Thursday, February 7, 2013

Roland Barthes: Mythologies

I recently had to read sections of this as part of my course and am hooked.  If you're in anyway interested in the psychology behind advertisements and the subliminal messages which we not only absorb but also perpetuate on a daily basis.  Basically it's a collection of essays which Barthes wrote at the space of about once a month in 1952-4 about events which were occuring in French popular culture at that time. 
 
"The starting point of these reflections was usually a feeling of impatience at the sight of the 'naturalness' with which newspapers, art and common sense constantly dress up a reality which, even though it is the one we live in, is undoubtedly determined by history..."
 
 
**

Striptease - at least Parisian striptease - is based on a contradiction: Woman is desexualized at the very moment when she is strippednaked. We may therefore say that we are dealing in a sense with a
spectacle based on fear, or rather on the pretence of fear, as if eroticism here went no further than a sort of delicious terror, whose ritual signs have only to be announced to evoke at once the idea of sex and its conjuration.
 
**
I think that cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals: I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.

**
Some candidates for Parliament adorn their electoral prospectus with a portrait. This presupposes that photography has a power to convert which must be analysed. To start with, the effigy of a candidate establishes a personal link between him and the voters;the candidate does not only offer a programme for judgment, he suggests a physical climate, a set of daily choices expressed in a morphology, a way of dressing, a posture. Photography thus tends to restore the paternalistic nature of elections, whose elitist essence has been disrupted by proportional representation and the rule of parties (the Right seems to use it more than the Left). Inasmuch as photography is an ellipse of language and a condensation of an 'ineffable' social whole, it constitutes an antiintellectual weapon and tends to spirit away 'politics' (that is to say a body of problems and solutions) to the advantage of a 'manner of being', a sociomoral status.


What's actually quite spooky is that although these were written in the 1950s...so much of it remains the same to this day.  I do wonder what Barthes would have made of blogging though... ;)
 
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1 comment

rollingstones500albummarathon said...

This was my FAVORITE book from college. I read it in a literary theory class. I hope you enjoy the heck out of it. I can't think of anything anymore without going right down a rabbit hole because of it. I think Barthes would have not liked blogging because you can change it and "erase" the past...thus erasing all the thought processes. And the point is to demythologize EVERYTHING so that everything is always in question and nothing is taken for granted. I think he wouldn't have liked blogging. Anywho. awesome book!!!

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