martes, 15 de julio de 2014

Roland Barthes, 7 Fragments from A Lover's Discourse


A mandarin fell in love with a courtesan. ‘I shall be yours,’ she told him, ‘when you have spent a hundred nights waiting for me, sitting on a stool, in my garden, beneath my window.’ But on the ninety-ninth night, the mandarin stood up, put his stool under his arm, and went away.

(I was looking at everything in the other’s face, the other’s body, coldly: lashes, toenail, thin eyebrows, thin lips, the luster of the eyes, a mole, a way of holding a cigarette, I was fascinated – fascination being, after all, only the extreme of detachment – by a kind of colored ceramicized, vitrified figurine in which I could read, without understanding anything about it, the cause of my desire.)

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. The emotion derives from a double contact: on the one hand, a whole activity of discourse discreetly, indirectly focuses upon a signified, which is ‘I desire you,’ and releases, nourishes, ramifies it to the point of explosion (language experiences orgasm upon touching itself); o the other hand, I enwrap the other in my words, I cares, brush against, talk up this contact, I extend myself to make the commentary to which I submit the relation endure,
(To speak amorously is to expend without an end in sight, without a crisis; it is to practice a relation without orgasm. There may exist a literary form of this coitus reservatus: what we call Marivaudage.)

To know that one does not write for the other, to know that these things I am going to write will never cause me to be loved by the one I love (the other), to know that writing compensates for nothing, sublimates nothing, that it is precisely there were you are not – this is the beginning of writing.

‘my soul, when I embraced Agathon, came to my lips, as if the wretch would leave me and go elsewhere.’ In amorous languor, something keeps going away; it is as if desire were nothing but this hemorrhage. Such is amorous fatigue: a hunger not to be satisfied, a gaping love.  Or again: my entire self is drawn, transferred to the loved object which takes its place: languor would be that exhausting transition from narcissistic libido to object libido. (Desire for the absent being and desire for the present being: languor superimposes the two desires, putting absence within presence. Whence a state of contradiction: this is ‘the gentle fire’.)

X confides: “ the first time; he lit a candle in a little Italian church. He was surprised by the flame’s beauty, and the action seemed less absurd. Why henceforth deprive himself of the pleasure of creating a light? So he began again, attaching to this delicate gesture ( tilting the new candle toward the one already lit, gently rubbing their wicks, taking pleasure when the fire ‘took’, filling his eyes with that intimate yet brilliant light) ever vaguer vows which were to include – for fear of choosing – ‘everything which fails in this world.’ ”

The moral tax levied by society on all transgressions affects passion still more than sex today. Everyone will understand that X has huge problems with his sexuality; but no one will be interested in those Y may have with his sentimentality: love is obscene precisely in that it puts the sentimental in place of the sexual. That ‘sentimental old baby’ (Fourier) who suddenly died while deeply in love would seem as obscene as President Félix Faure, who died of a stroke in his mistress’s arms. 

-Roland Barthes

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