a lover's discourse: fragment

Love has two affirmations. First of all, when the lover encounters the other, there is an immediate affirmation (psychologically: dazzlement, enthusiasm, exaltation, mad projection of a fulfilled future: I am devoured by desire, the impulse to be happy): I say yes to everything (blinding myself). There follows a long tunnel: my first yes is riddled by doubts, love’s value is ceaselessly threatened by depreciation: this is the moment of melancholy passion, the rising of resentment and oblation. Yet I can emerge from this tunnel; I can ‘surmount,’ without liquidating; what I have affirmed a first time, I can once again affirm, without repeating it, for then what I affirm is the affirmation, not its contingency. I affirm the first encounter in its difference, I desire its return, not its repetition. I say to the other (old or new): Let us begin again.

Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

A squeeze of the hand - enormous documentation - a tiny gesture within the palm, a knee which doesn’t move away, an arm extended, as if quite naturally, along the back of a sofa and against which the other’s head gradually comes to rest - this is the paradisiac realm of subtle and clandestine signs: a kind of festival not of the senses but of meaning.
—  Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other.
It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words.
My language trembles with desire.
The emotion derives from a double contact: on the one hand, a whole activity of discourse discreetly, indirectly focuses upon a single signified, which is “I desire you,” and releases, nourishes, ramifies it to the point of explosion (language experiences orgasm upon touching itself)
—  Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
A man who wants the truth is never answered save in strong, highly colored images, which nonetheless turn ambiguous, indecisive, once he tries to transform them into signs: as in any manticism, the consulting lover must make his own truth.
—  Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

“Yet to hide a passion totally (or even to hide, more simply, its excess) is inconceivable: not because the human subject is too weak, but because passion is in essence made to be seen: the hiding must be seen: I want you to know that I am hiding something from you, that is the active paradox I must resolve: at one and the same time it must be known and not known: I want you to know that I don’t want to show my feelings: that is the message I address to the other. Larvatus prodeo: I advance pointing to my mask: I set a mask upon my passion, but with a discreet (and wily) finger I designate this mask. Every passion, ultimately, has its spectator: at the moment of his death, Captain Paz cannot keep from writing to the woman he has loved in silence: no amorous oblation without a final theater: the sign is always victorious.”

— Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments

Am I in love? –yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.
—  Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
“Am I in love? - Yes. since I’m waiting.” The other never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game: whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely: I am the one who waits.
—  Roland Barthes, from A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments tr. Richard Howard
Now, absence can only exist as a consequence of the other: it is the other who leaves, it is I who remain. The other is in a condition of perpetual departure, of journeying; the other is, by vocation, migrant, fugitive; I — I who love, by converse vocation, am sedentary, motionless, at hand, in expectation, nailed to the spot, in suspense — like a package in some forgotten corner of a railway station. Amorous absence functions in a single direction, expressed by the one who stays, never by the one who leaves: and always present I is constituted only by a confrontation with an always absent you. To speak this absence is from the start to propose that the subject’s place and the other’s place cannot permute; it is to say: “I am loved less than I love.”
—  from Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
To know that one does not write for the other, to know that these things I am going to write will never cause me to be loved by the one I love (the other), to know that writing compensates for nothing, sublimates nothing, that it is precisely there where you are not–this is the beginning of writing.
—  Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments
Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. The emotion derives from a double contact: on the one hand, a whole activity of discourse discreetly, indirectly focuses upon a single signified, which is “I desire you,” and releases, nourishes, ramifies it to the point of explosion (language experiences orgasm upon touching itself); on the other hand, I enwrap the other in my words, I caress, brush against, talk up this contact, I extend myself to make the commentary to which I submit the relation endure.
—  Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments