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barthes blogging

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From this excellent book, on Roland Barthes’s “Chronique” column that ran in the Nouvel Observateur for three months toward the end of his life, from December 1978 to March 1979.

Each column comprised an average of four separately titled and unconnected entries ranging from a few lines to a couple of substantial paragraphs. In each case Barthes gave his reactions to a few things that had caught his attention that week, for example, in the first column, a book about Leni Riefenstahl, an encounter at the hairdresser’s, media coverage of the collective suicides of a sect in Guyana, and a rumor that Mayor Chirac planned to outlaw busking.

[…]

On 26 March 1978 Barthes’s readers were confronted with a single entry announcing a temporary suspension of his column that would in fact prove permanent. In ‘Pause’ Barthes outlines very lucidly what he had been trying to achieve and then explains why he feels he failed. Scotching the rumor that he was trying to resurrect Mythologies, Barthes insists that his ‘Chronique’ was an experiment, a quest for a new form of writing that would be deliberately brief, minor, and gentle, whilst at the same time political. In fact the political and moral chanrge would come from this deliberate doceur, aimed at contrasting with the overheated clamour of surrounding discourses. For Barthes, to use the pages of a political weekly to talk about incidents that had struck him that week, ‘mes scoops à moi’ (my personal scoops), was to counteract the scale of values imposed by the press’s obsession with big events. To risk talking about ‘le ténu, le futile, l’insignificant’, is to change the scale […] the media should make room for ‘weak’ events that nevertheless point to real malaises.

He even, it seems, understood what the problem is with blogging:

“The flaw is that for every incident I bring up I feel myself drawn (by what power – or weakness?) to give it a meaning (social, moral, aesthetic, etc.) to have the last word.” What prevents the columns from embodying the kind of writing Barthes had dreamt of is the seemingly irresistable tendency to moralize, to make a point, to have the last word, to lay down the law (even if it is one’s own).

Written by adswithoutproducts

July 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Posted in barthes, everyday

2 Responses

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  1. good post.

    matt

    July 12, 2008 at 4:42 pm

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    August 6, 2008 at 11:15 am


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