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#roland barthes

“‘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 images.”

– Roland Barthes, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes  (via starlit-mire)

“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 (via frenchtwist) (via foxesinbreeches)

And here the essential question first appeared: did I recognize her?

According to these photographs, sometimes I recognized a region of her
face, a certain relation of nose and forehead, the movement of her
arms, her hands. I never recognized her except in fragments, which is
to say that I missed her being, and that therefore I missed her
altogether. It was not she, and yet it was no one else. I would have
recognized her among thousands of other women, yet I did not ‘find’
her. I recognized her differentially, not essentially. Photography
thereby compelled me to perform a painful labor; straining toward the
essence of her identity, I was struggling among images partially true,
and therefore totally false. To say, confronted with a certain
photograph, ‘that’s almost the way she was!’ was more distressing than
to say, confronted with another, ‘That’s not the way she was at all.’
The almost: love’s dreadful regime, but also the dream’s disappointing
status- which is why I hate dreams. For I often dream about her (I
dream only about her), but it is never quite my mother: sometimes, in
the dream, there is something playful or casual- which she never was;
or again I know it is she, but I do not see her features (but do we
see, in dreams, or do we know?): I dream about her, I do not dream
her. And confronted with the photograph, as in the dream, it is the
same effort, the same Sisyphean labor: to reascend, straining toward
the essence, to climb back down without having seen it, and to begin
all over again.

Yet in these photographs of my mother there was always a place set
apart, reserved and preserved: the brightness of her eyes. For the
moment it was a quite physical luminosity, the photographic trace of a
color, the blue-green of her pupils. But this light was already a kind
of mediation which led me toward an essential identity, the genius of
the beloved face. And then, however imperfect, each of these
photographs manifested the very feeling she must have experienced each
time she ‘let’ herself be photographed: my mother ‘lent’ herself to
the photograph, fearing that refusal would turn to ‘attitude’; she
triumphed over this ordeal of placing herself in front of the lens (an
inevitable action) with discretion (but without a touch of the tense
theatricalism of humility or sulkiness); for she was always able to
replace a mortal value with a higher one- a civil value. She did not
struggle with her image, as I do with mine: she did not suppose
herself.

– Excerpt from Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes (via aclockwithouthands)