Here is more on Barthes and Camera Lucida, to the end of the first part. The questions are fewer here (and the dialogue more like monologue), but we will continue on.
Section 17: Here, Barthes discusses the unary photograph, which comes to him in the form of journalistic photographs and pornographic photographs. These are photographs which interest Barthes but do nothing else for him. Such photographs "[transform] 'reality' without doubling it ... no duality, no indirection, no disturbance." (41)
News photographs are very often unary, in that they can shock, but not in any real way (not like a punctum). Furthermore, for Barthes, pornographic photographs present a single idea (interestingly, he states that Mapplethorpe's photos become interesting because of fabrics).
Section 18: Here Barthes returns to the Nicaraguan photo from earlier, and begins to explore how different figures view the composition of the scene. The Operator views reality, and the socio-political factors which contribute to the presence of the nuns. From the perspective of the Spectator, the detail is random (part of me wonders, though, if an analytical spectator might recognize the socio-political reality of the photograph). (42)
Barthes makes an important point: one shouldn't need to study a photograph to discover the punctum: "I should receive it right here in my eyes." (43)
Section 19: The punctum is "lightning-like," but, for Barthes, works to "expand" the photograph. It works in terms of metonymy, where the punctum as "part" stands in for the "whole." It also works to fill the whole picture (while remaining a detail). (45)
Section 20: Intentionality works against the punctum. Rather, the photograph whould indicate the Operator "could not not photograph the partial object at the same time as the total object." (47)
Section 21: Photography (with punctum) is likened to Haiku: they are both "undevelopable." He makes the point that the "essence" ("of a wound") can only be repeated under insistent gaze. Everything is given. This is seemingly contradictory to what he mentions in section 19, that the punctum expands the photograph. I suppose there may be subtlety between expansion and development. (49)
Section 22: Important: "The studium is ultimately always coded, the punctum is not." (51) If one is able to apply code (convention, meaning) to the "punctum," it is not punctum: "What I can name cannot really prick me." (51) The punctum often reveals itself in remembering the photograph.
"In order to see a photographe well, it is best to look away or close your eyes." (53) Agree?
Section 23: The punctum is what the Spectator adds to the photograph and "what is nonetheless already there." (55) He says something interesting here: that one doesn't have time to add to the image in movies. The figures in photographs "do not emerge, no not leave" like the images in film that are always moving, emerging, leaving. (57)
An aside: Barthes' line, "they are anesthetized and fastened down, like butterflies," predates The Smiths' lyric, "pin and mount me like a butterfly" (without the sexual connotations of the latter).
He returns here to section 17 and the pornographic photograph. He suggests that the erotic photograph "launches desire": he calls this a "subtle beyond," a "blind field." (57-58) His work on desire is always important and certainly, at the heart of all of his exploration of photography is the notion of desire.
Section 24: In the last section of Part 1, Barthes admits failure: he has discovered something about how desire works in photographs, but nothing of the nature of photography. He admits that this has been a deeply personal project so far (and far from universal); this fact does not change as the book progresses.
Palinode: "a poem in which the poet retracts a view or sentiment expressed in a former poem." (from the built-in OS X Mountain Lion dictionary)
Thus ends the first part of the book. Barthes' thoughts get increasingly personal as the book continues. Please continue the fine comments and encourage others (anyone else) to contribute. Dialogue is ideal, though certainly absent in the last few weeks (my fault, not the fault of P.W.) - in any case, carry on.