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Roland Barthes quotes (showing 1-30 of 216)

“I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me.”
Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
“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.”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“Each of us has his own rhythm of suffering.”
Roland Barthes
“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
“You see the first thing we love is a scene. For love at first sight requires the very sign of its suddenness; and of all things, it is the scene which seems to be seen best for the first time: a curtain parts and what had not yet ever been seen is devoured by the eyes: the scene consecrates the object I am going to love. The context is the constellation of elements, harmoniously arranged that encompass the experience of the amorous subject...

Love at first sight is always spoken in the past tense. The scene is perfectly adapted to this temporal phenomenon: distinct, abrupt, framed, it is already a memory (the nature of a photograph is not to represent but to memorialize)... this scene has all the magnificence of an accident: I cannot get over having had this good fortune: to meet what matches my desire.

The gesture of the amorous embrace seems to fulfill, for a time, the subject's dream of total union with the loved being: The longing for consummation with the other... In this moment, everything is suspended: time, law, prohibition: nothing is exhausted, nothing is wanted: all desires are abolished, for they seem definitively fulfilled... A moment of affirmation; for a certain time, though a finite one, a deranged interval, something has been successful: I have been fulfilled (all my desires abolished by the plenitude of their satisfaction).”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“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. ”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“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.”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“To whom could I put this question (with any hope of an answer)? Does being able to live without someone you loved mean you loved her less than you thought...?”
Roland Barthes
“Ultimately — or at the limit — in order to see a photograph well, it is best to look away or close your eyes. 'The necessary condition for an image is sight,'Janouch told Kafka; and Kafka smiled and replied: 'We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
“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.”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“I encounter millions of bodies in my life; of these millions, I may desire some hundreds; but of these hundreds, I love only one.”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
tags: love
“...language is never innocent.”
Roland Barthes
“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 (by the limitless expansion of the ego, by emotive submersion) and impoverished (by the codes on which love diminishes and levels it).”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
“If I acknowledge my dependency, I do so because for me it is a means of signifying my demand: in the realm of love, futility is not a "weakness" or an "absurdity": it is a strong sign: the more futile, the more it signifies and the more it asserts itself as strength.)”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“The bastard form of mass culture is humiliated repetition... always new books, new programs, new films, news items, but always the same meaning.”
Roland Barthes
“The lover's fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“When we define the Photograph as a motionless image, this does not mean only that the figures it represents do not move; it means that they do not (i)emerge(i), do not (i)leave(i): they are anesthetized and fastened down, like butterflies.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
“Is not the most erotic portion of a body where the garment gapes? In perversion (which is the realm of textual pleasure) there are no "erogenous zones" (a foolish expression, besides); it is intermittence, as psychoanalysis has so rightly stated, which is erotic: the intermittence of skin flashing between two articles of clothing (trousers and sweater), between two edges (the open-necked shirt, the glove and the sleeve); it is this flash itself which seduces, or rather: the staging of an appearance-as-disappearance. ”
Roland Barthes
“Someone tells me: this kind of love is not viable. But how can you evaluate viability? Why is the viable a Good Thing? Why is it better to last than to burn?”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“Besides intercourse (when the Image-repertoire goes to the devil), there is that other embrace, which is a motionless cradling: we are enchanted, bewitched: we are in the realm of sleep, without sleeping; we are within the voluptous infantilism of sleepiness: this is the moment for telling stories, the moment of the voice which takes me, siderates me, this is the return to the mother ("in the loving calm of your arms," says a poem set to music by Duparc). In this companionable incest, everything is suspended: time, law, prohibition: nothing is exhausted, nothing is wanted: all desires are abolished, for they seem definitively fulfilled.
Yet, within this infantile embrace, the genital unfailingly appears; it cuts off the diffuse sensuality of the incestuous embrace; the logic of desire begins to function, the will-to-possess returns, the adult is superimposed upon the child. I am then two subjects at once: I want maternity and genitality. (The lover might be defined as a child getting an erection: such was the young Eros.)”
Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments
“In front of the photograph of my mother as a child, I tell myself: she is going to die: I shudder, like winnicott's psychotic patient, over a catastrophe which has already occurred. Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe.”
Roland Barthes
“…the book creates meaning, the meaning creates life.”
Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text
“For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches — and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, and perhaps in me someone very old still hears in the photographic mechanism the living sound of the wood.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
“But I never looked like that!’ - How do you know? What is the ‘you’ you might or might not look like? Where do you find it - by which morphological or expressive calibration? Where is your authentic body? You are the only one who can never see yourself except as an image; you never see your eyes unless they are dulled by the gaze they rest upon the mirror or the lens (I am interested in seeing my eyes only when they look at you): even and especially for your own body, you are condemned to the repertoire of its images.”
Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes
“One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: ‘I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.’ Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, nor even to understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude), I forgot about it.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
“I am simultaneously and contradictorily both happy and unhappy: 'to succeed' or 'to fail' have for me only ephemeral, contingent meanings (this does not stop my desires and sorrows from being violent ones); what impels me, secretly and obstinately, is not tactical: I accept and I affirm, irrespective of the true and the false, of success and failure; I am withdrawn from all finality, I live according to chance...”
Roland Barthes
“The art of living has no history: it does not evolve: the pleasure which vanishes vanishes for good, there is no substitute for it. Other pleasures come, which replace nothing. No progress in pleasures, nothing but mutations.”
Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes
“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.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography
“The Photograph is an extended, loaded evidence — as if it caricatured not the figure of what it represents (quite the converse) but its very existence ... The Photograph then becomes a bizarre (i)medium(i), a new form of hallucination: false on the level of perception, true on the level of time: a temporal hallucination, so to speak, a modest (o)shared(i) hallucination (on the one hand 'it is not there,' on the other 'but it has indeed been'): a mad image, chafed by reality.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

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