I am interested in language because it wounds or seduces me. (Roland Barthes: The Pleasure of the Text)
A post on Antiphons Garden earlier today raised the question of a writer’s “ownership” of their writing. “Respecting texts of other is a must,” says Antiphons Garden – and this, if I read between the lines, seems intended to extend well beyond mere copyright.
My brief comment included the following: “I’m wondering if, in fact, claiming ownership of one’s own words is any more viable than claiming ownership of genetic codes.”
My fellow-blogster also asks if we might soon run out of original things to say, or at least of original ways of saying them. It is in the nature of language (and in its structure) that our speaking and writing are always open to new forms and formulations. But the writer/speaker is not the only person to be considered; equally crucial is the role of the reader/listener.
Roland Barthes thought of writing as one of the ways people touch (ie, make contact with) one another. “Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other,” he wrote. “It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.”
Barthes goes on to explain that what he enjoys in a narrative is “not directly its content or even its structure, but rather the abrasions I impose upon the fine surface: I read on, I skip, I look up, I dip in again. Which has nothing to do with the deep laceration the text of bliss inflicts upon language itself, and not upon the simple temporality of its reading. (Roland Barthes: The Pleasure of the Text)
Is it appropriate for me, as a reader, to impose abrasions upon the fine surface of a text? And what’s this about “the text of bliss” and the inflicting of “deep laceration … upon language itself”?
There he goes again, that saucy Frenchman, playfully wounding and seducing us with his words.