The year is one month gone today, and I had not yet sat down to read a book straight through. So I got to it. I picked Roland Barthes' "The Pleasure of the Text." It's a good thing that a) the book is short and b) I've read a fair amount of Barthes (in translation) already. I had a really difficult time quieting my mind this morning and focusing. So it took longer than I anticipated. But that's what kind of year it's been, I guess. -cg
Comincia così, con quella punteggiatura che blocca la continuità. La virgola ostacola, è una pausa, il vuoto, un'interruzione. Allontana i termini e sospende ciò che li teneva uniti. Le congiunzioni si diradano, le assenze frammentano il discorso; è il flusso del tempo che si contrae. I punti prendono il sopravvento, ed è un arresto radicale. Lo spazio si dilata e amplifica la distanza. Col punto finisce il periodo e si va appunto a capo. Tra un punto è l'altro c'è il silenzio della domanda. Il discorso rimane sospeso nelle parole, che volano via come foglie al vento.
and again:How I loved maman: I never resisted going to meet her, celebrated seeing her again (vacations), put her within my "freedom"; in short I associated her profoundly, scrupulously. Acedia comes from such desolation: no one around me, for whom I would have the courage to do the same thing.
The egoism of grief is profoundly different from the narcissism of freedom, though they are related. Where the narcissism of relief is one of independence (I am responsible for no one), the egoism of grief is one of icy solitude (there is no one who I care for). Grief, like all extremes of emotion, is a wholly reflexive process, or rather state: "No progress in pleasures (neither in grief), nothing but mutations."Mourning: At the death of the loved being, acute phase of narcissism: one emerges from sickness, from servitude. Then, gradually, freedom takes on leaden hue, desolation settles in, narcissism gives way to a sad egoism, and absence of generosity.
For James, sorrow is an ocean which wears us down, but which we redirect, which we overcome, which passes us by. There is a calming solace in the repetition of waves crashing, but slowly a resistance building, and ultimately a vast ocean overcome like a summer rain. For Barthes, the imagery of the ocean is one of recurring pain, renewed intensity: the dull acedia of the trough and the jarring pain of the crest.Sorrow comes in great waves — no one can know that better than you — but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain. It wears us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return; and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see.
It is the rhythm and routine of suffering which haunts Barthes, it is the on-off up-down vacillations which renew the strength of his pain. What affects me most powerfully: mourning in layers—a kind of sclerosis.If only I could utter the profound desire of self-communion, of withdrawal, of "Don't concern yourself with me," which comes to me straight and inflexibly from the somehow "eternal" suffering - a self-communion so true that the inevitable little struggles, the caricatures, the wounds, everything that inevitably occurs as soon as one survives, are nothing but a bitter froth on the surface of a deep sea...
I waver—in the dark—between the observation (but is it entirely accurate?) that I’m unhappy only by moments, by jerks and surges, sporadically, even if such spasms are close together—and the conviction that deep down, in actual fact, I am continually, all the time, unhappy since maman’s death.
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...?