden Surrounded by political upheaval. there is no other choice. involves no rubato (that theft o f the object for the sake o f the attribute). for herself. R .might say everything with only one difference j o y in h i m . transcended her femininity and her class? W h a t was the U t o p i a of such activities? The middle-class maiden produced uselessly. o f painting. ~ Brecht's criticism of R . N o w one must be either the object or the subject of politics. the A m a t e u r renews his pleasure (amator: one who loves and loves again). Reproche de Brecht à R. he plays the piano. he establishes himself graciously (for nothing) in the signifier: in the immediately definitive substance o f music. he is anything but a hero (of creation.B. paints watercolors: all the false occupations o f a middle-class maiden in the nineteenth century. in binarism what delighted him was a figure. in the opposition of values. But not that I want to be the object of a great deal of politics. usually. he is—he w i l l be perhaps—the counter-bourgeois artist. of performance). always wants to limit politics. B . — I invert the problem: what is it w h i c h . a continuous astonishment. without the spirit of mastery or competition). there is no 52 . science. but she produced: it was her own form o f expenditure. in the practices of the middle-class maiden of those days. D o e s n ' t he k n o w what Brecht seems to have written especially for h i m ? " F o r instance I want to live with little politics. music. . Later on he would find this (identical) figure again. his praxis. B . What (in him) w o u l d deflect semiology was from the first the pleasure principle: a semiology which has renounced binarism no longer concerns h i m at a l l . W h i c h means that I do not want to be a political subject. it seems.

hallucinatorilv. w i t h a final power: that o f checkmating language. repeated discourse that politics is barred to him. and turns to Prattle? (For political discourse not to be caught up in repetition demands unusual conditions: either such discourse itself establishes a new mode o f discursiveness: as is the case for M a r x . as i f it were inventing and varying what has been said: this is what Brecht does in his writings on politics and society. more modestly. it is because . even be sacrificed to p o l i t i c s . T o sacrifice his lifeas-language to political discourse? H e is quite w i l l i n g to be a political subject but not a political speaker (the speaker: someone who delivers his discourse. " H i s place (his milieu) is language: that is where he accepts or rejects. If this common phenomenon seems to him particularly intolerable in the case o f political discourse. and silent political subject (these adjectives must not be separated). it is quite possible that my whole life must be dedicated to politics. or else. generalJ z e . reducing any utterance to its residue of reality.question of being either both together or neither one. which assumes the mark o f its aesthetic singularity. we endow it. of motionless phrases. or else. hence it seems indispensable that I should engage in politics and it is not even up to me to determine how much I should do so. Political discourse is not the only kind to repeat itself. This being so. that is where his body can or cannot.here repetition takes on the style o f a climax: politics qualifying-it: self as the fundamental science of the real. Yet out o f this preclusion he can at least make the political meaning of what he writes: it is as if he were the historical witness of a contradiction: that of a sensitive. and at the same time notifies it. Then how tolerate with sanguinity the fact that politics too belongs to the category of languages. exhaust itself: as soon as there is a mutation of discourse somewhere. there follows a vulgate^and its exhausting .. finally. i t s e l f . signs it). recounts it.cortège. 53 . A n d it is because he fails to separate political reality from its genera]. avid. by a simple intelligence of language—by the knowledge o f its o w n effects—an author produces a political text at once strict and free.

C a g e . looping together several tastes. defend me. without losing sight of the muddled and solacing ideology of the character. for they afford the image o f a culture that is at once differential and collective: plural. continuous here. arms and transforms the very substance of language: this is the Text. have done? — B u t Artaud is not just "avant-garde". do I not do what A r t a u d .. whatever the rhetoric of frames and shots. Le plein du cinéma ~ Saturation of the cinema Resistance to the cinema: the signifier itself is always. This image then functions as the third term. Such artists provoke a complete k i n d o f j o y . since I conform to the theory you call for. — B u t those are precisely the attributes which are not recognized by theory. that of Philippe Sollers's Lois. etc. by nature. {The scene continues. he is a kind of writing as well. to classify them.) Le chantage à la théorie ~ Theory blackmailed M a n y (still unpublished) avant-garde texts are uncertain: how to judge. a continuum of images. the film (our French word for it. . etc.that politics. . he was not so fond of C h a p l i n ' s films. pellicule. keep me. A t least make your taste and your ideas match. which are sometimes even execrated by theory. how to predict their immediate or eventual future? D o they please? D o they bore? Their obvious quality is of an intentional order: they are concerned to serve theory. Yet this quality is a blackmail as well (theory blackmailed): love me. is highly appropriate: a skin without puncture 54 . it was later that. he found a kind of delight in this art at once so popular (in both senses) and so intricate. for example. the subversive term of the opposition in which we are imprisoned: mass culture or high culture.) Chariot ~ Chaplin A s a c h i l d . at an obscure and even improbable depth. Cage has a certain charm as well . without remission. it was a composite art. endlessly. several languages.

in writing. In the Michelet. of the haiku. unless this ellipsis is merely the casual method by which we leave off a demonstration which is self-evident). by a project of commitment). on the contrary. and with what force. A clausule like this must have a triple function: rhetorical (the scene ends decoratively). Constraints of representation (analogous to the obligatory rubrics of language) make it necessary to receive everything: of a man walking in the snow. like a garrulous ribbon: statutory impossibility of the fragment. signaletic (thematic analyses are recuperated. the Text describes. in extremis. I should have uttered it as a dreamy speech which seeks to know w h y I resist or I desire. (No sooner have I written this than it strikes me as an avowal of the imaginary. 55 . Holderlin's filthy talons. out of curiosity to hear myself. everything is given to me. this author's ideology is dispatched in one (initial) page. the politics is in the last word (for instance: " S o we see that the 'lovely images' of Lost Continent cannot be innocent: it cannot be innocent to lose the continent which has been rediscovered at Bandoeng"). even before h"* signifies. but the value which strives to convert itself into theory. La coincidence ~ Coincidence I record myself playing the piano: mitially. and economic (the effort is to replace political dissertation by a lighter ellipsis.) Clausules ~ Clausules Often. unfortunately I am condemned to assertion: we lack in French [and perhaps in every language] a grammatical mode which would speak lightly [our conditional is much too heavy]. not intellectual doubt. but very soon I nojonger hear myself. R . B . 1 am not obliged to see how the hero wears his nails—but if it wants to. what I hear is. keeps and evacuates political sociologism: he keeps it as signature.or perforation) follows. in Mythologies. he evacuates it as boredom.

the predicate loses all pertinence. seem a pretentious idea. I do not try to restore nryjielf (as we say o f a monument). the pronoun o f the imaginary. jjhe signifier. i f I listen to H o r o w i t z or Richter. there occurs in the same way a movement o f abolition. " / / ' isjm-pertinent. because it immediately coincideswith it: writing_myself. the symbolic becomes literally immediate: essential danger f o r j h e life of thg-JSubigçilJto write on oneself may. I do not strive to put my present expression in the service o f my previous truth (in the classical system. shift f r o m imitation ^fjrom_description) and entrust jrryself to nomination. m the field of the subject. such an effort w o u l d have been sanctified under the name o f authenticity). in Sarrasine. I merely repeat the extreme operation by which B a l z a c . the Dasein o f B a c h and of Schumann. there is no referent? The jjict (whether biographical or textual) is abolishfidJn^. 0 corn are : One day. having nothing better to d o . not o f truth. P myself to.however pretentious it may seem to say so. because it is my utterance. W h e n I pretend to write on what I have written in the past. as i f I had rediscovered the " t r u e " Schumann or the " t r u e " Bach).J_ hgyejlPihjPJLI . T h e Perilous C h a s m ! (work at the mercy o f magic: of danger). B . I consulted the / Ching about m y undertaking. has made castration and castrature " c o i n c i d e " : I j n y s e l f am my o w n symbol^ l a m the story which happens to me: freewheeling m_language. on the other hand. but it is also_a simple idea: simple as tjie^jdeaof suicide. 56 . and in this m o v e . — W h a t is it that happens? W h e n I listen to myself having played— after an initial moment o f lucidity in which I perceive one by one the mistakes I have made—there occurs a kind o f rare coincidence: the past o f my playing coincides with the present o f m y listening. and I call it R . paradoxically. and in this coincidence. I abandon the exhausting pursuit o f an o l d piece o f myself. ' ^ T . a thousand adjectives come to mind: I hear them and not Bach or Schumann. commentary is abolished: there remains nothing but the music (of course what remains is not at all the " t r u t h " o f the text. D o I not k n o w that. the pure materiality of their music.LQgnt. I do not say: " I am going to describe m y s e l f " but: " I am writing a text. I drew the hexagram 29: K ' a n .

music .Graphie bliss: before painting.

we Germans have lived our posthistory in thought. of linguistics to some remote object: Sadean erotics. he does with Michelet what he claims Michelet has done with historical substance: he functions by sliding over the entire surface. H e is not inventing. unable to decide w h i c h is the best. heaped summary o n top of summary. he enjoys proposing a correspondence between Fourierist notions and medieval genres. stereotyped (in Greek. once they set and assume the solid state. Vérité et consistance ~ Truth and consistency " T h e truth is in the consistency. if he speaks of M i c h e l e t . not even combining. W e are philosophical contempo58 . " Hence if we find consistency insupportable we cut ourselves off from an ethics o f truth. Contemporain de quoi? ~ Contemporary of what? M a r x : " J u s t as the ancient peoples experienced their prehistory in imagination. striving to epitomize himself. in mythology. the idea.Comparaison est raison ~ Comparison is motive He makes an application that is at once strict and metaphoric. by a k i n d o f imagination which is more homologic than metaphoric (we compare systems. for instance—which authorizes him to speak of a Sadean grammar. Sometimes he translates himself. stereos means solid). he translates: for h i m . he applies the linguistic system (paradigmlsyntagm) to the stylistic system." Poe says in " E u r e k a . S i m i l a r l y . doubles one phrase by another (for instance: But what if I liked the demand? What if 1 had a certain maternal appetite?) It is as if. he could not get it over with. not images). for instance. we abandon the w o r d . similarly again. and classifies the author's corrections according to the two axes of the paper. in philosophy. literal and vague. comparison is motive: he enjoys deporting the object. he caresses. the proposition.

Éloge ambigu du contrat ~ Ambiguous praise o f the contract H i s first image o f the contract (the pact) is more or less objective: sign. the security once a contract can be interposed between them. the contract is ceaselessly desired. we must therefore read the Base. alibis. For this contract. appearances. of profit-making. in order to make manifest the controlled exchange on which the semantic process and collective life are based." In the same way. . the Paltry. but since this contract is generally masked. the critical operation consists in deciphering the confusion of reasons. it permits observing the golden rule of any habitation. A t this point—since the body intervenes directly here. 59 . language. society function by contract. of its mythology or of.raries of the present. in what I am for him? The contract eliminates this confusion: it is in fact the only position which the subject can assume without falling into two inverse but equally abhorred images: that of the " e g o i s t " (who demands without caring that he has nothing to give) and that of the " s a i n t " (who gives but forbids himself ever to demand): thus the discourse of the contract eludes two plenitudes. of which I inhabit only the shimmering reflection: the phantasmagoria. o f its fictions). without being its historical contemporaries. the reluctance to receive without g i v i n g . at another level. discerned in the Shikidai passageway: no will-toseize and yet no oblation. narrative. the model of the good contract is the contract of Prostitution. in short. Yet. and at yet another level. liberates in fact from what might be called the imaginary embarrassments of the exchange: what am I to count on in the other's desire. etc. as the justice of a world finally " r e g u l a r " : the preference for the contract in human relations.its philosophy but npjLpfJts_history. e . the contract is a bad object: a bourgeois value w h i c h merely legalizes a kind of economic talion: nothing for nothing. A t the same time. its Utopias^_jts_syjtems ( i . says the bourgeois contract: under the praise of bookkeeping. the whole o f the social natural. in short. I am only the imaginary contemporanLof mv_own present: conjemporary of its languages. declared immoral by all societies and by all systems (except the most archaic).

and especially: emotive: which is moved. or exalted or intimi60 . and that any leak o f the Signifier be punished. and so on: sensual. a third body which is migrainous. accessible. humoral. M i g r a i n e is merely the very first degree of physical pain. In other words. diffused character of pain or of pleasure (migraine too caresses some of my days) keeps the body from constituting itself as an alien.Le contretemps ~ The contretemps H i s (admissible?) dream w o u l d be to transport into a socialist society certain charms (not values) of the bourgeois art of l i v i n g (such a thing exists. What rises up against this dream is the specter o f Totality. as if in either one it had been decided to reduce the glorious or accursed images o f the body. I have a nauseated body. . . muscular (writer's cramp). hallucinated site. The light. without its being able to glorify itself with any danger: my body is theatrical to itself only to a m i l d degree. or remediable. ~ M y body exists . my body is not a hero. " I have a digestive body. migraine (as I am rather carelessly calling a simple headache) and sensual pleasure are merely coenesthesias. which demands that the bourgeois phenomenon be condemned entire. These states are not unheard of. whose function is to individuate my own body. and sensuality is for the most part considered only as a kind of reject-version o f active pleasure. but on the contrary quite temperate. indeed there once existed several): this is what he calls the contretemps. Le corps pluriel ~ The plural body " W h i c h body? W e have s e v e r a l . depressed. stirred. seat of intense transgressions. M y body exists for myself only i n two general forms: migraine and sensuality. ( M i g h t it not be possible to take one's pleasure in bourgeois [deformed] culture as a kind of exoticism?) Mon corps n'existe . . .

D . though it was utterly useless to me shut up in a desk among such " p r e c i o u s " objects as old keys. two local bodies: a Parisian body (alert. a Sorbonne professor. the artificial body (the body of Japanese costumes). regarded me in his day as an impostor. I am captivated to the point of fascination by the socialized body. a schoolboy report card. . heavy). 61 .dated. to acclimate the death o f objects by causing them to pass through a sort of pious site. and subsequently given back to me. written) bodies. not daring to get rid of it lest I do some harm to my person. and the prostituted body (of the actor). A n d then. into the rue Servandoni. we allow them a decent interval of dim agony. I flung the rib chop and its gauze from my balcony. ' s mother-ofpearl dance program and pink taffeta card case. my grandmother B . A n d beyond these public (literary. in the guise o f keeping them alive. wrapped up in a piece o f medical gauze (the physicians. T . as it happened. tired) and a country body (rested. a kind of body penis analogous to the end of a rib chop. P . where some dog would come and sniff them out. . La côtelette ~ The rib chop Here is what I did with my body one day: A t L e y s i n . in life as in death). a dusty chapel where. realizing that the function of any drawer is to ease. one day. as if I were romantically scattering my own ashes. the mythological body. I have. F o r a long time I kept this fragment of myself in a drawer. today. I may say. but not going so far as to dare cast this bit of myself into the c o m m o n refuse bin of my building. Further. in whatever dismembered state they restored it to me: I am the owner of my bones. in 1945. thereby professed that my body belongs to me. who were Swiss. regards me as a Sorbonne professor. a piece of one o f my ribs was removed. without anything of the sort being apparent. quite formally. La courbe folle de l'imago ~ The imago's impossible graph R . not k n o w i n g quite what to do with it. in order to perform an extrapleural pneumothorax operation.

words which have the same form and contrary meanings. enough to make you e x c l a i m . S i m i l a r l y . but erotization which is a positive value. sometimes. then lets go for something else (and then. which circulates without coagulating. In the field of language. denotation is really affected only by Sade's sexual language. pretends to c l i n g . for h i m . In the same way. " a " m o d e l " ) . it is bad when in power. Erotization is a production of the erotic: light. ascensional. possess enantiosemes. it is their exact contrariety. ideal. diffuse. and more particularly. Sometimes it happens that language itself provides the bifurcation of a double word: " s t r u c t u r e . credible natu62 . progressive role. the perverse expenditure ("for nothing"). has come to be discredited when it was apparent that too many people conceived it as a motionless form (a " b l u e p r i n t . La double crudité ~ R a w twice over Crudity. " a positive value initially. it is merely a linguistic artifact. a multiple and mobile flirtation links the subject to what passes. it seems. " a " s c h e m a . refers to language and to food.(It is not the diversity of opinions which amazes and excites. luckily "structuration" was there to take up the slack. elsewhere. in French. i m p l y i n g the positive value par excellence: the praxis. this variable landscape is severed. mercurial. in reference to food it means raw. sliced through by a sudden immobility: love). it is not the erotic. a word can be good or bad. without warning: the " b o u r g e o i s i e " is good when it is considered in its historical. F r o m this ( " p r e c i o u s " ) amphibology he finds the means to hark back to his old problem: the problem of the natural. in the presence of such a reversal.) Couples de mots-valeurs ~ Pairs of value-words Certain languages. That does it! and the pleasure such an experience affords is strictly structural—or tragic. it then serves to render hallucinatory the pure.

to the crudity (rawness) of vegetables and meats. 63 . in short. to decompose myself as w e l l . But this Adamic state of nourishment and of words is untenable: crudity is immediately taken as a sign of itself: crude language is a pornographic language (hysterically miming the pleasure o f love). we must be able to overleap. today. as we would do with a lump of sugar by steeping it in water. and corresponds. ' s : homosexuality and hashish) is always underestimated. in the process: I scrape. Then the image must retain all its precision. — The goddess H . Hence decomposition is here contrary to destruction: in order to destroy bourgeois consciousness we should have to absent ourselves from it. In order to destroy. to destroy would ultimately come to no more than reconstituting a site of speech whose one characteristic would be exteriority: exterior and motionless: in other words. I agree to accompany such decomposition.ralness of language. and such exteriority is possible only in a revolutionary situation: in C h i n a . but elsewhere (here and now). class consciousness is in the process of destruction. La déesse H. not of decomposition. dogmatic language. and drag. But overleap where? into what language? Into which site of good conscience and bad faith? Whereas by decomposing. that o f the two H . a no less pure image of Nature. The pleasure potential of a perversion (in this case. is to maintain and to emphasize the decomposition of bourgeois consciousness. Décomposer I détruire ~ Decompose / destroy Suppose that the intellectual's (or the writer's) historical function. catch. great aversion for crudity of language and rare meat. Crudity therefore shifts to the abhorred category o f the pseudo-natural: whence. to break it down on the spot. to weaken it. today. in the field of food. this means that we deliberately pretend to remain within this consciousness and that we w i l l proceed to dismantle it. and crudités (as they appear on the menu) are merely mythological values of the civilized meal or aesthetic ornaments of the Japanese tray.

but he cannot conceptualize it. the Doxa refuse to understand that perversion. so inimitable. was based upon a delicately proportioned and henceforth absolutely original combination of tiny characteristics organized in fugitive scenes. more perceptive. too prudish): of friends (speaking of them. more loquacious. subjected by each conversation to the question of heterotopia: where am I among my desires? Where am I in relation to desire? The question is put to me by the development of a thousand vicissitudes o f friendship. each apparently so particular. Hence is written. quite simply. so he realized that the identity of each friend. day by day. which w i l l never come to an end.L a w .—and in this more is where we find the difference (and consequently. Les amis ~ Friends H e is l o o k i n g for a definition o f the term " m o r a l i t y . it produces a more: I am more sensitive. a glittering image of the liberated B o o k . I can never do anything but catch myself u p — catch them u p — i n a contingency—a difference). which made that friend lovable. Thus . a topic. the Text of life. and which he puts i n opposition to morals. from day to day. a figure that can be invoked. or to be more specific. In this space of cultivated affects. so ineffable. into several elements whose subtle combination produces the entire identity of the substance. life-as-text). " which he has read in Nietzsche (the morality o f the body among the ancient Greeks). Henceforth. makes happy. a magical text. an ardent text.ach friend deployed in his presence the brilliant staging of his jriginality. more amused. he can merely attribute to it a kind of training ground. Science. >4 . etc. a means of intercession. Just as we decompose the odor o f violets or the taste of tea. or rather (for this word is too stuffy. This ground is from all accounts that of friendship. it is a goddess. he finds the practice o f this new subject whose theory is to be sought for today: the friends form a network among themselves and each must be apprehended there as external I internal.

like that of a voice with an incomparable timbre. we find this apparently stupid expression: the religion of friendship (loyalty. nor d i d he seek out a generalized. communal relationship. brought to the condition of a kind of absolutely singular affective inflection. without in-difference. Transgression de la transgression ~ Transgression of transgression Political liberation of sexuality: this is a double transgression. after all the others. heroism. 1974). each time. La relation privilégiée ~ The privileged relationship He d i d not seek out an exclusive relationship (possession. a perverse pleasure. absence of sexuality). as a kind of dedication (September 3. since it belongs to the order of the imaginary (or rather: I can tell from my embarrassment that the imaginary is very close at hand: I am getting warm). Thus. to the circle. jealousy. and conversely. in the old literature. this fragment has been written last. he saw no obstacle to multiplying this privileged relationship: nothing but privileges. in short. what he wanted was. to the crowd). of politics by the sexual. The effort must be made to speak o f friendship as of a pure topic: this releases me from the field o f affectivity—which could not be spoken without embarrassment. marked by a perceptible difference. the solving o f a problem: the celebration improves upon the event.Sometimes. But this is nothing at all: let us now imagine reintroducing into the politico-sexual field thus 65 . What was wanted was a plural equality. a privileged relationship. But since the only thing in religion which subsists is the fascination of the rite itself. the sphere of friendship was thus populated by dual relations (whence a great wasting of time: he had to see his friends one at a time: resistance to the group. scenes). he liked to abide by the minor rites of friendship: to celebrate with a friend the release from a task. and paradoxically. adds to it an unnecessary addition. by magic.

i f I put the speech-act into neutral. The second degree is also a way of life. of a performance. then I open the way to an endless detachment. I write that/ write: that is language to the second degree. surreptitious quotation. traversed. recognized. the meaning we might have given it. after a l l . Every discourse is caught up in the interplay o f degrees. but if I take off the brake (of reason. A good part o f our intellectual work consists in casting suspicion on any statement by revealing the disposition o f its degrees. T h e n . of morality). I deserve the accusation o f intellectualism (made by B u d d h i s m against any simple reflexiveness). W e can even become maniacs of the second degree: reject denotation. amphibology. however frivolously. I wanted to write it. . that would be love: which would return: but in another place. spontaneity. this madness of language: speech-act (we open this abyss first of all for a tactical reason: to break down the infatuation of our statements. for example). language becomes corrosive But on one condition: that it does lïôXTêasé doing so to infinity. Le second degré et les autres ~ The second degree and the others I write: that is the first degree of language. instead.discovered. a touch of sentimentality: w o u l d that not be the ultimate transgression? the transgression of transgression itself? For. o f a body. . to a power of dislocation: parody. I write that it has run a w a y . A s snnn as it thinks itself. There is an erotic. (Already Pascal: " R u n a w a y thought. " ) Today there is an enormous consumption o f this second degree. platitude. and liberated . the arrogance of our science). in order to reverse altogether the enjoyment we might have taken in it. innocent repetition. We 66 . an aesthetic of the second degree: (kitsch. F o r i f I abide by the second degree. this disposition is infinite and in scientific terms we call this abyss opened by each w o r d . of science. I abolish language's good conscience. tolerate only languages which testify. A l l we need to do is change the focus o f a remark.

The opposition therefore functions only in the context of a critical operation analogous to an experiment in chemical analysis: each time I believe in the truth. as i f every sentence had inside it an etymon (origin and truth). I subject it to some external instance. " " s i n c e r i t y " ) . for it w i l l overturn the habitual instances of expression. which denoted the presence of g e l a t i n . I have need of denotation. For all these voices. Denotation/connotation: this double concept therefore applies only within the field of truth. Bouvard and Pécuchet subject the jujube lozenge to the water test: " I t assumed the transparence o f a bacon rind. of reading. the right metaphor would have to be invented. Each time I need to test a message (to demystify it). presenting the threat of aphasia under which he struggles: contrary to the first. having a faint British flavor. I make an adjectival approach: agile. youthful. to render his voice. Y e s . A n d how about this: clipped? Y e s . somewhat broken? N o . fragile. all expression. I educe it to a kind of uncouth rind. in particular! It is always someone's voice. its principle w i l l be a shock: it w i l l straddle. once encountered. little by little. 67 . this was a voice without rhetoric (though not without tenderness). " " r e a l i t y . as between one step and another. not quite.) I try. which forms its true substratum. Sa voix ~ H i s voice (No one's in particular.might call this interplay bathmology. rather: overcultivated. La dénotation comme vérité du langage — Denotation as the truth o f language In the Falaise pharmacy. " Denotation would here be a scientific myth: that of a " t r u e " state of language. A neologism is not superfluous if it gives us the notion of a new science: that of the degrees of language. the one which. This science will be unheard of. and of listening ( " t r u t h . if I expatiate: he revealed in this clipped quality not the torsion (the grimace) of a body controlling and thereby affirming itself but on the contrary the exhausting collapse o f the subject without language.

i f need be enlarges it. 68 . by its descriptive quality alone. In this. Whereby we may understand what description is: it strives to render what is strictly mortal in the object by feigning (illusion by reversal) to suppose it. whatever it says. and it is bv a kind of desperate denial that. A r t is thus never paranoiac. whether one likes it or not. philological. Détacher ~ T o detach To detach is the essential gesture o f classical art. the stereotype and the novation. which keep integrating what they have distinguished (they distinguish it only to integrate it the more completely). we call j t : l i v i n g .would possess you forever. fetishistic. This binary dialectic is the dialectic of meaning itself (marked/not marked) and of the Freudian game the child plays (Fort/Da): the dialectic of value. since it always extends. silenced. " The adjective is the instrument of this illusion. it is fatally hallowed as a work. political sciences. beyond a physical context (a w a l l . reverses it. a street). and makes it into a work. fatigue and freshness. and even though the work is consistent. or natural (one of D u c h a m p ' s objects. but I fail to find any such thing. a shadow. Dialectiques ~ Dialectics E v e r y t h i n g seems to suggest that his discourse proceeds according to a two-term dialectic: popular opinion and its contrary. so great is the gap between the words w h i c h come to me from the culture and this strange being (can it be no more than a matter of sounds?) w h i c h I fleetingly recall at my ear. The painter " d e t a c h e s " a feature. the adjective is funereal. but always perverse. relish and disgust: / like/I don't like. to desire it living: "as i f a l i v e " means "apparently d e a d . Doxa and its paradox. a monochrome surface). insignificant. art is the contrary o f the sociological. this irremediable loss we g i y e t h e name of inflection: jnfiection is the voice insofar as it is always past. Such impotence has a reason: tjje v o i r e js always /^jggjy_ ^ e a d .

o n l y homosexualities. whose plural w i l l baffle any constituted. to the point where it seems to him virtually pointless to talk about it). of constitution. difference. and textual. of friability. at another turn of the spiral. ism. But a great deal of difference leads away from it. difference. what matters is not the discovery. leaks. skids. trying to find expression: the contradiction of the terms yields in his eyes by the discovery o f a third term. difference is plural. i n a reading of the world and of the self. one touch of difference leads to racism. democratize." seed of racial intolerance. Conflict is sexual. difft erence. Pluriel. both the meanings and the sexes be pluralized: meaning w i l l tend toward its multiplication. refine. For that one must pluralize. i. homogenize—all such efforts w i l l never manage to expel " t h e tiniest difference.Yet is this quite true? In h i m . for example. meaning and sex are principles of construction. . conflit ~ Plural.i flows. which is not a synthesis but a translation: everything comes back. that much-vaunted and insistent prevails because it dispenses with or triumphs over conflict. therefore. over. sensual. 69 . slips . o f certain oppositions but o f encroachments. but it comes back as Fiction. a shimmer.e. . shifts. difference is the very movement of dispersion. centered discourse.. and sex w i l l be taken into no typology (there will be. To equalize. conflict H e often resorts to a kind o f philosophy vaguely labeled pluralW h o k n o w s i f this insistence on the plural is not a way of denying sexual duality? The opposition of the sexes must not be a law of Nature. continuously. another dialectic appears. semantic. I c A c c o r d i n g to Freud (in the book about Moses). the confrontations and paradigms must be dissolved. its dispersion (in the theory of the Text). irremediably. r S i m i l a r l y .

partitions. The reason for this is obviously that I want an immediate pleasure and reject the tedium of training. which is a purely muscular problem—it is because I fail to abide by the written fingering: I improvise. for training hampers pleasure—for the sake o f a greater ulterior pleasure. much invoked in his discourse. is merely a "wrong object": never defined by its content. glittering details (according to Baudelaire. i f I play badly—aside from the lack of velocity. each time I play. functions as a bit of hallucination: I gladly give myself up to the watchword of a fantasy: "Immediately!" even at the cost of a considerable loss of reality. Eisenstein). in plays the " s c e n e " à l'italienne. the effect o f hashish). fingering . depending on your point o f v i e w . . in the perfection attributed to it but never really attained. and therefore I can never play anything without making mistakes. This propensity is labeled progressive: art of the rising classes proceeds by just such framing (Brecht. . Diderot. . Le mauvais objet ~ The wrong object Doxa (public opinion). only by its form. as they say (we tell the pianist what the gods said to Orpheus: D o n ' t turn back prematurely on the effects o f your action). and that invariably wrong form is doubtless: repetition.Le goût de la division ~ Propensity for division Propensity for d i v i s i o n : fragments. " f i n g e r i n g " has nothing to do with an assigned value of elegance and delicacy (which we refer to as " t o u c h " ) but merely designates a way of numbering the fingers w h i c h must play this or that note. 70 . the position o f my fingers. fingering establishes in a deliberate manner what w i l l become an automatism: in short. N o w . miniatures. A t the piano. photography. Au piano. So that the piece. it is the programming of a machine. le doigté . script. haiku. all the articulation of the semanticist or all the raw material o f the fetishist. windows. a bird's-eye view o f fields. i n short. line drawing. an animal inscription. ~ At the piano. .

— B u t what is repeated is sometimes good, for instance, the theme (a good critical object, the " r i g h t " object) is something that is repeated, isn't it? — T h e repetition that comes from the body is good, is right. Doxa is the wrong object because it is a dead repetition, because it comes from no one's body—except perhaps, indeed, from the body of the Dead.

Doxa Iparadoxa

~ Doxa I paradoxa

Reactive formations: a Doxa (a popular opinion) is posited, intolerable; to free myself of it, I postulate a paradox; then this paradox turns bad, becomes a new concretion, itself becomes a new Doxa, and I must seek further for a new paradox. Let us follow this trajectory once again. At the work's source, the opacity of social relations, a false Nature; the first impulse, the first shock, then, is to demystify {Mythologies); then when the démystification is immobilized in repetition, it must be displaced: semiological science (then postulated) tries to stir, to v i v i f y , to arm the mythological gesture, the pose, by endowing it with a method; this science is encumbered in its turn with a whole repertoire o f images: the goal of a semiological science is replaced by the (often very grim) science of the semiologists; hence, one must sever oneself from that, must introduce into this rational image-repertoire the texture of desire, the claims of the body: this, then, is the Text, the theory of the Text. But again the Text risks paralysis: it repeats itself, counterfeits itself in lusterless texts, testimonies to a demand for readers, not for a desire to please: the Text tends to degenerate into prattle {Babil). Where to go next? That is where I am now.

La Papillonne




Crazy, the power of distraction a man has who is bored, intimidated, or embarrassed by his work: working in the country (at what? at rereading myself, alas!), here is the list of distractions I incur every five minutes: spray a mosquito, cut my nails, eat a p l u m , take a piss, check the faucet to see if the water is still muddy (there was a breakdown in the plumbing today), go to the drug7i

store, walk d o w n to the garden to see how many nectarines have ripened on the tree, look at the radio-program listings, rig up a stand to hold m y papers, etc.: / am cruising. (Cruising relates to that passion which Fourier called the Variant, the Alternant, the B u t t e r f l y — i n the feminine: "La Papillonne."




The word " i n t e l l i g e n c e " can designate a faculty of intellection or a complicity (to have intelligence that . . .); in general, the context forces us to choose one o f the two meanings and to forget the other. E a c h time he encounters one o f these double words, R . B . , on the contrary, insists on keeping both meanings, as if one were winking at the other and as i f the word's meaning were in that wink, so that one and the same word, i n one and the same sentence, means at one and the same time two different things, and so that one delights, semantically, in the one by the other. This is why such words are often said to be " p r e c i o u s l y ambiguous": not i n their lexical essence (for any word in the lexicon has several meanings), but because, by a kind o f luck, a kind of favor not of language but o f discourse, I can actualize their amphibology, can say " i n t e l l i g e n c e " and appear to be referring chiefly to the intellective meaning, but letting the meaning of " c o m p l i c i t y " be understood. In French these amphibologies are extremely (abnormally) numerous: Absence (lack of the person and distraction of the mind), Alibi (a different place and a police justification), Aliénation ( " a good w o r d , at once social and m e n t a l " ) , Alimenter (to fill the pond and to nourish the conversation), Brûlé (burned and unmasked), Cause (what provokes and what one embraces), Citer (to call and to copy), Comprendre (to contain and to grasp intellectually), Contenance (possibility of being filled and way of behaving), Crudité (alimentary and sexual), Développer (the rhetorical meaning and the athletic meaning), Discret (discontinuous and restrained), Exemple (of grammar and of debauchery), Exprimer (to squeeze out a juice and to manifest one's inwardness), Fiché (nailed and filed 72

with the police), Fin (limit and goal), Fonction (relation and use), Fraîcheur (temperature and novelty), Frappe (stamp and scamp), Indifférence (absence of passion and of difference), Jeu (ludic activity and the movement o f parts in a machine), Partir (to leave and to be drugged), Pollution (stain and masturbation), Posséder (to have and to dominate), Propriété (property and propriety), Questionner (to interrogate and to torture), Scène (in a play and i n a household), Sens (direction and signification), Sujet (subject of the action and object o f the discourse), Subtiliser (to make more subtle and to purloin), Trait (graphic and linguistic feature), Voix (bodily organ and grammatical diathesis), etc. In the dossier o f this double response: the addâd, those Arab words each o f w h i c h has two absolutely contrary meanings; Greek tragedy, the space o f a double understanding, in which "the spectator always understands more than what each character utters on his own account or on that of his partners"; Flaubert's auditory manias (at grips with his " f a u l t s " o f style) and Saussure's (obsessed by the anagrammatical response to Latin and Greek lines o f verse). A n d to end with: contrary to what one might expect, it is not polysemy (multiplicity o f meaning) which is praised and sought out; it is quite precisely a m p h i b o l o g y , duplicity; the fantasy is not to hear everything (anything), it is to hear something else (in this I am more classical than the theory of the text which I defend).

En écharpe



O n the one hand, what he says about the large objects o f knowledge (cinema, language, society) is never memorable: the treatise (the article on something) is a kind o f enormous falling off. Whatever pertinence there happens to be comes only in the margins, the interpolations, the parentheses, aslant: it is the subject's voice off, as we say, off-camera, off-microphone, offstage. O n the other hand, he never makes explicit (never defines) the notions which seem most necessary to h i m and which he constantly makes use o f (constantly subsumed under a word). The Doxa is invariably allegated, but is not defined: no piece on the Doxa. The 73

a broken television screen. a braid. readily leaves the Oedipal situation.p r o p r e . political. words are shifted. but this pleasure is partly constituted by a kind of doctrinal vibration. La chambre d'échos ~ The echo chamber In relation to the systems which surround h i m . C o m i n g from psychoanalysis and seeming to remain there. the desire for the word prevails. . he invokes notions. some Valenciennes lace. scientific) retains with its original system a line which is not cut but which remains: tenacious and floating. a Japanese stew. he follows the words. he rehearses them under a name. e . "Bad faith" leaves the Sartrian system to j o i n the critique of mythologies. an excipient. to vocabularies." nonetheless. i . In this way. what is he? Say an echo chamber: he reproduces the thoughts badly. A n d when he comes up with a treatise " o n " the Text (for an encyclopedia). but the intertext thereby created is literally superficial: one adheres liberally: the name (philosophic. 74 . it is a labor of knowledge. "Bourgeois" receives the whole M a r x i s t accent. a din of decors. a faceted cube. it is a banquette.l o v e " — a m o u r . not o f writing. without denying it (never deny anything: in the name of what present?). a M o r o c c a n wadi. an o n i o n . he pays his visits. etc. systems communicate. but keeps overflowing toward the aesthetic and the ethical. a layered pastry. his respects.Text is never approached except metaphorically: it is the field of the haruspex. modernity is tried (the way one tries all the push buttons on a radio one doesn't know how to w o r k ) . T h e Lacanian "image-repertory"—imaginaire— extends to the borders of the classical " s e l f . no doubt. psychoanalytic. "transference. he makes use of this name as o f an emblem (thereby practicing a k i n d o f philosophical ideography) and this emblem dispenses h i m from following to its conclusion the system of which it is the signifier (which simply makes h i m a sign). N o doubt the reason for this is that one cannot at one and the same time desire a word and take it to its conclusion: in h i m .

à*. ~ù. .i \K~U^Jjt.J<n. . the note follows the vanous twists and turns of movement "T I » . Reversal: of scholarly origin. fit. < outside or at a desk .Notes in bed.

by committing itself to great risks of recuperation. i n this world w h i c h is mine. names. overflow of style toward other regions of language and subject. style is somehow the beginning of writing: however t i m i d l y . his own reality occupying its reverse and the U t o p i a the obverse. functioning of the yes/no mechanism. a c o i n . for example. Confronting the present. The Text. m y present. a double surface o f reading. countless traces of the work o f style. in the oldest sense o f the word. and he can do so only i f there is a paradigm. art. is a U t o p i a . w h i c h is excess. farfetched. Then there are the countless antitheses (deliberate. I emerge from the aphasia into w h i c h I am plunged by the panic of all that doesn't work within m e . writing. the world is a m e d a l . posited between writing and language" (The Pleasure of the Text). Yet this style serves to praise a new value. . and true rhetorical figures (Sartre is full of them). The U t o p i a is familiar to the writer. it sketches the reign o f the signifier.L'écriture commence par le style ~ W r i t i n g begins with style Sometimes he attempts to use the asyndeton so much admired by Chateaubriand under the name of anacoluthon: what relation can be found between m i l k and the Jesuits? The following: " . A quoi sert l'utopie ~ What is a U t o p i a for? What is a U t o p i a for? T o make meaning. far from a classed literary code (exhausted code o f a doomed class). l a n g u a g e signify. van Ginnekin. for the writer is a bestower of meaning: his task (or his delight) is to give meanings. This contradiction may perhaps be explained and justified as follows: his way of writing was formed at a moment when the writing of the essay sought a renewal by the combination o f political intentions. insofar as they are declared 76 . a Utopia is a second term which permits the sign to function: discourse about reality becomes possible. its—semantic—function is to make the present literature. corseted) and word play from which a whole system is derived (pleasure: precarious I bliss: precocious). B u t above a l l . In short. . alternation of the two values: for the writer. philosophical notions. those milky phonemes which the remarkable Jesuit.

whereupon a (still-maintained) Utopia consists i n imagining an infinitely fragmented society. reading his classics and writing his notebooks in the dining car. as if Utopia could only be the strict converse of the present e v i l . though vague and filled with difficulties. and. but subsequently. the way I actually saw h i m . Revolutionary writings have always scantily and poorly represented the daily finality of the revolution. he alone could risk that representation. in the gloom of the Brasserie Lutétia. or because. today. political theory aims only at setting up the real freedom of the human question. either because this representation risks sweetening or t r i v i a l i z i n g the present struggle. and the writer would be responsible for transgressing it. he w o u l d close the ethical circle. a notebook in his pocket and a phrase in his head (the way I imagined G i d e traveling from Russia to the C o n g o .impossible. by i n d i v i s i o n . as if division could only be answered. by its Utopia: the meaning is based on value: the Utopia permits this new semantics. eating a pear and reading a 77 . " tending toward difference. In Writing Degree Zero (political) Utopia has the (naïve?) form of a social universality. consequently. ultimately. l i k e a priest. without prefiguring any o f its answers. the way it suggests we shall live tomorrow. no longer conflictive. whose division would no longer be soc i a l . he would assume the eschatological discourse. Hence Utopia w o u l d be the taboo of the revolution. answering by a final vision o f values to the initial revolutionary choice (the reason why one becomes a revolutionary). one day in 1939. literature was explained by its past. waiting for the meals to be served. L'écrivain comme fantasme ~ The writer as fantasy Surely there is no longer a single adolescent who has this fantasy: to be a writer! Imagine wanting to copy not the works but the practices o f any contemporary—his way of strolling through the world. i n short: Fourierist. hitherto. a pluralist philosophy has been appearing: hostile to " m a s s i f i c a t i o n . more precisely.


etc. which is the linguistics of connotation? He had written: " T h e text is (should be) that uninhibited person who shows his behind to the Political Father" {Pleasure of the Text). he shows her his behind. . ~ Is that you. . T o read in any real way. you hear. the writer minus his work: supreme form of the sacred: the mark and the v o i d . . A n d then this too: caught up in the very form o f the utterance. new science H e wants to side with any writing whose principle is that the subject is merely an effect of language. . then. nouvelle science ~ N e w subject. does not in the least mean: I am ascertaining the doubtful identity o f the person coming in by asking the very singular question: " I s she s h e ? " but on the contrary means: you see. there is the vague recollection of all the situations in which someone has said: "Is that you?" and even beyond. there is the blind subject in the process of interrogating a woman who has come in (and i f it isn't you. the person coming in is called—or rather will be called Élise.book)! F o r what the fantasy imposes is the writer as we can see h i m in his private diary. Is linguistics to concern itself with the message or with the language? That is. in the utterance o f which the scientist would at last include himself—the science of the effects of language. the childish word was necessary. in this case. Nouveau sujet. what a disappointment—or what a relief). chère Élise . Elise dear . . is to enter into connotation. with the web of meaning as it is spun out? What are we to call this true linguistics. Futile maneuver: in dealing with the 79 . since we were concerned with the Father. Est-ce toi. . One critic pretends to believe that " b e h i n d " has been substituted for " a s s " out of timidity. I k n o w her very w e l l . . H e imagines an enormous science. and you are entitled to assume that I am on splendid terms with her. What happens to connotation here? A good little devil doesn't show his ass to M m e M a c M i c h e .

what is opposed to the soul: any somewhat métonymie extension o f the body is taboo. L'ellipse ~ Ellipsis Someone questions him: " Y o u wrote somewhere that writing proceeds through the body: can you explain what you meant? H e realizes then how obscure such statements. merely elliptical: it is an ellipsis which is not supported. the film w i l l provide it for me: the 80 . which is somehow without necessary proportion: its modules are altogether artificial. A Night at the Opera! If some critical demonstration requires an allegory in w h i c h the w i l d mechanics o f the text-on-a-spree explodes. T o w h i c h may be added here a less formal resistance: public opinion has a reduced conception o f the body. the brilliant meaning. a meaning bathed in light. as in a dream. a misunderstood figure. the excess. must be for many others. where I keenly perceive the anguish. positivist linguistics deals with a meaning so extenuated that it has become obscure. the meaning o f the subject in the process o f utterance (clear meaning? Y e s . gag W h a t a textual treasury. L'emblème. it is always. because these shortcuts are placed in a purely operative field: that of academic apprenticeship and of the kitchen. I am no longer any more astonished by L a Fontaine's ellipses (yet. much more acutely than the story which is taking place there). le gag ~ E m b l e m . Y e t the phrase is anything but meaningless. clear as they are to h i m . apparently. it disdainfully refers to a fantasy-linguistics the clear. h o w many unformulated relays between the grasshopper's song and her destitution) than by the physical ellipsis which unites in a simple piece of equipment both electric current and c o l d . improbable. entirely learned. unreal. but the text is not operative: there is no antecedent to the logical transformations it proposes.denoted meaning. E l l i p s i s . the imposture of a situation. disturbs because it represents the dreadful freedom of language.

etc. is the preposterous. no sugar. and somehow bewildered. so that this kind of collective ejaculation o f writing. releases demonstration from its demonstrative attribute. the 81 . Loyola). what manifests its power of subversion. make myself some tea. my mother comes downstairs too. that " b e w i l d e r m e n t " which Fourier was so good at getting into his examples. a prospectus. and then I begin w o r k i n g . Une société d'émetteurs ~ A society of transmitters I live in a society of transmitters (being one myself): each person I meet or who writes to me. The logical future of metaphor would therefore be the gag. an invitation to a performance. "relat i o n s " and not friends. and open the house. I take breakfast with her: two softboiled eggs. hysterical. At eight. at eightfifteen. I go for the paper in the village. an outline. I say to M m e C : A lovely day. T h e pleasure of writing. overcast. an exhibition. dust my desk. go downstairs. empty its ashtrays. break up some bread for the birds waiting i n the garden. a slice of toast and black coffee. by a last reversal. At nine-thirty. etc. cut a rose. most of the time. the final chaos of opera decors— each o f these episodes (among others) is the emblem of the logical subversions performed by the Text. makes itself felt on all sides. the texts and the performances proceed where there is no demand for them. it is ultimately because they are c o m i c . a text. Fourier. wash. s y m b o l . they encounter. reverts today to the apocalypse. listen to the seven-thirty news. W h a t liberates metaphor.. unfortunately for them. the torn contract. free production remains clogged. a protest. Emploi du temps ~ Schedule " D u r i n g vacation I get up at seven. but the circuit being commercial. to the scorn of any rhetorical respectability (Sade. still less partners. emblem from poetic mania. of producing. sends me a book. and i f these emblems are perfect. laughter being what. in which one might see the Utopian scene of a free society (in which pleasure would circulate without the intermediary o f money).steamer c a b i n .

Le privé ~ Private life It is certainly when I divulge my private life that I expose myself most: not by the risk of " s c a n d a l . what a lovely day. we have l u n c h . by this time it is four. a file. I make myself some black coffee. or I burn papers at the back of the garden. and the image-system. etc.postman comes (Sultry this morning. petit bourgeois: institutions. no occasion to mention the weather). it is teatime.). I water the garden (if it is good weather) and play the piano. the Goncourts' Journal. is the very thing over which others have an advantage: which is protected by no reversal. not only do you indicate your class allegiances. I go to bed at ten and read a little from a couple of books: on the one hand. or some Z o l a . But i f it is a Doxa o f the left.). in her delivery truck full of loaves. in fantasy. as a " w r i t e r . the baker's daughter (she's in school. and I go back to work. at ten-thirty sharp. I stop working. " or worse still: you constitute yourself. on the other a detective novel (preferably an old one) or an (unfashionable) English n o v e l . one's imaginary life. whose futility is no longer welcome: you constitute yourself. Further. a paper rack. etc. I smoke the day's first cigar. and a little later. press). I nap from one-thirty to two-thirty. Then comes the moment when I drift: no w i l l to work. or I go for some aspirin at the druggist's. television: if the programs are too s i l l y . After dinner. around seven. -or I make myself a reading stand. the traces of bourgeois ideology confessed by the subject: confronting this Doxa. A t one. it is the sexual private life w h i c h exposes most. I go back to my desk. I am less exposed in declaring a perversion than in uttering a taste: 82 . " — A l l of which has no interest. a work written in a highly literary language (Lamartine's Confidences. " but because then I present my image-system in its strongest consistency. and listen to music and take notes. Yet "private l i f e " changes according to the Doxa one addresses: i f it is a Doxa o f the right (bourgeois. but you even make of such an indication a literary confession. laws. sometimes I paint a little. at five-fifteen. no dislocation. the sexual exposition transgresses nothing: here " p r i v a t e l i f e " is trivial actions.

but which precisely—the very voice of the imagesystem—you would like to be able to say immediately (without mediation). e . etc. Such figures of Paradox are countless. Racine's theater is not a theater of erotic passion but of authoritarian relations. . The erotic function of the theater is not accessory. unspeakable terms: contradicting what can be said. episodic character offer some reason to be desired (this reason can be perverse. ~ In fact . Enough that a secondary. as might be supposed. The body in the theater is at once contingent 83 . Astrology is not predictive but descriptive (it describes very realistically certain social conditions). sentimentality. friendship. without reference to humanist discourse. by simple structural displacement. En fait . tenderness. to the texture o f the voice. to a way of breathing. i . ideal. what it is expected that you would say. for the theater alone of all the figurative arts (cinema. painting) presents the bodies and not their representation. a writer of claustration. . Y o u suppose that the goal o f the wrestling match is to win? N o . . The gangster film is not emotive. delight in writing then become. Y o u suppose that the theater is fictive. Jules Verne a travel writer? Quite the contrary. even to some clumsiness). of Eros observed. not attached to beauty but to a detail of the body. . . The Martians? They are not invoked to stage the Other (the A l i e n ) but the Same.passion. it must be described in realistic terms. charm. Éros et le théâtre ~ Eros and the theater The theater (the particularized scene) is the very site of what used to be called venusty. they have their logical operator: the expression "in fact" : striptease is not an erotic solicitation: in fact it desexualizes W o m a n . illuminated (by Psyche and her lamp). in relation to life? N o . in the photogeny o f the d'Harcourt studios it is the stage which is trivial and the city which is dreamed. Athens is not a mythical city. etc. it is to understand. for a whole performance to be saved. comeliness of form. but intellectual.

Proust). it is France itself which is ethnographed. In his Mythologies. (The c i n e m a would be like those bodies which pass by. Further. The cinema. complexion. or even perhaps: aesthetic. both of them. to the drift. excludes by a fatality o f Nature all transition to the act: here the image is the irremediable absence of the represented body. you might. for it has to do with pleasure. even the most trivi a l . idealist background and bring it closer to the body. La tentation ethnologique ~ The ethnological temptation What pleased h i m in Michelet is the foundation of an ethnology of France. say these bodies and the cinema. This is because the ethnological book has all the powers of the beloved book: it is an encyclopedia. for you would merely need to be momentarily crazy (which is within your power) in order to j u m p onto the stage and touch what you desire. Z o l a . you cannot possess it (it is magnified by the prestige of nostalgic desire).and essential: essential. Elsewhere the population o f Racine's tragedies. with shirts unbuttoned to the waist: Look but don't touch. factitious. e . What shall we call such discourse? erotic. in summer. clothes. the most sensual aspects.) Le discours esthétique — Aesthetic discourse He attempts to compose a discourse w h i c h is not uttered in the name of the L a w and/or of Violence: whose instance might be neither political nor religious nor scientific. i f we foresee subjecting this old category to a gradual torsion which w i l l alienate it from its regressive. on the contrary. w h i c h might be in a sense the remainder and the supplement of all such utterances. . this encyclopedia does not adulterate 84 . he has always loved the great novelistic cosmogonies (Balzac. and that o f Sade's novels. food. so close to little societies. contingent. relatively—those objects supposedly the most natural: face. noting and classifying all o f reality. literally. as closed ethnic groups whose structure must be studied. have been described as tribed. the desire and the skill o f questioning historic a l l y — i . no doubt.

N o w . évidence. what does not follow of itself. he has a feeling of exclusion. H i s discourse is full of words he cuts off. evaluation is an establishment of value. Violence. appropriation diminishes. sway. W a l k i n g through the Church of Saint-Sulpice and happening to witness the end of a wedding. produced under the effect of the silliest of spec85 . at the root. even if it is imposed arbitrarily: a tyrant who promulgated preposterous laws would all in all be less violent than the masses which were content to utter what is self-evident. the ethnological seems to come closest to a Fiction. a tracing of a limit. so to speak. democratically represented. it means to be rejected. definition. L'exclusion ~ Exclusion Utopia (à la Fourier): that of a world in which there would no longer be anything but differences. evidence. the S e l f ' s certitude grows lighter. Finally. what follows of itself: the " n a t u r a l " is. the ultimate outrage. Nature He could not get away from that grim notion that true violence is that of the self-evident: what is evident is violent. even if this evidence is gently. precarious: that one may implore. a ligature. nature ~ Violence. obligation. why this faltering. is less so. not o f a value). Yet in etymology it is not the truth or the origin of the word which pleases h i m but rather the effect of overdetermination which it authorizes: the word is seen as a palimpsest: it then seems to me that I have ideas on the level of language—which is quite simply: to write (I am speaking here of a praxis. amiable means that can be loved. in short. what is paradoxical. Etymologies ~ Etymologies When he writes abject. the image is an imitation. etc.the Other by reducing it to the Same. so that to be differentiated would no longer mean to be excluded. of all learned discourse. liberally.

it makes all lyricism untenable (as the utterance o f a central " e m o t i o n " ) . this dryness becomes lacerating: I am blocked. i. analogous to the exhausting fadeout w h i c h . express it: he felt more than excluded: detached: forever assigned the place o f the witness. never homogenous with the pathos outside o f which he must seek his place. excess of discretion. W h e n the aunts Céline and Flora want to thank Swann for his A s t i w i n e . except by relays so complicated that he w i l l lose all its publicity. H e had received in a single gust all the divisions of which he is the object. religious. W r i t i n g is a dry.e. dispersing the enticements o f the imaginary. or explicative. in the case of an erotic perversion. o f course.tacles: ceremonial. they do so by a series o f farfetched allusions. not o n l y because it separates me from current ( " p o p u l a r " ) language. Céline et Flora ~ Céline and Flora Writing subjects me to a severe exclusion. as if. N o w . euphoria of language. F o r to the simple exclusions which this episode represented for h i m was added a final alienation: that o f his language: he c o u l d not assume his distress in the very code o f distress. ascetic pleasure. Proust has described it very well—apropos of something quite different from love (is not the heterological example often the best?). i n a telephone conversation. it was the very being o f exclusion with which he had been bludgeoned: dense and hard. an asteism so bewildering that no one understands them. affects only one of the speakers. I cannot get into my writing the enchantment (pure image) o f a seduction: how to speak o f w h o m . subject to codes o f detachment: either narrative. or ironic: never lyrical. conjugal. they produce a discourse 86 . whose discourse can o n l y be. his atopia. anything but effusive. and petit bourgeois (it was not a large wedding)? C h a n c e had produced that rare moment in which the whole symbolic accumulates and forces the body to yield. to whom one loves? H o w to make the affect echo. suddenly.. and hence all its j o y ? This is a very subtle disturbance of language. or challenging. but more essentially because it forbids me to "express m y s e l f " : whom could it express? E x p o s i n g the inconsistency o f the subject.

not at all ambiguous. O n the other hand. of l i f e . Whence a double tactic: against Doxa. of the alexandrine. not of Nature. one must maintain the Utopia of suppressed meaning. pas le rêve ~ T h e fantasy. of facts. subsequently. for meaning is the product o f History. has no love for meaning. of music. it is not a question of recovering a pre-meaning. too. not by unintelligibility. the concrete is what is supposed to resist meaning. in which is imagined "the absence of every s i g n " . a thousand affirmations incidental to this dream (apropos of the avant-garde text. as though the length of an initiatic way. but because there functions a veritable schism between the (complimenting or amorous) subject's emotion and the nullity. Le fantasme. o f Japan. precisely. but against Science (paranoiac discourse). This began with Writing Degree Zero. the whole meaning. to exempt it. but rather to imagine a post-meaning: one must traverse. which in its eyes makes the mistake o f conferring upon life a kind of infinite intelligibility (which cannot be determined. anterior to meaning. in order to be able to extenuate it. Doxa. arrested): it counters the invasion o f meaning (for which the intellectuals are responsible) by the concrete. fantasizing helps pass any interval of waiting. the aphonia o f his expression. not the dream Dreaming (whether nicely or nastily) is insipid (nothing so boring as the account of a dream!). there should be a version of this dream.). Curious that in public o p i n i o n . an origin of the w o r l d . a kind of pocket novel you always carry with you and can open anywhere without 87 . unfortunately. Yet for h i m . of insomnia.which is double but. one must come out in favor of meaning. etc. for the public face of it is somehow sanded down and rendered quite insignificant: communication collapses. L'exemption de sens ~ Exemption of meaning Evidently he dreams of a w o r l d which would be exempt from meaning (as one is from military service).

" he added. at the heart of which a voice (I could never say which one. waiting for a rendezvous. there is an initiation o f writing. that o f the café or that of the internal fable). " t h a t this is a vulgar fantasy: am I not potentially the Sadist of the agony columns. which is merely the farce of one of the highest values: the exemption o f meaning. on the contrary. Un fantasme vulgaire ~ A vulgar fantasy X once told me: " C a n you conceive o f the slightest frustration among Sade's libertines? A n d yet: even their unprecedented power. and the fantasy pleases me because it remains concomitant to the consciousness of reality (that o f the place where I am). the sex fiend who 'jumps' the passer-by in the street? In Sade. It's t r u e . their prodigious freedom are weak compared to my own fantasy life. Farce is an ambiguous form. exploitive. T h e dream displeases me because one is entirely absorbed within it: the dream is monologic. since it permits us to read within it the figure of what it mockingly repeats: as with Accountancy: a positive value in the period when the bourgeoisie was a progressive force. disconnected. nothing ever suggests the mediocrity o f n e w s p r i n t . but as a farce. but because the only freedom I can dream of is the one they don't have: the freedom to be able to take m y pleasure of anyone I encounter and desire instantaneously.anyone seeing anything. hence is created a double space. settled. braided—without pen or paper. 88 . and struck forever by that notion of M a r x ' s that in History tragedy sometimes recurs. assumes a position o f indirection: something is woven. " Le retour comme farce ~ Recurrence as farce Intensely struck. layered. in the café. in the train. that first time. a pejorative feature when that bourgeoisie had become triumphant. Not that I have any desire to add any particular practice to the apparently exhaustive list of their pleasures. as in the movement of a fugue. and as with the " c o n c r e t e " (the alibi o f so many mediocre scholars and dull politicians).

" a devoted f r i e n d " [ami]. L a Zambinella declares that she seeks to be. cited as far back as Writing Degree Zero: the freshness o f language. but in another. exposing. for the sculptor who loves her. " N o t that he denies this ideology its bourgeois stamp for a moment (quite the contrary: what else w o u l d it be?). by this masculine form of the word. but he must denature the stereotype by some verbal or graphic sign which displays its wear (quotation marks. " like an old harness. and falls (slackens). O n the spiral's trajectory. higher place: it is then the return o f difference. halfsexual apologia in order to recognize the repression effects of the 89 . it is Fiction. however. her true sex. while keeping the frozen word from returning to a state o f nature. The ideal would of course be to erase.This farce recurrence is itself the mockery of the materialist emblem: the spiral (introduced by V i c o into our Western discourse). these external signs. La fatigue et la fraîcheur ~ Fatigue and freshness The stereotype can be evaluated in terms o f fatigue. it is a metaphor which leans. the expression "bourgeois i d e o l o g y " had gone considerably sour and was beginning to " f a t i g u e . the stereotyped discourse must be caught up in a mimesis (novel or theater): it is then the characters themselves who function as quotation marks: thus Adamov succeeds in his Ping-Pong in producing a language without display but not without distance: a congealed language (Mythologies). (Doom o f the essay. for example). but her lover fails to understand: he is abused by the stereotype (SIZ): how many times our universal discourse has used the expression " a devoted f r i e n d " ! One w o u l d have to start with this half-grammatical. recurs lower down. little by little. he then undertook (discreetly) to write: " t h e so-called bourgeois i d e o l o g y . Farce. In 1971. The stereotype is what begins to fatigue me. the movement of metaphor. everything recurs. compared to the novel: doomed to authenticity—to the preclusion of quotation marks. Whence the antidote.) In Sarrasine. fades. but to do this.

but to a consideration of effects. I am then sure that this piece of utterance has been produced by one body. like a decalcomania. refracted. W h y should science not grant itself the right to have visions? (Quite often. and pleasure. With intellectual things.stereotype. it takes that right. in its discontinuity. La double figure ~ The double figure This work. luckily. we produce simultaneously theory. slight separation w h i c h forms a complete. colored scene. sometimes the stereotype (écrivance) gives way and writing (écriture) appears. H e would have wanted to produce not a comedy of the Intellect but its romanesque. how many subjects repressed. we subject the objects of knowledge and discussion—as in any art—no longer to an instance of truth. La fiction ~ Fiction Fiction: slight detachment. or more exactly a vision: how do we see s t y l e ? " Perhaps every enterprise rests in this way on a vision of intellectual objects. proceeds by means o f two 90 . Apropos of style: " I t is an image I want to interrogate.) C o u l d not science become fictional? Fiction would proceed from a new intellectual art (which is how semiology and structuralism are defined in Système de la Mode). critical combat. in this supposedly collective text that I happen to be reading. The stereotype is that emplacement of discourse where the body is missing. Conversely. where one is sure the body is not. because they are unwilling to let go of a stereotype. its novelistic theory. blinded as to their true sexuality. Valéry used to speak of those people who die in an accident because they are u n w i l l i n g to let go of their umbrellas.

cutting as rifle fire. to his guard: ' 'Grenadier Gobain has committed suicide for love: moreover he was a very fine soldier. contrariety. I rediscover: Book. and all this nonetheless: as if I were borrowing a quotation. Doxa. insistence of an idea. i f I would speak. la folie ~ L o v e . madness Order of the day. contradiction. identifying love with a battle. to such a madman. a position. an image) and the zigzag (reversal. not—banally—because two partners confront one another. in the erotic madness. The First Consul orders the guard to be notified: that a soldier must conquer the pain and melancholy of the passions. denial. one wonders. no modern word is given today. a preference. L'amour. In the sentiment of love. Entanglement o f language and the body: which begins? Forgeries ~ Forgeries H o w does it go. from Bonaparte. . that there is as much true courage in suffering steadfastly the pangs of the soul as in standing fast under the fire of a battery . the movement of a Z . distress or jubilation: the body. the letter o f deviance). from head to toe. when I write?—Doubtless by movements of language sufficiently formal and repeated for me to be able to call 9i . but because. Anguish. increase. the erotic explosion provokes bewilderment and fear: crisis. overwhelmed. revulsion of the body. This is the second event of this kind which has occurred within the corps in a month. reactive energy. and it is ultimately for this reason that he feels himself to be mad: no language to usurp—except a very old one. w o u n d . First C o n s u l .movements: the straight line (advance. . submerged by Nature. N o w ." From what language. madness: a man who is in love in the romantic manner knows the experience of madness. melancholy grenadiers draw their passion (scarcely in accord with the image of their class and profession)? What books had they read—or what stories been told? Perspicacious of Bonaparte. Stupidity. did these lovesick.

A m o n g others. of w h i c h he was the contemporary. nomination. these are: evaluation. M y discourse contains many coupled notions (denotation/connotation. text operators. Fourier ou Flaubert? ~ Fourier or Flaubert? W h o is more important historically: Fourier or Flaubert? In Fourier's work. o f the sentenced text: I produce i n order to reproduce. there is virtually no direct trace of the H i s t o r y . Le cercle des fragments ~ The circle of fragments T o write by fragments: the fragments are then so many stones 92 . forgery is an imitation o f handwriting). and here is another of such figures: forgery (in the jargon o f graphologists. Whereas Flaubert narrates in the course of a novel all the events o f 1848. This way of making a text go (by figures and operations) fits in well with the views of semiology (and o f what subsists in semiology of the old rhetoric): it is thus historically and ideologically marked: my text is in fact readerly: I am on the side o f structure. enumeration. it serves to say something: it is necessary to posit a paradigm in order to produce a meaning and then to be able to divert. Such oppositions are artifacts: one borrows from science certain conceptual procedures. emphasis. W h i c h does not keep Fourier from being more important than Flaubert: he has indirectly expressed the desire of History and it is in this that he is at once a historian and a modern: historian of a desire.: the opposition is struck (like a coinage). to alter it. etc. amphibology.them " f i g u r e s " : I divine that there are figures of production. Then what good is it? Quite s i m p l y . readerlylwriterly). though without w i s h i n g to apply it to the end: impossible to say: this is denotation. paradox. this connotation. agitated though it was. this writerly. an energy o f classification: one steals a language. but one does not seek to honor it. as if I had a thought and represent it with the help o f raw materials and of rules: / write classic. of the sentence. etymology. or: this passage is readerly.

it is itself a text. Zen. he has never stopped writing in brief bursts: the brief scenes o f Mythologies. instead of trying to represent the proportions. make up a discourse which can link them together.on the perimeter of a circle: I spread myself around: my whole little universe in crumbs. the articles and prefaces o f Critical Essays. intermezzo. circle. and structure. a second text which is the relief (remainder and asperity) o f the first: what is wandering (interrupted) in the rationality o f the sentences. I decide to begin a patient and regular apprenticeship in drawing. for " i n the ring. The index of a text. it is like a parlor game: " T a k e the words: fragment. painting. not d u r a t i o n " (Mythologies). then. asyndeton. whence unexpected " c o n c l u s i o n s " : the horseman's leg turns out to be perched right on 93 . a sum of spectacles. for each o f them. organization. figures of interruption and short-circuiting." A n d that would quite simply be this very fragment. what? His first. wrestling match. as a matter of fact. it is each moment which is intelligible. is not o n l y an instrument o f reference. but even within each fragment parataxis reigns. the assemblage o f referents is hétéroclite. subject in its very structure to asyndeton and anacoluthon. Gide. this choice is then justified in the Gidean manner "because incoherence is preferable to a distorting o r d e r . discourse. the lexias of SlZ. with amazement and predilection he watched this sportive artifice. I copy and naively connect detail to detail. or nearly first text (1942) consists o f fragments. Not only is the fragment cut off from its neighbors. " Since then. at the center. This is clear if you make an index o f these little pieces. irresistibly. Fourier. I try to copy a Persian composition of the seventeenth century ( " N o b l e m a n H u n t i n g " ) . the fragments of the second essay on Sade in Sade. Loyola and of The Pleasure of the Text. Never having done more in the way of painting than some "tachiste" daubing. He already regarded the wrestling match as a series o f fragments.

or o f w i s d o m . talking to a friend (it arises laterally to what he says or what I say). The fragment (like the haiku) is torin. the germ o f the fragment comes to you anywhere: in the café. " something articulated and sung. separated. " Then i f you put the fragments one after the next. he called the fragment an " i n t e r m e z z o " . he tends to multiply this pleasure: that is why he writes fragments: so many fragments. so many pleasures (but he doesn't like the ends: the risk of the rhetorical clausule is too great: the fear o f not being able to resist the last word). the rush. a gaping of desire. not of thought. so many beginnings. or of truth (as in the M a x i m ) . In the form o f a thought-sentence. a method of abrupt. a diction: here it is timbre which should reign. broken openings (kien Buddhism is. the method of gradual access). not by sketch. then you take out your notebook. what w o u l d once have been called a " t u r n . 94 . The man who has best understood and practiced the aesthetic o f the fragment (before Webern) is perhaps Schumann. he increased the intermezzi within his works as he went on composing: everything he produced was ultimately intercalated: but between what and what? What is the meaning o f a pure series o f interruptions? The fragment has its ideal: a high condensation. I have the antecedent (initial) taste for the detail. but of music: " d e v e l o p m e n t " w o u l d be countered by " t o n e . to write beginnings. " L i k i n g to find. conversely. and the incapacity to lead it toward a " c o m p o s i t i o n " : I cannot reproduce " t h e m a s s e s . Dichterliebe): each piece is self-sufficient. the fragment. to jot down not a " t h o u g h t " but something like a strike. an hors-texte. it implies an immediate delight: it is a fantasy o f discourse.top of the horse's breastplate. I proceed by addition. In other words. and yet it is never anything but the interstice of its neighbors: the work consists of no more than an inset. is no organization possible? Y e s : the fragment is like the musical idea o f a song cycle (La Bonne Chanson. etc. Zen belongs to torin Buddhism. on the train.

without repugnance they were called a diary: diarrhea . but since the fragment (haiku. the Woman in Charlus surfaced: not when he was cruising soldiers and coachmen. attenuating the risk of transcendence. polishing. one arrives at the regular practice of the fragment. a dissertation destroyed. Production o f m y fragments. by supposing I disperse myself I merely return.Webern's small pieces: no cadence: with what sovereignty he turns short! Le fragment comme illusion ~ The fragment as illusion I have the illusion to suppose that by breaking up my discourse I cease to discourse in terms o f the imaginary about myself. 95 .). at the Verdurins'. etc. . Du fragment au journal ~ From the fragment to the journal With the alibi o f a pulverized discourse. Contemplation of my scraps (narcissism). quite freely. but when. nowadays. then from the fragment one slips to the " j o u r n a l . to the bed o f the imaginary. journal entry) is finally a rhetorical genre and since rhetoric is that layer o f language which best presents itself to interpretation. is not the point o f all this to entitle oneself to write a " j o u r n a l " ? A m I not justified in considering everything I have written as a clandestine and stubborn effort to bring to light again. La fraisette ~ La fraisette A l l of a sudden. Yet the (autobiographical) " j o u r n a l " is. someday. . quite docilely. pensée. Change partners: in the sixteenth century. when they were beginning to be written. Contemplation o f my fragments (correction. " At which point. maxim. the theme o f the Gidean " j o u r n a l " ? At the terminal horizon. discredited. perhaps quite s i m p l y the initial text (his very first text was concerned with G i d e ' s Journal).

W o u l d drink be a good head for reading (a head in search of the body's truth)? Drinks one drinks all one's life without really l i k i n g them: tea. alters. guavas. he found what he liked today: for instance. T o drink wine is to eat. O n dietetic pretexts. a twist o f degrees: it turns back. . Fautes de frappe ~ Typos To type: no traces: nothing exists. so that the mouthful swallowed does not have quite the same taste as the next mouthful taken? In the draught o f good wine. i n the heavy summers. for some fraisette. drinks-for-effects. iced drinks (very cold beer). Search for an ideal drink: which would be rich in metonymies o f all kinds. raspberries.he asked for a strawberry liqueur—asked. and none whatever for exotic fruits such as mangoes. at B . there is no birth of 96 . somewhat less for oranges. gives the rule for this symbolism: If you drink a glass of wine before the meal is served. because i n those days there were no refrigerators yet (the tap water. was always tepid). doubles. Français ~ French French by fruits (as others were " b y w o m e n " ) : a predilection for pears. and then all of a sudden the word is there: no approximation. a concomitance is created: civilization begins w i t h duplicity (overdetermination): is not a good wine the wine whose flavor oscillates. in a shrill voice. it should be accompanied by a piece of bread: so that a counterpoint. cherries. as i n the taking o f the text. Drinks-for-times. The taste of good wine (the straight taste of wine) is inseparable from food. whiskey. there is a torsion. the manager o f the T . no production. In recalling the little things he had been deprived of i n his childhood. and not drinks-forflavors. like a lock of hair. lichee nuts.

I always make only one mistake. and I write another text (that drug. it remains 97 . Yet to this initial state of semantic reading. before collapsing into in-significance. In this morality. but a legible mistake. but the expulsion o f a little scrap of code. therefore refer to an entirely different disturbance than manuscript particularities: through the machine. shudders still: there is meaning. my whole body enters into these code mistakes: this morning. not three). and one can conceive of a graphanalysis. but this meaning does not permit itself to be " c a u g h t " . as Hegel's ancient Greek was astounded by Nature and in it heard the thrill of meaning. for instance. as a frequent theme. and under normal circumstances. insofar as they are not skids but substitutions. amputating one leg—I want letters with two legs. These mechanical errors. idiomatic). or by substituting z (the bad letter) for s in plurals (in what I write by hand. cracks. it is that first state according to which the " n a t u r a l " begins to stir. the machine o f languages starts up. indecipherable. according to which things are proceeding toward the " t r u e " meaning (that of History). it is true that a good secretary does not make mistakes: she has no unconscious! Le frisson du sens ~ The thrill o f meaning It is evident that the object o f all his work is a morality of the sign (morality is not morale). the " s t r u c t u r e " by a persistent metathesis. a meaning. However. Typos are therefore very special: faults o f essence: mistaking the keys. I always make the same mistakes: disorganizing. I attack the system at its heart. the (abhorred) illusion o f the self-evident chips. though a frequent one: I write n for m. the unconscious writes much more surely than natural script does. the thrill of meaning has a double place. within it: I am astounded by the " n a t u r a l " aspect of sentences. " N a t u r e " shudders with all the sociality compressed. I keep making mistakes. corresponds elsewhere and almost contradictorily another value: meaning. historical. fatigue). the typo is never vague. much more pertinent than our insipid graphology. to signify (to become once again relative.the letter. spoiling my copy. sleeping. getting up too early by accident.

you had to normalize your body. a modest. socially tolerated. that the narrative of dreaming excludes its auditor (from the pleasures of its referent). sacrifice your good hand to the little society o f the lycée (I was constrained to draw with my right hand. except from a highly personal sentiment—but it is also exaggeratedly abstract. . (Forms of this thrill: the Text. you find the grip of the telephone o n the wrong side. for this ideally thrilling meaning is pitilessly recuperated by a s o l i d meaning (that of the Doxa) or by a null meaning (that o f the mystiques of liberation). and went on . when someone right-handed has used it before y o u . ( T w o imprudences: not only is the phenomenon not c e r t a i n — how to ascertain that the telling of a dream is boring. marked adolescent life with a tenuous and persistent crease: you got used to it. to induce that one o f the functions of Narrative w o u l d be to exclude its reader. significance. shuddering with a faint ebullition. years ago. burst out without ever assuming the definitive form o f a sign grimly weighted by its signified: a happy and impossible theme. adapted to it. aggrandized to the general category o f Narrative: this uncertain phenomenon becomes the starting point o f an abusive extension. The ideal state of sociality is thereby declared: an enormous and perpetual rustling animates with countless meanings which explode.fluid. you had to struggle to be l i k e the others.) V induction galopante ~ Galloping induction Temptation of reasoning: from this. inconsequential exclusion. What carries all before it is the flavor of paradox: to be able to suggest that Narrative is not at all projective.) Gaucher ~ Left-handed T o be left-handed—what does it mean? Y o u eat contrary to the place assigned to the table setting. but I put in the colors with m y left: the revenge o f impulse). . to be able to subvert the narrative Doxa. the scissors are not made for your thumb. and perhaps: the Neuter. crepitate. 98 . In school.

Protestant. by metonymy. This first want (I desire and I pledge myself) establishes a secret system o f fantasies which persist from age to age. my literary soup. my Ursuppe. Mallarmé speaks of "gestures of the i d e a " : he finds the gesture first (expression of the body). it is the first posture: one copies a role. of the intertext). often independently o f the writings of the desired author. then the idea (expression o f the culture. unchanging. Gide is my original language. the writing o f another {"En Grèce. One o f his first articles (1942) concerned G i d e ' s Journal. and then hopes to meet in his work with the possibility of finding an abstraction for it. o f ideal fictions (he borrows objects. an art: I begin producing by reproducing the person I want to be. levied on the intellectual culture of the moment: philosophy then is no more than a reservoir o f particular images. but T o k y o makes him think of the Lacanian subject. he starts from a sensuous object. A n d G i d e occupied a great place in his early reading: a diagonal cross-breed of Alsace and Gascony. having a taste for " l e t t e r s " and fond of playing the piano." 1944) was evidently imitated from Les Nourritures terrestres. Le goût des algorithmes ~ The taste for algorithms He has never worked out real algorithms. Abgrund ~ Abgrund Can o n e — o r at least could one ever—begin to write without taking oneself for another? F o r the history of sources we should substitute the history of figures: the origin o f the work is not the first influence. the Gidean core.Les gestes de l'idée ~ Gestures of the idea The Lacanian subject (for instance) never makes him think o f Tokyo. without counting the rest—how c o u l d he have failed to recognize himself. then. there was a moment when he fell back on less arduous formalizations (but this moment 99 . as Gide was o f Normandy and Languedoc. not reasonings). This procedure is a constant one: he rarely starts from the idea in order to invent an image for it subsequently. still forms in my head a stubborn swarm. to desire himself in this writer? The Gidean Abgrund.

A n d i f I hadn't read H e g e l . even fail to have the interest of locating his discourse under the aegis o f scientific reasoning: whom could they deceive? Y e t one plays at science. genealogical trees. or La Princesse de Clèves. Hétérologie et violence ~ Heterology and violence He fails to explain to himself h o w he can (along with others) sustain a textual theory o f heterology (hence of discontinuity) on ioo . they are simple toys. in the same way. B u t for m e ? Where do m y reading duties begin?) The man who makes a practice o f writing agrees cheerfully enough to diminish or to divert the acuity. its memorability. or LéviStrauss on Les Chats. Et si je n'avais pas lu . . ~ A n d i f I hadn't read . . In the same way. H a v e we not enough freedom to receive a text without the letter? (Repression: not to have read Hegel w o u l d be an exorbitant defect for a philosophy teacher. one puts it in the p i c t u r e — l i k e a piece in a collage. makes h i m s e l f a plan o f Plassans to explain his novel to himself. he k n o w s . tables. the responsibility o f his ideas (one must risk this in the tone one usually employs in saying: What does it matter to me? don't I have the essentials?): in writing there would be the pleasure o f a certain inertia. or /'Anti-Œdipe?—The book which I haven't read and which is frequently told to me even before I have time to read it (which is perhaps the reason I don't read it): this book exists to the same degree as the other: it has its intelligibility. its mode o f action. are of no use whatever. Such diagrams. Such figures.. schémas. for a M a r x i s t intellectual. a certain mental facility: as i f I were more indifferent to my own stupidity when I write than when I speak (how often professors are more intelligent than writers). for a Bataille specialist. . the analogue o f the dolls made out of a comer o f one's handkerchief: one plays for oneself: ZxAa.seems to have passed): what seemed to be simple equations. in fact. . calculation—from which pleasure was to be derived—was placed by Fourier in a phantasmatic series (for there are fantasies o f discourse).

Ji.â\ bu*-' It SWA Corrections? More for the pleasure of studding the text .

he credits its author with not manipulating the reader. it is true. you retrogress. and without the pose of melancholy adopted to avow a solitude. Hypocrisie? ~ Hypocrisy? Speaking o f a text. worked successively under the aegis of a great system ( M a r x . semiology. e t c . up to now. . (the ladder continues). nothing sustains h i m . 102 . you attest to the accuracy of your diagnostic: indeed. It is true that i n doing so. Sartre. L'imaginaire de la solitude ~ The image-system of solitude He had always. in fact. " — S o you make a declaration of h u m i l i t y . the Text). and the worst kind of one: the psychological image-system. to act as i f one glimpsed some other style o f cleavage. unless there are still patches o f bypassed languages (for in order to speak one must seek support from other texts). even at the price o f a certain withdrawal. but rather in order to account to himself for the feeling of insecurity w h i c h possesses h i m today and. and on the other keep projecting a critique of violence (without ever. I escape . it seems to h i m that he writes more openly.—But i n saying as much. H e says this without the infatuation which may accompany all declarations of independence.the one hand. by a reversal you had not foreseen and which y o u w o u l d readily overlook. the old thing he is when " l e f t to h i m s e l f . Today. it might not be worth the trouble. and that in fact he w i l l never renounce an art of effects. more unprotectedly. you still don't escape the image-system for all that. B u t he found this compliment by discovering that he himself does all he can to manipulate the reader. H o w can you be a fellow traveler with the avant-garde and its sponsors when you have an irenic preference for drifting?—Unless. still more perhaps. Brecht. . the vague torment o f a recession toward the minor thing. developing it and assuming responsibility for it to the end).

when the essential task was to describe the humanly intelligible. assigning them to the region o f infra-sex: a petit-bourgeois view which construes the intellectual. on account of his language. S o there are recurrent ideas: because he sets so much store by them (by virtue of what spell?). e . what is an idea for h i m . N o w .e. is to assume this language which is fastened on him from without. devirilized. i f not a flush of pleasure? " A b s t r a c t i o n is in no way contrary to sensuality" (Mythologies). E v e n in his structuralist phase. at w h i c h point the only thing the intellectual can do. the scribes. A n d hence he felt himself to be the object of a kind of racism: they excluded his language. Les idées méconnues ~ Misunderstood ideas W e see one and the same critical idea (for instance: Destiny is an intelligent design: it falls precisely where it was not expected to fall) nourish one book (On Racine) and reappear much later in another (SIZ). the clerks. i. .. In short. A n d yet (a frequent trick of any social accusation). it is precisely where I dare encourage myself to the point of repeating myself that the reader " d r o p s " me (whereby—to revert—Destiny is indeed an intelligent 103 . Hence he has often been dismissed by an accusation of intellectualist jargon. these favorite ideas usually waken no echo. as a desexualized. his body: " y o u don't talk the way I do. " Michelet himself (but the breadth of his thematics afforded him an excuse) had exploded against the intellectuals.L'idée comme jouissance ~ Idea as delight Public opinion does not like the language of intellectuals. for example—what one sees from the Eiffel Tower—is an object at once intellective and rapturous: it liberates the body even as it gives the illusion of " c o m p r e h e n d i n g " the field of vision. i . so I exclude y o u . being: anti-intellectualism reveals itself as a protest of virility. like Sartre's Genêt wanting to be and making himself the man he is dismissed as being. he always associated intellectual activity with delight: the panorama.

it is endurable only i f consumed to the third degree: conscious of the fact that it has been first touching. I was glad to have published (assuming responsibility for the apparent silliness of the remark) that " o n e writes in order to be l o v e d " . insufficiently protected aesthetically. I am told that M . even a critical return: and what if there were. but does not display its d o m i n a t i o n . you are finally free to find it. an ideological critique is not made directly (or else it w o u l d have once more produced a repetitive. D . militant discourse). then. finds this sentence imbecilic: indeed. by a gesture o f pure clearance) in order to become. its good conscience). perhaps. H o w escape this? O n e solution is possible: the aesthetic one. In Brecht. as a second perversion. "keeps brushing up 104 . m y book. an ideological object. gives a start at this w o r d and immediately gives me back as good as I gave: he has had many discussions o f The Pleasure of the Text with his friends. tautological. La phrase ~ The sentence The sentence is denounced as an ideological object produced as pleasure (a reduced essence o f the Fragment). accurate ( M . X . either accuse the subject o f contradiction or else induce from this contradiction an astonishment.design). In another way. D . counter-ideology creeps in by means of a fiction—not realistic but accurate. it passes through aesthetic relays. So ideological analysis (or counter-ideology) need merely be repeated and consistent (by proclaiming on the spot its validity. then i m b e c i l i c . he says. it is excluded from the order of the signifier). a pleasure of ideology? Idéologie et esthétique ~ Ideology and aesthetic Ideology: what is repeated and consistent (by this last adjective. This is perhaps the role of the aesthetic i n our society: to provide the rules o f an indirect and transitive discourse (it can transform language. could not go that far). to whom I say that his manuscript (a weighty tome attacking television) is too dissertative. itself. One can.

a pronoun. which is set for them. is to fall into the aesthetic. exists i n animals (though the symbolic does not). parentheses. Hence it is important that the image-system be treated according to its degrees (the image-system is a matter o f consistency. at the limit: to make the footlights a kind of uncertain barrier. it w o u l d be enough to announce this piece on each occasion by some metalinguistic operator. Does not this zoological horizon give the image-system a preponderance o f interest? Is it not. however. and there are. then and above all because. gently skating over a verb tense. to establish levels. in short. to distribute the roles. a coming category? The vital effort of this book is to stage an image-system.)." If the image-system constituted a clear-cut piece whose embarrassment was always certain. whether sexual or hostile. L'imaginaire — The image-system The image-system. This is what c o u l d be done here for some of the fragments (quotation marks. myself. very frequently. and consistency a matter of degrees). first of a l l . in his eyes. dictation. I merely project the image further along. is that one cannot number these degrees. The difficulty. epistemologically. total assumption of the image. several degrees of image-system." N o doubt catastrophe. " T o stage" means: to arrange the flats one in front of the other. doubled (or imagining himself to be doubled). 105 . sometimes manages to sign his image-system. In earlier times. scholars sometimes discreetly followed a proposition with the corrective w o r d "incertum. everything that can be gathered together under the very device of the M i r r o r and of its Image: Me.against catastrophe. since they head straight for the trap. in order to be cleared of having written it. and. like the degrees o f spirituous liquor or of a torture. in spite of everything. the subject. But this is not a sure-fire practice. producing a secondary grimace. the image-system creeps in stealthily. because there is an image-system of lucidity and because by splitting up what I say. a memory. scene. in the course o f these fragments. etc. I.

whence. provided one might classify these indulgences. in a given historical situation—of pessimism and rejection—it is the intellectual class as a whole w h i c h . is virtually a dandy. tells me—regretfully—that the students are individualists. unpunished. (At its full strength. but a text with uncertain quotation marks. H o w e v e r . the dandy is not alone: S. nor a text o f lucidity.Hence the ideal would be: neither a text of vanity. The inducing object. This also depends on the reader. though solitary. i f it does not become militant. 106 . w h o produces the spacing of the readings.. himself a student. or simply: who would observe. O r again: what cannot be written without the reader's indulgence.) Le dandy ~ The dandy L a v i s h use of paradox risks i m p l y i n g (or quite simply: implies) an individualist position. each reader has his own indulgence. ( A dandy has no philosophy other than a transitory one: a life interest: time is the time o f my life. exempt from the embarrassment of being read by a subject without indulgence. it becomes possible to classify the fragments themselves: each one receives its image-system imprint from that very horizon where it supposes itself l o v e d . however.) Qu'est-ce que l'influence? ~ What is influence? It is clear in the Critical Essays how the subject of the writing " e v o l v e s " (shifting from an ethic of commitment to an ethic of the signifier): he evolves according to the authors he treats. with floating parentheses (never to close the parenthesis is very specifically: to drift). is not the author I am talking about but rather what he leads me to say about him: I influence myself with his permission: what I say about h i m forces me to think as much about myself (or not to think as m u c h ) . the image-system is experienced thus: everything that I want to write about m y s e l f and that it embarrasses me finally to write. and one may say: a kind of dandyism. N o w . etc. in order.

) L' instrument subtil ~ The subtle instrument Program for an avant-garde: " T h e w o r l d has surely become unhinged. and chased the bat with the fire tongs.Hence there must be a distinction between the authors about whom one writes. they wrapped themselves in a bedsheet. whom I had just been reading. Fearing it would get caught in her hair. was touching this defect or a patch of sugar that had not dissolved or had not been washed. fragile—which requires to be wielded delicately" (Brecht). and whose influence is neither external nor anterior to what one says about them. was a song of sentence-ideas: the influence was purely prosodie. 107 . the children fluttering around them: holidays. At the bottom of the old white bowl there was a defect in the glaze. and (a more classical conception) the authors whom one reads. as it turned. B u t it may be that among the instruments for doing so. cold milk with sugar in it. he never could tell if the spoon. what I was trying to collect. there is o n e — t i n y . A bat came into the bedroom. his mother hoisted him up on her shoulders. Dinner was taken in the bedroom. Coming home from his grandparents' house on the streetcar. Sunday nights. Pause: anamneses ~ Pause: anamneses At the afternoon snack. beside the fire— soup and toast. but what comes to me from the latter group? A k i n d of music. a pensive sonority. but what I wanted. (I had my head full o f Nietzsche. On the long summer evenings. a more or less dense play o f anagrams. the mothers strolled along the lanes. and only violent movements can put it all back together.

rented by correspondence. in the rue de la Glacière. in the rue Thiers. wielded a tortoiseshell lorgnette and smelled of pep108 . what terror when the Colonel kissed him! His godfather. Colonel Poymiro. watched the crowd from the bullfight pass back and forth. Grandsaignes d'Hauterive. spoke slowly. a shirtwaist. In the rue Mazarine. and a fox. This would always last a long time—very long: on days when they were leaving. Bertrand. in Grenelle. ordered from Darrigrand. where we caught the night train for Paris.Straddling a chair at the corner of the Chemin des Arènes. came for the travelers once a year at the house. Mme Lafont. mustachioed and myopic. as a reward for a good answer. to take us to the Bayonne station. Waiting for the train. Very distinguished. So there they were one November morning in Paris. pastor in the rue de l'Avre. At each meal he would read a little out of an old Bible with a greenish linen cover embroidered with a cross. M. The furnished apartment. A landau with two horses. we played Yellow Dwarf. M. with their trunks and suitcases. you bought your magazines from a stationer who came from Toulouse. Joseph Nogaret. his eyes closed. and gave them hot chocolate and croissants. the woman came out of the back still chewing a last mouthful. they thought they would miss the train. she would give a bonbon in the shape and with the taste of a raspberry. was occupied. always wore a suit. What agony. head of the lower school at the Bayonne lycée. purple-faced. at a loss for words. formally. the fourthform teacher. the veins showing in his nose. occasionally would give him a bag of walnuts and a five-franc piece. The dairy woman next door took them in. the shop smelled of frying potatoes.

I saw L e Chien andalou. Little perfumed cones called Phidibus were burned to keep the mosquitoes away. one Thursday afternoon in May. I had to help them do their vacation homework. never answered a question he asked-sometimes he would wait for an hour in silence for someone to find the answer. there were a lot of mosquitoes. Fourier. which turned my stomach. he divided up the class into "camps" and "rows.per. coming out at five in the afternoon. alone. In Bayonne. Also waiting for me on a newspaper. was a goblet of very pale and very sweet café-au-lait. Etc." each one with its "leader. there was netting at the windows (but it had holes in it). The irritable M. Summer mornings at nine. The biographeme (Sade. prepared by a gaunt grandmother. first-form teacher. Then came Fly-Tox. a tenuity of memory: it is the haiku itself. These few anamneses are more or less matte. Dupouey. at Studio 28. (Why are o l d teachers such good " c o n d u c t o r s " of memory?) Around 1932. (insignificant: 109 . two little boys would wait for me in a modest. vaporized by a squeaking pump that was almost always empty. without magnifying or sentimentalizing it. because of the huge trees in the garden. or else he would send the student out of his classroom. Ineffable memory of displacement from an excess of insipidity. anamnesis admits of an " e t c . Loyola) is nothing but a factitious anamnesis: the one I lend to the other I love. the rue Tholozé smelled of the café-au-lait the laundresses drank between batches of wash. low house in the Beyris neighborhood. (Not being of the order of Nature. " ) I call anamnesis the action—a mixture of pleasure and effort— performed by the subject in order to recover." All for contests about Greek aorists.

The more one succeeds in making them matte. — A m I sure I can endure what I write eight days later. e . fasting? This sentence. don't gorge. as i f y o u had fasted. Hence the work proceeds by conceptual infatuations.) A jeun ~ Fasting When he made a date for the next rehearsal. in 1950). w h i c h pleases me when I find it. the better they escape the image-system. to permit free cantons of stupidity to live w i t h i n me. he said. especially i f it is coupled. L i k e a magician's wand. the concept. don't be inspired. A dialectical view: I agree to pluralize myself. emotional.exempt o f meaning). raises a possibility of writing: here. this idea (this sentence-idea). Brecht would say to his actors: Nuchtern! Fasting! D o n ' t fill up. lies the power of saying something. perishable manias. (The cunning o f language: i n French the word for this infatuation is engouement. by amorous fits. La machine de l'écriture — The writing machine A r o u n d 1963 (apropos of L a Bruyère in Critical Essays) he worked up a great enthusiasm for the metaphor/metonymy opposition (though it had been familiar to h i m already. successive enthusiasms.). etc. . ever since his conversations with G . neither scientific nor political nor practical nor philosophical. for a certain interval. Bête? ~ Stupid? A classical view (based on the unity o f the human person): stupidity is an hysteria: it would be enough to see oneself as stupid i n order to be less so. who is to say that fasting it won't turn my stomach? H o w to question my disgust (the disgust for my o w n failures)? H o w to no . Often he felt stupid: this was because he had only an ethical intelligence ( i . . Discourse advances by little fates. be dry. indulgent. w h i c h means an obstruction: the w o r d remains i n the throat.

pitiless. A n d .prepare the best reading of myself I can hope for: not to love but only to endure fasting what has been written? Lettre de Jilali ~ A letter from Jilali ' 7 send my greetings. all of the political truth of M o r o c c o . and this indeed astounds me and denies me all radiant smiles. I have the great joy to answer your serious letter and to thank you a thousand times and from the bottom of my heart for your splendid words. but poverty conceals and hides him in his terrible world (he suffers in the present. And this astonishes you as well if you have a heart devoid of xenophobia and misanthropy. to find him a job in your kind country as soon as you can. now you know the situation of young Moroccans. literary without culture. On this occasion. I ask my God to keep you in perfect health. since he leads a life filled with anxiety and concern. literal and nonetheless immediately literary. "as your poet says' ' ) and I am asking you. etc. every sentence emphasizing the pleasures of language. This is precisely the Utopian discourse one would want. it's completely dated! For certain or111 . dear Roland. comes out o f a performance of H a n d k e ' s play The Ride Across Lake Constance and in his excitement he describes what he has seen in these terms: it's baroque. On the other hand. Your letter gave me great pleasure.) Le paradoxe comme jouissance ~ Paradox as pleasure G . the letter speaks at the same time truth and desire: all of Jilali's desire (the guitar. The subject is as follows: I have a younger brother. dear Roland. Yet the latter affords the image of our intimate friendship which is in a sense without defects. it's mad. it's romantic. it's kitsch. he adds." (Delights o f this letter: sumptuous. I shall speak to you of a disturbing subject (as I see it). brilliant. a student in the third-form AS. a very musical boy (the guitar) and a very loving one. love). Awaiting your reply with impatience. dear Roland. beyond any aestheticism but never—far from i t — censuring the aesthetic (as our grim compatriots would have done). i n all its inflections precise.

annihilating by this simultaneity the b l a c k m a i l effects of one subject over the other: the demand w o u l d proceed to levitate. deflects it. i n fact. w o u l d form a pure coincidence. then a loss—one of the most intense. does not this whole paroxysm of love's declaration conceal some lack? W e w o u l d not need to speak this w o r d . I love you!" W e l l i n g up from the body.) Le discours jubilatoire ~ Jubilatory discourse "/ love you. Then are we forever doomed to the grim return o f an average discourse? Is there no possibility that there exists i n some forgotten corner of the logosphere the possibility of a pure jubilatory discourse? A t one of its far edges—quite close. One must turn to the mystics for a good formulation of what can cause the subject to deviate in this way: R u y s broek: " I call intoxication o f the mind that state in w h i c h pleasure exceeds the possibilities w h i c h desire had entertained. but I can always quote myself in order to signify an insistence. since it is a matter of my body. exceeds. as the squid does with his ink. the failure of desire under the excess o f its affirmation. irrepressible. paradox is an ecstasy. emitted in a single flash.ganizations. bliss is already said to be unforeseeable. except the M o t h e r — a n d except G o d ! Unless I should be justified in flinging out the phrase i n the (improbable but ever hoped-for) case when two / love you s. i f it were not to obscure. disturbs. an obsession. Addendum to The Pleasure of the Text: Bliss is not what corresponds to desire (what satisfies it) but what surprises." (In The Pleasure of the Text. to myst i c i s m — i s it not conceivable that language should at last become the primary and somehow insignificant expression o f a fulfillment? There's no help for it: / love you is a demand: hence it can only embarrass anyone w h o receives it. and R u y s b r o e k ' s remark already cited. repeated. 112 .

Squandering .

for if an image is constructed. ( O f the three image-systems I have just alleged. what might it be? W h a t is the taste o f fulfillment? Heine: Doch wenn du sprichst: Ich liebe dich! So muss ich weinen bitlerlich: I stagger. w i l l somehow recover. So I decide that the amorous apostrophe.Comblement ~ Fulfillment A l l (romantic) poetry and music is in this demand: / love you. a new state. je t'aime. La peur du langage ~ The fear of language W r i t i n g a certain text. that image is at least the image of a dialectical transformation—of a praxis. thereby creating an unheardof speech i n w h i c h the sign's form is repeated but never is signified. ich Hebe dich! But i f by some miracle the jubilatory answer should be given. the last is the most operative. L i k e the Argonaut renewing his ship during its voyage without changing its name. though I repeat and rehearse it day by day through the course o f time. each time I utter it.) Le travail du mot ~ The word's work A n d then. he experiences a guilty emotion o f jargon. i n w h i c h the speaker and the lover finally triumph over the dreadful reduction which language (and psychoanalytic science) transmit to all our affects. the subject i n love w i l l perform a long task through the course of one and the same exclamation. ( L o v e ' s w o r d has its work to perf o r m — l i k e a mourning. / weep bitterly. the scene changes: I conceive myself seeking a dialectical way out o f the maze. considering that the very task of love and o f language is to give to one and the same phrase inflections w h i c h w i l l be forever new. I f a l l . as if he could not escape from a mad discourse no matter 114 . gradually dialecticizing the original demand though without ever dimming the incandescence o f its initial address.

it's not enough . She Stoops to Conquer). of which a former Milanese pastor (bizarre combination) taught him the rudiments.) where. David Copperfield. the occasions are frequent when he recognizes its threatening division. this language interests h i m . any unreal language is l i k e l y to be ridiculous). About what he has just written during the day. en masse. . restores all the image-system of writing: the image of the product. the critical (or friendly) gossip: it's too this. A t night the adjectives return. on the other. 115 . it's too that. his o w n language would seem entirely unreal (and outside of aesthetic delight. he watches television a good deal: here is continually represented (remonstrated) a public language from which he is separated. to jeopardize this retreat: to be afraid of what one says (indissociable from the way i n which one says it). but this interest is not reciprocal: to the television public. staying home at night. or so little talent for. he does not believe in the primacy of any one language and often experiences the cruel deficiencies of French. constant pessimism with regard to translation. B u t o f these languages he has never had more than a vaguely touristic command: he has never entered into a language: little taste for foreign literature.how individual he made his utterance: and what if all his life he had chosen the wrong language? H e is all the more readily overcome by this panic here (in U. he never feels in a state o f security in his own language. La langue maternelle ~ The mother tongue W h y so little enjoyment of. he has fears during the night. This is not a national love: on the one hand. fantastically. to listen to the language o f others and to derive a certain security from this distance. A l l this jamming is the underside of his love for the mother tongue: the language of w o m e n . N i g h t . M o r e pleasure in Italian. sometimes. . confusion when confronted by the questions of translators. Such is the trajectory of language's energy: i n a first impulse. foreign languages? E n g l i s h learned at the lycée (boring: Queen M a b . since so often they appear to be ignorant o f precisely what I regard as the very meaning of a word: the connotation. and in a second.

toast. Brecht. Havana cigars. je n'aime pas ~ I l i k e . Sartre. Arthur Rubinstein. realistic novels. the smell o f new-cut hay (why doesn't someone with a " n o s e " make such a perfume). he is amazed to understand them. the harpsichord. the specialness o f words)? This titration w o u l d account for a certain historical situation.listening to French people i n the street. such as Japanese. V e r n e . M i r é . cinnamon. coffee. Burgundian branles and Renaissance dances. the bend of the A d o u r seen from D o c t o r L . peonies. G l e n n G o u l d . the piano. H a n d e l . all romantic music. roses. children's choruses. all kinds o f writing pens. Pollock. trains. Eisenstein. animated cartoons. J'aime. Bartok. M a r c . to share with them a part of his body.A n - 116 . the mountains at seven in the morning leaving Salamanca. marzipan. slow walks. unrefined salt. heterological lexicon (which mingles the origin. / don't like: white Pomeranians. desserts. I don't like / like: salad. Bouvard and Pécuchet. telephoning. etc. tautologies. villas. cheese. Médoc wine. T w o m b l y . w a l k i n g in sandals on the lanes of southwest France.) Le lexique impur ~ The impure lexicon M i g h t he not be defined as follows: the dream o f a pure syntax and the pleasure of an impure. flat p i l l o w s . pimento. champagne. Fourier. strawberries. watches. pears. a taste for the very exotic languages. geraniums. cherries. loosely held political convictions. white peaches. lavender. too-cold beer. but also for a datum o f consumption: read a little more than the pure avant-garde but much less than an author o f the high culture. F o r doubtless the French language is nothing more or less for him than the u m b i l i c a l language. the afternoon. the M a r x Brothers. the organ. women in slacks. Viv a l d i . ( A n d at the same time. C h o p i n ' s concertos. whose structure represents for h i m — i m a g e and remonstrance—the organization of an altogether different subject. having change. Satie. ' s house. colors.

this. The notion can be transferred to the level o f discourse. one of which I can deliberately choose and the other dismiss. Structure at least affords me two terms. and in 117 . requiring complicity or irritation. initiatives. it would have been out of pure liberalism: I am liberal i n order not to be a killer. in this anarchic foam of tastes and distastes. hence again: from the mechanism of L o y o l a ' s exercises "emerges a coded. acceptable" (L'Empire des Signes). etc. Fourier. to remain silent and polite confronted by pleasures or rejections which they do not share. in a given language. fidelity. scenes. I kill it: you k i l l what bothers you. which obliges others to endure me liberally. If I had not k i l l e d the fly. grammatical) when. since. Hence. in any case. at least: a uniformly noisy place seems to h i m unstructured because in this place there is no freedom left to choose silence or speech (how many times has he not said to someone beside h i m in a bar: / can't talk to you because there's too much noise). his trumpets and kettledrums. I don't like: this is o f no importance to anyone. Hence the propositions of haiku are always " s i m p l e . it can receive meaning. evenings with people I don't k n o w .) Structure et liberté ~ Structure and freedom W h o is still a structuralist? Yet he is one in this. c o m m o n . I cannot speak? U acceptable ~ The acceptable H e frequently employs this linguistic notion: the acceptable: a form is acceptable (readerly. spontaneity. A n d yet all this means: my body is not the same as yours. hence it is on the whole a (modest) pledge of freedom: how on such a day can I give a meaning to my silence.toine Charpentier. Loyola). hence acceptable demand" (Sade. the politico-sexual. has no meaning. ( A fly bothers me. gradually appears the figure of a bodily enigma. Here begins the intimidation of the body. / like. a kind of listless blur. apparently.

A readerly text is one I cannot rewrite (can I write today like Balzac?). an opposition was proposed: readerly/writerly.a general way. La littérature comme mathésis ~ Literature as mathesis Reading classical texts (from The Golden Ass to Proust). he is always amazed by the sum of knowledge amassed and aired by the literary work (according to laws of its o w n . but I receive it. g u i d e d . a product continuously outside o f any likelihood and whose function—visibly assumed by its scriptor—would be to contest the mercantile constraint o f what is written. and thereby. an order. I now conceive (certain texts that have been sent to me suggest as much) that there may be a third textual entity: alongside the readerly and the writerly. The receivable would be the unreaderly text w h i c h catches hold. but to say " w h y a meaning is acceptable" (Critique et Vérité). the study of which should constitute a new structural analysis): literature is a mathesis. a writerly text is one I read with difficulty. is a figure of desire: I desire the acceptable (readerly) form as a way of exorcising the double violence o f overwhelming meaning and o f heroic non-meaning. there would be something like the receivable. this text. literature cannot transcend the knowl118 . Lisible. armed by a notion of the unpublishable. would require the f o l l o w i n g response: I can neither read nor write what you produce. one might say. the science o f literature (should it ever exist) w i l l not have to prove any particular meaning. a structured field of knowledge. it substitutes the validity of a form for its truth. a drug. unless I completely transform my reading regime. writerly. and beyond In SlZ. scriptible et au-delà ~ Readerly. or again: of a drifting availability. This virtually scientific notion (in that it is of linguistic origin) has its emotional side. a system. an enigmatic disorganization. But this field is not infinite: on the one hand. exempted meaning. it leads to the favorite theme of the disappointed. on the structural alibi. surreptitiously. like a fire. A t this point. the red-hot text. the acceptable.

without intelligence). and there is too much surprise in a world which mass media and the generalization o f politics have made so profuse that it is no longer possible to figure it projectively: the world. or Proust. and has not given itself the means to account for them. as a literary object. it cannot account for objects." Perhaps this explains our impotence to produce a realistic literature today: it is no longer possible to rewrite either Balzac. it is the book of the Self. spectacles.edge o f its period. i. it is a recessive book (which falls back. a rational concretion. events w h i c h would surprise it to the point of stupefying it. Though consisting apparently of a series of " i d e a s . and on the other. without rationale. Realism is always timid. of the Warsaw ghetto. " this book is not the book o f his ideas. ceaselessly resists them. though their descriptions are based on a social division which still applies. language). Le livre du Moi ~ The book of the Self H i s " i d e a s " have some relation to modernity.. which can no longer be either Mimesis or Mathesis but merely Semiosis. as finite generality. knowledge deserts literature. fatal substance of the novel. this is what Brecht sees when he says: " T h e events of Auschwitz. but which may also gain perspective thereby). the adventure of what is impossible to language. history. or even the bad socialist-realist novels. or Z o l a . F o r the image-repertoire. it cannot say everything: as language. with what is called the avant-garde (the subject. and the labyrinth of levels in which 119 .e. in a word: Text (it is wrong to say that the notion o f " t e x t " repeats the notion of " l i t e r a t u r e " : literature represents a finite world. the book o f m y resistances to my o w n ideas. sex. A l l this must be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel—or rather by several characters. of Buchenwald certainly would not tolerate a description o f literary character. the text figures the infinite o f language: without knowledge. escapes. Literature was not prepared for such events. but he resists his ideas: his " s e l f " or ego.

who believed they were required to submit themselves to but one law: authenticity. the Unconscious. a strange condition: out of fatigue. parsimonious in its very expenditure. 120 .anyone who speaks about himself gets lost—the image-repertoire is taken over by several masks (personae). The intrusion. which never illuminates anything. This is entirely the contrary of writing. ultimately. but because we have a different knowledge today than yesterday. is therefore totally fictive. distributed according to the depth of the stage (and yet no one—personne. an inner gift o f speech overwhelmed me. not the ultimate in meaning: text upon text. it proceeds by impulses of the image-system pure and simple and by critical approaches. of the imaginary. the latter is nothing but a further text. nervous depression. 1972. The book does not choose. such knowledge can be summarized as follows: What I write about myself is never the last word: the more " s i n c e r e " I a m . T h e substance of this book. Ideology. O p e n (and how could they be otherwise?) to these different futures. Such examples are H i s t o r y . a bombardment o f sentences: which is to say. marks the necessity of remodeling the genres: let the essay avow itself almost a novel: a novel without proper names. my texts are disjointed. but these very approaches are never anything but effects of resonance: nothing is more a matter o f the image-system. as we say in French—is behind them). into the discourse o f the essay. of a third person who nonetheless refers to no fictive creature. I feel both very intelligent and very futile. it functions by alternation. than (self-) criticism. Lucidité ~ Lucidity This book is not a book o f " c o n f e s s i o n s " . not that it is insincere. the last of the series. the more interprétable I am. La loquèle ~ The gift o f speech O n June 7. under the eye of other examples than those o f the old authors. no one o f them caps any other.

( L i n k between the Oedipus complex and marriage: a matter o f having " i t " and of transmitting " i t . D . " r o a s t e d . to mimesis) has something to do with the Oedipus complex. but simply an undecidable pretense (as D . all the children climbed out except m e — I couldn't make it. F r o m the brink up above. imprisoned under the open 121 . " as to his relations with his wife (herself an actress). huge holes had been dug in the loamy soil for the foundations o f the houses. E v e n more than the number of plays and films o f which adultery is the subject. says of Hegel)? Le mariage ~ Marriage The relation to Narrative (to representation. the seed of a story. But it also has something to do. this neighborhood was full of houses being built. as we know. we lived in a neighborhood called M a r rac. is being questioned. this excites h i m . they teased me: lost! alone! spied on! excluded! (to be excluded is not to be outside. I see the sign of this in that (painful) moment o f a T V interview: the actor J . encountered on my way? It always comes down to this: what is the project of writing w h i c h w i l l present. with marriage. it is to be alone in the hole. and one day when we had been playing in one of these. our popular arts would be transformed entirely. what would be left for us to tell? With them gone. the interviewer wants this good husband to be unfaithful. in our mass societies. or of a good cause. not the best pretense. and the children played in the building sites.W h a t right does my present have to speak of my past? Has my present some advantage over my past? What " g r a c e " might have enlightened me? except that of passing time. Thus marriage affords great collective excitations: if we managed to suppress the Oedipus complex and marriage. " ) Un souvenir d'enfance ~ A memory o f childhood W h e n I was a child. he demands an ambiguous phrase.

she pulled me out of there and took me far away from the children—against them. provided that when you left the immersion of that culture. Queen and sister o f the hideous Gorgons. W h i c h means that it is evident.l e s . M e d u s a was of a rare beauty with regard to the luster of her hair.B a i n s . not to take the commuter train). 122 . as i f nothing had happened. Is it seen? N o t even that: a gelatinous mass w h i c h sticks onto the retina. then I saw my mother running up. a little detergent discourse. Au petit matin ~ Early morning A n early-morning fantasy: all my life. the latter rendered her repulsive and transformed her hair into snakes. I could see it in the lucidity. it was so ordinary to come out o f the water covered with stings and blisters that the locker-room attendant phlegmatically handed you a bottle o f potassium chloride as soon as you left the beach. the consciousness. H o w to be disposed at w i l l ? The l i m i t o f my fantasy is always my in-disposition. without wasting a moment. " to write. which justifies any cowardice). but I shall never see that early morning of m y fantasy. even when I do get up early. one might conceive o f taking a (perverse) pleasure in the endoxal products of mass culture. T h e remedy? A s an adolescent I went s w i m m i n g one day at M a l o . Méduse ~ Medusa The Doxa is had happened. meaning repeated as if nothing It is Medusa: who petrifies those who look at her. it should have to turn out that no sooner up. In the same way. current opinion. for in order that it match my desire. the accumulation of sensibility one has by the night's end.sky: precluded). I have dreamed of getting up early (a class desire: to get up early in order to " t h i n k . someone handed you on each occasion. in a cold sea infested with the k i n d of jellyfish we call medusas (what aberration led me to agree to s w i m there? I was one o f a group. Neptune having ravished and wed her in the temple of M i n e r v a .

an effect produced by a scene I hear but do not see: my hearing is frustrated of its vision: I remain behind the door." a grammatical object i f ever there was one. A man of paradox. the terms of the trajectory matter little or nothing: the only thing that counts—and establishes metaphor—is the transference itself. but I am not within its space. . The Doxa is. you give an ideological analysis of the verb " t o b e . 1790): " . dazed. I am in a stunned state. I hear it. I am indeed behind the door. W h i c h stuns me. permits you to say what 123 . A b u N o v a s read in his eyes not the desire for money but just desire—and he was moved by it. I too participate in the communal scene. Let this serve as an apology for any and all sciences o f displacement: the meaning transferred matters little or nothing. who takes her revenge by making the Doxa into a caricature of wisdom. or the Spider: castration. and it is indeed Athena. certainly I should like to pass through. oppressive. above the three powers must be placed a censorial power of surveillance and public opinion which w i l l belong to a l l . The Doxa speaks. cut off from the popularity o f language. I am constantly listening to what I am excluded from. and which all w i l l be able to exercise without representation. ." Abou Nowas et la métaphore ~ A b u Novas and metaphor Desire is no respecter of objects. But can it be repressive? Let us read this terrible phrase from a revolutionary sheet {La Bouche de Fer. the memory o f a once-sumptuous and fresh wisdom. like any writer. the wise deity.) Medusa. apropos o f the French presence in A l g e r i a .(It is true that in the Doxa's discourse there are former beauties sleeping. certainly I should like to see what is being said. as we k n o w . Les allégories linguistiques ~ Linguistic allegories In 1959. " The "sentence. W h e n a hustler looked at A b u Novas.

of the oppressive meaning. because these concepts come to constitute allegories.happens in a Tangier bar. should I have stronger and more frequent migraines? I am resting. Y o u keep the notion of " m e t a l a n g u a g e . a second language. " a notton which allows the linguists to explain very scientifically the loss o f meaning in certain pertinent oppositions. Migraines ~ Migraines I have got into the habit of saying migraines for headaches (perhaps because the word is so lovely). in the country (in the southwest of France). whose abstraction is diverted to fictive ends: the most serious of the sciences. i n the open air. the migraine is a class phenomenon: who ever heard of the proletarian or the small businessman with migraines? The social division occurs within m y body: my body itself is social. A n d meaning itself—when you watch it functioning. This unsuitable w o r d (for it is not only half of my head which gives me pain) is a socially accurate one: mythological attribute o f bourgeois woman and o f the man o f letters. the one w h i c h is responsible for the very being of language and supplies a whole portion of austere names. " but in the category of image-reservoir. perhaps it means that I am a victim of a partial desire. is also a reservoir of images. as if I were fetishizing a specific point of my body: the in124 . a metaphorical linguistics: not that grammatical concepts seek out images in order to express themselves. but just the contrary. and yet more migrainous than ever. This is a constant procedure in your work: you use a pseudo-linguistics. W h y . an ethical category which is necessary to you in order to erase the intolerable scar of the paraded meaning. you do so with the almost puerile amusement o f a buyer who never tires o f pulling the switch o f some gadget. and as a poetic language enables you to utter what is strictly your desire: you discover an affinity between " n e u t r a l i z a t i o n . and the Neutral. What am I repressing? M y mourning for the city? The recurrence of my Bayonnais past? The boredom o f childhood? O f what displacements are m y migraines the trace? But maybe the migraine is a perversion? W h e n I have a headache.

side of my head:

does it mean, then, that I am in an unhappy/amorous relation with my work? A way o f dividing myself, o f desiring m y work and at the same time of being afraid of it? So different from Michelet's migraines, "amalgams of bewilderment and nausea," my migraines are matte. T o have a (never very strong) headache is for me a way of rendering my body opaque, stubborn, thick, fallen, which is to say, ultimately (back to the major theme) neutral. Absence o f migraine, the insignificant vigilance of the body, coenesthesia degree zero—I should read these in short as the theater of health; i n order to assure myself that my body is not healthy in an hysterical fashion, I should occasionally need to take away its sign o f transparence and experience it as a k i n d of glaucous organ, rather than as a triumphant figure. Hence migraine would be a psychosomatic (and no longer a neurotic) affliction by which I should agree to enter—though just a little way (for the migraine is a tenuous thing)—into man's mortal disease: insolvency of symbolization.

Le démodé ~

The unfashionable

Subtracted from the book, his life was continuously that o f an unfashionable subject: when he was in love (by the manner and the very fact), he was unfashionable; when he loved his mother (what w o u l d it have been i f he had really k n o w n his father and by some misfortune had loved him too!), he was unfashionable; when he felt himself to be a democrat, he was unfashionable, etc. But suppose Fashion were to make an additional turn of the screw, then this w o u l d be a kind of psychological kitsch, so to speak.

La mollesse des grands mots ~

Limpness of important words

In what he writes there are two kinds o f important words. Some are simply i l l used: vague, insistent, they serve to take the place of several signifieds ( " D e t e r m i n i s m , " " H i s t o r y , " "Nat u r e " ) . I feel the limpness of these important words, limp as D a l i ' s watches. The others ( " w r i t i n g , " " s t y l e " ) are remodeled according 125

to a personal project, and these are words whose meaning is idiolectal. Though from the viewpoint of a " h e a l t h y editorial p o l i c y , " these two categories do not have the same value, they nonetheless communicate: in the (intellectually) vague w o r d , there is, and all the more intensely, an existential specification: History is a moral notion; it allows us to relativize the natural and to believe in a meaning of time; Nature is sociality in its oppressive, motionless aspect, etc. Each word turns, either like m i l k , spoiled in the disintegrated space o f phraseology, or else l i k e a tendril, down to the neurotic root o f the subject. A n d other words, finally, are cruisers: they follow what they meet up with: imaginary, in 1963, is no more than a vaguely Bachelardian term; but by 1970—in SIZ—it has been rebaptized, transformed (even deformed) into the Lacanian version.

Le mollet de la danseuse


The dancer's calf

Granted that vulgarity is a breach in discretion, writing constantly risks being vulgar. O u r writing (these days) develops within a language space w h i c h is still rhetorical and w h i c h cannot abandon being so, i f we seek to be able (to any degree) to communicate (to be accessible to interpretation, to analysis). W r i t i n g therefore supposes certain effects of discourse; when certain of these effects are forced, writing becomes vulgar: each time, so to speak, it shows its dancer's calf. (The very title of this fragment is vulgar.) The i m a g i n a r y — t h e image-repertoire—grasped, immobilized within the writer's obsession, as though by the effect of a photographic snapshot, becomes a kind o f grimace; but if the pose is deliberate, the grimace changes meaning (problem: how to tell?).

Politique I morale


Politics / ethics

A l l my l i f e , p o l i t i c a l l y , I have given myself a bad time. From which I infer that the only Father I have known (have granted myself) has been the political Father.


It is a simple thought which frequently occurs to me, but which I never see stated (it may be a stupid thought): Is there not always something ethical in the political? Is it not Value that establishes the p o l i t i c a l , the order of reality, pure science of social reality? In the name o f what does a militant decide to . . . militate? Though wrenched away from any ethic, any psychology, does not political praxis have a . . . psychological and an ethical origin? (This is a literally retarded notion, for by coupling Ethics and Politics, you are about two hundred years o l d , you date from 1795, the year when the Convention created the A c a d e m y of Political and Ethical Sciences: o l d categories, old nonsense. — B u t where is all this false? — N o t even false; it is no longer the case, no longer current; ancient coins are not false, either; they are museum pieces, kept for a special consumption, the consumption of what is old. — B u t can't we get a little useful metal out of that old coinage? — W h a t is useful i n this stupid thought is to recognize in it intractable confrontation, the impact of two epistemologies: M a r x i s m and Freudianism.)

Mot-mode ~


H e is not very good at getting to the heart of things. A word, a figure of thought, a metaphor, in short, a form fastens upon him for several years, he repeats it, uses it everywhere (for instance, " b o d y , " " d i f f e r e n c e , " " O r p h e u s , " " A r g o , " etc.), but he makes no effort to reflect further as to what he means by such words or such figures (and were he to do so, it would be to find new metaphors instead of explanations): you cannot get to the heart of a refrain; you can o n l y substitute another one for it. A n d this, after all, is what Fashion does. In other words, he has his internal, his personal fashions.

Mot-valeur ~


The favorite words he uses are often grouped by oppositions; of the two words o f the pair, he is for one, against the other: 127

The History of Semiology .

subve sion/contestation.production/product. S i m i l a r l y . it is motionless and carried. something like an appetite. depreciated as ersatz (pretending to mimic that very Nature). or of a "poe t i c " combination o f the two. complex. " Mot-couleur ~ Color-word W h e n I buy colors. at once remainder and supplement. floating. copy/analogy. ineffable. intertextlcontext. model/plan. a word whose ardent. This desire makes the entire motionless chart of language vibrate. passes what he calls. the actor is saved if he participates in an anti-Physis but doomed i f he belongs to pseudo-Physis. it is never by virtue of its sonorous charm or of the originality of its meaning. The word transports me because of the notion that / am going to do something with it: it is the thrill o f a future praxis. it is by the mere sight o f their name. the program of an operation: there is always a certain future i n the complete names. etc Sometimes it is not only a matter of oppositions (between two words) but of cleavages (within a single word): automobile is favored as behavior but frowned on as an object. w i l l there not always be a word-asmana. never pigeonholed. and even within words. structuration/structure. when I use it because I like it. and somehow sacred signification gives the illusion that by this word one might answer for everything? Such a word is neither eccentric nor central. artifice is desired i f it is Baudelairean (specifically opposed to Nature). plagiarism/pastiche. Persian red. celadon green) outlines a kind of generic region within which the exact. The name o f the color (Indian yellow. systematicslsystem poetics /poetry. always atopic (escaping any topic). special effect o f the color is unforeseeable. Thus between words. a signifier taking up the place of every signified. Mot-mana ~ Mana-word In an author's lexicon. the name is then the promise o f a pleasure. when I say that a word is beautiful. This word has grad129 . figuration/representation. " t h e knife of V a l u e . in The Pleasure of the Text. appropriation/property. eroticizationlerotics.

certain " f a v o r i t e " words. where it is said that denotation is reversed into the nature o f language)." 130 . The theory o f this camal word was given in his Michelet: this historian's vocabulary. A s for the child. floating words. I try to avoid the stupid word. Le mot moyen ~ The medium word W h e n talking. Whence the critical necessity o f m a k i n g the law appear under such " n a t u r a l " appearances and. even i n SlZ. Le naturel ogies. at first it was masked by the instance of Truth (that o f history). o f meaning. the strength o f their repetition. Thus he creates. " f a v o r a b l e " words (in the magical sense of the adjective). that they stage: despite the hardness of their contours. now it blossoms. it flourishes. the taste or distaste for certain historical bodies.ually appeared in his work. they are of uncertain status. The natural is never an attribute o f physical Nature. then by that of V a l i d i t y (that of systems and structures). according to Brecht's phrase. and like transitional objects. " u n d e r the rule. this word-as-mana is the word " b o d y . I am not sure of l o o k i n g for le mot juste. the abuse. But since I feel some remorse for renouncing the truth too soon. " m a r v e l o u s " words (brilliant and felicitous). these favorite words constitute a part of his arena. it is the alibi paraded by a social majority: the natural is a legality. rather. the array o f his value-words. actually it is a kind of absence o f the object. they are trying to become fetishes. analogous to those p i l l o w corners and pieces o f the sheet which the child stubbornly sucks. These are " t r a n s i t i o n a l " words. " Let mot transitionnel ~ The transitional word H o w does the word become value? A t the level of the body. ~ The natural T h e illusion o f the natural is constantly denounced (in Mytholi n Système de la Mode. by the interposition o f a variable complication. I settle for the medium word. they are vague. is organized by a physical thrill.

to some m a r g i n — o f society. Neuf I nouveau ~ Neuf I nouveau His partiality (the choice of his values) seems to him productive when the French language happens to provide him pairs of words at once close to each other and different. o f profession. of desire. it is possible to enjoy the codes even w h i l e nostalgically imagining that someday they w i l l be abolished: like an intermittent outsider. to be Catholic. one of which refers to what he likes and the other to what he dislikes. like a jurist. it is the felicitous movement o f the Text: novation is historically justified in every society where regression threatens because of the regime. and even of religion (it was not a matter of indifference to be a Protestant in a class o f Catholic children). in no way a severe situation. and the Sign is an ideal object for such a philosophy: for it is possible to denounce and/or celebrate its arbitrariness. he has always belonged to some minority. of language. Against this " n a t u r a l . Hence w i t h neuf/nouveau: "nouveau" is good. I can enter into or emerge from the burdensome sociality. married. or by wrecking the majority's L a w by a transgressive avant-garde action. This produces a philosophy of the anti-Nature which remains rational. as i f one and the same vocable were to cover the semantic field and with a whisk of its tail were to reverse itself completely (it is always the same structure: the structure o f the paradigm. but "neuf" is bad: one must struggle with a " n e w " garment of this 131 . B . . which is in fact that of his desire). against a law elaborated without me and against me ("/ too am entitled to . and properly accredited with the right degrees? The slightest deficiency introduced into this array of public conformities forms a kind of tenuous w r i n k l e in what might be called the social litter. " I can rebel in two ways: by arguing.W e might see the origin of such a critique in the minority situation of R . h i m s e l f . But he seems to remain strangely at the intersection o f these two rejections: he has complicities of transgression and individualist moods. but one which somewhat marks the whole of social existence: who does not feel how natural it is. in France. . depending on my m o o d — o f insertion or of distance. " ) .

distanced by the defense (the desire) of the Neutral. spiritualism and materialism. the converse of an antinomy. mastery. at another link of the infinite chain 132 of . . and o f garments. activity and passivity. o f due process—displacement—the refusal " t o keep oneself in countenance" (the refusal of any countenance whatever)—the principle of delicacy—drifting—pleasure in its ecstatic aspect: whatever avoids or thwarts or ridicules ostentation. of which a certain worn quality is the guarantee: a nouveau which is not entirely neuf—that would be the ideal state o f the arts. the seamless—Prose (a political category described by Michelet)—discretion—the vacancy of the " p e r s o n . etc. sits awkwardly. it is. one might say. quoted in On Racine: " I t is only i n social existence that such antinomies as subjectivism and objectivism. i n short. " ) Figures of the Neutral: white writing.kind in order to wear it: "neuf. the other to be desired. this very struggle seems too theatrical to him. intimidation. exempt f r o m any literary theater—Adamic language—delectable insignificance—the smooth—the empty.) and an anti-Physis (all my personal Utopias): one is to be hated. the Neutral w o u l d correspond to the force by w h i c h social praxis sweeps away and renders unreal the scholastic antinomies ( M a r x . repulsed. everything comes down to the struggle between a pseudo-Physis (Doxa. A s value (proceeding from the region Passion). it is then. in some later period. Le neutre ~ The neutral The Neutral is not an average o f active and o f passive. opposes the body because it suppresses the body's play. an amoral oscillation. In a first period. rather it is a back-and-forth. the natural. " i f not annulled at least rendered irretrievable—absence of imago—the suspension of judgment. N o Nature." the new. surreptitiously. Yet. The Neutral is therefore not the third term—the zero degree—-of an opposition which is both semantic and conflictual. lose their antinomic character . . of texts.

of possessor/possessed. systematic. without a leak. Consider the Arab countries. of which violence (combat. a transgressive practice. then immediately reproduces within itself . Nonetheless. by bourgeois or petit bourgeois boys who. arrogance) is the primary term. . . with regard to this relation of exclusion (aut . without any overflow toward the margins." In such countries. including from transgression as meaning.language. Thus may b e born a Gongorian^text and a happy sexuality. which rules over the entire Doxa. theater. buggererlbuggeree . liberated from the b i n a r y prison. aut). w i l l achieve a state o f infinite expansion. A s he said i n an article of 1971. the purest paradigm imaginable. need a discourse both sadistic (anal) and clear (buttressed on meaning). above a l l . but this transgression remains implacably subject to a regime in the strict sense: homosexuality. 133 . . the second term of a new paradigm. . as if it were impossible to conceive. once the alternative is rejected (once the parad i g m is blurred) U t o p i a begins: meaning and sex become the o b j e c t of a free play. located in the field of promotion. " W h a t is difficult is not to liberate sexuality according to a more or less libertarian project but to release it from meaning. the alternative is pure. . at the heart of which the (polysemant) forms and the (sensual) practices. without a flaw. . victory. that of active/passive. then. extra-polar terms. Here certain rules of ' g o o d ' sexuality are readily transgressed by an open practice of homosexuality . A c t i v e / passive Actif lpassif ~ Virile I non-virile: this famous pair. it knows no neutral or complex term. they want a pure paradigm of meaning and o f sex. . N o w . this alternative is verbalized. sums up all the ploys of alternation: the paradigmatic play o f meaning and the sexual game o f ostentation (every well-formed meaning is an ostentation: copulation and execution). .

i n this case. Le numen ~ The numen Predilection for Baudelaire's phrase. I should no longer have any need to curb or to curve anything within myself. " which are purely ideal. which doubtless proceed by levels and thresholds: each o f us curbs his m i n d . or curves it. " H e called this excess of pose the numen (which is the silent gesture o f the gods pronouncing on human fate). since it is at last held motionless. etc. It is o n l y when it looks into infinity that the normal eye has no need to accommodate. I accommodate: not o n l y the crystalline humor of my eyes. a labor: there is a muscle which curves it. to accommodate: you w i l l see nothing at all). noble paintings. the intellectual object is created by a kind of leverage upon the signifier: once I take seriously such forms as an etymology. etc. Similarly. eyes raised to heaven. in order to grasp i n the mass of the text that certain intelligibility he needs in order to k n o w . W h i c h is what happens postulatively i n the presence o f the so-called avant-garde text (do not try. i n order to reach the right level of signification (the one w h i c h suits me). Whence my interest i n poses (provided they are framed). pathetic scenes. but also that of my intellect. i f I c o u l d read a text to infinity. to take pleasure. The numen is hysteria frozen. In this. trapped. Passage des objets dans le discours ~ M o v e m e n t of objects into discourse Different from the " c o n c e p t " and from the " n o t i o n . quoted several times (notably apropos o f wrestling matches): " t h e emphatic truth o f gesture in the great circumstances o f l i f e . I can create a kind of word134 . a derivation.L 'accommodation ~ Accommodation W h e n I read. pinioned by a long stare. reading is a kind of w o r k . eternalized. a metaphor. l i k e an eye. A responsible linguistics must no longer be concerned with " m e s s a g e s " (to hell with " m e s s a g e s " ! ) but with these accommodations.

A double advantage: sumptuous appearance of a materiality and a distortion. not baptized explored). " M i c h e l e t says. lavender. plumes. " w i l d cherries. to copy it over. desire. no doubt. there should pass through the essay's discourse. into a sociological analysis. and v e i l s " out of which Erté forms the letters o f his alphabet—or again. you can find the courage. M i c h e l e t gave him his example: what relation between the anatomical discourse and the camellia blossom? — " T h e brain o f a c h i l d . belts. by unusual enumerations. and sherry.thought for m y s e l f which w i l l ferret through all my language. bananas"? to relieve the burden of a semantic demonstration by the vision of " w i n g s . vanilla. smoke. three senses out of five conduct memory. the line of written words suddenly opens and there is the drawing o f M o u n t Fuji or of a sardine which delicately appears in place of the abandoned word. at a certain moment. sometimes. It is a good thing. and the long white nightshirts" w o r n by hippies? Once you let a " b l u i s h circle of s m o k e " into critical discourse. to introduce into a sociological j o u r n a l "brocade trousers. that out o f consideration for the reader. . tufts of hair. my body does not consent to the story 135 . memory. where suddenly there appear a dish o f green peas cooked in butter and a peeled orange separated into sections). " W h e n c e . tails. . cinnamon. he thought. in Japanese haiku. the impossible return are not to be found here. " i s nothing but the m i l k y blossom o f a c a m e l l i a . like a perfumed dream. balloons. But for me. Is there not a kind of voluptuous pleasure in inserting. the habit of diverting himself. Canadian tea. a sudden gap wedged into the intellectual murmur.) Odeurs ~ Odors In Proust. death. capes. as if. scarves. setting aside the voice. quite sim- ply . crests. from time to time. as he writes. a sensual object (as i n Werther. it has a ritual existence. I had it w i t h m y sign. (Thus. than by its texture o f perfume. This word-object is both vested (desired) and superficial (employed. actually. less a matter of sound.

a certain aroma of chocolate. all Bayonne is caught up in a composite odor: that o f Petit-Bayonne (the neighborhood between the N i v e and the A d o u r ) : the rope used by the sandal makers. it is odor which returns for me. Spanish o i l . At every moment o f the effort. bewildered. an "oeuvre": one must construct. in writing as i n a perpetual production. in an energy o f seduction which no legal defense o f the subject I fling upon the page can any longer halt. lost. made guilty by the work to which it must eventually contribute. and southern. hardwares). black to the cloth cap holding their braided hair. e . blindly. the dampness of the artisans' workshops (bookbinders. the wax o f the old wood. and driven. complete. one must end up with a work. the airless staircases.of the madeleine. O f what w i l l never return. the d i m grocery shop. a piece of merchandise. W h i l e I write. endlessly. p r o v i n c i a l . the writing is thereby at every moment flattened out. . I can only repeat to myself the words which end Sartre's No Exit: Let's go on. The contradiction is one between writing and the work (as for the Text. in an unconditional dispersion. and the Balbec napkins. i . a city product. banalized. I delight continuously. historical. the dust in the municipal library (where I learned about sexuality from Suetonius and Martial). that is a magnanimous word: it shows no partiality to this difference). the black of the old Basque women. But in our mercantile society. A s with the odor of my childhood in Bayonne: like the world encircled by the mandala. The word "oeuvre" is already a part o f the image-repertoire.) De l'écriture à l'oeuvre ~ F r o m writing to the work Snare of infatuation: to suggest that he is w i l l i n g to consider what he writes as a work. H o w to write. 136 . the glue of pianos being repaired at Bossière's shop. given all the snares set by the collective image of the w o r k ? — W h y . the cobblestones. an "oeuvre"—to move from the contingency of writings to the transcendence of a unitary. sacred product. (I recall odors with a certain mad intensity: because I am growing old. all this consistent.

In other words. controls. i n w h i c h the body w i l l make its appearance (banality is discourse without body). to c o m m o n knowledge. a desert is revealed. corrects. . the proposition from which he w i l l start out: his endeavor is to react against a banality. I struggle between the hysteria necessary to write and the image-repertoire. A n d often what he must oppose is not the banality o f common opinion but his own. what he writes proceeds from a nality. corrected ba- 137 . is it the ascesis o f pleasure which I am discovering? "On le sait" ~ " A s we k n o w " A n apparently expletive expression ("as we k n o w . Suppose he is to describe his situation in a Tangier bar—what he first manages to say is that the place is the site of an "interior l a n g u a g e " : a fine discovery! H e then attempts to get rid of this importuning banality and to fish out of it some fragment of an idea with w h i c h he might have some relation o f desire: the Sentence! Once this object is named. lacerating—a k i n d o f loss of sympathy: I no longer feel myself to be sympathetic (to others. " " i t is w e l l k n o w n that . the discourse which comes to h i m initially is banal. O n the one hand I want to be desired and on the other not to be desired: hysterical and obsessional at one and the same time. I approach its unendurable depth. it w i l l always be a vested discourse. whatever he writes (this is not a question of performance). everything is saved. there occurs—fatal. he writes.W r i t i n g is that play by which I turn around as w e l l as I can i n a narrow place: I am wedged i n . and it is only by struggling against that original banality that. gradually. the deeper I descend into writing. imposes the focus (and the vision) of a social communication. purifies. It is at this point o f contact between the w r i t i n g and the work that the hard truth appears to me: / am no longer a child. " ) is put at the start o f certain developments: he ascribes to current opinion. to myself). . banalizes. O r else. A n d yet: the closer I come to the w o r k . which oversees. codifies.

the exasperated form of binarism. Hence this combat assumes the movement o f an apocalypse: he participates to the utmost. as remarked i n On Racine). the vow. i f he is himself a subject o f language. Subsequently a thousand other forms of the Doxa. — a t the final (utopian) term. the subject reacts. Antithesis is the very spectacle of meaning. the situation seems opaque. massive). or by the invention of a third term. the sigh. 3. or by supplemental material (Balzac supplements the Sarrasinian Antithesis. as remarked in S/Z). opposing it in whatever way he can. the desire for rest. Against this opacity. One emerges from it: either by the neutral. his combat cannot have a direct political outcome. for this would be to return to the opacity o f the stereotypes. 138 . lightened. there is transparence: tender feeling. aerated to the point of invisibility. he exasperates a whole set o f values.Opacité et transparence ~ Opacity and transparence Principle of explanation: this work proceeds between two terms: — a t the original term. as i f the consistency of social interlocution might one day be clarified. 2. or by the glimpse of reality (the Racinian confidant seeks to abolish the tragic antithesis. there is the opacity o f social relations. H o w e v e r . The social division produces an opacity (obvious paradox: where there is an extreme of social d i v i s i o n . the Communist novels discussed i n Writing Degree Zero). This opacity was immediately exposed in the oppressive form o f the stereotype (the obligatory figures of high-school writing. L'antithèse ~ Antithesis B e i n g the figure of opposition. and at the same time he lives utop i a n l y — i t might be said he breathes—the final transparence of social relations. 1.

then this culture (convinced as he is. which armed everything. but order at home. absorbed into a Utopia: no more oppositions. according to a convenient s w i v e l : are not the human sciences etymological. in pursuit o f the etymon (origin and truth) of each phenomenon? In order to thwart O r i g i n . Another contradiction? — Y e s . so he intends). no more meanings. by virtue o f decoration. antigenetic. La défection des origines ~ The abandonment of origins H i s work is not anti-historical (at least. since everything is caught up in the paradigm of taste and distaste. The 139 . by virtue of constitution. he first acculturates Nature thoroughly: nothing natural anywhere. determines. Value (and with it.): the world signifies in the strong sense. with Benveniste. persistently. but always. is disarmed. he wants a rest from it. each reinflating the other. etc. O n the other hand. of meaning-for-myself. Oscillation de la valeur ~ Oscillation of value O n the one hand. no more V a l u e itself. every opposition is suspect." Mythologies)." structure/structuration. however. nothing but the historical. for Origin is a pernicious figure of Nature (of Physis): by an abusive interest. and one which w i l l always receive the same explanation: Antithesis is a theft of language: I borrow the violence of current discourse for the sake o f my o w n violence. set up one against the other (and not engendered) as in hand-over-hand choosing. meaning exhausts. separates good from bad ("neuf 'I"nouveau. V a l u e . and this abolition leaves nothing over.He himself. in order to make them into a single proof. prefers to resort to the Antithesis (for example: " F r e e d o m i n the shop window. that all culture is only language) is restored to the infinite movement of various discourses. V a l u e prevails. the Doxa " c r u s h e s " Origin and Truth together. meaning) thus unceasingly oscillates.

. we skirt. Paradoxa ~ Paradoxa (Correction of Paradox. but we remain in the same " r e p e r t o i r e " : in animal neuropsychology. limps between an appearance of M a n i c h a e i s m (when meaning is strong) and an appearance of Pyrrhonism (when its exemption is desired). he keeps his distance as he goes about attacking someone or something unnamed (which he alone can name). the repertoire is the total of impulses according to which the animal functions: why ask the rat a man's questions. . the motor of paranoia: when he writes (perhaps they all write this way). here and there.) A n intense fractionism prevails in the intellectual field: we form oppositions. into meaning (since meaning is never anything but the trip lever o f a counter-term. the fear is that we fall into opposition. we avoid. it was when he 140 .e. i . since its " r e p e r t o i r e " is that of a rat? W h y ask an avant-garde painter a professor's questions? Whereas paradoxal practice develops in a slightly different répertorie. underhand. What vindicative motion has there been at the origin of such a sentence—however general. this is not a change of course. in its entirety. fractionized values. again: into that semantic solidarity w h i c h unites simple contraries. actually that o f the writer: we do not form oppositions o f named. Parler I embrasser ~ T o speak / to embrace According to the Leroi-Gourhan hypothesis. as closely as possible. we dodge such values: we take tangents. the effect subsists: this subtraction defines aesthetic discourse. strictly speaking. however dampened? There is no writing which is not. The motive is erased. term for term. aggression. Le léger moteur de la paranoïa ~ The delicate motor of paranoia Discreet—ultra-discreet.work. e . i.

Shifting to upright posture.). Les corps qui passent ~ Passing bodies (The " O n e evening. psychological. man found himself free to invent language and love: this is perhaps the anthropological birth o f a concomitant double perversion: speech and kissing." i n the m i n o r sociology of cities. the freer men have been (with their mouths). on the contrary. leave me in a state of idleness. but these anonymous bodies. " etc. i n the erotic encounter. and this is what is important. a single transgression. localized in one and the same site. . here it is a site of semi-absence. to embrace while speaking. w h i c h would be generated by a simultaneous use o f speech and kissing: to kiss while embracing. n o w . i n consequence. . meeting. since lovers incessantly " d r i n k in speech upon the lips o f the b e l o v e d . " Pleasure of the Text). N o w the "boîte. no one wants anything o f me. For the phonatory system is also the osculatory system. and suspension: everyone is here. animated by slight movements. his mouth from prédation. irresponsibility. I gain on both counts: in the "boîte" the bodies of others are never transformed into a ( c i v i l . B y this accounting. that man could speak. is supposed to be the site of vigilance and action (a matter o f speaking. 141 . What they then delight i n is. when progress w i l l have rid men o f every manual task. communicating. So that is what I was doing in that Tangier "boîte": I was taking a little nap.could free his upper limbs from the task of locomotion and. L i k e a drug especially adapted to my organ i s m . not their interlocution. It w o u l d appear that such a pleasure exists. that play of meaning which opens and breaks off: the function which is disturbed: in a word: the stammered body. they w i l l then do nothing but discourse and make love! Let us imagine for this double function. etc. half asleep on a banquette in a bar . the "boîte" can then become the workshop o f my sentences: I do not dream. social) " p e r s o n " : they offer me their display. the more they have spoken and embraced. I w o u l d add: and embrace. I make phrases: it is the beheld body and no longer the heard body which assumes aphatic function (of contact). This space is not without bodies—indeed they are quite close by. and l o g i c a l l y .

profundity. not of message. I remain on the surface. stuck. Le jeu. a great distance—here and now: to add to the books. to the memories. except when he was a student i n the lycée (of Plato's Crito). reaching the core. blind. it is just the contrary: I am motionless. circulating like an indifferent mother among the cradles of a day nursery. Far from reaching the core of the matter. then playing (jouer) is an illusory method. O n planes. my body and consequently my intellect are dead: the only thing at my disposal is the movement of the varnished and absent body of the stewardess. and the passing bodies act as catalysts. a kind of patchwork. without my ever k n o w i n g whether it is about my past or m y present that I am speaking. and even contrary i n effect to what it seeks to accomplish: the subject of such play is more stable than ever. There might be a theoretical reason for this: i f it is a question o f baffling (déjouer) the subject. the drift far from the all-too-pure pair: speaking/keeping si- O n trains. o f his o w n free w i l l ) . to the themes. barely brushing against it. le pastiche ~ P l a y . over the past body and the past corpus. belongs to others. Patch-work rewrite ~ Patchwork Self-commentary? What a bore! I had no other solution than to myself—at a distance. yet he never wrote a parody in his life (at least. the real game is not to mask the subject but to mask the playing itself. 142 . a rhapsodic quilt consisting of stitched squares. a relation of vigilance. parody A m o n g the many illusions he sustains about himself.lent. The "boîte" is in fact a neutral place: the Utopia o f the third term. another utterance. and therefore that he has the power to do so. Whereby I cast over the written w o r k . I have ideas: people are m o v i n g around me. though he often wanted to. depth. to the texts. there is this very tenacious one: that he likes to play. for this time it is a matter o f " m y s e l f " (of the Ego). between the production of my language and the suspended desire on which that production feeds.

sensual. do not all the colors in Nature come from the painters?). ethically. as for violence. like Harpo M a r x losing his artificial beard in the glass of water he is drinking out of. jubilant sexuality is never to be found i n any text. decked out i n two opposing terms.flesh/spirit. La personne divisée? ~ The person divided? For classical metaphysics. H o w do you e x p l a i n . or better still: in color.La couleur ~ Color Current opinion always holds sexuality to be aggressive. but gradually.heaven/earth). when we speak today of a divided subject.. it is a diffraction which is intended. a dispersion o f energy i n which there remains neither a central core nor a structure o f meaning: I am not contradictory. Y o u are a patchwork o f reactions: is there anything primary in you? A n y classification you read provokes a desire i n you to put yourself into it somewhere: where is your place? A t first you think you have found it. not out o f an excess o f per143 . you are a hedonist. This is why. the person advanced like a good paradigm (high/low. etc. I should paint only colors: this field seems to me freed of both the L a w (no Imitation. I am dispersed. its shape blurs and fades. no Analogy) and Nature (for after a l l . like a disintegrating statue or an eroding relief. there was no disadvantage in "div i d i n g " the person (Racine: J'ai deux hommes en moi). how do you tolerate such contradictions? Philosophically. Where are we to read it. or better s t i l l . you w o u l d rather be something of a Buddhist! Y o u want to have nothing to do with faith. the parties to the conflict were reconciled in the establishment of a meaning: the meaning o f M a n . you divide yourself: as for the body. his double postulations. it is never to acknowledge his simple contradictions. gentle. Hence the notion o f a happy. etc. you are no longer classifiable. If I were a painter. quite the contrary. it seems that you are a materialist (if the word doesn't sound too old-fashioned). then? In painting. yet you have a certain nostalgia for ritual.

but o n l y that within it there is something of the Text. on the one hand noxious. Text and petit bourgeo thereby form one and the same universal substance. "Everything has happened in us because we are ourselves. affects me little enough: what have I to do with laughter. in the student protest leader. there is another object o f language which affords the same mobile and panic character: the Text: I cannot say that this or that work is a Text. A s i a n i s m . paranoiac. and in me. eudaemonism. after a l l .sonality. i n the militant. always ourselves. devotion. Partitif ~ Partitive Petit bourgeois: this predicate can be fastened to any subject. they have the same discursive function: that of a universal operator of value. in the professor. the specter: you unite in yourself supposedly distinctive features which henceforth no longer distinguish anything. is subject to it): in the worker. in my friends X . you discover that you are at one and the same time (or alternately) obsessive. N o w . and perverse to the last degree (not to mention certain erotic psychoses). no one is safe from this evil (naturally enough: all of French culture. Y . there is something petit bourgeois: a massive-partitive. i n the executive. hysterical. Manichaeism. Pyrrhonism. and never one minute the s a m e " (Diderot. o f course. Refu- tation dHelvétius). fear Bataille. on the other exciting. poetry. violence? What have I to say about " t h e sacred. Bataille." about "the i m p o s s i b l e " ? Yet no sooner do I make all this (alien) language coincide with that disturbance in myself which I call fear than Bataille conquers me all over again: then everything he inscribes describes me: it sticks. but on the contrary because you pass through all the fringes of the phantom. la peur ~ Bataille. or that y o u sum up all the decadent philosophies: Epicureanism. far beyond the books. 144 .

a perversion drives out a neurosis: political and moral obsession is followed by a minor scientific delirium.then splinters. into phases of development—though this be a matter o f an imaginary operation—permits entering the interaction o f intellectual communication: one makes oneself intelligible. leftovers. sentences. thought-words. (5) each phase is reactive: the author reacts either to the discourse w h i c h surrounds h i m . phrases. so they say. Loyola L'Empire des signes The Pleasure of the Text Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes semiology textuality morality Remarks: ( i ) The intertext is not necessarily a field of influences. too much stability. metaphors. (4) between the periods. it is the signifier as siren. or to his o w n discourse. fragments. returns.Phases ~ Phases Genre (desire to write) social mythology Intertext (Gide) Sartre Marx Brecht Saussure Sollers. there are overlappings. Lacan (Nietzsche) Works Writing Degree Zero Writings on theater Mythologies Elements of Semiology Système de la mode SIZ Sade. obviously. 145 . rather it is a music o f figures. affinities. (6) as one nail drives out another. which in its turn sets o f f a perverse pleasure (with its undercurrent o f fetishism). Fourier. Kristeva Derrida. (3) first of all (mythological) interventions. o f a w o r k . (7) the articulation o f a period. it is usually the (magazine) articles w h i c h are responsible for this conjunctive role. (2) morality should be understood as the precise opposite of ethics (it is the thinking of the body i n a state o f language). then (semiological)fictions. if one and the other begin to have too much consistency.

A kind of collective -id' ' replaces the image I thought I had of myself. as caricature. I return in my text as farce. and that "id" is me . By fashion.Structuralist fashions Fashion affects the body.

L'alphabet ~ The alphabet Temptation of the alphabet: to adopt the succession o f letters in order to link fragments is to fall back on what constitutes the glory of language (and what constituted Saussure's despair): an unmotivated order (an order outside of any imitation). recognizes it. an unheard-of form w h i c h . by its excesses and its masks. further and in fact (i. despite the arrogances of the political subject). which is not arbitrary (since everyone k n o w s it. no more dissertations! an idea per fragment. it is. Le texte politique ~ The political text The Political is. " and that this phrase seemed so splendid to h i m that it almost managed to compensate for the failures w h i c h had provoked it.. I believe I understand that the Political pleases me as a Sadean text and displeases me as a Sadistic text. nothing but the age-old and irrational order of the French letters ( w h i c h are themselves meaningless objects—deprived o f meaning). and as for the succession of these atoms. a fragment per idea. " no more rhetoric of " d e v e l o p m e n t . an interpretation w i l l never be contradicted here. A n d Sade having produced the purest o f texts. he then determined (and determined me) to take more advantage of this reservoir of irony in all (aesthetic) language. One might conclude from these two observations that the Political partakes o f the pure textual: an exorbitant. 147 .e. to infinity). " no more twisted logic. perhaps exceeds our present understanding of the Text. a stubbornly polysemant space. subjectively.Effet bienfaisant d'une phrase ~ Beneficent effect of a phrase X tells me that one day he decided " t o exonerate his life from his unhappy l o v e s . the privileged site of a perpetual interpretation (if it is sufficiently systematic. and agrees on it). a continuous source o f boredom and/or pleasure. exasperated form of the Text. The alphabet is euphoric: no more anguish of " s c h e m a .

The alphabetical order erases everything. you must break up the alphabet). can be mischievous: it sometimes produces effects of meaning. it would not look for the w o r k ' s order but its disorder. that they not slide into a single enormous network which would be the structure o f the book. This order. to deflect. sometimes. O f the glossary. to divide this descent of discourse toward a destiny of the subject. that at certain moments the alphabet calls you to order (to disorder) and says: Cut! Resume the story in another_-way (but also. the alphabet must be broken up to the advantage o f a superior rule: that o f the breach (heterology): to keep a meaning from " t a k i n g . its meaning. it names a fragment. 148 . I keep only its most formal principle: the order o f its units. for this it would suffice to consider any work as an encyclopedia: cannot each text be defined by the number of disparate objects (of knowledge. banishes every o r i g i n . It is in order to halt. but where did that order come from? In the course o f what classification. Perhaps in places. of sensuality) w h i c h it brings into view with the help o f simple figures of contiguity (metonymies and asyndetons)? L i k e the encyclopedia. rather than the utterance proceeding from the word. for the same reason. however. but the important thing is that these little networks not be connected. certain fragments seem to follow one another by some affinity. it does precisely the converse of a dictionary. the word emerges from the utterance. its obscure and irrational polygraphy. " L'ordre dont je ne me souviens plus ~ The order I no longer remember H e more or less remembers the order in which he wrote these fragments.It does not define a word. of what succession? H e no longer remembers. the work exhausts a list of heterogeneous objects. L'oeuvre comme polygraphie ~ The work as polygraphy I can imagine an antistructural criticism. and this list is the w o r k ' s antistructure. and i f these effects are not desired.

what human subject conform to his own economy with regard to language that priest? Impossible. and the inexorable Doxa: this is jactancy. well-pitched. since it is possible to give the modes of expectation or of encounter (in short: of suspense) of which language is the theater (this has been done for narrative). Text of the Dead: a litaneutical text. boasting.Le langage-prêtre ~ Language-as-priest it so disagreeable to be can predict that he w i l l of " b e l i e f " — i n this or this would not work: a priest? A s not someday in that? It is language-as- W i t h regard to ritual. in w h i c h no word can be changed. two individuals were talking. The Amateur (record what happens to me when I paint). Linguistics of Intimidation (of Value. in the field of reality). about Pasolini's latest film]. but in very clear. not one's dreams). Agreement between this voice. Le discours prévisible ~ Foreseeable discourse T e d i u m of foreseeable discourse. is for faith. of the war of meanings). The Sentence (ideology and erotics o f the Sentence).) Projets de livres ~ Projected books (These ideas are from different periods): Journal of Desire (Desire's daily entries. as i f a school of diction had prepared them to be overheard by their neighbors in public places: everything they said. (Last evening. after writing this: in the restaurant. foreseen: no flaw in the endoxal system. not very loud. we might then establish a typology o f the various kinds of discourse according to their degree o f foreseeability. Our France (new mythologies of today's France. or rather: am I happy/unhappy to be French?). nicely trained voices. everything is entirely in accordance. Ethology of the 149 . Foreseeability is a structural category. sentence by sentence [about several first names of their friends. at the very next table. which chooses no one. A Thousand Fantasies (to write one's fantasies.

symbolics). Intellectuals (quite as important course of Homosexuality (or: Rapport à la psychanalyse ~ Relation to psychoanalysis H i s relation to psychoanalysis is not scrupulous (though without his being able to pride himself on any contestation. at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand. like a leaf). Le Monde under his arm. etc. or again: the discourse of homosexualities). it would be the function of psychology to offer itself as a good object to psychoanalysis. abstained. double entendres. naïvetés. The Book/Life (take some classic book and relate everything in life to it for a year). it must be able to appropriate a different discourse—a slightly clumsy discourse.) 150 . A Life of Illustrious Men (read a lot of biographies and collect certain features. I had a history professor who. ambiguous gestures. everything that falls. the students. It is an undecided relation. (Truckling to what has an advantage over you. psychological discourse. which is not yet psychoanalytic. any rejection). puns. Psychanalyse et psychologie ~ Psychoanalysis and psychology For psychoanalysis to be able to speak. this retarded discourse—burdened by old culture and rhetoric—this is. on certain days. A n Encyclopedia of Food (dietetics. A Compilation of Visual Stereotypes ( " S a w a North African in dark clothes. as was done for Sade and Fourier). geography. economy. having quickly realized this. history. notations. haiku. and above a l l . Incidents (mini-texts. This distant discourse. The Disthe discourses of homosexuality. biographemes. stubbornly offered the students a thousand opportunities for making a racket: howlers. one-liners. from jeering him. In short. and even the melancholy with which he accompanied all this secretly provocative behavior. quite sadistically. in patches. paying court to a blond girl sitting in a c a f é " ) . requiring to be jeered as though it were a daily drug. for example.as the behavior of ants).

into description. B . as i f all things shuddered with meaning: What does that mean? The fact must be transformed at all costs into idea. this is the movement of fable. . s o c i a l l y . prattle a negative value. the question of meaning. except in the Anamneses. one dares not leave the fact in a state o f in-significance. into interpretation. (Even here. R . there must be found for it a name other than its own. . which enters with you into a k i n d of prattle from w h i c h the perfect domination of the codes strips any regressive. a book of haiku. This need be no obstacle: it w i l l suffice to say that this particular prattle is not negative ("It is the whole body . . nothing is reported without making it signify." L'Empire des signes). l i k e a voice: the chain of names must not be broken. I immediately want to know what that signifies. but such causality remains cautiously relegated to the improbable regions of morality. quite specifically. does exactly what he says Michelet does: " T h e r e does exist a certain type of Micheletist causality. A converse book is conceivable: which w o u l d report a thousand " i n c i d e n t s " but w o u l d refuse ever to draw a line of meaning from them. entirely psychological postulates . a meaning. i f I observe— and I am eager to observe it—that in the country I enjoy pissing in the garden and not anywhere else. whose value is precisely in this fact. Jourdain. : Greece must not 151 . These are certain 'necessities' o f a moral order. this w o u l d be. in short. which draws from each fragment of reality a lesson. not the child's question: Why? but the ancient Greek's question. even the merest. N o w the Japanese prattle. This mania is no respecter of futility: for instance. B o u v a r d and Pécuchet). language must not be unchained: excess o f nomination is always held up to ridicule ( M .) Quel raisonnement? ~ Which reasoning? Japan is a positive value. infantile character. . T h i s rage to make the simplest facts signify marks the subject."Qu'est-ce que ça veut dire?" ~ " W h a t does that m e a n ? " Constant (and illusory) passion for applying to every phenomenon.

as such. This is an oneiric discourse to the letter (our dreams seize the words which pass under their nose and make them into a story). risk of infatuation). e t c " (Michelet). so attractive by dint of its exactitude: excoriation. with cancer! But examined closely. since Greece is all light. or in medical terms an excoriation—painless. of a series of metaphors: he takes a phenomenon (connotation. the symbolic and the ideological which pass through me. what replaces argumentation is the unfolding of an image: Michelet " e a t s " History. since the Japanese are lovable. I cannot put on stage (in the text). my phantas152 . I discover on my tongue a red patch which appears to be an abrasion. This book consists of what I do not know: the unconscious and ideology. I cannot swear that this whole little obsessive scenario has not been worked up in order to use that rare w o r d . etc. from écrivance. I decide. he offers his discourse in fragments (risk of aphorism. can be i n some sense created by them: today.: everything that happens to an animal put out to pasture w i l l thus be applied to Michelet: the metaphoric application w i l l play the part of an explanation. risk of arrogance). in short. M y body itself (and not only my ideas) can make up to words. hence he " w a l k s " in it. you exclude yourself from the law of the signified. La récession ~ Recession In all this there are risks of recession: the subject speaks about himself (risk of psychologism. hence he " g r a z e s " on it. since I am their blind spot (what actually belongs to me is my image-repertoire. the letter Z) and he submits it to an avalanche of points of view. w h i c h fits in perfectly. One might call " p o e t i c " (without value judgment) any discourse in which the word leads the idea: i f you like words to the point of succumbing to them. The Japanese prattle must not be regressive. moreover.have been homosexual. The " r e a s o n i n g " consists. this sign is merely a faint desquamation of the whitish film w h i c h covers the tongue. things which utter themselves only by the voices o f others.

Le réflexe structural ~ The structural reflex Just as the athlete delights i n his good reflexes. dealing with m y own image-repertoire!): to the Other. present next to the M i r r o r . then. The title of this series of books (X by himself) has an analytic bearing: myself by myself? But that is the very program of the image-system! H o w is it that the rays o f the mirror reverberate on me? B e y o n d that zone of diffraction—the only one upon w h i c h I can cast a glance. two monstrous modes o f rhetorical domination: Reign and Triumph. I have no responsibility (I have quite enough to do. as is obvious here. " (The structural reflex consists in deferring the pure difference as long as possible to the end o f a common stem: so that the meaning explode. to the transference. o f the great sociolects.matics: whence this book). Reading Freud's Moses and Monotheism. in extremis. though without ever being able to exclude from it the very one who w i l l speak about it—there is reality. pure and clear.) Le règne et le triomphe ~ Reign and triumph In the pandemonium of social discourse. his enjoyment is all the stronger in that here it is the opposition of two simple letters which step by step leads to the opposition of two religions: AmonlAton: the whole history o f Judaism in the shift from " m " to " t . let us distinguish two kinds of arrogance. I can make use of psychoanalysis and O i political criticism. so that the victory of meaning be won in the nick o f time. declaring them (or so little: just enough to restore my interpretation to the course o f the image-system). he enjoys catching the pure triggering of meaning. The Doxa is 153 . and hence to the reader. A n d all this happens. as in a good thriller. For the latter. and there is also the symbolic. the semiologist likes to be able to grasp readily the functioning o f a paradigm. only in the fashion of Orpheus: without ever turning around. through the M o t h e r . without ever looking at them.

not triumphalist. how it " t o o k . an equal energy in dreaming of an " a b o l i t i o n without leftovers of the reign o f values" (which was. how—at what rhythm. no? For what weighs down the basket is not wet laundry but time.it broadcast. a mode o f jactancy which is already lurking in the mere fact of " h o l d i n g " a discourse (upon something): whence the natural affinity between endoxal discourse and radiophony: upon Pompidou's death. it is content to reign. Abolition du règne des valeurs ~ Abolition of the reign of values Contradiction: a whole long text on value. where politics begins is where imitation ceases. is a triumphant language: each action of the discourse is a triumph à Vantique: the victors and the defeated enemies are made to parade past. and how represent such a weight as that? It is impossible to represent the political: it resists all copying. 154 . even when vou turn yourself out to give it all the more verisimilitude. Contrary to the inveterate belief of all socialist arts. militant language. it is said. history. W e l l and good. on a continuous affect o f evaluation—which involves an activity at once ethical and semantic—and at the same time. for three days. a universal Discourse. but stupid too. Quite the contrary. whether revolutionary or religious (in the days when religion militated). One w o u l d have to study. and precisely because of that. " shifting to the state o f Reign (of bourgeois language). diffused. according to what figures—the Revolutionary triumphalism o f 1793 was gradually tamed. One could measure the mode of assurance of political systems and detail their development depending on whether they are (still) in Triumph or (already) in R e i g n . itflowed. it diffuses. the purpose o f Zen). a general layer. a natural dominance. Qu'est-ce qui limite la représentation? ~ What limits representation? Brecht had wet laundry put in the actress's laundry basket so that her hip would have the right movement. that of the alienated laundress. spread with the blessing of Power. blurs. it is a legal. for example.

EPREUVES ECRITES COMPOSITION F R A N Ç A I S E ' Dintti : 6 heure « Le style eat presque au-deli (de U Littérature] : des images.] Le style est proprement un phénomène d'ordre germinatif. BARTHES.L'ANALYSE L'analyse suppose d'abord une lecture attentive du passage p r o p o s é . On peut donc imaginer des auteurs qui préfèrent la sécurité de l'art a la solitude du style. volonindisdégage de pré- Récupération. U est comme une dimension verticale et solitaire de la pensée. » R. I. . Le degré zéro de l'écriture. un lexique naissent du corps et du passé de l'écrivain et deviennent peu i peu les automatismes mimes de son art. Barthes et vous l'apprécierez en vous référant à des exemples littéraires. il est U transmutation d'une humeur. I ..d'abord de l'analyser pour en dégager les idées de Roland Barthes sur le style. non d'une intention. se forme un langage autarcique qui ne plonge que dans ta mythologie personnelle et secrete de l'auteur. où s'installent une fois pour toutes les grands thèmes verbaux de son existence.puis d ' a p p r é c i e r libre&ent cette conception. Un grand nombre d'entre e l l e s ayant paru déroutées par l'analyse.. Cette première lecture n'a pour objet que parer l'analyse qui doit être elle-même é l a b o r é e à partir des éléments retenus.Quel que soit son raffinement. qui n ' h é s i t e pas fc souligner les nots Importants. Ainsi sous le nom de style. Or beaucoup de copies révèlent des faiblesses sur ce point.) Le miracle de cette transmutation fait du style une sorte d'opération supralittéraire. On leur demandait : . il est le produit d'une poussée. on c o n s e i l l e r a i t t i e r s une lecture annotée.. Par une analyse de ce texte.. vous dégagerez la conception du style que propose R . Nous indiquerons ensuite les principales directions dans lesquelles pouvait s'engager l a discussion. Rappelons donc quelques règles e s s e n t i e l l e s sur l a «an1ère de l i r e un texte. les liaisons pensables. qui emporte l'homme au seuil de U puissance el de la magie. le style a toujours quelque chose de brut : il est une forme sans destination. le style se situe hors de l'art. bref qui par des aoyens n a t é r i e l s la structure du texte.. chap. c'est-à-dire hors du pacte qui lie l'écrivain à la société. (. où se forme le premier couple des mots et des choses. P u i s q u ' i l ne peut s ' a g i r i c i d'une lecture expressive & voix haute. un debit.. Par son origine biologique. [. . nous insisterons sur cet exercice. * Rapport de Moe C h â t e l e t Les candidates ont é t é p l a c é e s cette année devant un texte long de Roland BARTHES. qui mette en é v i d e n c e les p a r s l l é l t s m e s ou les reprises d'expression.

Réussi I raté ~ Success / failure ing: in what he writes. Whereupon I conceive a fiction: that of an intellectual subject who decides to become a Marxist and who must choose his Marxism: which one? o f what provenance. effusive. good patches. felicities of expression. F r o m her eyes. Bordiga. jubilant happiness o f the writ- Du choix d'un vêtement ~ Choosing clothes A T V film on Rosa Luxemburg shows me the beauty of her face. The link to the world is thus always conquered starting from a certain fear. is tainted at its source by the repercussion it might have. Rereading himself.? T h i s subject walks into a library. can measure the effort necessary for him to read a text if it discusses himself. M a o . because he knows its point of departure. A third category is possible: neither success nor failure: disgrace: marked. B a k u n i n . then bad ones. swamps and deserts which he has even begun to inventory. etc. T h e language of others. branded with the imaginary. complimentary or not. I conceive a desire to read her books. and it is this repercussion which he dreads. ( T h i s could be an unpublished scene from 156 Bouvard and Pécu- . Luxemburg. each protects his own sexuality. reads everything. to the point o f timidly avoiding any discourse that might be offered about him. the way one handles the clothes in a store. and selects the M a r x i s m which suits h i m best. preparing himself to sustain henceforth the discourse of truth starting from an economy which is that of his own body. A happy sexuality doubtless finds its corresponding discourse quite naturally i n the continuous. he discerns in the very texture of each piece o f writing a singular cleavage: that o f success/failure: in gusts. what brand? L e n i n . Trotsky.Le retentissement ~ Repercussion E v e r y word which concerns him echoes within him to an extreme degree. Then no book is successful throughout? — P r o b a b l y the book on Japan. Only he.

a muscular. whose meaning is: "And let that be known!" This message stamps the sentences of any writing. that out o f the happy evening dawns.) Que ça se sache ~ Let that be k n o w n Every utterance of a writer (even the fiercest. the heterological g o d . the succession of Ascesis and Festivity. (Note that this rhythm is not necessarily a regular one: Casals once remarked very appropriately that rhythm is all in the retard. says of what he writes: Let that be known! 157 . something like the silent morpheme o f a category as primitive as negation or interrogation. migraines and high spirits. but also. T h i s was the rhythm he experienced something o f in Rumania. This was M i c h e let's rhythm. a sound. an unexpressed w o r d . sleepless nights. food.) Le rhythme ~ Rhythm H e has always put his faith in that Greek rhythm.: this was " k e f " ) . in life as in texts passing through a cycle of deaths and resurrections. narratives (he "lab o r e d " through Louis X I ) and scenes (where his writing blossomed). c o m plementarily. one periodically shut oneself up for three days in Festivity (games. in each o f them there is a tone. not only the fact that during the workday he must have in view the night's pleasure (which is banal enough). A n d in his o w n life he keeps seeking this rhythm.chef—if it were not for the fact that Bouvard and Pécuchet changed bodies in each library they explored. the craving to be already back at work (writing) and on with the next morning. the release o f one by the other (and not the banal rhythm of modernity: work/leisure). etc. by a Slavic or Balkan custom. laryngeal tension w h i c h reminds me of the three knocks at the theater or of R a n k ' s gong. E v e n Artaud. where. the wildest) includes a secret operator. at its end.

6. whether it was frivolous or guilty: against a materialist background (a cliff?) in which the world is seen as no more than a fabric. " 7. the (political. he likes to look up details. and in which the subject—scattered. W h y does the author mention the date of this episode? 2. H o w might the philosophy the author describes be "guilty"? 4. whatever the style—pompous or violent—in which it is declared. Le savoir et l'écriture ~ Scholarship and writing Working on some text which is well under w a y . H o w does the site justify " d a y d r e a m i n g " and "diversion"? 3. Cite the philosophies to which " p r e f e r e n t i a l i s m " might be opposed. corroborations. " heedless." " i n c l i n a t i o n . Characterize the author's style. in works of scholarship. " " i m a g e repertoire. it is never anything but an inclination: i n the presence of the world's fragments. I am entitled only to preference. he diverted himself by imagining a kind of new philosophy which he forthwith baptized " p r e f e r e n t i a l i s m . there in his car.Entre Salamanque et Valladolid ~ Between Salamanca and Valladolid One summer day (1970) driving and daydreaming between Salamanca and V a l l a d o l i d . W h y does the author put certain words or expressions in italics? 8. Explain the metaphor " f a b r i c . " " s y s t e m . deconstructed—can grasp himself only by means o f an image-repertoire. " 5. ethical) choice of this apparent subject has no establishing value: such a choice is not important. i f he 158 . Exercice scolaire ~ Academic exercise 1. a text unrolling the revolution o f languages. Meanings of the words " r e v o l u t i o n . the war of systems.

A n d this is what constitutes the writing of Bataille's essays: the amorous rhythm of science and of value: heterology. according to a kind of amorous rhythm. etc. b l i s s . If scenes have such a repercussion for h i m . Le valeur et le savoir ~ V a l u e and scholarship Apropos of Bataille: " I n short. scholarship is reserved as potentiality.could. obliges it to end: a cessation o f language is the greatest violence that can be done to the violence of language. the scene is domesticated: the theater humbles it. shamelessly). which nonetheless it never assumes (at least among "civil i z e d " people). a spelling of one by the other. but what exorcises it o f boredom. that it is an essential violence. or rejects scholarship.): so that scholarship would be in a circle around me. encyclopedias. the scene always inspires fear. relativizes. value is not what scorns. and it is because the scene is entirely bent o n . it is because they lay bare the cancer o f language. so that scholarship be kept in its place as a complement of writing. wherever he encounters it. " La scène ~ Scenes H e has always regarded the (domestic) " s c e n e " as a pure experience of violence. to the degree that. Language is impotent to close language—that is what the scene says: the retorts engender one another. aims toward this ultimate violence. at my disposal.) 159 . (On stage. manuals. save that o f murder. like some sort o f science-fiction homeostat. he would have an exemplary library of reference works (dictionaries. there is an alternation of scholarship and value. as though he were a c h i l d panicstricken by his parents' quarrels (he always avoids scenes. value does not confront scholarship in a polemical perspective but i n a structural sense. but it is opposed as boredom. so that I need merely consult it—and not ingest it. what spells it from boredom. without any possible conclusion. a violence which delights in sustaining itself: terrible and ridiculous.

but he felt that the reason for this intolerance was to be found in this direction: violence always organized itself into a scene: the most transitive of behavior (to eliminate. it was because it c o u l d not be. in many scientists. though constantly verified. but Saussure had come to mean infinitely more to him since he discovered the man's desperate pursuit o f the Anagrams. remained quite enigmatic to h i m .H e had a low threshold of tolerance for violence. Y e t his condemnation dissolved each time it was possible to dramatize Science (to restore to it a power o f difference. a vacillation. erected into a L a w by the scientists who constituted themselves its procurators. it was the quite non-realistic way in which the violent action is embellished and encumbered—a grotesque and expeditious fashion. he thought. but for the most part. and it was really this kind of semantic scandal he so resisted (is not meaning by its very nature opposed to action?). all violence is the illustration o f a pathetic stereotype. to humble) was also the most theatrical. to k i l l . reproaching it for what Nietzsche calls its adiaphoria. they dared not proceed to the point of making a whole w o r k out of such a thing: their utterance remained choked. a literary kernel: how many conjugal scenes must be classified under the label of some great genre painting: the wife cast out or. an inflection. he liked the scientists in whom he could discern a disturbance. its in-difference. he had learned a great deal from Saussure's Cours. and strangely. T h u s . strangely. in all violence. the repudiation! In short. again. a d e l i r i u m . at once active and paralyzed—which made violence awaken in him a sentiment he experienced on no other occasion: a k i n d o f severity (no doubt the stock reaction of an intellectual. La science dramatisée ~ Science dramatized H e suspected Science. This disposition. a mania. each of which made no 160 . a textual effect). of a " c l e r k " ) . he suspected a similar k i n d o f happy flaw. to wound. stiff. indifferent. he could not keep from discerning. carried away that semiological science had not turned out w e l l : it was so often no more than a murmur of indifferent labors.

H e a r i n g deviates to scopia: I feel myself to be the visionary and voyeur o f language. or because one has a certain erotic relation with this group of texts (without w h i c h the corpus is merely a scientific image-repertoire). A c c o r d i n g to an initial vision. who nimbly inserts and removes the quotation marks: who begins to write with me. 161 . text. reveals it to me as a " v i s i o n . is followed by a perverse scene. a dramatic and subtle science. the image-repertoire is simple: it is the discourse of others insofar as I see it (I put it between quotation marks). — I can conceive. body. seeking the festive reversal of the Aristotelian proposition and which would dare to think. pained phase of the image-repertoire. of parentheses never to be closed: a Utopian vision i n that it supposes a m o b i l e . plural reader. in which I imagine seeing what I am hearing. Je vois le langage ~ I see language I have a disease: I see language. on the contrary. The p r i m a l scene. A l w a y s remember Nietzsche: we are scientific out of a lack of subtlety. at least in a flash: There is no science except of differences. " analogous (all allowances made) to the one S c i p i o had in his dream of the musical spheres of the world. Yet how could it be forgotten that semiology has some relation to the passion of meaning: its apocalypse and/or its Utopia? The corpus: what a splendid idea! Provided one was w i l l i n g to read the body in the corpus: either because in the group of texts reserved for study (and which form the corpus) the pursuit is no longer of structure alone but of the figures of the utterance. What I should simply hear. in which I listen without seeing. Then I turn the scopia on myself: I see my language in so far as it is seen: I see it naked (without quotation marks): this is the disgraced. as a kind of Utopia. a strange pulsion—perverse in that i n it desire mistakes its object. A third vision then appears: that of infinitely spread-out languages.differentiation among object.

no further transformation is possible but the one which occurred to the 162 . it sets: the cuttlefish produces its ink: I tie up my image-system (in order to protect myself and at the same time to offer myself). a repertoire which is both finite and perpetual. he halts at the mere contrary opinion. that it doesn't stick. It is a kind o f intellectual " s p o r t " : he systematically goes where there is a solidification of language. H e sustains. a stereotypy. one o f pure form. A t a certain moment. being soon wearied. counter-relations with the stereotype— familial relations. and in creating itself. at paradox.Sed contra ~ Sed contra Frequently he starts from the stereotype. N o w . A n d it is because he does not want that stereotype (by some aesthetic or individualist reflex) that he looks for something else. it increasingly magnetizes: thus it constructs for itself. and by dint of returning they end by saturating the lexicon—the work. what happens to me subsequently is arranged quite spontaneously (without forcing) under the utterances that have already been made: the structure is gradually woven. The risk is that since the stereotype shifts historically. accounts for the progressions and regressions of the work: it is a pure language tactic. a consistency. politically. it takes. L i k e a watchful cook. This movement. H o w will I know that the book is finished? In other words. without any plan on my part. Having uttered the substance of these fragments for some months. like that of language. habitually. as always. from the banal opinion which is in him. in short. it must be followed wherever it goes: what is to be done if the stereotype goes left? La seiche et son encre ~ The cuttlefish and its ink I am writing this day after day. he makes sure that language does not thicken. without any strategic horizon. in every language the signs return. which is deployed in the air. at what mechanically denies the prejudice (for example: "there is no science except of the particular"). it is a matter of elaborating a language.

ti/ tU f 2A«4>*<v.'Wi*/v 7Vie adventurous idea. nothing is yet to be determined of its quality: stupid? dangerous? insignificant? worth keeping? to be thrown away? to be focused? to be protected? . Still warm.

and of no other). and this legible sexuality (as Michelet would certainly have read it) filled the compartment. specifically.ship Argo: I could keep the book a very long time. distinguished within the text. in this way. reads Paris-Match. in it one w o u l d grasp (would try to grasp) the sexual " p e r s o n a l i t y " of each body. made up. Le sexy ~ Sexiness Different from secondary sexuality. for the young blonde with the harlequin nails and her young husband w i t h his tight pants and warm eyes were wearing their couple-sexuality like the legion-of-honor ribbon in a buttonhole (sexuality and respectability relating to the same k i n d of display). 164 . the w o m a n is blond. From t h i s — f r o m the enchantment this couple casts upon me. which is neither its beauty nor even its " s e x i n e s s " but the way in which each sexuality immediately lets itself be read. by gradually changing each of its fragments. by an irresistible metonymy. she is wearing big dark glasses. and each nail on both hands is painted a different color f r o m its two neighbors. a shorter nail painted a deep carmine. so that I cannot take my eyes off them—comes the idea of a book (or o f a film) i n which there would be. by a linguistic practice. much more certainly than any series of coquetries. the nail o f the middle finger. she has a ring on each finger. Projet d'un livre sur la sexualité ~ A projected book on sexuality A young couple comes into my compartment and sits down. one might say that there are sexy sentences: disturbing by their very isolation. Similarly. the readers. as i f they possessed the promise which is made to us. broadly designates the finger o f masturbation. the sexiness of a body (which is not its beauty) inheres in the fact that it is possible to discern (to fantasize) in it the erotic practice to which one subjects it in thought (I conceive of this particular practice. nothing but secondary sex characteristics (nothing pornographic). as if we were to seek them out by virtue of a pleasure which knows what it wants.

an imagination). well lighted. annulled. as we speak it. dismissed. but i f it were true. and insofar as we speak it. he marvels at discovering in so simple an utterance the trace o f those double operators. i n other words. w o u l d be exempted. oversexualized. is a product o f social oppression. by social liberation: the Phallus done away with! It is we who. the matte fall of sexuality outside discourse. since from my point of view I must i n 165 . Jean-Louis. of men's w i c k e d history: an effect of civilization. outside science? Le shifter comme utopie ~ ing tomorrow. we see people examining in a museum a model representing a barbaric scene of ancient C h i n a : a band of soldiers is pillaging a family o f poor peasants. the bodies are at once frozen (in the shimmer of the wax museum) and contorted. shifters. A n d then I imagine (but this is only an imagination) that sexuality. our sexuality. N o w that scene suddenly seems to me. the model is a large one. this w o u l d be a revulsion from a whole previous discourse: in Antonioni's film. Whence it might be that sexuality. make it into a little god. in the fashion of a Sadean tableau. Return- L i k e M o n s i e u r Jourdain and his famous prose (moreover. F o r if Jean-Louis knows perfectly well who he is and on what day he is writing. whose crudity so revolted Renan (it is true that he imputed it to the Jesuits). the expressions are brutal or suffering. without repression. quite specifically." The shifter as Utopia H e receives a card from a faraway friend: "Monday. in the manner o f the ancient pagans. analyzed by Jakobson. M i g h t not materialism pass through a certain sexual distancing. a more or less Poujadist scene).Fin heureuse de la sexualité? ~ Sexuality's happy ending? The Chinese: everyone asks (and I first among them): But where is there sexuality? — A vague notion o f this (actually. once his message is in my hands it is entirely uncertain: which Monday? which Jean-Louis? H o w would I be able to tell. wrought to a kind o f paroxysm which is both carnal and semantic. one thinks o f the realistic sculptures of the Spanish Christs.

Jean-Louis) by the " o b j e c t i v e " memorandum of a date (Monday. one is known. which is the process of signification. tomorrow. three things In signification. by extension. these three things which are in signification are no longer the same. March 12) or o f a patronymic (Jean-Louis B. what always happens when we utilize that shifter par excellence. now. which fears such leaks of subjectivity and always stops them by insisting on reducing the operator's duplicity (Monday. W h i c h leads him to imagine shifters (let us call shifters. there are three things: the signifier. all operators of uncertainty formed at the level of language itself: I. conceded by language but opposed by society.). its infinite repercussion) would be language's most precious value? Dans la signification. i f I imagine a linguistics of value (yet how construct such a linguistics while oneself remaining outside of value. how construct it " s c i e n t i f i c a l l y . I insert into my discourse certain leaks of interlocution (is this not. abides here. in fact. the signified. the shifter thus appears as a complex means—furnished by language itself—of breaking communication: I speak (consider my mastery of the code) but I wrap myself in the mist of an enunciatory situation which is unknown to you. the ordinary realm of classical linguistics. C a n we even imagine the freedom and. as it has been conceived since the Stoic philosophers. the erotic fluidity of a collectivity w h i c h would speak only in pronouns and shifters. to speak only of the most familiar of these operators. but the others are less familiar. But now. B y this 166 . Monday. Jean-Louis) as so many social subversions. over there. They are notification (I plant my message and I assign my auditor) and signature (I display myself. trois choses ~ In signification. and in which the vagueness of difference (the only fashion of respecting its subtlety. here. without referring to anything legal whatsoever. and forbids us to go further. the pronoun I?). tomorrow. so to speak. I cannot avoid displaying m y s e l f ) . and the referent. each person never saying anything but /.stantly choose between more than one Jean-Louis and several Mondays? Though coded. which stops here. " " l i n g u i s t i c a l l y " ? ) .

a Portuguese gentleman of Jewish stock. etc. on progressive claims).). to a kind of " t e c h n i q u e . to sublimate oneself within it.) Acosta. When no known language is available to y o u . one produces that. in fact.). cut h i m s e l f off from the Hebrew c o m m u n i o n . to reduce oneself in terms of the image-system to one's own sign. Singe entre les singes ~ M o n k e y among the monkeys not be a wiser course to play monkey among the monkeys?" Bayle. logically.) It frequently seems that he regards sociality simplistically: as an enormous and perpetual friction of languages (discourses. " (Always this French rejection of Hegelianism. however. image-systems. systems. Une philosophie simpliste ~ A simplistic philosophy in order to avoid this. empirical (and "progressive") with respect to " r e a l i t y .analysis. resentments. reasonings. it is only reasonable to do that. Then what does " r e a l i t y " become in such a philosophy? It is not denied (often. he should then. his criticisms o f it cause h i m to be excommunicated by the rabbis. invoked. he belongs to the synagogue. Philosophy with maximum gap: raving w i t h respect to language. etc. but he concludes otherwise: " W h y should I persist i n remaining separate from it all my life with so many disadvantages. is exiled to Amsterdam. fictions. ( A l l those—legion—who are outside Power are obliged to steal language. Dictionnaire historique et critique). actually. " of empirical rationality. to make a sign (to someone). since I am i n a foreign country where I do not even speak the language? Would it (P 167 . you must determine to steal a language—as men used to steal a loaf o f bread. here we mu wait and let matters transform themselves. one would merely unfold the etymology of the verb "sign i f y " : to fabricate a sign. the object of " f o r m u l a e . but referred. " of " r e m e d i e s . sciences) and desires (impulses. injuries. " of " s o l u t i o n s " (if one does this.

and give his manner of speaking 168 . according to the reader. and doubtless because he somewhat fetishizes language. and "subjectivity" can return at another place on the spiral: deconstructed.La division sociale ~ Social division The divisions of social relationship certainly exist. " y o u " and " h e " m o b i l i z e paranoia. they are real. Y e t today the subject apprehends himself elsewhere. or again: I am speaking about myself in the manner o f the Brechtian actor who must distance his character: " s h o w " rather than incarnate h i m . I am forever enclosed within the pronominal lists: " I " mobilize the image-repertoire. taken apart. as i f it were self-evident. no doubt he thinks that subjectivity consists in talking about oneself. can be reversed: in " m y s e l f . or disputatious: I cannot disentangle) student identifies. Moi. and to speak about oneself by saying " h e " can mean: / am speaking about myself as though I were more or less dead. caught up in a faint mist of paranoiac rhetoric. " the " I " might not be " m e . shifted. fugitively. these real divisions are absorbed in their interlocutive form: it is interlocution which is divided. I can say to myself " y o u " as Sade d i d . I A n American (or positivist. I . the old paradigm: subjectivity/objectivity. everything. But also. not to speak of oneself can mean: / am He who does not speak about himself. " the " m e " he so ostentatiously puts down. je ~ Myself. like the reflections of a watered silk. on the other hand. the fabricator. the producer of w r i t i n g . without anchorage: why should I not speak of " m y s e l f " since this " m y " is no longer " t h e s e l f " ? The so-called personal pronouns: everything happens here. from the subject of the work (the Author). but in his eyes. alienated: hence he experiences the entire social relationship in terms of language. subjectivity and narcissism. in order to detach within myself the worker. he does not deny it and confidently listens to all those (and they are numerous) who discuss them. and in speaking well of oneself. This is because he is a victim o f the old couple.

I always envision a k i n d of murder by language. the taking of hostages always multiplying i n the same form. he could not help seeing in some political behavior he approved of. Here is a series of outdated propositions (if they were not contradictory): / would be nothing if I didn't write. whose entire scene. Un mauvais sujet politique ~ A political misfit Aesthetics being the art of seeing the forms detach themselves from causes and goals and constitute an adequate system of values. it was above all blackmail that he saw in the politics of states. saying " h e " about someone. Yet I am elsewhere than where I am when I write. " h e " can refer without warning to many other referents than me. hideous or ridiculous. A n d sometimes. the image-repertoire from its mirror (Brecht recommended that the actor think out his entire role in the third person). by the intermediary of narrative: the " h e " is epic. especially intolerant of b l a c k m a i l (for what underlying reason?). the mockery of all this. it cannot be applied without uneasiness to someone one loves. is gossip.a kind of fillip whose effect is to pry the pronoun from its name. it annuls and mortifies its referent. even ceremonial. W h i c h means: " h e " is wicked: the nastiest word in the language: pronoun o f the non-person. sometimes sumptuous. Possible affinity o f paranoia and distancing. B y an even more displaced aesthetic sentiment. Thus. " h e " gives way to " I " under the simple effect of a syntactic confusion: for in an extended sentence. as it turned out.' 169 . the form (the formal consistency) which it assumed and which he found. he came to the point of being disgusted by the mechanical character of these operations: they fell into the discredit o f all repetition: another one. the image from its support. what could be more contrary to politics? N o w he c o u l d not rid himself of the aesthetic reflex. I am worth more than w write.

which lives and breathes by yielding itself up to others so that they can hear you? La symbolique d'État ~ Symbolics o f State I am writing this on Saturday. A l l day long. 1974. but composed (as Fourier would have said). whose interior he denies you by this very assault. was the deafness of others to their own language: he heard them not hearing each other. wherever he was. a day of national mourning in memory of Pompidou. Schubert.what a bore! see forms. It was like the refrain of a good song. La surdi té à son propre langage ~ D e a f to one's own language What he listened to. and yet compromises his own body very little. Brahms. " g o o d m u s i c " (to my ears): B a c h . W e may take this for the demonstration of overdetermined behavior. describes a male prostitute's kiss as follows: he thrusts his tongue into your mouth and turns it obstinately. safeguards the image of his virility. on the radio. Hence. because o f a perverse disposition to languages. and repetitions. 170 . author of Hearts' Delights. Hence to entrust himself to writing: is not writing that language w h i c h has renounced producing the last word. A l Tifashi's prostitute derives a triple advantage: he shows his erotic competence. M o z a r t . A p r i l 6. Where is the principal theme? It is a subject. not complicated (as current opinion says with irritation). he gradually became apoliti- Le surdétermination ~ Overdetermination A h m a d AI Tifashi ( i 184-1253). another fiction. B u t as for himself? D i d he never hear his own deafness? H e struggled to hear himself. what he could not keep from listening to. cal misfit. but produced in this effort no more than another aural scene. for from this erotic practice apparently anything but in conformity with his professional status. like the facial tic o f a handsome man.

fictive.. It is only the space of the circulation of subtle desires. novelistic. in a sense. i. it is. mobile desires. according to a phrase of Nietzsche's: "the tangle of amorous relations" .e. within the artifice of a sociality whose consistency is miraculously extenuated.The space of the seminar is phalansteric.

doesn't turn on her radio today. it serves to combat the law of context. but not out of exaltation o f objectivity. and the music of a certain class (on strike days. spirituality. Système I systématique ~ System / systematics Is it not the characteristic of reality to be unmasterable? A n d is it not the characteristic o f any system to master it? W h a t then. into an oppressive discourse? Le texte symptomal ~ The text as symptom H o w can I manage to keep each of these fragments from never being anything but a symptom? — E a s y : let yourself go. Doesn't this double amputation make the music. Tactique I stratégie ~ Tactics / strategy The movement of his work is tactical: a matter o f displacing himself. can one do who rejects mastery? Get rid of the system as apparatus. thus manipulated. M y neighbor. instead to oppose the expressivity of bourgeois art. " then. regress. Thus we are both excluded from the symbolics of State: she because she does not endure the signifier ( " g o o d m u s i c " ) . confronting reality. Examples: the notion of intertext? It has actually no positivity. of obstructing. 172 . but not of conquering." G o o d m u s i c . is funereal music: an official metonymy unites death. who ordinarily listens to pop music. it is only a little machine for making war against philological law. accept systematics as writing (as Fourier did). acknowledgment is made at a certain moment as a value. the radio plays only " b a d m u s i c " ) . I because I do not endure the signified (Pompidou's death). the w o r k ' s ambiguity has nothing to do with the N e w Criticism and does not interest him in itself. as with bars. the academic tyranny o f correct meaning. This work would therefore be defined as: a tactics without strategy.

etc. Fourier never describes his books as anything but the heralds o f the perfect B o o k . fragments. The A n n u n c i a t i o n of the B o o k (the Prospectus) is one of those dilatory maneuvers which control our internal Utopia. " postponing the " r e a l " book till later. indirectly. they are never abandoned. a summa on the petite bourgeoisie. " " s k e t c h e s . a fiction based on the notion of an urban R o b i n s o n Crusoe. articles: the History o f Writing (postulated i n 1953) engenders twenty years later the idea of a seminar on a history of French discourse. can only be simple acts o f discourse (prolepses indeed). perfectly persuasive. and I polish the great book of which I am incapable: it is a book o f learning and o f writing. a vengeful and tender book. a new Stylistics. a new linguistic science. a summa o f intelligence and of pleasure. I embellish. But the dilatory. denial o f reality (of the realizable). etc. is no less alive for all that: these projects l i v e . partially. like the persistent trace o f an obsession. an Aesthetics of textual pleasure. parodie of the great monument o f knowledge. This foible has a rhetorical name: prolepsis (well discussed by Genette).Plus tard — Later He has a certain foible of providing " i n t r o d u c t i o n s . a Linguistics of V a l u e . at once a perfect system and the mockery of all systems. corrosive and pacific. through themes. These projects. the Linguistics o f Value. a History of Rhetoric. they belong to the category o f the dilatory. I fantasize. (here. I imagine. orients this very book. The mountain gives birth to a mouse? T h i s disdainful proverb must be reversed in a positive sense: the mountain is not any too much to make a mouse. suspended. generally heralding a summative. " " e l e m e n t s . Here are some of these projected books: a History of W r i t i n g . a book on France entitled—in the manner of Michelet—Our France. they can return to life at any moment. they fulfill themselves. however remotely. perfectly complex). an inventory of the languages of love. a foam o f adjectives. or at least. a History of Etymology. w h i c h he w i l l publish later (perfectly clear. 173 . as gestures. excessive book.

the coffee. . etc. Let us call this program compulsion (whose hypomaniacal character one readily divines). states and collectivities. not being written. I announce the image-repertoire). given the fact that an anguished conscience has provided you with an excellent memory o f all your obligations. the wheat. If he often foresees books to write (which he does not write). these endlessly receding projects may be writing itself. y o u persist in supposing that you are going to get out of it by putting what you have to do in order. how many lists o f articles. in short. .. the very notion of program itself becomes a part of my program compulsion. apparently. thus one w i l l construct a thematic criticism for oneself. seminars. caught up in deadlines and delays. O n your desk and i n your files. courses to teach. N o w let us reverse all this: these dilatory maneuvers. the work is never anything but the meta-book (the temporary commentary) o f a work to come w h i c h . and not something else. First of a l l . but in order not to risk it theoretically against another school—historical. But it is irrepressible: you extend the time you lack by the very registration o f that lack. A s a matter of fact. the b l o o d . books. and I that makes me my own John the Baptist. new deadlines. what makes h i m want to rewrite are those carnal themes. telephone calls to make. the sisal. etc. becomes this 174 . O r rather. are not exempt from it: how much time wasted in drawing up programs? A n d since I anticipate writing an article on it. and that the " r e a l " criticism (which is that of other people) w i l l come later. it has all the qualia novel: it is the one coming (the adventure). one declares that one is concerned with no more than a precriticism.—for the fantasy is too egoistic to be polemical. Y o u make programs. In Michelet. calendars. you never consult these little slips of paper.an explosion of ties of a hero in herald this book esy. he wants to write right away what it pleases h i m to write. biographical. B e i n g incessantly short o f time (or you imagine yourself to be). I proph. draw up plans. it is because he postpones until later what bores him.

because I do not have the same body that they do. my body cannot accommodate itself to generality. the step: a staircase that never stops. pleasure-seeking—my own unique body. as he can: I bestow upon you a certain semantic substance to run through. but the heat's lasting too long! (people around here always feel that it's too lovely. pulsing.work itself: Proust. infinite. to the power of generality which is i n language. political language. I should produce Text. . the work is a (theatrical) rehearsal. I should make out of the most banal o f (discursive) structures a structuration. is verbose. although each of them speaks it with own body. If I managed to talk politics with my own body. Tel Quel ~ Tel Quel His friends on Tel Quel: their originality. as in one o f Rivette's films. his Le temps qu'il fait ~ What the weather is d o i n g This morning the woman in the bakery said: It's still lovely. The problem is to k n o w if the political apparatus would recognize for very long this way of escaping the militant banality by thrusting into i t — alive. I add: And the light is so beautiful! But the 175 . their genius for writing) insist that they must agree to speak a common. and at the same time it is the principle of all structuration (since structuration is what is Unique in structure). with repetition. the work is never monumental: it is a proposition which each w i l l come to saturate as he likes. their truth (aside from their intellectual energy. —Isn't that an individualistic view? Wouldn't one expect to hear it from a C h r i s t i a n — a notorious antiHegelian—such as Kierkegaard? The body is the irreducible difference. like a ferret. and this rehearsal. interlaced with commentaries. e . F i n a l l y . no doubt. — T h e n w h y don't you do the same thing? —Precisely. shot through with other matters. In a word. the work is a tangle. excursuses." A f t e r w a r d . general. incorporeal language. i . its being is the degree. too hot). Fourier never wrote anything but such a "Prospectus.

secondary state: always consciousness: drugs excluded. nothing more ideological than what the weather is doing. I realize that seeing the light relates to a class sensibility. Terre promise ~ Promised land H e regretted not being able to embrace all avant-gardes at once. It is a curse: no value. on a certain day of life itself. the view without contours. on a certain kind of subject (usually the ones dissertations are made o f ) . too conventional. lost. yet he dreams of them: dreams of being able to intoxicate himself (instead of getting sick right away). but whose interior remains fixed (sometimes. A n d yet: at the level of his body. his head never gets confused. what is socially marked is the " v a g u e " view. or rather. w h i c h was denied him for lack of a general anesthesia. since there are " p i c t u r e s q u e " lights which are certainly enj o y e d by the woman in the bakery. In short. he w o u l d like to be able to post as a motto this old-wives' remark: My head is confused (let us imagine a language in which the set o f grammatical categories would sometimes force the subject to speak in the aspect of an old woman). without figuration. anticipating from a surgical operation for at least once in his life an absence. recovering every morning. and once again I notice that short-circuit in language of which the most trivial conversations are the sure occasion.woman does not answer. without object. and his regret could be illuminated by no sure analysis: just what was it he was resisting? What was he rejecting (or even more superficially: what was he sulking over) in one place or another? A style? A n arrogance? A violence? A n imbecility? Ma tête s'embrouille ~ M y head is confused O n a certain kind of work. the view of a transparency. the view of a non-view (that unfigurative value which occurs in good painting and never in bad). nothing more cultural than the atmosphere.. a head swimming a little. upon waking. he regretted being limited. falling to sleep with something 176 . etc.

injuries. like a bird of prey. in other people. it seems to h i m that i f he could take a rest from language. a love. upon first waking it has disappeared. H e sees language in the figure of an exhausted o l d w o m a n (something like an antique cleaning woman with worn hands) who sighs for a certain retirement . Incapable of making himself convincing to himself. yet it is the very conviction of others w h i c h in his eyes makes them into creatures of theater and fascinates h i m . w h i c h fails to deal with a certain theater. Hence. of the emotion and its theater. violence. for fear of signifying it badly. dismissing all crises. the poster: the science he desired was not a semiology but a signaletics. Le théâtre ~ Theater A t the crossroads o f the entire oeuvre. in his w o r k . exaltations. N o t believing in the separation o f affect and sign.w o r r y i n g me. H e asks the actor to show 177 . but the worry rushes upon me. the more moved he was. Sometimes he feels like letting all this language rest—this language which is in his head. the Orient. . H i s " s e r e n i t y " was merely the constraint o f an actor who dares not come on stage lest he perform too badly. miraculously stripped of meaning. etc. perhaps the Theater: there is not a single one of his texts. The theater relates to all the apparently special themes which pass and return in what he writes: connotation. . fiction. ideology (which B a c o n once called a " p h a n t o m of theatre"). he could rest altogether. the more lusterless. the image-repertoire. i n fact. as if language itself were an exhausted limb of the human body. grace. echoes. the scene. hysteria. an indignation. and I find myself altogether back where I was. and spectacle is the universal category i n whose aspect the world is seen. a white minute. reasonings. he could not express an admiration. What has attracted him is less the sign than the signal. just as I was the day before).

him a convinced body, rather than a true passion. Here perhaps is the best theater he has ever seen: in the Belgian dining car, certain employees (customs officer, policemen) were sitting at a corner table; they ate their meal with so much appetite, comfort, and care (choosing the spices, the pieces, the appropriate tableware, preferring at a knowing glance the steak to the insipid chicken), with manners so perfectly applied to the food (carefully scraping off their fish the suspect cream sauce, tapping their yogurt in order to remove the seal, scratching their cheese instead o f peeling it, using their fruit knife as if it were a scalpel), that the whole C o o k service was subverted: they were eating the same things as we were, but it was not the same menu. Everything had changed, from one end of the car to the other, by the single effect of a conviction (relation of the body not to passion or to the soul but to pleasure, to bliss).

Le thème

~ The theme

Thematic criticism has come under a certain suspicion in recent years. Yet we must not abandon this critical notion too readily. The theme is a useful notion to designate that site of discourse where the body advances under its own responsibility, and thereby thwarts the sign: the " g n a r l e d , " for instance, is neither signifier nor signified, or both at once: it pins down here and at the same time refers farther away. In order to make the theme into a structural concept, a certain etymological delirium is necessary: as the structural units are in one case or another " m o r p h e m e s , " "phonemes," " m o n e m e s , " " g u s t e m e s , " " v e s t e m e s , " "erotemes," "biographemes," etc. Let us imagine, according to the same formation, that the " t h e m e " is the structural unit o f the thesis (ideal discourse): what is posited, outlined, advanced by the utterance, and remains as the availability of the meaning (before being, occasionally, its fossil).


Conversion de la valeur en théorie
~ Conversion of value into theory Conversion of V a l u e into Theory (distractedly, I read on my file card: " c o n v u l s i o n , " which is fine too): one might say, parodying Chomsky, that all V a l u e is rewritten (—») as Theory. This conversion—this convulsion—is an energy (an energon): discourse is produced by this translation, this imaginary displacement, this creation of an alibi. H a v i n g originated in value (which does not mean that it is any the less warranted for that), theory becomes an intellectual object, and this object is caught up into a larger circulation (it encounters a different image-system of the reader).

La maxime


The m a x i m

A n aphoristic tone hangs about this book (we, one, always). N o w the m a x i m is compromised in an essentialist notion of human nature, it is linked to classical ideology: it is the most arrogant (often the stupidest) of the forms of language. W h y then not reject it? The reason is, as always, emotive: I write maxims (or I sketch their movement) in order to reassure myself: when some disturbance arises, I attenuate it by confiding myself to a fixity which exceeds my powers: "Actually, it's always like that": and the maxim is born. The m a x i m is a sort of sentence-name, and to name is to pacify. Moreover, this too is a m a x i m : it attenuates my fear of seeking extravagance by writing maxims. (Telephone call from X : he tells me about his vacation, but never asks a single question about mine, as if I had not stirred for the last two months. I do not regard this as indifference; rather the demonstration of a defense: where I wasn't present, the world has remained motionless: great security. It is in this fashion that the immobility of the maxim reassures perturbed organizations.)

Le monstre de la totalité ~

The monster of totality

" L e t us imagine (if we can) a woman covered with an endless 179

garment, itself woven of everything said in the fashion magazine . . . " (Système de la Mode). This imagination, apparently methodical since it merely sets up an operative notion of semantic analysis ("the endless t e x t " ) , actually (secretly) aims at denouncing the monster of Totality (Totality as monster). Totality at one and the same time inspires laughter and fear: like violence, is it not always grotesque (and then récupérable only in an aesthetics of Carnival)? Different discourse: this August 6, the countryside, the morning o f a splendid day: sun, warmth, flowers, silence, c a l m , radiance. Nothing stirs, neither desire nor aggression; only the task is there, the work before me, like a k i n d of universal being: everything is full. Then that would be Nature? A n absence . . . o f the rest? Totality?

August 6, 1973-September 3, 1974

To write the body. Neither the skin, nor the muscles, nor the bones, nor the nerves, but the rest: an awkward, fibrous, shaggy, raveled thing, a clown s coat



o f the G r o u p e de Théâtre A n t i q u e . 1916-24 1924 r924-30 1930-4 May C h i l d h o o d in B a y o n n e .G r a n d . — R e a d e r d u r i n g the s u m m e r at D e b r e c z e n ( H u n g a r y ) . Move Callot. in a naval battle o n the North Sea. E x e m p t e d f r o m military service. naval O c t o b e r 26. 183 .l e . 10. 915 16 B o r n in C h e r b o u r g .Biography November 12.5 1935. in Paris. from the eighth f o r m to the fourth. A t L y c é e L o u i s . A t L y c é e M o n t a i g n e . f r o m the third f o r m to P h i l o s o p h y . 19 Death o f L o u i s Barthes. L e s i o n in the left l u n g . officer. vacations with the Barthes grandparents. Professor o f fourth and third forms (rectoral delegate) at the new lycée o f B i a r r i t z .1 L y c é e s V o l t a i r e and C a r n o t . in the A s p e valley. son o f L o u i s B a r t h e s . rue M a z a r i n e and all school rue Jacquesspent Henceforth.s c h o o l classes in the l y c é e o f this city. at B e d o u s . and Henriette B i n g e r . to Paris. Baccalaureates: 1933 and 1934. — D i p l ô m e d'études supérieures (on G r e e k tragedy). i n B a y o n n e . T r i p to G r e e c e tique. E l e m e n t a r y . 1934 H e m o p h t h i s i s .9 1937 1938 1939-40 1940. S o r b o n n e : license in classical letters. Rectoral delegate (tutor and professor) at the with the G r o u p e de Théâtre AnFoundation 1934. Treatment in the Pyrénées.

at the P o s t . Suisse.O c t o b e r 1941 1942 Relapse o f p u l m o n a r y tuberculosis. then professor at the Institut at L e y s i n . 19456 Subsequent treatment Alexandre. First stay in the Sanatorium des Étudiants. slope treatment. beliefs. distresses: in a word: repercussions? — I n the text—but not i n the work. S . and representations"). N . Silence treatment. ( A life: studies.d n . At the Direction générale des Relations cul- 1950- turelles. several months o f pre-medical study with the intention o f p u r s u i n g D u r i n g treatment. (sociology). readings.H i l a i r e . friendships. 1 949- 5° 2 R e a d e r at the U n i v e r s i t y o f A l e x a n d r i a (Egypt). pleasures. in the Isère. travels. — F i n a l 1943-5 part o f the S a n a t o r i u m Universitaire français o f Bucharest. 1943 Convalescence trefages. symbols. loves. at the C l i n i q u e psychiatric medicine. satisfactions. fears. O c t o b e r 1945 194619487 9 Right extra-pleural p n e u m o t h o r a x . Assistant librarian. C o n v a l e s c e n c e in Paris. Literary adviser to Éditions de l ' A r c h e .) 184 . 1962 Director of Hautes studies at the École of pratique des Études ( " S o c i o l o g y signs. July 1943 Relapse in the right l u n g . appointments. S e c o n d stay in the S a n a t o r i u m des Étudiants. philology). etc. Research attaché at the C . 1952-4 '954-5 !955 9 1960-2 - Officer o f Instruction at the Centre National de R e c h e r c h e Scienttfique (lexicology). R . at S a i n t . a n d reader in the university o f this city. A n d the rest? Encounters.T o u v e t . relapse. diseases. instruction b r a n c h .C u r e in the rue Q u a license (grammar and in Paris. C h a i r m a n o f the V I section o f the É c o l e pratique des Hautes Études (social and e c o n o m i c sciences) . indignations. In the sanatorium.

a r o u n d 1925. the narrator's aunt L o u i s Barthes B a y o n n e . L e s allées P a u l m y Alice (Larousse) (postcard) B a y o n n e . rue P o r t .Illustrations ii 2 5 7 9 10 11 12 B i s c a r o s s e . in the garden o f grandfather's T h e narrator's paternal grandmother Captain Adam B i n g e r (lithograph). les A l l é e s marines (postcard) I . Bayonne (postcards) W i t h his m o t h e r G r a n d f a t h e r ' s house in B a y o n n e . U . and their c h i l d r e n P a r i s . the narrator's m o t h e r and brother 21 22 Cherbourg. no longer in existence. and their daughter A l i c e B a r t h e s . around 1932. house F r e n c h officer and administrator. On 1918 a little 1916 beach at C i b o u r e . L a n d e s . born in S t r a s b o u r g . T h e narrator's mother B a y o n n e . (Louis-Gustave). L o u i s Barthes and his mother. " B i n g e r (soft g ) . allées P a u l m y A s a c h i l d . O . rue S e r v a n d o n i . M a r r a c . around 1923. died at I'lsle- (1856-1936). Léon Barthes.N e u f o r rue des A r c e a u x B a y o n n e . H e explored the territory f r o m the loop o f the N i g e r to the G u l f o f G u i n e a and the Ivory C o a s t " 12 13 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Léon Barthes Noémi R é v e l i n Berthe. f r o m L é o n Barthes to his u n c l e T h e Barthes great-grandparents Bayonne. around 185 .

Cartoon by M a u r i c e Henry: October Michel 12-13.23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 B a y o n n e . 1974 1929 1932 Hendaye. 1939 75 78 101 113 R o l a n d Barthes. manuscript o f a fragment R o l a n d Barthes. around i g i g Bayonne. Paris. Tokyo. with his mother and brother Biscarosse. on the boulevard S a i n t . w o r k i n g notes R o l a n d Barthes. w o r k i n g notes Seminar o f the École des Hautes Études. Jacques Lacan. Diderot's 1974 with 181 186 Encyclopédie: Anatomy: stems o f the vena c a v a their branches dissected i n an adult body . leaving the L y c é e L o u i s . j u r y o f the contest 163 171 R o l a n d Barthes. 1936. C l a u d e Lévi-Strauss. 1974 40 42 57 P a l m trees. summer —Juan-les-Pins. 1972 128 146 International Herald Tribune. 1972 1972. M a r r a c . M o r o c c o Paris. around Paris. 1974 Foucault. L a n d e s . with two friends 32 33 1933. —1970. musical c o m p o s i t i o n on a p o e m by C h a r l e s d'Orléans. Lettres modernes (femmes). 1974 R o l a n d Barthes. 1966.G r a n d . L a n d e s . and R o l a n d Barthes 155 (La Quinzaine littéraire) 1972: report o f the Proofs o f C A P E S . 1971 R o l a n d Barthes. around T h e house at U . M a r r a c . Paris Daniel Cordier's house. colored markers. 1932. first-form assignment performance o f The Persians in the Sorbonne c o u r t y a r d by the students o f the G r o u p e de Théâtre A n t i q u e o f the S o r b o n n e 34 I937> in the bois de B o u l o g n e A t the Sanatorium des Étudiants: temperature chart 35 37 38 39 (1942-5) 1942. at the Sanatorium.l e . colored markers.M i c h e l . Paris. 1923 1968 — M i l a n . Biscarosse.

Doodling or the signifier without .

.l/1*f -âi^C£>%Jl fy^.t^j i u r k&l* And afterward? -What to write now? Can you still write anything? -One writes with one's desire. and I am not through desiring.

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