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- 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.
- The Pleasure of the Text (1975)
- 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.
- "Myth on the Right," in Mythologies (1957)
- What the public wants is the image of passion, not passion itself.
- "Le monde où l'on catche," in Mythologies (1957)
- 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)
From Work to Text (1971)
- 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.
- "Between Zero and a Hard Place" by Gilbert Wesley Purdy. Essay on Barthes' Writing Degree Zero.
- Barthes page from the Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory (registration needed)
- Roland Barthes and Photography by Ron Burnett
- "From Work to Text" Essay written by Barthes.