Roland Barthes, Various Quotations

‘To interpret a text is not to give it a (more or less justified, more or less free) meaning, but on the contrary to appreciate what plural constitutes it.’ (S/Z, trans., Richard Miller, Jonathan Cape 1975, p.5.)

‘The very being of writing (the meaning of the labour that constitutes it) is to keep the question Who is speaking? from ever being answered.’ (S/Z, Sect. LIX; quoted in John Paul Riquelme, 'Twists of the Teller’s Tale: Finnegans Wake’, in James Joyce: An Joyce International Perspective, ed. Suheil Bushrui & Benstock, Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1982, pp.82-114 [epigraph].)

‘The writerly text is a perpetual present, upon which no consequent language (which would inevitably make it past) can be superimposed; the writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world (the world as function) is traversed, intersected, stopped, plasticised by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages.’ ( S/Z,p.5.)

‘Any text is a new tissue of past citations. Bits of code, formulae, rhythmic models, fragments of social languages, etc., pass into the text and are redistributed within it, for there is always language before and around the text. Intertextuality, the condition of any text whatsoever, cannot, of course, be reduced to a problem of sources or influences; the intertext is a general field of anonymous formulae whose origin can scarcely ever be located; of unconscious or automatic quotations, given without quotation marks.’ (“Theory of the Text”, in Untying The Text. Ed. Robert Young. London: Routledge, 1981. 31-47; p.39.)

‘Now, once I feel myself observed by the lens, everything changes: I constitute myself in the process of “posing”, I instantly make another body for myself, I transform myself in advance into an image. This transformation is an active one: I feel that the photograph creates my body or mortifies it, according to its caprice.’ (Camera Lucida, quoted in Luke Gibbons, Transformations in Irish Culture, Cork UP 1996, p. xv.)

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