Text, Image, Reference in Roland Barthes's "La Chambre Claire" Author(s): Johnnie Gratton Source: The Modern Language Review

, Vol. 91, No. 2 (Apr., 1996), pp. 355-364 Published by: Modern Humanities Research Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3735017 . Accessed: 30/09/2013 05:18
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'Rh6torique II (Paris: Seuil. for instance.Unlike any other medium. but always at arm's length. where he claims that the photographic image is the a paradox unprecedented site of 'une conjonction illogique entre l'ici et l'autrefois'. and Seuil. unqualified. pp.2 Unfortunately 'this view of photography' as so far adumbrated tells only half the story. in many respects I do not wish to argue with it. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This content downloaded from 117.TEXT. already expresses) a more widespread Barthesian nostalgia for a referentially founded language of the kind associated.NJ: PrincetonUniversityPress. 1992). p. as invokes its reference 'founding order'. mortality in the wake of that death. to proclaim of its referent that it was really there. pp. that they can prevent us from approaching the text as Barthes's own previous example encourages and teaches us to do. also expressible as the 'irrealit6 reelle' of photography. Barthes goes some way towards rehabilitating formerly discredited ideas and values.in L'Obvie etl'obtus: Essaiscritiques Barthes. Barthes's italics). Unlike its predecessors. I focus specifically on the issue of referentialism in La Chambre claire. Indeed. 35-36. 25-42 (pp. essentialism. he maintains. before the camera: 'Qa-a-ete'. the photo here and now. or comprehensive one. 3-53.236 on Mon. IMAGE. so to speak.3 This placing of reference within an 'illogical of the avoir-ite-la conjunction'. and referentialism. or. The other half is already in evidence as early as I964. in the form of the referent. before examining at greater length what happens to reference in the relationship between text and image. in Barthes's essay. 1982). In the following pages.86. . 'Rhetorique de l'image'. or situation of paradox. 'car la photographie [ . in an effective past. to put it another way. 133). La Chambre is said to engage directly with the subject Roland Barthes. There is no doubt that referentialismfigures centrally in Barthes's characterization of photography in La Chambre claire.211. unambiguously autobiographical register. What I do not accept. as well as about his own grief and sense of as claire. Touching Reference (Princeton. however.Subsequentreferencesare to this work. especially 3 Roland de l'image'. notably those associated with expressivism. 1980). 2 The most cogent and compelling of such critics is undoubtedlyPaulJohn Eakin: see in particularhis theWorld: inAutobiography importantwork. Gallimard. held up his ownje. 120 (also photographie p. texts in which Barthes 'staged' a subject. indeed. I hope to show that though there is indeed a return to reference in that book. recurs in various ways throughout La Chambre 1 La Chambre claire:Note sur la (Paris: Cahiers du cin6ma. Nor would I dispute that in La Chambre in many other of his later writings and interviews.'Some critics have gone further than others in suggesting that this view of photography awakens (or. while the real element arises from the past. REFERENCE IN ROLAND BARTHES'S LA CHAMBRECLAIRE clairehas been widely acclaimed as Roland Barthes's most 'personal' La Chambre in which he finally dropped his guard and moved over into an the work work. ] n'est nullement une presence'. with autobiographical discourse. This is unquestionably a book in which Bartheswrites very movingly about the death of his mother. The unreal element in question corresponds to the ici.beginning with a brief look at reference within the photographic image. In many claire respects it is difficult to argue with this point of view. is that such points can ever stop us reading the work as a text. The essence of photography photography is to 'ratify'what it represents. it is by no means an innocent.

124-49 (p. I35)..5 Similarly Alain Buisine wishes to enlist the book into a series of works that he considers to dramatize 'des situations d'impossible contact entre le texte et l'image' (p. le manque. dans la Photographie. la distance). Furthernotable instances of what I am calling Barthes'sparadoxicalism are to be found in assertions to the effect that photography is a block rather than an aid to memory (indeed. 126). 93-I08 (Pp. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Breton Simon'. a bien ete' (p. uses this fact to set up a general model premised on the 'impossibilite de co-existence' between text and image: the appearance of writing will be dependent on the disappearance of the photo. 5 Martine Leonard. if reference seems assured by the statement that 'toute photographie est un certificat de presence' (p. most critics who have so far dealt with the issue of text-image relations in La Chambre clairehave approached it in strongly disjunctive terms by invoking the fact that Barthes specifically chose not to show his readers the most important photograph under discussion in the book. 'Photographieet litt6rature: Zola. Etudes fanfaises. This is the very least that needs to be recognized in any attempt to invoke it as the basis of a more general referentialmodel. Revue Humaines. that it quickly becomes 'un contre-souvenir' (p. or at the very least some kind of semiological continuity. so that it can never be separated from a certain loss or absence. Martine Leonard. voire une celebrationde la presencede l'hommeau et plussouventqu'onne croit.356 claire' RolandBarthes's'La Chambre claire. The idea that reference in photography might serve as an analogue for reference in autobiography presupposes an adequation.je dirais presqueontologiquement. the 'Photo duJardin d'Hiver' representing his mother as a five-year-old child.86. it is not so evidently served by Barthes's more developed comments later in the same chapter: 'L'important. I8 (1983). 21o (April-June I988). Les Absences quoted in Alain Buisine. I29). si elle a pu apparaitre a un momentde son histoirecommeun art de la rencontreheureuseavec le monde. the contesting of a certain doxa. 94-96). between photographic image and written text.To take just one example. for instance. des Sciences Bergala. le pouvoir d'authentification prime le pouvoir de representation'(pp.a aussia voir. L'effet qu'elle produit sur moi n'est pas de restituer ce qui est aboli (par le temps.c'est que la photo possede une force constative. even threatened referentialism.236 on Mon. But he is both more circumspect and more colourful than Leonard 4 Alain du photographe. Examples such as these produce a qualified.81. mais d'attester que cela que je vois. by suggesting a vision of reference freed from both 'object' and 'representation':that is. D'un point de vue phenomenologique. Here Barthesreassertshis paradoxicalism.211. This content downloaded from 117. freed precisely from two general but powerful notions central to the conventional understanding of reference. 138). non sur l'objet.'. Against this. 138-39). Quite how this rarefied vision of reference could be used as an analogue for autobiographical discourse remains far from clear. .avec monde. I might conclude that reference within photography occurs for Barthes as one element in an 'illogical conjunction'.4 Before going on to examine the question of reference in the relationship between text and image. mais sur le temps. I42)) or that photography's power of attestation has nothing to do with restoration: 'La Photographie ne rem6more pas le passe (rien de proustien dans une photo). et que le constatif de la Photographie porte.inflecting Barthes'stheory of photography towards the overall view so ably summarized by Alain Bergala: La photographie.l'absent et le ratagedu reel. 'Tel Orph6e.

not least in La Chambre claire).211. Unfortunately this view in turn absents or occludes the simple fact that the many photographs shown in La Chambre claire also initiate and sustain Barthes's writing.86.fictionnel. or emanate from. aucunecritne peut me la donner.6 In the consensus view emerging from this approach to Barthes. a d6faut.in TheObject The Henry M. For example. and disseminative non-site at the center of his book'. even temporal collapse. by virtue of which it comes to be reassigned a generative role. maistroistempstourneboulent (orthographe ma conscience:mon present. pour parlerpositivement: il faut un 6normedispositif de mesures: on pour essayerde rendrele langageinfictionnel.le temps de J6sus et celui du photographe. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . that some would like it to be (and here I include Barthes himself in those more vulnerable or nostalgic moments that he was increasinglyprone to expose from the time of Roland Barthes Barthes parRoland onwards. lui. pp. tout cela sous l'instance de la 'r6alit' et non plus a travers les elaborations du texte. the disjunctive relation of image to text is resolved by an absenting or occlusion of the image. qui. in the very chapter where Barthes describes the photograph as a 'certificate of presence'. In the view I explore here. reflection on the specificity of the photograph leads him to draw a strong contrast with language: En 1850. des oliviers. (p. There can be no question. This vision of the image not as referent for the text but as an absent generator of writing reappears as romanticized deconstructionism in an essay by Henry M.le cheminde Beith-Lehem du temps): rienqu'unsol pierreux. 134) convoquela logique. of language being or providing a 'certificateof presence'.ou. generative. it is intrinsicallyfictional. what is 'generative' is not the absentee image but the disjunctive relation itself in so far as it remains ineradicable yet negotiable. 'CriticalPerformance: ofPerformance: American Avant-Garde since1970 (Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress.JOHNNIE GRATTON 357 in the way he underlines the paradoxical status of the Winter Garden photograph: 'Essentielle et fondatrice. that is. as a system of signs. etre cette impuissance. Sayre: 'The Winter Garden photograph [. fictionnel ou la racine. Tout le livre irradie a partir d'un cliche occulte qu'on ne verrajamais' (pp. ] initiates writing. therefore. pres deJirusalem. ou. We experience it. In a later chapter. Sayre. the innocent thing. a pre-constituted subjectivity:that it can never be the transparent vehicle. a source for Barthes the writer of both special difficultiesand particularpleasures. Once more. (p. only as writing.. I 5) po6tique. as an absence which Barthes's writing fills.C'estle malheur(maisaussipeut-etre lui-meme.. Not enough attention has yet been paid to Barthes's own explicit reminders at several key points that language does not and never can function like a photograph. par nature. literally. le serment. he injects this point: la Cette certitude. Language cannot authenticate itself. I989). [cette photo] n'appartient cependant pas au corpus des photos montrables et montrees. as something possessing a force of ratification. n'estjamais cr6diblejusqu'a 6 The Example of Roland Barthes'. 246-64 (p. that can be induced by historical photographs. And because Barthes refuses to publish it. To take that point on board is to accept that language does something other than refer to.de ne pouvoirs'authentifier le langageest. This content downloaded from 117.Le noeme du langageest peutvolupt6)du langage. a sort of necessary. it exists for us. 264).236 on Mon. Barthes discusses the dizzying sense of temporal paradox. AugustSalzmanna photographi6. 127-28).

And a text reaches a reader's consciousness through. all the way down. imposes itself unavoidably as the imperfect mediation of an absence.Romance 8 (I986). But how credible is that promise? If we agree that writing and drawing are susceptible to the same charge of 'in-credibility'. The text is a site of 'elaborations'. as an agent of what I have previously called 'disimmediation'. appealing to a recurrentmetaphor in his writing. writes Barthes. never very convincingly at that. never credible jusqu'a la racine. Louis-Feliciende Saulcy. these 'elaborations'. Or rather 'Beith-Lehem'. by way of. 57-66 (p. and Palestine in 1854-55. The seeker of reference in art need not despair altogether. on the other hand. vertical axis that is simply not available to language. on a signpost perhaps. As Barthesputs it elsewhere. but only the photographic image is guaranteed to deliver. on the other hand. for his zeal must soon have been tempered by the knowledge that his calotypes would end up exonerating Saulcy. perhaps. not only does Barthes reassert the in-credible or fictional nature of language. evidence. never credible all the way back. 60). these particular photos were to prove that Saulcy had been neither telling nor drawing lies. A Derridean analysismight seize on the name 'Beith-Lehem' as the mark of a split origin. Syria. never credible down to the root. a birth-place such as Bethlehem.then. possibly penned by the photographer. photography mediates so perfectly that it posits a virtually immediate presence (p. A text. The drawingsthemselves were suspected by some to be figments of the artist's imagination.we can say that August Salzmann was actually sent to the Middle East to sort out this question. however. 'Roland Barthes Barthes: par Roland Autobiographyand the Notion of Expression'. syntagmatic axis. a term that implies a process of working-out or drawing-out along a horizontal. radical. the appearance of writing immediately inscribes a difference. or certification of a referent.236 on Mon.358 Roland Barthes's 'La Chambre claire' Here the impact of the photograph is attributed to a punctual. I myself am more interested in the idea that the divided name alerts us first and foremost to its status as a word or sign. Studies. promising it. more than any other art. Language. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the text is never crediblejusqu'ala racine: an expression whose resonance I can only begin to register precisely by a process of elaboration: never fully credible. If we allow ourselves to imagine Salzmann himself. his text also opens onto the possibilityof reading Salzmann's (absent)photo as an allegorical expression of the same point: language promises.7 Thus the impact of a text can be only gradual or cumulative. be as an outright triumphalist. we see this word or sign pointing to it. Barthes does not say whether the name figures in the image itself. or as part of an added caption.86. In the early I85os. 'le referent adhere' (p. via. If documentary photography is the ultimate proof. 131). to some putative beginning or originaryplace. Either way. so the French Ministry of Education commissioned Salzmann to confirm or refute these doubts by photography: whence the two hundred or so calotypes he took in Egypt. 8). In this passage from La Chambre claire. returned from an expedition to that part of the world with a set of drawings that strongly suggested that many of the archaeological sites there dated back to pre-Roman times. a member of the Institut de France. Whereas the photograph is proof. We do not see Bethlehem in the photograph. This content downloaded from 117. across. it should not. is fictional or in-credible to 7 See my article. Hence the text is never in direct touch with a referent. In a photograph. now in the form of elaboration. and for which he remains best known.211.

a condemned man chained to a corpse. elaboration. this idea of a slight give. something semantically 'close' to the first term. I now pursue this idea of language coming unstuck. 7 Barthespar This content downloaded from 117. This is a process directly related to the notion of textual and so to the discrepancy between written text and photographic image. for example. when you cannot get around it. it is by no means an 'innocent' example of tautology. A hint of irony already creeps in when Barthes registers this fact through a linguistic metaphor: 'Par nature. Barthes engages in a process of incremental doubling.commele condamn6 enchainea un cadavredans certainssupplices. I975). Whereas. by which I mean not just repeating the same.au direde Michelet) de conserve. is a matter of saying the same thing twice: a pipe is a pipe. intraitablement' (p. Arraying inflects language towards what Barthes in the mid-I970s would have called. unpoint c'esttout.236 on Mon. however slightly. connotation. Against which (or rather on behalf of which).(p. tous deuxfrapp6s de emportetoujours la memeimmobilit6 amoureuse ou funebre. there appears the motto 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' (which is also the title of a Foucault essay on Magritte. je crois. to the extent that words. Something is intraitable there is no getting away from it. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .JOHNNIE GRATTON 3.membreparmembre. the fact that the photo cannot be distinguished or separated from what it represents.is then used to introduce a second comparison. very approvingly.86. Ecrivains de toujours (Paris: Seuil. This is how Barthes goes on to elaborate his point: On diraitque la Photographie son riefrentavec elle. 'enonciation en roue libre'. ou encoresemblables a ces couplesde poissons(les requins.59 the extent that its language has worked itself loose. for example. La Trahison des images(I929). there is potentially a lot one might say (at the level of irony. there is a 8 See Roland RolandBarthes. The initial irony is at once deepened as this particulartautology invites us to think back to Magritte's famous painting. when published in 1968). in which. beneath a reassuringlyacademic representation of a pipe. 17) quinaviguent The attempt to elaborate on the tautological nature of photography cannot take the form of tautology. as we are wont to say.Barthes comes on to the theme of adherence in the photograph. a slight remove. intertext. Tautology. to invoke our most basic understanding of the term. ] a quelque chose de tautologique: une pipe y est toujours une pipe.211. Doubling may be understood as a minimal but powerful form of arraying. but in a slightly different way. commeunisparun coit eternel. In other words.the fact of being tautological is a quality that can be amplified through comparison to something else. for it appears to describe very aptly what is going on in La Chambre claireat the level of enonciation. Or. I restrict myself here to just one aspect of Barthes's enunciative rhetoric. it seems to me. 17). no more to be said about it. most obviously present in this instance as simile. la Photographie [ . though a pipe is a pipe. a state of free-wheeling enunciation.8 In the second chapter of La Chambre claire. One simile already constitutes a doubling: in other words.coll. The expression 'ou encore'. a process of lexical and syntactic supplementation that I loosely call 'arraying'. a second couple who are equally stuck together. au seinmemedu mondeen mouvement: ils sont colls l'una l'autre. for example) about this particulartautology: it is far from intractable. which recurs a significantnumber of times in La Chambre claire.. p. but adding something else. have come unstuck:a bit like 'Beith-Lehem'.

even as it seeks to register how the photographic image and its referent are permanently stuck together. here in the form of a burst of predicates which demonstrate that if the image is complete. where Barthes recounts how he came to rediscover the crucial 'Photo du Jardin d'Hiver'. lorsqu'elle en elle. Whereas the latter presents experience as a continuum flowing into the future. There follows a paragraph in which Barthes contrasts photography and film. alternating. The theme of Chapter 37 is the fullness of the photograph: Au Peu-d'Image de la lecture. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . bondee:pas de integre. I can always put it another way: that is both the genius and the misfortune of language.Here.ma Photographie La Photographie est douloureuse. the word does not say it all: it either can be or must be supplemented. for instance. but also death as that which now awaits the grieving son. love for the mother. of course. well into the second part of the book. then. here by the complete elaborative array integre -pleine . All the fact of language. the former is said to be immobile.9 Language. which in the present context has a particularresonance. As he explains early in Part 11:'J'avaiscompris qu'il fallait desormais interrogerl'evidence de la Photographie.est sansculture: . place. but now according to a quite different principle from that initially adopted. adding. . 'sans avenir': whence the particular pathos of the photographic image. mais par rapport a ce qu'on appellerait romantiquement l'amour et la mort' (pp. which many critics claire.'. non du point de vue du plaisir.there is in fact a doublingto the power of three in so far as the compares presentimages of pairsor couples.on ne peutrieny ajouter. but the as-if-ness. in the remainder of the paragraph. and upright or honest. Et si la dialectiqueest cette pensee qui this. complete. Barthes goes on to explain his grief by elaborating further on the unyielding immobility of the photographic image: . 140).236 on Mon. the elaborative potential. To this can be added the resource of elaborative arraying proper.non seulement parcequ'elle estdejaen soiune image. He then proceeds to develop that point in a more 'personal' mode by focusing his attention once more on the Winter Garden Photo. imply has been banished altogether from the discourse of La Chambre the photographic image is said to have integrity in that it is integral. This paragraph begins with the sentence: 'Je puis le dire autrement' (p. or (much the same thing) to the duplicity of language (doubling again) that shows up in all instances of punning. rien. ne peut transformer le chagrinen deuil. My second example of arraying is taken from Chapter 37. I I4-I5). not least the present one. moving on. Indeed.360 'La Chambre claire' Roland Barthes's doubling of the doubling. stands opposed to the fictionality or in-credibility of language. This content downloaded from 117.bondee -pas deplace. of course. marking not just 9 Strictlyspeaking.repondle Tout-Image de la Photo. the photograph of his mother as a five-year-old child. to which it gives rise. .maisparcequecetteimagetresspecialese donnepourcomplete dira-t-onen jouant sur le mot. its alternative capacities: the resource of wordplay.211.86. L'imagephotographique est pleine. and how this discovery relaunched his quest for the essence of photography. (p. stands in an ironic relation to photography. doubling. 139) but this brief passage is enough to show Language may well be a case of Peu-d'Image.onnepeutrienyajouter. 'Uprightness'. the death of the mother. is under the aegis of the opening 'On dirait que.

the photo cannot transform grief into mourning. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . For that point amounts to a reassertion of the literal. Beyond local stylistics. and 'une identite essentielle. le genie du visage aime'. for example. a mouvance or which is clearly pleasurable to Barthes the textualist. ou encore:le theatremortde la Mort. all. a relay. In just one brief chapter (pp. mais une qualite(une ame): non pas l'indispensable. 'l'essence de son identite'.236 on Mon. from which it may be inferred that it cannot be used as the site or instrument of the process known as 'workingthrough'. very schematically. once more. I4I ) Here Barthes engages once more in a poetics of arraying. to replace 'lirremplacable'. indeed a series of words. 145). in French 'perlaboration'. which is to say that it excludes catharsis. None of this would have more than passing stylistic interest but for the fact that. there is a restlessness in his discourse. the photograph is first said to be 'sans culture'. then to be 'indialectique'. The photo has none of the elaborative potential of language. he is not so much pinning down a referent as nominating a word. As Barthesputs it here. 'quelque chose This content downloaded from 117. inasmuch as it never seems to yield a 'final' word.la maitrisele corruptible Photographieest indialectique:elle est un theatre denatur6of la mort ne peut 'se et s'int6rioriser. lies in the fact that it suspends language. The horror of the photograph. Left with nothing to say. rien a dire de sa photo. its malheur. language's continuance beyond the dumbfounding literalism of the photograph is a fact which bears witness not just to its power. du Tragique. et pas un etre. however. I 3-05). Later still. always complete nature of the photographic image. leaving me with nothing to say: 'rien a dire de la mort de qui j'aime le plus. volupte. then 'un theatre denature' or 'le theatre mort de la Mort'. mais l'irremplacable' (p. Thus. elle excluttoutepurification.la forclusion se r6flechir contempler'. with one particular moment appearing by a process of elimination to have reached the end-point of the paradigm: 'Ce quej'ai perdu. I18).JOHNNIE GRATTON 36I et convertitla negationde la mort en puissancede travail. To put it another way.la transformer' (p. tautological. mais un etre. In purely syntactic terms. the procedure of arraying stands in ironic or contrapuntal relation to the point being arrayed. but which poses glissement. what I seek to stress is the ironic status of arraying as an enunciative strategy that underlines the fact that the way of language is not the way of the photographic image. a new word will be appointed to designate this quality. toutecatharsis. There is no hint of linguistic triumphalismhere. (p. Speaking of the nothing-to-say is in this respect much like being able to put it another way (as in 'Je puis le dire autrement'). accompanied by various expansions. elaborated. laboured.however. like the horror of death. queje contemple sansjamais pouvoir l'approfondir. never a permanent fixture. In each case.211.alors. Barthes writes of his mother's 'etre'. arrayingtakes the form of a cumulative series of predicates. the only option available to me is the resource of irony: 'je n'ai d'autre ressource que cette ironie: parler du "rien a dire"' (p. problems for Barthes the emerging essentialist or expressivist. I45). This new word is 'l'air' (pp.86. the quest for the mother's essence becomes at the level of enonciation a quest for the right word. Arraying suggests that when Barthes engages in the act of naming. It would be premature to conclude that Barthes has rediscovered the positive benefits of language as a therapeutic instrument. which is to say 'la forclusion du Tragique'. each word in turn functioning as a stopgap. a quest still faithful to the poetics of language embraced in RolandBarthes par RolandBarthes. Later chapters show a preference for the word 'verite'. or its failure to refer once and for but equally to its impotence. Instead. ce n'est pas une Figure (la Mere). I66-7I).

tel que l'eprouva Proust. ]. 'le mediateur d'une verite a l'a gal de Nadar donnant de sa mere (ou de sa femme. This is a point nowhere better made than in the final paragraph of Chapter 28. That there is something deeply exemplary for Barthes about this ambiguity will not take long to emerge. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as I suggested earlier. completed by an actual quotation from Sodome confirming that 'Proust' has indeed been conflated with the narrator-protagonist of A la Recherche du temps in a move so apparently casual as to scandalize even the most easy-going of perdu narratologists. in which Barthes recounts his discovery of the Winter Garden Photo. de l'ame amoureuse et enfermee. This sentence is et Gomorrhe.. According to the first of these comparisons. 259-64 (pp. continument refugiee dans l'ombre lumineuse de la Mere'. Io9). the lover-as-child.211. not just asserting the presence of Proust the author in his novel but suggesting the presence of the in Barthes'sautobiographicalessay. itself the right photo: 'juste une image. bref de l'enfant qui n'a d'autre lien qu'a la Mere'. novelistic. attendant upon the modality of seeking or striving. the writer engages in a series of comparisons. the photo gave Barthes 'un sentiment aussi sur que le souvenir. Once more an apparently casual remark seems to have jeopardized the comparison even before it has time to settle. compulsive activity throughout La Chambre to the point of being at times narrated in its own right.(p. 263: Barthes's italics).it undoubtedly informs those processes with a strong sense of pathos. qui se parlea elle-meme [. for example.. which in turn. a context in which Schumann shines forth as 'le musicien de l'intimite solitaire. ce premierChant de musique qu'6crivit a la foisa l'etrede ma mereet au chagrinquej'ai de sa mort. on ne sait) l'une des plus belles photos du monde' (p.10 Barthes and Schumann. This in itself is not irrelevantto my concerns in this study in that similes. 0o9). Romantic song gives voice to the affectivity of the bereft subject. the pathos of quest itself. ( 979). it would seem.86. as if by virtue of its unsayability. As an aspect of claire. seems to attract an unusually rich array of predications.362 RolandBarthes's'La Chambre claire' d'indicible'. 259. as the composer of'une musique a la fois dispersee et unaire. of course. are marked by the same inextricable 10'AimerSchumann' et l'obtus.236 on Mon.cettePhotographie duJardin moi commela derniere Schumann avantde sombrer. Barthes's sense of certainty that a truth has been mediated would seem to come about not despite but because of the uncertain identity of the referent in whom that truth originates. This content downloaded from 117. 109). This conflation cuts both ways. the romanesque. both elaboration and arraying. Wishing to convey the exceptional nature of his feelings about this particularphotograph. qui s'accorde For Barthes. and a pathos all the stronger when the quest also amounts to a kind of homecoming: a return to truth. in L'Obvie pp. minimal arrayings. i Io) l'Aube. The reader familiar with Barthes's later writings will not be surprisedthat in his quest to articulate the aforementioned 'truth' he should finally invoke the music of Schumann: d'hiveretaitpour Ou encore(carjecherchea direcetteverite). Barthes introduces his second comparison when he goes on to claim that whoever took this particularphoto of his mother was an exceptional mediator. mais une image juste' (p. lorsque se baissant un jour pour se dechausser il apercut brusquement le visage de sa grand-mere veritable' (p. The search for the right word is a constant. may be regarded as doublings.

of that variance.JOHNNIE GRATTON 363 association of love. that Barthes brings to his treatment of the variance between text and image: ironies that make his work such a fascinating exploration. 1991). however. Here we seem to move deeper into pathos. unsupervised usage. car le referent. even perhaps as an expression. of a dialectical function resulting in the transcendence of failure. impotence to do any more than 'seek the Schumann simile.Mais dans la musique. le r6efrent est inoubliable. then.211. is technically appropriate. but never in such a way as to make good the gap between difference and reference. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 'Ou encore' means that language can always supply more words. this is a passage that equates the Winter Garden Photo with Schumann's song in so far as the 'truth'of the former matches the double accord of the latter with both the mother's being and the son's grief. corps. both destabilizing and redemptive.86. language is shown to be stretched in more ways Following than one as it comes under pressure from the unsayable: 'Je ne pourrais dire cet accord que par une suite infinie d'adjectifs. which is strongly focused on the nondialectical end of the spectrum ranged over by Barthes. ici. text and music are opposed very much as text and image are opposed in La not least at the heart of the passage in question. of the triumphant sense of conviction felt by Barthes the spectator. c'est le 12 I 'Rasch' etl'obtus.236 on Mon. (Cambridge: This content downloaded from 117. where the 'ou encore' Chambre claire. as I hope to have shown.champde 1 sansautrerelaisquele signifiant. signifiance et non systeme de signes. 265-77 (p. and not just a bland assertion. from the phase of trying to say to that of giving up trying to say. with minimal mediation. and madness. each a refugee from reality huddled in the of the mother. however. (I975).Le corpspassedansla musique Here. a kind of toggling occurs whereby it becomes possible to read the resignation of Barthes the writer in a positive light. but ultimately misleading when set against common.' We are back to the pathos of trying to say in words what a photograph or piece of music can express instantly. Barthes's introducing appeal to Schumann is immediately followed by a parenthesis identifying it as a symptom of the writer's quest for truth: 'Car je cherche a dire cette verite. Once more. It seems to me that the notion of a 'tragic' vision is therefore bound to fall short of registering the recurrent ironies. Can all this be held within the idea that Barthes's treatment of the discrepancy between text and image amounts to a 'tragic'vision? As Michael Moriarty explains. See Michael Moriarty. p.12To speak here of a 'tragic'vision. 208.j'en fais l'economie. to make the same point more positively. more metaphors. the very power of language is at one with its to tell a truth'. in the form of catharsis. IIo). a belief expressed as early as 1975 in another essay about Schumann: Dans le texte articuleil y a toujoursl'ecrandu signifie. persuade cependant que cette photographie rassemblait tous les predicats possibles dont se constituait l'etre de ma mere' (p. as a measure.Roland Barthes PolityPress. 'luminous shadow' (the chambre claire?) More overtly. through a kind of toggling operation constantly encouraged by Barthes's writing. death. in L'Obvie pp. Such an equation of photography and music is ultimately based on Barthes's belief in their common referential transparency. Or. 'tragic' in the Barthesian sense means both the denial or failure of dialectical reconciliation and the rediscovery. 273).

qui est un rapporttres difficile. avec un plaisirintense. I have tried to restore the balance by reactivatingsome of the pleasures. to stage. Monter: Not so much to show a relation where there was not one as to put together a relation out of there not being one. to offer us the pleasure of a suggestive edge. ] Ce que texte et l'image.Whilst not seeking to ignore or undervalue these. to set up.LeGrain Seuil.. so paying heed to Barthes's own words in an interview conducted shortly before the publication of his last book: c'estceluiqui consistea monterun rapport entrele I1y a un travail quej'aimeenormement. a satisfaction with the 'givens' of ordinary language. a supremely referentialist turn of to work at. unacknowledged? Is he painting a deliberately cosy picture of himself as modest.364 claire' Roland Barthes's 'La Chambre I referred earlier to the discrepancy between text and image as a space of negotiation involving both difficulties and pleasures for Barthes the writer. DUBLIN UNIVERSITY COLLEGE 13 GRATTON JOHNNIE dela voix: Entretiens Roland Barthes. hometown.86.. 30 Sep 2013 05:18:45 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . for the wording 'monter un rapport'. the versifer as opposed to the visionary?His idiom certainly smacks of a return to the fold. I98I).[.236 on Mon.comme autrefoisles poetes a desproblemes difficiles de versification.'3 aimaient travailler Is Barthes here glossing over the more painful circumstancesreflected in the writing or is he pointing up an aspect of the text that he fears might go of La Chambre claire. to perform a relation between image and text. 1962-g980 (Paris: This content downloaded from 117. phrase. Yet. The difficulties in question have been well documented in numerous readings of La Chambre claire. 'Monter un rapport': at the limit of translation. et toujours j'aime au fond.211. he continues to catch us just a little off balance. mais par la meme qui donne de veritables joies creatrices. hardworkingwriter. c'est le rapportde l'imageet de l'ecriture. as when he forsakes the conventional wording 'montrer un rapport'. even at his most familiar. Je l'ai fait plusieurs fois. 334. p.