Saturday, December 8, 2007

From Roland Barthes, Sade/Fourier/Loyola

Nothing is more depressing than to imagine the Text as an intellectual object (for reflection, analysis, comparison, mirroring, etc.). The text is an object of pleasure. The bliss of the text is often only stylistic: there are expressive felicities... However, at times the pleasure of the Text is achieved more deeply (and then is when we can truly say there is a Text): whenever the "literary" Text (the Book) transmigrates into our life, whenever another writing (the Other's writing) succeeds in writing fragments of our own daily lives, in short, whenever a co-existence occurs. The index of the pleasure of the Text, then, is when we are able to live with [the author]. To live with an author does not necessarily mean to achieve in our life the program that author has traced in his books (this conjunction is not, however, insignificant, since it forms the argument of Don Quixote; true, Don Quixote is still a character in a book); it is not a matter of making operative what has been represented... it is a matter of bringing into our daily life the fragments of the unintelligible ("formulae") that emanate from a text we admire (admire precisely because it hangs together well); it is a matter of speaking this text, not making it act, by allowing it the distance of a citation, the eruptive force of a coined word, of a language truth; our daily life then itself becomes a theater whose scenery is our own social habitat... once again, it is not a matter of taking into ourselves the contents, convictions, a faith, a cause, nor even images; it is a matter of receiving from the text a kind of fantasmatic order: of savoring with Loyola the sensual pleasure of organizing a retreat, of covering our interior time with it, of distributing in it moments of language...

The pleasure of the Text also includes the amicable return of the author. Of course the author who returns is not the one identified by our institutions (history and courses in literature, philosophy, church discourse); he is not even the biographical hero. The author who leaves his text and comes into our life has no unity; he is a mere plural of "charms," the site of a few tenuous details, yet the source of vivid novelistic glimmerings, a discontinuous chant of amiabilities, in which we nevertheless read death more certainly than in the epic of a fate; he is not a (civil, moral) person, he is a body... For if, through a twisted dialectic, the Text, destroyer of all subject, contains a subject to love, that subject is dispersed, somewhat like the ashes we strew into the wind after death (the theme of the urn and the stone, strong closed objects, instructors of fate, will be contrasted with the bursts of memory, the erosion that leaves nothing but a few furrows of past life): were I a writer, and dead, how I would love it if my life, through the pains of some friendly and detached biographer, were to reduce itself to a few details, a few preferences, a few inflections, let us say: to "biographemes" whose distinction and mobility might go beyond any fate and come to touch, like Epicurean atoms, some future body, destined to the same dispersion; a marked life, in sum, as Proust succeeded in writing his in his work, or even a film, in the old style, in which there is no dialogue and the flow of images (that flumen orationis which perhaps is what makes up the "obscenities" of writing) is inercut, like the relief of hiccoughs, by the barely written darkness of the intertitles, the casual eruption of another signifier...

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