Sunday Book-Thought 84

I am offered a text. This text bores me. It might be said to prattle. The prattle of the text is merely that foam of language which forms by the effect of a simple need of writing. Here we are not dealing with perversion but with demand. The writer of this text employs an unweaned language: imperative, automatic, unaffectionate, a minor disaster of static (those milky phonemes which the remarkable Jesuit, van Ginnekin, posited between writing and language): these are the motions of ungratified sucking, of an undifferentiated orality, intersecting the orality which produces the pleasures of gastrosophy and of language. You address yourself to me so that I may read you, but I am nothing to you except this address; in your eyes, I am the substitute for notion, for no figure (hardly that of the mother); for you I am neither a body nor even an object (and I couldn’t care less: I am not the one whose soul demands recognition), but merely a field, a vessel for expansion. It can be said that after all you have written this text quite apart from bliss; and this prattling text is then a frigid text, as any demand is frigid until desire, until neurosis forms in it.
Roland Barthes, ‘from The Pleasure of the Text‘ [trans. by Richard Miller], in A Roland Barthes Reader, ed by Susan Sontag (London: Vintage, 2000 [first published New York: Hill and Wang, 1975]) , pp. 404-414 (p. 404).

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