Chapter

Roland Barthes's Obtuse, Sharp Meaning and the Responsibilities of Commentary

Derek Attridge

in Reading and Responsibility

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780748640089
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652112 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640089.003.0008
Roland Barthes's Obtuse, Sharp Meaning and the Responsibilities of Commentary

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This chapter describes what might be called a Derridean reading of its most significant concept, the punctum, concentrating on The Pleasure of the Text and The Empire of Signs, which play a special role in Roland Barthes' writings on the image. Barthes' last work, Camera Lucida, is one of his most powerful and haunting. He is somewhat cannier in Camera Lucida, but is still unable to escape the structural predicament his project has placed him in. Barthes' practice shows that the referent is not the source of photography's special power – though the referential may indeed be crucial. The passage of time – and the work of artists, critics and readers – is continually altering the relations of coded meanings and uncoded effects.

Keywords: punctum; Roland Barthes; Pleasure of Text; Empire of Signs; Camera Lucida; photography

Chapter.  6136 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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