Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This is a "work" post, for the most part

This week has been not so exciting. I'm now having trouble wrapping up the paper that I've been yapping about for the last while, and this post will be a part of said paper, I think. This post will explore the source of the theory that runs through my current work, Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text.

The book has to do with how a reader produces meaning, and continues the assertion by Barthes that the "author" is "dead." That is, simply, intention of the author means nothing, and that the interpretation (or meaning) of the text takes place in absence of the author. [Note: I think this is right, but I might be wrong. I'm trying to recall what I was taught.]

So, as mentioned previously in this blog, the book is set up in short segments, with the subjects or themes of each segment arranged alphabetically, and basically randomly. Throughout this "random" structuration, Barthes does discuss the binary of plaisir (pleasure) and jouissance (bliss or ecstacy). These are not opposites, and is more open and fluid in its definition. The "pleasure" from the title of the book should be thought of as both the pleasure that a reader takes from reading a text, as well as the pleasure that is apparently inherent in the text itself.

Thos texts which do not overcome the "boundaries" of "traditional" literary norms are those texts which can be under the rubric of plaisir, while those texts which disrupt the expectations of what a text should do are texts, then, of ecstacy.

Of these texts, Barthes writes, "Texts of pleasure. Pleasure in pieces; language in pieces; culture in pieces. . . . nothing is reconstituted, nothing recuperated." (p. 51-52) Thus this kind of text upsets all expectations, therefore scattering one's subjectivity.


This is difficult material. Can this kind of observation (or argument) concerning text be applied then to other artistic texts, such as music, or even to real-life situations, as I attempt to do? Perhaps because Barthes talks about real-life situations in the section I'm concerned with makes this okay.

Any comments are welcome.

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