Monday, March 4, 2013

Barthes - Cristina Recommends

Barthes is just fun to read without experiencing the feeling that you are preached at. His essays are fresh and cute (precisely because they are stubborn and angry). Though I haven't read it in French, I like to think that this is one of the few cases when the translation is a better book than the original- ref. Marquez (joking) about some of his English translations. Thus, I can reasonably say that every word is meaningful and rightfully filling its place, or, more bluntly, this book has not one boring line.
Sharing it, though I am jealous, especially when we spent a whole night together.

It contains essays about celebrity weddings, soap advertisements, actors’ publicity photos, or an initiative by the president of France to get citizens to drink more milk. A great piece about Greta Garbo’s face ending with: “The face of Garbo is an Idea, that of Hepburn, an Event.”; about Billy Graham, a preacher: “If God is really speaking through Dr. Graham’s mouth, it must be acknowledged that God is quite stupid.”; and it concludes with Myth Today - a reading with muscles, therefore rewording when you pin it down.

About politicians campaign photos: “The gaze is lost nobly in the future, it does not confront, it soars and fertilizes some other domain, which is chastely left undefined. Almost all three-quarter-face photos are ascensional, the face is lifted toward a supernatural light, which draws it up and elevates it to the realm of a higher humanity; the candidate reaches the Olympus of elevated feelings, where all political contradictions are solved.”  -  Barthes, Mythologies