Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-jb2ch Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-01T02:22:59.791Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Chapter Five - ‘Stereographic Space’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2023

Get access

Summary

[I]n a world condemned to signs […], what we call mass culture can only be judged very ambiguously, very dialectically […]. [I]t is a culture that conceals the sign, that works on values that are always presented as natural and conceal the arbitrary character of the sign systems.

(Barthes 2015a, 119)

So far we have considered the dialectical interventionist, and especially earlier, Barthes, by looking at the twin inheritance from Michelet and Marx, whilst asserting the competing epistemologies of early Nietzsche. Across theatre (both ancient Greek and modern Brechtian epic), contemporary myth and the historiality of criticism, Barthes's use of a ‘double grasp’ has signalled the political nature of his writing as it confronts a responsibility of forms within a determined defence of left-wing critique. Now the analysis moves onto a more creative and mobile form of critical praxis.

Macé (2006, 232) locates both Empire of Signs and S/Z on the cusp ‘between a met-alinguistic and a fictional moment’. The ‘double grasp’, as we shall see, involves the pleasure of reading, but also then writing. However, the pleasure of the ‘double grasp’ is also in its very deconstruction. In what Barthes calls a ‘new dialectic’, the very notion and practice of the ‘double grasp’ will be shown to undergo a ‘mutation’; and it is in his 1970 essay Empire of Signs that we will trace its trajectory in Chapter Seven, before showing the limits of this ‘new dialectic’ in the diaries Barthes kept during his 1974 visit to China. Before this, we need to consider two major elements in the ‘mutation’ that takes place in Barthesian thought and critical praxis across the 1960s. In Chapter Six we will consider the critique of systems and classifications, but first we need, for the philosophy of politics we are aiming to define, to track what it means to start ‘losing ground’ (Brown 1992, 13–63). However, the metaphor of ‘drifter’ that Brown attributes to Barthes will be replaced by a much more active, even voluntarist, metaphor, that of perte.

Turning the Tables: Creative Criticism and the Loss of Self: From Historiality to Apersonalism

Weakly (and pessimistically) translated as ‘loss’ in English, Barthesian perte – as distinct from the version in Georges Bataille's thought – is the politicized corroding of the notion of self, a relentless but not aggressive critique of personal identity, of national, linguistic and cultural tropisms that underpin selfhood.

Type
Chapter
Information
Roland Barthes Writing the Political
History, Dialectics, Self
, pp. 99 - 124
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×