View Full Version : Barthes

Diggedy Derek
15-12-2004, 07:29 PM
I'm not well versed in post-structuralist thought, but years dipping into Roland Barthes suggest to me he's right more often than not. F'instance the Death of The Author business is actually a very nuanced theory- his contention that we're all readers, but the writer is at least first reader (thus retaining some notion of authorship as the "site of discourse", perhaps) i find pretty convincing. It also echoes a documentary maker I'm studying, Jean Rouch, whose made open-ended films, but which he denoted himself (the cameraman) as "the first viewer" of.

His thought is pretty broad, if that of a dilletante, perhaps. Overall he seems to find a lot of ways of representing radical positions in fairly positive ways, which I like.

I'm just an amateur in this theory-game, though- anyone got a beef or any thoughts with Barthes?

shaun L
15-12-2004, 10:07 PM
Camera Lucida contains some incredibly beautiful praise of black and white photography...

.... the light reflected from the face of his dead mother bleaching the crystals on the film.... he was holding the afterimage of the light that touched his mother's face.

... deep thinking on shallow subjects... steak and chips- that kinda thing.

16-12-2004, 09:33 AM
I'm reading about him at the mo. The Rouch comparison is interesting, but I think Barthes crucially misunderstood theatre and film, his main influence there being Brecht. The 'death of the author' idea concerns language, and it's very difficult to transfer linguistic theory to film and theatre. But 'Moi, un noir' is clearly a radical text, but very un-Brechtian, in that it goes to an extreme of identification, surely? Revealing the 'mechanism', in 'Chronique d'un ete', far from exposing the workings of signification, makes the film 'realer'. I'd put Rouch among the top five innovators ever.

Diggedy Derek
16-12-2004, 06:51 PM
You're definitely right that it's difficult to compare literary and film theory- however, a lot of French cinema makers were trying to do just that, for instance Alain Resnais transposing Alain Robbe-Grillet's notions of the modern novel to Hiroshima Mon Amor etc, so at least the intention is there.

Yeah Rouch is amazing- great, great writer about his own films too, a real joy to read if you can find his stuff. See what you're saying about him trying to get to the "real" via exposing the workings of his own cinema, but he said he thought "ficiton was the only way to penetrate reality", so in a way he's admitting the subjective nature of his enterprise. Interesting thoughts whatever side of the debate you take.

Barthes wrote about eating and sex really nicely, yeah! Guess he's one of K-Punk's hylics - slaved to the dense, dull heaviness of the body and its sensual pleasures, digging eating, sleeping and reproduction. But he's aware of this absurdity I think.

03-01-2005, 08:06 PM
Did you mean L'Année dernière à Marienbad? As far as I know, Hiroshima was all Resnais, whereas Robbe-Grillet actually wrote Marienbad and Resnais adapted it.

Yeah, Barthes is cool. Whenever some poor misguided soul mentions to me how "subversive" they find The Simpsons or how "scathing" they find Michael Moore's latest film, I suggest they read Barthes' "Operation Margarine." Unfortunately I haven't read much Barthes beyond his short pieces (which are great), so I'm making it a resolution for the new year.

04-01-2005, 09:41 AM
one of them is robbe-grillet-resnais, one is marguerite duras-resnais. i forget which is which. barthes was a champion of r-g in 'writing degree zero'.

Diggedy Derek
04-01-2005, 10:56 AM
Sorry, Henry was right and I was being a bit sloppy as to which film invovled Robbe-Grillet- Hiroshima was screen-written by Duras, so you get the strong female character, and Marienbad is Robbe-Grillet. But Resnais' ideas about fractured narratives and forcing the audience to read the film were I think derived from Robbe-Grillet.

Got my Barthes reader for Xmas- with introduction by Sontag, poignantly enough.