A Lover’s Discourse Notes (Guy)

Translated by Richard Howard (1978), Foreword by Wayne Koestenbaum (2010)

Foreword (Koestenbaum)
ix – Laceration as “key to the mind and body of the great Roland Barthes”
Where there is a wound there is a subject
Barthes’s mission is to “rescue nuance” -> The Intractable
x – Banish the message: “Investigate the perfume that the message leaves behind” -> Flashes
Perception as a “contest” between two or three rival meanings
xi – Doxa: “Repressive discourses that hamper consciousness”
xii – Key to moving between meanings is drift -> “Don’t signal. Don’t make an announcement”
Able to find nuance in unlikely places because of “lovelorn stance”
xiii – Barthes chooses a wounded/feminized position in A Lover’s Discourse
xiv – “Uneasy relation with Marxism” -> What role does this play?
At heart he was a creator of “linked miniatures”
xv – “Careless doesn’t mean without craft, it means without pertinence”
xvi – Barthes analyzes perception with questions of “exaltation, emptiness, shattering”
xvii – “Barthes didn’t sit around waiting for satori”
A Lover’s Discourse as a novel/novelistic?
xviii – Built upon “feasts of interconnected phrases that filibuster Meaning”
xix – “We get love through proxies” -> We can’t comprehend the thing itself
Barthes urges us: “don’t subjugate nuance to the greater vehicles where it dwells”
Is nuance distinct from virtue, beauty, love? Why or how?

1 – “The lover’s discourse is today of an extreme solitude” -> Severed from mechanisms of authority
3 – Constructed around the principle that the intractable can be heard in the voice of the lover
Fragments of the lover’s discourse can be called “figures”
4 – The lover is “at grips with his figure” -> They reduce him, freeze him
Is the figure defined in the same way as myth?
5 – “Now the property of a topic is to be somewhat empty”
“It is said that words alone have specific uses, not sentences” -> Underneath each figure lies a sentence, frequently an unknown
6 – Figures occur without order: “Amorous subject draws on image-repertoire”
7 – Figures are “distributional but not integrative” -> Always remain on the same level
8 – Figures of this discourse cannot be classified: “No first figures, no last figures”
9 – He is recalling “what has momentarily given the delight of understanding”
10 – “To be engulfed” -> Either in despair or in fulfillment (!)
He has a craving to be engulfed: Annihilation?
“I am dissolved, not dismembered” -> Similar to myth, which distorts but does not destroy?
11 – Engulfed “because there is no longer a place for me anywhere” -> Is love not a punctum? Is it instead something that is sought out, an equation?
13 – “Tends to transform this absence into an ordeal of abandonment”
It is the other who leaves, it is I who remain -> “Consequence of the other”
14 – “It is a Woman who gives shape to absence” -> Uttering absence as a feminine declaration
15 – The image of the embrace: “It melts the two images into a single one”
“Isn’t the object always absent?” Does it cease to be an object if it is present?
“I am wedged between two tenses” -> You have gone vs. You are here
16 – “Absence becomes an active practice, a business”
Discourse of absence as “text with two ideograms” -> Raised arms of Desire and wide-open arms of Need
17 – Public presence a result of absence: “Responsible for my worldliness”
19 – Amorous subject perceived a Whole, but involves a remained that cannot be expressed
“The Whole cannot be inventoried without being diminished” -> Description?
“About it I shall never know anything” (!)
20 – “Why is it that I desire So-and-so?” -> Is this the punctum? Looking for “That’s it!”
21 – “The adorable is what is adorable” -> Language closed off by what instituted it (“fascination”)
22 – The Intractable: “Against and in spite of everything, the subject affirms love as value”
Value as what is “worthwhile”? What is the meaning of value here?
23 – “How can you evaluate viability?”
“What love lays bare in me is energy” -> Everything I do has a meaning
24 – Strength of love cannot be shifted: remains on the level of language
25 – Alteration: Abrupt production of counter-image (“Tip of the Nose”?)
“I perceive suddenly a speck of corruption”
26 – Alteration of the image occurs when I am ashamed? Subjection? Recognition?
“Frequently it is by language that the other is altered”
27 – Detects a “whiff of desire” but is not conscious of it (“perfume” – x)
28 – Corruption turns the other into “another”?
29 – Agony: Feels swept away by the fear of danger, an injury, an abandonment, a revulsion
“The psychotic lives in the terror of the breakdown”
31 – To love love: “It is love the subject loves, not the object”
Refers back to the flash -> New perspective on the other
32 – “I soothe myself by desiring what, being absent, can no longer harm me” (!)
33 – The lover recognized his guilt and punishes himself (to impress the other?)
“Turn back, look at me, see what you have made of me”
34 – Atopos: Unclassifiable, of a ceaselessly unforeseen originality
Cannot classify the other -> “The singular Image which has come to correspond to this specialty of my desire”
35 – One cannot speak of or about the other: “The other is unqualifiable”
37 – In waiting, “Everything is solemn: I have no sense of proportions”
Scenography of waiting -> “Acted out as a play” (!)
38 – Waiting an enchantment: “I have received orders not to move”
39 – Distractions and impurities? Waiting is meant to be focused, undisturbed?
“The being I am waiting for is not real” -> Why? Has this always been the case? Is the other unreal just because it is hallucinated in this moment?
“I am an amputee who still feels pain in his missing leg” -> Phantoms!
40 – Lover’s identity: “I am the one who waits”
41 – To hide: “To what degree he should conceal the turbulences of his passion” (levels of anxiety)
42 – Doomed to blackmail: “If I love the other, I am forced to seek his happiness, but then I can only do myself harm”
To hide passion totally is inconceivable: “Passion is in essence made to be seen”
43 – Wants to be “pathetic and admirable” -> Duality: A child and an adult
44 – “I can do everything with my language but not with my body”
46 – Desire for a structure, “that which is habitable”
48 – Catastrophe: A trap from which he can never escape
Two systems of despair: gentle (active resignation) and violent -> See destruction in a flash
49 – Large and small scale catastrophes have “panic” in common: Situations “without remainder, without return”
50 – Gaudium is pleasure in the assurance of future good; Laetitia is the state in which pleasure predominates
“Gaudium is what I dream of: to enjoy lifelong pleasure”
51 – Impossible because Image-repertoire is defined by power of association?
52 – The heart is the organ of desire -> Held in the domain of the Image-repertoire
I am not interested in my mind; you are not interested in my heart
54 – Fulfillment occurs in excess produced
55 – Excess leads to proportion? “I adhere to the Image, our proportions are the same” (?)
“It is unimportant that I have no likelihood of being really fulfilled” (!)
56 – Joy static and repetitious: desires that things remain the same
“The fulfilling lover has no need to write, to transmit, to reproduce” -> Happiness is boring!
57 – Compassion as “union within suffering, a unity of suffering” (!?)
58 – “Since the other suffers without me, why suffer in his place?” -> Suffer with the other
59 – “I want to understand (what is happening to me)!”
Glad to know what love is, but sees it “in existence, not in essence”
Can only seize it “by the tail” -> Flashes
60 – Wants to analyze what is dividing him: How is he divided? Doesn’t understanding “divide the image, undo the I”?
62 – “Either you have some hope, and then you will act; or else you have none, in which case you will renounce”
63 – Everything new is a sign which must be interpreted: Everything signifies
65 – Rival/competitor as “symmetric partner,” one who loves the other the way I do
66 – “I am jealous of the one I love and the one who loves the one I love”
67 – The lover creates meaning by being in love: “He is in the crucible of meaning”
69 – Contingencies: As if chance conspired against him
The trivial is given importance, something devised by fate -> Begin to classify?
70 – “Sometimes, hysterically, my own body produces the incident” -> Why? How?
71 – The other’s body is divided: The lover catches himself scrutinizing (“see what is inside”)
72 – Returning to the whole allows him to love again? How does the lover “return to a Whole”? How is desire imaginary?
73 – Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other (xix)
75 – Selection of gift has excitement akin to orgasm
The gift is contact: I give the gift, the other gives me the gift of wearing it
76 – Domination? “I’ll give you more than you give me” -> Exchange economy? (77)
Gift can be dedicated “since the other is a minor god” (“assigned to Olympus” – 83)
78 – “Love wants to proclaim itself, to write itself everywhere”
“It is for them it has been written” -> Same concept as the “readerly”?
79 – Paradox of dedication: “I see at all costs to give you what smothers you”
80 – Notion of demons possessing the amorous subject: always bubbling and growing
81 – Demons fought by language?
84 – Love-as-passion is a force, strength
85 – Loved object is not a goal: “The loved object is object-as-thing, not object-as-term”
87 – Suffering is an incomprehensible word for those not in love
89 – “I experience reality as a system of power” -> Implications of this?
90 – “Everything around me changes value in relation to a function” -> Image-repertoire
91 – Emerge from the disreal when it is uttered
93 – Drama: The amorous subject cannot write his love story himself
Only the Other could write my love story, my novel
98 – Needs oscillate between “mild little haiku” and “flood of banalities”
Love is complicit with language, but is not lodged in language
“Always the Orpheus myth: not to turn back”
100 – Writing is “precisely there where you are not”
102 – Never said of the Phoenix that it dies, only that is reborn
104 – Embrace: The subject’s dream of total union with the loved being
107 – Expulsion from the Image-repertoire: the other is present but dead (as loved subject)
108 – Sacrifice Image-repertoire as proof of love
Loved being enters into collapse?
110 – Relaxed intimacy: “You belong to me as well,” the world says
112 – The other is not a text, the other is an image: “IF the voice is lost, the entire image vanishes”
114 – Voice constituted by what lacerates: Grain! “Could never be anything but a memory”
Focus on the “about to” -> Present and future together (recalls Camera Lucida)
115 – Masks used to distort/alienate the voice
“I am alarmed by everything which appears to alter the image”
118 – “I should not accuse what lacerates me, I might even affirm suffering” (!)
120 – “Every lover is mad, but can we imagine a madman in love?”
121 – Subjectivity keeps him mad -> “I am not someone else: that is what I realize with horror”
Importance of singular perception: One is not the same as any other
123 – I enjoy a text bursting with legibility for the reason that it does not speak
124 – Union of myth and reality!
126 – How can Zoe love and be in love? “One noble, the other morbid”
127 – Conformity between self and other: Resemble loved subject -> Image, imitation
129 – Identification: Identifies himself with person/character in same position
Pain as a result of being loved by someone I do not love
130 – Identification devalues myself and the other (!?)
131 – Reading a love story: “I cling to the image of the lover”
132 – Image: In the amorous realm, the most painful wounds are inflicted more often by what one sees than by what one knows
133 – “The images from which I am excluded are cruel”
Wounded by forms of relation: The image is the thing itself
134 – Cannot solve the riddle: Where does the other come from?
135 – Riddle consecrates other as a god -> I now what I do not know
The other defined by suffering or pleasure he affords me
136 – “Mass culture is a machine for showing desire: here is what must interest you”
139 – “What I want is a little cosmos inhabited only by ‘the two of us’”
141 – Endurance -> “I suffer without adjustment, I persist without intensity”
142 – It is possible to “get out” -> How?
The lover’s discourse is a serious of No Exits
143 – “I order myself to be still in love and to be no longer in love” (?!)
144 – Difference between an adversary/rival and enemy
145 – Suffer twice: from the division and form the incapacity to endure
147 – I love you: Refers to the repeated utterance of the love cry
The first avowal has no meaning -> “Repeats in an enigmatic mode” (!)
148 – “To say I love you is to proceed as if there were no theater of speech” -> Always true?
I love you “does not transmit a meaning but fastens onto a limit situation”
149 – Situations of saying I love you cannot be classified -> Neither in linguistics or semiology
150 – So do I is the perfect answer -> Does not take up the proffering (!)
Hallucinate what is empirically possible
151 – What if I didn’t interpret I love you? “You take your chances”
152 – New view of I love you: Not a symptom but an action -> “Reaffirms itself as a force” (153)
154 – “Stands at the limit of syntax, welcomes tautology” -> I love you means I love you
Signs of love feed “reactive literature” -> Love is represented
157 – Thinking of you: “Meany things bring you back into my discourse” -> Make you recut
158 – Letter has no tactical value: purely expressive
161 – Cannot keep from thinking, speaking -> No director to shout “Cut” (!)
163 – “I am not dialectical” -> Must be an alternative to she loves me/she loves me not
165 – Lover’s heart filled with bad feelings: “He is not generous”
168 – Silence leads to lack of establishment: Drift painfully
171 – Blinded to attachments: “To be in the shadows”
Live in the darkness of my desire, live between blows -> Flashes, impressions
173 – Object(s): Every object touched by the loved being’s body becomes part of that body
174 – Only thing that can be associated with his condition is “the quality of the weather”
178 – Love puts sentimental in place of the sexual
182 – “By weeping I want to impress someone, bring pressure to bear on someone”
My tears tell a story: “I produce a myth of grief and adjust myself to it”
185 – Other cannot be a referent: “You are never anything but you”
186 – Why don’t you love me? -> Why do you love me only a little -> Why don’t you tell me that you love me?
187 – “Only the one who loves can betray, only the one who believes himself loved can be jealous”
“I thought I was suffering from not being loved, and yet it is because I thought I was loved that I was suffering”
188 – Love revives fragment of “archaic time” -> Ravisher is motionless? Does nothing?
189 – Love’s wound is a radical chasm which cannot be closed
Love at first sight as hypnosis: “Fascinated by image”
190 – Astonished to hear of someone deciding to fall in love
192 – The first thing we love is a scene -> Consecrates the object
Scene can be aural -> “It will inhabit me like a memory”
198 – “I am a gambler whose luck cannot fail”
200 – Nothing distinguishes the trivial from “authentically consequent phenomenon”
203 – “Amorous anxiety involves expenditure which tires as harshly as physical labor”
204 – Dialogue: Equal distribution of “language goods”
206 – Scene like the Sentence: No obligation to stop, no internal constraint, expansions infinitely renewable
208 – Only death can interrupt the Sentence/Scene
210 – Persisting in error -> Relapse
212 – “Lover’s solitude is not a solitude of person but of system”
214 – Signs: The amorous subject has no system of sure signs at his disposal
The power of the Image-repertoire is immediate -> I do not look for the image, it comes to me all of a sudden
215 – Signs are not proofs: “Anyone can produce false or ambiguous signs”
“I shall no longer believe in interpretation”
218 – Suicide: “A trifle provokes it”
219 – The figure of the love story is real because he is created out of “projective substance”
220 – Everything about the other which doesn’t concern me seems alien, hostile
221 – “I refuse to recognize the division of our image, the other’s alterity”
222 – I love not what he is but that he is
226 – Union: Dream of total union with the loved being
Fulfillment of ownership: “I dream that we delight in each other according to an absolute appropriation”
227 – The perfect couple is Achilles and Patroclus -> Do not look for union outside the division of roles
228 – Everyone says the dream of total union is impossible, yet it persists. I do not abandon it.
229 – I only know the other -> “Whoever is not me is ignorant of the other” (CL)
232 – Lover’s constant thought: “The other owes me what I need”
“Non-will-to-possess” must be seen
234 – I do not divulge -> “I keep myself from loving you”

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