Praxis / From Work to Text
Barthes’ notion of the text has has a profound influence on me via Film Studies scholarship but I believe this was my first time reading this essay.
1. The text considered as a site of discourse, a (democratic) battleground for meaning and meaning-making.
2. Sexy, ‘flex’, the text conceived as such is always subversive, in that it invites, allows, creates space to listen to narratives present yet rarely spoken, possible inconvenient meanings of conventionally polite work.
I have been interested in ‘low’ genre texts of popular culture in my own work, especially in ‘star texts’, a child of this via film scholar Richard Dyer—which looks at the fluid use of movie ‘stars’ and popular figures in culture.
3. The text is never complete — it exists a bit as a quantum cloud of possibilities.
4. it may be considered the opposite of ‘holy’ / it is many-headed god(s) instead of the work of one sacred father.
5. author/intention does not own the text, although author is a participant in its constellation
6. In the system hat makes text, here Barthes is privileging reading, the possibility of creative reading: the work is not done in its writing but continues to change in infinite different contexts and in dialog with infinite possible readers. Here he recovers importance of audience and calls for breaking the perceived sacred divide between writer/reader.
7. i am a bit puzzled by the end, which on first reading, appears to privilege the act of writing as most essential to the text. Read this way is a bit confusing since a text might never be written of with letters on a page and of course still be an active text, e.g,, teenage girls debating the meaning of a popular lady gaga song and its ‘hidden’ instructions for their lives.
I may be wholly misreading this last section: in the last sentences he de-mistifyies the normal hierarchies associated with a work:
judge, master, analyst, confessor, decoder
with none left in charge, but then he says :
The theory of the Text can coincide only with a practice of writing.
I am not sure if i am misreading this and that instead of privileging writing in this sentence, he is de-throwning it,, moving it from above to just to the side / coincide / just another participant, or if this translation is saying something different.
Praxis Enrichment Reader
A central idea appears to be the contrast between the desperate seeking to control and contain that ultimately destroys the object and the self in the Suskind story and the ‘master’ in the Tao Te Ching who lays no claim to even his own work.
A catalogue of impressions follows, a geography of spots that spoke to me most; perhaps they approach an intended meaning from the assembled collection: that seems to call for an allowing for the flexibility that Barthes invites us to see in texts.
3. disjointed images
4. choosing to get lost / surrounding to being lost
5. The importance of getting lost [in order to know what is outside of the known] &
the suggestion that that which is outside of the known is that which you most need to find [& that children are increasingly given less opportunities to do so.]
6. One of the best gifts a work can give is the unnecessary.
7. acknowledging the fleeting nature of all
8. I was interested in the excerpt discussing the port town of Pireaus—I go their occasionally and the author seems to capture something of its spirit.
It’s a port ton that doesn’t know its own power. It has no confidence, like homes close to an airport and a purpose greater than them that eat them up. People feel sorry for people who live to close by, and they know it—and that has got to fill their day.
9. ‘It is always more enriching to imagine than to experience” (Bachelard)
1o. The image is wild and untamed.
11.In the Suskind story he sucks you in with the recognition of that desperate crazy sense that there is some essential possession, some memory on the tip of your tongue, some song you almost remember, some idea for the ultimate project: if only you had it completely and became it, you would be whole forever. And as in the story, to capture it you have no choice—you destroy it and ar destroyed by it.
This is contrasted with the ‘master’ in the Tao Te Ching that seeks to contain noting and allows all to grow, as the reader suggests Twombly’s work-non-attachment and allowing complete freedom to meaning embodies.