Barthes by Barthes

Barthes by Barthes



The Pequod Review:

Barthes by Barthes is loosely an autobiography, as told in the form of a series of alphabetized anecdotes. E.g.:

Writing Begins with Style

Sometimes he attempts to use the asyndeton so much admired by Chateaubriand under the name of anacoluthon: what relation can be found between milk and the Jesuits? The following: "... those be found between milk and the Jesuits? The following: " milky phonemes which the remarkable Jesuit, van Ginnekin, posited between writing and language" (The Pleasure of the Text). Then there are the countless antitheses (deliberate, farfetched, cor-seted) and word play from which a whole system is derived (pleasure: precarious / bliss: precocious). In short, countless traces of the work of style, in the oldest sense of the word. Yet this style serves to praise a new value, writing, which is excess, overflow of style toward other regions of language and subject, far from a classed literary code (exhausted code of a doomed class). This contradiction may perhaps be explained and justified as follows: his way of writing was formed at a moment when the writing of the essay sought a renewal by the combination of political intentions, philosophical notions, and true rhetorical figures (Sartre is full of them). But above all, style is somehow the beginning of writing: however timidly, by committing itself to great riss of recupera-tion, it sketches the reign of the signifier.



To be left-handed-what does it mean? You eat contrary to the place assigned to the table setting; you find the grip of the telephone on the wrong side, when someone right-handed has used it before you; the scissors are not made for your thumb. In school, years ago, you had to struggle to be like the others, you had to normalize your body, sacrifice your good hand to the little society of the lycée (I was constrained to draw with my right hand, but I put in the colors with my left: the revenge of impulse); a modest, inconsequential exclusion, socially tolerated, marked adolescent life with a tenuous and persistent crease: you got used to it, adapted to it, and went on . . .

The book has a playful charm, even if many of its entries are lacking in substance.