Monday, April 02, 2007

Getting to know Barthes

Looking at the Wikipedia entry for Barthes, there is this description of The Pleasure of the Text:

"While Barthes had shared sympathies with Marxist thought in the past (or at least parallel criticisms), he felt that, despite its anti-ideological stance, Marxist theory was just as guilty of using violent language with assertive meanings, as was bourgeois literature. In this way they were both Doxa and both culturally assimilating. As a reaction to this he wrote The Pleasure of the Text (1975), a study that focused on a subject matter he felt was equally outside of the realm of both conservative society and militant leftist thinking: hedonism. By writing about a subject that was rejected by both social extremes of thought, Barthes felt he could avoid the dangers of the limiting language of the Doxa. The theory he developed out of this focus claimed that while reading for pleasure is a kind of social act, through which the reader exposes oneself to the ideas of the writer, the final cathartic climax of this pleasurable reading, which he termed the bliss in reading, is a point in which one becomes lost within the text. This loss of self within the text or immersion within the text, signifies a final impact of reading that is experienced outside of the social realm and free from the influence of culturally associative language and is thus neutral."

I certainly didn't catch "hedonism" in this book, but who am I to say (I didn't catch homosexuality in S/Z either, really). Wait, did I even read this whole book? Yes, I did (sorry, had to remind myself).

Wikipedia continues here, saying:

"The Pleasure of the Text is a short book published in 1973 by Roland Barthes. In the book, Barthes divides the effects of texts into two: pleasure and bliss.

The pleasure of the text corresponds to the readerly text, which does not challenge the reader's subject position.

The blissful text provides Jouissance (bliss, orgasm, explosion of codes) which allows the reader to break out of his/her subject position. This type of text corresponds to the 'writerly' text."

Finally, from my dissertation (p. 203), drawing from S/Z (p. 4):

"For Barthes, the 'classic text' is one which can be read but not written, as opposed to 'what can be written (rewritten) today'; he calls the 'classic text' a 'readerly text,' while the other is called a 'writerly text.' (p. 4)"

Maybe more on S/Z later on.

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