Roland Barthes

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Roland Barthes (1969)
The petit-bourgeois is a man unable to imagine the Other. If he comes face to face with him, he blinds himself, ignores and denies him, or else transforms him into himself.

Roland Barthes (November 12, 1915March 25, 1980) was a French literary critic, literary and social theorist, philosopher, and semiotician.


What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.
  • Encratic language (the language produced and spread under the protection of power) is statutorily a language of repetition; all official institutions of language are repeating machines: schools, sports, advertising, popular songs, news, all continually repeat the same structure, the same meaning, often the same words.
  • La forme bâtarde de la culture de masse est la répétition honteuse: on répète les contenus, les schèmes idéologiques, le gommage des contradictions, mais on varie les formes superficielles: toujours des livres, des émissions, des films nouveaux, des faits divers, mais toujours le même sens.
    • The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition: content, ideological schema, the blurring of contradictions—these are repeated, but the superficial forms are varied: always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning.
    • "Modern," in The Pleasure of the Text (1975)
  • Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.
    • "Talking," in A Lover's Discourse (1977)
  • The politician being interviewed clearly takes a great deal of trouble to imagine an ending to his sentence: and if he stopped short? His entire policy would be jeopardized!
    • "Sentence," in The Pleasure of the Text (1975)
  • The bourgeoisie is defined as the social class which does not want to be named.
    • p. 138
  • Bourgeois norms are experienced as the evident laws of a natural order—the further the bourgeois class propagates its representations, the more naturalized they become.
    • p. 140
  • Myth is depoliticized speech.
    • p. 145
  • The bourgeoisie hides the fact that it is the bourgeoisie and thereby produces myth; revolution announces itself openly as revolution and thereby abolishes myth.
    • p. 146
  • Statistically, myth is on the right. There, it is essential, well-fed, sleek, expensive, garrulous, it invents itself ceaselessly. It takes hold of everything, all aspects of the law, of morality, of aesthetics, of diplomacy, of household equipment, of Literature, of entertainment.
    • p. 148
  • Myth deprives the object of which it speaks of all history. In it, history evaporates.
    • p. 151
  • By reducing any quality to quantity, myth economizes intelligence: it understands reality more cheaply.
    • p. 153
  • The petit-bourgeois is a man unable to imagine the Other. If he comes face to face with him, he blinds himself, ignores and denies him, or else transforms him into himself.
    • p. 151
  • What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.
    • "Le monde où l'on catche"

From Work to Text (1971)

A work has two levels of meaning: literal and concealed.
With translations from "7 Propositions from Barthes' From Work to Text in Absurdist Monthly Review - The Writers Magazine of The New Absurdist Movement and Image, Music, Text (1977) translations by Stephen Heath ISBN 0374521360
  • The Text is not a definitive object.
    • Proposition 1
    • Variant translation: The Text is not to be thought of as an object that can be computed. It would be futile to try to separate out materially works from texts.
  • A work has two levels of meaning: literal and concealed.
    A Text, on the other hand is engaged in a movement … a deferral … a dilation of meaning … the play of signification.
    Metonymy — the association of part to whole — characterized the logic of the Text.
    In this sense the Text is "radically symbolic" and lacks closure.
    • Proposition 3
    • Variant translation: The Text can be approached, experienced, in reaction to the sign. The work closes on a signified. There are two modes of signification which can be attributed to this signified: either it is claimed to be evident and the work is then the object of a literal science, of philology, or else it is considered to be secret, ultimate, something to be sought out, and the work then falls under the scope of a hermeneutics, of an interpretation
  • The Text is plural. Which is not simply to say that it has several meanings, but that it accomplishes the very plural of meaning: an irreducible (and not merely an acceptable) plural. The Text is not a co-existence of meanings but a passage, an overcrossing; thus it answers not to an interpretation, even a liberal one, but to an explosion, a dissemination.
    • Proposition 4
  • Whereas the work is understood to be traceable to a source (through a process of derivation or "filiation"), the Text is without a source — the "author" a mere "guest" at the reading of the Text.
    • Proposition 5
  • The discourse on the Text should itself be nothing other than text, research, textual activity, since the Text is that social space which leaves no language safe, outside, nor any subject of the enunciation in position as judge, master, analyst, confessor, decoder. The theory of the Text can coincide only with a practice of writing.
    • Conclusion

Quotes about Roland Barthes

  • Barthes's discovery and articulation of the "new" liberatory category of perception and deciphering, semiotic-mythology, belongs to the praxis of his heroic mythologist, alone. This unfortunate theoretical strategy makes the articulation of a coalitional consciousness in social struggle impossible to imagine or enact. ... His terminologies appropriate the technologies of the oppressed for use by academic classes.
  • When I was a student I was assigned “Mythologies” and “A Lover’s Discourse,” by Roland Barthes, and felt at once that something momentous had happened to me, that I had met a writer who had changed my course in life somehow; and looking back now, I think he did.
Wikipedia has an article about: