“If I read this sentence, this story, or this word with pleasure, it is because they were written in pleasure.” If anyone has written with pleasure, creating sentences that are near-orgasmic for the reader, it is Roland Barthes. The first time I picked up one of his books, called The Pleasure of the Text, I was encapsulated in it, aroused by a dead guy talking about words:
“In perversion (which is the realm of textual pleasure) there are no “erogenous zones” (a foolish expression, besides); it is intermittence, as psycholanalysis has so rightly stated, which is erotic: the intermittence of skin flashing between two articles of clothing (trousers and sweater,), between two edges (the open-necked shirt, the glove and the sleeve); it is this flash itself which seduces, or rather: the staging of an appearance as disappearance.”
He captures the little truths we rarely admit aloud:
“We do not read everything with the same intensity of reading; a rhythm is established, casual, unconcerned with the integrity of the text; our very avidity for knowledge impels us to skim or to skip certain passages (anticipated as “boring”) in order to get more quickly to the warmer parts of the anecdote… we boldly skip (no one is watching) descriptions, explanations, analyses, conversations … the author can not predict tmesis: he cannot choose to write what will not be read. And yet, it is the rhythm of what is read and what is not read that creates the pleasure of great narratives: has anyone ever read Proust, Balzac, War and Peace, word for word? (Proust’s good fortune: from one reading to the next we never skip the same passages).”
I think maybe that’s why I bold the most important stuff in my blog. Put your hand anyone who reads every word?
Yesterday I stumbled across another couple of Barthes’ books. This one from 1977, A Lover’s Discourse, unmasks the words lovers say, and the feelings that live behind them.
He describes the ‘socially irresponsible’ words “I-love-you” that ‘does not transmit a meaning, but fastens onto a limit situation’ and which most of the time one says in hope of hearing the words returned.
He talks about the suspense incurred during the ‘absence of the loved object’ which ‘tends to transform to an ordeal of abandonment’ and ‘the sigh for bodily presence’.
He talks about jealousy, saying it is ‘ugly, is bourgeois: it is an unworthy fuss, a zeal’.
He talks about contact, ‘when my finger accidentally…’ how one in love ‘creates meaning, always and everywhere, out of nothing, and it is meaning which thrills him: he is in the crucible of meaning. Every contact, for the lover, raises the question of an answer: the skin is asked to reply.’
He talks about being ‘in love with love‘.
He talks about the desire to be engulfed, be it in ‘woe or well-being’ – a craving for the intensity of the ‘outburst of annihilation which affects the amorous subject in despair or fulfillment.’
Agree with his opinions or not, they are written in a way one can’t help be wooed into reading just a little more.
And so, as I edit the book I wrote long ago, I will try to follow Barthes’ advice and ‘seek out this reader (must cruise him) without knowing where he is…’ and from there try to create with words ‘a site of bliss.’