Writing’s Toxin

Barthes - Novel

“Is it possible to make a Narrative (a Novel) out of the Present?  How to reconcile – dialecticize – the distance implied by the enunciation of writing and the proximity, the transportation of the present experienced as it happens?  (The present is what adheres, as if your eyes were glued to a mirror).  Present: to have your eyes glued to the page; how to write at length, fluently (in a fluent, flowing, fluid manner) with one eye on the page and the other on ‘what’s happening to me?'”

“The novelistic ‘drive’ (the love of the material) is not directed toward my past.  It’s not that I don’t like my past; it’s rather that I don’t like the past (perhaps because it rends the heart), and my resistance takes the form of the mist i spoke of – a kind of general resistance to rehearsing, to narrating what will never happen again (the dreaming, the cruising, the life of the past).  The affective link is with the present, my present, in its affective, relational, intellectual dimensions = the material I’m hoping for (cf. ‘to depict whom I love’).”

“This is actually to go back to that simple and ultimately uncompromising idea that ‘literature’ (because, when it comes down to it, my project is ‘literary’) is always made out of ‘life.’  My problem is that I don’t think I can access my past life; it’s in the mist, meaning that its intensity (without which there is no writing) is weak.  What is intense is the life of the present, structurally mixed (there’s my basic idea) with the desire to write it.  The ‘Preparation’ of the Novel therefore refers to the capturing of this parallel text, the text of ‘contemporary,’ concomitant life.”

“Now, although at first glance making a novel out of present life looks difficult to me, it would be wrong to say that you can’t make writing out of the Present.  You can write the Present by noting it – as it ‘happens’ upon you or under you (under your eyes, your ears) – In this way, we at last come in sight of the double problem, the key to which organizes the Novel – on the one hand, Notation, the practice of ‘noting’: notatio.  On what level is it situated?  The level of ‘reality’ (what to choose), the level of the ‘saying’ (what’s the form, what’s the product of Notatio)?  What does this practice involve in terms of meaning, time, the instant, the act of saying?  Notatio instantly appears at the problematic intersection between a river of language, of uninterrupted language – life, both a continuous, ongoing, sequenced text and a layered text, a histology of cut-up texts, a palimpsest – and a sacred gesture: to mark life (to isolate: sacrifice, scapegoat, etc.)”
“On the other hand, how to pass from Notation, and so from the Note, to the Novel, from the discontinuous to the flowing (to the continuous, the smooth)?  For me, the problem is psychostructural because it involves making the transition from the fragment to the nonfragment, which involves changing my relationship to writing, which involves my relationship to enunciation, which is to say the subject that I am: fragmented subject (=a certain relationship) or effusive subject (a different relationship)…a Novel-Fragment…”

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2 thoughts on “Writing’s Toxin

  1. This is interesting – I think I will grab the book. I have read fragmented pieces and enjoyed them, so I’m not sure what the problem is. Is it more about how to draw your reader into wanting to continue with fragmented writing?

  2. I think it’s addressing the problem of writing-now. That transforming experience into the experience of writing text often becomes an attempt at re-iteration via “about.” But writing desires to be the experience that is happening and writing-Novel aims at enunciating experience – the tangling experience-with-world of enunciating it – dealing with the (apparently, or culturally inculcated sense) that the process-to-text is a distancing from what is being experienced…

"A word is a bridge thrown between myself and an other - a territory shared by both" - M. Bakhtin

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