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.

— Roland Barthes

The most strong Roland Barthes quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening

...language is never innocent.

64

New York... is a city of geometric heights, a petrified desert of grids and lattices, an inferno of greenish abstraction under a flat sky, a real Metropolis from which man is absent by his very accumulation.

63

Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering.

60

I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.

54

To try to write love is to confront the muck of language: that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive and impoverished.

47

The skyscraper establishes the block, the block creates the street, the street offers itself to man.

44

Language is legislation, speech is its code.

We do not see the power which is in speech because we forget that all speech is a classification, and that all classifications are oppressive.

34

As a jealous man, I suffer four times over: because I am jealous, because I blame myself for being so, because I fear that my jealousy will wound the other, because I allow myself to be subject to a banality: I suffer from being excluded, from being aggressive, from being crazy, and from being common.

28

Literature is the question minus the answer.

28

A light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve.

27

Isn’t desire always the same, whether the object is present or absent? Isn’t the object always absent? —This isn’t the same languor: there are two words: Pothos, desire for the absent being, and Himéros, the more burning desire for the present being.

26

I want to be both pathetic and admirable, I want to be at the same time a child and an adult. Thereby I gamble, I take a risk: for it is always possible that the other will simply ask no question whatever about these unaccustomed glasses; that the other will see, in the fact, no sign.

17

About Roland Barthes

Quotes 154 sayings
Nationality French
Profession Critic
Birthday October 16

There is only one way left to escape the alienation of present day society: to retreat ahead of it.

17

Every new Fashion is a refusal to inherit, a subversion against the oppression of the preceding Fashion; Fashion experiences itself as a Right, the natural right of the present over the past.

16

All official institutions of language are repeating machines: school, sports, advertising, popular songs, news, all continually repeat the same structure, the same meaning, often the same words: the stereotype is a political fact, the major figure of ideology.

16

Don't say mourning. It's too psychoanalytic. I'm not mourning. I'm suffering.

15

I passed beyond the unreality of the thing represented, I entered crazily into the spectacle, into the image, taking into my arms what is dead, what is going to die.

15

...what I enjoy in a narrative is not directly its content or even its structure, but rather the abrasions I impose upon the fine surface: I read on, I skip, I look up, I dip in again. Which has nothing to do with the deep laceration the text of bliss inflicts upon language itself, and not upon the simple temporality of its reading.

14

Is not the most erotic part of the body wherever the clothing affords a glimpse?

13

The discourse on the Text should itself be nothing other than text, research, textual activity, since the Text is that social space which leaves no language safe, outside, nor any subject of the enunciation in position as judge, master, analyst, confessor, decoder. The theory of the Text can coincide only with a practice of writing.

12

I cannot classify the other, for the other is, precisely, Unique, the singular Image which has miraculously come to correspond to the speciality of my desire. The other is the figure of my truth, and cannot be imprisoned in any stereotype (which is the truth of others).

12

Literature is like phosphorus: it shines with its maximum brilliance and the moment when it attempts to die.

11

Myth is neither a lie nor a confession: it is an inflexion.

10

To make someone wait: the constant prerogative of all power.

9

To eat steak rare . . . represents both a nature and a morality.

9

The best principals are not heroes; they are hero makers.

8

Every exploration is an appropriation.

8

I want a History of Looking. For the Photograph is the advent of myself as other: a cunning dissociation of consciousness from identity. Even odder: it was before Photography that men had the most to say about the vision of the double. Heautoscopy was compared with an hallucinosis; for centuries this was a great mythic theme.

8

What I claim is to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth.

7

Henceforth I would have to cosent to combine two voices: the voice of banality (to say what everyone sees and knows) and the voice of singularity (to replenish such banality with all the élan of an emotion which belonged only to myself).

7

Physically, the Ventoux is dreadful. Bald, it's the spirit of Dry: Its climate (it is much more an essence of climate than a geographic place) makes it a damned terrain, a testing place for heroes, something like a higher hell.

7

Historically and politically, the petit-bourgeois is the key to the century.

The bourgeois and proletariat classes have become abstractions: the petite-bourgeoisie, in contrast, is everywhere, you can see it everywhere, even in the areas of the bourgeois and the proletariat, what's left of them.

7

The incapacity to name is a good symptom of disturbance.

7

A paradox: the same century invented history and photography.

But history is a memory fabricated according to positive formulas, a pure intellectual discourse which abolishes mythic time; and the photograph is a certain but fugitive testimony.

7

The photograph is literally an emanation of the referent.

From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being, as Sontag says, will touch me like the delayed rays of a star.

6

The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture.

6

I make the other’s absence responsible for my worldliness.

6

Ultimately, Photography is subversive, not when it frightens, repels, or even stigmatizes, but when it is pensive, when it thinks.

5

The text you write must prove to me that it desires me.

This proof exists: it is writing. Writing is: the science of the various blisses of language, its Kama Sutra (this science has but one treatise: writing itself).

5

I call the discourse of power any discourse that engenders blame, hence guilt, in its recipient.

5

The haiku reproduces the designating gesture of the child pointing at whatever it is (the haiku shows no partiality for the subject), merely saying: that!

5

Thus every writer's motto reads: mad I cannot be, sane I do not deign to be, neurotic I am.

5

Isn’t the most sensitive point of this mourning the fact that I must lose a language — the amorous language? No more ‘I love you’s.

5

Eiffel saw his Tower in the form of a serious object, rational, useful;

men return it to him in the form of a great baroque dream which quite naturally touches on the borders of the irrational ... architecture is always dream and function, expression of a utopia and instrument of a convenience.

5

All those young photographers who are at work in the world, determined upon the capture of actuality, do not know that they are agents of Death.

5

In an initial period, Photography, in order to surprise, photographs the notable; but soon, by a familiar reversal, it decrees notable whatever it photographs. The 'anything whatever' then becomes the sophisticated acme of value.

5

The New is not a fashion, it is a value.

4

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.

4

There are two kinds of liberalism. A liberalism which is always, subterraneously authoritative and paternalistic, on the side of one's good conscience. And then there is a liberalism which is more ethical than political; one would have to find another name for this. Something like a profound suspension of judgment.

4
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