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Severed texts : aspects of aestheticization in Roland Barthes’ post-structural writings Blais, Joann M. 1993

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SEVERED TEXTS: ASPECTS OF AESTHETICIZATION IN ROLAND BARTHES' POST-STRUCTURAL WRITINGS  by JOANN M. BLAIS Honours B.A. (Comparative Literature/French), The University of Alberta, 1983 M.A.(Comparative Literature), The University of Alberta, 1985 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Comparative Literature Program) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA April 1993 ©copyright Joann M. Blais, 1993  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  (Signature)  Department of  (otovvFA  rc fiv-c.^4-e-is+1",,  The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Date  DE-6 (2/88)  Ap14 --2■1 f ) 61  ii  ABSTRACT This thesis contributes to a discussion of the specificity of Roland Barthes' post-structural theorizing by examining some of the themes and techniques of aestheticization running through his writing--reverie, pleasure, "perversion," and the hyper-textualization of the human subject and culture. Following this thread/hypothesis of aestheticization, the thesis focuses upon changing notions of the human subject and textuality presented in Barthes' writings from "The Death of the Author" (1968) until Camera Lucida (1980). The opening chapter discusses aestheticizing and decadent discourses in nineteenth century French and English literary traditions, identifies relevant intertexts, and proposes a set of key themes in aestheticizing discourses--the rejection of the natural, the quest for separation and mediation expressed in a valorization of artifice, aesthetic pleasure, private experience, and anti-utilitarian, anti-bourgeois values. The second chapter lays out the myth of an alienated literary modernity underwriting Barthes' later theorizing. Subsequent chapters follow shifts in notions of subjectivity, textuality, and aestheticizing strategies in most of the major texts produced by Barthes during this period: S/Z, The Empire of Signs, Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes, Fragments of a Lover's Discourse, Camera Lucida, and essays collected in The Rustle of Language and The Responsibility of Forms. The last two chapters follow Barthes' half-ludic struggle with his earlier construction of the subject as public intertext. He  iii dramatically moves away from conventional forms of theorizing into the cultivation of subjectivity, affectivity, and personal culture to escape being captured in the public texts of the cultural Imaginary. Finally, the thesis will consider some of the contributions and consequences of his theories, including whether the cultural skepticism and pose of fatal belatedness underwriting his positions can be maintained.  iv  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Title Page ^ Abstract ^  ii  Table of Contents ^  iv  Acknowledgements ^ A Note on Abbreviations and Pronouns ^ vi Dedication ^  viii  Epigraph ^  ix  Crossing the Line (An Introduction) ^ 1 Chapter One. Barthesian Aestheticization: Some Intertexts ^  29  Chapter Two. Barthes Degree Zero: The Passion of Writing ^  91  Chapter Three. Where is The Voice Coming From?: Early Post-Structural Versions of Writing, Textuality, and the Subject ^  134  Chapter Four. An Elsewhere of Signs ^  186  Chapter Five. Pleasures of The Text ^  233  Chapter Six. A Cuttlefish and His Ink: The Later Works ^  274  Chapter Seven. Working Through Barthes (Conclusion) ^  322  Endnotes ^  344  Bibliography ^  361  ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS  To begin with the sine qua non: thanks to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for faithfully funding my graduate years of study thanks to Maureen Scobie, for aural asylum and the gift of an exquisite Victoria garden full of sage and hummingbirds one summer and to Jimmy Sung Chan, N.D., for the compassion and excellence of his care and, finally, I bow down to the generations of women and men who have kept alive knowledge of the earth's healing plants--though they are no longer alive, they still heal  vi  ABBREVIATIONS AND A NOTE ON PRONOUNS  This text will occasionally veer between the use of masculine and feminine pronouns such as the inclusive generic (i.e. from he and his to she and her). Where the pronouns are masculine, they conform to the usage of pronouns found in Barthes and most of the other texts cited. Where the pronouns are feminine or inclusive (i.e. "he or she," "she or he") they generally signal my own voice.  The following abbreviations refer to books by Barthes and collections of his essays. The first page number(s) given in the thesis refer to the English translation; the second to the French original.  ABR: A Barthes Reader CE: Critical Essays/ Essais Critiques CL: Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography/ La Chambre claire. Note sur la photoqraphie ES: The Empire of Signs/ L 'Empire des siqnes FLD:A Lover's Discourse: Fragments/ Fragments d'un discours amoureux GV: The Grain of the Voice: Interviews 1962-1980/ Le Grain de la voix. Entretiens 1962-1980.  vii  L:  Legon inauqerale au College de France (English translation found in ABR)  M:  Mythologies/Mythologies  MI: Michelet/Michelet NCE: New Critical Essays/Nouveaux essais critiques PT: The Pleasure of the Text/ Le Plaisir du texte R: On Racine/ Sur Racine RB: Roland Barthes By Roland Barthes/ Roland Barthes  par Roland Barthes RF: The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music,  Art, and Representation/ L 'Obvie et 1' obtus. Essais critiques III RL: The Rustle of Language/ Le Bruissement de la lanque  Essais critiques IV SFL: Sade, Fourier, Loyola/ Sade, Fourier, Loyola S/Z: S/Z/S/Z WDZ: Writing Degree Zero/ Le Deqrê zero de 1 'êcriture  vi ii  for Kuan Yin Suzan Ted Heather d.d., mouse & the rain  ix  Heard the one about the post-structural mafia? They make you an offer you can't understand. Susan Musgrave, "Scabbing for Clarity"1  1  CROSSING THE LINE (AN INTRODUCTION)  Aesthetic Discourse He attempts to compose a discourse which is not uttered in the name of the Law and/or of violence: whose instance might be neither political nor scientific; which might be in a sense the remainder and the supplement of all such utterances. What shall we call such discourse? erotic, no doubt, for it has to do with pleasure; or perhaps even aesthetic, if we forsee subjecting this old category to a gradual torsion which will alienate it and bring it closer to the body,to the drift. Roland Barthes, (RB 84/87)  The old values are no longer transmitted, no longer circulate, no longer impress; literature is desacralized, institutions are impotent to defend and impose it as the implicit model of the human. ....Our gaze can fall, not without perversity, upon certain old and lovely things, whose signified is abstract,out of date. It is a moment at once decadent and prophetic, a moment of gentle apocalypse, a historical moment of the greatest possible pleasure. Roland Barthes, (ABR 475/L 40-41)  In an essay on Giacometti, John Berger writes: Every artist's work changes when he dies. And finally no one remembers what his work was like when he was alive. Sometimes one  2 can read what his contemporaries had to say about it. The difference of emphasis and interpretation is largely a question of historical development. But the death of the artist is also a dividing line.' Twenty years after Giacometti's death, Berger continues, few will understand this change, the hermeneutic borderline that has been crossed. His work will seem to have reverted to normal --although in fact it will have become something different: it will have become evidence from the past, instead of being, as it has been...a possible preparation for something to come. (AL 171-173) The work of Roland Barthes lies somewhere in this bardo realm (that strange place in between death and canonical resurrection as an intertext). The sheer accident of his death in 1980 is fading: the edges of that lacerating caesura are being smoothed by time and scholarship. Barthes, the light, myriad creature that he consciously sought to be, is entering the Lacanian Imaginary of culture; as he knew he would. Speaking through the persona of the structural Lover in FLD, he writes of his life: I myself cannot...construct my love story to the end: I am its poet (its bard) only for the beginning; the end, like my own death, belongs to others; it is up to them to write the fiction, the external, mythic narrative. (FLD 101/117) This is why Barthes sought beginnings, middles, and interstitial states, avoiding conclusions of any sort. An apparently protean writer, he nevertheless worked on a corpus  3 of issues and (though he would resist the terms) identitythemes or existential codes which lend his work--which he once described as a long, unending sentence--a certain thematic coherence. The energetic displacements of his work--the change of intellectual idioms, the constant redefining of terms, critical hypotheses, and forms, do, however, trace a kind of spiraling progress. The interrogation of language and power sustained throughout those shifts leads him away from the practice of literary theory in the usual sense. His final texts are permeated with an ambivalent appreciation of the formal beauty and dangers of unreflective theorizing, and an even stronger move, however problematic and dissimulated, toward  particularity and the personal and affective dimensions of writing.  I began working on Barthesian post-structuralism because I wanted to understand the visceral ambivalence that I've often felt reading his texts. An attraction to the gentle anarchy and sensuality of his discourse was always complicated by an unease which resisted analysis. One day, reading L while looking back on certain passages underlined in PT and brooding over Barthes' treatment of the photograph of the dead Salvadorean boy in CL, I recognized that what I was returning to, finally, were the pragmatic political and ethical implications of his position (however often he would disparage  4 the notion of ethical discourse, once apocryphally equating the phrase "we sincerely desire peace in Vietnam" with "please pass the cheese." I wanted to map the world that he, like other theoreticians, invites his reader to inhabit alongside him; I needed to establish some of its historical antecedents, its social and aesthetic values, and, finally, draw out the potential cost of unreflectively entering that world of hypertextuality and isolated, fissured human subjects. I found myself weighing the direct and implicit claims he makes about the ethical force of his theoretical positions, his search for the suspension of signs and a disengaged hedonism that does not seek power but flees it, against the potential conseqences of that stance for women and other marginals in first world cultures who might consider--at least intellectually--emulating his position. Despite his injunctions against interpretation, in order to understand Barthes' position and my own sense of déjà lu, I needed a more diachronic reading of Barthes, one that would reach behind the exposed, obvious intertexts and at least begin to acknowledge the prior literary and philosophical texts still actively working in his writing. Poststructuralism is, as I was reminded during a conference in Montrdal, a post-Existentialism. French Existentialism-principally Sartre--is a strong but little explored intertext pervading Barthes' early and post-structural texts. Both in its pre- and post-structural phases, Barthesian discourse, as I will suggest in the chapter on WDZ, is not only an evolving  5 rejection of Sartrean humanism and its call to artistic engagement, but an ongoing response to violence and the  multiple absurdities of language and human existence. Drawing upon the prior discourses of writers committed to the aestheticization of the real, that response passes from an ambiguous commitment to form into a period of structural and semiotic analyses, finally moving into a paradoxal moral commitment to the sign and to a mythopoeic celebration of the pleasures of the text and the literary amateur (Barthes presenting Sisyphus the absurd creator in a new guise: the post-structural scriptor). Susan Sontag, in "Writing Itself: on Roland Barthes," identifies Barthes as a latter-day aesthete who oscillates between an apparently extreme egoism and an elegant depersonalization of the subject. 2 She notes his affinities with Oscar Wilde, yet does not pursue the implications of her observation. Within Barthesian post-structuralism there can be discerned a complex thematic return and theoretical echoing of the postures of Flaubert, Baudelaire, Mallarmê, and Proust-not to mention fin de siècle writers such as Huysmans. Throughout the 1970s Barthes repeatedly aligns himself with the values and historical situation of decadence, most notably in PT, L, and RB. In those text he ingeniously renovates earlier hedonistic and transgressive postures in his reflections on pleasure, perversion, erotic textuality and the reading body. Barthes' attraction to what Wolfgang Iser, in his study of the aesthete Walter Pater, identifies as the  6 "intensified moment" and the liminal state of "in-between," taken in conjunction with Barthes' cultivation of pleasure, his fear of closure, his tendancy toward boredom, and the sense of absurdity which circulates just beneath a compulsive quest for pleasure and distraction in his later works, support Barthes' view of at least an elective affinity existing between himself and the writers of Decadence and their precursors (grouped, for the sake of convenience and historical orientation, under the rubric of Aestheticism). 3 Barthes' comments, the overwhelming presence of the abovementioned themes, and the particularly strong echoes of Baudelaire in PT led me to formulate the hypothesis of Barthesian "aestheticism." This aestheticism--more precisely, Barthes' characteristic aestheticization of phenomena, his desire to rewrite things so as to suspend meaning or cause the implosion of matter into the sign-- does not develop directly, in a historical sense, out of nineteenth-century aesthetic and decadent discourses. It is, rather, a defiant political posture that models itself upon the earlier refusals funding those discourses. I have chosen to read Barthesian post-structuralism (which is generally acknowledged as beginning with the 1968 manifesto of "The Death of the Author," and continuing until his last major book, CL) as an evolving intellectual myth in the Nietzschean sense. Barthes' myth of post-structural acriture does not begin suddenly in the late 1960s: it spins  outward from the thematic core of WDZ. By opting to read  7  Barthes from a more speculative position, following some of the turns that his thinking takes on textuality and the subject over this stretch of twelve years, the thesis is released from the need to defend the truth or error of Barthes' extravagant post-structural notions: for instance, his insistence that signs and referents are fatally separate, that the author is dead, that texts are empty fragments void of any prior meaning, and so on. What this thesis will begin to consider are the consequences of Barthes' intellectual mythologizing; a mythologizing which is, in my view, a function of his pessimistic cultural imagination. The intermittent myth that this thesis will weave around Barthes' work is itself partial and tentative, asserting only a kinship between Barthesian aestheticization and earlier nineteenth-century writers (decadence and Mallarmean Symbolism being later intertexts that directly fund his post-structural theorizing on signs and pleasure). Originally, the thesis was to be a more direct feminist engagment with Barthes than it appears in this final version. The plan was to lay out the aestheticization of subjectivity, the body,the text and the real in Barthes' theories, then proceed into a consideration of how useful these theories of dissemination and suspension might be to feminist theorizing. But the first half of the project, fueled by my need to overcome the sense of disorientation which had come to attend my reading  of Barthesian post-structuralism, took over. This thesis is, then, a kind of prelude to that analysis; a work still  8 informed, if too quietly, by feminist prejudice (in the Gadamerian sense of the inescapability of intellectual prejudice). In its intermittent consideration of the intertexts which enable Barthes' concepts and positions, it obliquely advances the argument that hermeneutic and historical readings of contemporary theorizing are essential critical activities for those who care about the cultural consequences of ideas. Seeking precedents, contexts and intertexts for apparently novel ideas not only assists one in discerning the specificity of each theorist's discourse, but aids in a reflection upon the ethical implications of those discourses. It is often difficult not to be seduced by the intelligence, the playfulness and rhetorical persuasiveness of Barthesian post-structuralism. R.G. Collingwood once wrote that in order to understand a work, one must understand the set of questions to which it is responding. Barthes' texts, which are obsessed by the issues of power, violence and the construction of human subjectivity, invite and yet resist the notion of any final ethical accountability to others. And it is toward a consideration of the ethical implications of Barthes' discourse and his chronic aestheticization of phenomena that this thesis moves.  In his introduction to Untying the Text:a Post-Structural Reader Robert Young writes that the premises of post-  9 structuralism forestalls any comprehensive definition of itself: The word post-structuralism itself shifts the emphasis from any single meaning or theory towards an unbound movement through time and space, suggesting that there never will be, and never can be, any definitive 'theory of post-structuralism'. Instead it consists of a perpetual detour towards a 'truth' that has lost any status or finality. 4 Yet post-structuralism is often treated as an almost monolithic entity in some theoretical circles, in spite of the difficulties using this term to encompass the disparate genealogies, turns, and projects found in the work of those claimed as post-structuralists; principally, Derrida, Barthes, Lacan, Kristeva, Foucault. These disparities are obscured by several factors. Thematically, their writings interrogate similar issues: authority, power, writing, violence, subjectivity, absence, the formation of reality and the human subject, eroticism, and so on. And there are the simple historical facts of proximity and synchronic interaction dear to a hermeneut's retrograde heart: these individuals read and responded to one another's work in their own writing, contributed to many of the the same organs of publication (particularly Tel Quel), lived--often as marginals in some sense--in the same nation-state, experienced May 1968, and knew one another to some degree. The specificity of each thinker's "detour," or swerve away from the tenets and intellectual style of Structuralism, recedes further in anglophone North America because of small subtleties, which, over time, accumulate: a  10 reliance on unstandardized English translations which come out erratically, in a random order, not at all, or in collections directed by market pressures which scramble chronological development, creating spectral Borgesian image-beings in translation whose diff6rance is not at all helpful. More importantly, the obsessive, almost journalistic critical focus on the immediate theoretical past and present has made it appear that intellectual history is indeed "going very fast." As pivotal has been the tendancy, in most of North America, to neglect any serious consideration of the less obvious political or philosophical intertexts informing these discourses. This can unfortunately lead to a shallow and blurred reading of these varied post-structuralisms as being largely a reaction to the constrictions of French Structuralism and persistant varieties of humanism. Critical, too, has been the lack of attention to the diverse literary intertexts of post-structural theorizing: the impact, for example, of Jabds and Blanchot on Derrida, of Artaud and Romantic philology on Kristeva, and of Aestheticism and German Romanticism on Barthes. Even a partial reconsideration of these intertexts--which comprise part of the vast submerged prehistory of post-structural theorizing--would extend the historical frames within which theory is considered, and demonstrate how these post-structural theories continue the interrogation of language and writing begun in earlier centuries.  11  Barthes' career, with its dramatic enthusiasms and subsequent fadings or abdications, seems to invite and yet resists easy periodization. Many critics have opted for a schematic solution, dividing his work into the early Sartrean/Marxist period of WDZ and M, followed by a structural phase, beginning in 1963 with the publication of "History or Literature?" and OR, followed by CE and a series of essays in which Barthes engages French literature and society as a structuralist (however idiosyncratic his brand of structural analysis). These phases, in tandem with Barthes' semiotic writings, constitute the era of the "hard" Barthes, the intellectual dedicated to political critiques and the scientific analysis of social discourse. By 1968, with "The Death of the Author," Barthes is undeniably moving beyond the pseudo-scientific discourse of Structuralism. In the estimation of some critics, such as Annette Lavers in Roland Barthes: Structuralism and After, he is regrettably turning away from progressive forms of criticism and beginning a slow decline into the questionable pleasures of his poststructuralism, into the later, "soft" (or, in Antoine Compagnon's terms, the "tender" Barthes). 5-6 Yet Steven Ungar, in Roland Barthes: The Professor of Desire, holds that this moment after Structuralism is when Barthes, questioning his own authorities and methodologies, begins his most radical work.? Of the two, only Ungar explores the complexity of that post-structural phase, the subtle movements and turns within  12 that extraordinary last decade of Barthes alive. The movements within that last decade begin to be sketched in RB. There, in the fragment "Phases," the protagonist/narrator of RB makes himself "intelligible," wryly presenting a schematic and roughly chronological table of R.B.'s intellectual "periods" and ongoing resistance to his own and others' ideas. The table has three columns: "Intertext," "Genre," and "Works." (RB 145/148) Gide heads the list of intertexts: he is the writer credited with igniting R.B.'s desire to write. Sartre, Marx and Brecht follow, grouped together under the rubric of "social mythology." Saussure stands alone, the master of R.B.'s brief period of relatively orthodox semiotic analysis. Then Sollers, Kristeva, Derrida and Lacan appear as the intertexts stimulating R.B.'s inital period of exuberant textuality that, according to the table, includes three major texts: S/Z, SFL, and ES. Nietzsche is the intertext who presides over the next internal movement or sub-phase within his poststructural period, the phase of "morality" (the two texts included in this period are PT and RB). Some guiding reflections on R.B.'s intellectual displacements, in point form, succeed this table. The narrator recaps that movement, underlining the complicated and fugal nature of his intellectual practice: ...first of all (mythological) interventions, then semiological fictions, then splinters, fragments, sentences, phrases; (4) between the periods, obviously, there are overlappings, returns,affinities, leftovers...(5) each phase  13 is reactive: the author reacts either to the discourse which surrounds him, or to his own discourse, if one and the other begin to have too much consistency, too much stability; (6) as one nail drives out a perversion drives out a neurosis: political and moral obsession is followed by a minor scientific delirium, which in its turn sets off a perverse pleasure (with its undercurrent of fetishism)... (RB 145/148) This table and accompanying remarks, only briefly alluding to the least submerged influences operating in Barthes' texts, begins to suggest why it would be exhausting and nearly impossible to lay out the prehistories of each of Barthes' intellectual phases. He was, more than any other contemporary European theorist, an intellectual in flux. Barthes' work, as Fredric Jameson asserts (providing his reader with a more comprehensive inventory of Barthesian intertexts), constitutes ...a veritable fever-chart of all the significant intellectual and critical tendancies since World War II:Bachelardian phenomenology...Sartrean Marxism... Hjelmslevian linguistics...Brechtian Verfremdung...orthodox Freudianism... hard-core semiotics...Tel Quel textual productivity...Lacanian psychoanalysis 8 If one were to seek through lines in Barthes'writing, themes which organize his work from the time of his earliest published essay (on Gide) until CL, at least three could be offered: his rejection of the ideology of representation, his resistance to endoxic discourse and utilitarian models of culture, and, lastly, his preoccupation with the non-  14 referential aspects and potentialities of the sign (the graph). These themes are keys to the Barthesian project of aestheticization. Barthes' early fascination with the arbitrary and autonomous potential of the sign gradually modulates into an appreciation of the autotelic sign, and then, almost simultaneously, into the aesthetic reverie of the beautiful silenced graph informing ES and the meditations on visual art and music collected in RF. The graph, whether visual or aural, becomes for Barthes in the 1970s an emptied, drifting utopia, an ephemeral elsewhere (an ailleurs), a quasiBaudelairean 1/ot of reverie and signifiance in which the withdrawal of prior meanings is, as in other aestheticizing writers, a condition of pleasure. 9 Barthes' aestheticizing bent is not the product of a sudden break with his earlier structural and semiotic practice. In texts such as "The Structuralist Activity" Barthes' delight in the purely formal and non-semantic aspects of structure is clearly in evidence. Retrospectively, his aesthetic posture of refusal, his cultivation of the nonrational and the marginal in the face of bourgeois demands to make money and sense, is already discernable in WDZ. There he forwards the outlines of his enduring myth of an alienated literary modernity and his search for a position of social innocence. And, pursuing the implications of Allan Megill s work on post-structural intellectuals in Prophets of Extremity, Barthes' turn toward aestheticization is encouraged by the textualization of reality underwriting  15 structural, semiotic and post-structural theories. 10 This turn, read in more traditional terms against the background of nineteenth-century French literature, emerges quietly in the stylized exoticism of his reading of Japan in ES, then detonates in PT, where he exposes the anhedonia of high culture and an unrelenting theoretical modernity. Enacting a provisional theory of reading and writing erected partially upon the recasting of Baudelairean thematics of pleasure, ennui, desire, and mental escape from bourgeois culture, Barthes makes of the text a semi-private pleasure dome, a sanctioned Babel withdrawn from the turbulence of history, the violence of assertion, and from the pressure of others' needs or desires. In his writing from this time forward (1973) Barthes reprises many of the characteristic postures, themes, and strategies of those earlier writers I have mentioned. There is his Baudelairean (or, from Sontag's vantage point, quasiWildean) indictment of referentiality and bourgeois doxa, his fascination with textual surfaces and style, as well as his celebration of criticism as a primary creative act. Barthes' critique of the bourgeois ideology of the natural moves into a heightened appreciation of artifice (his post-structural play with artifice centring upon an exploration of the intertext, the Lacanian imago and other varieties of simulacra). In ES he idealizes the (for him) unreadable calligraphies of Japanese. Nauseated by the repletion of Western societies and subjects, he takes refuge in "Japan," a utopic haiku country of emptied  16 signs, restful interstices, decentred texts, and attenuated human subjects--the site of a gentle aestheticization of matter and a voiding of personal identity. This rejection of humanism and the fiction of the "moral" anct,;olitical unity of the subject for Kristeva's conflicted poetic subject leads Barthes to experiment with the ambiguities and absence of identity he finds in personal pronouns and imagos.(PT 31/52) His last three major works--RB, FLD, CL--pursue the defensive and ironic possibilities of a disseminated and textualized subject-simulacrum. They revolve around divided and fictional subject-shards (dividua) that function as masks which are intended to protect Barthes from figuration and cultural recuperation. This attraction to fragmentation, complexity and dissimulation further suggests Barthes' affinities with fin  de siecle literary decadence. In RB the narrator/protagonist R.B. confesses to a decadent penchant for "le fragment, le  detail, le rush. " (RB 94/97) This will-to-fragmentation and fascination with the inessential detail (what Derrida refers to as the "supplementary") organizes Barthes' writing both structurally and thematically for the rest of his life. 11 His preference for short, fragmented, hybrid forms is a contemporary restatement and elaboration of the general aesthetic inclination toward marginal, small-scale works and more intimate literary forms such as the aphorism, the lyric poem or prose text, the essay, the journal entry, the closet drama. The fragment is, particularly in Barthes' hands, a  17 fertile and extreme form of writing--a texte-limite which pushes against the margins and nomenclature of literature. It can archly mime the classical notion of a text as a highly unified, composed structure; then, in a reductio ad absurdum, '4=1 and cause that tight text to implode and assume the undecidable configurations of the post-structural text. The prose fragment is, in Barthes' writing, as in its history, torn between the early Schlegelian vision of it as a glittering hermetic plenum (but full of absence), and the Novalian apprehension of it as blOtenstaub, as an imperfect diaspora of language, as an intermittent field of disseminated traces in which the writer takes refuge from meaning in absence and imperfection. Barthes'post-structural writings, following his own characterization of them as essais, have been regarded as being simply variations on that venerable anti-genre,the essay. In Roland Barthes:the Essay as Reflective Text Rdda Bensmaia reads his essais more astutely, situating them within the tradition of the European philosophical and speculative essay, finding within them bits of "intellectual autobiography, anecdotal punctum, and discursive transgressions...that brilliantly manipulates the essay form to idiosyncratic ends." 12 The issue of genre in these later texts is even more involved than Bensmaia suggests: every major work of Barthes' from the time of S/Z forward is not merely an "essay," but rather an active attack upon the categories of humanism and what Derrida refers to as the "law  18 of genre. " 13 PT subverts the written and unwritten codes of the scholarly essay; RB plays ironically with the conventions of autobiography and cultural hagiography. FLD is not so much an essay but the hyper-fragment of a virtual discourse which moves restlessly, erotically cannibalizing the official canon and earlier genres to create a cybernetic subject--the structural lover--and provide moments of amorous intertextual resonance and screen "memories." CL, his final major text, is a subtle work of enormous complexity. It is at once a tentative note on photography, a prose elegy for his dead mother and the passing world, and an self-consuming essay indicting the machinations of the will-to-representation and the will to theory--theory being viewed as a return of representation on a metadiscursive plane. These works react against the inherited imperatives of relative coherence, erotically pulverizing conventional forms of rhetorical development, tantalizing the reader with shards of familiar forms and literary strategies. Epiphanic, drifting utterances, they seek refuge from master narratives and commodity culture in the utopian realms of nonsignification and non-identity, and in what Barthes, during a 1971 interview with Stephen Heath,termed the "paragrammatic": that which is--or is made--"plural,multiple, ambiguous." (GV 137). ...the great problem, for me in any case, is to outplay the signifier, to outplay the law, to outplay the father, to outplay the repressed--I do not say to explode it, but to outplay it; everywhere there is a possibility of a paragrammatic work...I  19 feel at ease.  (GV 137/)  And this is the heart of the matter. Barthes' aestheticizing moves, like those of Baudelaire or Wilde, are not gratuitious: they are a conscious response to the felt stresses of bourgeois ideology. In Barthes' case, there are the additional stresses of history and power (the tools of the elided emperor of CL), as well as the congealing gaze of commodity culture which seeks to murder the individual into an imago, a distorting image-identity which circulates within  cultural economies as one of its primary currencies. Barthes apprehends that the social and ideological violences he is fleeing are, fundamentally, forms of stabilized images and assertions which develop into doxa and social narratives (or, in Althusserian terms, into systems of representation). 14 So his later texts are, among other things, devoted to disrupting the fascination of images and narrative in all their complementary forms: identity, history, generic forms, and theories. Fragmentation becomes a principal device in this guerilla warfare, as does anacoluthia, the use of dramatic and unmastered irony, reflexive and decentered texts, ambiguously distanced discursive subjects, and the transformation of the textual space and writing into a theatrical spectacle run by Brechtian Verfremdting ,desire, and Barthesian perversity. As the 1970s progress, Barthes wearies of the stockmarkets of culture and the arrogance of unreflective theorizing. Having the apparent option of a partial withdrawal from consumer culture, retreat and evasion were to become Barthes'  20 final tactics. PT announces Barthes' definitive conversion to the body and to the specificity of sensual and aesthetic pleasures. In CL he turns to the reverie of a post-theoretical discourse, one in which theoretical reflection would be put under erasure and turn toward a speculative, pleasure-driven phase, charged only with enjoying the eccentric sway of its own detours away from the threat of any meaning or authority, even its own. And it is in this almost Paterian state of quietism and retreat from the narratives of power that he allows photographs of oppression and tortured bodies to become graphs, floating signifiers, important only as sites from which some unpredictable aesthetic interest--a detail, a punctum--might suddenly arise and ravish him. Is this withdrawn and compensatory ideology of pleasure and unattended bliss the logical terminus of Barthesian poststructuralism? Can feminists and others who make use of his theorizing on textuality, pleasure and the body escape the overt and covert agendas of his aestheticiting, his need to evade a parti pris by asserting a Nietzschean will-to-art (art becoming here the textual) and declaring the desirability of a position of "nonpower" (depouvoir)?(ABR 472/L 34) Is reality, as Barthes claims, only organized violence, only a "system of power"? (FLD 89/105) These are some of the issues to be examined in the final chapter of the thesis, where the enabling and disabling consequences of Barthes' aesthetic quest for separation will be considered. My interest in Barthes aestheticizing activity lies not  21 in a hermeneutic reconstruction of his sources in Aestheticism, Modernism, and Decadence, nor in a close comparative study of themes and motifs. My interest, like Megill's, lies in the consequences of the textualizing trend of contemporary European theorizing; and, with Megill, I concur that the roots of this trend lie partially in the soil of Aestheticism (both philosophical and literary), though where he emphasizes its philosophical antecedents (Nietzsche, Schopenhauer), I will point to a few of its literary intertexts. In this thesis, the reading of Barthesian poststructuralism as a "neoaestheticism" is intended to help bring to light the kinds of distancing and skepticism that enable Barthes' theories to function. The following chapter is not intended to be anything more than the briefest indication of the links between Barthes and earlier writers, using Barthes' own comments about Flaubert, Baudelaire, Mallarmd and decadence as its parameters. A comprehensive comparative thematic reading of Barthes against the founding discourses of Aestheticism and decadence (both philosophical and literary) would be salutory. The successive shocks of novelty which his writing have engendered would be replaced by the shock of recognizing that many of his more provocative themes and postures originate in antecedent texts. Barthes' innovative post-structural move is to textualize and eroticize sensual aspects of the aesthetic experience, developing an unstable idiolect in which traces of older terms and categories such as  22  taste, the beautiful, and the sublime are revamped, circulating in extravagant Parisian guises. Some of these antecedent aesthetic terms and themes that are critical to Barthesian post-structuralism--hedonism, the aesthete's body, perversion, the creation of utopian spaces of solitary pleasure, the aestheticization of matter, the rejection of representation and conceptual systems--will be considered in the following chapters. As for the thesis itself: after pointing out some similarities between Barthes' post-structural posture and those of literary decadents, and then, in the chapter on WDZ, outlining the myth of an alienated literary modernity pervading all of Barthes' writing, the argument will concentrate upon following the textualization of reality and the human subject in Barthes' post-structural period. The chapter on S/Z will lay out Barthes' conversion to an ethics of the sign, his use of structural and post-structural simulacra, his earliest version of the subject, and his theories of the text. The next chapter, on ES, will pursue Barthes' textualization of reality and use of the simulacra--there, the "dislocated" and purely textual hyper-reality known as Japan-to suspend context and forestall interpretation. It will also explore the two textual economies operating in Barthes' poststructural texts: one, which I refer to as a Parisian economy, which is predicated upon an unconcluding web of codes and intertexts, and the other, a complementary textual economy, referred to as a Japanese economy, where the gestural sign, as  23 empty as "Japan's" subjects, tends away from the web of culture toward silence and a utopian space of non-involvement. The chapter on PT will be a busy one in which Barthes' defense against bourgeois discourse will be sketched in an examination of the notions of pleasure,the nihilating force of jouissance, the reading body, the recalcitrant and hedonistic subject, Barthes' retreat from the hyphos of commodity culture, and his flight from ideological violence. The subsequent chapter on RB, FLD and CL will follow Barthes' flight from the violences of ideology and the image, his cultivation of personae and other forms of textual distancing, his growing mistrust of theory and doxic culture, his vacillation between the competing attractions of the gesture and the intertext, and, finally, his turn toward affectivity, the novelistic, and the specificity of the body. In the conclusion I will attempt to summarize my own ambivalent response to Barthes' construction of the real as textual, and his withdrawn, defensive ethos of pleasure. There is, to return to the issue of Aestheticism, another reason for opting against a more traditional source study. Identifying all of the persistant traces and transformations of literary Aestheticism in Barthes would be quite difficult, given his casual, often indirect or approximate quotations and allusions (as in, for instance, FLD) and his sense that the works he pulls into his own text exist as widely disseminated public intertexts needing no footnotes. Paradoxially, these cultural icons and the hermeneutic systems tracking them  24 become the direct targets of Barthes' post-structuralism. In S/Z he counsels their sabotage, writing: A multivalent text [the ideal post-structural text] can carry out its basic duplicity only if it subverts the opposition between true and false, if it fails to attribute quotations (even when seeking to discredit them), to explicit authorities, if it flouts all respect for origin, paternity,propriety, if it destroys the voice which could give the text its ('organic') unity, in short if it coldly and fraudently abolishes quotation marks which...enclose a quotation and juridically distribute the ownership of the sentences to their respective proprietors... (S/Z 44-5/51) This passage betrays the outlines of Barthes' strategy for the rest of the decade and indicates why it would be an arduous and at times futile task to naively attempt, using orthodox hermeneutic means, to read his writing and disentangle their sources. Up against such writing, which relies upon a cultural memory that is nurtured by decades of reading, then slyly put under erasure or "forgotten," the reader can only rely on her own memory of that memory (the "circular memory" of culture, as Barthes will describe it in PT), and on what she can remember outside of that memory-loop.  This also suggests the deep ambivalence toward culture which characterizes Barthes' later work. The consequences of this antagonism toward cultural structures which fix writers and texts will be explored throughout the thesis. Barthes' revulsion against authorial "ownership," which he sees as the  25 foundation of bourgeois culture and its current expression in a market-driven commodity culture, recalls the antipathy expressed by Baudelaire, Wilde and other aesthetes toward the commercialization of art. The passive-aggressive political critiques historically launched against power and mass culture by aesthetes--a tradition which Barthes continues-points to the curiously backhanded ethical concerns circulating in aesthetic discourse, which some commentators, Camus being a luminous instance, have picked up on. There has been much discussion of the abstract politics of the Father in post-structural theories, but less around the pragmatic implications of post-structural ideas. Barthes, in many of his writings and some of his interviews, insists upon the ethical force of his post-structural posture. In "Remarks on Violence," a conversation with Jacqueline Sers in 1978, he speaks of seeing circles within circles of violence in European society and being forced, as a person living within that society, to choose between accepting certain instances of violence (the-end-justifying-the-bloody-means) or categorically denouncing all violence, as he would,as intolerable. (GV /287) In another interview given in 1972, "Pleasure/Writing/Reading," Barthes makes it clear that the pleasures of the text are, in his eyes, implicated in an "ethics of the sign" which inaugurated in ES. (GV 153/150) Against the pressures of "terrorist discourse," that is, of discourses of assertion which value language primarily as a means to some final signified, which is usually a political,  26 ethical or religious cause, Barthes raises the counter-ethic of the drifting, uncertain sign whose only end is itself.(GV 156/153) This counter-ethic inscribes, as Barthes will put it five years later in L, "the impossible horizon of linguistic anarchy...that point where language attempts to escape its own power, its own servility." (ABR 468/L 26-27) Against the discourses of power (including the idiolects of literary theory) Barthes asserts the utopian will to an absolute renunciation of power in his idea of the Text: the Text becomes a site of non-power(depouvoir)where the scriptor learns to outfox power by "cheating with speech" (la langue); that is, by creating undecidable (i.e. literary) texts.(ABR 472,462/L34,16) This is one of the ideal aims of Barthes' aestheticizing posture. By assuming the role of the amateur in his later writings, by opting for the pole of an apparently disengaged, non-harming hedonism focused upon the sign, pleasure, and signifiance, Barthes hoped to escape the sinister nets of power. To be neither victim nor victimizer; to create a writing which, in staying close to the energies and experiences of his plural "bodies" as he/they cruise art and the world made infinite text, does not play into the discourses of Law or of Violence; this begins to articulate both the contents of Barthes' cultural Imaginary and the oddly moral dimensions of his aestheticizing projects. This thesis will call for a more nuanced and critical evaluation of the agendas and implications of Barthesian poststructuralism. Barthes teaches us to read in speculative and  27 liberating ways, demonstrating how readers might deploy their particular bodies and responses as disruptive heuristic devices. But the eventual costs of Barthes' strategies, particularly his political disengagement and its underlying aesthetic pessimism have not, to my knowledge, been addressed. Rather than assenting to his early post-structural counterproposals--the deaths of history, identity, the subject, and interpretation--and then passively accepting the compensations of private textual pleasures, feminists and others have more to gain by learning from and yet resisting Barthesian myths regarding writing and culture. By tempering the hyper-textual claims of Barthesian post-structuralism and retaining a sense of the historical specificity and positionality of the human subject (one who is read as positively embodying multiple identities rather than one or none), feminist theorists and others can continue to work with Barthesian post-structuralism without perpetuating the alienation from which it arises. My reading of the last twelve years of Barthes' work may inadvertantly have the force of academic closure, so that it would seem that I am imagining Barthes as nothing more than a contemporary decadent, but this is not my intention. Barthes' post-structuralism is a complex phenomenon that draws upon many prior discourses. It exceeds any attempt to categorically fix its polysemic intricacy. And it is not a pensee terminale. CL, like FLD and RB, are liminal texts, where Barthes begins to negotiate another turn, a turn away from criticism, perhaps  28 into what he would term the novelistic, or perhaps into something else.  29  CHAPTER ONE. BARTHESIAN AESTHETICIZATION: SOME INTERTEXTS  What seems beautiful to me, what I should like to write, is a book about nothing, a book dependent on nothing external, which would be held together by the strength of its style, just as the earth, suspended in the void, depends upon nothing external for its support; a book which would have almost no subject, or at least one in which the subject would be almost invisible.... The finest works are those which contain the least matter... I believe that the future of Art lies in this direction.... This emancipation from matter can be observed everywhere.... from the standpoint of pure Art one might almost establish the axiom that there is not such thing as subject, style in itself being an absolute manner of seeing things. Gustave Flaubert 1 It seems as if the most opposite statements about him were alike true: he is so receptive, all the influences of nature and of society ceaselessly playing upon him, so that every hour in his life is unique, changed altogether by a stray word, a glance, or touch. It is the truth of these relations that experience gives us, not the truth of eternal outlines ascertained once and for all, but a world of fine gradations and subtly linked conditions, shifting constantly as we ourselves change...To the intellect, the critical spirit, just these subtleties of effect are more precious than anything else. What is lost in precision of form is gained in intricacy of expression. Walter Pater 2  Aestheticism, aestheticization: for some, the words may  30 conjure up slightly faded after-images of green carnations, jewels, out-of-focus debauchery, stylized C curves materializing into images of unsettling androgeny, byzantine prose styles, accelerating decadence, and perhaps a fleeting glimpse of the young Rilke walking through the streets of Prague, defiantly dressed in black, carrying an iris. Which is to say that literary aestheticism, from Gautier's assertion of the uselessness of art, of 1 'art pour l'art, in his preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin, through to fin de siècle decadence and dandyism can seem a last-century phenomenon, a curious ;  historical blip having little to do with contemporary literary and theoretical discourses . 3 However outdated aestheticism may seem as a personal style, it is generally accepted that it is a critical phase in the development of Anglo-American and Gallic literary modernity. There are critics who believe that aestheticism actively informs present cultural discourses. In The Five Faces of Modernity Matei Calinescu reads the present moment--what he refers to as (literary) "modernity"--as being a complex extended space in which the traces of five cultural modalities persist and interact within contemporary texts. 4 Those five modalities, according to Calinescu, are: the avantgarde, kitsch, decadence, modernism, and the post-modern. Calinescu's historical model is supple, polyphonic, and polyvalent, coming closer to the kind of richly multi-vocal and confused present comparatists encounter working with modern texts than other, more monological readings of modernity. I would make one revision to Calinescu's scheme, replacing the  31 term "decadence" (which is generally acknowledged as the dehiscence of aestheticism) by the more general term of "aestheticism." Such a substitution would not only move back the parameters of the prehistory of literary and particularly theoretical modernity, but also flag the quest for separation and unique imaginative re- or dis-orderings that characterize much of high modernism and contemporary theorizing. In The Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche asserts that nothing that has a history can truly be defined. 5 Aestheticism is a general term that suffers from the obvious dangers courted by using a single noun to refer to a complex, even heterogenous series of attitudes, phases and events within a culture which arise from a cultivation of, in Barthesian terms, dagagement. ("KA," CE 133/138) In English literary studies Aestheticism, as Brian Trehearne points out, connotes the entire movement of aesthetic thought and production throughout the span of almost a century: Pre-Raphaelitism, Aesthetic criticism, Decadence, and the literary Impressionism of early twentieth-century writers. 6 In France, Aestheticism is an equally enveloping term which begins with Gautier and persists in the critical vocabulary until Mallarmd, Proust and Gide. The history of Western European literary Aestheticism is complicated by a strange intergenerational dance of intertexts and personal influences back and forth across the Channel, and rendered even further recondite by the complication of philosophical and philological intertexts. How, for instance, is one to categorize Nietzsche, the ironic philologist and patron  32 trickster of post-structuralism? He participates in the histories of both discourses, undermining traditional distinctions in his hybrid texts, making the train of philosophy jump its rails and veer into the territory of metaphor and the novelistic. He initiates not only the "violent reflection upon language" of which Foucault writes, but reintroduces the body and personal history into intellectual discourse, changing the course of continental philosophy and, eventually, of literary theorizing.? The body: philosophical aesthetics, like literary aestheticism, is rooted in the sentient human body. Reflecting upon the origins of philosophical aesthetics in the late eighteenth century in The Ideology of the Aesthetic Terry Eagleton observes: Aesthetics is born as a discourse of the body. In its original formulation...the term refers not in the first place to art, but, as the Greek aisthesis would suggest, to the whole realm of human perception and sensation, in contrast to the more rarefied domain of conceptual thought. 8 The function of this new discourse, aesthetics, was to mediate between the categories of the particular (the particularities of sense perception) and the universal (the "generalities of reason"). (IA 15) However fleetingly, this new category was in Western intellectual history a sign of "the first stirrings of a primitive materialism--of the body's long inarticulate rebellion against the tyranny of the theoretical." (IA 13) The innovative--and potentially  33 disruptive--situation of having thought attend to the life of the senses is, in Eagleton's account, quickly domesticated. Reason, in Eagleton's estimation, had to find some way of ordering the realms of sensation and perception, but in a manner that would not put its own dominance at risk. (IA 15) Aesthetics therefore became a means of rhetorically rendering the dense particulars of physical experience "luminous" to thought. In both Baumgarten and Kant, founders of philosphical aesthetics, the aesthetic is conceived of as a "third way" which bridges the chasm between "the vagaries of subjective feeling and the bloodless rigor of understanding," a way consenting to speak the language of reason. (IA 17) All aesthetic unities or phenomena would, therefore, lie open to rational analysis, never resisting analytic frames or hypotheses. The body, perception, taste, pleasure, the beautiful: these are the common origins of aesthetic writing and philosophical aesthetics. Yet, as Eagleton and Megill concur, aesthetics soon ossifies into an idealizing and normative discourse--an old idealizing category, as R.B./Barthes writes in RB, one which drifts far from the individual body, only to be audaciously yanked back to its orginating ground by Nietzsche. Although aesthetics emerges as a distinct discourse in the late eighteenth century, Western aestheticism (whether philosophical or artistic), is, in my view, best understood not as a bounded historical period or movement, but, as Eagleton describes it, an "intellectual current" whose motifs could be "pursued back to the Renaissance or even to classical (Latin)  34 antiquity." (IA 3) Believing neither in the model of "theoretical cataclysm," that is, of an absolute rupture which initiates the modern (post-Kantian) category of the aesthetic, nor in the equally dubious model of smooth continuity, Eagleton acknowledges a signal innovation in late eighteenth century philosophy which filters through into literary production: the emergence of art as a privileged category comprised of discrete, self-contained aesthetic artifacts.(IA 3-4) In his study of the development of the idea of the aesthetic from Baumgarten through to Benjamin and Adorno, Eagleton's hypothesis explaining the historical genesis of the category of the aesthetic is linked to the rise of the bourgeois culture. Leaving aside his political analysis of the middle class developing a shared set of aesthetic values to substitute for the social coherence generated by feudal values, the parallel he draws between the intellectual construction of the discrete art object and the construction of the discrete bourgeois subject usefully anticipates (and explains) Barthes' dislike of both. (IA 17-23) Although philosophical reflection on aesthetics in eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophy might be viable intertexts in a philosophical study of poststructuralisms, as IA and Derrida's reflections on Kant in The Truth  in Painting would hint, my thesis will not map the shifts  and developments occuring within those discussions of the aesthetic because Barthesian aestheticization, however indebted to shifts in the intellectual category of the aesthetic, is stubbornly literary, even in its use of Nietzsche  35 and Sartre . 9 The entry found in the Princeton Encylopedia of Poetry and Poetics under "Aestheticism" supports reading it as a  primary aesthetic posture or modality. 10 The first sentence: "Aestheticism: a term applied to the point of view that art is self-sufficient, need serve no ulterior purpose, and should not be judged by moral, political, or other nonaesthetic standards." 10 This definition--however naive and distorted by Nietzschean standards--is a useful retrospective critical summation of an attitude that gradually arose among nineteenthcentury writers, cresting in the self-consciousness and decadent euphoria of the 1880s and 1890s. One cannot pretend that the aesthetic stance of Gautier and the equivocal utterances of Flaubert and Baudelaire can be blithely assimilated to the later postures of Huysmans, Mallarmd, Gide, and the 1890s generation of English and French decadents who transformed the more contained aesthetic position of earlier writers into a lifestyle and a metaphysics of marginality. Yet there is a gradual amplification and working out of certain common themes and motifs linking early aesthetic projects to the most outrageous manifestations of dêcadentisme. Aestheticism is such a complicated and, to borrow from Pater's reflections on Coleridge which opened this chapter, sometimes such a contrary phenomenon that it would seem as if the most opposite statements about it were true. Rather than attempting a classical definition of the aesthetic, which asserts the presence of a single element common to all members of a proposed  36 unity, I would opt for a reading of aestheticism relying upon Wittgenstein's notion of family resemblances, in which an overlapping series of multiple elements perceived among members of a proposed unity establishes relatedness. Aestheticism is, then, in my myth (and I stress that this reading is not intended to be an orthodox historical one) not a single aesthetic posture, but a collection of aesthetic postures arrayed in a continuum, or perhaps an unstable discursive field shifting around a core thematics of privately rewriting or recreating the world (which manifests in Barthes' propensity to textualize phenomena). Aestheticism is an astonishing phenomenon which is (and I struggle for words here) multi-polar. It vacillates between abstraction and particularity, between an arch formalism and the pleasures of the loss of form: it can celebrate or suppress the human body, privileging the perceiver, the processes of perception, and/or the object perceived. Within it one can see writers straining toward an intense submersion in both the Kristevian symbolic and what Kristeva conceptualizes as the pre-Symbolic realm of oceanic sensual pleasure. 11 Often the austere formalism of the symbolic suddenly flips into the semiotic, providing the reader with great sensual enjoyment: something that often happens in Barthes' post-structural readings of the sign. If pressed for a more classical definition of aestheticism, I would say that aesthetic writing is primarily characterized by a sustained play with the tensions generated  37 by mediation. That is, a mediation effected by means of various structures and strategies of artifice or semantic suspension such as the simulacrum or the epoche which create an aesthetic doubling or, particularly in Barthes, an aesthetic distance from an origin of some type--a human subject, a discrete selfcontained object, an original context. Distance, as Simone Well once wrote, is the very soul of beauty. Distance, or, more exactly, the quest for separation appears to lie at the core of what I am calling the aesthetic position, whether one examines the particular aestheticisms of Flaubert, Mallarmd, or Barthes. Aestheticizing discourse explores the ludic, sensual, anti-utilitarian spaces of separation and absence that artifice (the imaginative nihilation and recomposing--or fragmentation--of an object), negation, radical doubt, perversion, fantasy, boredom and solitary pleasure can produce. Within these spaces apart or between, the aesthete or decadent is free to re-invent or destroy whatever she chooses. Or, alternatively, she can play indefinitely with the effects and tensions created by mediation. In enhancing that space and distance apart from doxic discourse, the constraints of context and the heavy "screen of meaning" which stops the play of the sign are diminished, even theoretically overcome. The aesthete moves toward the intense and cerebral pleasures of ambiguity-in Barthes' discourse, the gratifications of signifiance, irony, textuality, jouissance, paradox, connotation, reflexivity, drift, perversion, erasure, abjuration, and the paragrammatic.  32 Barthes, like earlier aesthetes and decadents, seeks distance: distance from the pressures of bourgeois culture, from a gross and intransigent material world and its moral issues, from the history of others (including cultural traditions and prior interpretations), from utilitarian aesthetic values, from genetic models dealing in beginnings and in deaths, in choices, limitations and consequences; distance from the traps of personality, identity, social violence, power, the sleep of Doxa. This distance, as I will argue, is the very space of aesthetic creativity in Barthes. It is at once the source of its power and its hidden vulnerability; and a space, for women and other marginals reading him, of promise and deception.  Of the writers (Flaubert, Baudelaire, Mallarmd) venerated throughout Barthes' texts, Flaubert is the one most often mentioned. With Mallarmê, he figures in WDZ, S/Z, PT and several essays as a liminal writer and theoretician of modernity. In  WDZ, as the next chapter will show, Flaubert is prized as the first writer to fully appreciate the tragic situation of the writer in bourgeois culture, and reject the bourgeois ideology of naive representation, turning instead toward the altar of style and the ethos of art as a conscious crafting of a language which does not coincide with any referent. Barthes is only one among several contemporary critics who champion the aesthetic and modernist aspects of Flaubert that harmonize with the  39 values of post-structural theorizing. Read as ironic, perverse, even aporetic avant la lettre, Flaubert has been repeatedly celebrated as the first modern writer to espouse the death of the author (in his cult of authorial impersonality), and to consciously subvert both representation and narrative, miming realism only to aim at undecidability. Flaubertian realism, as Eugenio Donato writes, deliberately works "in the space between subject and representation." 13 Deploying a network of details suspended over absence, it generates the illusion of verisimilitude--what Barthes will refer to as the "reality-effect"--while subtly pointing to the artifice of its representation. 14 In "Literature Today" Barthes glosses the import of Flaubert's practice of realism, emphasizing the disjunction between language and the world of objects already broached in WDZ. Yet, what is the real? We never know it except in the form of effects (the physical world), functions (the social world), or fantasies (cultural world); in short, the real is never anything but an inference; when we declare we are copying reality, this means that we choose a certain inference and not certain others: realism is, at its very inception subject to a choice... ("LT," CE 159/163-164) Barthes pursues the implications of the truism that reality exceeds any description of it, that it cannot be copied in its entirety. "Realism," Barthes asserts in "The Reality Effect," a later essay partially devoted to Flaubert, "is only fragmentary, erratic, confined to details." ("RE," RL 147/174) The modern real becomes, in Flaubert, a self-conscious  40 discontinuous simulacrum, a series of significant and insignificant details linked together on an empty page which, when read at the proper distance, generate a deceptive referential illusion. Flaubertian realism, however, is not a crammed verbal world which seeks to distract the reader from the inhering emptiness and absence of the literary sign. Rather, as Barthes notes, Flaubert calibrates aesthetic imperatives and referential constraints, establishing a delicate balance between mimesis and linguistic reflexivity, making a textual lace of ruptures and absences (anacoluthons and asyndetons) linked by "interstichal notations" and details which do not denote the real so much as signify it. ("RE," RL 147-148/174). These ruptures and details draw the attention of the contemporary reader, disturbing the smooth flow of the real. In this way the referential illusion in the Flaubertian text is undermined as those balances shift and language slowly separates from the referent and the narrative Trieb, becoming visible and intermittent. Barthes comments: ...for the first time, with Flaubert, the rupture is no longer, exceptional, sporadic, brillant, set in the base material of a common utterance: there is no longer any language on the other side of these figures (which means, in another sense: there is no longer anything but language....the narrative is deconstructed, and yet the story remains readable... (PT 9/18) The Flaubertian text is therefore radically ambiguous: it actively lends itself to multiple reading strategies. A reader can opt to focus upon the conforming edge of pleasure, devouring  41 language to fuel the illusory "realistic world" and story; she can attend, with Flaubert, to form; or, as Barthes chooses, she can move closer to follow the "mimesis of language" (language imitating itself). Spacing is, as Derrida argues, a necessary condition of intelligibility. 15 In Flaubert that spacing is played with, pushed almost to the point where intermittence-the rupturing of language's flow and telos--causes what Barthes refers to in PT as the "two edges of language" to appear: the doxic, conformist, "plagarizing" edge of readerly language (the lisible), and the wilder, erotic edge of language (associated^with^jouissance^and^the^scriptible). Intermittence--the distance between signs, the gap between word and thing, clothing and flesh, gesture and meaning, the chasm between scriptor and reader--is, Barthes will claim in his post-structural phase, what creates the textual and the erotic. The subtle Flaubertian gap between word and thing estranges language from its ostensible origin and reason for being. To return to the interview "Literature Today": there Barthes suggests that the meanings of words derive less from their relation to the object they signify than from their paradigmatic and syntagmatic relation to other words. Language becomes a separate, almost parthenogenetic (un)reality (1 'irr6e/). 16 relation to objects themselves, literature is fundamentally, constitutively unrealistic; literature is unreality itself; ...literature is on the contrary the very consciousness of the unreality of language;  42 the 'truest' literature is the one which knows itself as the most unreal... ("LT," CE 160/164) In a move that will become increasingly characteristic of his intellectual style, Barthes subverts the usual definition and telos of realism, proposing, as Naomi Schor remarks, not a naive unreflective realism, but a new "linguistic realism" inspired by Flaubert and Mallarme (RD 87): Realism...cannot be the copy of things, therefore, but the knowledge of language; the most 'realistic' work will not be the one which 'paints reality', but which, using the world as content (this content itself, moreover, is alien to its structure, i.e. to its being), will explore as profoundly as possible the unreal reality of language. ("LT," CE 160/164) Flaubert remains a friendly tutor text during Barthes' post-structural phase, where the war on the ideology underlying naive realism intensifies. In the 1970 essay "Flaubert and the Sentence" Barthes praises Flaubert's work on the materiality of language, and his useless (i.e. intransitive) martyrdom of style. In this essay Flaubert is figured in unmistakably aesthetic terms, his creative agony being a species of aesthetic intensity and expenditure pour rien, albeit inverted and masochistic. The text opens with a consideration of Flaubert's sequestration and Sisyphean passion. Writing demands, in the Flaubertian aesthetic, "an irrevocable farewell to life," "the very sacrifice of a life," and a "pitiless sequestration" not, as in Proust, to recover a past lifeworld through the act of writing, but, in the Barthesian  43 interpretation, for another reason: "to experience^the structure of the language as a passion." ("FS," NCE 69-71/135138) Writing is an odyssey engaging the writer's entire existence: "to write is to live. . . .to write and to think are but one action, writing is a total being": an aesthetic which once led Flaubert to describe himself as a home-plume (a "human pen"). ("FS," NCE 71/138) Writing--the quest for style--does not redeem the boredom from which Flaubert suffers when without the mediating protection of art: it is at best a strangely compensatory activity. "Style", Barthes writes, is, for Flaubert, "absolute suffering, infinite suffering, useless suffering." ("FS," NCE 69/135) The essence of the Flaubertian style is not, as in Proust, one of endless addition; rather, it is one of endless erasure, correction, and permutation in which Flaubert comes to experience the indeterminacy, and the "theoretical infinity" of language in his writing. The Flaubertian verbal world, built upon the impossible notions of absolute style and le mot juste, and hence upon revision and ellipsis, is open, upon each reading by the writer, to what Barthes, opting for an obviously existential phrase, baptizes as "the vertigo of an infinite correction." ("FS," NCE 74/140) The Flaubertian text's perpetual vulnerability to erasure, even negation, can be interpreted as a paradoxal product of its nascent materiality. The Flaubertian text is built up sentence by sentence, block by block. With Flaubert the  44 sentence literally becomes, Barthes argues, a new literary object in which the writer's freedom is invested. ("FS," NCE 7678/142-144) This new literary unit, the sentence, presents itself as a separate, finite thing, only to metamorphose under the writer's gaze. Barthes describes the Flaubertian drama of writing in terms which come to resemble the situation of the post-structural scriptor. Flaubert initially confronts the sentence in an almost sculptural fashion. He sees it as a discrete object whose finitude and beauty fascinates him, seducing him into its realm with the promise of perfection, of achieving pure art. Once within the sentence (that is, actually writing), Flaubert encounters the infinite and amorphous freedom of language, apprehending, as always, that every sentence is "unsaturable": that, as Barthes puts it, "there is no structural reason to stop it here (the present version) rather than there (some future version) " ("FS," NCE 77/143) In 1853 Flaubert, recognizing that the text is theoretically infinite, writes: "Ah! What discouragements sometimes, what a Sisyphean labor style is, and prose especially! It's never finished!" ("FS,' NCE 77/143) The Flaubertian text is condemned to incompletion, and its aesthetic to perpetual failure. Yet this constant and agonizing failure, Barthes subtly notes, is what allows Flaubert to go on writing in the confined and yet vertiginous space of the sentence. Flaubertian sequestration has for its center (and its symbol) a piece of furniture which is not the desk but the divan: when the depths of agony are plumbed, Flaubert throws himself on his  45 sofa: this is his 'marinade,' an ambiguous situation...for the sign of failure is also the site of fantasy [i.e. connotation and drift), where the work will gradually resume, giving Flaubert a new substance which he can erase anew. ("FS," NCE 70/136) Ensconced in his study, engaged in the "Sisyphean circuit" of his writing, Flaubert uncovers the undecidable nature of language, its trickster aspect, and the nothingness lying beneath it that both delights him and yet causes him to take refuge in style and the defensive utopian formalism of "a book about nothing." ("FS," NCE 70/136) Something of Flaubert's attraction to absence and its corollary themes may be seeping through in the first version of L 'Education sentimentale, where he writes: Women do not like death. That profound love for nothingness that the poets of our age carry in the very depths of their being frightens them...Do not tell them that you like the empty sockets of yellowed skulls and the greenish walls of tombs; and do not tell them that you have an enormous aspiration to return to the infinite, like a drop of water that evaporates in order to fall back into the ocean... (FLP 38) Sartre once referred to Flaubert as "one of the original Knights of Nothingness," acknowledging both Flaubert's attraction to and yet wariness of absence and silence. Flaubert, as Barthes points out, is involved in a complex flirtation with nothingness: "Flaubert subtracts, erases, constantly returns to zero, begins over again." ("FS," NCE 70/136) Yet when Flaubert finds that he cannot write, that ht cannot produce something, anxiety and ennui overwhelm him.  46 Barthes appends this footnote--a passage from Flaubert's legendary correspondence: Sometimes when I feel empty (je me trouve vide), when expression is refractory, when after having scribbled many pages I discover that I haven't made a single sentence, I fall on my couch and lie there stupified in an inner marsh of ennui. ("FS," NCE 70/136) In "Flaubert and the Sentence" Barthes acknowledges the anxiety that silence and the vertigo of the sentence can provoke in Flaubert, while in WDZ, S/Z, and PT those anxieties are substantially ignored. In these two latter texts Flaubert is figured as a writer who aggressively works with that corrosive ambiguity and what one might refer to as the vertigo-effect. Vertigo is a complex and enduring category of experience in Barthesian aesthetics. Sartrean vertigo (or its harbinger, and sometimes synonym, nausea) is a purely negative mental and physiological reaction to theatening encounters with absurdity, provoked equally by glimpses of the void, human futility, the threatened negation of the self by the other, or some repulsive excess (usually of matter). Barthesian vertigo is complicated: it can be either attractive (as in jouissance) or repulsive. In Barthes it is not nothingess (le ndant) but stupidity and/or repletion (the two are often conjoined) that brings on the nemesis of aesthetes, boredom, or nausea. With Barthes the plenitude and stasis of doxic realism is an enduring source of vertigo that must be countered by the practice of linguistic realism. And in Barthes' account this is precisely what Flaubert, with his ironic, distanced realism that blurs  47 the controlled borderlines of a stable ("classical") irony, begins to effect. The referential codes have a kind of emetic virtue, they bring on nausea by the boredom, conformism, and disgust with repletion that establishes them. The classic to make them ironical, i.e., to superimpose on the vomited code a second code which expresses it at a distance (emphasis mine); in other words, to engage a metalinguistic process (the modern problem is not to halt this process, not to span the distance taken with respect to a language). (S/Z 139/145) The Ironic Code (if it is apprehended as such) ruptures any naive connection between reader and text, and, potentially, the text and a naive mimetic function. Irony, Barthes writes, forces disconnection and "constitutes writing in all its power as a game." (S/Z 139-40/146) But where Barthesian "classicism" quickly confines the destructive scope of irony, afraid that language might shred its mimetic lace and reveal the fraudulent nature of the author (i.e. of the voice and the original utterance), Flaubert, the liminal modernist, couples an uncertain irony with free indirect discourse and unleashes it in his sentences. He begins, as Barthes writes, to breach the "wall of voices" and pass through the other side, to a multivalent text, to a subject-less ecriture(S/Z 45/52). The effects of this unstable irony on subjectivity and authorial responsibility--already equivocal in Flaubert--are traumatic. Literature is thrown into an uncertain world of circulating codes. The text "speaks" in its voiceless and yet polyphonic confusion: upon examination, discrete voices--those of the  48 author, the narrator, the characters, or society--cannot be assigned. The slow death of the classical author, and the birth of the post-structural text, begins here: as must, eventually, an ethical interrogation of Barthesian post-structuralism. Flaubert...working with an irony impregnated with uncertainty, achieves a salutory discomfort of writing: he does not stop the play of codes (or stops it only partially), so that (and this is indubitably the proof of writing) one never knows if he is responsible for what he writes (if there is a subject behind his language); for the very being of writing (the meaning of the labor that constitutes it) is to keep the question Who is speaking? from ever being answered. (S/Z 140/146)  If Flaubert and Mallarmd are the more obvious and cerebral tutor texts of Barthesian discourse, the egocentric passion, perversion (in the appreciative Barthesian sense) and intelligence of Baudelaire is certainly less often recognized as aAintertext funding Barthesian post-structuralism. Although echoes of Baudelaire on reverie, ennui, sexuality and perversion are frequent in PT and other works, Barthes infrequently mentions Baudelaire by name, except when alluding to Baudelaire's notorious investigations of the effects of hashish in Artificial Paradises. A brief reflection will bring to mind a pool of thematics and positions common to the two writers. There is, to begin with, a similar anti-utilitarian, anti-mimetic, anti-bourgeois, pro-dandy stance: Barthes' comment that at the end of the nineteenth century the word  49 "bourgeois" designated an "aesthetic disease" (ffun mal esthetique") expresses a shared perception and a mutual nemesis.("B," RL 192/222) A dislike of the natural and the endoxic (la banalitd and le poncif, in the Baudelairean vocabulary), leads both writers to celebrate novelty, marginality, excess, reverie (connotation and drift in Barthes), various forms of "perversion," the fortuitous, unrepeatable sensation or event, and, of course, the specificity and ephemerality of individual desire. Critical of science and of unequivocal assertions, both writers come to adopt a stance of strategic ignorance, favouring the ambiguity and irresolution of the experiential over the arrogance of abstract systems. Both are urban writers, delighting in the artificiality, the accelerated rhythms and the overstimulation of the surrogate Nature of the metropolis. And both writers are sensual and innovative critics espousing solitary pleasure as one of their primary values. If the disembodied linguistic aestheticism of Flaubert and Menem& can be said to constellate the pole of the Symbolic Aesthetic, then Baudelaire s cultivation of the particular, of the sensual, and of an aimless pleasure pour rien begins to establish the pole of the pre-Symbolic Aesthetic that will increasingly draw Barthes' attention in the late 1970s. In "To the Bourgeois," the prefatory chapter to the Salon  of 1846, Baudelaire--the isolated poet/critic--ironically acknowledges the bourgeois hegemony, his note revealing a deep mistrust of that class's powers and values--a wariness so  50  utterly reiterated in Barthes that Baudelaire's note could preface most of Barthes' texts. You are, Baudelaire writes to the silent ascending bourgeois, the majority: either savants or owners, you govern the community: you are in power. You have also, his apostrophe goes on, changed the practice of art, drawing it into the web of commerce and the idea of progress, instituting collections, museums, galleries. You--and not some suffering minority--are, he continues, reaching a heavily ironic apotheosis, being rich and learned, the natural friends of art. And what function would art serve in Baudelaire's sardonic scenario? Art is a domesticated harlot that soothes the savage--but weary--bourgeois: "When you have given society your science, your industry, your work, your money, you can claim, as payment, pleasures of the body, the mind and the imagination" (i.e. art). ("k9," OC 415-417) And when the bourgeois moyen sensuel receives enough restorative pleasure, he, and by extension, society itself, being "happy" and satiated (repue) will attain a golden state of equilibrium. Baudelaire and Barthes concur that bourgeois culture, seeking this state of equilibrium, of safety, attempts to domesticate and commodify art by reasserting two bankrupt principles. The first is the unity and continuity of past and present: that is, the economic and cultural viability of the Great Tradition; and, secondly, the idea of art as representation. Neither writer tolerates such doxa. The hypothesis of historical rupture--the assertion of a chasm between past and present culture forwarded in texts such as WDZ--alienates and frees  51 both writers into what Baudelaire identifies as the sources of originality, modernity, and modern beauty: the writer's own sensibility and his attention to the contingencies of the present moment. Here, from "Modernity," is his apprehension of artistic modernity: Modernity is the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art, of which the other half is the eternal and the immutable ....As for this transitory, fleeting element whose metamorphoses are so frequent, you have no right to either scorn it or to ignore it. By suppressing it, you are bound to fall into the emptiness of an abstract and undefinable beauty... ("M,"OC 695) Rather than positing a simple model of cultural history in which modernity (the perceiver's present) arises smoothly from antiquity, Baudelaire proposes a more complicated model in which, as Matei Calinescu argues, the present is freed from the authority of tradition. (FFM 48) Denied its usual dominance, the past is figured as a series of heteroclite and noncommunicating modernities which recede into a synchronic reservoir known as antiquity. Rejecting the classical model of cultural development, in Baudelaire the locus of creative potency is no longer in the past, but in the present moment of creation. The Great Tradition, no longer quite a living well, can become a kind of curio shop sans proprietaire filled with vases and beautiful bones--"lovely and outdated things", as Barthes puts it in L--that the estranged poet is free to break or shoplift in the service of her own art. As Baudelaire warns:  52.  Woe unto him who seeks in antiquity anything other than pure art, logic, and general method. By plunging too deeply into the past, he loses sight of the present; he renounces the values and privileges provided by circumstances; for almost all our originality comes from the stamp that time imprints upon our feelings. (OCFFM 48)  In Baudelaire the classical cultural time-line begins to shift and rupture, edging toward a contemporary sense of posthistory and the aestheticist's celebration of the intense, unrelated moment. Calinescu glosses:  ...Baudelaire means by modernity the present in its 'presentness,' in its purely instantaneous quality. Modernity, then, can be defined as the paradoxical possibility of going beyond the flow of history through the consciousness of historicity in its most concrete immediacy ....Separated from tradition (in the sense of a body of works and procedures to be imitated), artistic creation becomes an adventure and a drama in which the artist has no ally except his imagination. ( OCFFM 49-50) Baudelairean modernity and beauty are predicated not only upon a pervasive sense of contingency, of the fugitive nature of things, but also upon the strength of individual artistic imagination. ("RF," OC 620) Adumbrating the Nietzschean notion of perspectivism, by punning repeatedly on the idea of the real and the true to disengage his own notion of multiple subjective "realities", Baudelaire writes: "The artist...must only render  53 according to what he sees and feels. He must be truly  ( reellement) faithful to his own nature."  (  H RF , OC 620) On the  pain of death the artist must avoid borrowing the eyes and the feeling of another man, however great he may be; because then his art will be inauthentic: it will be lies rather than realites. Baudelaire assails the values of classical representation.  "  ' Copy nature: copy only nature. There is no  greater triumph than an excellent copy of nature '  "  he  mocks. ( "RF, OC 619-620) This doctrine, which the bourgeois apparently aspires to apply to all the arts, is, in his frank estimation, the enemy of art. Baudelaire phrases the response of the creative artist to this doxic imperative, articulating the anti-naturalism and chronic dissatisfaction of the rebellious aesthete, underscoring the aesthete's perception of a chronic lack of some kind which motivates his creative response. "I find it futile and tedious to represent what is, because nothing that is satisfies me. Nature is ugly: I prefer the monsters of my fantasy to positive triviality." (RF," OC 620) Representation is inimical to art in the Baudelairean aesthetic. Nature--or, broadly, the external object to be rendered--is rejected as an unsuitable subject. Ugly, alien, or merely flawed, the external object and the mimetic imperative conspire to suppress the artist 's own supplementary "nature": the islands of pleasure and reverie generated by his own body and imagination (in Barthes, the pleasures arising from and within the elsewhere of the Text). Imagination, Baudelaire concurs with his romantic predecessors, is the primurn mobile: it creates and  54 governs the world. ( "RF, " OC 621) Active individual imagination must be protected because only it is capable of creating "new worlds" and the precious event of the new which forestalls ennui and the closure of banal reality (an argument Barthes will advance in slightly different terms in PT) . "Imagination is the queen of the true, and the possible is one of the provinces of the true. It is positively related with the infinite." ("RF," OC 621) As critically, Baudelaire apprehends the way in which realism, by devaluing the imagination, lures art into the clutches of industry. In the Salon of 1859, oppressed by the tenacious doctrine of realism, and by the new threat the daguerreotype appeared to pose to both visual and verbal art forms, Baudelaire condemns photography. Photography, seen naively by the bourgeois as rendering reality more faithfully and completely than any traditional art medium, puts more pressure on traditional art forms. The bourgeois credo had long been, to cite Baudelaire's version, "I believe in nature, and only in nature...I believe that art is and can only be the exact reproduction of nature" (excluding, Baudelaire notes, "repugnant" objects such as chamberpots and skeletons which suggested some of the suppressed themes of bodily existence). ("PM," OC 617) Now progress and industry had produced a technique which could crank out an infinite number of instances of "absolute art." All arts, Baudelaire could hear the bourgeois saying, should aspire to the condition of photography. Although an instance of artifice, Baudelaire curiously denied photography the status of art. In  55 his estimation it was merely a form of transcription which excluded the human imagination. Photography was the revenge of the impotent and the industrialist. It threatened to degrade art and the human imagination, encouraging society to become an immense Narcissus bent over its trivial image on a metal plate. Baudelaire worried about the long term effects of this new technology, fearing that a people whose eyes were accustomed to considering the results of a material science as art would suffer a diminished imaginative and aesthetic sense. (OC 272) And, perhaps half-ironically, perhaps not, Baudelaire goes on to argue that imagination nurtures the moral sense. Without this cardinal faculty, he contends, morality itself suffers degradation: virtue without imagination turns hard, cruel, sterile, bigoted. ("RF," OC 621) Art (in Barthes , the utter artifice that is writing) overcomes the closure, imperfection and determinism of the natural, offering humanity the opportunity to improve upon and even surpass the natural. Through the triumph of style, the human imagination asserts itself over matter, creating a certain space of freedom in which to operate. As the nineteenth century progressed, aesthetes increasingly seized every opportunity, no matter how small or far away from traditional definitions of art, to deform the natural and increase the realm of artifice, leading to the life-as-art ethos of the dandy and the decadent. As Baudelaire rails in his essay "In Praise of Makeup": "Who would dare assign art to the sterile function of imitating nature? Makeup does not have to hide itself, to try to evade detection; on  56 the contrary, it can display itself ...candidly." ("EM," OC 717) From the same essay, this is Baudelaire on fashion (another humble quotidien practice of artifice): Fashion considered as symptomatic of the taste for the ideal which floats in the human mind above all the coarse, earthy, filthy things that natural life accumulates therein, as a sublime deformation of nature, or rather as a permanent and successive attempt to reform nature. ("EM," OC 716) Since Baudelaire perceives the natural as inhuman and ugly, artifice--the manipulation, overcoming, or suspension of the natural--is regarded by him as a primary good. In both Barthes and Baudelaire, art and artifice are fused notions motivated by desire. Desire in the Baudelairean aesthetic--the need to escape the replete insensibility of the bourgeois  world, the desire to express individual vision, emotional states, and, equally, to experience pleasure--demands the imaginative construction or reconstruction of objects such that they are liberated from the realm of the natural and cross over to the realm of the artificial. In both writers artifice often centres upon a provocative play with gender, sexuality, and a re-writing of the human body intended to liberate the erotic from the utilitarian grasp of the natural. Aligned with that other positive value, artifice and transgression (the Baudelairean crime and mal receiving a secular treatment in Barthes) are signal elements in their common ideological challenge to realism. The revolt against the imperatives of representation and  57 normative aesthetics are key to the aesthetic and critical practices of both writers. Baudelaire's appraisal of the inadequacy and oppressive nature of systemic thought precedes Barthes' rejection of theoretical systems by more than a century. 17 In his writing on the universal exposition of 1855, Baudelaire indicts normative aesthetics and theories. Whether in its Greek, Italian, or Parisian versions, the "senseless doctrine" of the Beautiful, shut up in the sclerotic but "blinding strength of its system," has lost touch with its sensual origins, surviving only to forbid the living to enjoy, to dream, or to think in any terms other than those of its system. System, unopposed, issuing its abstract rules from "a small scientific temple," would eradicate the perception of difference ("la vari6te, le bizarre") from life, blurring all sensations into its "vast, monotonous, and impersonal unities." ("MC," OC 577) Categories as "immense as boredom and the void" would reiterate a doxic notion of beauty ("un beau  banal"). ("MC," OC 577) Baudelairean beauty may sometimes be contained within the classical structure of a sonnet, but it is never a normative phenomenon. Eternal beauty co-exists for Baudelaire along with unanticipated modern forms of the beautiful--forms skimmed from a pool of diverse instances of beauty, each transitory and particular. (""PVM, " OC 493/"M," OC 695) Adumbrating Barthesian difference, Baudelaire asserts the fascination of the strange: the beautiful is always "bizarre" he declares, coupling aesthetic pleasure with deviation, if not (in this  58 instance) perversion. Modern beauty is, for him, singular and strange, always signed by the necessary and involuntary mark of the passions of its creator and the circumstances of its creation. This beauty is infinitely varied, depending on the environments, moeurs, race, religion, and temperment of the artist. Baudelaire insists upon the function of passion within art: the specificity of each instance of beauty arises from the unique affective and aesthetic responses of an individual. Without those traces of individual response, those disruptions of the abstract Beautiful and conventional themes by private subjects and obsessions, there would be no modern beauty. Fortunately, Baudelaire writes, art escapes the normative rules and analyses of academics. The specificity and surprises  ("l'etonnement") of artworks--that is, its modern beauty-cannot be governed or controlled by apriori aesthetic rules.("PM,HOC  616)  Style--one's  vision or manner of seeing as it manifests in the artwork--is as critical a notion in Baudelaire as it is in Flaubert. But Baudelaire's take on style is not one which idealizes the invisibility of the author and the cool posthumous style Flaubert craved. Rather, like many aesthetic and decadent writers, he celebrates individual sensibility and its traces enriching the text. Difference, the sine qua non of Barthesian post-structuralism, turns out to play a similarly critical element in Baudelairean aesthetics. Aestheticism is, as I have suggested, marked by a dislike for norms, systems and external authority. In one essay  59 ,"Method of Criticism," a text arising out of his attendance at the 1855 Universal Exposition, Baudelaire stages an ironic confession that recalls the rejection of authorities, concepts and theoretical systems Barthes announces--and enacts--in PT. To the confession: more than once, Baudelaire begins, like his friends, he tried to enclose himself within a systemic notion of art and the beautiful from within which he could preach at his ease. But system rapidly revealed itself to be a "kind of damnation which pushes one to a perpetual abjuration." ("MC," OC 577) Although his systems always appeared, at least in the beginning, as "beautiful, vast, spacious, useful, clean, and smooth," some spontaneous and unexpected bit of life ("la vitalite universelle") would give the lie to his "childish and antiquated science," the "miserable child" of his desire for an intelligible world in which life could be captured in theoretical jars.("MC," OC 577-578) However he would attempt to modify or expand his system, it would always prove inadequate and belated, forced to run impotently after the multiform and changing aspects of the beautiful, which moves endlessly in the "infinite spirals" of life. Condemned by his intellectual honesty to a humiliating series of conversions to new systems, Baudelaire faced down two choices: either he could continue the round of philosophical engagements and apostasies, or he could take refuge in his senses and an "impeccable naivete." Recognizing the vanity of systems, he makes his decision, writing: "I prefer to speak in the name of feeling, morality and pleasure. I hope that some  60 persons, wise without being pedantic, will find my ignorance in good taste." ("MC," OC 579) This position of amateurism and strategic ignorance or, to borrow an insight from Barthes on Baudelaire,^this^will^to^"nonfulfillment" ("1 'inaccomplissement") (which is, as Barthes emphasizes, recognized by Sartre as a existential choice), is one Barthes will himself adopt. ("EST," CE 25/41) Barthes' suppleness and idiosyncracy as a creative critic recalls Baudelaire's critical practice. In the Salon of 1846 Baudelaire lays out some of his views on criticism. The best criticism is not, under the pretext of impartial explication, "cold and algebraic." ("QB?,"OC 418) Whether in an orthodox or more poetic style destined for the eyes of an elect of poetic readers, a critical response must be written from a passionate and partial perspective. But it cannot be dogmatic. It must issue from a critical point of view which is always actively seeking "new horizons." The best criticism is "amusing and poetic," achieving a sensitive and intelligent translation of an individual's experience of a specific artwork. While acknowledging the necessity of writing some criticism in a conventional manner, Baudelaire speculates that the best critical account of a painting, for instance, might be a sonnet or an elegy. ("QB?," OC 418) This subsequent or supplementary act of poetic-creation-as-criticism discourages the use of pedantic jargon (already denounced by Baudelaire) and not only undermines the primary and secondary textual categories fundamental to hermeneutic criticism, but creates what  61 Barthes, quoting Proust, refers to as a salutory hybridization and "indecision of genre" that Barthes himself practises.( "LC," RL 279/315) In Baudelaire, the critic's options theoretically multiply as the critical act begins to bifurcate into orthodox, readable public texts and hybrid poetic texts that approach the condition of a privileged creativity, foregrounding the active critical response which generates a subsequent text of potentially equal interest. Baudelaire honoured both intelligence (seen as the analytic impulse) and the imagination (the synthesizing impulse) as equally important aspects of the creative psyche. Though not advancing the Nietzschean argument that intellectual activity is, even in its degraded and unselfconscious moments, an aestheticizing and quasi-creative activity, one could argue that Baudelaire draws poetic and analytic modalities closer together. In the text on Wagner he recognizes that poetic and intellectual modalities ideally support one another. Since a poet (a generic term designating the creative artist) must harbour within himself a critic who uncovers the hidden laws of his art in order to continue creating, he must therefore have a more complete experience of art, and is, in Baudelaire's view, potentially the best critic. ("W," OC 495-496) Baudelaire's preference for the poet-critic, or to put it in other terms, the poeticization of criticism, stimulates later generations of English and French writers who figure as covert intertexts for Barthesian post-structuralism. The poet-critic, in Pater, becomes the aesthetic critic who  62 writes subtle answering essays that cannot be read as other than primary texts themselves. Pater's texts, like Barthes', are hypersubtle webs of texture, reflection and mood which exquisitely overwhelm and dissolve whatever is drawn into their hyphos. And in Wilde, the recognition of the creative nature of criticism culminates in the notion of the critic as artist: a category in which Barthes might fit most comfortably. Although this thesis will not focus upon the sometimes striking affinities observable between the post-structural aesthetic values of Barthes and Pater (Proust being, I suspect, a literal intertext), or Barthes and Wilde (Gide acting as a possible intermediary), I want to signal connections which should be explored in a prehistory of contemporary literary theory. Barthesian post-structuralism is, if anything, a body of hypotheses about, and experiments in, reading. Pater and Wilde not only adumbrate aspects of Anglo-American readerresponse theories, but nurture, and in Wilde's case, argue for the parallel creativity and autonomy of both the critic and the critical text: notions of paramount importance in Barthes' post-structural theorizing. And Pater and Wilde are among the first European critics to unhook criticism from its servitude to high culture and to the past, granting critics the permission to read in unheard-of and perverse fashions, denying the sanctity and authority of the primary text, overcoming it with what we would recognize as very contemporary strategies of paradox, irony, citation, recontextualization, reflexivity, excess (in the Barthesian sense), disfigurement, digression,  63 and biographical intrusion. Like Baudelaire, for Barthes reading is not a passive reception of artworks or the spectacle of the world, but rather an active creation which delights in its own brio and excessiveness, in its freedom and its uselessness within bourgeois society. By the time of PT, Barthes has begun to work through his strategy of reading as a counter-bourgeois discursive strategy. Following the lead of aesthetes and decadents such as Proust and Huysmans, Barthes makes reading a site of resistance to bourgeois notions of art and language. Reading becomes particularly precious when it does not follow the rules of culture and easily produce a viable cultural product (a text, an iterable interpretation, an imago), but rather subtracts the text and the act of reading from the economy of culture, drawing it into a realm of private pleasure and expenditure pour rien. The reader becomes another kind of amateur, a counter-bourgeois amateur whose activity, modeled after the earlier practice of decadents, is intense and ephemeral, decentred, self-consuming, without memory of itself.  Barthes and the intertexts of western decadence  ...the world must be remade for my pleasure: my pleasure will be simultaneously the ends and the means: in organizing it, in distributing it, I shall overwhelm it [the world). (SFL 79/85)  64 Under the heading "Decadence" the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics provides a partial inventory of the characteristics of decadent discourse. Decadence is, the entry begins, inadvertantly touching upon the enduring ideology of classicism and the transgressive nature of decadent art, an adjective applied to diverse "periods or works whose qualities are held to mark a 'falling-away' (L: de-cadere) from previously recognized standards of excellence." (PEP 185) The two most notorious periods of decadence in Western literary history to date have been the Hellenistic period (ca.300-30 B.C.E.) and the last-century span of symbolist and decadent movements in fin-de-siecle France and England (ca.1880s-late 1890s). To summarize the analysis of decadence found in the middle third of this entry: the decadent poet lives in a state of Heraclitean flux, his values and attention confined within narrowly egocentric limits which, ironically, leads to an only momentary satisfaction. His existence is a cycle of desire feeding upon itself. The decadent individual is concerned, in the Paterian phrase, not with the fruit of experience but experience itself--whether experience is met by chance on the street, in some private library or gallery, or in a boudoir. The works--and, often, the life--of the decadent "poet" (a generic term used within the entry) manifest some of the following traits. Terrified by the spectre of boredom, the decadent launches himself on a perpetual quest for novelty, with an attendant cultivation of the artificial and the unnatural. The decadent is, the entry continues, prone to the following:  65 excessive self-analysis, neurosis, feverish hedonism, an obsession with corruption and morbidity, and an exaggerated erotic sensibility. His work tends to align itself with the values of aestheticism (1 'art pour l'art). Like the aesthete, the decadent and his work can also demonstrate some of the following: a preoccupation with and cultivation of rare sensations and emotions coupled with a scorn of contemporary society and utilitarian mores; a restless curiosity, perversity and eccentricity; an "overemphasis" on formal elements, with a resultant "attrition" of content; an interest in ornamentation and detail; a cultivation of the exotic, the esoteric, and dream-states (reverie), leading to a predominantly connotative use of language ; the substitution of coherence in mood for coherence and synthesis in thought; obscurity, arising from remote, private, or complicated imagery, diction, and syntax; a penchant for synesthesia, and  transpositions d'art which heighten the musicality or visual aspects of a text; and radical experimentations with prosody. The aesthetic choices of the decadent artist precipitate the disintegration of the well-wrought art object in classical and neoclassical terms, giving onto the ambiguous art objects of contemporary modernities. (PEP 185) The Princeton entry attends to conventional analyses of decadence, but neglects some of the more vital theoretical and philosophical aspects of decadence. The corrosive skepticism and relativity of most decadent writing is repeated in the negative theology of Barthesian ecriture, while the decadent  66 cult of artifice and the life-as-art ethos engages in the very acts of mediation which underlie the post-structural textualization of the subject and reality. The resurgence of sensuality and the experiential body in decadent writing, its anti-utilitarian ethos and its insistence on the marginality and exclusion of the individual (often a marginal several times over as an addict, homosexual, "pervert", and so on) recur in Barthes. And, finally, the decadent's sense of cultural belatedness--of culture returning a second time, but as farce, as Barthes writes--supports a shift toward ironic forms of criticism, personal culture and a fascination with isolated detail which are, again, encountered in Barthesian poststructuralism. ("TS," RL 342/379) One must examine the genesis of decadence in the turn aesthetic discourse begins to take in the middle of the nineteenth-century, as those attitudes broaden from a relatively contained position into the more radical and reflexive ethos of decadent life and art styles. Sensibility: whether productive or purely reflexive, it is, of course, a master term of both aesthetic and decadent discourse. The cult of sensibility supports the turn from the more philosophical sensualism of early aesthetes to the later reworking of aesthetic values into the hedonism and narcissism of the 1880s and the yellow nineties. That turn develops slowly, beginning with Gautier in the 1830s and attaining a critical point in the work of Baudelaire. It is with Baudelaire that the responding consciousness--  67 whether of the critic, the amateur or the observant dandy-begins to assume greater importance. In Baudelaire the poet is, as I have indicated, not only brought into a positive relation with the critic, but is also allied with the l_gure of the dandy and the aimless flâneur. As sensitive marginals rebelling against bourgeois values, the hyper-sensitivities of the critic, the fláneur, and the dandy almost rival those of the creative artist. Over the course of the work of Baudelaire, the poetic critic and the fla neur devolve into supplementary -  creative forces as they interact with prior cultural texts. The dandy is, also, paradoxically, a creative entity, although his creativity does not lie in the creation of texts in a strictly literary sense, but rather in a generalized semiotic one. Seeking, in the Nietzschean way, to turn life into art, the dandy's very body and every gesture become, potentially, a sign. His life becomes a grandly ephemeral text--a performative counter-text inscribed on and against the semiosis of the larger social text. When Baudelaire published Les Fleurs du mal in 1857, the concept of decadence had already been in circulation for some time in England and France. 17 Artists and other marginals, morally and aesthetically alienated from the self-serving humanism of the bourgeois class, espoused, as Calinescu writes, an "aesthetic modernity" which, by the end of the century had come to be known as decadence. (FFM 162) By the middle of the nineteenth century French intellectuals had begun to explore this modernity which dramatically opposed a crass "bourgeois  68 modernity"^promising^open-ended^progress^and industrialization, democracy, material comfort, and wanting only safe (and saleable) art. Thêophile Gautier, in his 1868 preface to Les Fleurs du mal, was among the first critics to propose a sociocultural account of decadence, linking cultural and artistic decadences: The style inadequately called decadence is nothing but art arrived at the point of extreme maturity yielded by the slanting suns of aged civilizations: an ingenious, complicated style, full of shades and of research, constantly pushing back the boundaries of speech, borrowing from all technical vocabularies, taking colour from all palettes and notes from all keyboards, struggling to render what is most inexpressible in thought, what is vague and most elusive in the outlines of form, listening to the subtle confidences of passion grown depraved, and the strange hallucinations of the obsession which is turning to madness. (FFM 164) Paul Bourget, whose analyses of decadence in the 1870s and 1880s were to influence Nietzsche's own sense of the decadent, endorses Gautier's sociocultural reading. Writing from within a period of decadence, Bourget forwards a partisan defense of decadent times. Decadent periods are, Bourget argues, vigorous and superior to "organic periods" because of the intensity and audacity of its artists, and their "uneven, violent creations." (FFM 169) By "organic periods", Calinescu glosses, Bourget means highly ordered societies in which the energies of the "components" (the individual) are subordinated to the goals and demands of the "total organism." (FFM 170) As soon as individual life is considered more important than the welfare of the social  69 organism, Bourget writes, the social organism becomes decadent (hence the enduring antagonism between totalitarians and decadent individualists). Decadent societies are thus marked by a growing anomie and anarchy precipitated by an abandonment of that collective's sustaining myths in favour of some privately-worked out myth, and what one might refer to as personal culture. Most accounts of decadence focus upon the compensatory myths and activities of pleasure, passivity and skepticism. Yet there is, as Megill argues in PE, a history of decadents opting for something else: a radical creativity that arises out of the very failure of meaning. In Bourget's analysis of decadence, the decay of the social organism is mirrored in the slow-motion failure of the linguistic organism. His description of that decay foreshadows the course of what Barthes refers to as "our modernity," and suggests to contemporary readers the reiteration of decadent aesthetics within Barthesian post-structuralism, where Barthes' post-structural theory of textuality presents decadence--the failure of semantic and textual integrity--as the fundamental condition of the text. One law governs both the development and decadence of that other organism which is language. A style of decadence is one in which the unity of the book breaks down to make place for the independence of the page, in which the page breaks down to make place for the independence of the sentence and in which the sentence breaks down to make place for the independence of the word. (FFM 170) In Bourget's view, in declining societies the withdrawn  70 decadent stands in polar ideological opposition to the military barbarian--and, not surprisingly, compares favourably. Like Barthes, Bourget finds a viable if passive resistance of societal violence within the decadent stance. Bourget intimates that sensitive persons would prefer, as it were, the defeat of decadent Athens to their violent triumph over invading Macedonians. But sensitive persons always seem to comprise a social minority, and Bourget goes on to sound the theme of the decadent's marginalization and reactive hostility to majority opinions. Let us then indulge in the unusualness of our ideal and form, even though we imprison ourselves in an unvisited solitude....why sacrifice what is most intimate, special and personal to others? (FFM 171) Summarizing Bourget's position as a decadent intellectual (one akin to Barthes' eventual stand), Calinescu observes that the borderline between the intellectual recognition of the fact of decadence blurs into a commitment to decadence as a positive cultural style. This "unbounded, anarchic individualism...for all its socially paralyzing effects, is artistically beneficial" since it has "done away with traditional authoritarian requirements such as unity, hierarchy, objectivity." (FFM 171) Calinescu highlights the link between decadence and the modernities of the contemporary era, noting that "decadence thus understood and modernity coincide in their rejection of the tyranny of tradition." (FFM 171) Baudelaire stands as a transitional figure in whose  71 discourse the early phase of aestheticism gives onto the pansensuality and outrageous postures of fin de siècle decadence. Although ambivalent about both the term and the developing practise of decadence, his poetry and criticism were to serve as tutor texts for later writers and theoreticians of decadence. Throughout his texts, Baudelaire intermittently refers to his poetry as decadent (decadence and modernity being nearsynonymous in his view) . In a long apostrophic note appended to the poem "Fransicae meae laudes" Baudelaire reflects on his own modernity and that of late Latin decadence, finding similarities in the language and cadence of those two modernities. The language of that earlier decadence--its complex tenor shifting between mysticism and sensuality-appears particularly appropriate to express the complicated passions of modern poets (Baudelaire ' s decision to write "Fransicae" in Latin being a kind of hommage to his dead  decadent brothers) .The passions of those late poets were at once sophisticated and anarchic; the beauty of Latin was forcibly twisted into new configurations by them, made as subtle and overdetermined as their psyches. The complicated desire of modern poets expresses itself, for Baudelaire, not only in a similarly extreme refinement of language and sensibility but also in a free interchange of means and procedures among the arts, leading to texts sui generis which seek to blur the boundaries between arts. The artistic text, however, remains unified: Baudelaire rejected the fascination of the detail, insisting upon a subordination of elements to the  72 artistic whole, and it is this position which separates him decisively from the later generation of decadents.  Needing an audience to appreciate his complex and innovative discourse in a hostile culture, Baudelaire conjured the sensitive marginalized critic, the dandy (an amateur of art whose greatest creation is himself), and the receptive fläneur. Traces of these figures--altered and subjected to the recombinative impetus of Barthes' own desire--will return in the roles of reader, scriptor and amateur in Barthesian poststructuralism. Baudelaire frequently adopts the pose of the  flaneur in his poems. The fläneur (inevitably male, as Janet Wolff observes in "The Invisible Fläneuse: Women and the Literature of Modernity") embodies the antithesis of bourgeois values. 18 The artist, the dandy, and the flaneur begin to blur in the late nineteenth century. All three are usually visuallyoriented operators of the Sartrean gaze, resolutely urban and anti-utilitarian marginals who, as Benjamin once wrote of Baudelaire, go botanizing on the asphalt . 19 But where the dandy, in existential terms, is preoccupied with managing the dual dynamics of the gaze, seeking at once to look and to be looked at, the flaneur simply directs his gaze outward. Like the dandy and the artist, he wanders aimlessly through the surrogate nature of the metropole s streets and arcades, gazing at the pageantry of urban life and the thousands of floating existences which drift about the underworld of large cities.  73 ("AHM," OC 690-693) The flaneur, like the Barthesian subject, prefers not the grandly official subjects of tradition, but rather isolated details or moments of experience, the intimate or ephemeral private subjects which constitute the heroism of modern urban life. In Baudelaire's "Le Peintre de la vie moderne" Constantin Guys, as the paradigmatic painter of modern urban existence, moves into the stimulus of the crowd to record the "myriad impressions of day and night": He goes and watches the river of life flow past him in all its splendour and majesty... He gazes upon the landscapes of the great city...He delights in fine carriages and proud horses...the sinuous gait of the women, the beauty of the children...If a fashion or the cut of a garment has been slightly modified... be very sure that his eagle eye will already have spotted it. ("AHM," OC 692-693) Both the flaneur and the modern artist seek novelty and surprise. But where some flaneurs consume spectacles while refusing to produce anything but an intransitive stream of private experiences, the artist creates something public, or quasi-public--the artwork, the text. This is the critical distinction between the artist, the dandy, and flaneur in Baudelaire. All three look upon and move through the same environments, the same modernity, but where the flaneur and the dandy take refuge in their languid sterility and noninvolvement, the artist produces artworks, thereby keeping the cycle of culture spinning. Both the dandy and the flaneur existed as cultural phenomena before being drawn into literary discourse.  74 Baudelaire's famous take on dandyism opens with a sketch of the history and temperment of that mode of being. Dandyism is, he claims, an ancient and global phenomenon, one properly included among the range of human tempers. Caesar, Catalina and Alcibiades serve as antique prototypes; Chateaubriand claimed to have found aboriginal dandies in the forests of the New World. The dandy, in contemporary Europe, is a man of financial ease disengaged from the pressures of earning a living. Blasé, an idler, his only occupation is the pursuit of his own happiness, his only profession that of elegance. ("PV," OC 709) Dandyism is, Baudelaire writes, a venerable institution which exists outside of the law; yet has it own rigorous laws and mores. To be a dandy, one must devote oneself to cultivating the ideal of the beautiful in one's person, seeking only to feel, to think, to love, to satisfy one's passions, and to cultivate reverie. ("PV,"OC 709-170) Reverie--the old romantic topos of a consciousness drifting blissfully in the space in between--is a key term in decadent aesthetics--it is at once a stimulus to art-making, a dominant poetic theme, a rebellious act, and one of art's few proper ends. (Reverie is, as the chapter on PT will examine, an inherited strategy of emancipation Barthes reworks in the more theoretical terms of drift, connotation, and delay.) Baudelaire is pragmatic enough to note that ease (in the Barthesian sense) is a sine qua non of dandyism. Without having both money and free time, fantasy (reverie) is reduced to impotent daydreaming, and love, instead of being the subject of  75 some burning caprice or elaborate reverie, is reduced to "repugnant utility" (i.e. conjugal duty or crass orgies). ("PV,"OC 710) The dandy's aesthesis--his cultivation of reverie, the attention to the "material elegance" of his person and his environment, his "cult of the self," is seen as a kind of spiritual discipline and as evidence of the aristocratic superiority of his spirit: a spirit which seeks to escape the stifling repetitions of doxa and stereotype, achieving the state of absolute originality (the fundamental need of a dandy is,as Baudelaire puts it, "de se faire une originalit6"). ("PV," OC 710) The Baudelairean dandy is a complex spectrum of possibilities, but intensity and excess always attend his postures and actions. A bit like a heyokima, a contrary, who finds greatness in folly, or the serious in the trivial, a stoic who seeks to shock while never being shocked, the Baudelairean dandy is always performing against doxic expectations. In the last third of his account Baudelaire returns to his sociohistorical account of dandyism, observing that the dandy appears most often during troubled epochs--interregna--when the local aristocracy is faltering and degraded, but democracy is not yet entrenched. In the uncertainty of those times, and against the rising tide of democracy, some men--socially dispossessed (dêclasses), disgusted, idle, but endowed with great native strength, conceive the project of founding a new kind of aristocracy: an aristocracy founded not upon bloodlines or money, but upon inalienable "celestial gifts": taste, pose,  76 refinement. The men of this counter-democracy--dandies--however solitary they tend to be, express a common parti pris: that of intransitive opposition and revolt against banality. ("PV," OC 711) Camus, in his study of the dandy in The Rebel :An Essay on Man in Revolt, expands on Baudelaire's perception of the seditious nature of the dandy and his negative theology: The dandy creates his own unity by aesthetic means. But it is an aesthetic of singularity and negation....The dandy is, by occupation, always in opposition. He can only exist by defiance. 20 Refusing to endorse the structures of meaning and coherence emanating from some collective god-term, the dandy finds himself in a stimulating but precarious situation. Apparently disloyal to and rejecting of past and present authorities, his sense of cultural time alters dramatically. Relativity and an egocentrism of the type Todorov indicts in post-structural theories reigns. 21 R.B. sums up the isolation and the truncated sense of cultural time of the dandy in RB: "a dandy has no philosophy other than a transitory one: a life interest: time is the time of my life." (RB 106/110) Camus puts it stronger, moralizing terms, apprehending the compensatory yet futile nature of the dandy's ethos of synchronic pleasures. The dandy, Camus writes, "finds himself delivered over to the fleeting moment, to the passing days, and to wasted sensibility."(R 51) Realizing, after some time of drift, that he must create some kind of ethical structure, however minimal,  77 to contain this corrosive anomie, the dandy "rallies his forces and creates a unity for himself by the very violence of his refusal." (R 51) Pleasure, Art-for-art's-sake, and the refusal of social commitment become elements of that unity, that myth. But such unities are, to borrow a term from Barthes, largely reactive and oddly dependent ones. The dandy is, as Camus points out, always belated: he needs a prior term (or assertion) and a hostile majority if his world-view (or Imaginary) is to function. His ethos of reflexive pleasure and chronic play leads to a despair only partially dissimulated by irony. The dandy creates, in Camus' view, an untenable position: neither his creativity nor his marginality can save him. Perpetually incomplete, always on the fringe of things, he compels others to create him, while denying their values. He plays at life because he is unable to live it. (R 52) The skepticism and sterility of the dandy's pose, his allegiance to appearances, to the intensities of the moment, and to the reactive mode, forces him, Camus argues, to extreme positions. Dandyism, its alienation and negative theology carried through to its logical conclusion, ends in suicide, madness, silence, or abdication. When dandies fail to commit suicide or go insane, Camus observes wryly, they begin a career and pursue prosperity (or, following the progess of the dandy des Esseintes in Huysmans' religion).  A Rebours,  threaten to get  78 Barthes and the decomposition of bourgeois consciousness Barthes is, rather like Bourget, an intellectual whose description of a late cultural phase slides into a celebration of decadence. In Barthes' case, his writing becomes an affirmation of and repeated call for the further decomposition of bourgeois consciousness: (s)uppose that the intellectual's (or the writer's historical function today is to maintain and to emphasize the decomposition of bourgeois consciousness...we deliberately pretend to remain within this consciousness and that we will proceed to dismantle it, to weaken it, to break it down on the spot, as we would do with a lump of sugar by steeping it in water. Hence decomposition is here contrary to destruction: in order to destroy bourgeois consciousness we should have to absent ourselves from it, and such exteriority is possible only in a revolutionary situation. (RB 63/67) Western Europe is not, Barthes writes, (from the middle 1970s) in the midst of any kind of social turmoil that threatens to destroy the dominating bourgeoisie. In 1975 his estimation is that there is no viable hors-texte, no undogmatic site of utterance on the far side of bourgeois discourse. Other than "tripping the lever of a counter-term" and falling into into an unpalatable mode of a discourse of opposition, into the "aggression" of meaning, there is nowhere to go. Nowhere except into the pleasurable non-assertive spaces of dissolution and ambiguity: the territories of irony, paradox, and the novelistic, of personal culture, fragmented simulacra, multiple reading bodies and the manipulated imago, and a new version of cultural carpe diem dealing in shards and "post-  79 meanings" (aprés-sens). (RB 87/90) and destroy [bourgeois consciousness) would ultimately come to no more than reconstituting a site of speech whose one characteristic would be exteriority: exterior and motionless: in other words: dogmatic language. In order to destroy, in short, we must be able to overleap [sauter]. But overleap where? into what language? Into which site of good conscience and bad faith? Whereas by decomposing, I agree to accompany such decomposition, to decompose myself as well, in the process: I scrape, catch, drag. (RB 63/67-68) This process of cultural dissolution is, for Barthes, as he tells his reader, not agonizing but pleasurable and stimulating. Readings of ES, then PT, with its obsessive and solitary des Esseintian cultivation of the pleasures of textual perversion, followed by the sophisticated essays on art and the pleasures of the amateur collected in RF, suggest that Barthes is, if anything, a textual hedonist whose positive ethos of decadence and matte, suspended pleasures is an intertextual elaboration of nineteenth century discourses. Barthes himself, in L and that curiously distanced and unreliable systdmatique of intellectual autobiography, RB, begins to make this very case. Throughout RB, protected by the masks of the third-person singular and the screening fiction of an unnamed narrator, Barthes reflects upon the alienation and dandyism of his position. Lavish use of paradox risks implying (or quite simply implies) an individualist position, and one may say: a kind of dandyism. However, though solitary, the dandy is not a given historical  80 situation--of pessimism and rejection--it is the intellectual class as a whole which, if it does not become militant, is virtually a dandy. (RB 106/110) And he considers the evasions or at least deferrals that the aesthetic modality can achieve against the assertive forces of political (i.e. overtly positional) discourses which demand that the intellectual choose.(RB 48/52, 84-86, 87-90) Finally, as a middle-class hedonist, he muses on the value of material comfort. Like Baudelaire, he is aware of the need to finance his hedonistic modus vivendi. Just two years after PT, the rhetoric of pleasure is already mellowing into the quieter values of ease, private life, and the specificity of his body that will mark his later writing. Being a hedonist (since he regards himself as one), he seeks a state which is, really, comfort; but this comfort is more complicated than the household is a comfort he arranges for himself...This personal comfort might be called ease. Ease can be given a theoretical dignity ('We need not keep our distance with regard to formalism, merely our ease'), and also an ethical force: it is the deliberate loss of heroism, even in pleasure. (RB 43-44/48) The historical pessimism and rejection of assertion (of "heroism") in these last two passages raises the issue of Barthes' post-structural skepticism, a skepticism equally mistrustful of power and rebellion. As a negative theology skepticism, as Eugene Goodheart writes in The Skeptic Disposition in Contemporary Criticism, is a powerful and  double-edged conceptual strategy. 22 Whether in Nietzsche,  81 Wilde or Derrida, skepticism lends the critic or theoretician both a deconstructive capacity and a strong negative capability--not an empathic Keatsian faculty, but an ironic, even  nihilistic intellectual capacity which, in this world of  near zero-gravity, enables a scriptor to assume or desert any position at will. In either case, once the great doubt is set into motion, the solidity of endoxic constructs is suddenly vulnerable: the locus of power shifts from past institutions and traditions towards the solitary questioning individual working in the present--that is, ultimately modern--moment. Barthes' skepticism expresses itself in an often ambivalent assessment of cultural production, particularly the vast collective enterprise of high culture. Whether in PT, L or RB, Barthes, the arch cultural initiate, cannot resist airing his cultural ambivalence, positioning himself somewhere in the space between the cultural devotee and the barbarian that his irony opens up. In PT, reprising a theme first encountered in WDZ, he asserts: "(a)rt seems compromised, historically, culturally. Whence the effort on the part of the artist himself to destroy it." (PT 54/86) Yet even in WDZ art already appears indestructible to Barthes. In his poststructural phase, despite his efforts to level the traditional distinction between registers of discourse into a generic textuality, it will remain beyond demolition. Building upon nineteenth-century attempts to, as Barthes puts it, murder literature, contemporary efforts--other than his own--to destroy art have taken, in his reading, three forms. The artist  82 can abjure his original medium and "shift to another signifier" (a writer can, for example, begin to make video documentaries); he can renounce all overt forms of creativity, becoming a scholar or an "intellectual theorist" who no longer speaks "except from a moral site cleansed of any linguistic sensuality"; he can, lastly, emulate Rimbaud and "stop writing ,change trades, change desires." (PT 54/86) But, Barthes regrets, such attempts at cultural liquidation are always inadequate, since the epicentre of destruction arising from purist act of silencing oneself lies outside of the art realm itself. Or, should the would-be saboteur remain a practising artist, his discourse of subversion, judging from the past, is destined to a profitable recuperation. Barthes' attitude toward the vast reservoir of texts known as culture is complicated. As an aestheticizing hedonist whose primary fetishes and moments of pleasure are obtained from art objects and a decaying high culture, he allows that the existence of that body of prior works is the very condition of his enjoyment. Barthes legitimates culture through a strategic inversion: he makes "the totality of the human past"  subservient to the end of a private and ephemeral pleasure that can propose and dispose at will in the magic realm of the imagination. 23 Substantiating Iser's observation, and Camus' point about the reactive and belated nature of the dandy, in a particularly paratactic fragment in PT Barthes reflects: Pleasure of the text. Classics. Culture (the more culture, the more diverse, the pleasure will be). Intelligence. Irony. Delicacy.  83 Euphoria. Mastery.... Texts of pleasure (jouissance). Pleasure in pieces; language in pieces; culture in pieces. (RB 51/82) Barthes, like most decadents, is a cultural parasite (the term is not perjorative) who is estranged from the institutions of high culture but does not wish--and cannot afford--the demise of his host. Lacking the protective naivete and aggressive will-to-nihilation of young avant-gardists. decadents are often caught in ambivalence, both desiring and resisting the products of culture: witness Barthes' equivocal positioning of himself in PT and his subsequent texts in an uncertain place in between culture and its destruction. In PT he insists: "(n)either culture nor its destruction is erotic; it is the seam between them, the fault, the flaw, which becomes so." (RB 7/15) This disaffection with the sedimentary processes of culture is reiterated in his vision of present culture as history returning--but as kitsch and farce.(RB 88/92-93) In "Outcomes of the Text" Barthes' reflections on Bataille and Nietzsche clarifies Barthes' own post-structural practice of "decadence." He offers a surprising interpretation of decadence as a continuation of the bourgeois banalization of values. In both Bataille and Nietzsche (d)ecadence is not read, contrary to the word's accepted connotation, as a sophisticated, hypercultural condition, but on the contrary as a deflation of values: return of tragedy as farce (Marx), clandestinity of festal expenditure in bourgeois society (Bataille)....In all, the same disgust provoked by bourgeois deflation: bourgeois man does not destroy value, he deflates (aplatit) it, diminishes it, establishes a  84 system of the paltry. (RL 238-239/271-272) Both Barthesian post-structuralism and nineteenth century decadents radicalize that deflation--literally, the flattening--of values, forcing this process to its logical  conclusion: a world consituted not of meanings, but surfaces and signs, ruled by a ludic if corrosive relativity minimally contained by pleasure and desire. Objective or scientific knowledge is, as readers of the later Barthes will know, a bourgeois value that he indicts as the stale repetition of stereotypes and doxic statements. Following Bataille, Barthes comes to recognize two categories of knowledge. There is the orthodox hermeneutic "endoxal knowledge" that Barthes rails against, a "citational, referential, reverential knowledge." ("0," RL 240/273) Against that monological knowing, Bataille (and then Barthes) assembles a paradoxal counter-savoir, a bricolage of textual fragments, interfering codes, and small "curiosities" that refer back not to some cohesive universal assertion or body of texts, but to an individual's own particularity--in Barthes' essay, Barthes' and Bataille's fascination with the "strange" (especially the strangeness of "elsewhere" (de l'ailleurs) and with details. ("0," RL 240-  241/272-273) This "personal culture" "de-naturalizes" objective knowledge. As a kind of foregrounded self-conscious writing it produces a "remoter knowledge," a "burlesque, heteroclite knowledge," an inverted image of savoir (Barthes' sapentia), which, in its intransigent particularity, produces  (Barthes contends) an "incipient collapse" of the principles of  85 knowledge by its "futilization" and "miniaturization." This counter-savoir produces not mastery but astonishment. Its syncretism overcomes the orthodox separation of knowledges (of "genres," in Barthes' take). Knowledge is thus construed as a series of Nietzschean fictions; it becomes the territory of "polygraphs," that is of amateurs and writers, rather than of monological specialists.("OT," RL 240-241/272-273) With the intervention of skepticism--these various forms of aesthetic and philosophical doubt (the negative theology of writing, the flattening of values and the production of polysemic counter-knowledges)--the context that was culture is imaginatively suspended. The Barthesian sense of cultural time begins to shift toward an indulgent synchronicity and reversible syncreticism that is increasingly in evidence from PT onwards. As the 1970s progress, Barthes inclines toward an intricate and eccentric personal culture, ignoring the oppressive repertories of both high and avant-garde cultures to read and look at whatever he chooses, collecting theoretical and textual fragments, and moments of bliss, like a tourist wandering through an ageing ruin. Old and lovely texts such as Proust's novels and essays, Goethe's Werther, Chateaubriand's Vie de Rance and Memoires d'outre-tombe, Brillat-Savarin's gastronomic writing, Erte's drawings, and Schumann's music increasingly draw his attention. Overtly theoretical discussions of contemporary theories and writers fade, or move into familiar and even colloquial registers. Theories such as the Lacanian imago, as well as Barthes' own notion of a  86 systematics, drift into the subtle and even more fluid realms of metaphor and the dissembled stories of the novelistic (le romanesque) structuring RB, FLD, and CL. Throughout this period of twelve years Barthes slowly develops an alternative personal culture is not unfamiliar to readers of mid to late nineteenth century French literature. Alternative personal cultures are liberating environments that are freely as well as individually chosen and controlled, rather than inherited or passively endured. In Barthes they constitute semi-private mental pleasure domes, protective semiotic environments cobbled together by need and desire. These habitations still retain some lines of communication into endoxal culture. Barthes' vision of an ideal alternative personal culture is partially expressed in RB in terms of a "plural culture" of "composite" arts that joyously "loop" together several tastes and languages ("...un art compose,qui prenait en dcharpe plusieurs goats, plusieurs langages"), creating artforms that could be both popular and intricate, as in, for instance, Chaplin's films.(RB 54/58-59) Such art and artists, Barthes'protagonist writes, "provoke a complete kind of joy," because they offer the "image of a culture that is at once differential and collective: plural." (RB 54/58-59) The pluralism of difference inactivates the conflict and antagonism inherent in cultural models which oppose "high" and "low" forms of culture. This alternative cultural practice, Barthes continues, "then functions as the third term, the subversive term of the opposition in which we are imprisoned:  87 mass culture or high culture." (RB 54/58-59) In Barthes' plural culture the suspension of context and prior interpretations allows any object--whether a text by Balzac, a painting by Wilhelm von Gloeden, the single red fingernail of a student's lover, or a photographic selfportrait by Mapplethorpe--to be read without bowing to intentionality or any other interpretive contraints. This joyful skepticism is not merely a sophisticated intellectual position. It is also, and perhaps even more so, as Goodheart contends, a corrosive mood (in the Heideggerean sense) which causes a thing to shatter into a synchronic and textualized world of intermittence,of fine gradations and constantly shifting surfaces and conditions: substantially, the kind of beautiful and absurd world of Huysmans, Pater and their kin.  Whether one opts for a historical or intertextual perspective, there are important similarities between Barthes and his aesthetic and decadent predecessors. Beyond the evident thematic and aesthetic congruities--cultural ambivalence, the cultivation of intensity and disjunction, the adumbration of the useless reader and the useless text, the foregrounding of individual aesthetic response, the fascination with surfaces-there is even deeper agreement. Barthesian post-structuralism, like these earlier writings, is an anti-genetic discourse, a discourse of skepticism and perversion. For both, the concept of the natural is the "ultimate outrage," (RB 85/88) because  88 " (t)he natural is never an attribute of physical Nature, " but an ideological representation and the "alibi paraded by a social majority: the natural is a legality." (RB 85/88, 130/134) Looking back over his own career, R.B. comments: His work is not anti-historical (at least, so he intends), but always, persistently, antigenetic, for Origin is a pernicious figure of Nature (of Physis): by an abusive interest, the Doxa 'crushes' Origin and Truth together, in order to make them into a single proof, each reinflating the other... (RB 139/142) R.B. offers two somewhat conflicting accounts of his reaction to Nature, one more nuanced and predictably ambivalent, the other polemic. To begin with "The abandonment of origins," a fragment summarizing the polemic that encapsulates Barthes' early post-structural attitude and the strategy of semiotic pantextualization operative in S/Z and ES:  (iin order to thwart Origin, he first acculturates Nature thoroughly: nothing natural anywhere, nothing but the historical; then this culture (convinced as he is, with Benveniste, that all culture is only language) is restored to the infinite movement of various discourses... (RB 139/142) But in another, earlier, fragment, "The natural," R.B. is more equivocal, contending that against the doxic category of the "natural," he can rebel in two ways: either by arguing, "like a jurist, against a law elaborated without me and against me"; or, in the grandiose tradition of the countercultural, aggressively "wrecking the majority's Law by a transgressive  89 avant-garde action." (RB 130/134-135) R.B. is, in this second fragment (which is closer to Barthes' reflections in his later essays) a more complicated creature. Writing of himself in the third person, R.B. reflects: "[We seems to remain strangely at the intersection of these two rejections: he has complicities of transgression and individualist moods." (RB 130/134-135) The effect: (t)his produces a philosophy of the antiNature which remains rational, and the Sign is an ideal object for such a philosophy: for it is possible to denounce and/or celebrate its arbitrariness; it is possible to enjoy the codes even while nostalgically imagining that someday they will be abolished: like an intermittent outsider, I can enter into or emerge from the burdensome sociality, depending on my mood--of insertion or distance (emphasis mine). (RB 131/135) In Barthes' discourse, the poles of the Symbolic aesthetic impetus and pre-Symbolic aesthetic desire, which constitute the aesthetic continuum, meet. This continuum, ingeniously twisted back upon itself through an exploration of the abstraction and sensuality of the sign, becomes, to borrow an anticipatory image from Baudrillard, a moebius strip. In the logic of Barthes' moebius strip categories fail as contraries meet, as the distinction between inside and outside, between the model and the real, past and the present, origin and repetition, are abolished. Barthes' textual realms, the world he invites us into, is the seductive floating world apart of the sign, signifiance and the simulacrum--a world complicated in its very structure by, as the chapters on ES and PT will testify,  90 a paradoxal longing to put an end to the sign.  91  CHAPTER TWO. BARTHES DEGREE ZERO: THE PASSION OF WRITING  Evidently he dreams of a world which would be exempt from meaning (as one is from military service). This began with Writing Degree Zero in which is imagined the 'absence of every sign'; subsequently, a thousand affirmations subsequent to this dream (apropos of the avant-garde text, of Japan, of music, of the alexandrine, etc.) (RB 87/90) It was in the late 1940s, recovering from tuberculosis in a sanitorium, that Barthes first read Sartre and Brecht. From that experience, if one is to rely upon the charming if unreliable protagonist of RB, Barthes emerged a temporarily committed Sartrean and Marxist. Barthes' first major statement on literature, WDZ, is a polemical and mythopoeic document bearing a conflicted witness to the impact of Sartre upon him. Responding to the existential view of language and the call for an instrumental engaged writing in Sartre's What is Literature?, Barthes reads with and against the grain of Sartrean discourse, laying out a stylized history of literary modernity and a counter-ethos of ecriture which adumbrates his post-structural devotion to the  sign.' This counter-ethos of ecriture and personal style is one in which the writer's primary engagement is not directly with history, power, or some community of people, but rather with form and the literary word. Barthes rejects the belief in representation underwriting the Sartrean artistic ethos. A  92 relative authenticity is to be found not within the use of inherited forms to impossibly mime what exists beyond the bar of language, but in a conscious and solitary exploration of artifice and the multiple beauties of signs divorced from referents. This counter-ethos, and the themes presented in his lapidary history of French modernity, will endure throughout his career. In WDZ Barthes prefaces his speculations on the contemporary writer's situation with a spare history of the development of French literary modernity. He presents a claustrophobic scenario, using only a few genealogical points de repêre (Gautier, Chateaubriand, Flaubert, Valdry, Gide, and Mallarmd) who weave in and out through the text like Wagnerian leitmotifs. Barthes reads French history through an existential thematics. Crisis, alienation, complicity, absence, choice, the hostile gaze, the unresponsive object, and familiar metaphors of plenitude, le neant (nothingess, the void), the viscous (the Sartrean "stickiness") are deployed to figure literature's lurching fall from neoclassicism and realism into modernity's self-consciousness and impotence. In WDZ social changes precipitate a series of compensatory moves resulting in literary modernity. The historical caesura in Barthes' reading occurs sometime around 1850, when the convergence of three new sociohistorical realities--demographic expansion in Europe, the birth of capitalism, and the 1848 revolution--divided French society into mutually hostile classes, effecting an "obvious disjunction between the social vocation of the writer and the instrument which he has inherited  93 from Tradition."(WDZ 60-63/43-45,47) Confronted by the emergence of competing social discourses, by the multiple writings which were then emerging, neoclassical aesthetic and ideological unities could longer masquerade as universal. Dislodged from the artist's prior position in the ancien regime, from the old ritual of Literature, and feeling the normlessness of his situation, the writer was thrown into crisis. Ceasing to be a "witness to the universal," he becomes instead "the incarnation of a tragic awareness," "an unhappy consciousness" (une conscience malheureuse).(WDZ 3/8) The social compact between writer and society has, in this version of history, been sundered. Language can no longer be used innocently by a writer; its unity torn asunder by class conflict, language's power to define a shared social world is put into crisis. The transparent union of word and referent begins to fail. Over a period of several generations, language slowly becomes almost palpable and increasingly ambiguous as it disengages from both literary tradition and the world external to it. Barthes' post-revolutionary writer is condemned to be at once a perpetual witness to and participant in this disengagement: but a witness who is estranged from the assertions of the universal, a martyr whose attention is chained to particularities and to the ambiguities of choice, whose work with language ironically only increases his isolation. The first gesture of this unhappy and alienated writer, Barthes maintains, is to decide whether to accept or refuse Tradition (a package deal which includes the humanistic subject, essentialist genres, and the ideology of representation). The  94 decision to reject the authority of what lies on the other side of 1850 is, in WDZ, a foregone conclusion, as is the recognition that one cannot entirely escape the remnants of the past, the writer being always belated and forced to use stale, inherited words. Having disavowed Tradition, the writer is then forced to find another guiding principle, opting for the commit"'ment of unique literary form, that is, of style. Language first becomes visible to French writers through the exploration of literary form. Form, Barthes writes, no longer integrated and utilitarian as in the economy of the "classical" text, begins to capture the attention of writers (notably Flaubert). As a fresh receptacle for creative energy, form comes to "fascinate," "disorient," and "enchant," eventually becoming an almost reified Forme-Objet capable of evoking "existential feelings": existential feelings being, for Barthes, surprise, familiarity, disgust, complacency, utility, and murder. (WDZ 4/8-9) In WDZ the materiality and absurdity of language, coupled with the writer's need to justify or simply create a space for his activity within a mercantile society, constitute the crux of Barthes's mythopoeic reading of modernity. From Flaubert onward, writing, released from the old justification and constraints of representation and the literary tradition, sheds its humanism and becomes, in Barthes' view, a problematic of language. Or, put in other terms: released from history and mimesis, the writers in Barthes' story begin to re-imagine the fundamental conditions of writing, dreaming of what Barthes refers to as "solutions" to the  95 compromised situation of the writer. Flaubert's solution-countersigned by several generations after him--is an immersion in unique form; Rimbaud's revolt takes the form of an engagement with the sensual and Dionysian aspects of language, eventually moving into silence; Mallarmd's solution is the suicide of literature by the poetic Word; and Camus struggles toward a white writing (ecriture blanche) that Barthes, in his fashion, countersigns: a white, pure discourse liberated from any servitude to an order, one that "being devoid of reflections, declares its solitude, and therefore its innocence" [emphasis mine]. (WDZ 75/55) Some of these writers share the elusive dream of a post-humanist writer without literature; and others, even more radically, envisage a writing without a subject, culminating in Mallarme's dream of a double homicide (of literature and the writer) which informs the early years of Barthesian poststructuralism.(WDZ 61/45) This, then, is the passion of writing according to Barthes. From an initial classical transparency and utility, writing passes through the phases of a progressive and alienating objectification, ending in a final disintegration in the late nineteenth century; a process which parallels and, Barthes will suggest in RB, perhaps accelerates the disintegration of bourgeois consciousness and the solitude of the writer. As he summarizes in WDZ: (language] was first the object of a gaze, then of a creative action, finally of a murder, and has reached in our time a last metamorphosis, absence: in those neutral modes of writing, called here 'the zero degree of  96 writing,' we can easily discern a negative if Literature, having tended for a hundred years now to transmute its surface into a form with no antecedents, could no longer find purity anywhere but in the absence of all signs... (WDZ 5/9-10)  Language as object  This is the core of Barthes' argument: for the past hundred years, he claims, writing has been either an exercise in taming or a revulsion against the growing materiality of literary language. This trend, which he baptises as the "concretion" of literature, is first seen emerging in the work of Chateaubriand. In terms which anticipate the reflexive and sensual linguistic position adopted in PT, Barthes describes this process in Chateaubriand: there a "trace, a light pressure of linguistic euphoria, a kind of narcissism" appears as writing slowly begins to separate itself from the task of representation, turning instead to look into the pool of signs. (WDZ 4/9) Curiously, this suggestion of romantic textual jouissance is immediately submerged in a melancholic reflection upon the Flaubertian work-aesthetic, though it resurfaces periodically in the work. In the chapter "Style as Craftmanship" Barthes reflects upon the reasons for this move toward an emphasis on writing as the painstaking production of form. After 1850, he writes, returning again to the moment of crisis, literature faced a problem of self-justification; it needed to seek (and this word returns in the text) "alibis" for itself.(WDZ 62/46) Generations of writers--most of those he names being canonical male writers --  97 attempt to legitimate their activity by opting to replace the usevalue of art by its work-value. (WDZ 62/46) "Writing is now to be saved not by virtue of what it exists for (sa destination) but thanks to the work it has cost." (WDZ 63/46-47) An image  (imagerie) of the writer as craftsman arises, who, "like a workman operating at home...roughs out, cuts, polishes and sets his form exactly as a jeweller extracts art from his material . " (WDZ 63/46) This working of language into the fetish of highly wrought form, or into the inverted preciosity of Flaubertian concision, is not seen as a selfless meditation on or encounter with language. It is read as a quasi-public spectacle, a means for now-alienated writers to justify themselves within bourgeois culture. Barthes observes: Writers like Gautier (past master in BellesLettres), Flaubert (grinding away at his sentences at Croisset), Valery (in his room at the crack of dawn) or Gide (standing at his desk like a carpenter at his bench) form a kind of guild of French Literature...Labour replaces genius as a value. (WDZ 63/46-47)  Flaubert, comedien et martyr Flaubert is, in WDZ,the first tragic bourgeois writer, one who perceives that "the bourgeois state is an incurable ill" that, as in the Sartrean imaginary, repulsively "sticks" (poisse) to the writer, leaching his freedom. (WDZ 64/47) Flaubert 's response, in Barthes' reading, is to realize that he can cope with this situation only by deliberately assuming it. Accordingly, he opts to justify his writing to the external and, perhaps, introjected bourgeois mind by founding an aesthetic of writing as  98 craftsmanship (1 6criture artisanale).(WDZ 64/47) This writing 1  subtly draws attention not only to form, but to the voiceless signs of literature, to the unnatural tenses and cadences of prose, and to its rules of eloquence which, unlike those of speech, appeal to a "sixth, purely literary sense" shared by the producers and consumers of Literature.(WDZ 65/48) Form becomes a sacred "ritual language" of writer-"priests" and a utopian value which, like all utopian hypotheses, is antagonistic towards history: form seeks neither to participate in, nor express a cultural moment, but to "transcend History." (WDZ 74/54) This aesthetic is one which, in Barthes' interpretation, emphasizes its separation from speech, society and tradition. Literature becomes largely a recondite problem of language and form engaged by a solitary writer whose activity is justified as a kind of a marginal productivity, but a productivity nevertheless. By appropriating the bourgeois work-ethic, figuring the writer as an industrious artisan, and writing as a sort of fetish of worked form, however impractical, even perverse, Flaubert's move succeeds in establishing a new contract between writer and society. touched with sadness, and openess too... the art of Flaubert points to its mask as it moves forward. What this Gregorian codification of literary language aimed at was ...the transmutation of the writing handed down to him by history into an art...The writer then gives to society a self-confessed art, whose rules are given to all, and in exchange society is able to accept the writer. (WDZ 65/48) The acceptance of the writer in bourgeois society comes at a  99 high price. Flaubert becomes an ironic Christ-figure, the first martyr of modernity crucified on the cross of style to appease middle-class philistines. The "Flaubertization of writing," as Barthes refers to this cult of art as a perverse and Sisyphean kind of work, is perceived as offering the general salvation of all writers (le rachet general des 6crivains). This redemption does not, however, ease the distance and unhappiness which haunts his account of Flaubert and this first solution to the dilemma of the modern writer. Barthes lucidly analyses the fundamental passivity of this êcriture artisanale. Lying within the belly of the bourgeois patrimony, renouncing both the ideological battles of Realists and the avant-garde struggle to "liberate" a new literary language, it does not disturb any order. The artisanal writer's only passions are the creation of form and perhaps the ornamentation of language with new conceits, próciosites, and archaisms, creating a "rich" and "mortal" writing (in this category of "great traditional writing" Barthes places Gide, Valdry, Montherlant, and even, surprisingly, Breton). (WDZ 74/54) Barthes moves onto his account of the second moment in literary modernity. Some writers, notably Rimbaud, struggling against the "sacred writing" of the Flaubertian aesthetic and the compromised situation of the writer, turn their attention toward language, experimenting with a "chaos of forms and a wilderness (desert) of words, " hoping to achieve a pristine state of language and a verbal "object" wholly delivered from the nightmare of History and the myth of Literature.(WDZ 74/54) Form is now put into crisis. And with it language and the writing subject begin to  100  disintegrate. But, inevitably, Barthes writes, this poetic revolution fails (Barthes reveals here his enduring skepticism about grand gestures of social rebellion; a skepticism which returns with even greater force in his post-structural writing). All the possible outcomes are grim. Revolt, gutted by bad and opportunistic epigonic repetition, and the voracious sponginess of bourgeois culture, which appears capable of neutralizing, and even profiting from, any critique, is flattened into fashion, even convention. The search for innovation degenerates into the tedium of bad imitation, ending in the halls of art school and Belle-Lettres. The other foreseen end is even darker. Barthes summarizes: "(i)n a perpetual flight forward from a disorderly syntax, the disintegration of language can only lead to the silence of writing." A desire to escape Literature and imposture leads to the complete abandonment of writing. It ends in the terminal "agraphia" of Rimbaud and some Surrealists, in the "poignant self-destruction of Literature," as well as the literal suicide of the writer.(WDZ 75/54-55) Flaubert's discovery of form disengaged writing from tradition, representation, expression and communication: in a word, from the traditional tasks of writing. In WDZ Flaubert's formalism is, following standard histories of modernity, a threshold, a phase which gives onto the current obsessional phase with language. As the nineteenth-century fades into the twentieth, language becomes increasingly visible and thematically central to writers and to critical reflection upon writing. With Mallarme—whom Barthes will venerate throughout  101  his career as the threshold and texte-limite of modernity-modernity embraces the Word. The Word (le Verbe) is the primal unit of Mallarmean discourse; with its foregrounding history arrives at the Mallarmean fiction of Litterature-Objet, where language quietly supplants the external world, and where the final conceptual sundering of Nature and writing, of word and referent, is broached. The Rimbaldian temptation of silence and linguistic destruction is central to Barthes' reading of Mallarme. Mallarm6 is seen through Barthes' Blancholdian lenses as the "Hamlet of writing" who meditates upon the murder of Literature. For Barthes, Mallarm6 embodies a "precarious moment in which literary language perists only the better to sign the necessity of its death." (WDZ 75/55-56) Silence was, for Rimbaud, a complicated gesture; it appears to have been, among other things, an attempt to regain some kind of innocence. The allure of the idea of the death of Literature, for Barthes' Mallarmó, appears to lie in a similar need to overcome the compromised situation of the writer in bourgeois society, gaining a position of almost suicidal social innocence through separation and protective contextual silences. Mallarmê's typographical agraphia seeks to create around rarefied words an empty zone in which speech, liberated from its guilty social overtones, may, by some happy contrivance, no longer reverberate. The word, dissociated from the husk of habitual clichês,and from the technical reflexes of the writer, is then freed from responsibility in relation to all possible context; it appears in one brief act, which, being devoid of reflections, declares its  102 solitude, and therefore its innocence. This art has the very structure of suicide: in it, silence is a homogenous poetic time which traps the word...and sets it off less as a fragment of a cryptogram than as a light, a void, a murder, a freedom. is Literature brought to the gates of the Promised Land: a world without Literature... (WDZ 75-76/55) In WDZ Mallarmd ushers in the third moment of modernity, where the remnants of literary classicism give way to the ethics and economies of a literary modernity marked by reflexivity and alienation. The economy of classical language, Barthes observes, is relational. Within it words have no quasi-existential "density," and are hardly even signs. "Words," he reflects, "are abstracted as much as possible in the interest of relationships": that is, words are treated as utilitarian carriers of content, serving to establish relationships among referents that exist beyond the circuitry of language.(WDZ 45/35) Rather than "plunging into an inner reality consubstantial to its outer configuration, it extends...toward other words, so as to form a superficial chain of intentions." (WDZ 44/35) In this classical economy language flows in rigid channels, its words "neutralized," stale, "dessicated", the writer assiduously avoiding the "phonetic or semantic accident which would concentrate the flavour of language at one point and halt its intellectual momentum in the interest of an unequally distributed enjoyment." (This is perhaps an early suggestion of poststructural jouissance.) (WDZ 44-45/35) The function of the writer within the classical economy, in Barthes' polemic, is not to "find new words, with more body or  103 brillance, but to follow the order of an ancient ritual, to perfect the symmetry or the conciseness of a relation" which verges on becoming a verbal "algebra" or series of "chemical valences" in which words, as instrumental messengers, delineate a "verbal arena full of...connections,junctions, and networks" from which endlessly arise new waves of meaning, "the gestures of intellection" which need to be carried forward in an endless relay." (WDZ 46/36)  Aestheticization, solitude, reverie: poetic texts  One might call 'poetic' (without value judgement) any discourse in which the word leads the idea: if you like words to the point of succumbing to them, you exclude yourself from the law of the signified, from ecrivance. This is an oneiric discourse to the letter (our dreams seize the words which pass under their nose and make them into a story). (RB 151/155) In the chapter "Is There Any Poetic Writing?" Barthes prepares the ground for ecriture by reworking a central distinction in Sartre's existential analysis of literature: the difference between "prose" (that endless wave of language which moves into the world, gesturing toward what lies beyond itself) and "poetry" (introverted moments of language which decline to refer to anything external to its world-of-signs). This Sartrean distinction rests upon the linguistic categories of literary classicism. Classicism, Barthes argues, borrowing a formula from one of Molidre's characters, understands prose and poetry thusly: "Poetry= Prose+a+b+c" and "Prose=Poetry-a-b-c" ("a," "b," "c," representing the "useless but decorative" attributes of language  104 such as metre, rhyme, or images). (WDZ 41/33) This scheme does not, as Barthes puts it, "jeopardize the unity" of written and spoken languages: ...there remains everywhere a single language, which reflects the eternal categories of the mind. Classical poetry is felt to be merely an ornamental variation of prose, the fruit of an art (that is, a technique), never a different language... (WDZ 42/33) In WDZ Barthes insists upon the estrangement of truly literary discourse, dividing up language into a crudely affirmative political or "axiological writing" (the precursor of his post-structural bate noire "endoxic discourse") and the literary (i.e. "poetic") word. The modern poetic word, in WDZ and throughout Barthes' writing, succeeds in forcing the Flaubertian wedge of difference between speech and writing further into the body politic, converting literary discourse into a sovereign realm, a "dwelling place" (demeure), a "closed Nature" in which solipsism might preserve innocence, the poet's clean hands.(WDZ 47/37) The poetic word avoids existential issues of complicity and responsibility, and manages to neatly sidestep the spectre of inauthenticity by taking refuge in artifice (a tactic which Barthes will endorse again throughout the retrospective assessment of his career in RB). The poetic word is neither true nor untrue. In fact, it becomes the site of a curious solipsistic authenticity-by-default: the Word can never be untrue, Barthes argues in classical aesthetic style, because it is a solitary whole unto itself which dwells in possibility rather than (as Emily Dickinson once wrote) prose. The poetic word evades the  105 traps of definition, affirmation and relation: "it shines," Barthes rhapsodizes, "with an infinite freedom and prepares to radiate toward innumerable uncertain and possible connections"-connections which are always, as in Barthesian poststructuralism, deferred.(WDZ 47/37) Freedom and chronic potentiality renders the poetic word an ideologically subversive genre-killer. The bourgeois myth of literature and its "old literary categories"--specifically genre--embody, Barthes argues, the essentialist and humanistic views of classicism. This deft slippage from an indictment of classicism to a denunciation of humanism sets up Barthes' real antagonist in WDZ: naive, mimetic varieties of representation, with all their aesthetic and ideological ramifications).(WDZ 8586/62-63) These humanistic literary modes and forms, now emptied of convincing ideological content, remain only as tottering husks put into a final crisis by the Mallarmean displacement of attention from the level of form to the minimal unit of the individual word. Genre and its social ramifications neutralized, "now writing," (ecriture) Barthes argues further, ignoring more conservative accounts of generic transformation which reject avant-garde theses of an apocalyptic death of genre, "absorbs the whole identity of a literary work." (WDZ 85-86/62-63). In this dramatic reading of the alienation of late nineteenth and twentieth century writing Barthes first reveals his enduring desire for a position not implicated in the utterances and machinations of power. Although he is almost fifteen years away from it, the fundamental assumptions underlying his post-  106 structural 6criture already appear in his affirmation of the separateness and difference of literary writing from ordinary language. This poignant quest for a position of non-engagement, of non-complicity--for an elusive zero degree of writing--will sustain his explorations of the reflexive sign for the rest of his life. In the last chapter of WDZ, "The Utopia of Language," Barthes returns to the impossibility of classicism. "Classicism," throughout Barthes' polemic, is a huge and sometimes confusing straw term which flouts the schemes of orthodox literary history, lumping together disparate literary periods and movements. The term, as I understand it, primarily refers to a linguistic ideology common to all these discourses. Barthes deploys this stylized classicism/modernity opposition to help focus his account of modern writing and its move toward a surrogate world of signs. Sounding a great deal like Sartre, he maps out the assumptions of classicism's fading but persistent ideology (which, need it be said, lingers in various forms of Naturalistic writing and even in Sartrean discourse). For what does the rational economy of classical language mean, if not that Nature is a plenum, that it can be possessed... Classical language is always reducible to a persuasive continuum, it postulates the possibility of dialogue, it establishes a universe in which men are not alone, where words never have the terrible weight of things, where speech is always a meeting with the others. (WDZ 49/38) Like the decadent writers before him, Barthes dislikes the "gregariousness" of classicism. Classical language, Barthes  107 observes, is "euphoric" because it is a coherent and "immediately social" phenomenon, its reassuring language spinning a communal cocoon sheltering readers and writers from nothingness and absurdity (the same bourgeois horror vacui Barthes identifies in classical Dutch painting). Classical literature is, he writes, caught up in an efficient economy which encourages a regulated and collective consumption of the literary text: "classical literary art is an object which circulates among several persons brought together on a class basis." (WDZ 49/38-39) In this economy, Nature, human subjects, and writing interact in a seamless and transparent harmony. After the disintegration of that economy, the series of tentative or failed or partial solutions offered by Flaubert and other modernists undermined--but did not entirely destroy--classicism's most fundamental constructs: Literature, the writer, and History. In the final chapters of WDZ Barthes sketches the contrary and troubled economy of modern writing, which struggles against those persistent humanistic constructs.  Modernity's endgame  The economy and ontology of modernity put forward in WDZ is antithetical to that of Barthes' bucolic classicism. Reactive, catastrophic, pyrrhic, it rewrites the human world according to an existential script emphasizing alienation, absence, and discontinuity. It is never quite clear in Barthes' earlier writing whether literary modernity creates or merely describes  108 this broken world and its own impotence. In RB an older Barthes will forward a complex explanation of contemporary writing's impotence, its aphasia, its turn against representation. Literature, R.B. suggests in that text, has been overwhelmed by the vicious and manic proliferation of events in recent world history. ...literature...cannot account for objects, spectacles, events which would surprise it to the point of stupefying it: this is what Brecht sees when he says:'The events of Auschwitz, of the Warsaw ghetto, of Buchenwald certainly would not tolerate a description of literary character.' Literature was not prepared for such events, and has not given itself the means to account for them. (RB 119/122-123) R.B. continues his reflections on the series of unpleasant shocks which have overwhelmed some writers, generalizing that shock to rationalize his own position of retreat. 2 Perhaps this explains our impotence to produce a realistic literature today.... Realism is always timid, and there is too much surprise in a world which mass media and the generalization of politics has made so profuse that it is no longer possible to figure it projectively: the world, as a literary object, escapes; knowledge deserts literature, which can no longer be either Mimesis or Mathesis but merely Semiosis, the adventure of what is impossible to language, in a word: Text... (RB 119/122-123) But as a younger man Barthes vacillates between two positions. In WDZ his text moves ambiguously between passive and active constructions, alternately suggesting and then denying that literature still retains a power to order, to make myths, albeit at the cost of the writer's innocence. At this point his  109 strongest assertion--one that persists in his post-structural theorizing--is that literary modernity has rhetorically destroyed the world, as it were, in its dismantling of Nature, language and literary structures. ...modern poetry destroyed relationships in language and reduced discourse to words as static things....The interrupted flow of the new poetic language initiates a discontinuous Nature...At the very moment when the withdrawal of functions obscures the relations existing in the world [fait la nuit sur les liaisons du monde], the object in discourse assumes an exalted place... (WDZ 49-50/39) Barthes figures Nature in the usual existential terms: as contingent, "unfulfilled," "terrible," only precariously asserting itself intermittently in a void. (WDZ 50/39) No longer classicism's happy plenum, it becomes "a fragmented space, made of objects solitary and terrible, because the links between them are only potential" (virtuelles). (WDZ 50/39) In this unordered dark vacuum with almost zero gravity, the literary object--the poetic word--assumes an "exalted place" as an "absolute object." The connections between persons, words, and things being broken, Nature becomes a random, tenderless hall of novelties and potential fetishes--"a succession of verticalities, of objects, suddenly standing erect, and filled with all their possibilities." These poetic, dehumanized words "exclude men" and are "full of terror"; they relate human beings not to other individuals, as in classical discourse, but to "the most inhuman images in Nature: heaven, hell, holiness, childhood, madness, pure matter." This is a language of "anti-communication" in which  110  a "violent drive towards autonomy detroys any ethical scope." (WDZ 20, 50-51/18-19,39) This drive toward autonomy in modern poetry, he concludes, "destroys the spontaneously functional nature of language, and leaves standing only its lexical basis....The Word shines forth above a line of relationships emptied of their content, grammar is bereft of its purposes ...and lasts only to present the word."(WDZ 46-47/37) Put under erasure, these relationships become "a parody of themselves." This fragmentation and emptying out of language is, Barthes asserts, needed: "this void is necessary for the density of the Word to rise out of a magic vacuum, like a sound and a sign devoid of background," creating not "works," but a literature "seen from a distance" [qui se volt de loin). (WDZ 50,70/39,51)  The horizons of modernity  Torn in conflicting directions by social demands, the belated impotence of what survives as literary discourse, and the materiality of language, the writer is now confronted with an unprecedented, and, as Barthes repeatedly insists, tragic situation. Before his (the writer's) eyes, the world of society now exists as a veritable Nature, and this Nature speaks, exuding living languages from which the writer is excluded: ...History puts in his hands a decorative and compromising instrument, a writing inherited from a previous and different history, for which he is not responsible and yet which is the only one he can use. Thus is born a tragic element in writing, since the conscious writer must henceforth fight against ancestral and all-  111  powerful signs which, from the depths of a past foreign to him, impose Literature on him like some ritual... (WDZ 86/63-4) Writing thus moves into a complicated historical situation: despite its alienated condition, it testifies to "something beyond language, which is both History and the stand the writer takes in it." (WDZ 1/7) Here Barthes puts a complex spin on the Sartrean notion of commitment. The first gesture of a modern writer, Barthes observes, is a choice: to either accept or refuse the literature of his past. Rejecting it is, as already indicated, a forgone conclusion. Rhetorically excising the representational powers of literary art, he argues that for the writer, this solitary figure situated in a strange liminal zone, equally repulsed by History and the conditions of his medium, writing is now an "ambiguous reality" which draws him back, by a "tragic reversal", toward his "instruments of creation": that is, toward language and Form.(WDZ 16/16) The historical post-classical multiplication of modes of writing forces a new set of ethical issues upon the writer. There is the possibility of opting for the derivative and inauthentic modality of social realism. (WDZ 7073/50-53) But for the writer who cannot hide in that conventionality and act of bad faith, there can be no primary allegiance to a moral principle, to a group of people, or anything external to language.The proper site of the writer's commitment is not in the world, as in the Sartrean argument, but in the writer's choice of a mode of writing; that is, to the commitment to literary form. Form categorically reveals the writer's allegiances, and affiliations, Barthes argues:  112  ...the writing to which I entrust myself already exists as an institution; it reveals my past and my choice, it gives me a history, it blazons forth my situation, it commits me without my having to declare the fact. Form ...functions as an economy signal whereby the scriptor constantly imposes his conversion without ever revealing how it came about. (WDZ 27/23) (A passing objection: Barthes' argument is highly suspect here. Curiously retaining the classical value of clarity at this point in his polemic, Barthes shifts the entire burden of signifying, and of clarity, onto artistic form, saturating it with a total, rather than a more moderate degree of significance, as though form could not be as damningly ambiguous as language itself. Form may suggest the political alignment of a writer, but certainly fails to confirm it; as the fascist inclinations of several innovative modernists would attest.) But to return to Barthes' reading of form in WDZ. Extending the Flaubertian view of artistic form, the Barthesian version argues, somewhat opaquely, that form has three dimensions: language, writing (ecriture) and style. In the Flaubertian aesthetic form is, as Barthes notes, antagonistic towards history: it strains toward a beyond of history, dreaming of a Baudelairean alibi that would free the writer of a guilty complicity with History: and specifically, in France, with bourgeois society. 3 Acknowledging the impossibility of ever being completely "innocent" of this alliance, Barthes manages to theorize form as being an only partially compromised--that is, socially implicated--gesture. Rejecting, as Sutan Sontag notes in her introduction to the English translation of the work, the  113 doxic dualism of language as a "social property" and style as an "individual decision" that runs Sartrean criticism and unequivocally interns every act of writing within the gulag of History, Barthes proposes this uncertain conceptual triad which pulls away from the fatalism of History. (WDZ xii) Of the three terms, only language is seen as irredemably sociohistoric in origin. The opening paragraph of the chapter "What is Writing?" is surcharged with similes and metaphors straining to apprehend the reality of language. Language is a "corpus of prescriptions and habits common to all the writers of a period". The English translation is weak and confusing at this point, obscuring the botanization of the semiotic realm first pointed out in Baudelaire: language, the translation runs, is a "kind of natural ambience wholly pervading the writer's expression." The original reads: " la langue est comme une Nature qui passe a travers la parole de l'ecrivain." (WDZ 9/11) Language "enfolds the whole of literary creation much as the earth, the sky, and the line where they meet outline a familiar habitat for mankind." (WDZ 9/11) As environment and horizon, language is simultaneously a negative (that is, constraining) phenomenon and an enabling one: it is "a la fois une limite et une station,H the reassuring expanse of an H6conomie" (an "ordered space" in the English version), a "field of action" which, paradoxically, being seen as something which is a societal given--"the undivided property of men"-- and thus beyond personal choice, cannot be the site of a social commitment.(WDZ 9/11) Language is a "blind force": behind it "the whole of History stands unified and complete in the manner of a  114 Natural Order." (WDZ 9,14-15 /11,14) As a naturalized plenum, language is "an abstract circle of truths, outside of which alone the solid residue of an individual logos ("la densite d'un verbe  solitaire") begins to settle." (WDZ 9/11) If History, as Barthes claims, is a blind collective force, then on the far side of that History and its ironically capitalized categories lies a counterforce: the wild and sheer carnality of individual style.(WDZ 14/14) Style, for Barthes at this point, is not a Flaubertian process of infinite correction, or post-structural play, but is instead seen as a perverse (i.e. irrational and nonutilitarian) process whose origins lie beyond language.(WDZ 10-11/12) It is rooted not in inherited models of discourse, but outside of language, in the magma of the writer's body and his past. In a series of strong claims, WDZ asserts that the body's primary frames of reference are not historical or collective, but biographical and biological. Style is specific to the person: it is, in Baudelairean terms, always bizarre, and, like the Freudian psyche, split between conscious and unconscious processes. It issues from desire and the body's private remembering: it resists conscious control and analysis. ...imagery, delivery, vocabulary spring from the body and the past of the writer...Thus under the name of style a self-sufficient language is evolved which has its roots only in the depths of the author's personal and secret mythology...where once and for all the great verbal themes of his existence come to be installed... (WDZ 10/12) In this initial take on style--subtracting its residual humanism and bracketing its insistance on the private origins of  115 writing--one can discern the outlines of Barthes' later version of a drifting and detached post-structural writing: has always something crude about it: it is a form with no clear destination, the product of a thrust, not an intention.... it is the writer's 'thing', his glory and his prison, it is his solitude. Indifferent to society...a closed personal process, it is in no way the product of a choice or a reflection on Literature. It is the private portion of the ritual...the decorative voice of a hidden, secret flesh... (WDZ 10-11/12) Style is, Barthes contends, an "infra-language" which develops during the encounter between flesh and world ("qui sidlabore a la limite de la chair et du monde").(WDZ 11-12/12) Its sources  largely hidden from the social gaze, style is enigmatic, opaque, and secretive. Opposed to the "transparent" and "horizontal" social flow of speech, style has only a "vertical" (i.e. introverted) dimension which is surprisingly retrospective. Although, in WDZ, the writer is already drawn to the Mallarmean textualization of reality, to the purity and refuge of the literary sign, the things beyond language retain an existential resistance to language: there is, as it were, an outside to language. Style arises from a space beyond the reach of this material "outside." The unique writerly body--its specific "density," its solitary recollections of "fragments of a reality entirely alien to language"--impinge upon collective discourses while remaining, Barthes claims, beyond art and the social contract. Style is, as Barthes' remarks on Flaubert suggest, a mask that at once reveals and protects the writer.  116 is never anything but metaphor, that is, the equivalence of the author's literary intention and carnal structure... style is always a secret...its secret is recollection locked within the body of the writer....By reason of its biological origin, style resides outside art, that is, outside the pact which binds the writer to society.... It is the Authority of style, that is, the entirely free relationship between language and its fleshly double, which places the writer above History as the freshness of Innocence (sic: 'qui s'impose 1'ecrivain comme une Fraicheur au-dessus de l'Histoirel. (WDZ 12-13/13) Language and style--History and and the remembering body-are two ostensibly autonomous "objects" or "blind forces" which interact in the elaboration of an ecriture, of a mode of writing which links the writer's singular utterance to the "vast History of the Others (d'autrui)." In this way, Barthes writes, the choice of a form and of a mode of writing are acts of historical solidarity; to opt for a mode of writing is to compromise the absolute freedom and novelty of personal style using inherited forms, since "it is under the pressure of History and Tradition that the possible modes of writing for a given writer are established." The primary ethical and political issue of writing after 1850 is, therefore, what Barthes refers to as the "morality of form." The writer's choice of an aesthetic or of a form among the plurality of post-classical modes of writing is, he argues, the clearest political gesture that he can make. (WDZ 10-15/11-15) This argument is clearly directed against the cruder content-driven arguments about committed literature found in  What is Literature? For all the reflection on ethics in WDZ, which R.B. acknowledges as being produced during a period of "political  117 and moral obsession," there is no desire to assent to a Sartrean ethos of definitive social commitment that would bring the writer and his work entirely into the realm of the social and the historical.(RB 145/148) Rather, one senses a constant effort to distance the writer from the juggernaut of the socio-historical. Barthes' ambivalence toward the pressures of history and the existential imperative of commitment permeates WDZ. Writing is - seen by him as a fleeting moment of freedom-ran instant in which the writer is at liberty to choose how he will compromise between her individual "freedom" and a constraining "remembrance" of past _writing--even her own.(WDZ 16/16) This fear of claustrophobic repetition and of a sinister concretion or sedimentation of language over time, as Merleau-Ponty (and perhaps Beckett) would envisage it, motivates Barthes' post-structural discourse of displacement and indecision. Throughout WDZ, M and CE the reader comes across traces of the same complaints regarding endoxic discourse (referred to in WDZ as stereotypes) and the confining public imago appearing twenty-two years later in RB. True, I can today select such and such a mode of writing, and in so doing assert my freedom, aspire to the freshness of novelty or to a tradition; but it is impossible to develop it within duration without gradually becoming a prisoner of someone else's words and even of my own. A stubborn after-image, which comes from all the previous modes of writing and even from the past of my own, drowns the sound of my present words. (WDZ 17/16) Writing is, for Barthes at this moment in his intellectual career, and then again, in the latter part of the 1970s, a solitary  118 and "ambiguous reality" born from a complex confrontation between the writer's private being and sociohistorical conditions. The writer remains on the periphery, oddly disengaged from the social realm, theoretically shielded from the full force of history by his body as he struggles against the stale repetition of words and forms, searching for social innocence and a fresh writing. And already the Barthesian subject is seeking shelter from the social contract between writer and audience, distancing himself from the sense of an enduring if vague social obligation beyond the economic Flaubertian entente by insisting upon the opacity of language, and theorizing the existence of lateral space, of spaces apart, in the private body of the writer, and in the zone of silence Mallarmd discovered around words. This silence and the matte writerly body are counterforces to history; somehow, history does not mark or coerce this solitary hypothetical writing body in the ways that it has harassed other bodies. In Barthes' scenario, silence protects the writing body and its words as it has not protected other bodies, by creating an emptiness history cannot, in theory, flow across.  An assessment of the Barthesian myth of writing While often brillant, the arguments in WDZ as frequently have the opacity of someone else's obsession. The tactically syncopated and claustrophobic reading of a brief moment--a detail--of French history turns in circles around a tight thematic node: the mythemes of History, Literature, the Writer,  119 and Society. Themes of silence, bourgeois society, guilt, innocence, and absence recur in an almost fugal series, seeking an elusive resolution in Barthes' discourse. Barthes' arguments about classicism and the predicament of literary modernity are most often unsubstantiated: they appeal to a sympathetic reader who can silently accept his tight and obsessive reading of the past; they rely on the seductive beauty of symmetrical arguments and dyadic oppositions (Barthes' predilection for the productive tensions of structural oppositions evidently predating his involvement with Structuralism). The rhetorical strength and persuasiveness of WDZ lies in its relentless movement toward a tragic aporia which obscures other facts or absences which would undermine Barthes' monological interpretation of French cultural history. In her preface to the English translation of WDZ, Susan Sontag catches the ersatz historicism of the text. This is, Sontag writes, a strangely "generalized, thin notion of history... Barthes is not so much referring to a real state of affairs as he is using a metaphor, which allows him to describe literature as a process rather than as a static entity."(WDZ xix) This pseudohistoricity she reads as being in the service of Barthes' version of the fall of Literature from the gilded age of classicism and its ideological congruence into the self-consciousness, alienation, and ambiguities of modernity. The terseness and lack of concrete detail she remarks upon in the text is a function of its almost geometric rhetoric. In WDZ Barthes is a nascent theoretician using his rhetorical training  120 to its^fullest effect. Here, as in the writing of other theoreticians (one could think, for instance, of Bakhtin's account of the development of the epic and of the novel), conventional literary history is subordinated to a strong theoretical, or, in Nietzschean terms, mythic imagination. 4 For instance, the claim central to Barthes' argument about the development of modernity--that where writing is concerned classicism lasts until Flaubert--is historically outrageous in its treatment of Romanticism.(WDZ 37/30) This historically untenable assertion should not be dismissed out of hand, but rather interpreted as a theoretical move in which Barthes' native "structural reflex" and rhetorical skill combine to construct a Nietzschean fabula out of the too-simple opposition of "classicism" to "modernity." What emerges from this intellectual reprocessing is a stylized polemic in which periods, genres, and categories are to be understood as theoretical entities,as heuristic devices, as supporting hypotheses. WDZ is a stylized and partial account of the development of French modernity (though that ethnic qualification sometimes tends to be suppressed). In "Reflections on a Literary Manual" Barthes makes a series of suggestions on how to overcome the "classico-centrism" of French literary history. The first is to do literary history, as it were, backwards: ...instead of envisioning the history of literature from a pseudo-genetic point of view, we should make ourselves the center of this history, and if we really want to 'do' literary history, organize this history starting from the great modern break... ("RL," RL 28/55)  121  In WDZ Barthes is making himself the hidden centre of his history, reading backward to simultaneously create and justify his myth of literary modernism. 1850 is, as it were, the year of "the great modern break": the moment of irrevocable change, the beginning of the Baconian chute from innocence into ambiguity and process. Barthes' attitude toward modernity is complicated. There is, in this work, a strange fluxing of moods. The characteristic disdain and utopian hopes of an avant-garde polemicist are undercut by a resigned awareness that the greatest talents of the bourgeois-assimilation and neutralization--spell the inevitability of cooptation. No writing, he admits, can ever be perpetually revolutionary. Ambivalence, indirection and a certain conceptual fatigue further complicate his tone. The actual intent of this primer charting the disintegration of the classical mode of writing is at least two-fold: to underline the impossibility of twentieth-century Realism (i.e. representation in the sense of  mimesis), and to defend the ethical choice of engaging writing as conscious artifice, as a form of "anti-communication"(contrecommunication).(WDZ 20/18) In WDZ Barthes responds to Sartre indirectly, restaging the cultural scenario to support his claim that the alienation of the writer and of language make the Sartrean ethos of committed writing unworkable. Barthes actually inverts Sartrean values, insisting that the practice of writing as a form of anti-communication is ethically preferable to an axiological discourse, that is, to a discourse of engagement. At the centre this counter-myth of modernity lies the tragic  122 situation of the writer. Alienated from any meaningful community (other than the spectre of the economic gang of vile bourgeois), faced with a compromising medium, she lives in an absurd world of convention and artifice. A world in which, as Eugene Goodheart points out, the only uninterrogated--and therefore "natural" element--is absence (and an attenuated version of Sartrean absudity); and where the only refuges from nothingness and vulgarity are personal style, narcissistic paper languages, and the fantasy of ecriture blanche. 5 Barthes' writer inhabits a confined and tragic world: and the sense of tragedy which this text exudes arises from Barthes' monological and unidirectional reading of modernity. WDZ should not, therefore, be evaluated on the basis of whether it is an accurate or misleading history of modernity. Following Barthes' lead, it is best understood as a critical fiction which simply helps him makes sense of the present situation. As Barthes might put it, WDZ constructs the intelligibility of his time. Reading backward with the angel of history, one can find in this construction of the situation of the French writer of the 1950s many of the themes of Barthesian poststructuralism. Barthesian discourse rests upon two principal mythemes of modernity which continue to operate in his (and others') thinking: separation and absence. Barthes, and quite possibly other post-structural theorists, may well have first encountered these concepts in Sartre. In WDZ absence is designated using Sartrean terms such as le nóant and le vide. As both Goodheart and Betty R. McGraw in "Pliblic Parks and Private Gardens : Sartre's  123 Nausea and Barthes Ennui" point out, in his texts Barthes rewrites the Sartrean take on the void, softening the existential terror haloing the Sartrean construct . 6 In all of his writing, the voids and absences (particularly of meaning) found in WDZ are closest to the absurd and destructive vacuums found in Sartre. Yet even here one can observe how absence and absurdity are recovered by a nascent aesthetic which assigns them a positive value. Tempermentally disinclined toward painful forms of extremis, in Barthes nothingness and its sometimes slightly gentler variation, absence, are contained by being pluralized and disseminated, becoming desirable aesthetic values which support one of his cardinal post-structural values: artifice. This "aesthetic nihilism," to borrow a phrase from Alan Megill, is obvious in Barthes' reading of the Mallarmean sign, where the sign is surrounded by a zone of silence, a kind of protective negative space which does not negate the graph, but only any potential context, any threatening incursion of meaning. (PE 34) In ES, filtered through an idiosyncratic reading of Japanese aesthetics, absences and miniature voids become critical elements in the protagonist 's mental production and analysis of aesthetic objects. Emptiness and absences of various kinds (of the author, of authorial intention, of meaning, of history) facilitate Barthes' structuralist and eventually poststructuralist analyses. Absence, in "The Death of the Author," S/Z, PT and other early post-structural texts, becomes the very pre-condition of the scriptor's textual pleasure and his endless drift through language. During the last eight years of his life,  124 however, and specifically after the death of his mother, Barthes' apprehension of absence and separation shifts as traces of personal emotions and responses, however ironically mediated, enter his writing. In RB, FLD and particularly in CL, a ludic interpretation of absence gives way to a more complex and ironic reading of absence. Leaning upon Sartre and Lacan, these later works assert absence as being the precious condition of human freedom and, then, poignantly, explore absence as irrevocable loss. Some final comments to anticipate arguments made in subsequent chapters. In PE Allan Megill reflects upon the term aestheticism, writing: (a)s it is usually employed, the word aestheticism denotes an enclosure within a self-contained realm of aesthetic objects and sensations, and hence also denotes a separation from the 'real world' of nonaesthetic objects. (PE 2) In Barthes' work reflexivity, as Goodheart notes, "has the effect of generating an enclosed subjective space (what Barthes calls his imaginaire de la solitude)." (SD 85) There are in WDZ, as in most of Barthes' other texts, enclosed spaces, self-contained (or nearly so) realms of aesthetic objects and rhetorical/textual spaces set apart from ordinary reality through imaginative  epoches and re-writings. As I will show in subsequent chapters, this textualization of the given and of the real hypothetically suspends context, thus enabling the creation of these privileged spaces, these floating worlds. In WDZ three of the most enduring sanctuaries in Barthes' theories--the text, body and the silent  125 space beyond or around signs--first appear. Although most critics write as though the thematics of the privileged body and the sign in Barthes only develops in the late 1960s, in WDZ the writer's body and her graphs are already being thematized and treated as isolated lateral spaces which resist the pressures and encroachment of history. Most importantly, in WDZ Barthes is already theorizing and seeking out the safe spaces of a noncommunicating writing. The desire for these spaces manifests in Barthes' attraction to the perceived zone of silence surrounding the Mallarmean sign, to the project--however unworkable--of a white writing, and the reverie of a writing without Literature. These safe spaces, these protective gardens found at the heart of Barthes' texts, at once shelter him from (as Megill puts it) "the terrors of an interested reality," and allow him to flirt with nothingness and absence while never having to face the painful, wrenching aspect of these forces until the final years of his life. (PE 43) Consequently, Barthes and the uncertain scriptors and actants found in most of his post-structural texts can sidestep issues that agonise existential writers and protagonists, or treat them almost comically. In his texts boredom never accelerates beyond the safe vertigo experienced in the presence of stupidity and repetition into anything like Roquentin's nausea. The complex phenomenon of boredom will, rather, be conjoined with pleasure in PT and RB. The void, rather than being an engulfing anti-entity, as in earlier existential texts, is rhetorically ruptured and almost domesticated. The invasive and terrifying Sartrean void, pluralized, will become an  126 aphrodisiac, a ludic tease. Re-thematized as gaps, fragments, interstices, negative spaces, or silences, le neant becomes a vital element in the strategies of aestheticization which develop in Barthesian post-structuralism. Emptiness anu absence become interstitial, epiphanic, and in PT, even sexy: eros, as Barthes will contend in that text, depends upon discontinuity; pleasure arises in the spaces between or beyond the sign. The second mytheme of modernity operating in WDZ, that of separation or rupture, is obviously linked to the first. Three scissures synergistically combine to enable Barthesian modernity: a historical rupture between past and present; a linguistic rupture not only between past and present discourses, but also between word and world; and a series of social ruptures which provoke the separation of the writer from others. In Barthes' scenario, these last two ruptures are both diachronic and synchronic: they are ongoing schisms, literature and community like two continents drifting apart. The most momentous of all breaks, Barthes acknowledges in WDZ, is the rupture of a social--that is, a shared--language.(WDZ 40/32) In Barthes' history, the self-conscious writer's separation from the languages of his society feeds upon itself. Although the act of writing does, as Barthes recognizes, compromise the purity of the graphic gesture per se, since writing cannot help yielding some trace of the writer's sociohistorical situation, the overall alienation of literary writing deepens. As the distance between writing and referents grows, its prosaic (i.e.representational) aspects, in Sartrean terms, atrophy; the writer must choose  127 between turning back toward the materials and conditions of writing, or falling into the senility of formulaic repetition and the pose of inauthentic authenticity. Innovative writing, therefore, can only turn inward and become fundamentally "poetic" (that is, reflexive). Language empties itself out. All writers become solitary poetic specialists working in distant paper languages that, however compromised they may be, neither affirm or deny. Barthes summarizes his account of the situation of modern writing in the last chapter of WDZ, seeing it as a kind of weed (in Derridean terms), as a supplementary parasite ironically doubling or feeding off the remains of the classical "literary act", pulling it toward the Mallarmean zone: Wodern writing is a truly independent organism which grows up around the literary act, decorating it with a value foreign to its intention, engaging it contirually in a double mode of existence, and superimposes on the content of words opaque signs that carry within themselves a that thought is always involved with the supplementary, often diverging and always encumbering supplement of form. (WDZ 84/62) The supplementariness of the writer and of writing itself are core assumptions propelling the Barthesian myth of modernity. In his construct, the writer is not only separated from History (past and contemporary) and its representation by the "discovery" of the mediated and reflexive nature of language; he is also isolated from any vital sense of community. As a solitary being enclosed within the horizon of language, literary gestures of solidarity or acts of self-defense on behalf of oneself or a group of people become tortuous and improbable. This writer cannot, as a  128 writer, overcome his isolation. In Said's terms, he might have, at best, a constituency: but his primary audience in such a situation is either himself or a bourgeois clientêle. 7 Not surprisingly, alienation and ambiguity are key terms in the belated no-exit culture through which Barthes' writer moves (a tragic modernity seemingly patched together from the ontologies of Sartre, Beckett and Kafka) . The estrangement of the writer, the lack of any vital communal sense or ethos to counter the bourgeois ethos, sets up the hostile and utterly negative analysis of power which endures throughout Barthes' career. The comments found in WDZ--that "Order" always indicates repression (WDZ 26/22) and murders poetic intention (WDZ 38-39/31); that writing,faced with the choice of complicity or impotence, is literary only to the extent that it is powerless (WDZ 28/24)--are echoed twenty-odd years later in L. This revulsion against the "realities" of power, coupled with the need to flee power and create a position and a writing of non-complicity, of "innocence," underlies his poststructuralist theories of language and style: "the word (including, as Barthes will demonstrate in RB and FLD, the first and third-person singular) becomes an alibi, that is, an elsewhere and a justification." (WDZ 20/19) The utopian strain in Barthes' thinking, his need to withdraw and create spaces apart from the stream of the endoxic social, marks WDZ, returning strongly later in his poststructuralist theories of subjectivity, the text, the reading body, drift and jouissance. But this utopian bent is, as I have indicated, tempered by an awareness of the limits of his own  129 beautiful theories. Characteristically, Barthes will offer a grand gesture, a seductive hypothesis (e.g. of writing beyond the "literary myth," or of "Literature becoming the Utopia of Language," then lay out the reasons those ideas or states cannot be realized. (WDZ 88/65) In effect, he generates fecund tensions, paradoxes, contradictions and aporias, putting his own rhetoric under erasure, but not his categories out of play (one of the most perplexing contradictions in the text, as I read it, is Barthes' vacillating presentation of the literary word as both "dense" and empty). 8 The effect, depending on one's mood, can be either stimulating, poignant, or irritating. And, again, these strategies of contradiction and erasure persist in his poststructuralist thinking. The most critical ambivalence in WDZ is Barthes' vacillating attitude toward Literature. In theory, he clearly sides with the avant-garde and its murderous inclinations regarding Literature. Yet he is reluctant to fully relinquish that cultural discursive space. After acknowledging the impossibility of "liquidating" Literature (Literature being one of the cultural Undead) he opts for the desacralization of writing, seeing modern 6criture as a non-communicating literary language that is "hardened" and "closed" against ordinary speech (the latter designated as "la parole" ) WDZ 19/18) Opaque, languidly synchronic, this modern (  writing is only, in Barthes' words, "a duration of empty signs" whose movement is the only significant element." (WDZ 19/18) In the Barthesian conception of 6criture the Flaubertian concept of form as a stable autonomous object has already fragmented, and  130 is, via Mallarmê, edging toward the amorphous and intermittent flow of the post-structuralist text. And there are indications that the unity of the poetic sign itself is already failing. Barthes repeatedly points to the fascination with ambiguity and the "beyond" (au-delà) of language in which writing is, in his thesis, rooted. This beyond is, in part, as I have signalled, the writer's own body. It is a conceptual point where the poetic universe curves back toward itself, where the two poles of the aesthetic phenomenon--in Kristevian terms, the rarefied symbolic and sensual, pre-logical semiotic (pre-Symbolic) realms--meet as language destroys itself. Barthes is, I think, pointing toward these very realms when he refers to the unity of the sign in literary writing as being attracted to the "alibi" of "the zones of infra- or ultra-language" first charted by Rimbaud and then the surrealists. (WDZ 20/19) Throughout WDZ Barthes intimates that this nascent fascination with the literary sign--let alone the subsequent move toward infra- and ultra- linguistic zones--will fatally undermine the "old values" of the literary institution: authority, meaning (hence interpretation), and authorial identity. Writing will, as Barthes' history projects, necessarily drift toward the realms of the reflexive sign and of the semiotic; private gardens to which Barthes himself will, after passing through a minor "scientific delirium; turn his attention.(RB 145/148) Despite his tentative and ambivalent considerations regarding the ethics of writing, and his claims that the writer is bound to society through the sociohistoric  131 aspects of form, in WDZ Barthes' rhetorical energy is moving in the opposite direction, towards a defense of the solitudes of writing. He is already suggesting the fictional-- that is, textual--status of Nature and of History. In this mythopoeic text the locus of the real is contracting, shifting away from History and the world toward the de-contextualized sign and the secret realm of the writer's body: two of the most privileged sites of Barthesian post-structuralism. The later Barthesian notion of ecriture is predicated upon the existence of privileged sites, places beyond or apart from the social. These sites--the body and unpredictable semiotic processes which are not, at least rhetorically, entirely contained within collective semiotic sytems--are precisely the refuges of earlier aesthetes. In the following chapters I will explore how Barthes develops these safe utopic or atopic zones of creativity and distance--the body of the scriptor, the text as it is being read or heard or re/written in solitude,the nonproductive appreciations of the amateur, the "dislocated copy" of Japan in ES, the safe places behind the language-masks and simulacra of RB and FLD, the"hanging garden" of the seminar, the Winter Garden photograph in CL, and, of course, the absolute seclusion of jouissance. This reading of WDZ as a mythological intervention in which Barthes establishes the tenets of his modernity begins, I hope, to demonstrate how the aestheticizing quest for separation circulates in the Barthesian myth of literary modernity. A recognition of this quest is fundamental to any reading of Barthes  132 which attempts to grasp the reasons behind the ethical and political positions advanced in his post-structuralist texts. WDZ identifies most of the things Barthes will spend his life analysing, indicting and, whenever possible, evading: the endoxic fatigue and bad faith of ordinary language (la parole), the rejection of referentiality and the category of the Natural, the uselessness both of tradition and writing, the bête noire of the bourgeoisie, the alienation, marginality and belatedness of the writer, the co-optation and commercialization of art, what he will later refer to as "the war of languages," the dangers of power, institutional violence, writing as a contre-  communication; and, more positively, the sanctuaries of absence and absurdity, the perception of the text as space rather than object, and the grails of pleasure and the reflexive sign. Barthes' enduring sense of absence and of the absurd-primary mythemes supporting his post-structuralist notions of subjectivity and textuality--testify, in my view, to Sartre's impact upon Barthes. His post-structural theories, I have come to believe with Dittman, McGraw, Roger, and a few other critics, are far more indebted to Existentialism than is generally acknowledged. 9 Behind Barthes' critique of conventionality, whether in WDZ, S/Z or PT, one hears the existential murmur of a senseless fluxing world. Absurdity, whether it is consciously attended to or suddenly invades our mental compounds, is a disorienting event. The vertigo it normally precipitates forces the recognition of the fluidity and indeterminacy of the subjects, objects, meanings and worlds (in the phenomenological  133 sense) that once caused experience to cohere into something once known as reality. But in the grip of that vertigo, with the death of context and the loss of the power to interpret, things are no longer solid: they become uncertain, intermittent, and, as Barthes writes in PT, they glitter momentarily and intensely, then die. Endoxic solidity is more of a threat to Barthes than is emptiness. The modern writer and his text must, as Barthes asserts in an early essay on Robbe-Grillet, operate in a "very narrow zone, in that rare vertigo where literature unavailingly tries to destroy itself, and apprehends itself in that one and the same movement, destroying and destroyed." ("LL,"CE 57/69) Literature must exist in a "state of permanent presuicide": it can only exist as "the figure of its own problem, self-pursuing, selfscourging." ("LL," CE 58/69-70) Subtracting the tone of existential anguish, this threshold between being and non-being is the very space of Barthes' post-structuralist writing; the place to which he will return after experimenting with other, more "prosaic" forms of criticism, the vertiginous yet claustrophobic site that will be imaginatively opened up by Barthes' play with signs. As R.B. puts it: [w)riting is that play by which I turn around as well as I can in a narrow place: I am wedged in, I struggle between the hysteria necessary to write and the imagerepertoire, which oversees, controls, purifies, codifies, corrects, imposes the focus (and the vision) of a social communication. (RB 140/137)  134  CHAPTER THREE. WHERE IS THE VOICE COMING FROM?: EARLY POST-STRUCTURAL VERSIONS OF WRITING, TEXTUALITY AND THE SUBJECT  In its primary aspect, a great picture has no more definite message for us than an accidental play of sunlight and shadow for a moment, on the wall or floor; is itself, in truth, a space of such fallen light, caught as the colours are caught in an Eastern carpet, but refined upon, and dealt with more subtly and exquisitely than by nature herself. Walter Paterl ...extravagant polysemy is the first (initiatory) episode of an ascesis: the one which leads outside the dictionary, outside meaning. ("R," RF 225/205)  Jump cut After passing through a rich period of eclectic analyses ranging from applied phenomenology (MI) to social criticism (M), by 1960 Barthes was moving into the new mythopoeic territories of structural analysis; and, with him, French writers were distancing themselves from existential views of literature. In "Kafka's Answer," a kind of post-script to WDZ, he surveys the contemporary French literary scene, writing: (t)he end of the Sartrean novel, the imperturbable indigence of socialist  135 fiction, the defects of political theater --all that, like a receding wave, leaves exposed a singular and singularly resistant object: literature. ("KA," CE 133/138) He perceives another literary moment cresting, an "opposing wave" that washes over literature, the wave of "an asserted detachment" ("un degagement declare). ("KA," CE 133/138) This wave carries with it another set of aesthetic values: ...(a) revival of the love story, hostility to 'ideas,' cult of fine writing, refusal to be concerned with the world's significations: a whole new art is being proposed, consisting of a convenient swivel ( d 'un tourniquet commode) between romanticism and off-handedness (la desinvolture), the (minimal) risks of poetry and the (effective) protection of intelligence. ("KA," CE 133/138) Structuralism, as part of the rising anti-Sartrean wave, proved to be a viable form of intellectual protection for Barthes, one which stimulated his bent for creative theorizing and paraliterary texts. In the mid 1970s, looking back on his own work, Barthes implicitly rejected the construct of the "two Barthes" sometimes forwarded by his interpreters, in which the early critical thinker suddenly cedes to the delicious essayeur of hedonism. He never, he said repeatedly in interviews and articles, actually believed (at least for very long) in the possibility of a science of literature of the kind pursued by some of his structural colleagues. 2 His real fascination lay with the creative discursive possibilities offered by the structural use of binary oppositions, deep and surface structures, and the simulacrum.3  136 In retrospect, Barthes appears as the most fanciful and  desinvolte of the French structuralists. By 1963, with "The Structuralist Activity," he is already split between the practice of a "reflexive" (i.e. purely scholarly) Structuralism as opposed to a creative "poetic" Structuralism. (" A," CE 214/214) In this essay the two practices are not -  clearly separate, although Barthes is already tending toward a poetic Structuralism. He opts to foreground Structuralism's inventi% critical operations on the text, and implicitly accords them the status of a further or parallel creation. He makes these assertions about structural analysis. Structuralism is not an intellectual movement so much as a generative cultural activity: "we might speak of structuralist activity as we once spoke of surrealist activity." ("SA," CE 214/214) The goal of all structural activity is to reconstruct an object so as to manifest the rules which govern its functioning.("SA," CE 214-215/214/215) Those rules comprise the "structure" of that object, whether it is a poem, a social ritual, or a prosaic economic exchange. That recovered deep structure is therefore, in structural jargon, a simulacrum of that object. Barthes' structural simulacrum is not a disinterested scientific anatomy of an object, but a "direct,  interested simulacrum," one that makes something that was previously invisible--the structure of that object--appear to the intellect. "Structural man," Barthes writes, "takes the real, decomposes it, then recomposes it." ("SA," CE 215/215) This analysis, which is only a series of abstracted movements  137 in a symbolic realm, might seem to be inconsequential, but it literally produces something else: something Barthes initally wavers between referring to as a new object or merely regarding as an "addition" to the first. Then, deciding that the simulacrum is neither an after-image nor an appendage to the observed object, that it is indeed a distinct object, he moves into a line of argument already advanced by nineteenth-century writers who argued for the creative nature of critical work. Structuralism, Barthes contends, is an activity of homologic imitation: there is no technical difference between structural criticism and the making of art. When Levi-Strauss, for instance, mentally decomposes a myth in order to discover and recompose the homologic functioning of the totemic imagination, his acts are indistinguishable from those of Mondrian or Butor: all three are engaging in the act of composition. ("SA," CE 215/215) Barthes goes on to accord the same value to the structural theorist's work as to traditional art-making, throwing open the boundaries of critical activity, making everything a potential text for the critic's formalizing art: It is of little consequence whether the initial object submitted to the simulacrum activity is given by the world in an already assembled fashion...or is still dispersed (in the case of the structural 'composition'); whether this initial object is drawn from a social reality [le reel social] or an imaginary reality (le reel imaglnaire) It is not the copied object which defines an is the fact that man adds to it in reconstructing it: technique is the very being of all creation. ("SA," CE 215-216/215-216) .  138 Barthes presses his case for structural readings being an aesthetic activity, presenting structural analysis and the simulacrum as a kind of intellectual collage which cannibalizes and reassembles the raw and sometimes far flung materials of the object ( s ) .Significantly, he argues against both representation and originality, contending that it is not the copying of an object that defines art, but the addition of a new element-intellect--which creates new art by producing an abstracted reconfiguration of the object. The English translation inadvertantly obscures the creative intent of that move, rendering the precise "decoupage" and "agencement" by the vaguer, almost clinical English approximations of "dissection" and "articulation." "The structuralist activity," Barthes writes, "involves two typical operations: dissection [decoupage] and articulation (agencement]. " He glosses the first operation: To dissect the first object, the one which is given to the simulacrum activity, is to find in it certain mobile fragments whose differential situation engenders a certain meaning; the fragment has no meaning in itself, but it is nonetheless such that the slightest variation wrought in its configuration produces a change in the whole... ("SA," CE 216/216) Whether one of Mondrian's squares, or Levi-Strauss' mythemes, these elements or "fragments" are then, on the basis of a perceived similiarity, classed into paradigms. These paradigms constitute a "reservoir...of objects (of units)" from which the structuralist critic, by an act of citation, can summon forth elements at will. Once these "elements" are  139 isolated and paradigmatic classes are posited, "structural man must discover in them or establish for them certain rules of association." ("SA," CE 217/217) This is the second operation: the active recombination of those elements. The structuralist builds up his version of the internal structure of the object from its abstracted elements, in effect producing a distinct if virtual object: the structural simulacrum. This simulacrum "manifests a new category of the object, which is neither the real or the rational, but the functional." ("SA," CE 218/218) The structuralist does not deal in meanings, but in schematic processes and virtual intellectual forms: (u)ltimately, one might say that the object of structuralism is not man endowed with meanings but man fabricating meanings... the act by which...meanings...are produced. Homo significans: such would be the new man of structural inquiry. ("SA," CE 218/218) The structural simulacrum is not only a theoretical supplement, but often, in Barthes' essays, an open, ludic activity. It describes, in aestheticizing terms, the synchronic and diachronic patterns of meaning generated by human attempts to render the world intelligible. The structuralist, however, does not engage or evaluate these patterns. He, according to Barthes, stands apart from that human struggle, merely analysing or fabricating patterns that are always empty. "[L)ike the ancient soothsayer" the structuralist "speaks the locus of meaning but does not name it." ("SA," CE 219/219) In the description of the simulacrum found in "The  140 Structuralist Activity" and other essays from his structuralist period one can observe Barthes' drift towards a fragmentary and unconcluded textuality. To create the structuralist simulacrum, the classical assumption of the integrity and originality of the first object (or objects) must be conceptually breached. Structural aesthetics, oriented toward the notion of culture as a complex of interdependent sign systems, asserts that the integrity of the object and the authorial imprint are illusory. Neither object nor voice are inhering plenums, but intricate and open discursive structures made up of independent fragments ("elements") circulating within the cultural system. These structures, harmoniously mirroring that vast system, become micro-systems; the object becomes construed as a text caught up in the flow of larger cultural texts. The relative originality of a text now lies not in the force of authorial expression or artistry, but in its specific combinations and permutations of prior elements and codes--that is, in its systemic diff6rance. The object's apparent origin is, in structural and post-structural theory, pulverized into conceptual collage. It becomes a decentred system of citations, authored not by an individual, or individuals, but rather by a transpersonal system of signs.The notion of the simulacrum as a collage of recycling fragments, with its emphasis on surfaces, detachable elements, and abstract recomposition, functions as a transitional construction of the text, sliding toward the hypothesis of the intertext upon which Barthesian post-structuralism is  141 founded. The authorial intertext Often coupled with Foucault's "What is an Author?," "The Death of the Author" lays out Barthes' initial post-structural stand on the Author, reading, and the text. The essay circles around a sentence taken from Balzac's "Sarrasine," which reads: "She was Woman, with her sudden fears, her inexplicable whims, her instinctive fears, her meaningless bravado, her defiance, and her delicious delicacy of feeling." ("DA," RL 49/61) An individual known as Balzac may have written down these words, but who or what is truly speaking through that sentence? Is it, Barthes reflects, a single man, "universal wisdom," or Romantic psychology? The conventional response is, of course, to shake off this sophist's doubt and affirm the sovereignty of the author. But Barthes, like Foucault and others, asserts that every utterance is full of other utterances. They view the Author--broadly, the idea of a privileged and unified single voice--as a recent (i.e. post-medieval) ideological institution produced by a convergence of philosophies which, by supporting the idea of the "prestige of the individual," helped to nurture the rise of capitialism.("DA," RL 49-50/61-62) In return, capitalism reinforces the idea of the centrality of the individual within cultural systems, so that the author has come to dominate the process of writing. As Barthes complains: the image of literature to be found in contemporary culture is tyranically centred on the author, his person, his history, his tastes, his passions...[the] explanation of the work is still sought in the person of  142 its producer.  ("DA," RL 50/62)  But before capitalist cosmology, the author was--in Foucault's celebrated phrase--an anonymous authorial function. 4 In pre-industrial and pre-capital societies, Barthes writes, writing was not a personal affect-laden utterance, but a communal and impersonal utterance that was  performed by a mediating shaman or reciter whose interpretation of the already-known text was the focus of an audience's admiration and attention. Falling back upon the genealogy of resistance outlined in WDZ, Barthes suggests that the current of contemporary literary resistance to the empire of the Author is, in fact, not at all novel, but a stance akin to the older model of authorial anonymity. For. Barthes this wave of modern resistance begins with Mallarme, who constantly cast the category of the Author into doubt, stressing the "verbal condition of literature" and the purely linguistic and contingent nature of his writing activity. These become tenets of the Barthesian Imaginary: ...for Mallarmd, as for us, it is language which speaks, not the author: to write is to reach, through a preliminary impersonality ...that point where not 'I' but only language functions, 'performs': Mallarmd's whole writing consists in suppressing the author in favour of writing (and thereby restoring, as we shall see, the reader's place). ("DA," RL 50/62) In a curious but telling interruption of the logical sequence of his argument, Barthes presents the second figure in his potted history of resistance: Proust, who has "given modern  143 writing its epic" in the massive novel cycle  A  la recherche du  temps perdu. By a "radical reversal," Barthes claims, Proust did not put his life into his novel. Instead, in aesthetic fashion, the author and history implode into a pre-existing imaginative text. ...he (Proust] made his life itself a work of which his own book was the that it is quite clear to us that it is not Charlus who imitates Montesquiou, but Montesquiou, in his anecdotal, historical reality, who is only a secondary, derived fragment of Charlus. ("DA," RL 51/63) After Proust, Surrealist experiments with irrational processual forms of discourse such as automatic writing, as well as innovative collaborative forms of writing such as the cadadvre exquis, flouted traditional literary codes, disappointing the bourgeois expectation of univocality and meaning, thus helping to "desacralize the image of the Author." ("DA," RL 51/63) Lastly, Barthes writes, outside of literature itself (though such a distinction was, he noted, becoming dated) linguistics delivers the coup de grace to the category of the Author by demonstrating the double vacuity of the utterance and of the personal pronoun.[s] that the speechact in its entirety is an 'empty' process, which functions perfectly without its being necessary to 'fill' it with the person of the interlocutors: linguistically, the author is nothing but the one who writes, just as I is nothing but the one who says I: language knows a 'subject,' not a 'person,'...this subject, empty outside of the very speech-act which defines it... ("DA," RL 51/63-64)  144 The rest of the essay explores the consequences of this analytic "destruction" of the Author. Although the title of the essay dramatically proclaims the demise of the authorial subject, in the last half of the text Barthes undercuts his own initial claim, advancing instead the Brechtian notion of a distancing of that figure. 5 The removal of the Author (with Brecht, we might speak here of a veritable distancing, the Author diminishing like a figure at the far end of the literary stage)...transforms the modern text. ("DA," RL 51-52/64) To assign an Author to a text, Barthes asserts, is to limit the play of that work, "to impose a brake upon it, to furnish it with a final signified, to close writing." ("DA," RL 53/65) This closure of the work allows certain forms of criticism to busily discover within and beyond its texts of pleasure the Author and its corollary notions--"society, history, the psyche, freedom." ("DA," RL 53/65-66) But once the Author is distanced from the text, no longer a stabilizing source of meaning, the rabbinical Critic is likewise dispossessed. "[T]he claim to 'decipher' a text" Barthes concludes, logically enough, "becomes entirely futile." ("DA," RL 53/65) The source of writing becomes not an individual's engagement with the world, but language itself: and meaning is dismissed as a bourgeois desire, of less interest than the desire to play. Having withdrawn his assent from an authorially-centred model of culture, it rhetorically collapses in Barthes' text, bringing down with it the inherited parameters and telos of  145 bourgeois culture. Writing is no longer the site of individual affirmation and expression, but the very locus of its loss. In this modernity, the older sense of cultural time and its steady flow shifts. Barthes begins to gloss the ontological implosions and inversions implicit in his reading of Proust. Time, within Barthes' construction of modernity, although freighted with codes and intertexts, bends back upon itself into a perpetual synchonicity created through a suppression or forgetting of what has gone before. "The Author," Barthes writes, "when we believe in him, is always conceived of as the past of his own book...he lives before it, thinks, suffers, lives for it..." ("DA," RL 52/64) No longer countersigning the idea of an Author, Barthesian modernity posits instead the poststructural scriptor who is perpetually "born at the same time as his text." This scriptor "is not furnished with a being which precedes or exceeds his writing, he is not the subject of which his book would be the predicate." ("DA," RL 53/66) In this modernity, the reader, as a supplementary scriptor, literally creates both the "author" and the "text" every moment that she reads--that is, performs--it. Barthes holds: "there is no time other than that of the speech-act, and every text is written eternally here and now." ("DA," RL 53/65) Writing, in Barthes' ideology of perpetual performance, is an activity antithetical to personal expression and affirmation. The scriptor, unlike the Author, "no longer contains passions, moods, sentiments, impressions" but is an "immense dictionary." ("DA, "RL 53/65) To write, or to read, is  146 to suicide oneself into an impersonal, drifting, intransitive realm of signs. Once an individual begins to work with language in such a reflexive manner, no longer demanding that it extend itself to referents or that it "act directly upon reality," a "gap" appears between word and world, between human beings and language; "the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins." ("DA," RL 49/61) "Writing," Barthes writes: the destruction of every voice, every origin. Writing is that neuter, that composite, obliquity into which our subject flees, the black-and-white where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes. ("DA," RL 53/65) The scriptor is a disembodied actant, a hand "detached from any voice, borne by a pure gesture of inscription." ("DA," RL 52/64) This gesture is itself derivative: it "traces a field without origin--or at least with no origin but language itself, i.e. the very thing which ceaselessly calls any origin into question." ("DA," RL 52/64-65) Like Bouvard and Pdcuchet, Flaubert's "sublime and comical" copyists whose "profound absurdity  precisely designates the truth of writing," the writer is fatally belated, unable to impress an originality upon prior discourse (as in the more optimistic Bakhtinian model), doomed to the imitation of anterior gestures, none of which are, ironically, themselves original or--and this word is, in Barthes' view, synonymous--integral. ("DA," RL 52-53/64-65) The Barthesian Text, from this time forward, is the antithesis of the classical hermeneutic work. 6 It is not framed  147 as an utterance releasing a "single 'theological' meaning" as encoded by an author, but is imagined as a massively overdetermined and decentred post-Jehovah field of Babel. The text is now a "fabric of quotations" drawn from an unthinkable number of cultural sources, a public and multi-dimensional space in which several discourses and codes jostle, marry or challenge one another without resolution. Writing becomes the polyglot art of arranging ruins in perpetual motion. Bricolage, or unrestrained dispositio, is one of the few creative avenues remaining to the writer. According to Barthes, the writer can now only "mingle" (reeler) writings," and provisionally contest some discourses by means of other prior utterances. Having distanced the centripetal originary myth of the Author, the hyphos of culture becomes perceptible; and becomes, in fact, the primary force and focus of the macro-Text of poststructural culture. In this multiple writing that is both the individual text and its context, meaning (semiotic closure) is frustrated. Traces and signs can be "disentangled" from one another, but nothing ever definitively "deciphered." ("DA," RL 53/66) The structures of a text can be followed in "all (their) reprises, all (their) stages, but there is no end to it, no bottom." ("DA," RL 54/66) Writing is now not only perceived as a counter-communication, but also as a negative theology elevating process and evasion: ...writing constantly posits meaning, but always in order to evaporate it: writing seeks a systemic exemption of meaning. Thereby, literature (it would be better, from now on, to say writing), by refusing  148 to assign to the text (and to the world-astext) a 'secret,' i.e. an ultimate meaning, liberates an activity we may call countertheological, properly revolutionary, for to refuse to halt meaning is finally to refuse God and his hypostases, reason, science, the law. ("DA," RL 50/63) The centrifugal push of the text, its "multiplicity" and overwhelming intertextuality, is momentarily halted and gathered together: not in the figure of the Author, but in the act of reading, in the cultural function that is the reader. Barthes' isolated competent reader is, at this point, very like Riffaterre's virtual super-reader.? [T]he reader is the very space in which are inscribed, without any of them being lost, all the citations out of which a writing is made; the unity of a text is not in its origin but in its destination, but this destination can no longer be personal... ("DA," RL 53/63) In Barthes, as in other theorists associated with readerresponse theories, a suppressed category of classical culture-the reader--erupts into cultural consciousness. Through a polemical inversion, the scriptor/reader is now seen by Barthes as the only viable future of writing. Rather than opting for a more modest and gentle proposal--the birth of the text--Barthes ends "The Death of the Author" on a note of almost classical bloodlust: "we know that in order to restore writing to its future, we must reverse the myth: the birth of the reader must be requited by the death of the Author." ("DA," RL 55/67) That mythic inversion, which births the scriptor, the reader, the text, and the intertext, delivers Barthesian post-  149 structuralism. S/Z & ES: reading and the intertext  To interpret a text is not to give it a ...meaning, but on the contrary to appreciate what plural constitutes it. Let us first posit the image of a triumphant plural, unimpoverished by any constraint of representation (of imitation). (S/Z 5/11-12) In 1970 Barthes published two works.One, S/Z, was almost immediately celebrated as a major theoretical statement breaking with Structuralism; the other, ES, issued in Geneva by a smaller publishing house specializing in art books, was rather overshadowed (it was first translated into English in 1982). Both books forecast the course of Barthesian aesthetics, providing two complementary versions of post-structural aestheticization, two perspectival textual economies, two ways of reading. S/Z, in its exuberant and irreverent reading of Balzac's "Sarrasine," is the first major document from Barthes' phase of "extravagant" semiosis, which climaxes in the theoretical hedonism of PT, then moves into the quieter and complex intertextualities of FLD and RB. The private reverie, the cooler attention to gestures, emptied signs, and reimagined materiality found in ES foreshadows the later essays on visual art and music, as well as the strategic absences of Barthes' late books. Although Barthes is, as I will argue, disturbing Balzac's delicate mimetic lace to effect aestheticizing operations upon "Sarrasine" in S/Z, it is in ES that Barthes first appears as a Western aesthete of a kind recognizable from the prose of  150 Gautier, Baudelaire, and Huysmans. The strategy common to both texts is what critics like Megill and Fredric Jameson, following Barthes, identify as the textualization of reality. 8 If S/Z is the theoretical baseline of Barthesian poststructural theorizing, a compendium of heuristic concepts and practices of reading texts and the phenomenal world so as to render them as synchronic, semelfactive systems, as "playtexts," ES is an imaginative--and surprisingly different-application of Barthes' practice of the reading the "world-astext." 9 Hyper-textualizing the world is, as Allan Megill suggests, the fundamental move of aestheticizing discourse in the twentieth century: and it is certainly the critical move in Barthes' post-structural writing. But there are other important supporting and correlative moves in Barthes' theorizing during this period, many of which are clearly derived from earlier aestheticizing discourses. The most crucial are those to which I have alluded in the preceding chapter: the privileging of writing as reflexive, socially indifferent process, the utopian hypothesis of the world as a realm of malleable signs, the voiding of the human subject and of the sign (what I refer to as the process of deauthorization), and the emancipation of the repressed reader. Having thus suspended the old imperatives of semantic and contextual stability, Barthesian post-structuralism lends the reader carte blanche. It allows him to overwhelm, interrupt, play with and/or dismember the text at his leisure,  151 disregarding the restrictions of any interpretative methodology or community, as well as the pressures of history or intentionality. These postulates reinforce the uncrowning of the author and create the preconditions for the critical thesis of intertextuality, the concept blurring reader, writer and text, a concept Barthes is attracted to and yet finally, when he is on the verge of becoming a cultural intertext himself, resists.  By the end of 1970 intertextuality had emerged as a major conceptual fiction (or epistemological shift) in the work of Barthes and other French intellectuals. With such persuasive statements as S/Z and "From Work to Text" Barthes popularized his own exuberant take on Julia Kristeva's notion of the intertextual. Yet within a few years of publishing these celebratory manifestos of post-structural textuality, unresolved tensions begin to appear in his work around that very concept. For the rest of the decade Barthes returns to the intertextual, making what I see as a series of re-appraisals of his initial understanding. In later years the analytic enthusiasm of S/Z modulates and at times recedes, giving way to tentative speculations on unusable (what Barthes will refer to as "perverted") forms of reading and writing, and to the ironic intertextualities of RB and FLD. The aestheticizing turn in his thinking, his inclination towards irony and mediation, intensifies. He develops the critical terms and strategies of  152 oscillation, abjuration, the palinode, jouissance, the body, the grain of the voice, the graph, graphic texture, the ductus, the gaze, the amateur, utopia, atopic texts,the obtuse meaning (refigured as the punctum in CL),and so On.  10  Retreating from  his initial fascination with public systems of culture, he comes to cherish the unrepeatable (the non-iterable, in Derridean terms), the non-functional, the supplemental, the sensual, the private,the neuter, and the indeterminate. All that, in short, actively or passively resists being caught up in the citational nets of institutional culture. There is, in Barthes, a slowly developing tension between textualization and his particular body (the strife between social expectations and the aesthete's desires being a common theme in nineteenth-century aesthetic discourse) that leads me to propose, grosso modo, two periods of intertextual theorizing in his work. Intertextuality obviously turns upon the interdependent terms of system and difference. S/Z is the primary document from his initial, more systems-oriented phase; PT marks his entry into a still pleasurable but agonistic later period in which his critical reflections on textuality and difference continue, but in hybrid ironic and sensualized forms which exploit the uncertainties of the literary register and resist critical summation. Texts from both phases need to be read together in order to understand his movements around this issue, and how Barthes the post-structural critic develops into the aesthetic critic who resists the commercial and eventually sinister hyphos of culture. In this chapter I will begin with  153 Barthes' initial phase--the phase whose version of poststructural (inter)textuality is still most widely in circulation (a time that foregrounds the textual economy that I shall refer to as the "Parisian economy"). The Barthesian version of intertextuality put forward in S/Z derives from at least four prior "texts." The first three  are fairly obvious: the decentred systems theory of French Structuralism, and then the wilder, pluralistic account of interacting systems found in the work of Kristeva, who is indebted to Bakhtinian dialogism. Bakhtin in turn, is, with the others, indebted to the early nineteenth-century hermeneutics of Schleiermacher, who conceived of culture as a selfperpetuating system of texts working in terms of source and influence. 11 Post-structural textuality can be read as a radicalized version of hermeneutics in which the notion of cultural system survives, but one in which the controlling, stabilizing, and creative category of the individual author has been erased, barely surviving as an assembleur, as an authorial function (in Foucauldian terms), as a de-historicized trace. 12 No longer does the writer "speak" to another through language: language writes (to) itself through the making of texts, perpetuating itself via the intermediary of the scriptor. Thus the locus of creativity shifts to the realm of the sign, and to a ludic reading consciousness. To briefly reiterate the salient points of Kristeva's argument on intertextuality,which return in Barthes' discourse on textuality: the text--a generic semiotic term--is figured in  154 systemic, spatial and belated terms. It is seen as a "mosaic of quotations," a bricolage of previous texts created by the simultaneous absorption and transformation of prior texts in a complex movement of affirmation and negation. The Kristevian textual space is polyphonic and potentially infinite, bounded only by the reader's ability to identify shards of prior utterances. Intertextuality, as she defines it, is the transposition of one or more systems of signs into another sign system, "accompanied by a new articulation of the enunciative and denotative position." 13 There are no strong discrete human agents directing this process in Kristeva's theory: intertextuality explicitly replaces the old hermeneutic notion of intersubjectivity, stimulating the new theories of reading, writing, and the text advanced in S/Z. There are few clear conceptual edges to the poststructural Barthesian categories of the work and the text. In the fifth thesis of "From Work to Text" Barthes actually refers to them as metaphors which point to disparate organic and cybernetic models of writing: The metaphor of the Text is...detached from the metaphor of the work; the latter refers to the image of an organism which grows by vital expansion, by 'development'...the metaphor of the Text is that of the network; if the Text expands, it is by the effect of a combinative operation, of a systematics... ("WT," RL 61/74) Nevertheless, to recapitulate the outlines of the ideal Barthesian text advanced in S/Z: the text is not to be equated with the work. The work is, alternately, either the classical  155 conception of a literary text--a classicism whose demand for representation suppresses the polysemy of a writing and impoverishes its language, turning it into a readerly text, that is, into a cultural product intended to be passively consumed by a reader--or the physical object we literally hold in our hands and read. Barthes refers to contemporary innovative writings that reject inherited notions of the coherence of literary work, such as those by Sollers, as texts. These texts--and what Barthes sometimes refers to as the writerly or plural text--are distinguished by their openess and, even more, by their chronic potentiality. Texts and textuality are, Barthes suggests, ephemeral things that are held and enacted in the realm of language.("WT," RL 57/70-71) Like the structural simulacrum, the text (or textuality) is an unappropriated instance of linguistic potential which exceeds both the signs and every act of reading that reconstellates it. ("WT," RL 58/71) The text is a perspectival "galaxy of signifiers," a "methodological field" or quasi-musical "score" which is provisionally constellated (produced) only in the moment-by-moment act of reading which catches up the sign in a plurality of larger discursive systems. ("WT," RL 57-58/71) The ideal text is virtual, limitless, freed from authorial intention and critical categories: it does not, as Barthes observes, stop at the end of a library shelf or a back cover.("WT," RL 58/71) The text is "radically symbolic," and, like language, is "structured but decentred, without closure": it gravitates around the sign and playfully resists meaning by  156 indefinitely deferring the signified through a "serial movement of dislocations, overlappings and variations." ("WT," RL 59/72) Meaning is further frustrated by the text 's inclination to dissolve and incorporate the meta-languages which attempt to describe it. ( "WT," RL 64/77) Where the work has an apparently consistent structure and telos, the text, as a decentred network or field, theoretically has no privileged point of entry, no beginning, and can be entered or abandoned at multiple points. (S/Z 5/11) The irreversibility of the classical work, which is seen as insisting upon an organic literary model having clear beginnings, middles, and ends, is challenged by the wandering cybernetic "reversibility" of texts. The text, being a stereographic "social space" in which a number of languages circulate, having neither consistent structure nor a clearly defined territory, cannot be interpreted so much as traversed, and, as it were, perpetually produced and disseminated by each reading. The Barthesian text confronts the quasi-capitalist ideology of classical culture. The work is, Barthes writes, caught up in the nets and values of tradition, what he refers to, ironically, as the "process of filiation" which controls interpretation and helps cultural capital accrue to the great Fathers. Being authored, the work is controlled by a prior intention--metonymically, the Father's signature--that must be respected and countersigned by the reader. The text, in contrast, is unauthored, and theoretically exists outside of culture's Oedipal economy. Barthes' reader thus has no need  157 (and no desire) to respect the integrity of the text, the Father/Author's word or any intention prior to his own. Rather than heightening the distance between the grand act of writing and the dependent, largely passive act of reception, as in the classical ideology of the work, Barthes' construction of the text collapses writing into reading. The reader (the scriptor) does not kowtow to the work or generate a reading of it which can be deposited to the reputation of the author. He plays with the unreadable score, actively performing the text as he pleases. ("WT," RL 62-63/75-76) His role, cultural rights and inheritance usurped, the author can return to the text only as a "guest" of the reader, as one character among others: if he (the author) is a novelist, he inscribes himself there (in the text) as one of his characters, drawn as a figure in the carpet; his inscription is no longer privileged, paternal, alethic, but ludic: he becomes, one can say, a paper author; his life is no longer the origin of his fables, but a fable concurrent with his life [sic (oeuvre)]... ("WT," RL 62-63/74-75) Barthes glosses this notion of the text and of textuality repeatedly, admitting its intermittent and conjectural, almost ghostly status. ...the writerly text is not a thing, would have a hard time finding it in a bookstore....the writerly text is a perpetual present, upon which no consequent language... can be superimposed; the writerly text is ourselves writing, before the infinite play of the world (the world as function) stopped, plasticized by some singular system (Ideology, Genus, Criticism) which reduces the plurality of entrances, the opening of networks, the infinity of languages.  158 (S/Z 5/11) However opposed the categories of the work and the idealized hypothesis of the text may appear in Barthes, the text is in some respects intimately related to the work. Although the text may exist as an independent entity, it--or textuality-often arises within the interstices of the work. "It would be futile," he writes in "From Work to Text," "to attempt to literally separate works from texts, and to contend that "the work is classical, the text avant-garde," since "there can be "Text" in a very old work, and many products of contemporary literature are not texts at all." ("WT," RL 57/70) A reader attuned to potential textuality can release the suppressed wildness of the work's language. The Text (if only by its frequent 'unreadability') decants the work... from its consumption and recuperates it as play, task, production, practice. ("WT," RL 62/75) Ambiguity and disagreement as to the strongest locus of production divides work from text. A "work" is the ambiguity of language successfully forced into a confined room and the myth of authorial originality; the "text" is the demolition of that room, the work opening into the nebulous galaxy of cultural systems. The text cultivates relative originality, what one might refer to as systemic diffdrance, rather than the hubris of absolute originality. As Barthes remarks, the text can be Text only in its systemic difference.(S/Z 3/6, "WT," RL 60/73)  14  The  text is the explosion of structure in favour of systématiques, the delight in the vagaries of polysemy connotation and  159 cybernetic noise (the "delicious and precious nourishment" that literature affords), the preoccupation with differance-"a difference which does not stop and which is articulated upon the infinity of texts,languages, of systems." (S/Z 3/5) The work, then, moves toward signifieds, toward culture and meaning. The text, however, resists any unity of meaning: it is irreducibly plural and fragmentary; its reading cannot be cumulative (as with the work) but only semelfactive. ("WT," RL 59-60/73) The work may appear to present a coherent structure, but the text has, at best, only moments of structuration, so that the work may be easily consumed as a cultural commodity, while the text resists consumption. In theory, it offers only the opportunity for play. The work, then, is anchored in the world, and moves back toward it as it is read: the text, as it is performed, seeks to move into an immanent textual realm free of the pressures of history, a strong individual subjectivity, or human need. S/Z is acclaimed for its exposition of post-structural textuality, but, like the theory of the Text, intertextuality remains a soft and even self-subverting hypothesis in Barthes. The last lexia of Barthes' spectacular reading of Balzac's short story is, not incidentally, declared to be "unclassifiable" according to the five-code schema that Barthes has just spent the last two hundred pages elaborating. The sabotaging of metalanguages and their categories, or at least their disruption, is, as indicated, part of the program of Barthesian post-structural textuality. ("WT," RL 64/77) The  160 multivalent text (the ideal post-structural text, utterly decentred and reversible) is, within the economy of hermeneutic culture, fundamentally "duplicitous," since it attempts to destroy the traces of cultural origin and authorial "ownership" persisting in itself or in the other works upon which it draws. (S/Z 44/51) The multivalent text can only effect that end by,  Barthes writes, subverting the opposition between true and false, by failing to attribute quotations (even when discrediting them), and by flouting all respect for "origin, paternity, propriety," generating a textual noise--a "cacography"--which disrupts the semblance of an authorial voice that might lend a text the semblance of an organic unity. (S/Z 44-45/51-52) This multivalent text must "coldly" and, if  necessary, "fraudulently" abolish the textual signs (the "quotation marks") that enclose a discrete utterance and create the illusion of an utterance being some author's private property. Post-structural textual multivalence is intended as an aggressive contestation of literary ownership and authority as it has been understood within the academy. In both Kristeva and Barthes intertextuality is an attempt to describe the transformation and deliberate--or inadvertent-persistence of prior discourses within new utterances. In S/Z Barthes identifies five codes (the Hermeneutic, Proairetic, Symbolic, Cultural, and Semic codes) which, woven together in endless combinations, constitute every (literary) text. These codes and intertexts are seen in terms which range from the banal (the doxic) to the erotic and flirtatious: although  161 frequently experienced as coercive or authoritarian, they tend to be perceived by Barthes as half-familiar, half-exotic. Every text, being the intertext (that is, the antecedent) of another text, belongs to the endless chain of the intertextual. This intertextual relay or pool must not be equated with the now unworkable nineteenth century hermeneutic myth of stable textual sources. Intertexts are not in themselves origins, but only vast, derivative, distorted fields of signs. To search for sources and influences in these spaces would be to fall back into the myth of filiation. Critically, Barthes insists upon the familiarity of these echoes or traces for his hypothetical reader. The quotations from which a text is made are, he writes, "anonymous, irrecoverable and yet already read: they are quotations without quotation marks." ("WT," RL 60/73) These texts create a "circular memory," a shared cultural space of half-remembrance within which an individual and the society within which she moves thinks and creates. (PT 45/58). Together, these anonymous and faded codes and quotations constitute a kind of uninterrogated environment. They have been naturalized: that is, they have become part of an allegedly general cultural macrotext that constitutes the background against which individual texts become legible. Barthes' post-structural reader moves through these quasi-environmental semiotic zones known as texts in ways diametrically opposed to traditional hermeneutic styles of reading. Practicing the vagaries of an unpredictable connotative and "topographical" style of reading that, as  162 William Ray describes it, ironically inverts the usual movement of interpretation, this reader subverts the traditional critical goals of meaning and structural synthesis. 15 If even the structural reader sought a hidden order within a text, the post-structural reader locates and heightens the discontinuities within a text, spinning and unravelling the "fabric of codes knotted around each textual element" into an uncertain and perpetual movement as he attends, in an unconcluding present, to his structurations of the text. (LM 176) "The more plural a text, the less it is written before I read it" Barthes asserts. (S/Z 10/16) Hence post-structural reading is not a "parasitical act," but a form of creative "work". (LM 176) This work may be ludic but it is also deliberately Sisyphean. To read now is now not so much to remember--that is, to identify intertexts and painstakingly track semiotic relations and build up meanings--as to forget. ...reading does not consist in stopping the chain of systems, in establishing a truth, in establishing a truth, a legality of the text, and consequently in leading its reader into 'errors'...I (the post-structural reader) pass, I intersect, I articulate, I release, I do not count. (S/Z 11/18) Although this hypothetical reader may, as Barthes does in S/Z, draw in fragments of several kinds of critical discourses, she adopts a globally Nietzschean mode of interpretation that appreciates the passing strangeness and plurality of signs without seeking any putative referents.(S/Z 5/11)  163 Acknowledging referents would imply not only recognizing an extra-textual dimension to the hypothesis of world-as-text, but also press Barthes to furnish his ideal reader with a reasonably stable and consistent cultural memory if he were not to be labelled dysfunctional, narcissistic, or literally psychotic. There is a curious tension between memory and forgetting in the version of reading advanced in S/Z and other essays between the years 1968 and 1971. Barthes, echoing Mallarmd's cultural fatigue, asserts in effect that "everything" is always already read. He therefore claims for his way of reading a "freedom" characteristic of later phases of culture, one which implies a strong and active cultural memory: the freedom of reading a text as though it had already been read by the reader: a manner of reading which assumes that the reader's hermeneutic and narrative impulses have long been exhausted. (S/Z 15-16/22-23) This is the post-structural strategy of framing reading as re-reading (and is, incidentally, a tenet of the Parisian textual economy). Yet, curiously, lack of sustained memory is, in this counterideology of reading, a positive virtue, an act of semantic failure which enables the post-structural lector to continue reading moment to moment, indefinitely. Forgetting meanings is unfortunate defect in performance; it is an affirmative value, a way of asserting the irresponsibility of the text, the pluralism of systems (if I closed their list, I would inevitably consitute a singular, theological meaning): it is precisely because I forget that I read. (S/Z 11/18)  164 These early Barthesian notions of reading, the text, and intertextuality are predicated upon two prior theoretical constructions. The first is a theoretically gutted (i.e. textualized, decentred) subject. Barthes' reader, like his scriptor,are both, as he describes it, "fairly empty" subjects. ("WT," RL 60/73) The question is, emptied of what? The description found in "The Death of the Author" makes it clear. The reader is "a man without history, without biography, without psychology." ("DA," RL 54/67) He is a cybernetic actant, a discursive function that momentarily gathers into one site thousands of disparate traces, and then releases (forgets) them, so that ideally little or no trace survives of his reading--either physically, communally, or even personally.  16  ("DA," RL 54/67) This reading subject, no longer  "dense, emphatic centred, sacred," has been stripped not only of gender but of most of the attributes of humanistic subjects. (ES 85/63) This largely empty and "idle" (desoeuvr0 poststructural reader is a textual operator: his task is not to interpret but to "shift systems," to identify and then "release" codes and texts, to practice a selective amnesia which allows him to frustrate any movement toward meaning. He is competent, functional, at ease with the system, its "accomplice," as Barthes writes. He manifests, at this juncture, no sense of cultural coercion or dissonance, no recognition of alternate or marginal subcultures. No painful absences disturb his play with the text. This subject is literally a walking bundle of citations and semes woven from the  165 surrounding discursive environment. He mirrors the text: reading becomes the complex identification and interfacing of common codes and texts, some remembered, others forgotten but still active. ...I is not an innocent subject, anterior to the text....This 'I' which approaches the text is already itself a plurality of other texts, of codes which are infinite or more exactly, already lost (whose origin is lost). Objectivity and subjectivity are of course forces which can take over the text, but they are forces which have no affinity with it. Subjectivity is a plenary image, with which I may be thought to encumber the text, but whose deceptive plenitude is merely the wake of all the codes which constitute me, so that my subjectivity has ultimately the generality of stereotypes. (S/Z 10/16-17) The human intertext and the texts he reads are made from the same quasi-genetic pool of codes. The flesh has been made sign: and emotion, like human consciousness, is rendered textual and citational. Recalling the cynical La Rochefoucauld, Barthes opines in S/Z: Mithout the--always anterior--Book and Code, no desire, no jealousy...itself a lost origin, writing becomes the origin of emotion. (S/Z 73-74/80) The subject here is not the recalcitrant, introverted hedonist of Barthes' later works. Well-socialized, complicit, attuned to the symbolic order, she seems almost nothing but surfaces and impersonal forms of memory. Turned toward the social space that is the text, motivated only by the pleasures of textuality, this reading subject is primarily a synchronic  166 public entity, and a theoretical function. Made up of public intertexts, ;he moves in a universe of codes, of indiscrete and blurred phenomena held precariously together by the fiction of pantextuality. And this brings forward the second theoretical assumption upon which Barthesian intertextuality depends. Alan Megill, in PE, argues that aestheticism informs the work of Foucault and Derrida and their predecessors (Heidegger and Nietzsche). By "aestheticism" Megill is referring, as I have suggested in a previous chapter, to the chronic textualization of extra-textual phenomena, that is, to a tendancy to see discourse as constituting the primary realm of human experience. (PE 2-4) This idealizing position is, as the reading of WDZ showed, already present in Barthes' emulation of the Mallarmean position in the 1950s. Barthes' aestheticizing polemic, which argues that signs and texts utterly precede individual experience, only intensifies in his early poststructural years. In S/Z Barthes, echoing Derrida, affirms that nothing exists outside of the text, and that, despite realism's claims to the contrary, nothing exists behind the text. (S/Z 6/12) Recycling the trope of world as semiosphere, he compares the infinite Text to the sky, signs being figured as migrating birds: " (t)he text, in its mass, is comparable to a sky, at once flat and smooth, deep, without edges and without landmarks. "(S /Z 14/20) The commentator is, again, likened to a soothsayer, one who again raises his staff toward the azur of the text-sky to carve out an empty locus, an arbitrary space (the "zone of reading") in which to consider, like the falling  167 of yarrowstalks, the flight of these signs. (S/Z 14/20) In PT pastoral and mantic tropes fade into the dominating trope of network. There Barthes writes of experience as being inevitably mediated by a web of external and introjected texts. These introjected texts become the circular public "memories" which structure human experience: Proust is not an 'authority,' he is not what I actively recall, but is simply a circular memory. And that is what the intertext is: the impossibility of living outside of the infinite text--whether this text be Proust, or the newspaper, or the television screen: the book creates meaning (le sens), meaning creates existence. (PT 36/59) This points to one of the aestheticizing aims of Barthes in S/Z: to rewrite the work as text, wrenching "Sarrasine" away from its putative origin (the author Balzac) and its naive representational ground by making visible the semiotic codes and intertexts which constitute the intertext. Barthes accomplishes this by literally re-writing the text, surrounding and overwhelming Balzac's text with a massive close reading that sunders the illusions of a seamless fictional world and a single authorial voice. Barthes' post-structural technique of analytic disruption conflates, at least for the reader of S/Z, the two phases involved in the making of a structural simulacrum. The "breaking" or "starring" of the text is akin to the first phase of structural analysis of a text: the stage of ddcoupage. (S/Z 13-14/20-22) This "starring" of the work separates, "in the manner of a minor [ontological and epistemological) earthquake," the work's "blocks of  168 signification" that were imperceptibly soldered together by the flowing discourse of narration and the "'naturalness' of ordinary language." (S/Z 13/20) Barthes' post-structural analysis, based upon the affirmation of the artificiality and hidden plurality of all texts, aggressively "manhandles" (malmener) the work, interrupting its flow and its "natural"  syntactic, rhetorical and anecdotal divisions, disturbing the illusory transparency that the story may have once had. (S/Z 1415/21-22) The second phase of structural analysis--agencement-occurs simultaneously--if almost ironically--in S/Z. There the text's order is disordered, then tentatively and loosely reconstellated--reordered--within the larger network of cultural intertexts and codes. Barthes' violation of the apparent plenum of the work has several pragmatic and ideological functions. It is, of course, a flat rejection the classical ideology and its privileging of the discrete primary text. By dramatically rupturing the conventional connections between sign and referent, work and author, and exposing the citationality of texts, Barthes' reading displaces the origin of Balzac's short story, indeed of all texts, to the immanent realm of textuality. Lastly, however denied, one wonders whether Oedipal tensions--at least in the sense of a resistance to entrenched powers--fund Barthes' post-structural drive to valorize re-reading and re-writing. By literally overwhelming and dissolving the boundaries of Balzac's work in the universal solvent of language, Barthes levels the old hierarchies placing  169 the author above the reader in importance. He shifts attention to the ultimately modern moment--the eternal present of poststructural modes of reading and commentary--thereby making space for further writing; that is, for the scriptible. 17 As Nietzsche pointed out, all intellectual acts are, in a sense, aestheticizing operations in that they abstract and actively reconstruct the object(s) lying passively under the intellectual gaze in order to generate a theory of some kind. 18 S/Z is a discourse which lays bare the latent aestheticism of intellectual work: Barthes' text is an aestheticizing act (in the Nietzschean sense) which overtly produces a new object designed to overcome its primary text. This new thing is not, strictly speaking, a structural simulacrum--since it does not posit deep or macro textual structures--but a different kind of simulacrum, a post-structural simulacrum. This unfinished and unstable simulacrum posits not a textual system but a systematic (systematique). The Barthesian systematic attends not to a text's order, but to its disorder. Refusing the position of authority assumed by structural analyses, Barthes' reconstruction of "Sarrasine" has a different agenda; one that is clearer when read against Baudrillard's study of simulacra and hyperreality in Simulacres et simulation. 19 Baudrillard's study opens with a discussion of one of Borges' fables. The mapmakers of an Emperor were ordered to make a perfect map of the Empire. These cartographers, frightened of their master, made a map so detailed and true to the scale and topography of the realm that it ended up covering  170 the whole empire itself--covering it exactly, mind you (the fable ends with an evocative, Shelleyan image of the map decaying slowly back into the desert sand). Borgds' fable conducts, in Baudrillard's an ironic reductio ad absurdum of the ideology of realism. This ideal realism, dealing in the desire for an exact correspondence between thing and copy, is, even in its less extreme expressions, Baudrillard writes, a nostalgic impossibility. Representation can no longer be framed in terms of the map, the double, the mirror, the concept, territory, or referent. Representation is now, in Baudrillard's account, a culturally unworkable term which has been superseded by a new activity, one that Baudrillard refers to as "simulation." (SS 10) Western cultural forms of simulation now deal not in reflecting a reality, but in creating autonomous hyperrealities: that is, in the "generation, by models, of a reality (un reel) which has neither origin nor reality (realite)." (SS 10) In this new reality-less reel he baptises as "hyperreality" referents (or even simply prior objects) are no longer the strong term. In Baudrillard's analysis of contemporary simulacra, "the territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive the map." (SS 10) Now the map, as it were, precedes the territory: it conjures up a putative "reality." In Baudrillard's revisioning of Borgds' fable, the ruins of the territory would rot slowly on the expanse of the map. But, in the next paragraph, Baudrillard rejects his own revisions to the fable, since it implies an imaginary co-  171 extensivity he no longer perceives in the contemporary simulacrum. Reality is no longer enveloped by a friendly or complementary zone of the imaginary (i.e. of the non-real, the fictional; Baudrillard's use of the term imaginary is not to be equated with the Lacanian use of the word). (SS 11) As in the Barthesian notion of the text, in the Baudrillardian reading of the simulacrum, reality has been collapsed into--or has been "liquidated" by--signs.(SS 11) In its strongest expression, the era of the simulacrum has destroyed the once "sovereign difference" separating the thing from its representation. (SS 10) Consequently, without the necessary distance between the real and an imaginary zone, there is, Baudrillard contends, no longer an imaginary realm in the usual sense: even the category of the fictional collapses into the hyperreal. (SS 181) The real can now be parodically and "artificially resurrected" in the bright sterility and flatness of the simulacra, but there has been a fatal, irreversible substitution of signs of the real (i.e. a realite) for the real (le reel). Ontological difference--the difference between thing and graph that once constituted the charm of maps, portraits, and concepts--is overcome (although difference persists in other forms). Western faith in representation has historically rested upon the wager that in its semiotic economies the sign always referred to, or could be exchanged against, some referent or "deep meaning." (SS 16) Possibly following the Althusserian take on representation and cultural economies, throughout SS the sign is also equated with the image (the image construed as  172 sign or hypersign). According to Baudrillard (who provides no historical points of reference to substantiate his claims) the image evolves through four distinct phases in Western history. The image/sign begins as the reflection of a deep reality; then it masks and denatures a deep reality; subsequently, it masks the absence of any deep reality; and finally, being without any relation to any reality (reel), the image become its own simulacrum. (SS 17) During the first phase the image/sign is seen as being "sacramental" and harmoniously co-extensive with its referent; in the second phase, it is figured as a distorting mark at odds with the referent; then, in the third phase, it is seen as a diversion: the image/sign ironically plays at being the faithful reflection of a referent which is suspected to be absent. In the fourth phase, the image/sign is no longer perceived as having co-extensivity with any external referent; it is now engaged not in the processes of representation but in those of reflexivity. It becomes,as it were, its own simulacrum (hence Baudrillard's image of the moebius strip). In these third and fourth phases the Western image/sign attains the status of what Baudrillard generally identifies as the simulacrum (though images/hypersigns from all of four stages can correctly be designated as simulacra). The Baudrillardian simulacrum, like the Barthesian text, negates the hermeneutic hypotheses of depth, origin, identity, and the sign as bearer of meaning. (SS 16) Within this fourth, posthermeneutic stage of Western culture, odd things happen to inherited notions of reality. Having destroyed the belief in  173 relations between signs and referents, and therefore in transcendance (i.e. a hors-texte, an outside to semiotic systems), this cultural construction of the real is, or at least appears to be, in Baudrillard's reading, entirely captured within semiotic systems of exchange. (SS 182-185) Like Barthes, writing from inside the dense and egocentric culture of the intellectual West, Baudrillard laments the Cocacolonization of the planet: "(th)e space of the earth is closed, saturated with codes, turned into a universal market of goods, values, signs,and models which crowd out the imaginary."(SS 182) Awash in images and replications, this culture of the citation is one that (as in Benjamin's reading of the culture of mechanical reproduction) destroys the putative aura of the discrete and unrepeatable objects of the real. Within this zone the "real" and its corollaries, exhausted by excessive repetition, fragmentation, and gratuitous recontextualizations, turn into superseded notions, overcome by the noise of mass images and the "uninterrupted circuit (of images and signs) whose reference and circumference is nowhere." (SS 182) This fourth phase, which initiates the final agony of the real (that is, of "rational" and "strong referents") ushers in the era of hyperreality and the cultural reign of the simulacrum. (SS 70, 183) In the zone of the hyperreal (in this fourth stage time seems to collapse into space) mimesis is, as Baudrillard's analysis has been signalling, rendered impossible.  174 (Hyperreality is defined by Baudrillard as existing when a realite absolutely coincides--or maps onto--itself: as a student of American culture, one of his favoured instances of this is the Disneyland theme park in California. ) (SS 76) Inside this fourth world the creative process no longer consists, Baudrillard writes, in starting with a real (un reel) and making from it an unreal world (un irreel), a fiction. Rather, creativity now consists in retro bricolage, in taking citations from models and simulations already in circulation and making from them patently self-conscious and decentred illusions of a "real" that flagrantly exposes its artifice, like the dark roots of a dyed blonde. At this moment the simulacrum turns back upon itself, and from the earlier stages of reflecting or invoking a collective real assumed to be independent of any act of representation, it now, in the fourth stage, "reinvents" the real as as a consummate and malleable fiction, in a practice Baudrillard terms "neofiguration". (SS 72) Baudrillard stresses the circularity and solipsism of this post-real zone. Neither metaphysics, history, phantasms, nor science-fiction--in fact, traditional fictions of any kind--can endure in this atmosphere. Recalling Barthes' formulation of textuality, in this fourth phase the prior meanings of things and events now survive only in an "artificial effervesence of signs which succeed one another without logic, in a total equivalence."(SS 65) Consequently, the differential poles creating boundaries and ontological distinctions tend to  175 implode into one another, destroying the necessary condition for dialectics, creating a world of citation and farcical repetition in which there are no truths, no points of stability by which to orient oneself. Ideological oppositions become parodic or senseless; time becomes uncertain, malleable, reversible; reality turns into a film that "gives off the sinister impression of being kitsch,retro and pornographic all at once." (SS 65-66) Reality, which needs to be reinvented because, Baudrillard asserts darkly, "it has disappeared from our lives," is not restored by acts of neofiguration, which ironically only point to the emptiness of its forms and its citations. (SS 183-184) The real metamorphoses into something which no one can quite believe is real: mediated, endlessly refracted and manifactured, manipulated by others, it subsists only as a hallucinatory thing haunting our images, a kitsch grab-bag of citations generated via models, semiotic matrices, and memory banks, a reconstituted and arranged thing: precise, transparent, yet without substance, derealized. This "new universe" is not a parallel universe, a possible world, or the double of reality. The hyperreal universe of Baudrillard's commodity culture, is one in which images ideally coincide and refer to themselves. a universe which no mirror can reflect, since it is a matte realm having no centre of gravity, and no outside. (SS 185) Trapped inside this world of reflexive images and signs (Baudrillard is no fan of the simulacrum), there is neither past not future. Paralysed by its amusing and yet cruel techniques, human beings, should they resist this new  176 order, experience vertigo and ontological as well as epistemological crises. Previous means of human orientation-time, space, identity, memory, imagination, specificity--are destroyed, and their ruins left to float in an uncertain and shallow space. (SS 76-77,184) Meaning, values, and history "hemmorhage" from this space, which levels hierarchies of discourse and "cools out" events. (SS 77) Baudrillard studies many cultural phenomena, but Disneyland occupies a special place in his analysis of simulacra: it is singled out as a phenomenon which embodies the themes and the kinds of simulacra operating in this strange world culture spinning outward from its American epicentre. For the French theorist, Disneyland is, to begin with, like the Barthesian intertext, a site where a culture recycles its ruins, its dechets, a space devoted to restaging the "game of illusions and phantasms," past and future, that haunt its host society: themes such as the Frontier, the manically optimistic Future World, and so on. (SS 24-27) Like its late creator, Walt Disney, whose body is held in cryogenic suspension, awaiting resurrection, Disneyland is, Baudrillard asserts, a gigantic congealed and kitsch miniature that resurrects things whose substance has disappeared. (SS 17,25) As a superficial and retro "digest of the American way of life, a panegyric of American values," this sunny cartoon simulacrum is also, as a third-stage image or hypersign, a "machine of dissuasion" which functions not only to hide the "real" America, but--and here Baudrillard's argument takes a surprising twist--to affirm the  177 failing "reality" of a hyperreal America. Los Angeles, simulacra captial of the U.S.A., is surrounded by a number of these centrales imaginaires (Enchanted Village, Magic Mountain, Marine World, Disneyland) which, while affirming a dissuasive version of the societal real, simultaneously flaunt their artifice in order to shore up the public reel , to persuade Americans that the rest of what they live in is "real," although the omnipresence of the hyperreal has weakened, and, Baudrillard goes so far as to say, murdered reality (i.e. has destroyed the auras of "originals"). (SS 25-26, 161-162) Baudrillard argues that most public events, whether hijackings, strikes, demonstrations, no longer possessing any inhering content or proper ends, have become hyperreal gestures, public quotations of previous texts caught up in a strange network in which events indefinitely cite and refract one another Power, in Baudrillard's reading, manipulates simulacra as dissuasive tools of social control (these simulacra being what Barthes identifies as doxic utterances), but it publicly sets itself against the corrosive relativity and emptiness of simulacra dominating a now "irreferential world." (SS 37-29) Power must vigorously defend itself by "reinjecting" the signs of the real and of the referential in order to persuade its subjects to endorse its legitimacy, and fend off the vertigo of non-sense produced by the hyperreal. If Baudrillard is to be believed, the present commercial first-world culture, with its media machines and centrales imaginaires , is a kind of fullfillment of the aesthete's dream  178 of Nature overcome: in it the nineteenth-century discourse of perversion accelerates into an imploding and triumphant reflexivity, into an unconcluded polysemy which precipitates the diaspora of meanings. There are, certainly, important differences between Baudrillard's reading of the simulacrum and Barthes' construction of the text. Barthes is both a theorist and an active practitioner of literary simulacra (the text being, as subsequent chapters will show, elaborated into a number of surprising kinds of shattered simulacra). Baudrillard, however, is a pessimistic cultural theorist whose work attempts to describe the purely negative effects of the rise of reflexive image systems within first-world (and specifically American) society. His examples are not literary but sociological and ethnographical: Disneyland (a "sentimental simulacrum"), Watergate, a TV miniseries on the Jewish Holocaust, the degraded institution of the American presidency (an "ideological simulacrum"), and the curious flatness of Hollywood period films (which do not evoke the past but instead present the past as a series of cool visual surfaces).(SS 77) He emphasizes the harshness and insensitivity of the reign of hyperreal images, writing that its "realities" are unbearable, "  more cruel than Artaud' s Theatre of Cruelty" since their noise  and replications separate the cultural subject from any primary source (what Baudrillard, daring to be unfashionable, calls life), condemning him instead to the mode of the retro, to the phantasmal and parodic rehabilitation of lost  179 referents.(SS 66) Barthes, however, is still in his early phase of post-structural theorizing, when loss and a rediscovery of the individual have not yet impinged upon his theories of the subject and of the referent. For Barthes, writing in the early 1970s, the hypothesis of human subjects and reality as a series of surfaces is preferable to hermeneutic notions of depth and exteriority. Textual surfaces are ludic sites; the act of deformative copying is an opportunity for pleasure, and both are vehicles of critical and ideological liberation. Both theorists present post-representation models of cultural discourse in which the creative forces are not discrete human subjects, but models, systems and fragments ("ruins" or "remains" in Baudrillard's terminology).(SS 207) In Barthes' reading, simulation is a desirable and liberating avant-garde practice in competition with a still tenacious ideology of the representational, while Badrillard finds his differing conclusion--the fait accompli of the death of representation and the attrition of the Bejaminian aura--a highly sinister cultural development (as Linda Hutcheon remarks in The Politics of Postmodernism, in Baudrillard's cultural scenario "the simulacra gloats over the body of the deceased referent.") 20 Baudrillard's murderous simulacra are readable, crassly commercial, and highly visible public texts designed for passive consumption as substitute reels and surrogate cultural memories that destroy history, authenticity, originality and difference. Barthes recognizes the nihilating potential of repetitive utterances (it is the  180 case he makes against Doxa). But, contrary to Baudrillard, Barthes endorses a positive nihilation, a salutory Nietzschean forgetting of the past and of referents which opens up cultural space for new texts and semiotic drift, a strategic amnesia which pits itself against a pernicious doxic memory which congeals the real, repeating it until it is literally solid but senseless. Barthes pits that mode of nihilation against the practice of representation. Furthermore, Baudrillard's dislike of the semiotic noise of repetition, which shatters the integrity of prior utterances, runs against Barthes' appreciation of that interference, which is part of what, reusing a term from WDZ, he refers to as the greatest delicacy and effect of desirable writing: countercommunication. This effect (due to language's inhering poeticity and involuntary semantic noise), Barthes writes joyfully, "makes communication obscure, fallacious, uncertain." He goes further:  literatures are in fact arts of 'noise';what the reader consumes is this defect in communication, this deficient message; what the whole structuration erects for him and offers him as the most precious nourishment is a countercomm -ication; the reader is an accomplice, not of this or that character, but of the discourse itself as it plays on...the impurity of communication... (S/Z 145/151) Baudrillard's obvious unease with the loss of metalanguages and language's^communicative aspect, is, again, starkly contrasted by Barthes' ^cultivation of the countercommunicative, and his contention that the function of writing  181 is to ridicule and to annul the power of one language over another, to dissolve any metalanguage as soon as it is constituted. (S/Z 98/105) Although Barthes' simulacra are generated using similar techniques of textual fragmentation and diverse forms of citation as explored by Baudrillard, Barthes' simulacra-specifically, here, his notion of the text as a copy without an original--while also circulating in the public arena, are intended as unrepeatable and writerly counter-commercial entities that can only be activated through the active participation of the solitary reader. These sophisticated simulacra, attuned to the differences within systemic repetitions, privilege, rather than abolish, textual difference. Barthes' reflexive and citational construction of textuality is congruent with Baudrillard's notion of the simulacrum as the endless public repetition of empty models. Barthes' exploration of the text as an intertext--that is, the text as an ephemeral metasimulacrum several times over participating within larger semiotic systems--parallels Baudrillard's reading, but emphasizes the perception that citations occur within the smallest units of discourse, and that they are generally conjoined in hybrid constellations. The Barthesian text is, in my reading, made up of shattered simulacra that are recombined into open discourse pour rien-as an aerated and dynamic constellation of signs characterized not by closure, but by gaps, silences, noise, disorders, and fertile indeterminacies which provide the opportunity for the  182 kinds of oblique readings championed in S/Z. Perhaps surprisingly, the impact of simulation is similar in both accounts. For both men, the simulacrum or copy eventually constitutes, in Baudrillard's metaphor, a kind of "moebius strip" that turns the world into a looping and centreless series of surfaces that destroy distinctions between inside and outside, between past and present discourses, the real and the fictional, the original (or even simply the antecedent) and subsequent replications. But Barthes' examination of the forms of textual fragmentation and copying, as well as the reader's and/or the scriptor's engagements with prior texts, are far more sophisticated than those laid out in SS. Barthes recognizes that culture deals less in models (still a modernist notion) than in gratuitous fragments of a plurality of codes comprising the naive real. (S/Z 6/13-14) Baudrillard fears the absolute and irretrievable loss of the real in a vertiginous sea of signs; while in S/Z Barthes tends to argue that the real is always a sea of signs, and that the semiotic produces the real. In subsequent texts Barthes plays with that tension between the ostensible real and textuality, recognizing that the utter obfuscation of the category of the real would be undesirable. There is, as he will write in PT, the need for a small bit of chiaroscuorso, of the problematic flesh of the real, to cling to signs. The recognition of^semiotic reflexivity, textual surfaces, citational^recycling and deformation, and the postmodern quest to overcome what one might refer to as the  183 outside constitute points of contact between the Baudrillardian simulacrum and the Barthesian intertext.(S/Z 6/13-14) In both, prior consensual models of the real--what Barthes sees as putative origins--are overwhelmed by the sheer perversity and iterability of artifice (what Baudrillard refers to as the procession of prior models). Furthermore, in both constructs distinctions between the real and the non-real, the system and the individual utterance, are abolished in the premise of a voracious and ultimately empty textuality: a textuality whose potential impact is thrown into relief by Baudrillard's exploration of the flatland of hyperreality. The claustrophobia lurking in both constructions of culture--a confinement felt by Baudrillard but not yet, at this juncture, by Barthes--is also notable. In S/Z the classical notion of the work is apparently opened up to the larger macrosystem of cultural systems, and to the vagaries of connotation and arbitary structuration; but despite the proliferation of codes and the induction of luxurious spaces of indeterminacy and drift, "Sarrasine" is simply caught up in a larger but still restrictive and oddly metaphorical system--the hypothesis of textuality. S/Z is, literally, an instance of simulation that  disengages both the "tutor signifier" and itself from the intent "world's significations," taking shelter from meaning in the safer space of a hyperreal textuality. (S/Z 13/19) The aggressive if ludic acts of reading that comprise S/Z are dedicated to the textualization of "Sarrasine," and, by  184 extension, to the forcible dismantling and relocation of classical culture and its categories within the nebulous and flat realms of the textual and, metaphorically, of the cinematic (hence the realm of the gaze, of the visual, of the legible). The strength of Barthes' dramatic "slow-motion" reading, the digressions, the cut-ups, the cinematographic "decomposition(s)" and the extreme close-ups of isolated textual details that comprise S/Z, must be acknowledged. (S/Z 12/18) Balzac's short story, appended to the commentary that cannibalizes it and disrupts its mimetic flow, is not restored after the analysis, as Barthes ironically suggests, to its original purity and continuity. The story, which the reader stumbles across at the back of S/Z, lies as inert as a dead animal along a highway. And where a reader, prior to Barthes' tour de force, might once have contentedly read "Sarrasine" without hearing the noise of culture buzzing in the spaces between the words, she now cannot get that noise out of her head, and has come to mistrust the silence she was once taught to hear behind the voices of great men. This verbal victory is won, obviously, not over a single text, but over the assumptions of the entire practice--critical and creative--of naive realisms. The losses reality sustains in this attack are substantial. The "real" and the categories of hermeneutic readings of cultural phenomena dissolve into the post-structural zone of the textual and the perspectival. With the consequent loss of a sense of a bracing textual outside, an intractable hors-texte, less remains of the once fertile  185 tensions drawn among the world, the human subject, and the text animating, for instance, the Bakhtinian model of intertextuality. Barthes' extravagant and poetic reading of the play of signs produces new texts whose difference exposes the pretences of doxic culture, and yet gives cultural production a new impetus. The world is, in S/Z and for almost the duration of Barthesian post-structuralism, once again flat, but this time it is a palimpsest, a surface upon which human intertexts inscribe distorted repetitions of repetitions, seeking a  relative disordering. This textual disordering or reprocessing is achieved through an exhaustive process of tracking codes and citations, through decentring, re-articulation, purging prior interpretations, putative meanings, authorial imprints, and discrete perameters. These operations, in tandem with Barthes' pursuit of the connotative, the aleatory, the gaps between word and referent,constitute the aestheticizing operations at work in S/Z--operations which become increasingly sophisticated and fecund in Barthes' subsequent books.  186  CRAFTER FOUR. AN ELSEWHERE OF SIGNS Je dis: une fleur! et hors de l'oubli oil ma voix reldgue aucun contour, en tant que quelque chose d'autre que les calices sus, musicalement se ldve, idde mdme et suave, 1' absente de tous bouquets. Stephane Mallarmel  This is not Japan/ Forgetting the West ES is perhaps Barthes' most beautiful book. None of the linguistic overload of so many other contemporary theoretical texts here: the text is beautifully balanced between image and text, filled with calligraphy, line drawings, black-and-white photographs, exquisite colour reproductions of Japanese art, and holographic mementos of Barthes' time in Japan. But be advised: this book is about things other than Japan. Barthes himself refers to the text as a "fantasy," an imagined "faraway" place. (ES 3/7) During an interview after the book's release he speaks of ES as a "countermythology," "un bonheur des signes," the first writing in which he broaches the pleasure of the text. (GV 158/150) Reading ES against the background of nineteenth-century aestheticism and its escapist penchant for things oriental, I would push that analysis a bit further and categorize ES as an innovative twentieth-century exercise in utopic discourse using that old and now ideologically suspect  187 vehicle of fantasy and social critique, exoticism. Historically, exoticist texts and utopias (whether purely discursive entities or actual attempts at alternative societies) have been contestatory and highly ideological gestures. 2 Barthes' fantastic counter-Japan is no exception. The theoretical exoticism of ES, its praise of a half-imaginary culture that does not naturalize or close the strong signs it generates, but instead values the very fissure between the real and the symbolic, has as its primary ideological target the "classical" western ideologies and values already indicted in WDZ and S/Z. (ES 4/8) In ES the travelling protagonist, despite his body being physically present in "Japan," is often preoccupied by thoughts of the West. Both the protagonist (whom I will designate as Barthes) and the text are spectacularly divided, circulating between two "real-world" (i.e. consensually recognized) entities (Japan and France) and at least two reels, two purely individual constructs ("Japan", and the "Occident"). 3 The gaps, tensions and non-coincidences circulating among these four terms constitute a major source of pleasure in the book; indeed the very success of Barthes' verbal fantasy depends upon exploiting the unresolved tensions between these alternate  reels. This book/trip, as Gary Shapiro writes, is also emblematic of Barthes' polemic with orthodox scholarship. 4 Revolting against the imperatives of traditional hermeneutic interpretation, this "imaginary voyage" is undertaken by a traveler who plays with the interpretative apparatus--a  188 contextualizing knowledge of the language, history, and culture of that country--usually employed by travel writers to create a persuasive image of a foreign country. Instead, Barthes suspends verisimilude and truth-claims, relying on his own touristic desire and a scattered, sometimes doxic knowledge of Japanese culture and aesthetics. ES is a site in which Barthes half-creates a half-imaginary country in order to criticize the bedrock principles of Western realism: presence, identity (iterability), meaning, naturalness and repletion. As Gary Shapiro writes, reading in the half-light of the Derridean deconstructive project: "Barthes' desire to slide over the surface of Japanese life is...tied to his attempt to suspend...the Western metaphysical commitment to the values of the center and interiority." ("PD," SC 4) Shapiro's observation that in ES Barthes is attempting to suspend Western metaphysics and contest the binary categories of center/periphery and interior/exterior goes to the heart of Barthes' project. In this book Barthes continues to work out his post-structural aesthetic, advancing an alternate economy of signs (what I will refer to as the Japanese textual economy) through the systematique, the fragmented simulacrum he ironically identifies as Japan. Barthes is at pains to emphasize that the systematique given the name "Japan" in his book is not to be confused with the reality one might encounter landing at Narita airport. ES opens with Barthes' reflections upon how he might variously position his fantasy with respect to that latter reel. A first, paratactic, thought:  189  If I want to imagine a fictive nation, give it an invented name, treat it declaratively as a novelistic object, create a new Garbagne,so as to compromise no real country by my fantasy (though it is then that fantasy itself I compromise by the signs of literature). 5 (ES 3/7) Barthes moves on to consider and adopt his second option. I can also--though in no way claiming to represent or to analyze reality itself (these being the major gestures of Western discourse) isolate somewhere in the world (faraway) a certain number of features...and out of these features deliberately form a system. It is this system which I shall call: Japan. (ES 3/7)  Barthes defends himself from the potential charge of Orientalism, underlining the unreality of his "Japan." Hence Orient and Occident cannot be taken as 'realities' to be compared and contrasted historically, philosophically, politically. I am not lovingly gazing toward an Oriental essence--to me the Orient is a matter of indifference, merely providing a reserve of features whose manipulation-whose interplay--allows me to 'entertain' the idea of an unheard-of symbolic system, one altogether detached from our own. (ES 3/7) Barthes' Japan is not a simulacrum of the type described in "The Structuralist Activity." There the task of structural analysis is to decompose an object (such as Japanese culture) and subsequently reconstruct in such as way as to manifest its rules of functioning. This skeletal reconstruction--the  190 structural simulacrum--makes visible a deep structure which remains invisible in the "natural" object. The result of structural analysis is the creation of a new--and equally significant--object which is related to but distinct from the first object. In his post-structural phase Barthes retains the ludic and creative aspects of structural analysis while rejecting its analytic imperative. Continuing the tradition of earlier aestheticizing critics, ES Barthes concentrates on developing a supplementary form of critical creativity that explores a whole range of subjective responses and desires through the hybrid personal essay. Barthes' innovative poststructural syste matiques and essayistic forms seek to be -  semelfactive and inconclusive. In ES, as in his other poststructural texts, he evidences no interest in depth structures or general rules of cultural functioning. On the contrary: the goal of Barthes' decentring, desiring analyses are to valorize and remain on the level of surfaces and "flashes," forestalling any movement toward depth, coherence, history, identity, or meaning (i.e. doxic forms of interpretation). (ES 4/8) Like his structural analyses, Barthes' post-structuralist analyses are synchronic. But his rejection of an interpretiatve method focused on global structures for a more responsive and epiphanic mode separates his structural phase decisively from this later period. Barthes' idiosyncratic construction of a fantastic Japan in ES is not aimed at structurally reconstituting that culture: it goes beyond structural operations of d6coupage and collage in an arbitrary  191 recombination of elements. At least in theory (since one can easily recognize the "real-world" Japan in this other "Japan"), this perverse manipulation of Japanemes yields an "unheard-of symbolic system," a systematigue rhetorically separated from any referent, and, most critically, insulated from Occidental symbolic systems and values: an ideal hyper-text whose difference obliquely challenges Western notions of presence. A thematics of difference and otherness in ES organizes the separation of the referential Japan from its fantastic version. In phenomenological terms, Barthes uses an epochs which, by bracketing (or suspending, in Coleridgean terms) the real, allows the imagination to nihilhate that given and recreate, from its elements, an utopic emptied country of signs. Exploiting the Saussurean fissure between sign and thing, word and image, object and interpretation, the gulf between the imagined and the "real," ES derealizes (textualizes) Japan. In the headnote and first entries of the book, Barthes drops hints regarding how his reader is to interpret the disjunctions, separations and absences ruling ES. The headnote reads: The text does not 'gloss' the images, which do not 'illustrate' the text. For me, each has been no more than the onset of a kind of visual uncertainty, analogous perhaps to that loss of meaning Zen calls a satori. Text and image, interlacing, seek to ensure the circulation and exchange of these signifiers: body, face, writing; and in them to read the retreat of signs. (ES xi/5) A bit later, he elaborates on the connection between writing  192 and the "retreat of signs":  ...Japan has afforded him [the author) a situation of writing. This situation is the very one in which a certain disturbance of the person occurs, a subversion of earlier readings, a shock of meaning lacerated, extenuated to the point of its irreplaceable void, without the object's ever ceasing to be significant, desirable. Writing is, after all, in its way, a satori: satori (the Zen occurance) is a more or less powerful...seism which causes knowledge, or the subject, to vacillate: it creates an emptiness of language. (ES 4/10) Sartre's Roquentin would understand some of what is going on here. Vertigo--the onset of uncertainty and the loss of meaning which Barthes suggests might be analogous to Zen satori--ruptures the tight conventional connection between sign and referent as it forces open the dense narcissism of that ideology, lacerating the seamless mask of the ordinary to reveal its emptiness. But where Roquentin, the emblematic Western protagonist, would respond with anxiety and nausea as his world-system, rocked and punctured, collapses, revealing absurdity, Barthes--who prefers absence--reacts to the fissuring of symbolic systems and the appearance of emptiness with delight and relief. This space of intermittent emptiness and semiotic crisis--of simultaneous danger and opportunity-is, for Barthes, both the very space and aim of writing. Such an understanding of the power of emptiness, of the decentred, and the beauty of the interstice is, I think, one of the gifts of Japanese culture to his post-structural aesthetic (Barthes' fascination with absence adumbrates the desire for the  193 cessation of signs found in CL and his later essays on music). Themes of vacillation and emptying reappear in the following section of ES, "The Unknown Language," where Barthes expounds upon the salutory traumas of a Western encounter with Japanese difference. Difference, although signaling separation, nevertheless implies some degree of relatedness and similarity. 6 In ES the ground of similarity is provided by Western terms of reference: throughout the book the Occident remains the primary referential term, while "Japan" is read so as to function as a supplement disrupting the Western categories Barthes wants to undermine. The dream: to know a foreign (alien) language and yet not to understand it: to perceive the difference in it without that difference ever being know, positively refracted in a new language, the impossibility of our undo our own 'reality' under the effect of other formulations, other syntaxes; to discover certain unsuspected positions of the subject in utterance, to displace the subject's topology; in a word, to descend into the untranslatable, to experience its shock... until everything Occidental in us totters and the rights of the 'father tongue' vacillate... (ES 6/11) Vacillations of other kinds unsettle the work. Throughout the text Barthes makes conflicting implicit and explicit assertions about his degree of knowledge and cultural competence with respect to Japan. At times he claims that he does not need and does not want to "know" Japan or Japanese in the usual sense, preferring a warm womb of signifiance:  194 The murmuring mass of an unknown language constitutes a delicious protection, envelops the foreigner (provided the country is not hostile to him) in an auditory film which halts at his ears all the alienations of the mother tongue... (ES 9/17) Yet, when it serves his purposes, Barthes will incorporate scholarly interpretations regarding the referential Japan into his fantastic version. The Japanese language--this "auditory film"--"it is said," through its proliferation of functional suffixes and complex enclitics, "turns the subject...into a great envelope empty of speech ...diluting...hemorrhaging the subject in a fragmented, particulated language diffracted to emptiness." (ES 7/12) Pursuing the theme of the salutory emptiness of the Japanese subject, he analyzes the ontology of the Japanese ritual of bowing as two individuals pass a gift between them. The gift, Barthes writes, "remains suspended between two disappearances": the salutation (bowing) "literally salutes no one;" it is not a moment of communication "between two personal empires"; "it is only the feature of a network of forms in which nothing is halted, knotted, profound." (ES 68/87-88) 7 Logically enough, the Japanese language has verbs which are "without subject, without attribute, and yet transitive": zen, for instance, refers to an act of knowledge without either a knowing subject or a known object. (ES 7/12) This language is tentative in its truth claims, articulating impressions rather than "affidavits." (ES 7/12) And where the West has struggled to create the illusion of life in its invented characters, Japanese assigns these  195 entities an inanimate verb form: "the very structure of Japanese restores or confines these being to their quality as products, signs cut off from the alibi referential par  excellence: that of the living thing." (ES 7/13) Barthes reveals the contestatory agenda of his literary utopia, writing:  These phenomena and many others convince us how absurd it is to try and contest our society without ever conceiving the very limits by which...we claim to contest it: this is trying to destroy the wolf by lodging comfortably in its gullet. (ES 8/13) So much for his initial claim that this country has no relation to any other symbolic system. It is clearly a reactive textual fantasy. "Japan" is, in fact, created out of and partially lodged between two other symbolic systems: Japan and "the West." 8 And, like a smaller body in space, its orbit describes its attraction to those two larger gravitational fields, while it exerts its weaker, contrary pull. Rather than accepting Barthes' claims about the autonomy and fictionality of this country, I think it is more to the point to look at the effect of his rhetorical manoeuvering. This "Japan" is less a Mallarmean absence than a "dislocated copy" of the consensual Japan. Barthes creates a version of Japan which oscillates between fictional and referential registers. Thus Tokyo, General Nogi and his wife, student demonstrators, and artwork from the seventeenth century appear in this closed textual realm--cited but looking, to the naive reader, amazingly like  196 the "real" thing. Japan (like the West from which Barthes writes) is no longer an origin but an intertext. Like the chasm between the text-system and image-system in ES, gaps open up between these symbolic systems, producing a field of uncertain tensions in which the author and the reader, if she is so inclined, can experience the vertigo of indeterminacy and the hemorrhaging of meaning. Barthes' imaginative act, which suspends and then causes the intermittent coincidence of Japan and the West with "Japan," puts the ontological status of the latter into a strange realm: "Japan" both is and is not real. This fantastic country is at once an interpretation (and an evasion of interpretation), a critique, and a re-imagining of the consensual real. The functions of "Japan" in ES are at least three-fold. It exists as a site of indeterminate pleasure; it functions as a utopia, a place of gentle, plural voids which challenges the Western ideology of repletion; and, finally, as a foreign space it "protects" Barthes from "the alienations of the mother tongue" and more. Another passage from ES, in which Barthes plays upon the real and fictional status of his Japan: foreign countries, what a respite! Here I am protected against stupidity, vulgarity, vanity, worldiness, nationality, normality. The unknown language, of which I nevertheless grasp the respiration, the emotive aeration, in a word the pure significance, forms around me, as I move, a faint vertigo, sweeping me into its artifical emptiness (vide artificiel), which is consummated only for me:I live in the interstiche, delivered from any fulfilled meaning (sens plein). (ES 9/17)  197  Paris, Japan S/Z and ES are, with PT, among the most seminal and idealizing discourses of Barthes' career. They manifest two diverse aspects of Barthes' evolving post-structural aesthetic, revealing distinct versions of culture and textuality operating in his work. Although Barthes' Japan reads like an ideal generic post-structural culture/text, being a world of surfaces, empty subjects, structurations, and deferred signs, it is very different from the busy French hypertext analysed in S/Z. It is not the syncretic and symbolically overloaded site of Balzac's Paris--synedochally, of Barthes' West. Paris and Tokyo can stand as emblems of the diverging forms of textual economies Barthes most desires. The Parisian textual economy, as it were, is the one generally identified as being the definitive post-structural formulation of the text and textuality. It is the version of culture and of cultural production found in Barthes' most-quoted statements. This economy puts forward a belated and citational model of culture, one in which the writer is both bricoleur and copyist. In this economy, the writer is not an originating Author, controlling some univocal text, but a voiceless scriptor whose only powers are citational and combinational. His gestures are limited: to draw from the immense dictionary of culture, "to trace a field without origin," to "mingle writings, to counter some by others," making a textual system that no longer contains  198 "passions, moods, sentiments, impressions," but only old signs, which, repeated, rearranged, circulate in a new context. ("DA,"RL 53/65) Writing can no longer in good conscience perform the classical operations of recording, observing, or representing anything outside of itself; yet it has, ironically, in Barthes' aesthetic, become a performative act which creates its own continous present.("DA," RL 52/64) Having, as Barthes writes, theoretically "distanced" the sign from the referent, and the Author from the text, the play of signs cannot be arrested by any definite "meaning." The reader's task in this economy is to disentangle the "threads" (that is, the codes and semes) of this multiple writing, to follow its structures in all their stages and reprises, knowing there is no end to it, no origin. For the reader/scriptor (the distinction between the two is almost totally obscured in Barthes) "the space of writing is to be traversed, not pierced; writing constantly posits meaning, but always in order to evaporate it: writing seeks a systematic exemption of meaning." ("DA," RL 54/66) The Parisian economy is, as Barthes writes, antimimetic and "countertheological". ("DA," RL 54/66) Within its antitheology, everything is citational, yet nothing has origin, self-identity, or depth. In it the lives and bodies of the scriptor and of the receiver (who is always reading alone) are almost entirely suppressed, surviving only in the gestures of inscription, or in turning a page to momentarily collect into one's own emptiness disparate traces of previous writings. The  199 earlier carnality of the writer (in WDZ) has disappeared into a textual economy in which baroque playing surfaces and the pleasures of citation build up to and then yield to the frisson-and alibi--of absence. There are are significant commonalities in both the Parisian and Japanese economies, which I see as complementary rather than antagonistic systems: an agreement on the lack of substantive origin, subjectivity, hermeneutic plenitude centre, depth, and the view of culture as play. Compare, for instance, the following two passages. In "The Death of the Author" Barthes writes:  ...writing is the destruction of every voice, every origin. Writing is that neuter, that composite, that obliquity into which our subject flees, the black-and-white where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes. ("DA," RL 49/61) A congruent, slightly more poetic take on writing and emptiness in ES:  ...satori creates an emptiness of language. And it is an emptiness of language which constitutes writing; it is from this emptiness Zen writes gardens, gestures, houses, flower arrangements, faces, violence. (ES 4/10) Both economies work interstichally; they need that emptiness of world and persons, those gaps, voids, and fissures between sign and referent in order to function. But the ratio of sign to emptiness is markedly different in each textual economy.  200 Signs (graphs) are more restrained and spare in the Japanese economy of ES, which begins to develop a graphic space that participates in what Barthes, in a late essay on Cy Twombley, will call the aesthetic of the rare. He offers this definition: "'Rarus' in Latin means: presenting intervals or interstiches, sparse, porous, scattered...." ("CT," RF 182/167) The rare is linked to the principles of lightness, emptiness, apparent spontaneity, surprise, chance, maculae, and the dissemination or erasure of subtle gestures lingering in a subtly "aerated space." ("CT," RF 178-183) This concept of the rare--in short, of spacing--is, he continues, crucial in Japanese aesthetics, "which does not acknowledge the Kantian categories of space and time, but the subtler one of the interval." ("CT," RF 182) 9 The rare is "the 'void' of Oriental compositions, merely accentuated here and there by some calligraphy." ("CT," RF 182-183/168) But the rare is also part of the Mediterranean aesthetic; Barthes finds its expression in the old southern houses of the Midi:  'Those huge rooms of the Midi, very good for meditation--the big pieces of furniture lost in them. The great emptiness enclosed [my emphasis) where time doesn't count.The mind seeks to populate all this.' Basically, Twombley's canvases are big Mediterranean rooms, warm and luminous, with their elements lost in them (rani), rooms the mind seeks to populate. ("CT," RF 183/168) "Emptiness enclosed": one of the generative principles, I think, of Barthesian post-structuralism and its versions of  201 textuality. This fascination with absence and enclosure first appears, as I have shown, in Barthes' reading of French modernity and his characterization of the Mallarmean project in WDZ as one which seeks to allow Language (rather than any human subject) to "speak" by creating around the Word an "empty zone" in which "guilty social longer reverberate." (WDZ 75-76/55) In ES Japan is fragmented and largely absent: put another way, it is present only synecdochically, in small details and gestures which are apprehended in a largely empty space. Japan is a kind of big empty room throughout which an indefinite number of smaller emptinesses--cities, gift packages, theatrical performances, faces, gestures, drawings, poetry, meals, photographs, persons--circulate. These things are scattered (in the sense of the rare) and yet contained either figuratively or literally by frames, envelopes, silences, or space itself, since form, as Barthes insists throughout ES, following Buddhism, is emptiness. In the final entry of the book, appropriately titled "The Cabinet of Signs," Barthes reflects upon the subtle ordering and enclosure of his Japan. In every part of this country, there is an idyllic and "special organization" of space which renders the sense of an indefinitely spacious miniature: there is "the conjunction of a distance [un lointain) and a division [un  morcellement, literally a fragmentation)." (ES 107/144) The fields (literal and visual) are discontinuous, open; there are no functional enclosures, but only, and infrequently, the  202 pleasing gesture of one. The traveler is neither "beseiged" by the specter of a horizon, never constrained to constitute himself as the "assimilating center of the infinite." (ES 107/144) This is a country which has been utterly overwhelmed and tailored by human orders (however subtle their apparent absence). The wild--that alterity--is repressed. Spaces are entirely civil: voids are small, pleasing, and "artificial" (i.e. human). Chance strolls sweetly through the streets as a public entertainer. Barthes, the western tourist, moves through it like a flgneur in the streets of Paris, like the poststructural reader of "From Work to Text" who wanders through the exotic if contained word-landscape of a text.  From the slope of the mountains to the neighborhood intersection, everything here is (human) habitat, and I am always in the most luxurious room of this habitat (emphasis mine): this luxury (which is elsewhere that of the kiosks, of corridors, of fanciful structures, collectors' cabinets, private libraries) is created by the fact that the place has no other limit than its carpet of living sensations, of brillant signs (flowers, windows, foliage, pictures, books)... (ES 107/144) The safety and contraction of this beautiful, aestheticized world provides Barthes with several opportunities to directly and indirectly articulate some principles of post-structural textuality.  203 Tempura and textuality The motifs of enclosure, space and detail dominate Barthes' meditations on textuality. Frames conventionally signal boundaries, distinguishing inside from outside, self (or object) and other. As deictic devices, they have pointed out the realm of heightened semiosis--historically, the zones of art and of authority. ES is filled with a disorienting array of visual and verbal framing devices which can almost jostle one another,heightening the already decentred, plural quality of the text. 1 ° As with other devices of containment, the literal and verbal frames operating in ES (e.g. the suspensive headnote, the handwritten texts scribbled on the bottom of photographs) function as devices of art--devices of separation and reconstellation--which help to aestheticize Japan and its culture, turning it into a land of insistent textuality. In Barthes' post-structural Japan, frames distance and withdraw phenomena from the stresses of representation and plenitude (depth). Positively alienated from confining and only putative referents, signs--especially framed signs--now create only surfaces and, as Eve Tavor Bennet refers to them, emptied "play-texts." (SD 54) In ES Barthes' theories of pantextuality and of the sign-in-itself allow him to rhetorically subsume the heaviness of matter into an ethereal textuality. Barthes' readings of Japanese cuisine are a case in point.  204 The dinner tray seems a picture of the most order: it is a frame containing against a dark background, various objects (bowls, boxes, saucers, might be said that these trays fulfill the definition of painting which, according to Piero della Francesa, 'is merely a demonstration of surfaces and bodies becoming ever smaller or larger according to their term.' (ES 11/19) This "painting," (perhaps a miseen abyme with respect to ES), quite literally framed, contains the elements of an open work. It defines the play-field of a dynamic and unpredictable text, one "destined to be undone, recomposed according to the very rhythm of eating"; metaphorically, of (readerly) consumption. (ES 11/19) What was initially "a motionless tableau ...becomes a workbench or chessboard, the space not of seeing but of doing--of praxis or play." (ES 11/19) The person having a meal, randomly and "hesitantly" taking up bits of rice and vegetables, condiments and soup, is likened to a Japanese graphic artist hesitating over pots of ink. This diner is, as she eats, performing a series of aesthetic operations on this tray-cum-tableau: she is altering or decomposing the tableau, shifting and reassembling its elements in order to compose a second artwork in process: the meal, "the praxis of alimentation." (ES 12/20) 11 This new artwork is not achieved with mounds of food and the usual violent Western tools of analysis--metaphorically, in ES, knives and forks. Instead, there is an idyllic "harmony between Oriental food and chopsticks." (ES 15/24) The Japanese gastronomic artist works with miniscule amounts of food already  205 tending toward dispersal, and a utensil--a pair of chopsticks-expressing, Barthes avers (conveniently dismissing the Japanese cleaver working in the kitchen) a radically different aesthetic. A chopstick has, to begin with, a purely deictic function: "it points to the food, designates the fragment, brings (it) into existence by the very gesture of choice, which is the index." (ES 16/24-25) This introduces "not an order but a caprice (fantasie), a certain indolence (paresse)" and "intelligence" into the act of eating. (ES 16/25) The chopsticks express a refined, tender and tentative interaction with the food, rather than a primal drive to seize and dismember: "the instrument never pierces,cuts, or slits, never wounds, but only selects, turns, shifts." (ES 16/26) These sticks never violate the food: they gradually unravel or prod at the natural fissures of the food in order to separate morsels and then "translate" them to the mouth. Against the "predatory" operations of the fork, the chopsticks are figured as gentle and almost maternal in their work. The food-texts the chopsticks work on are analysed as post-structural avant la lettre. In "Food Decentred" Barthes considers the ways in which Japanese cuisine "cooks," in the Lêvi-Straussian sense, transforming the natural density and rawness of foodstuffs into aerated surfaces, graphs,and textures. Entirely visual (conceived, concerted, manipulated for sight, and even for a painter's eye), food thereby says that it is not deep: the edible substance is without a precious heart...a vital secret: no  206 Japanese dish is endowed with a center... here everything is the ornament of another ornament... (ES 22/32) There is no order or within the Jac lese text (here sukiyaki): is never anything but a collection of fragments, none of which appears privileged by an order of ingestion; to eat is not to respect a menu (an itinerary of dishes), but to select, with a touch of the chopsticks...this food--and this is its once originality--unites in a single time that of its fabrication and of its consumption... once'started', it no longer has moments or distinctive sites: it becomes decentred, like an uninterrupted text. [my emphasis] (ES 22/32-33) In "The Interstice" Barthes meditates in an almost Bachelardian fashion on the preparation of tempura, following the chef's aesthetic "cancellation" or transmutation of heavy natural objects (a pepper and an eel) into artificed and "purely interstitial" objects. In ES, writing is,in all its metaphors and instantiations--calligraphy, Bunraku theatre, cuisine, gift wrapping, the layout of a city, social rituals, pinball games, gardens, wrestling--a process or spectacle which textualizes its raw elements, congruent with the aesthetic of artifice and absence Barthes sketches. In his analysis of tempura, the chef is first figured as an artist who "makes lace out of fish and peppers." (ES 26/38) Then the chef's cooking stall is likened to a calligrapher's table, and his cooking is seen as "literally graphic." (ES 26/48) (Throughout the book the distinction between writing and more quotidian activities  207 is attenuated.) The reason for cooking eel and peppers is as much to aestheticize human need while providing physical sustenance; tempura translates the raw world of matter and basic human need into the textual artifice and ornamentation of a desire: the desire for "empty signs." In Sartrean terms, tempura re-imagines the pepper, liberating it from the uncomposed sterility of the natural (that is, the untextualized, the undelineated). To quote from two of the epic sentences contained in ES:  tempura...the fry outlines...a pepper, chambered inside; what matters here is that the foodstuff be constituted as a piece, a fragment (fundamental state of the Japanese cuisine...out of which emerges a fragment completed, separated, named and yet entirely perforated: but the contour is so light that it becomes abstract: [my emphasis) the foodstuff has for its envelope nothing but time, the time (itself extremely tenuous, moreover) which has solidified it....refined by the Japanese techniques of cancellation and exemption, it is the nutriment of another time ...a kind of meditation, as much spectacular as alimentary...on the side of the light, the aerial, of the instaneous, the fragile, the crisp, the trifling, but whose real name would be the interstice without specific edges, or again: the empty sign. (ES 25-26/35-36)  208  Cities, envelopes and empty signs In ES writing often occurs within 'the suggestion of frames of various kinds. Frames, as I have indicated, conventionally help organize the physical and conceptual space within their borders, assisting in the determination of compositional centres. Writing and frames can generate at least the illusion of meaning, but here they help produce neither. Elements and structure give way to fragments, discontinuous surfaces, and structuration. For instance: like the city of Tokyo, the Japanese gift (both further "texts" and objective correlatives in the book's wandering argument) are structurations of details circulating around contained and silent traces, half-absences. Both literally and figuratively, in post-structuralism the center (of the subject or the text) is no longer a special site of plenitude and truth, the place where the essential values of what is called Western civilization collect. Historically, the centre (the origin) is the place where the West has gone--or returned--to "invent" or recognize itself. It has been the storehouse of Western mythologies--and power. Power collects in origins and radiates outward; and it is in relation to that power centre that whatever surrounds it is interpreted and systematized (or textualized). Social reality crystallizes around those centres. It is no accident that the Western citycentre is where generations have consistently chosen to build landmark churches, libraries, courts, government offices, and corporate cathedrals. Dead centre in Barthes' contemporary Tokyo, there is a  209 walled imperial palace with a ceremonial emperor. But in this Tokyo power has migrated elsewhere. Having become a corporate democracy, the imperial power once held at this centre has apparently become an "evaporated notion", a "sacred 'nothing' (le 'rien' sacre)", another non-interfering "mirage". (ES 32/46) Tokyo thus offers Barthes a "precious paradox: it (Tokyo) does possess a center, but this center is empty." (ES 30/43) Emptied, this centre persists not in order to radiate power, "but to give the entire urban movement the support of its central emptiness, forcing the traffic to make a perpetual detour." (ES 32/46) In this way, Barthes concludes, revealing yet another element of his theory of the function of relative absence within a text, "the system of the imaginary is spread circularly, by detours and returns the length of an empty subject." (ES 43/46) Emptied, the subject cannot impose itself or an interpretation on what envelopes it. Emptiness and material framing devices organize the "semantic meditation" Barthes finds in Japanese packaging, whether the packages are utilitarian or literally gratuitious. The Japanese carry, "with a formicant energy" (he recounts in amazement, sounding like Gulliver among the Lilliputians), a profusion of tiny "instruments of transport." (ES 46/62) These instruments--pouches, packages, sacks, suitcases, fujos (peasant bundling scarves )--apparently contain almost nothing. These packages are, Barthes asserts, "actually empty signs." (ES 46/62) In this post-structural country every citizen ritually carries "some sort of bundle, an empty sign,  210 energetically if the finish, the framing, the  hallucinatory outline (my emphasis) which established the Japanese object destined it to a generalized transport  ( translation generalisee) " (ES 46-47/62) Ceremonial packages are just as intriguing in this unreal land. There is, for Western sensibilities, an unexpected reversal in the Japanese aesthetic of the gift. The package containing the gift, painstakingly composed of a pleasing interplay of cardboard, wood, paper, and ribbon, carefully signed somewhere with an asymmetrical fold or knot, "is no longer the temporary accessory of the object to be transported, but itself becomes an object; the envelope, in itself, is consecrated as a precious though gratuitous thing; the package is a thought." (ES 45/60) The art of the package, he insists, suddenly digressing momentarily to an image of a naked but bound boy in a Japanese pornographic magazine, lies in the extreme art of fastening and, he continues, (returning to the general analysis of packaging), of strategic delay. The envelope postpones the discovery of the object it contains. It is, in fact, a Japanese tradition that the triviality of the object itself (a sweet, a small souvenir) is inversely related to the extravagance of the envelope. It is as though the parergonal wrappings--a layered experience of surfaces, complications and beautiful delays screening the triviality at its core--constitute the true gift. What lies beneath the wrappings is not the real gift, but a mere pretext enabling the other process--the slow and appreciative undoing of the  211 package--to occur. Musing on this happy analogue to his poststructural text, Barthes reflects on the aesthetics of delay he construes in Japanese packaging, comparing their wrappings to the post-structural sign: Thus the box acts the sign: as envelope, screen, mask, it is worth what it conceals, protects, and yet designates...but the very thing it encloses and signifies is for a very long time put if the package's function were not to protect in space but to postpone in time... (ES 46/61) The wrapped object, Barthes writes, somehow "loses its existence", becoming a "mirage." (ES 46/61) Slipping into a metaphorical register, he goes on to reiterate the view of textuality and interpretation found in S/Z. ...from envelope to envelope, the signified flees [fuit) and when you finally have it (there is always a little something in the package), it appears insignificant, laughable, vile: the pleasure, field of the signifier, has been taken: the package is not empty, but emptied... (ES 46/61) The ultimate hermeneutic moment--finding the kernel, the essence of the text--is the moment of greatest disappointment; the moment in which the sign, according to Barthesian poststructuralism, is consumed, then discarded. Playtime is over. The "Japanese" solution to such a rapacious and wanton (read: bourgeois) pillaging of the text is involved. One: insist upon an experiential approach to "texts." Two: prolong the time of play, that is, the process of "unwrapping" the sign. Three:  212 discourage the acquisitive hermeneutic impulse by insisting that all objects and gestures, whether natural (such as flowers) or a human product (e.g. the gift boxes), are "precise, mobile, empty." (ES 47/62) Four: eliminate intertexts, prior judgements, and interpretive communities. Barthes' contrary world of Japanese aesthetics frustrates Western expectations of a dense, controlling semantic or ontological centre which might order one's experience of the world-text, providing not only a telos of some kind (and therefore a moment of catharsis, or resolution), but also a certain semantic capital. Instead of sign and referent, centre and ornament, tension and relief, the processual narrative of the Japanese gift provides not essence but instead a series of details (supplements), semelfactive tensions, and surprises. 13 In effect, the Japanese gift-broadly, the Japanese object/text-- is an enveloped trace which, as Barthes remarks frequently in ES, merely emphasizes the interstiche or void in which it floats. This principle of containment, producing an airy, contained emptiness that is both intimate and yet, finally, quite distant, dominates Barthes' Japanese aesthetic. And it contributes to the quality of the miniature in this imaginary world that so enchants Barthes. In the first two paragraphs of "Packages" Barthes explores some of the effects of containing devices. "If the things and manners of Japan seem diminutive to us" he observes, "this is not by reason of their size, it is because every object, every gesture, even the most free, the most mobile, seems framed." (ES 43/57) These frames may be  213 obvious (e.g. the dinner tray), or they may be discrete, even  invisible. In Japan, space is the final frame:  ...the Japanese thing is not outlined, illuminated; it is not formed of a strong contour...around it, there is: nothing, an empty space which renders it matte (and therefore to our eyes: reduced, diminished, small). (ES 43/57)  The clean delineation of Japan's miniatures arises from "a kind of precision which the thing observes in delimiting itself, stopping, finishing." (ES 43/57) This precision is, however, not rational, not Apollonian. The distinctness of the Japanese object, Barthes argues, results from one of two possible gestures effected by the scriptor: excision or hallucinatory re-visioning: that is, "an excision which removes the flourish of meaning from the object and severs it from... its position in the world, any tergiversation"; or, more opaquely, a Baudelairean "hallucinatory...(of) fantasmal addition" quite analogous, he adds, to the visions induced by hashish. (ES 43/57) Through framing, excision, and fantasy, Japan becomes a country of miniature textualized objects; or, more simply, a place of intransitive and voided forms of writing. The material world undergoes an imaginative refiguration: it becomes, in Nietzschean terms, aesthetically justified, not as an artwork,  but as a series of textualities. The heightened and detached character of Japanese semiosis--its radical but unthreatening alterity, its difference--captures Barthes' admiration. In ES  214 Barthes' project is to re-write--to privately re-imagine-Japan, heightening what Western eyes have interpreted as the inhering aestheticism of the Japanese culture in order to subtly clarify and support his own emerging aesthetic of beautiful, playful, absurd signs. At the approximate midpoint of ES, three photographs disrupt a long entry on Bunraku theatre. The first image, spread across two pages, is a black-and-white photograph of an empty Japanese room (which is later identified as the Shikidai corridor). The other two black-and-white photographs face one another on following pages. One is of a "woman" in traditional Japanese dress (the face is a stiff white theatrical mask, through which the reader catches sight of a pair of androgynous eyes); the other image is of a mature Japanese paterfamilias who, one may risk inferring from an accompanying note, may be the man behind the mask in the first image. The handwritten note accompanying the photograph of the room in the original reads: "Turn the image upside down: nothing more, nothing else, nothing" [rien de plus, rien d'autre, rien]." (ES 50-51/64-65) The second note, set off in italic type in the original, reads:  The Oriental transvestite does not copy Woman but signifies her: not bogged down [il ne s'empoisse pas] in the model, but detached from its signified; Femininity is presented to read, not to see... translation, not transgression... (ES 53/69) The photograph of the empty room and the visually  215 reinforced parable of the Oriental transvestite are, I suspect,  keys of a sort to ES. And they are, of course, a strong statement about writing and the material world. The notes found beneath these images communicate Barthes' abiding hostility to naive theories of mimesis, and to the unformed heaviness of matter itself (as the Sartrean adjective "s'empoisse" found in the original suggests). The symbolically-resistant materiality human beings live in and are--a raw materiality synecdochally present in ES in as unprepared food, unarranged flowers, the unartificed human body--is put under erasure. The crudely material (predictably, metaphorically, "Woman") is overcome by a writing which, in detaching itself from any heavy truthclaims or responsibilities the referent might have pressed upon the scriptor or the reader, displaces human attention to the realm of the airy mental. The locus of the real, shifts from the physical to the conceptual level. "Femininity" (read the referent) is presented to read, not to see. In this aesthetic our eyes shift from the world to the sign and do not shift back. The sign thus, in Sartrean terms, abjures its prosaic functions. It becomes an utterly poetic sign as it irresponsibly "signifies" the real, and then, invoking the alibis of difference and textuality, disburdens both the object and itself of referential force. Alan Megill argues that aestheticism has a radically creative aspect: it seizes upon and foregrounds what he refers to as the ontogenetic potential of language. (PE 3) That ontogenetic impulse, as exemplified in Holderlin and Rilke,  216 literally recreates the human world from a mass of particulars by imaginatively shaping human existence and the human environment into meaningful forms (what Heidegger referred to as the "worlding of the world"). Barthes opts for a different, reflexive reading of the generative potential of the sign. Labelled by the unimpressed as Mallarmean linguistic solipsism, this alternate hypothesis, or myth, has yielded two major conclusions (Barthesian post-structuralism oscillates between the two). The first conclusion is not complicated or even particularly original. Elaborating upon the Saussurean myth of the estrangement of sign and thing, language is treated almost as an alternate, or even parallel reality, an emptied Baudelairean fantasy island offering shelter from the cold war of languages. Ideally distanced ("detached") from reality, language is a series of empty graphs that does not point to anything beyond itself. Language does not mean. It simply, sensuously, is. (This is one possible reading of the photograph of the empty room and the juxtaposed note found beneath it.) The second conclusion offers a twisted skeptical paradox: language creates, sustains, and destroys "reality." The destructive aspect of the sign is one which comes to preoccupy Barthes during his later, autographical phase, when he explores the tension between figuration and the live person (RB, CL), and the strife between the publicizing sign and the private, the beloved (CL). In his early post-structural work, the reflexive beauty and creativity of the poetic sign is stressed. The creativity of the sign lies partially in its  217 capacity to rewrite the given world, to heighten the formal and pre-Symbolic aspects of the real--or the imagined--for the reader's own pleasure. This, to my mind, is the common denominator of otherwise divergent aesthetic discourses. And this heightened re-imagining and appreciation of the sign is a signature move of Barthes' imaginative and cerebral sensuality. According to the Sartrean theory of the imagination, in order to re-imagine the world, one must momentarily nihilate it. That is, one must imaginatively suspend the plenitude of the given world in order to create potentiality--a conceptual emptiness--that would allow one to not repeat what exists, but construct something other. 14 Sartre understands the imaginative act as a form of necessary violence. In ES Barthes resists admitting the violence of the imagination and of the sign, arguing in the note on the transvestite that his fantasy writing does not "transgress" (violate) the object being signified, but only "translates" it; creating, he would probably argue, a non-violating and detached version of the model. Throughout the 1970s Barthes was to try to develop a nonharming and non-invasive form of writing. Reading the various interviews and addresses collected in GV, it is clear that this was one of the conscious aims of his post-structuralism (see, for instance, "The Fatality of Culture," "The Limits of Counterculture," "Digressions," "Of What Use is an Intellectual?," and Stephen Heath's interview). Despite these initial claims, from 1968 to 1973 Barthes' writing is full of  218 attacks on the doxic and the replete given. Throughout ES writing is defined as the technique of unsettling or destroying prior meaning (satori), or, alternatively, as a means of producing relatively empty signs. A "true writing" is held to frustrate the simple or utilitarian decoding of signs while producing a "volume" (that is, a textual space) in which the reader may follow--or, of course, ignore-- "the course of the writing's labor": that is, the trace of the gestures which produced that sign or object. (ES 45/59) a Japanese flower arrangement... what is produced is the circulation of air, of which flowers, leaves, branches (words that are far too botanical) are only the walls, the corridors, the baffles can move your body into the interstice of its branches...not in order to read it... but to follow the trajectory of the hand which has written it... (ES 44-45/59) 15 This view of writing as producing detours and volume will be more elaborately developed in PT. There the notion of writing as satori develops into the notion of jouissance, and Barthes pursues the desirable spaces of the marginal, the horstexte.  Haiku The functions of the frame--whether literal or conceptual-- in this economy are complex. In Barthes' country the frame's primary task is, as I have argued, a defensive one:  219 to isolate the gesture or object from any context, so as to frustrate the semantic operations of those who would seek to "pierce" the thing with other signs, tapping the object's ostensible plenitude in order to surround it with commentary and meaning. Thus contextualized and interpreted, the object would be stabilized and drawn into the marketplace of culture as a commodity. Haloed with meaning, it would be prone (in Barthes' reading) to generate further anxieties of interpretation. Anxiety (a touchstone of existential discourse) interferes with pleasure and play: where there is no halo of meaning, Barthes declares in an interview, there is  no anxiety.(GV  10/17) Anxiety and meaning are antipathetic to the beat Zen aesthetics of ES. In a spiralling series of chapters on the haiku form (the supreme exemplum of Japanese "writing" ) Barthes reiterates his criticisms of Western values. The West, he complains, "moistens everything with meaning, like an authoritarian religion which imposes baptism on entire peoples: the objects of language...are obviously de jure converts." (ES 70/90-91) Desperate to fill the emptiness of language, the West has developed ways of "sparing discourse the infamy of non-meaning (non-sense): ... symbol and reasoning, metaphor and syllogism." (ES 70/91-92) Western misreadings of the haiku have subjected it to such indignities, stopping its dynamic, absurd flow, and stuffing its emptiness with symbols and metaphors. "Correcting" those prior interpretations, in Barthes' fantasy the haiku is framed with silence (that zone of  220 agraphia around the Mallarmean sign) and with space. Restored to non-sense, it attains a paradoxical condition denied to Western writing: the "exemption from meaning within a perfectly readerly discourse." (ES 81/108) Haiku vacillates between two poles: opacity and a deceiving limpidity. It is a transparent and legible semantic absence: "while being quite intelligible, the haiku means nothing." (ES 69/89) This Japanese form has managed to escape the two basic functions of Western "classical writing" which continue to inform Western expectations of literary art: description and definition (description and definition being, as Barthes will argue in PT, "the doors of ideology in a text.") (ES 82/110) The haiku, according to Barthes, does not deal in metaphors or syllogisms. Like the pointing finger of a child, or the deictic gesture of a chopstick, the haiku neither describes nor defines, only tentatively designating the isolated event (and things are events) with a "so!" [Tel!): "a touch so instantaneous and so brief (without vibration or recurrance) that even a copula would seem excessive." (ES 83/111) This "so!" is not an epiphanic illumination, a "rich thought reduced to a brief form," but a "brief event" (ES 75/98), a "faint crease" in the "page of life, the silk of language" (ES 78/101), "a kind of faint gash inscribed upon time." (ES 82/109) The. haiku is a gratuitious gesture. As with many other "graphic gestures which mark modern and social Japanese life," the haiku is written for its own sake; it is a series of intransitive (matte) traces which culminate, if the poetic gesture is sucessful, in a  221 meaningless flash of illumination (ES 82/110-111) Haiku's surprise,its sudden illumination and absurd beauty, is antipathetical to the Western literary tradition of revelation: Here (in Japan) meaning is only a flash, a slash of light: When the light of sense goes out, but with a flash that has revealed the invisible world, Shakespeare wrote; but the haiku's flash illumines, reveals nothing; it is the flash of a photograph one takes very carefully ...but having neglected to load the camera with film. (ES 83/111) Barthes' haiku denies that there is an invisible deep world which might potentially inform and give sense to a world of interrupted surfaces. This genre recognizes only random surfaces, perceptions, and intensities that might fall fleetingly into some kind of intriguing and sensual--but senseless--order. Repeatedly moving between visual and aural metaphors, Barthes likens the haiku's absurd intensity to various forms of writing, then to the purest graph, one that will increasingly draw his attention: music. A "precise" utterance, without stable subject or object, this utopic haiku form suppresses the "margins", "smudges", and "interstices" which usually arise from semiosis, achieving the purity and very emptiness of a note of music. In this emptiness difference and language cease to function. Having suspended meaning, the haiku form "makes impossible the most ordinary exercise of our language...commentary." ^(ES^81/108)^"Deciphering",  222 "normalizing," or making "tautological": these are the traditional forms Western interpretation takes, according to Barthes. (ES 72/94) Western philologists, blissfully unaware of the haiku's aesthetics (if one is to accept the Barthesian reading), have violated that poetic genre by inferring and then interpreting an interiority and subjectivity which is not there. The Japanese soul does not, Barthes avers, contaminate Japanese writing. (ES 67/87) Western readings of haiku have suppressed its counter-descriptive treatment of the human subject and the thing as event or appearance rather than essence: commentators have unknowingly used haiku as a psychoanalytic ink blot, imposing symbols, narratives, insights and subjective states where they do not, according to Barthes, exist. The only respectful form of commentary on haiku, Barthes writes, would be repetition: but the real work of reading haiku is not to provoke language but to suspend it. (ES 72/94) ...merely saying that! with a movement so immediate (so stripped of any mediation: that of knowledge, of nomination, or even possession) that what is designated is the very inanity of any classification of the object... (ES 83/111) In ES, as throughout Barthes' post-structural writing, discrete verbal objects and concepts are unstable, contradictory, fluxing. They have a disconcerting tendancy to transform and half dissolve within a larger movement of argumentation. Apparently substantial categories shimmer like mirages, then come apart, becoming synecdoches or metaphorical  223 entities working within a larger argument. To risk belabouring the point of the hyper-textualization of the real: in ES haiku finally refers not only to a particular literary genre but, as Barthes parenthetically acknowledges, to any discontinuous feature or event of Japanese life offering itself to his gaze. (ES 83/111) For this tourist haiku, finally, is whatever frustrates the Western impulse to meaning. nothing special, says the haiku, in accordance with the spirit of Zen: the event is not nameable according to any species, its speciality: like a decorative loop, the haiku coils back on itself, the wake of the sign which seems to have been traced is erased: nothing has been acquired, the word's stone has been cast for nothing: neither waves nor flows of meaning. (ES 83-84/111-112) In this fantasized world the graph, however rare or quotidian, is its own beginning and end. A gestural flourish, it arises and dies, leaving no semantic trace, not even the reverberating series of fortuitious associations that Pater so cherished, nothing that might be salvaged as a cultural commodity. Haiku's absurd flash is part of the larger strategy of Zen, which sabotages the mechanical operations of meaning. The four possible semantic possibilities recognized in Western logic--this is X, this is not X, this is both X and not-X, this is neither X nor not-X (and therefore Y) --are confounded by the conceptual noise of Zen. The Buddhist way, Barthes argues, is that of the "obstructed meaning": as a consequence, "the very arcanum of signification...the paradigm, is rendered  224 impossible." (ES 73/95) Zen thus mocks the mechanical nature of meaning, whose fundamental unit is the sign, seeing all as maya; that is, as delusion. All of Zen (and haiku is only its "literary branch") appears to Barthes as "an enormous praxis destined to halt language, to jam that kind of internal radiophony continually sending in us, even in our sleep." (ES 74/96) When the sudden croak of the frog awakened Basho to the truth of Zen ("vast emptiness, and nothing sacred about it", as one Zen master put it), what Basho discovered in that sound was not a mystical "illumination," but rather void, an "echoless breach," "an end of language" which silences the "soul's...babble" and notions of depth, subjectivity, and development. (ES 74/96) What Basho attained was the far side of language, a point beyond the Eliotic moment where words fails but meaning still exists. What Basho, a master of haiku, awoke to was the lack of any stable meaning in the world. Haiku, in Barthes' reading, discovers three moments of language: the first, that of "vision without commentary," then, more radically, the reflexivity of language and the "matteness" (the opacity) of signs.(ES 82/109) Finally, haiku can move into its own nihilation: the abolition not only of meaning, but of the sign itself. This moment--another satori-provokes a shock in the reader. This satori is, Barthes conjectures, perhaps nothing more than a "panic suspension of language," a blank moment which releases one from the "reign of the Codes," an interruption of the "internal recitation which constitutes our person." (ES 75/97) However brief, this state  225 of "a-language" is a "liberation" because it jams the cycling of thought processes, the looping generation of secondary and tertiary thoughts, the circle of which language itself is the "depository and the model." (ES 75/97-98) Zen does not crush language beneath a mystical silence, but halts "that verbal top which sweeps into its gyration the obsessional play of symbolic substitutions": it overcomes the semantic operations of the sign. (ES 75/97-98) Barthesian haiku is one of the strongest sucessful literary instances of ^the sign as "anticommunication":^the ineffable silence it creates as it abolishes language creates a resistant space separating graph from referent. And in this writing the sign becomes something other: an empty form, or, better, a mirror, a jewel shining in an infinite net of faceted jewels reflecting light without beginning or end. In the West, Barthes writes, the sign is a narcissistic object which humanity creates only in order to look at itself in it. But in the "Orient," the mirror/sign is truly empty. It is the symbol of the "very emptiness of symbols...the mirror intercepts only other mirrors, and this infinite reflection is emptiness itself (which, as we know, is form)." (ES 78-79/104) Haiku pulverizes the world, reducing it to a random series of pure fragments, to "a dust of events" scattered throughout space which nothing can or should "coagulate, construct, direct, terminate." (ES 78/101) This beautiful absurdity does not provoke anxiety, but rather a desire for play. Recycling the vedic image of the universe as Indira's shimmering net, Barthes  226 offers the following image: might say that the collective body of all haikus is a network of jewels in which each jewel reflects all the others and so on, to infinity, without there ever being a center to grasp, a primary core of irradiation (for us, the clearest image of of reflections without origin, would be that of the dictionary, in which a word can only be defined by other words.) (ES 78/103-104) The haiku is a suspended jewel, a post-structural simulacrum in which, Barthes argues, we somehow recognize "a repetition without origin, an event without cause, a memory without person, a language without moorings." (ES 79/104) And, as Barthes reminds the reader, what he is writing about the haiku he could also write "about everything which happens when one travels in that country I am calling Japan." (ES 79/104-105) This Japan is a network of unconnected, semelfactive jewel-like flashes: there, in the street, in a shop, a train station a gesture, person or object flashes, "starring" Barthes, causing a series of perceptual and sensual "adventures" of an "infinitesmal" order. The subtlety of these experiences, Barthes' careful attention to them, as well as to his own complex response to them, is characteristically aesthetic in its hypersubtle exploration of detail and subjective response. "An incongruity of clothing, an anachronism of culture, a freedom of behaviour, an illogicality of itinerary": these are events that suddenly come forward in the "lively writing of the street" and suddenly glisten as they are "read." (ES 79/104-  227 105) These tiny adventures accumulate over the course of a day, causing a kind of "erotic intoxication" in the traveler. (ES 79/104-105) These adventures are not "novelistic." (ES 79/104-105) They have no development, no duration, no cohesion: they do not lend themselves to the semiotic "chatter which would make them into narratives or descriptions" (that is, they do not create the illusion of a fictional world.) (ES 79/105) Instead, what they offer the individual to read is the reflexive movement of the graph, "without wake, without margin, without vibration." (ES 80/105) In ES Japan becomes a refined and almost inhuman  spectacle--the product, as Barthes writes, of an aesthetic from which all vulgarity and emotion has been decanted, or subsumed into a series of highly coded "graphic gestures." Barthes is enchanted by a people who have achieved, in this fantasy, a "graphic mode of existing" that does not depend, as in the West, on a "theatricality (hysteria) of bodies," but on a writing alla  prima--a writing which excludes erasure or repetition. (ES 86/116) Japan becomes the ultimate utopian aesthetic state, the country of taste. In this text/state everything is--or, more accurately, is perceived by Barthes as--writing, even blatant social violence. He analyses the Japanese Zengakuren riots of the late 1960s and early 1970s not as a manifestation of real social conflict, but as a fierce ballet of signs. Rather improbably (given the background of the dissent fuelling the riots) he  228 extirpates that clash of its expressive content, arguing that the riot is not in fact a riot but a "great scenario of signs," an organized and solitary "mass writing" which is neither spontaneous nor expressive. Westerners, Barthes writes, are prone to misinterpret these riots by reading them through the Occidental prejudice that violence is a "primary, savage, asystematic" language spontaneously expressing both a political position and "a content, an inwardness, a (human) nature." (ES 103/139) The Zengakuren riot is, he insists, expressing neither. The violence of the riot is a selfabolishing "sign" which expresses nothing: "neither hatred nor indignation nor any moral idea." (ES 103/139) It is a discontinuous but deliberately arranged writing of actions publicly "performed like a prosaic sentence." (ES 103/139) Barthes obscurely argues that this riot is really a form of action-writing. 17 In choosing not to lapse into the naive myth of presence by destroying its targets in the Western manner, but rather putting those targets and the symbols of the rioters "between parentheses," the demonstration moves into the realm of the mimed and suspended gesture, of the theatrical. (ES 104/139) This riot/"sentence"--masked and helmetted students putting themselves in the way of state violence in order to manifest their revulsion against the Vietnam War--lacks any sense of reality or emotional force for Barthes. The frightening situation is, under his outsider's gaze, doubled, aestheticized, becoming not so much a protest against a bloody  229 war as a "great scenario of signs." (ES 106/142) In the following, final section of the book, "The Cabinet of Signs," Barthes reasserts the contained and graphic poststructural nature of his Japan. The sumptuous closed cabinet through which he has been moving is a half-voided artifact. In it the human body, sensual but emptied of expressivity, becomes a pure signifier. In this cabinet the human trace is fugal: it apparently persists, as in the Zen garden, only in traces--the trace of the rake ordering the sand, the ghostly hand placing the rocks which transforms earthy materials into "a mineral tapestry of tiny volumes;" that is, the human element persists  only in the work of writing which transforms the elemental into an aesthetic object.(ES 108/146) This empire of signs is a fragmentary textual--and, finally, mental--space of successive "views." Within its borders the object-as-event produces itself under western eyes in a moment of "pure significance, abrupt, empty, like a fracture" and then fades before "any particular signified" has time to form. (ES 108/146) Returning to the Shikidai corridor, Barthes draws a series of parallels between it and this ideal Japanese space where meaning and the acquisitive impulse are delicately arrested. ...the better to see how it (the country) is made, take for example the Shikidai corridor: tapestried with openings, framed with emptiness and framing nothing, decorated no doubt, but so that the figuration (flowers, trees, birds, animals) is removed, sublimated... (ES 108/145) In this corridor, as in the ideal Japanese house, there is  230 no place for furniture, no site which might express the slightest nuance of ownership, no bed or table from which the human being might organize space and create a centre, however arbitrary. Disoriented in such a space, Barthes writes, the subject is unable to constitute himself as either subject or master of that space. (ES 108-109/146) This white space is also arguably akin to the zone of silence protecting the haiku (and the Mallarmean sign) from the contaminating forces of subjectivity, the passing of time, personal narratives, history, territory. This space remains unmarked, fantastically "reversible" (that is, freed from the exigencies of choice and consequence that mark real life), as pure and synchronic as a note of music. Underlining the unreality of this Japan, Barthes ends the book with a gesture reminiscent of Thackeray in Vanity Fair, synecdochically picking up his creation and turning it upside down like a child's toy to exhibit its unreality. Uncentered, space is also reversible: you can turn the Shikdai gallery upside down and nothing would happen, except an inconsequential inversion of top and bottom, of right and left: the content is irretrievably dismissed: whether we pass by, cross it, or sit down on the floor (or the ceiling, if you reverse the image), there is nothing to grasp. (ES 110/146) A tentative semiosis: the suspension of language: reverie, beauty, the flash of something, of nothing, starring the reader: a delicate suicide of signs in an aerated space. Loss and absurdity: but no grief. This is the utopian writing of pure expenditure and reflexivity Barthes has learned to seek  231 from Japanese texts and their anonymous scriptors. In both S/Z and ES the grasping "humanist imagination" and humanist subject of which Kearney writes is declared to be dead, an illusion undone. 18 The sovereign individual imagination of the West is unseated by the perception of cultural belatedness and notions of bricolage and the intertext, challenged by the ideal of an writing performed by an "empty wrist." (ES 57/75) For Barthes, the textual will remain a sanctuary, but in ES the first indications of an ambivalence toward the intertextual economy articulated in works such as S/Z is evident. In the Parisian economy, the world-habitat is a heavy and cerebral palimpsest of prior writings, a realm choked with decaying signs. The most intense pleasures in that habitat--difference and connotation--are the rewards of the insider, the initiate. In the Parisian economy, pleasure is largely a function of cultural competence, which depends upon a cultured memory and sophisticated mental operations. For this economy to function, the reader/scriptor is obliged to identify codes and intertexts; then, having remembered (or ludically distorted) them, she must subsequently disentangle, reconstruct and release (forget) intertexts. It is at this moment, the point of forgetting, that the Parisian economy begins to approach the Japanese aesthetic of suchness. The Japanese economy is, even more than the Parisian one, an aestheticizing economy. This economy is one in which either a cultural initiate or a cultural outsider may participate, and it is an economy of disengagement, of pure expenditure. Moving  232 away from the model of the busy text, and suspending metalanguages, in ES Barthes proposes a textual economy in which what dominates is not the intertext, but that which is non-iterable and therefore non-functional in a larger cultural sense. In S/Z a profusion of signs screens a larger absence. In ES that nothingness frankly dominates an economy in which graphs are sensual, experiential, semelfactive, and arrested before reaching a critical threshold of meaning. The critical mind is silenced as the body experiences writing both actively and passively, and then moves into silence, so that there is almost nothing to comment upon, nothing left to grasp in a beautiful bouquet of signs. Nothing left to grasp: the fundamental gesture of violence in Barthesian post-structuralism. For the rest of the decade Barthes will reflect on forms of violence and coercion found in discourse. His analyses of the nuances of discursive violence will most often be acute: one can cite, for example, "Writers, Intellectuals, Teachers" and his stunning L. ("WIT," RL 309/345) But his understanding of grosser and quotidian violences will remain problematic, and rather cerebral, as his reading of the Zengakuren riot, and eventually the comments on the images of violence scattered throughout CL, attest.  233  CHAPTER FIVE. PLEASURES OF THE TEXT  The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy. Gustave Flaubert' Claims of the repressed  Half theoretical reverie, half critical provocation, PT is a disjunctive essay of fragments and abandoned thoughts that confronts the cultural Imaginary with "the texture (le grain) of desire" and the unruly "claims (la revendication] of the (reading) body." (RB 71/75) As Barthes suggests, this work proceeds in a state of unresolved tension, exploring, in terms frequently reminiscent of decadent and aesthetic discourses, the themes of reading, textuality, violence, aesthetic pleasure, and cultural disengagement. After initiating a reflection on the question of reading and pleasure in ES and then pursuing it in the stimulating interpretations of Sade's and Fourier's imaginary utopias in SFL, Barthes' writing is now more openly rebellious. He continues to "unlearn" cultural values and inherited forms of reading, and attempts to emerge from the "aegis of great systems" and write without the intellectual protection of prior constructs. 2 Professing himself a hedonist, he indicts the anhedonia of doxic culture, challenging the values of a "frigid" and "violent" society, and contemporary literary theories which repress the profound  234 hedonism animating cultural production. From 1970 through 1973, both in his theories and his writing practice, Barthes has been distancing himself from purely cerebral discourses on, and engagement with, texts. The modest defense of the pleasures of connotation and drift scattered throughout S/Z accelerates, in SFL, to the contention underwriting PT--that the text is not an intellectual object, but an object of pleasure. 3 PT, building upon the valorization of individual aesthetic response forwarded in ES, treats the text as a site of complex personal enjoyments, as a collection of signs giving rise to unpredictable interstices in which the reader may experience a range of pleasures from the soothing if outdated enjoyments of culture to the brief voyage or satori of jouissance. Barthes' retreat from orthodox theory is linked to the assertion of the specificity of the reading body and a search for new reading strategies that break the hold of doxic interpretations. His. retreat from his earlier treatments of texts continues in this erotic manifesto of reading. With the entry of the body into his theoretical frames, materiality, the "extravagance of the signifier," the intertext and the cessation of semiosis (satori in ES, jouissance in PT) come into a more complex and nuanced relationship. This second, less critically researched phase centres upon a growing attraction to the unrepeatable surprise and specificity of individual aesthetic response to (as ES forecast) the material substratum of texts, as well as to the moments when the Symbolic order  235 fails. This fascination develops into an attraction toward the opaque (or matte) extra-symbolic aspects of the material, and, eventually, a desire for the shelter of the impure silence between signs. Under the influence of Kristeva's work on the semiotic realm and the child's pre-Symbolic relation to language, the mother, and the sensual world, Barthes' constructions of textuality and human subjectivity--and, particularly,his own precious and renegade individuality--turn toward the tutor texts of Baudelaire and Nietzsche. 4 Adopting the posture of a marginalized hedonist, he pursues a counter-cultural ethos of reading not as cultural obligation but unindentured pleasure. Some of the implications of this move are not lost on Steven Ungar and Betty R. McGraw, who reflect on the implicit critique contained within Barthes' turn toward a more self-conscious discourse: More than any of his peers, Barthes made his critical p