“After an impression of the night before, I wake up softened by a happy though: "X was adorable last night.” This is the memory of…what? Of what the Greeks called charis: ‘the sparkle of the eyes, the body’s luminous beauty, the radiance of the desirable being"
what do you think of a lover's discourse: fragments by roland barthes?
Perfection ! The idea in itself is so refreshing : to confront the idea of love with such rationalisation, with such acceptance of irrationality, and to study so closely the language and communication of feelings. Roland Barthes is a beautiful writer, a magnificent thinker, and his humour and emotion shine through in a Lover’s Discourse. Reading it is a journey of introspection, but also of openness : suddenly you share the experience of the world, of the author of course, but of all lovers. It’s fascinating on a personal and universal scale.
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.
Is the scene always visual? It can be aural, the frame can be linguistic: I can fall in love with a sentence spoken to me: and not only because it says something which manages to touch my desire, but because of its syntactical turn (framing), which will inhabit me like a memory.
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.
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.
I gladly abandon dreary tasks, rational scruples, reactive undertakings imposed by the world, for the sake of a useless task deriving from a dazzling Duty: the lover’s Duty. I perform, discreetly, lunatic chores; I am the sole witness of my lunacy. What love lays bare in me is energy.
“He is in love: he 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.”
- Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse, excerpt from ‘When my finger accidentally…’