Thursday, January 31, 2013

"I rebel—therefore we exist" ...

“What is a rebel? A man who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. He is also a man who says yes, from the moment he makes his first gesture of rebellion.”
“Meanwhile, we can sum up the initial progress that the spirit of rebellion provokes in a mind that is originally imbued with the absurdity and apparent sterility of the world. In absurdist experience, suffering is individual. But from the moment when a movement of rebellion begins, suffering is seen as a collective experience. Therefore the first progressive step for a mind overwhelmed by the strangeness of things is to realize that this feeling of strangeness is shared with all men and that human reality, in its entirety, suffers from the distance which separates it from the rest of the universe. The malady experienced by a single man becomes a mass plague. In our daily trials rebellion plays the same role as does the ‘cogito’ in the realm of thought: it is the first piece of evidence. But this evidence lures the individual from his solitude. It founds its first value on the whole human race. I rebel—therefore we exist.”

(Albert Camus, The Rebel: An Essay on Man in Revolt. Trans. Anthony Bower)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

destruction vs. subversion of art

"Art seems compromised, historically, socially. Whence the effort on the part of the artist himself to destroy it."


"Unfortunately, this destruction is always inadequate; either it occurs outside the art, but thereby becomes impertinent, or else it consents to remain within the practice of the art, but quickly exposes itself to recuperation (the avant-garde is that restive language which is going to be recuperated). The awkwardness of this alternative is the consequence of the fact that destruction of discourse is not a dialectic term but a semantic term: it docilely takes its place within the great semiological "versus" myth (white versus black); whence the destruction of art is doomed to only paradoxical formulae (those which proceed literally against the doxa): both sides of the paradigm are glued together in an ultimately complicitous fashion: there is a structural agreement between the contesting and the contested forms.

(By subtle subversion I mean, on the contrary, what is not directly concerned with destruction, evades the paradigm, and seeks some other term: a third term, which is not, however, a synthesizing term but an eccentric, extraordinary term....)"

-- Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text. Trans. Richard Miller

Monday, January 21, 2013

creature(s) of language ...

"As a creature of language, the writer is always caught up in the war of fictions (jargons), but he is never anything but a plaything in it, since the language that constitutes him (writing) is always outside-of-place (atopic); by the simple effect of polysemy (rudimentary stage of writing), the warrior commitment of a literary dialect is dubious from its origin. The writer is always on the blind spot of systems, adrift; he is the joker in the pack, a mana, a zero degree, the dummy in the bridge game: necessary to the meaning (the battle), but himself deprived of fixed meaning; his place, his (exchange) value, varies according to the movements of history, the tactical blows of the struggle: he is asked all and/or nothing. He himself is outside exchange, plunged into non-profit, the Zen mushotoku, desiring nothing but the perverse bliss of words (but bliss is never a taking: nothing separates it from satori, from losing)."

(Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text. Trans. Richard Miller)