The Pleasure Of The Text

The other afternoon, I was discussing French theorist Roland Barthes' spectacular The Pleasure Of The Text with a friend. This short book is probably my favorite work of literary theory. It combines semiotics with a grand discussion of texts and their intermittent nature. As with most of Barthes' work, it is also about numerous other things. In this case, it is romance and sexuality which seems to come up occasionally. Barthes, rumored to be asexual himself, discusses romance and sexuality in the same terms that he discusses texts. Both are a jangled web of connections and intermittent ideas, never showing too much but always indicating there is something more hidden beneath.

Anyhow, one quote from near the beginning of the book has stayed with me since I finished my reading. This quote sums up how I feel about a few different things:

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. (10)