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    Edited by Peggy Kamuf and Elizabeth Rottenberg





    P S Y C H E

    Inventions of the Other, Volume I

    Jacques Derr ida

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    II T he D eath s of R olan d B arthes

    How to reconcile this plural? How to concede, grant, or accord it? And towhom? How to make it agree or bring it into accord? And with whom?Such questions must also be heard with an ear to music. Wi th a confidentobedience, with a certain abandon that I feel here in it, the plural seemsto follow: an order, after the beginning of an inaudible sentence, like aninterrupted silence. It follows an order, that's it, and it even obeys; it let sitself be dictated. Itasks (for) itself And as for myself, at the very mo-ment I allowed myself to order a plural for these deaths, I too had to givemyself over to the law of the name. No objection could resist it, not eventhe modesty immediately following an uncompromising and punctualdecision, a decision that takes place in the almost no time of a (camera' s)click: it will have been like this, uniquely, once and for all. And yet Ican scarcely bear the apparition of a title in this place. The proper namewould have sufficed, for i t alone and by itself says death, all deaths in one.It says death even while the name's bearer is still alive. While so manycodes and rites work to take away this privilege, because it isso terrifying,the proper name alone and by itsel f forcefully declares the unique disap-pearance of the unique-I mean the singulari ty of an unquali fiable death(and this word "unqualifiable" already resonates like a quotation from oneof Roland Barthes's texts that I will reread later). Death inscribes itselfright in the name, but so as immediately to disperse itself there, so as toinsinuate a strange syntax-in the name of only one to answer as many,to answer to several names in just one name.First French publication in Poetique 47 (September 1981).

    The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    I do not yet know, and in the end it really does not matter, if I will beable to make it clear why I must leave these thoughts for Roland Barthesfragmentary, or why I value them less for their fragmentation than fortheir incompleteness. Their pronounced incompleteness, for their punc-tuated yet open interruption, without even the authoritative edge of anaphorism. Little stones of thought , each time just one, alongside a nameas the promise of return. These thoughts are for him, for Roland Barthes, meaning that I think ofhim and about him, not only of or about his work. "For him" seems tosuggest that I would like to dedicate these thoughts to him, give them tohim, and destine them for him. Yet they will no longer reach him, andthis must be the starting point of my reflection; they can no longer reachhim, reach all the way to him, assuming they ever could have while hewas still living. So where do they go? To whom and for whom? Only forhim in me? In you? In us? For these are not the same thing, already somany different instances, and as soon as he is in another, the other is nolonger the same-I mean, the same as himself. And yet Barthes himself isno longer there. We must hold fast to this evidence, to i ts excessive clar-ity, and continually return to it as if to the simplest thing, to that alonewhich, whi le withdrawing into the impossible, st ill leaves us to think andgives us occasion for thought. (No) more light, leaving something to be thought and desired. To knowor rather to accept that which leaves something to be desired, to love itfrom an invisible source of clarity. From where did the singular clarity ofBarthes come? From where did it come to him, since he too had to receiveit? Without simplifying anything, without doing violence to either thefold or the reserve, i t always emanated from a certain point that yet wasnot a point, remaining invisible in its own way, a point that I cannot lo-cate-and of which I would like, if not to speak, at least to give an idea,as well as of what he and it remain for me.

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    The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    ~To keep alive, in itself/within oneself, is this the best sign of fidelity?~With the uncertain feeling of going toward what is most living, I ha'-:,e .~just read rwo.of-hi ooks I had nev rea fur.e. I thus secluded myself~land as if to convince myself that nothing had been finalizedor had come to an end. And so I believed this, and each book told mewhat to think of this belief. I had, for quite different reasons, postponedreading these two books, the. .firs t and the last. First , Writing Degree Zero:_~stood better its force and necessity beyond all that had previouslyturned me away from i t, and it was not only because of the capital letters,the connotations, the rhetoric, and all the signs of an era from which Ihad then thought I was taking leave [sortir] and from which i t seemedecessary to take and rescue [sortir] writing. But in this book of I953, as inthose of Blanchot to which he often refers us, the movement that I awk-wardly and mistakenly call the taking leave or the exit [la sortie] is underway. And second, Camera Lucida, whose time and tempo accompaniedhis death as no other book, I believe, has ever kept watch over its author.For a first and a last book, Writing Degpee-ZerO'"llU6Camerabuci~f'brtunate title:,. A terrible fortune, vacillating terrihlz.berween-chanee-and.,prerte~tlOl\. I like to think of Roland Barthes now, as I endure thissadness, the one I feel today and the one I always thought I felt in him, asadness that was cheerful yet weary, desperate, lonely, refined, cultivated,Epicurean, so incredulous in the end, always letting go without clinging,endless, fundamental and yet disappointed with the essential. I like tothink of him in spite of the sadness as someone who all the same neverrenounced any pleasures [jouissance] but, so to speak, treated himself tothem all. If one may say that, but I have the impression that I may feelcertain and that-as families in mourning naively say-he would haveliked this thought. Or to put it differently, the image of the I of Bartheswould have liked this thought, the image of the I of Barthes that Barthesinscribed in me, though neither he nor I is completely in it. I tell myselfnow that this image likes this thought in me, that it rejoices in it hereand now, that it smiles at me. Ever since reading Camera Lucida, RolandBarthes's mother, whom I never knew, smiles at me at this thought, as at

    The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    everything she breathes life into and revives with pleasure. She smil~s athim and thus in me since, let's say, the Winter Garden Photograph, sincethe radiant invisibility of a look that he describes to us only as clear, soclear. r the first time, then, I read the fi rst and last Barthes, with the welcomearvete 0 a aeslre, a s ; , z Z s x : rea~~n& die first and last without stopping,ack to back, as a single volume with~lC I woulCI have sediiaeCi myselfon an island, I were finally going to see an~know everJ;;thinl?i Life wasgoing to continue Cthere was sull so much t o rea~), but ~ history ,:"asperhaps going to come together, a history bound to i tself, History havlllgbecome Nature through this collection, as if ..

    I have just capitalized Nature and History. He used to do it almost all thetime. With massive frequency in Writing Degree Zero, and from the verybeginning: "No one can without formalities pretend to insert his freedomas a writer into the resistant medium of language because, behind the lat-ter, the whole of History stands unified and complete in the manner of aNatural Order."! And again in Camera Lucida: "this couple who I knowloved each other, I realize: i t is love-as-treasure that is going to disappearforever; for once I am gone, no one will any longer be able to testify tothis: nothing will remain but an indifferent Nature. This is a laceration sointense, so intolerable, that, alone against his century, ~ichelet conceived/of History as love's Protest.'? I myself used these capital letters out ofmimetism, but he too played with them, in order to mime and, already,to quote. They are quotation marks ("this is how you say"), which, farfrom indicating a hypostatization, actually lif t up and lighten, expressingdisillusionment and incredulity. I believe that he did not believe in thisopposition (Nature/History) or in any others. He would use them onlyfor the time of a passage. Later, I would like to show that the conceptsthat seemed the most squarely opposed, or opposable, were put in play by


    him, the one for the other, in a metonymic composition. This light way ofmobilizing concepts by playing them against one another could frustra tea certain logic while at the same time resisting it with the greatest force,the greatest force of play.

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    26 8,."1 .I Ie? c: h 'G2-A }

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    The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    i t also refers to the not ion of punctuation, and because the photographsI I am speaIGng of are m eHect punctuate ,sometimes even speckled withthese sensi tive points; precisely, these marks, these wounds are so manypoints. This secondelement that will istur the stuaium I shall thereforecat! punctum; for punctum is a lso: sting, speck, cut, l it tle hole-and a l s o acast of the dice.'Apnotograpfi's punctum is that accident that pricks me,points me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me)" [ibid., 26-27l. This

    )parenthesis does not enclose an incidental or secondary thought: as it oftendoes, it lowers the voice-as in an asjf!e--out of a sense of modesty. Andelsewnere, several pages later, another exposure. "Having thus reviewed thecio!tteinterests t at certam photographs awaken in me, I deduced that thestudium, insofar as it is not traversed, lashed, str iped by a detail (punctum)that at tract s or distresses me, engenders a very widespread type of photo-graph (the most widespread in the world) , which we migh, ,_LcalLth~naryphotograph" [ibid., 40l.- His manner, the way in which he displays, plays with, and interprets the

    , pair studiumlpunctum, all the while explaining what he is .QQlngby giv-ing us his notes-in all of this we will later hear the music. This manneris Wiii1istaKably his. He makes the opposit ion -;;;t!iumlpunctum, akmg

    (with the apparent "versus" of the slash, appear slowly and cautiously in anew context, without which, it seems, they would have had no chance ofappearing. He gives to them or he welcomes this chance. The interpreta-tion can at first appear somewhat artif icial , ingenuous, elegant perhaps,t: specious, for example, in the passage from the "point" to the" oint-ing, me" [me poindrel to the" oignant," but little by little, it imposesi ts necessity without concealing the arti fact under some putative nature.It demonstrates its rigor throughout the book, and this rigor becomesindist inguishable from its productivity , from its performative fecundity.He makes it yield the greatest amount of meaning, of descript ive or ana-

    )Ytic p~,:er (phenomenologica~, structural, and beyond). '!:he rigor ._~gld. In fact, the supple IS a category that I take to be indispens-le to any descript ion of Barthes' s manners. This virtue of suppleness~ticed without the least trace of labor or even labor's effacement.He never departed frCi' in ir ;-whether in theorization, writing strategies , orsocial intercourse, ani._it can e~_be read in the graphics of his writing,which I read as the extreme refinement of the civili ty he locates, in Cam-

    The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    era Lucida and while speaking of his mother, at the limits of the moraland even above it. It is a suppleness that is at once liee, linked, and deliee,unlinked, flowing, shrewd, as one says of writing or of the mind. In theliaison as well as in the undoing of the liaison, it never excludes accuracy,what is just right (justessel-or justice; it must have secretly served him,I imagine, even in the impossible choices. The conceptual rigor of an \artifact remains supple and playful here, and it lasts the time of a book; .it will be useful to others but it suits perfectly only the one who signs it,like an instrument that can't be lent to anyone, like the unique history ofan instrument. For above all, and in the first place, this apparent opposi-tion (studiumlpunctum) does not forbid but, on the cont rary, faci litatesa certain composition between the two concepts. What is to be heard in"composit ion"? Two things that compose together. First, separated by aninsuperable limit, the two concepts compromise with each other. Theycompose together, the one with the other, and we will later recognize inthis a metonymic operation; the "subtle beyond" of the punctum, the un-coded beyond, composes wi th the "always coded" of the studium [CameraLucida, 5 9, 5 1l . It belongs to it without belonging to it and is unlocat-able within it; it is never inscribed in the homogeneous objectivity ofthe framed space, but instead inhabits or, rather, haunts it: "it is an ad-I/'dition [supplementl: it is what I add to the photograph and what is none ~ fe c f .ethe lessalready there" [ibid., 55l. We are prey to the ghostly power of the Isupplement; i t is this unlocatab' i.~ to the specter. "TheS ctator i s ourse ves, all of us who glance through collections of photo-graphs-in magazines and newspapers, in books, albums, archives ....And the person or thing photographed is the target, the referent, a kindof litt le simulacrum, any eidolon emitted by the object, which I shouldlike to call the Spectrum of the Photograph, because this word retains,through it s root, a relation to ' spectacle' and adds to i t that rather terriblething that is there in every photograph: _;he r:~n ~f"':::'e dead" [ibi~., \\sl As soon as the punctum ceases tOlYppuse-rneJ'tuazum, all the while \~remaining h~t-etOg~eous to it, a~as we can no longer distinguiSh-here between two places, c~ts,..o hin s, it is not entireluliliiugatedtQ..i contept, If by "concept" we mean a pre lCatlVe etermination cl iahdisti~nct opposa6le. ThIS conceptcl a ghost is as scarcely graspa e, inperson, as the ghost of a ~Nel er Ilfe nor deatn;-tmr the haunt- -ing of teo . . er. The 'V sus of the conceptual opposition isa~i~click. "Life/Death: the paradigm is reduced

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    The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    to a simple click, the one separating the initial pose from the final print"[ibid., 92]. Ghosts: the concept of the other in the same, the punctum inthe studium, the completely other, dead, living in me. This concept of thephotograph photographs every conceptual opposition; it captures a rela-t ionship of haunting that isperhaps consti tutive of every "logic."

    I was thinking of a second meaning of composition. In the ghostly opposi-tion of two concepts, in the pair S I P , studium/punctum, the compositionis also the music. One could open here a long chapter on Barthes as musi-cian. In a note, one would begin by locating a certain analogy between thetwo heterogeneous elements S and P Since this relation is no longer oneof simple exclusion, since the punctual supplement parasites the hauntedspace of the studium, one would discreetly suggest, parenthetically , thatthe punctum gives rhythm to the studium, that it "scans" it. "The secondelement will break (or scan) the studium. This time it is not I who seek itout (as I invest the field of the studium with my sovereign consciousness),it is this element that rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow,and pierces me. A Latin word exists ... punctum" [ibid., 26]. With therelationship to scansion already stressed, music returns, from some otherplace, at the bottom of the same page. Music and, more precisely, compo-sition: the analogy of the classical sonata. As he often does, Barthes is inthe process of describing his way of proceeding, of giving us an accountof what he is doing while he is doing it (what I earlier called his notes).He does so with a certain cadence, progressively, according to the tempo,in the classical sense of tempo; he marks the various stages (elsewhere heemphasizes in order to stress and, perhaps, to play point counter point,or point counter study: "at this point in my investigation" [ibid., 55]). Inshort, he is going to let us hear, in an ambiguous movement of humilityand defiance, that he will not treat the pair of concepts Sand P as essencescoming from outside the text in the process of being written, essencesthat would then lend themselves to some general philosophical significa-tion. They carry the truth only within an irreplaceabk;nusical composi-tion. They irernotIfs. If one wishes to transpose them ~, a n dftilS is possible, useful,ancteven necessary, one must proceed analogically,though the operation will not be successful unless the other opus, theother system of composition, i tself a lso carries these motifs Ina original

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    and irreplaceable way. Hence: "Having thus dist inguished two themes ~nPhotography (for in general the photographs I l iked wer~ constructed Inthe manner of a classical sonata) , I could occupy myself With one after theother" [ibid., 27] It would be necessary to return to the "scansion" of the studium by a punc-tum that is not opposed to it even though it remains completely other,a punctum that comes to stand in or double for it, link. ~p t~ it, andcompose with it. I am now thinking of a musical compo",wn in C : : Jterpoint, of all the sophisticated forms of counterpoint and polyphony,of the fugue. The Winter Garden Photograph: the invisible punctum of the book. Itdoes not belong to the corpus of photographs he exhibits, to the seriesof examples he displays and analyzes. Yet it irradiates the entire book. Asort of radiant serenity comes from his mother' s eyes, whose brightnessor clarity he describes, though we never see it. The radiance compose~with the wound that signs the book, with an invisible punctum. At thispoint, he is no longer speaking of light or of photogr~phy; he is seeing tosomething else, the voice of the other, the accompaniment, the song, theaccord, the "last music": "Or again (for I am trying to express this truth)the Winter Garden Photograph was for me like the last music Schumannwrote before collapsing, that first Gesang der Fruhe that accords withboth my mother's being and my grief at her death; I could not expressthis accord except by an infinite series of adjectives" [Camera Lucida, 70].And elsewhere: "In a sense I never 'spoke' to her, never 'discoursed' inher presence, for her; we supposed, without saying anything of the kindto each other, that the frivolous insignificance of language, the suspen-sion of images must be the very space of love, its music. U!tima~el! Iexperienced her, strong as she had been, my inner Law, as my femininechild" [ibid., 72]. For him, I would have wanted to avoid not evaluation (if this were pos-sible or even desirable) but all that insinuates itself into the most implicit

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    274 T he D ea th s o f R o la nd B ar th es

    evaluation in order to return to the coded (once again to the studium).For him I would have wanted, without ever succeeding, to write at thelimit, as close as possible to the limit but also beyond the "neutral," "col -orless," "innocent" writing of which Wr it in g D e gr ee Z e ro shows at oncethe historical novelty and the infidelity. "If the writing is really neutral... then Literature is vanquished .... Unfortunately, nothing is moreunfaithful than a colorless writ ing; mechanical habit s are developed inthe very place where freedom existed, a network of set forms hem in moreand more the pris tine freshness of discourse" [W ri ti ng D e gr e e Z e r o , 78]. I ti s not a question here of vanquishing li terature but of prevent ing it fromneatly and cleverly sealing up the singular and flawless wound (nothing ismore unbearable or laughable than all the expressions of guilt in mourn-ing, all its inevitable spectacles).

    To write-to him, to present to the dead friend within oneself the giftof his innocence. For him, I would have wanted to avoid, and thus sparehim, the double wound of speaking of him, here and now, as one speaksof one of the living or of one of the dead. In both cases I disfigure, Iwound, Iput To s ie-ep, o r I kill. But whom? Him? No. Him in me? In us?In yourB~ what does this mean? That we remain among ourselves? Thisis true but still a bit too simple. Roland Barthes looks at us (inside eachof us, so that each of us can then say that Barthes's thought, memory,and friendship concern only us), and we do not do as we please with hislook, even though each of us has it at his or her disposal, in his own way,according to her own place and history. It is within us but it is not ours;we ot have it available to us like a moment or part of our interiority.:And what looks at us may be indifferent, loving, dreadful, grateful, a tten-t ive, ironic, s ilent , bored, reserved, fervent, or smiling, a child or alreadygrown old; in short, i.t..ca.o..giJ.:.e....us..any..cl.!:Qe.innumerableigns of life ordeath that we might draw from the circumscribed reserve of his texts orourITieinoi=y.-


    What I would have wanted to avoid for him is neither the Novel nor thePhotograph but something in both that is neither life nor death, some-

    275h e D ea th s o f R o la nd Barthesthing he himself said before I did (and I will return to this-always thepromise of return, a promise that is not just one of the commonplacesof composition). I will not succeed in avoiding this, precisely becausethis point always lets i tself be reappropriated by the fabric it tears towardthe other, because the studied veil always mends its way. But might itnot be better not to get there, not to succeed, and to prefer, in the end,the spectacle of inadequacy, failure , and, especially here, truncation? (Isit not derisory, naive, and downright childish to come before the deadto ask for their forgiveness? Is there any meaning in this? Unless it is theorigin of meaning itself? An origin in the scene you would make in frontof others who observe you and who also playoff the dead? A thoroughanalysis of the "childishness" in question would here be necessary but notsufficient.) TWQ.infidel ities, an impossible choice: on the one hand, not to say[jny-thing that comes back to onese alone, to one's own voice, to remainsilent, or at the very least to let oneself be accompanied or prece .counterpoint by th~T~ous evouon or grati-tude; ) i' ff"'Qf-:rprrOl3atIon as well, to be content with just quoting, withjust accompanying that which more or less directly comes hack or returnsto the other, to let him speak, to efface oneself in front of and to follow _;;::::.his speech, and to do so right in-frerrt oftilm. But thIS excess of n c t e l -ity would end up saying and exchanging nothing. It returns to death.t pomts to aei"th, se"ii:CiJOgeatll15acK to death Q the nernand, by - -;;oidlng all quotation, al l identi fication, all rapprochement even, so thatwhat is addressed to~r said of Roland Barthes truly cometfrom the other,

    . fioin t~ friendv one risks making him_gi~.aFF.e again, s.if.one1 1 could add more death t_?death and tlius .LndecenYLeluralize it. ~e aref left then with having to do and not do both at once, with having to cor-rect one infidelity by the other. From one death, the other: is this theuneasiness that told me to begin with a pl~? '--------

    .. _ ------------Already, and often, I know that I have writ ten fo r h im (I always say "him,"to write, to address, or to avoid "him"); wel l before these fragments. For

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    T he D ea th s o f R ola nd B ar th es

    him: but I. a.m determined to recall, for him, that there is today no re-spect, no living respect, that is, no living attention paid to the other, or~o the ~ame alone .now ?f Roland Barthes, that does not have to exposeItself without respIte, without weakness, and without mercy to what is

    t too transparent not to be immediately exceeded: Roland Barthes is thf'"j J nam: of som~e who can no_l~ng~r hear

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    T he D ea th s o f R ol an d B ar th es

    s to transpose the unqualifiable in life into death. Hence the psyche (theoul). "It is said that mourning, by its gradual labor, slowly erases pain;could not, I cannot believe this; because for me, Time eliminates the

    ~oti(r oflo~dQ..UoU'leep), that is all. For the rest, everything has re-maine motion s . r what I have lost is not a Figure (the Mother), buta being; and not a being, but a qual i ty (a soul) : not the indispensable , butthe irreplaceable. I could live without the Mother (as we al l do, sooner orlater); but what l ife remained would be absolutely and entirely unqual i f i -able (without qualiry)" [ C ame r a Lu ci da , 75]. "A soul"-come from theother.

    I L a c ha mb re c la ir e, the light room, no doubt says more than c am er a lu -cida, the name of the apparatus anterior to photography that "sarthes op-tposes to c ame ra ob scu ra . I can no longer not associate the word "clari ty,"

    wherever it appears, with what he says much earlier of his mother's facewhen she was a chi ld, of the distinctness or luminosiry, the "clariry of herface" [Came ra Luc id a , 69]. And he soon adds: "the naive attitude of herhands, the place she had docilely taken wi thout ei ther showing or hidingherself." Without either showing or hiding herself. Not the Figure of the Motherbut his mother. There should not be, there should not be, any meton-ymy in this case, for love protests against it ("I could live without theMother").

    Without either showing or hiding herself. This is what took place. Shehad already occupied her place "docile ly ," without initiat ing the slightestactivity; according to the most gentle passiviry, and she neither shows norhides herself. The possibi liry of this impossibil iry derails and shatters alluniry, and this is love; i t disorganizes all s tudied discourses, a ll theoreticalsystems and philosophies. They must decide between presence and ab-sence, here and there, what reveals and what conceals itself. Here, there,the unique other, his mother, appears, that is to say, without appearing,for the other can appear only by disappearing. And she "knew" how todo this so innocently, because it is the "quality" of a child's "soul" that he

    T he D ea th s o f R ola n d B ar th es 279

    deciphers in the pose of his mother who is not posing. Psyche withoutmirror. He says nothing more and underscores nothing. - -

    Clariry once again, the "evident ial power," he says, of the Photograph[Came ra Luc id a , 47]. But this carries both presence and absence; i t neithershows nor hides itself. In the passage on the c ame ra l uc id a , Barthes citesBlancher: "The essence of the image is to be altogether outside, wi thoutintimacy, and yet more inaccessible and mysterious than the thought ofthe innermost being; wi thout signi ficat ion, yet summoning up the depthof any possible meaning; unrevealed yet manifest, having the absence-as-presence that constitutes the lure and fascination of the Sirens" [ibid.,106] .4 He insists, and rightly so, upon the adherence of the "photographic refs; ,r;ent" it does not relate to a present or to a real but, in an other way, to theother, and each t ime differently according to the rype of "image" whetherphotographic or not. (Taking all differences into account, we would notbe reducing the specificiry of what he says about photography were weto find it pertinent elsewhere: I would even say everywhere. It's a matter

    ..Qf at once acknowleq ing the p~~ibiliry of suspending the Referent ~the reference]' wherever it is found, Including-In photography, and of. suspending a naive conce- non of' tHe Referent , one that has so often gone Iunquestioned.)


    Here is a brief and very preliminary classification drawn simply fromcommon sense: in the t ime that relates us to texts and to their presumed, )nameable, and authorized signatories, there are at least three possibil i-I ties.The "author" can already': be dead, in.rhe usual.sens o~,

    L at th~em we b~gin to read "him," or when this reading orders usto write, as we say, abour him, whether it be a out his writings or abouthimself. Such authors whom we never "knew" living, whom we never_:>met or had a chance to like or love.Ior the_op~ up-by-f~f tchegreatest num~r. This asymbiosis does not exclude a certain modallry. of

    -th;- contemporaneous (and vice versa), for it too implies a degr~

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    280 T he D ea th s o f R ola nd B ar th es


    ' teriorization, an ~p-riori mourning rich in possibi lity, a whole experience;ra6se;;-ce whose originality I cannot really describe fiere."')\. secOildPos-sibility is that the authors are living when we are reading them, or when

    , \ this reading orders us to write about them. We can, knowrng-rharthey are/ \ ) ~ve, and this invol~es a b'if~r~tio~ of ~~e s ame possibility, kno~ th~m

    or'rrot, and once havmg met them, love them or not. And the situationcan change in this regard; we can meet them after having begun to readthem (I have such a vivid memory of my first meeting with Barthes), andthere are any number of means of communication to bring about thetransition: photographs, correspondence, hearsay, tape recordings, and soon. And then there is a "third" situation: at "the death and after the death

    \ 'Of those whom we also "knew," met, loved, and so forth. Thus, I have hadoccasion to write about or in the wake of texts whose authors were dead! long before I read them (for example, Plato or John of Patrnos) or whoseauthors are still living at the time I write, and it would seem rhat.thisis always the most risky. But what (thought impossible, indecent, andunJustina e, what long ag~ and more or less secretly and resolutely I hadpromised myself never to do (out of a concern for rigor or fidelity, . y:ouwill, and because it is in this case to o serious), was to write fo llo win g th edeath, not after, not long after the death by returning to it, but jus?roUow-ing the death , u po n o r o n th e o cc as io n o f th e d ea ih "; *a tthe commemorativegatherings and tributes, in the~ritings "in memory" of t~; who whileliving would have been my friends, still present enough to me that some"declaration," indeed, some analysis or "study," would seem at that mo-ment completely unbearable.-But then what, silence? Is this not another wound, another insult?-To whWn"'"?-Yes, to whom and of what would we be making a gift? What are we do-ing when we exchange these discourses? Over wnat are w keeping watch?Are we trying to negate death or retain it? Are we trying to put things inorder, make amends, or settle our accounts? With the other? With theothers outside and inside ourselves? How many voices intersect, observe,and correct one another, argue with one another, passionately embrace orpass by one another in silence? Are we going to seek some final evalua-tion? For ex Ie to convince ourselves that the death ne er took place,


    . that it is ir . we a tecte rom a return of the dead?Or are we going to make tb~d our ally ("the ea wit me"), to take'him ~r side, or even inside ourselves, to showof~ con-_ _ _

    - - -_,__..- . . . .


    T he D ea th s o f R o la nd B ar th es 281

    tract, to finish him off by exalting him, to reduce him in any case to what


    can still be contained by a literary or rhetorical performance, one that at-tempts to turn the situation to its advantage by means of stratagems thatcan be analyzed intermmabiy:-t ike all the ruses of an individual or collec-t ive "work of mourning"? And this so-called work remains here the nameof a problem. For if mourni;; -g works, it does so only to dialect ize death,

    [""!rdeath hat oland Barthes called "un dialectical" ("I could do no morethan await my total, undialectical d:th" [Came ra Luci d a, 72]).

    A piece [morceau] of myself like a piece of the dead [mort]. In say~"tl 'reaeaths," are we attempting to dlalectize them or, as 1 would wan~ Ithe contrary? But here we are at a limit where wanting is more than ever '\found wanting. Mourning all iI transference. Ina-discusslOn wifl1 ean Ri-stanil:5OlittFie "practice of writing" and self-analysis , I remember him say-ing: "Self-analysis is not transferentia l, and it is here that psychoanalystswould perhaps disagree." No doubt . For there i s, no doubt, stil l transfer-ence in self-analysis, particularly when it proceeds through wri ting andliterature, but it plays in another way, it plays more-and the differencein the play is essent ial here. When we take the possibility of writ ing intoaccount, another concept of transference is needed (that is, if there everwas one).

    l For what was earlier called "following the death," "on the occasion of thedeath," we have a whole series of typical solutions. The worst ones-orthe worst in each of them-are either base or derisory, and yet so com-mon: sti ll to maneuver, to speculatel to try_to..~efit, ~ther sii~ l~o draw from the dead a supplementary \~o be turned against the living, toaeiiOUrlce or insult them more Iof less -dIrectly, to authonze an legi timate oneself, to raise oneself to thevery heights where we presume death has placed the other beyond alluspicion. There are , of course, lesser offenses, but offenses nonetheless:to pay homage with an essay that treats the work or a part of the work be-queathed to us, to talk on a theme that we confident ly believe would haveinterested the author who has passed away (whose tastes, curiosi ties, andprojects should, it seems, no longer surpri se us). Such a treatment would

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    T he D ea th s o f R ol an d B ar th es T he D ea th s o f R ol an d B ar th es____.r still point out the debt, but it would also.pay.ir back.and.one would

    tailor one's remarks according to the context. For example, in Poetique,to stress the immense role Barthes 's works have played and will continueto play in the open field of literature and literary theory (this is legiti-mate, one has to do it, and I am doing it now). And then, why not, toundertake some analysis, as an exercise made possible and influenced byBarthes (an initiat ive that would gain approval in us through the memoryof him). For example, to analyze a g~e or Iscursive code, or the ~ ofI a_P~ticular s~cial arrangement, ~~d to do so with his meticulousness andVigilance, which, as uncompromlsmg as they were, st il l knew how to yieldwith a certain disabused compassion, a nonchalant elegance that wouldmake him give up the fight (though I sometimes saw him get angry, forreasons of ethics or fidelity). But what "genre"? Well , for example, what intM century has come to replace t e uneral oratio~ We could study the

    \ corpus of declarations in newspapers, on radio and television; we couldanalyze the recurrences, the rhetorical constraints, the polit ical perspec-tives, the exploita tions by individuals and groups, the pretexts for taking astand, for threatening, intimidating, or reconciling. (I am thinking of theweekly newspaper that, upon Sartre's death, dared to put on trial those


    who deliberately, or simply because they were away, had said nothing orhad said the wrong thing. Using their hotographs to bring them to jus-tice, the news.paper a.ccused the~ all~he headline of still being afraidof Sartre.) In Its classical form, tfie ftineril oration n a a a good side, espe-cially when it permitted one to callout directly to the dead, sometimesvery informally [tutoyerl. This is of course a supplementary fiction, forit is always the dead in me, always the others standing around the coffinto whom I callout in this way. But because of its caricatured excess, theoverstatement of this rhetoric at least pointed out that we were obliged toremain no longer among ourselves. The interact ions of the l iving must beinterrupted, the veil must be torn toward the other, the othe.r._dead in usthough other stil l, and the rel igious promises of an afterl ife could indeedstill gra t t IS 'aSir'"

    being the subject torn between two languages, one expressive, the other criti-cal; and at the heart of this critical language, between several discourses, thoseof sociology, of semiology, and of psychoanalysis-but [1 tell myself] that,by ultimate dissatisfaction with all of them, 1was bearing witness to the onlysure thing that was in me (however naive it might be): a des.erate resistanceto any reductive slstem. For each time, having resort~ to~y such languageto whatever degree, each time 1 felt it hardening and thereby tending to re-duction and reprimand, 1would gently leave it and seek elsewhere: I began tos.r..eakdifferently. (Came r a Lu ci d a, 8 )

    The beyond of this journey is no doubt the great headland and enig~of the Referent, as it has been called for the past twenty years, and dea~~ /

    /' is clearly hol for rrething in this (it will be necessary to return to thisin another tone). In any case, all this passes through the Novel as early

    ginning with his mother 's death) . H is deaths, those he lived in the plural ,'t ose he must have linked together, trymg irrvarn 0 "dialectize" thembefore the "total" and "undialectical" death; those deaths that always formi~.IJifu12g and endless series.But how did1ie'1iVe' tern?No answer is more impossible or forbidden. Yet a certain movement hadquickened in those last years; I could feel a sort of autobiographical ac-celeration, as if he were saying, "I feel that I have little time left," I mustconcern myself f irst with thISthought of a death that begins, l ike thoughtand like death, in the memory of the idiom. Whil~stillliving, he "{rote-a death of Roland Barthes by himself. And, finally, hi s deaths, his textson death, everything he wrote, with such insistence on displacement, ondeath, on the theme of Death, if you will, if indeed there is such a theme.From the Novel to the Photograph, from W ri ti ng D eg re e Z er o (1953) toCamer a L uc id a (1980), a certain thought of death set everything in mo-

    hlon, or rathe~et it traveling, on a s.or.tof jo.urney toward the beyond ofIl closed systems, a ll forms of kiiowledge, all the new scientif ic posiriv-sms whose novelty always tempted the AujJ7Jirer a..!lCUllscov~r in him,

    )though only for a time, the time of a passage, the time of a contributionthat , after him, would become indispensable. And yet he was already else-where, and he said so; he would speak openly about this with a calculatedmodesty, with a politeness that revealed a rigorous demand, an uncom-promising ethic, ~ idiosyncratic destiny naively assumed. In the be-ginning of Camera Lu ci d a he tells-and tells himself-of his "discomfort"at always

    The deaths of Roland Barthes: hi s deaths, that is, of those close to him,those deaths that must have inhabited him, si tuating places and solemnmoments, orienting tombs in his inner space (ending and no doubt be-


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    ~si. I; < \ 9 A e " , , . p . ~ Q ; . . . . . _ , k Q /~ ..,J~~ ~~ C . 284 \ The Deaths of Roland Barthes I.....

    S7 - r : . - v v - 'as Writing Degree Zero, and ~.Q~[ibid., 38]-the be-Iyond of literature as literature, l iterary "modernity," l iterature producingitself and producing its essence as its own disappearance, showing andhiding itself at the same t ime (Mallarrne and Blanchot ,"~-;-ng others):"Modernism begins with the search for a Literature that i sno l~~ger_pos-ible. us we n , iii'-the Novel too, this machinery directed towardsboth destruction and resurrection, and typical of the whole of modernart . ... The Novel is a Death; it transforms life into destiny, a memoryinto a useful act, duration into an orientated and meaningful t ime" [ibid.,38-39]. And it is the modern possibiliry of photography (whether art or

    / technique mat ters l ittIenere t at com5ines death and the referent in the( ~tme system. It was not for the first time, ana t is conjugation of death

    ah'a:t1iereferent did not have to wait for the Photograph to have an es-

    (sential relationship to reproductiV. e . technique, or to technique in general,b~t th~dlate proof giv~n y t e photographic apparatus or by thestructure of the remains i t leaves behind are irreducible events, inefface-ably original. It IS the failure, or at any rate the limit, of all that which, in

    (language, li terature, and the other arts, seemed to permit grandiose theo-ries on the general suspension of the Referent, or of what was classified,b a somet imes gross simpli ficat ion, under that vast and vague category.By the time-at the instant-that the punctum rends space, reference anddeath are in it together in the photograph. But should we say referenceor referent? Anatyf iCaI preCIsion must he~ be equal to the s~the photograph puts this precision to the test: in the photograph, thereferent is not iceably absent, suspendable, vanished into the unique past' ti 'i iieOfTt:s event, but the reference to this referent, call i t the intentionalmovement of refe;;nce(sioce ~appeal to phenomenol-

    /gy in this book), implies just a_s.iHe4~he-ha:vfttg-ae@H o a !lniq~(, aE.~_~,;:~ ...~~:::nt. It impli~ this "return of the dead" in the verystructure of both ItS image and the phenomenon of its imagZTtiis does

    \not happen in other rypes of images or discourses.jet us say of marks in_g~eral, at least not in the same way, the implication and form of ili;ref-erence taJing ~ry different paths. From tlleDegilli i: il lg of Camera Lucida,the ... ..Gsorder" introduced by the photograph is largely att ributed to the"unique time" of it s referent , a t@e that does not let itself be reproduced~pI~zed, and whose referential impl' icatioIlis-~e_d:i. isuch r z i ! ! _ontne very structur~ of the photogram, regardless of the number of ItS- - - - ~

    ~ vv-r~ --The Deaths of Roland Barthes C i . . ~ e - - > I r ; ; 5U

    , reproductions and even the artifice of its composition. Whence "this stub- \bornness of the Referent in always being there" [Camera r : u c u r a : 6]. "Itis as if the Photograph always carr~efcrent with itself, both affectedby the same amorous or funereal immobil iry .... r n short, the referen~adheres. And this singular adherence ... " [ibid., 5-6]. Though it is no;ton efihere ( resent, li~g:real), l;s having-been-t~ere p~esently a part of

    / t e re erential or intentional structure of my relationship to the photo- ~gram, the return of the r~,rerent indeed takes ~he ~orm of a haunt ing. This

    r I is a "return of tne 3eacl, whose spectral arnval In the very spac~ oFt'E.r"p otogram Indee r e s e m @ e s t : fl a 't O f an emIssion or emanation. Already as-;rt of fialti :lci"nat Ing metonymy: it is something else, a piece come .fr.o~ "the other (from the referent) that f in~s i~sel~in ~.. :: ~efo.re me, .but al~oIn, tm' pIece 0 me sInce the referential ImplIcation ISalso intentional~nd noematic;it belongs neither to the sensible body nor to the mediumof the photogram). Moreover, the "target," the "referent," the "eidolonemitted by the object," the "Spectrum" [ibid., 9], can be me, seen in aphotograph of myself. "I then experie ce a ffiicw-vwion of death (of Ip:rrenrhesis) : lam truly becoming a specter. Th~ePhotographer knows this


    very wel l, andhJmself fears (If only for commercial reasons) thiS. deathin which his gesture will embalm me . ... I have become Total-Image, \wlitch is to say, Death in person .... Ultimllely, wpat I am seeking in thepllcrtugrapl1taken of me ( the ' intention' according to which I look at i t) isDeath: Death is the eidos of that Photograph"([ibid., 74-75]

    Carried by this relat ionship, drawn or att racted by the pul l and characterof it (Zug, Bezug), by the reference to the_illecttqlr_e~nt, Roland Barthestraversed periods, systems, modes, "phases," and "genres"; he marked andpunctuated the studium of each, passing through phenomenology, linguis-t ics, l iterary mathesis, semiosis, s tr tt tturil analysis, and so'O'n. But his firstmove was to recognize in each of these their necessiry or richness, theircrit ical value and light, in order to turn them against dogmatism.

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    28 6c~~

    T he D ea th s o f R ol an d B ar th es

    ! r paris to Lille or Paris t~ ~ordeaux), a~metimes si~ tde, s:Bratedby an aisle (for example, on the trip rom Paris to New Yor to Baltimore(i~2:!.he tiIQ~of our travels was surely not the same, and yet it wasalso t~e same, and it is necessary t~ ac~t these two absolute certainties.Even If I wanted or was able to give an account, to speak of him ; ; : s n e - - - - 'was for me (the voice, the timbre, the forms of his attention and distrac-

    Jt ion, hi.u: .o li te way of being there or elsewhere, his face, hands, clothing,smile, his cigar, so many teatures that I nameWimout describing, sincethis i s impossible here), even i fI tried to reproduce what took place, what~~e would be reserved for the reservt;L~'hat place for the long periOdSf O f silence, for what was left unsaid out of discretion, or wnat was of no~bringing up, either because it was too weititrrawnby both of us, orelse infinitely unknown on either side? T h goon speaking of this all alone,I after the death of the other, to sketch out the least conjecture or risk theleast interpretation, feels to me like an endless insult or wound-s-and yetalso a duty, a duty toward him. Yet (will not be able to carry it out, atleast not right here. Always the promise of return.

    ow to believe in the contemporary? It would be easy to show that themes of those who seem to belong to the same e och, defined in termssomething like a historici rame or social horizon remain infinitelyterogeneous and, to tell the truth, completely ~~G c.fn:e-c:rrrIYevery sitrve to trns, tough sensiuve at t ~on(

    another level, to a being-together that no difference or differend canthreaten. This being-together is not distributed in any homogeneous wayinQ~~erlence. TIiere are kllots, points 0 great c d~ti~s ofhigh valuation, paths of decision or inter12re ioJLthat...ar.e-v.it.tually-un-avoidable. I t is there, i t seems, that the law is Rroduced. Being-together re-G's to and recogruzesit self tFlere, even though i t is not const ituted there.Contrary to what is often thought, the individual "subjects" who inhabi t


    the zones most difficult to avoid are not authoritarian "superegos" wi thpower at thei r disposal, assuming that Power can be at one's disposal. Liker- - __- -those for whom these zones become unavoidable (and this is rst of allt~i[ history), they inhabiuhem, and, rather than ruling there, take fromt~em a desire or ianlm~. It i~ertain way of relinq"'iilsrimg authoriry,-a certain freedom, in fact, an acknowledged relationship to their own

    T he D ea th s o f R ola nd B ar th es

    finitude, which, by an ominous and ri~us 12aradox, confers on them a~additional authorIty, a~fluenc~diance, or presencethatJeads thel~ 'I~e>-places whe;-they are ~ot.and.Ji:mp w~ichitnever returns.toem. It is this, in short, that makes one always ask, more or less explic-

    icly: What does he or she think about this? Not that one is ready to agreethat they are nght, a pnon and in an cases, not m a t ' 6i"i."e"aWaits verdictor bdleves maluciditywithout weakn.ess , ~ut, even.before l~o~ng fO:~i~t,the image of an evaluat ion, look, or affect Imposes It 'S'df. It IS clIffiu!kiiow then who addresses thi s "Image" to whom. I would l ike to describe,

    r-Paciently and interminabl , all the trajectories . s..a.dd!ess, especi~lyL~n Its re erence r.asses throng wntin ,when It then becomes so vir-tual, invisible, plural, IV , Icroscopic, mobile, infinitesimal, specu-lar even (since the demand is often reciprocal and the trajectory easilylost), punctual, seemingly on the verge of the zero point even though itsexercise is so powerful and so diverse. 1/Roland Barthes is the name of a friend whom, at bottom, at the bottom '-- ~;.of a certain familiarity, I knew very little, and of whom, it goes without \ ~saying, I have not read everything, I mean reread, understood, and so on.And my first response was most often certamly one of apptovat' ;""sotiCtar-ity, and gratitude. Yet not always, it seems to me, and as insignificant as it .may be, I must say this so as not to give in too much to the genre. He was,I mean, he remains, one of those of whom I have constantly wondered,

    (for almost twenty years now, in a more or less articulated way: What does f i .o~ Ahe think of this? In the present, the past, the future, the.conditional, and ~so on? Especially, why not say it, since this should surpnse no one, at themoment of writing. I even told him this once in a letter long ago.

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    28 8 The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    { _ __.,- name of that which "points" me, or "points" (to) what I am awkwardlytrying to say here. I return to this also in order to show how he himselftreated and properly signed this simulacrum of an opposition. He firsthighlighted the absolute irreducibi lity of the punctum, what we mightcal l the unici ty of the referential (t appealLO this word so as not to have tochoose between reference and referent : what adheres in the photographis perhaps less the referent itself, in th~resent effecnviry of"its reality',than the ImplicatIOn In t e reference of its having:been-unique). Theh?rerogenelty of the punctum ISngoroliS;""ns originality can 6ear neither~~ilITi.tj-on nor concession. And yei:, In other p1aces, at other times,Barthes accedes to another deScriptive demand, let 's call i t phenomenologi-

    (:cal, ~QQQk.aLw ... fesems1tsclf-as a phenomenology. He accedes tothe requisite rhythm of the composition, a musical composition that, tobe more precise, I would call contrapuntal . It is indeed necessary for himto recognize, and this is not a concession, tha m is not wh t

    ( it is. This ~olute ~ c~ses with the same, with its absolute otherhat is thus n~ppo~, withtnelocus of the same and of the studium(it is the limit of the binary opposition and, undoubtedly, of a structuralanalysis that the studium i tsel f might exploit ). If the punctum is more orless than itself, dissymmetrical-to everything and in itself-then it caninvade the field of the stiidium, to which, Str ict ly speaking, it does not-belong. It is located, we recall, outside~ coaes. A.SthePlaceof irreplaceable singularity and of the unique referentia l, the punctum ir-

    C E diates and, what is most surpris ing, lends itself to metonymy. As soon asallows it self to be drawn into a network of substItutIons, It can invade/ very t hing, objects as well as affects. This singularity that is nowhere inthe fie ld mobilizes everything everywhere; i t pluralizes itself. If the pho-tograph bespeaks the unique death, the death of the unique, this deathimmediately repeats i tself, as such, and is i tself e lsewheK Taid""""fh:rr1Ilepunctum allows i tsel f to be drawn into metonymy. Actually, i t induces it,and this is its force, or rather than its force (since it exercises no actual

    ( constraint and exists completely in reserve), its dynamis, in other words,i ts power, potentia li ty , virtuali ty, and even its dissimulation, i ts latency.Barthes marks this relationship between force (potential or in reserve)and metonymy at certain intervals of the composition that I must hereunjustly condense. "However lightning-like i t may be, the punctum has,more or less potentially, a power of expansion. This power is often met-onymic" [Camera Lucida, 45]. Further on: "I had just realized that how-

    The Deaths of Roland Barthes

    ever immediate and incisive it was, the punctum could accommodate acertain latency (but never any examination)" [ibid. , 53]. This metonymicpower is essential ly related to the supplementary structure of the punctum("it is a supplement") and of the studium that receives from it all i ts move-ment, even if it must content i:self, like the ."examination," with t~ ~)

    {( round the point and never gettIng down to n.5 Henceforth, the relatlO~nship ~tween the two concepttisneither fautological nor op ositional,neither dialectical nor in any sense symmetrical; it is supplementary andmusical (contrapuntal). The metonymy of the punctum: scandalous as it may be, it allows us to 'jspeak, to speak of the unique, to speak of and to it. Ityields the trait thatrelates to the unique. The Winter Garden Photograpli , which he neithersh;-;"s nor hides, which he speaks, is the punctum of the entire book. Themark of this unique wound is nowhere visible as such, but it s unlocatablebrightness or clari ty (that of his mother's eyes) irradiates the entire study.Itmakes of this book an irreplaceable event . And yet only a metonymicforce cancont Inue to :rssure a cerraIh general ity to the discourse and of-fer it to analysis by submitting its concepts to a quasi-instrumental use.How else could we, without knowing heT,"be so aeeply mOVed by whathe said about his mother, who was not only the Mother, or a mother, butthe only one she was and of whom such a photo was taken "on that day"?How could this be poignant to us if there were not at work a metonymic \force, not to be mistaken for something that facilitates the movement ofidenti fication, on the contrary? The alterity remains almost intact; that isthe condition. I do not put myself in his place, I do not tend to replacehis mother with mine. Were I to do so, I could be moved only by theal terity of the without-relat ion, the absolute unici ty that the metonymicpower comes to recall in me without effacing it. He is right to protestagainst the confusion between she who was his mother and the Figureof the Mother, but the metonymic power (one part for the whole or onename for another) wi ll always come to inscribe both in this relation wi th-Out relation. The deaths of Roland Barthes: because of the somewhat indecent violence

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    T he D ea th s o f R o la nd B ar th es

    of this plural, one might perhaps think that I was resisting the unique; Iwould have thus avoided, denied, or tried to efface his death. As a signof protection or protest, I would have in the process accused and givenover his death to the trial of a studied metonymy. Perhaps, but how dowe speak otherwise and without taking this risk? Without pluralizing the

    I unique or generalizing what is most irreplaceable in it, his own death?And didn't he himself speak right up until the very last moment abouthis death and, metonymically, about his deaths? Didn' t he say what is es-sential (especially in R ola nd B ar th es b y R ol an d B ar th es , a metonymic tit lef and signature par excellence) ab...utthe undecidable vacillation between~eakin. and kee in silent"?GAnd one can also remain stlent by speak-ing: "The only 'thought' I can ave is that at the en9..o this first death,my~n ~eath is inscrib~etween the two, nothing more than waiting;have no oilier resources than this iron : to s eak of the 'nothing to sa '"

    [C amera uci ,93]. And just before: "The horror is this: not ing to sayabout the death of one whom I love most, n'OtFiIng to say about her pho-tograph" [ibid., 92-93].

    0'riendship: we have no right to take anything for ourselves from the fewl~ages at the end ~ volume that bears this title.? What links Blan-

    chot to Bataille was unique, and FrzendShzp expresses t~is in an absolutelyf ~ingular way. And yet the metonymic force of the most oignant writ-\.In allows us to read these pages, which does not mean to expose t emoutsi e t e' e s us think that which it nonetheless ___never forces open, never shows or hides. Without being able toenter intothe absolute SIngu}a;i ty of this relatIOnship, without forgett ing that onlyBlanchot could write this, and that only of Bataille could he be speaking,without understanding, or in any case without knowing, we can thinkwhat is being written here. Though we should not be able to quote, In~thele.ss rak upcrr-rrryself the.viclence of a quotatiQ11...-especiall}:._ofo~. that-has been necessari ly truncated. -- --_-~ could one agree to speak of this friend? Neither in praise nor in the in-( i ;~e~t of som~ tr~th. The . trai ts 0 : his c~aracter, the forms of his existence, the/ episodes of his l ife, even In keeping with the search for which he felt himselfresponsible to the point of irresponsibili ty, belong to no one. There are no!yitness~ Those who were closest sayonly what was close to them, not the

    ---- -

    ~~./c?crT he D ea th s o f R o la nd Bartbes

    )distance that affirmed itself in this proximity, and distance ceasesas soon aspresence ceases .... We are only looking to fill a oid, we cannor bear thepain: the affir~ation of this void... . Everything we say tends to veil the oneaffirmation: that everything must fade and that we can remain loyal onl so '> 'long as we watch over this fadirig movement, to which something in us thatreject;aJ[ memory already belongs.- - -,

    I ......_,~t "~,v~\ 0'In ame ra Luci d a, the value of i n te n si ty ( d ynam is , force, latency), which Ihave been following, leads to a neW cO'lItrapcrnrah:quation, te-a new me- '- utonymy of metonymy itself, a new metonymy of the substitutive virtue of \.::the punctum. And this is 1 i ' r r r e : - F 0 t " " t s - r r u r r r r e tfie u ti.Iilate resource for )the substitution Of O"ile'"a6'soluteinstant by another, for the replacement of ::.

    Ithe irreplaceable, the replacement of this unique referent by another that Jis yet another instant, completely other and yet still the same? Is not timethe punctual form and force of all metonymy-its l a s t recourse?Here is a ~assage where the eassage from ~ gear t.Q '1w.other,lrom that of Lewis tPayne to that of Rol'ii1d Barthes, seems to pass (among and between oth- '\.,;rs, dare one say) through the Winter Garden Photograph. And on the ~theme of Time. There is here, in short, a terrifying syntax, from which I . ~pick out first a7inguIar accorrl, a tl1e'"pdlnt of trarisitionbetween Sand P: ~"The photo is handsome, as is the boy" [Camera Luci d a, 96]. And here is '\.the passage from one death to the other:I now know that there exists another punctum (another "stigmatum") thanthe "detail." This new punctum, which is no longer of form but of intensity,

    : ~ ; : ~ ; : ~ : : : i ~ : : : i : ' : : d ~ :: : : : i = : : : : : ~ ~ : : : : ~~ , : : : . ' : \ ~Seward. Alexander Gardner photographed him in his cell, where hewaswait~ )ling to be hanged. The photograph is handsome, as is the boy: that is the , , 1st;d:dm~?t:J.j2Jmctum.Js: heisgoing todie. I read at the same time: this will (.J \,J z a . ~serve with horror an anterior future of which death \isthe stake. Bygiving me to the absolute past of the pose (aorist), the photo-graph tells me death in the future. What points me, pricksme, is the discovery I\of this equivalence. In front of the photograph of my mother asa child, I tell

    Imyself: she is going to die: I shudder, likeWinnicott's psychotic patient, over

    (a catastrophetha. thas already occurred.Whether or not the subject is readyQ., every photograph is this catastrophe. (Camera Lucida, 96)~ ,II141. ) .. .. .. v . . ~/c..,..., v ~1 .V "


    , \.

    ~11< .. r~ t

    > l {~

    v"{... .c l

    \. \.t r e,

    . . . .."/ . .r )

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    T he D ea th s o f R o la nd B ar th est And further on: "It is because each photograph always contains this im-perious sign of my future death that each one, however attached it seemst;;-be t;the excited worlaot t e Iving, cliallengeseach of us, one by one,outside ..~ .fany generality (bill not outside of any transcendence)" [ibid.,97]

    (~ Q t, _ _. [Time: the metonymy of the instantaneous, the possibility of the narra-

    tive magnetized by its own limit. The instanuneous in pho~r~ thesnapshot, would itself be but the most striking metonymy in the modernI teCIl.nological age o~~~ older insta~~aneity. Older, ev~n.thoughjt is neverf, relg~e"p-ossibillty of tekh~..!.!Lg~ner:.al. Remaining as attentive asI possible to all the differences, one must be able to speak of a punctum inall signs (and re~etition or iterabi lity already structu.res it), in ariy dis: ::course, whether literary or not: As long as we do not Jicild to some naive ...

    ( a n c r ' r e a l i S ? ' ~entialism, it is the relation to s i ue and irreplace-~re;;;;t that i n te r es t s u s and animates our most sound an studied

    /r~adings: _what took p ace only once, while dividing itself already, in theSights or In front of the lens of the Phaedo or F i nne gans ' i- V tz ke ,he Dis-c ou r se o n M e th o d or Hegel's Logic , John's Apocalypse or Mallarrne's Coupd e d es . The photographic apparatus reminds us of this Irreducible referen-

    ,~ tial by ITieans of a very powerful telescofili!& - ---( ~f'Yv(r

    The metonymic force thus divides the referentia l tra it , suspt:~fer-

    ~_:nt and leaves it to be de~d, while still maintaining the reference. It""isat work In the mo~ of friendships; it plunges the destination intomourning while at the same tim7engaging it-:- ---

    {Friendship: between the two titles, that of the book and that of the finalfarewell in i talics, between the titles and the exergue ("quotations" of Ba-!aille that speak twice of "fr iendship"), the exchange ISstil l metonymic 'though die singularity Ques'"f le. [os any of its force; quite the contrary."Iknow there are the books.. .. The books themselves refer to an existence.This existence, because it is no longer a presence, egins robe deployed in

    T he D ea th s o f R o la nd B ar th es 293history, and in the worst of histories , l iterary history... . One wants to pub-lish "everythin ," one wants to say "everything," asif one were anxious aboutonly ons thing: tha~hing)~d; as if the "everything is said" w~finalfy allow us to stop a dead voice .... As long as die one who ISclose tous-exIStSana, with him, the thought in which he affirms himself, his thoughtopens itself to us, but preserved in this very relation, and what preserves it isnot only the mobili ty oflife (th is would beveryli tt le), but ~he unpredictabil- \iry introduced into this thought by the strangeness of the end.... Ialso know~ his books, GeorgesBataille seems to speak-ornlmsel f with a freedomwithout restraint that should free us from all discretion-but that does notgive us the right to put ourselves inhis place, nor does it give usthe power tospeak in hisabsence~d is i t certain that h.up~ofhims~lf? We must giveup trying to know those to whom we are linked . .. by something essentia l;by this Imean we must greet them in the relation with the unknown in which 1they greet us as::::ell,in our ~rang~ent. (Friendship, 289-9i"f -

    c P A - / ~Where does the desire to date these last line~ (s..~p.tbtJl~d",..h~Q.) \come from? Ie date-and this is always somet .ngd)f signarure-e-ac-centuates tfie cc;;.tingency or Inslgnihcance of the interruption.~n ~accident and like death, it seems to be imposed from the outside, "on thatay time an space are here given toget er, the conditions of a publica-t ion), but i t no doubt also indicates another interruption. Though neither 'vmore essent ial nor more interior, this interruption ;nnounces itsel f in an- )other register, as another thought of the same one ...Having returned from the somewhat insular experience wherein I hadsecluded myself with the two books, I look today only at the photographsin other books (especially in Ro la n d B a rt he s by Ro la n d B a rt he s i and innewspapers; I cannot tear myself away from the h

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    294 T he D ea th s o f R ola n d B ar th es

    I be the essential writing. How, for example, did he choose all these pho-(;?graphs of children and old people? How and when did he choose theselines for the back cover where Marpa speaks of his son's deathi"? And~bout those white line..on the black background of the inside cover( :! _ !

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    T he D ea th s o f R o la nd B ar th es

    pen, the literal utterance, that is, and, assuming this is possible, the non-metonymic ut terance? And this, even when the enunciation of it wouldbe possible?


    ~" , f 1,Jo


    t r ' : J

    Wouldn't the utterance "I am dead," which he says is impossible, fallinto the province of what he calls elsewhere-and calls on as-utopic?And doesn't this utopia impose itself in the place, if one can sti ll say this,where metonymy is already at work on the I in its relation to itself, theI when it refers to nothing else but the one who is present ly speaking?There would be something like a sentence of the I, and the time of thiselliptical sentence would leave room for metonymic subsmmi(}&~Uu:_rriirselves ti~~w.ould have to return here to that which implicitlynks, in Came ra Luci d~;_ !. im e as a pun~,.~ metonymic force ofe punctum . . . . '-"--

    "What must I do?" Barthes seems in Came ra Luci d a [67J to approve of theone who places-of she who placed-"civil value" above "moral value."In R ola nd B ar th es b y R ola nd B ar th es [145], he says that moral i ty must beunderstood as "the precise opposite of ethics (it is the thinking of thebody in a state oflanguage)." Between the possibility and the impossibility of the "I am dead," there!s the synsax. ..9 t!!.me and something like a category 2f,iwJ.I linence (tb~wh~in~_J;he lJ~d is on the ~nt o0.aking place). TheI imminence of death presents itself; it is always at the point-in presentingI itself-of presenting itself no longer, so that death then stands betweenthe metonymiceIc:;q~dte "I ari'iClead" an t ~-ushers in absolute-si1ence, al rOWi'ii'gnot lngmor;~ be said (one pointI an'Cl'11ntt's-ir,perioLi [u1 fp iJ i n tc ' es t t ou t] ). This punctual, punctuat ing sin-gularity (and I understand "punctuating" here as an adjective but also asa type of verb, the enduring syntax of a sentence) irradiates the corpusfrom i ts place of imminence and allows one to breathe, in Came ra Luci d a,

    T he D ea th s o f R o la nd B ar th es 297this "air" that becomes more and more dense, more and more hauntedand peopled with ghosts. I use his words to speak of this: "emanation,"cc ')( d n(C ~ "ecstasis, rna ness, ma51C._-- .It is inevitable [fota~, both just and unjust, mat me most autobiOgt:i]cal" books (those of the end, as I have heard said) begin at death to con-ceal all the other books. What is more, they begin with death. Were Imyself to yield to this 'movement, woul' no longer eavethis RolandB ar th es b y R ola nd B ar th es , which, on the whole, I never knew how toread, Between the photos and the graphics, al l these texts I ,hould.haveta eel about, started with, or come closer to .... But didn't I do thisitliout reaJizi:ng-iTin-the-preteding ragments? For example, just a mo-

    ment ago, almost by chance, under the titles "His Voice" ("inflection isthe voice in so far as it is always past , silenced," :' the ~Q!ce is


    Contrapuntal theory or a procession of stigmata: a wound no doubtcomes in (the) place of the point sigried by si.;gulanty, m (thejplaa=cr~--

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    The Deaths of Roland Barthesr{ U tsvery instant (stigmf), at its point, its tip. But in (the) place.!!f~em,p~ is ~ov:eI,..o.t:..t.he--s~d, to substitution, which repeats.tselFtFiere, retaining of the irreplaceab~t desire . 12 An Idea of Flaubert: "Plato's Letter"I still cannot remember when I read or heard his name for the first time,and then how he became one for me. But anamnesis, even if it breaks offalways too soon, promises itself each time to begin again: it remains to

    -Translated by Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas

    My Loulou,I have nothing to tel lyou except that I miss you and want to see you very

    much.N.B. ... I am pleased to see myoid pupil devote herself to serious reading.

    As for my opinion on these matters, here it is in a word: I don't know what ismeant by the two substantives "Matter" and "Spirit"; we don't know the one.ny better than the other. Perhaps they are only abstractions of our intellect.In short, I consider Materialism and Spiritualism equa l ly impe r ti n en t [deuximpertinences egalesl.Ask Monseigneur to lend you Plato's Symposium and Phaedo (in Cousin's

    translation). Since you lovethe ideal, my Loulou, you will discover it, in thesebooks, at its very source. As art, it's marvelous.It is March 1868, and Flaubert is writing to his niece, Caroline. He

    capitalizes the great words of philosophy, "Matter" and "Spirit." Like agood pedagogue, he also underlines what he feels is most important, thevery substance of his argument: equally impertinent,' Caroline, twenty-two, is the daughter of Flaubert's sister and bears her name. As you know,she was born a month before the death of her mother and namesake. Thatwas in 1846. That same year, several months after the birth of Caroline,nicknamed Loulou, and thus after the death of her mother, there was theencounter with Louise Colet and the latter 's breakup with Victor Cousin,whom Flaubert quickly dubs the Philosopher, with a capital P. In theLecture delivered in Paris in 1980at a colloquium organized for the centenary ofFlaubert's death. Published in the Re vu e d 'h is to ir e l it te ra ir e d e fa France, vol. 81,and in Confrontation 12 (1984).

    29 9

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    2. Slashes (I ... /) indicate those words that appear in English in the origi-nal.-Trans.

    3 . D ev in e is both an imperative of the verb deviner, to guess, and a nounmeaning a (feminine) soothsayer.- Trans.4. For the story that follows, see Ernest Jones, S igm un d F re ud : L ife a nd W ork ,

    3 vols. (London: Hogarth Press, 1953-57), I: 316-17; and for the context of Ma-rie Bonaparte's role here, see also Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's introduction toT he C om ple te L ette rs o f S ig mu nd F re ud to W ilhe lm F lie ss , I887-I904 (Cambridge,Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1985),3-11.- Trans.5. SeeJones, S igm un d F re ud : L ife a nd W or k, 2:19.- Trans.6. See ibid., 3:422.-Trans.7. Derrida isreferring in particular to the following texts in T he S ta nd ar d E di -

    tio n o f th e C om ple te P sy ch olo gica l W or ks o f S ig mu nd F re ud , ed. and trans. JamesStrachey et al. (London: Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psycho-Analysis):"Psycho-Analysis and Telepathy," 18(1955):173-93; "Dreams and Telepathy," 18:195-220; and "Some Additional Notes on Dream Interpretation as a Whole,"which includes a section on "The Occult Significance of Dreams," 19 (1961):135-38; and to "Dreams and Occultism," in Freud's N ew I nt ro du ct or y L ec tu re son Psycho-Analys is , trans. James Srrachey, Pelican Freud Library, vol. 2, ed. JamesStrachey, assisted by Angela Richards (rpt. , Harmondsworth, UK: PenguinBooks, 1983),6o-87.-Trans.8. "Dorothy Burlingham also came to Freud and psychoanalysis asAnna 's

    close friend. Leaving her disturbed husband, she moved to Vienna from Americawith her four children. She was first in analysis with Theodor Reik and thenFreud. .. . A member of the Tiffany Family, Dorothy Burlingham could affordto pay for the treatment of her whole family; her children were among AnnaFreud's first patients. Freud was happy when Anna found Dorothy asa friend; tohim it meant she was now in safehands. In 1929he wrote 'our symbiosis with anAmerican family (husbandless), whose children my daughter isbringing up ana-lytically with a firm hand, isgrowing continually stronger, so that we share withthem our needs for the summer' [to Binswanger]. And in 1932Freud noted thatAnna and 'her American friend (who owns the car) have bought and furnished... a weekend cottage' [to Zweig]. Anna Freud loved dogs, and in his old ageFreud would play 'with them ashe used to play with his ring' [Sachs]. Dorothy. .. was the main source not only ofFreud 's dogs but alsoof the chows that wentto others in Freud's circle .. .. Anna became a second mother to her children,and Dorothy was recipient of one of Freud's rings." Paul Roazen, F reud an d H isFollowers (New York: Random House, 1975),448. (Note added January 22, 1981,while correcting proofs.)9 Jones, S igm un d F re ud : L ife a nd W ork , 3:423-24.- Trans.10. Here, aselsewhere, Derrida isquoting the French translation ofJones. In

    his circular letter of February 15,1926, Jones quotes from an article in a recentissue of the journal Psyche as follows: "A few years ago the analysis of dreams


    must have seemed to many adherents of the Viennese school to be developinginto a not altogether inexact science... . But to-day the wild men are once morenot far from the fold-for ifTelepathy be accepted the possibili ty of a definiteoneiric aetiology recedes some decades, if not centuries, into the future" (jones,S igm un d F re ud : L ife a nd W or k, 3: 422).-Trans.II."Toothing-stone," or simply "roothing" is an architectural term: "in Build-

    ing. Bricks or stones left projecting from a wall to form a bond for addit ionalwork to be built on" (OED).-Trans.12. See Jones, S ig mu nd F re ud : L ife a nd W or k, 3:406.- Trans.13. It has in fact since been argued that "M.P." was none other than the "Wolf

    Man": see Maria Torok's "Afterword" to T he W olfM an 's M ag ic W or d: A C ry pto n-ymy, by Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, trans. Nicholas Rand (Minneapolis:University of Minnesota Press, 1986), 85.- Trans.

    II. The Deaths of Roland Barthes1. Roland Barthes, Wri ti ng D eg re e Z er o, trans. Annette Lavers and Colin

    Smith (New York: Hill &Wang, 1983),9-10. [Allnotes added by translators.]2. Roland Barthes, Cam er a Luc id a : R e fl ec ti on s o n Ph ot og ra p hy , trans. Richard

    Howard (New York: Hill &Wang, 1980), 94). The French tit le is L a c hamb reclaire (Paris: Seuil, 1980).3. Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Re-producibili ty ," trans. Harry Zohn and Edmund Jephcott, in Se le c te d Wr it ing s,vol. 4, ed. Michael W Jennings (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of HarvardUniversity Press, 2003).4 Maurice Blanchot, L e l iv re Ii venir (Paris: Gallimard, 1959), 25 J5. "Tourner autour du point" is a play on "tourner autour du pot," "to beat

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    / 10. Like so many other things that do not survive translation, the pass~on the back of L a c ha mb re c la ir e has been omitte III Came ra L u eiC ia . e thusrestOreIlefethis"gestu~ a~;;r~atwe be ieve to bethees;en-tial writing":' ''Marpa was very shaken when his own son died, and one of his disciples said tohim, 'Youhave alwayssaid that everything is an illusion. Is not the death of yourson an ill!:!_sions well?'And Marpa responded, 'Certainly, but the death of my

    I ~upe.r-~'" ( A P ra ct ic e o f th e T ib et an W zy ).II. n the English edition, these handwritten lines of Barthes's appear ill blackon a white background and have been incorporated into the opening and closing

    p~f the text rather than printed on the front and back inside covers. How-'ard translates these two inscriptions: "It must all be considered as ifspoken by acharacter in a novel"; ' 'And afterward?/ -What to write now?Can you still writeanything~ One writes with one's desires, and I am not through_desi~ng."G 12. Revenant asagerund means 'retilrrung" or "coming back," and asa noun,~st" or "phantom." Two sections further, Derrida uses the phrase revenant alettre, which can be translated as "returning to the letter," "literally returning,""ghost to the letter," or even "liter y a ghost." --L ~3. Roland Barthes, "Analysetex~lle d'un conte d'Edgar Poe," in Laventuresemiologique (Paris: Seuil, 1985), 329-59.

    I2. A n Id ea o f F la ube rt: "P la to 's Le tte r"~That is, "deux impertinences egales." Materialism and Spiritualism are( "impertinent" in both senses of that word: t " . ," Irrelevant,\_ but also "presumptuous," "insolent," "meddlesome." Later in this text, Derrida

    explicitly defines "impertinence" as "na'ive incompeten~" a usage that is far) r better sustained by the original French impert inence than by its English hom-I onym.- Trans.

    2. The phrase translated here is "le res:uHaubertien," which can denote thebody of received ideas ( id e e s r e cu e s) about Flaubert, an accepted version of hislife, work, opinions, poetics, and, by extension, the range of facts admissible asevidence (receivable in the legal sense) within the institutions of literary historyand criticism. Also, perhaps, a written acknowledgment of goods received-"theFlaubertian receipt."-Trans.3. Flaubert to Louise Coler, December 17, 1852: "It's necessary that through-

    out the entire book, there is not a single word of my own invention, and thatafter having read it, no one would dare any longer to open his mouth for fearofsaying spontaneously one of the phrases found therein."4. Flaubert to Marie-Sophie Leroyer de Chantepie, November 4 , 1857:

    "Speaking of Spinoza (that great man!), try to obtain the biography written byBoulainvilliers. It is in the Leipzig edition in Latin. I believe Emile Saisset hastranslated the Ethics. You must read that. Mme Coignet's article in the R ev ue d eParis was really quite inadequate. Yes,you must read Spinoza. Those who accuse


    him of atheism are asses. (Goethe said, 'When I am troubled I reread the Eth-ics. ') Perhaps like Goethe you will find calm in the reading of this great book.Ten years ago I lost the friend I had loved more than any other, Alfred Le Poit-tevin. Fatally ill, he spent his last nights reading Spinoza."5 Flaubert discovered the Tractatus in 1870. He wrote to George Sand in

    ~pril-May, 1870: "I knew Spinozas Ethics, but not the T rac ta tu s TheoLog ico -poLi t -zeus. The book astounds me; I am dazzled, and transported with admiration. MyGod, what a man! what an intellect! what learning and what a mind!" Doesn' tthis eager autodidact sound exactly like Bouvard and Pecuchet?The same year, and again to George Sand, Flaubert wrote: "I have resolved to

    begin work on my Sa in t A n th o n y tomorrow or the day after .. .. These past fewdays I have read a lot of tedious theology, interspersed with some Plutarch andSpi.n.oza"(February 1870). "Recently, I have spent my evenings reading Kant'sCritique o f P ur e R ea so n in Barni's translation and going over my Spinoza" (Feb-ruary 1872). "If only I don't botch Saint Anthony aswell?I shall return to it ina week, when I have finished with Kant and Hegel. These two great men havegone a long way toward stupefying me; when I take leave of them, it iswith vo-racity that I pounce on myoid, three times great Spinoza. What a genius! Whata work the Ethics is!" (end of March 1872).6.. Gustave Flauberr, B ou va rd a nd P ec uc be t, trans. T. W. Earp and G. W

    S~olll~r (New York: New Directions, 1954), 240; further page references aregiven IIIparentheses in the text, and the translation has occasionally been modi-fied.- Trans.7 We know that Flaubert was an avid reader of Sade, though he alwayskept a

    distance from this author who, forhim, represented the hyperbole of Catholicism.See what he saysof Sade to the Goncourt brothers (quoted in J.-P. Richard, Litte-r a tu :e e t s e n sa t io n : S t en dh aL , F la u be r t [Paris:Seuil, 1954], 195). From another pointof View,he defended himself against what Sainte-Beuve had called his "touch ofsadistic imagination" (see his letter to Sainte-Beuve of December 1862).8. The exchange takes place in the context ofa passage on the imagination of

    th~ prophets and on the idolatry of visions and of figurative language: "'He isgOlllgto deny the prophets now!' 'Not at all!But in the heat of excitement theysawJehovah i~ different fo~ms asa fire, asa bush, an old man, a dove, and theywere ~ot certain of Revelation for they were alwaysasking for a sign. ' 'Ah!andyou discovered these fine things ... ? ' 'In Spinoza.' ''9 "Asfor obviousness, denied by some, affirmed by others, it is its own crite-rion. Monsieur Cousin has demonstrated this."10. "Stupidity is immovable; nothing attacks it without shattering against it. It

    has the character ofgranite, hard and resistant. In Alexandria, a Mr. Thompson ofSunderland wrote his name on Pompey's Pillar in letters six feet high. There isnow~y t? see the pillar without seeingThompson's name, and without consequentlythinking ofThompson. The cretin has incorporated himself into the monumentand perpetuates himself along with it" {letter cited by].-P. Richard, Litterature

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