Sontag on Barthes on Meaning

Susan Sontag
“Writing Itself: On Roland Barthes”
intro to A Barthes Reader
reprinted in Where the Stress Falls

She has just remarked on Barthes’s subversive use of classifications.

Barthes enlists ideas in a drama, often a sensual melodrama or a faintly Gothic one. He speaks of the quiver, thrill, or shudder of meaning, of meanings that themselves vibrate, gather, loosen, disperse, quicken, shine, fold, mutate, delay, slide, separate, that exert pressure, crack, rupture, fissure, are pulverized. Barthes offers something like a poetics of thinking, which identifies the meaning of subjects with the very mobility of meaning, with the kinetics of consciousness itself; and liberates the critic as artist.

Sontag’s enumeration is about to wobble off into never ending eddies but its variety is resumed in the apt phrase (poetics of thinking, kinetics of consciousness) and the drama of liberation where artist can flourish as critic.

And so for day 2980

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