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Pleasure of the Text, Text of Pleasure

Robert Miklitsch
The body is the irreducible difference.

Always remember Nietzsche: we are scientific out of a lack of subtlety.-I can conceive, on the contrary, as a kind of utopia, a dramatic and subtle science, seeking the festive reversal of the Aristotelian proposition which would dare to think, at least in a flash: There is no choice except of differences. --Barthes, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes Barthes's Pleasure of the Text,, which begins with an epigraph from Hobbes (Atque metum tantum concepit tunc mea mater / Ut paretet geminos, meque metumque simul), announces that the pleasure of the text, "like Bacon's simulator," never apologizes, never explains, and that its "sole negation" is to look away. But how is it that it can never apologize or explain? What is "pleasure" (plaisir), what is "bliss" (jouissance), and what is the difference between them? It is presupposed if only as a caveat that a taxonomical 101

description of the pleasure of the text is, in some sense, an oxymoronic enterprise: For if a "thesis" on textual pleasure is impossible and an inspection improbable, then one is left, according to Barthes, with two alternative strategies. First, "bring together all the texts which have given pleasure to someone... and display this textual body, in something like the way in which psychoanalysis has exhibited man's erotic body" (PT, p. 34). However, since such a labor would result in mere explanation of the chosen texts, the project would inevitably bifurcate: "unable to speak itself, pleasure would enter the general path of motivations, no one of which would be definitive" (PT, p. 34). It is impossible, then, to write The Pleasure of the Text where the article ("the")is understood in its definitive sense. Thus, for Barthes, one can only circle such a subject-and therefore better to do it briefly and in solitude than collectively and interminably; better to renounce the passage from value, the basis of assertion, to values, which are effects of culture.2 Invoking Nietzsche, whose radical notion and practice of textuality first made it possible to learn "how to write" a text of pleasure,3 Barthes recommends that the "stylate practice" (pratique styl6e),4 to borrow from Derrida, should be circuitio and periphrasis, "going around" and "circumlocution." However, a perilous balance, which is to say a rigorous stylistic practice, must be maintained if one is to produce a text of pleasure that does not collapse from its own distinctions and machinations. At one point in The Pleasure of the Text, for instance, Barthes asserts that "pleasure can be expressed in words, bliss cannot" and, consequently, "criticism always deals with the texts of pleasure, never the texts of bliss" (PT, p. 21). From a Derridean perspective, such a statement--composed of a seemingly simple opposition and implicit hierarchy5-is suspect and, therefore, susceptible to a certain kind of deconstruction. That is, the oppositional hierarchy can be reversed so that the previously subordinate term is valorized, at which point it can be reinscribed into the text, twisting its "message," despite what the text seems, or seemingly "wants," to say.6 "In" The Pleasure of the Text, though, despite its apparently definitive title, despite the problems the text itself provokes, Barthes-it seems to me-maintains his poise. Hence, his text does not "need" to be deconstructed, or at least the issue is not as desperate as it is with other, less "precocious," texts. However, this is a problematic we will return to again and again reading Barthes, an appropriate gesture given his textual strategy, but first we must better investigate and determine the difference between a text of pleasure and a text of bliss, and their respective value(s). Though a "precarious, revocable, reversible" paradigm, the opposition of pleasure/bliss focuses the question of the pleasure of the 102

text for Barthes. To isolate one of his terms for descriptive and strategic purposes, we might begin by asking, What is pleasure? Yet if it is true that pleasure cannot be understood without recourse to its differential complement (bliss), we can also reverse the process and answer the question (What is bliss?) by provisionally submitting that bliss is the excess of pleasure. With this preliminary definition in mind, we can return to and answer our first question: a text of pleasure, according to Barthes, is one which "contents, fills, grants euphoria; the text that comes from culture and does not break with it, is linked to a comfortable practice of reading" (PT, p. 14). In somewhat tautological terms, it gives the kind of pleasure traditionally associated with, and thus expected from, the kind of text it is (where "kind" implies genre). A nineteenth-century novel, for example, typically "tells a story," has a plot which moves, has pace, turns pages; has an Aristotelian structure-beginning, middle, and end; has "round,"developing, and recognizable characters; is usually written in the third-person narrative7 and frequently with an omniscient point-of-view; represents the natural world in all its manifest plenitude (true to a sense of mimesis in which the word has a seemingly intimate relationship to the "things" it signifies); etc.8 Since the text of pleasure comforts the reader and makes him feel content by virtue of its stable point of view and continuous narrative, since it grants him euphoria (i.e., displeases only to please) and satisfies his convention-derived expectations of the kind of text it is and thereby insures his reading practice (so much so that, while or after reading it, he feels: This is what a text should be), it certifies those texts from which it derives and whose history it proliferates and does not rupture. In other words, it institutes the general, becomes normative, generic, not to be transgressed (or only at the cost of incurring the wrath and displeasure of the conventional reader). In Edward Said's terms (derived in turn from Foucault), a text of pleasure possesses "authority" which, according to his "fourfold scheme," is not only (1) "the power of an individual to initiate, institute, establish-in short, to begin" where (2) "this power and its product are an increase over what had been there previously," but (3) "the individual [or work of art] wielding this power controls its issues" and (4) "maintains the continuity of its course."' Consequently, it not only authorizes itself by virtue of its increase over previous texts, but authorizes later texts as well, guaranteeing a certain kind of discourse by making it readable, respectable-a respectable form of reading pleasure. Yet it is obvious with respect to Said's second sense of authority that even a text of pleasure represents a kind of "advance-guard" (where "kind" is a matter of degree) since, in some sense, it exceeds and displaces "what had been there previously."10 However, although it can transgress its conventions in some sense, to some degree, it also always glosses over this violation. The conventional aspects of a text of pleasure, for example, exceed and displace, in turn, those elements which distinguish it from its predecessors; it relegates to the background, for the pleasure of the reader and at the expense of a more radical expose, that which it seems to foreground. 103

Hence, for Barthes, a text of pleasure is "classical" and, since it is a product of the culture or "dominant ideology" from which it emerges and which it reflects, can be spoken of as "intelligent," "ironic," "delicate," "euphoric," "masterful," etc. Opposed to it is a text of bliss, one which imposes a state of loss, the text that discomforts (perhaps to the point of a certain boredom), unsettles the reader's historical, cultural, psychological assumptions, the consistency of his tastes, values, memories, brings to a crisis his relation with language (PT, p. 14). Whereas a text of pleasure "milks" us, a text of bliss weans us and, therefore, repeats that original moment of loss by which we find ourselves (stade du miroir); it unsettles our presuppositions about history, culture, psychology; it undermines our faith in a cogito whose self-consciousness authors itself and its integrity; it forces us to recognize that, instead of a tool which we use (and abuse), language-in a work of art-speaks us. I loosely translate Barthes unto the above vocabularies of Lacan, Derrida, Foucault and Heidegger respectively not because he explicitly refers to them in The Pleasure of the Text (though he does, both implicitly and explicitly11) but because it would have been impossible for him to have conceived of a text of bliss without their speculative discourses, discursive theories which rigorously problematize received notions of "self," "speech," "history," and "Being". Furthermore, like their discourse, Barthes' Pleasure of the Text linguistically and structurally mimics its own subject so that his notion of "pleasure," for instance, is inseparable from the "precarious, revocable, reversible" context in which it appears.12 Hence, just as Heidegger antimetabolically formulates the "relation" between language and Being as "the being of language: the language of being,"'3so Barthes writes: "Pleasure of the text, text of pleasure" (PT, p. 19). Which is to say that, since the "pleasure of the text" and the "text of pleasure" are the same (though not identical), there is no difference-in a metaphorical sense-between reading and writing (a text of pleasure).14 Barthes, then, could not be an ecrivain, one who plays with, and on, words (as he does in The Pleasure of the Text) without the meticulously-figured analyses of the aforementioned theorists of discursivity, who are not simply ecrivants (the obverse of ecrivains) since their texts are neither simple nor univocal, unplayful nor unproblematic. Words, words, words. By this time, it should be apparent that part of the problem of differentiating between the "pleasure of the text" and the "text of pleasure" or, less generally, a "text of pleasure" and a "text of bliss," at least on a descriptive level, is linguistic: [B]ecause French has no word that simultaneously and bliss covers (contentment) pleasure (rapture)... "pleasure" here (and without our being 104

able to anticipate) sometimes extends to bliss, sometimes is opposed to it. (PT, p. 19) There is no way to absolutely distinguish pleasure from bliss for descriptive purposes either on a linguistic or structural level because there is no clear-cut distinction between them which would be valid all of the time: the difference between them is undecidable. Now, as we have seen, this is clearly a problem on a number of levels. Yet as with Derrida's use of antithetical terms (such as his play on, and with, the Barthes takes advantage pharmakon in "La pharmacie de Platon"15), of what for some would be a disadvantage, a handicap (i.e., linguistic of ambiguity), by acknowledging the problem as such-instead glossing over it-and then strategically problematizing the question, What is the difference between pleasure and bliss? This tactical gesture allows him to accommodate his project to its linguistic and structural ambiguity. One of the devices displayed in The Pleasure of the Text is Barthes' use of shifting personal pronouns to riddle the speaker's status as a univocal and unified "author"; the following passage, for instance, is written in the first person singular, the "empirical 'I' ": [O]nthe one hand I need a general "pleasure" whenever I must refer to an excess of the text, to what in it exceeds any (social) function and any (structural) functioning; and on the other hand I need a particular "pleasure," a simple part of Pleasure as a whole, whenever I need to distinguish euphoria, fulfillment,
comfort ... from

which are proper to ecstasy, to bliss. (PT, p. 19)





Following Barthes' lead, I will henceforth put pleasure in quotations ("pleasure") when it is being linguistically and/or structurally opposed to "bliss" (which will henceforth also be put into quotations) and leave it unmarked when it is being used in its ecstatic sense (bliss). Having delimited the linguistic difference between "pleasure"/ "bliss" according to a static and external scheme, we must now determine more precisely how Barthes structurally problematizes the question of the pleasure of the text. Not unlike the way in which Tynyanov introduced the notion of what was later called "foregrounding" by the Prague Circle in order to account for those diachronic elements of a work of art which Shklovsky's synchronic model could not account for,16Barthes similarly problematizes the undecidable difference of the pleasure of the text by internalizing the texts ("pleasure"l"bliss") within the reading/writing subject, one who simultaneously reads as he writes, and vice versa. Hence, a particular text is neither wholly a "text of pleasure" nor a "text of bliss": it is always already both. Now the subject who keeps the two texts in his field and in his hands the reins of pleasure and bliss is an 105

anachronic subject, for he simultaneously and contradictorily participates in the profound hedonism of all culture... and in the destruction of that culture. (PT, p. 14) A text of bliss, then, would be one in which "bliss" exceeds, or is foregrounded at the expense of, "pleasure." However, unlike Tynyanov's diachronic/synchronic reading subject, Barthes' is "anachronic"; this subject, who is no "subject" in the Cartesian sense and who is subject to neither diachronic nor synchronic analysis, is both divided and duplicitous, conventional and iconoclastic: "he enjoys the consistency of his selfhood (that is his pleasure) and seeks its loss (that is his bliss)" (PT, p. 14). Yet given this "subject split twice over, doubly perverse," both the subject of the text and the text of the subject, How is the pleasure of the text produced in the ecstatic sense, where it is defined as bliss? Using Sade, whose work for Barthes is-as it were-a locus classicus of the pleasure of the text, text of pleasure, Barthes argues that the pleasure of reading him "clearly proceeds from certain breaks (or certain collisions)" when/where "antipathetic codes come into contact.""7 In Sade's Philosophy of the Boudoir, for instance, pornographic scenarios are alternated, as the somewhat oxymoronic title intimates, with long and long-winded passages of "philosophy" (or philosophizing). This juxtaposition of antipathetic codes or "redistribution of language" is always and only achieved, for Barthes, by a "cutting": Two edges are created: an obedient, conformist, plagiarizing edge ... and another edge, mobile, blank (ready to assume any contours), which is never anything but the site of its loss. (PT, p. 6) "Pleasure," to reintroduce the differential terms of The Pleasure of the Text, refers to that language of a text which is conformist, canonical, conventional, whereas "bliss" refers to its other kind of language, which is subversive, iconoclastic, mercurial.'8 Again, this is not a simple or "innocent" oppositional hierarchy: "neither culture nor its destruction is erotic," neither "pleasure" nor "bliss" produces the pleasure of the text, in the general sense. Hence, Barthes does not privilege either the "subversive" or "conformist" edge of language since that would mean merely re-instituting and re-institutionalizing either one or the other, a hierarchial pleasure of the text (where, for example, "pleasure" would always be subordinated, and therefore inferior, to "bliss"). "The subversive edge may seem privileged because it is the edge of violence," Barthes acknowledges, but what pleasure wants is the site of a loss, the seam, the cut, the deflation, the dissolve which seizes the subject in the midst of bliss. Culture thus recurs as an edge: in no matter what form. (PT, p. 7) 106

A number of critics of Barthes have, it seems to me, misread or ignored this caveat.19 In The Pleasure of the Text at least, Barthes does not sanction the "erotic" or "leftist" elements of a text of pleasure-not to say, less precisely, an "erotic" or "leftist" text of pleasure-and, therefore, cannot be accused of implicitly assuming, and yearning for, a utopian (vis-a-vis "atopian"20) state of textuality, wholly free of ideology. In fact, he explicitly argues to the contrary: There are those who want a text (an art, a painting) without a shadow, without the "dominant ideology"; but this is to want a text without fecundity, without productivity, a sterile text.... The text needs its shadows; this shadow is a bit of ideology, a bit of representation, a bit of subject. (PT, p. 32) Rather than "pleasure" or "bliss," it is "the seam between them, the fault, the flaw, which becomes them." In a non-metaphysical sense, this in-between or difference between "pleasure" and "bliss" Barthes calls tmesis, a site (not merely in a spatial sense) when/where the "cutting" occurs, "the staging of an appearance-as-disappearance." However, since this "cutting" is neither the product of a static opposition nor a dialectical synthesis but the consequence of a "drift,"where everything is "wrought to a transport at one and the same time," where everything literally "comes-at a first glance,"21t can never be recuperated. Arguing against an "entire minor mythology" which would make of pleasure a "rightist notion," allied to "everything abstract, boring, political," Barthes adopts a Nietzschean tone of sarcasm: [W]elcome to our side, you who are finally coming to the pleasure of literature! .... On the right, pleasure is championed against intellectuality, the clerisy: the old reactionary myth of heart against head,

knowledge, method, commitment, combat, are drawn up against "mere delectation".... On both sides, this peculiar idea that pleasure is simple, which is why it is championed or disdained. (PT, pp. 22-23) According to the ecstatic sense of pleasure (bliss), its essentially marginal "nature," Barthes continues: Pleasure, however, is not an element of the text, it is not a naive residue; it does not depend on the logic of understanding and on sensation; it is a drift, something both revolutionaryand asocial, and it cannot be taken over by any collectivity, any mentality, any idiolect. Something neuter? It is obvious that the pleasure of the text is scandalous: not because it is immoral but because it is atopic. (PT, p. 23) 107


reasoning. ...




Tmesis or "cutting," then, is precisely that which produces the pleasure of the text and which appears, on a linguistic or structural level, as "pleasure"l"bliss". One can never recuperate but only point to, never grasp, never comprehend, bliss. As in Heidegger where Being is given (es gibt Sein: literally, "it [Being] gives Being"), a text of bliss is something given, something that seizes a reader or writer-not something he can produce at will, when he wants to, when he wants it. Furthermore, it is not something whose motion a writer can predict in advance or, in retrospect, something a reader or critic can recuperate. Since bliss "does not occur at the level of structure of languages but only at the moment of their consumption," since it is contingent on the reader's drift which is always precocious and unpredictable, "the author cannot predict tmesis because he cannot choose to write what will not be read" (PT, p. 11). Hence, the author must write a text which "cruises" the reader; allowing the text to speak for him, Barthes writes: I must seek out the reader (must "cruise" him) without knowing where he is. A site of bliss is then created. It is not the reader's "person" that is necessary to me, it is this site: the possibility of a dialectics of desire, of an unpredictability of bliss: the bets are placed, there can still be a game. (PT, p. 4) Given this unpredictable site, this "present" which is no presence, traditional literary criticism cannot deal with a text of bliss because it is only concerned, according to Barthes, with a "tutor text, its past or future bliss" ("you are about to read, I have read"): [C]riticism is always historical or prospective: the constatory present, the presentation of bliss is forbidden it; its preferred material is thus culture, which is everything in us except our present. With the writer of bliss (and his reader) begins the untenable text. This text is outside pleasure, outside criticism, unless it is reached through another text of bliss: you cannot speak "on" such a text, you can only speak "in" it, in a fashion. (PT, pp. 21-22) As Andr6 Malraux once said, the only response to a work of art is another work of art: a text of bliss, because of its unrecuperative "presencing" (Heidegger's Anwesen), makes critics writers (of another text of bliss). Criticism, for Barthes, should be just as periphrastic, stylistically speaking, as a text of bliss. Having now delimited the linguistic and structural difference between "pleasure"l"bliss," it is left to determine the "clinical" (and historical) difference between them from which, according to a traditional scheme, the other two derive. Again: the pleasure of the text is neither "pleasure" nor "bliss" but that "cutting" which produces them. Otherwise, in terms of the history of pleasure, we are left with 108

such questions as: "Is pleasure only a minor bliss? Is bliss nothing but extreme pleasure?" (PT, p. 20). The answer will determine how we read and write the history of modernism: For if I say between pleasure and bliss there is only a difference of degree, I am also saying that the history is a pacified one: the text of bliss is merely the logical, organic, historical development of the text of pleasure. (PT, p. 20) If there is no difference in kind but only in degree between "pleasure" and "bliss," then there is no possibility for genuine ruptureor discontinuity in literary history: "the avant-garde is never anything but the progressive, emancipated form of past culture" (PT,p. 20). Hence, the history of modernism is read as linear, horizontal, and is written solely in terms of its similarities and genealogies. In this sense, there is no difference as such, only differences of degree: "today emerges from yesterday, Robbe-Grilletis already in Flaubert, Sollers in Rabelais, all of Nicolas de Stael in two square centimeters of Cezanne" (PT,p. 20). The above "logic" is that process (as in the sense of "processing," "pasteurizing") by which the history of art, whether fine or literary,has traditionally been constituted-hence the importance of "influence" and "schools." If an artist or writerdoesn't belong to a school, doesn't betray the influence of those that historically precede him, he is literally eccentric, deviant, outside the history and descriptive categories founded and centered by the historians and custodians of art. Differences, then, are ironed out in order to produce the illusion of continuity, to make the "becoming" (in Nietzsche's sense) of art and artists intelligible, where-perhaps-discontinuity exists. If, instead of this historicism and its positivistic principles, you believe, as Barthes does: that pleasure and bliss are parallel forces, that they cannot meet, and that between them there is more than a struggle: an incommunication,
then ... history, our history, is not peaceable

perhaps not even intelligible. (PT, p. 20)


That is, if a text of bliss is always and only "the trace of a cut" (as in tmesis) and not a "flowering," then the historical subject, the subject of the history of the text of pleasure, of modernity, instead of seeing that history as a "fine dialectical movement," sees it as a series of ruptures, discontinuities, differences.22 This subject, consequently, "is never anything but a 'living contradiction': a split subject, who simultaneously enjoys, through the text, the consistency of his selfhood and its collapse, its fall" (PT, p. 20). Which brings us in a roundabout way back to the beginning. Part of the problem of describing the difference between "pleasure" (plaisir) and "bliss" (jouissance) or, in English, "forepleasure" and "orgasm," is that there is no absolute difference between them, no 109

"point" (the Aristotelian stigme) at which it is possible to say that one ends and the other begins: When does pleasure end and orgasm begin? In his preface to the English translation of The Pleasure of the Text, Richard Howard remarks: The French have a distinguishing advantage, which Roland Barthes...has used, has exploited in his new book about what we do when we enjoy a text; the French have a vocabulary of eroticism, an amorous discourse which smells neither of the laboratory nor of the sewer, which just-attentively, scrupulously-puts the facts. (PT, p. v) But, as we have seen, despite the decided advantage of the French language and Barthes' strategic exploitation of it, stylistic and perspectival problems befall any attempt to establish an absolute difference between "pleasure" and "bliss." In The Will to Power (699 [March-June 1888]), Nietzsche provides one of the most provocative readings of this dilemma in terms of "pleasure" (Lust) and "pain" or, more literally, "displeasure" (Unlust): Pain is something different from pleasure-I mean it is not its opposite. If the essence of "pleasure" has been correctly described as a feeling of more power (hence as a feeling of difference, presupposing a comparison), this does not yet furnish a definition of the essence of "displeasure." The false opposites in which the people, and consequently language, believes, have always been dangerous hindrances to the advance of truth. There are even cases in which a kind of pleasure is conditioned by a certain rhythmic sequence of little unpleasurable stimuli: in this way a very rapid increase of the feeling of power, the feeling of pleasure, is achieved. This is the case, e.g., in tickling, also the sexual tickling in the act of coitus: here we see displeasure at work as an ingredient of pleasure. It seems, a little hindrance that is overcome and immediately followed by another little hindrance that is again overcomethis game of resistance and victory arouses most strongly that general feeling of superabundant, excessive power that constitutes the essence of

For me, this fragment-and it is important that it is a fragment, and an unpublished one at that-is a kind of blazon en abyme not only of Nietzsche's "philosophy" but of the powerful play of his texts, their ruptures and discontinuities, pleasures and blisses. For Nietzsche, then, as well as for Barthes, pleasure and bliss are different but not opposed; instead the "relation" between them is 110

eccentric, asymmetrical. "In the text of pleasure," Barthes writes, "the opposing forces are no longer repressed but in a state of becoming: nothing is really antagonistic, everything is plural."Which is to say at the same time, though differently, that the pleasure of the text is the tmetic play of differences, the playful "cutting" of different styles.24 The pleasure of the text, text of pleasure is what Mallarm6 called the "pure milieu of fiction" and what Derrida has termed the "chiasmatic invagination."25 When/where this mi-lieu ("half-space" and/or "place") or hymeneal "weaving" (as in tissue/text) occurs, the subject of the pleasure of the text is no longer anything but a "fiction."26 After quoting Nietzsche-"We have no right to ask who it is who interprets. It is interpretation itself, a form of the will to power, which exists (not as 'being' but as process, a 'becoming') as passion"-Barthes writes near the end of his text on, or I should say of, pleasure: Then perhaps the subject returns, not as illusion, but as fiction. A certain pleasure is derived from a way of imagining oneself as individual, of inventing a final rarest fiction: the fictive identity. This fiction is no longer the illusion of a unity; on the contrary, it is the theatre of society in which we stage our plural: our pleasure is individual-but not personal. (PT, p. 62) Commenting on Richard Miller's "resourceful" translation of jouissance as "bliss" yet, at the same time, lamenting that he can-or does-not translate it as "coming" ("which precisely translates what the original text can afford"), Howard shrewdly predicts that "a hard look at the horizon of our literary culture suggests that it will not be long before we come to a new word for orgasm proper-we shall call it 'being' " (PT, pp. v-vi).Anyone familiar with Heidegger, not to say the history of philosophy from the pre-Socratics to Derrida, will immediately recognize the immense resourcefulness of such a linguistic determination, understood in all its sexual and intelligible senses. All of which is to say that "being" so understood would allow one simultaneously to problematize the "question of (the truth of) being" and the "question of (the pleasure of) the text." Having problematized both discourses, which is neither a facile nor simple matter-as Barthes has shown with respect to "textuality" and Derrida "philosophy"--one would be in a position to reinscribe them into each other. Hence, "being" (as such) would be-come "being" (as jouissance); philosophy would become textuality, and vice versa, both seemingly the same, but with a difference. Perhaps then the pathos which is the current climate of philosophy (whether the eschatological of Heidegger or the apocalyptic of Derrida) would become a melos, a new tone, a new climate-not the landscape of the mind or the body but both, everything, coming at once, at a quick glance, into "being." Then, despite the unspeakability of the pleasure of the text, text of pleasure, one would truly be in a strategic position to read as one writes and to write as one reads a graphic discourse, a 111

primer of pleasure. State Universty of New York at Buffalo NOTES

1 Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text (hereafter abbreviated as PT),trans. Richard Miller (New York:Hill & Wang, 1975), p. 34. I should note that with respect to the use of the word "text" here (especially "text of bliss"), Barthes has written in "TheStruggle with the Angel" that it refers to "the productionof signifiance and not as philological object, custodian of the Letter," the analysis of which "endeavors to 'see' each particular text in its difference-which does not mean in its ineffable individuality,for this difference is 'woven' in familiar codes; it conceives the text as taken up in an open network which is the very infinityof language, itself structured without closure; it tries to say no longer from where the text comes (historical criticism), nor even how it is made (structuralanalysis), but how it is unmade, how it explodes, dissel. seminates-by what coded paths it goes off" (Image/Music/Text, and trans. Stephen Heath [New York:Hill & Wang, 1977], pp. 126-27). Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, p. 34. On the relationship between "opposition" and "value," see "Oscillation of value" in Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes (here abbreviatedas RB),trans. RichardHoward(New York:Hill &Wang, 1977),p. 139. Trueto his Nietzschean genealogy (especially evident in The Pleasure of the Text), Barthes both affirms "value"-the source of hierarchial oppositions--and, at the same time, is suspect of those same oppositions (especially when they begin to rigidify into what he calls doxa). In "Conversionof value into Theory,"Barthes writes, "parodyingChomsky,"that "all Value is rewritten - as Theory"(RB,p. 179). For his understanding of the relationship between "truth"and "assertion," see also "Truthand Assertion" where he says, among other things, that "the aim of his discourse is not truth, and yet his discourse is assertive" (RB, p. 48). For Barthes' own schematic reading of Nietzsche's influence on his later work (The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes), see "Phases" in the latter book (RB, p. 145). See Jacques Derrida's Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, trans. Barbara Harlow (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1979), where he refers to both a "stylate practice" (pratique styl6e) and a "practiced stiletto" (pratique stylet) (p. 83). Both these stylistic strategies, or means of reinscribing the newly-privileged term, are what keeps a deconstruction from being merely a simple reversal of a hierarchicalopposition. "Forthe reversal, if it is not accompanied by a discrete parody, a strategy of writing, or difference of deviation in quills, if there is no style, no grand style, this is finally but the same thing, nothing more than a clamorous declaration of the antithesis" (p. 95). On Barthes'.strategic use of paradigmatic oppositions, see "Forgeries" in Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, p. 92. This operation conforms, loosely speaking, to Derrida's practice of deconstruction. For his own exposition of it, consult Jacques Derrida,"The Exorbitant: A Question of Method" in Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri ChakravortySpivak (Baltimore:Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1976), pp. 226-34. For my understanding of it, see also Rodolphe Gasche's "Deconstruction and Criticism," Glyph 6, pp. 177-215. See Barthes' analysis of the "ambiguous fuctions" of the "preterite"with respect to narrationand the "thirdperson" narrative,"the "cornerstone of Narration," in Roland Barthes, Writing Degree Zero, trans. Annette Lavers and

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Colin Smith (New York,Hill & Wang, 1968), pp. 30-34 and 34-38 respectively. 8 As opposed to the traditional or nineteenth-century novel, the modernist or post-modernist one subordinates "story tellng" to linguistic play and fictional experimentation; has an open-ended narrativethat investigates formal possibilities and combinations; has flat, static and "grammatical creations" (e.g., the use of pronouns instead of sur- or propernames); is written as often as not in the first or second person narrative,frequently with a limited, fragmented or "floating" (even contradictory)point-of-view;represents or reflects on itself, is performative; etc. See also Barthes' distinction between "classical" and "modern"discourse in WritingDegree Zero, pp. 44-52. EdwardW. Said, "TheNovel as Beginning Intention,"Beginnings: Intentionand Method (Baltimore:Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1978), p. 83. For the seminal essay from which Said's terms derive, see Michel Foucault's "What Is an Practice: Selected Essays and InterAuthor?"in Language, Counter-Memory, views (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1977), pp. 113-38. On the undecidable difference between "works" and "texts" and their eccentric relation to "classical" and "avant-garde" categories, see Roland Barthes, "From Work to Text" in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in PostStructuralist Criticism, ed. Josue V. Harari(Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1979), would seem to parallel that p. 74. This latter distinction between "work"l/"text" between a "text of pleasure" and a "text of bliss." In the previously noted schema (3n), for instance, Barthes places Derridaand Lacan under"lntertext"for SIZ,Sade, Fourier,Loyola,and L'Empire signes. des It should be obvious to anyone familiar with Barthes' Pleasure of the Text that its subject is inseparable from its linguistic and structural expression: hence the periphrastic style and alphabetical order. For example, the text shifts pronouns (I, he, we) and point-of-view("Barthes,"the text of pleasure) so that it is impossible to determine what it "means" in any traditional sense (i.e., where there is a linear and logical argument, instead of a series of fragmentary "proses," and a single or univocal "author,"instead of-as in contemporary fiction-multiple and equivocal "speakers" or points-of-view).As is written on the title page of Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes: "Itmust all be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel." For Barthes' own understanding of his recourse to the fragment and alphabetical order, see "Thecircle of fragments" and "TheAlphabet" in Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, pp. 92-95 and 147-48 respectively. In "The Nature of Language" (On the Way to Language, trans. Peter D. Hertz [New York: Harper & Row, 1971]), Martin Heidegger says that "the being of language becomes the language of being" (p. 72) which he then reformulates as: "the being of language: the language of being" (Das Wesen des Sprache: Die Sprache des Wesens) (p. 81). In other words, the "relation" between the two terms is neither dialectical (and hence capable of synthesis) nor symmetrical, but eccentric-which is to say the terms are not identical but different. Though implicit in The Pleasure of the Text, Barthes makes this more explicit in his later work. See, for instance, "From Work to Text," Textual Strategies, p. 79. See Jacques Derrida, La diss6mination (Paris: Seuil, 1972) where he reads Plato's use of the work pharmakon ("poison"/"potion")as an analogue for writing in the Phaedrus, pp. 69-197. For a pr6cis of Tynyanov'sdialectical revision of Shklovsky's synchronic model of literature, see "The Formalist Projection" in Frederic Jameson, PrisonHouse of Language (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1972), pp. 52-53 and 92-93


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See Barthes' distinction and the between the "geno-song" "pheno-song"-which correspond to "bliss" and "pleasure" respectively-in "The Grainof the Voice," Image/Music/Text,pp. 182-85. This is not to say that the early, "utopian" (vis-a-vis "atopian") Barthes of WritingDegree Zero is not guilty of this criticism. In her "Preface"to that book, Susan Sontag notes: "As modern literature is the history of alienated 'writing' or personal utterance, literature aims inexorably at its own selftranscendence at the abolition of literature" (p. xvii). However, as she herself concludes, "Writing Degree Zero is early Barthes, seminal, but not representative"(p. xvii). For Barthes' understandingof "atopia,"see the fragment of that title in Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, p. 49. Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, pp. 52-53. Similarly, Derridahas said of dissemination (vis-A-vis insemination):"Elle[le sens] laisse d'advance tomber"(La diss6mination, p. 300) which Spivak in the "Preface" to Of Grammatology translates as: "She lets it [the meaning] fall in advance" or, more colloquially, "It[dissemination] comes too soon" (p. lxvi). In "Thecaboose," Barthes observes: "the art of living has no history;it does not evolve: the pleasure which vanishes vanishes for good, there is no substitute for it. Other pleasures come, which replace nothing. No progress in pleasures, nothing but mutations" (RB, p. 50). See also Friedrich W. Nietzsche's as correlative understanding of "punctuations of will" (Willens-Punktationen) "disjunctive periodicity"in The Willto Power, trans. Walter Kaufmannand R.J. Hollingdale (New York:Random House, 1967), pp. 380-81. Nietzsche, The Willto Power, p. 371. For other fragments relating to this problematic, see "Theoryof the Will to Power and of Values," The Will to Power, pp. 366-81. Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, p. 31. As early as WritingDegree Zero, Barthes wrote in "Is There Any Poetic Writing?," his reading of "modern poetry" as opposed to "classical language," that "when the poetic language radically questions Nature by virtue of its very structure, without any resort to the context of the discourse and without falling back on some ideology, there is no mode of writing left, there are only styles" (italics mine, p. 52). Similarly, in Spurs: Nietzsche's Styles, Derrida understands the "question of style" in Nietzsche as a "question of writing";if, as Nietzsche says, there is no "style in itself" (Barthes' "mode"),if "there is no such thing as a truthin itself" but "only a surfeit of it" (Derrida), then there must be a plural style, a surfeit of "stylate practices," "practiced stilettos" (p. 103). See, respectively, Derrida's reading of Mallarme's "Mimique"in "La double seance" in La dissemination (Paris: Seuil, 1972), p. 242; and his "LivingOn: Border Lines" in Deconstruction and Criticism (New York: Seabury Press, 1979), pp. 97-98. For an instance of Barthes' understanding of "Fiction"-as-translation(vis-A-vis a "dialectic of value") see "Dialectics" in Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes, p. 69. See also his remarks by Roland Barthes on "theatre" and the "theatrical" in the same work, pp. 175 and 177-78.


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