A Lovers Discourse

Excerpt from A Lovers Discourse

A Lovers Discourse by Roland Barthes consists of a peripatetic fragmentary writing which explores the ‘extreme solititude’ that is a lovers discourse evicted  by authoritative discourses, placed outside as it were, yet perhaps spoken by ‘thousands of subjects’. It is as Barthes explains a structural portrait of ‘someone speaking within himself, amorously, confronting the other [the loved object], who does not speak. Barthes takes us on a discursive journey, a performative utterance and structure of address to the other through absence, affirmation, waiting, circumscribing, contingencies, bodies, declaration, embrace, image, the unknowable, langour and silence.

In Reading in Detail: Aesthetics and the Feminine Naomi Schor articulates the Barthesian detail as the ‘corporeal detail on which the speaker of A Lover’s Discourse fasten is in the alphabet of the unconscious.’ [As opposed to the ‘asexual Hegelian detail, and the Freudian sexually differentiated detail, the concrete and the particular detail belonging to the feminine, the fragment as it were a solid, detached, partial archeaological and masculine object ].’The Philological fragment takes on the value of ruin […], conjoining the functions of monument and of evocation; what is remembered and lost […] is the living unity of a great individuality, author and work. [The Literary Absolute, pp: 42].

Schor goes on to state that in Barthes ‘we have an erotization of the aesthetic, or better yet an aesthetics of Eros […] and that for Barthes pleasure is produced in the ‘abrupt discontinuity introduced by the fragment: it is a fantasy of discourse, a gaping of desire which subjects sexual difference to a radical and endless oscillation. The detail/fragment paradigm comes under the regime of perversion.’ Just as in the Schlegelian concept of ‘infinite becoming’ it therefore engages in an autoeroticism of orgiastic release which is permanenently deferred by its fragmentary form [the whole in parts]. Please refer to Aesthetics and Feminine for the rest of the critique which only appears here in part and is not representative of the whole.

Barthes, Roland, A Lover’s Discourse, Vintage, 2002:pp24, Note on the page: Nietsczhe: All this comes from Deleuze’s account of the affirmation of the affirmation.  J-L.B.: Conversation.

All other quotes from Aesthetics and the Feminine, Schor N, Metheun, NY 1987:pp.96-97.