Image by Deborah Turbeville
When all else fails, there's Roland Barthes' lovely Camera Lucida. I really needed this book today- just like I always need Benjamin and Bachelard near at hand, to catch me up in expansive idea-worlds. The inexplicable relief of reading, the instantaneous whisking into other lives, the forgetting and remembering. And here, Barthes writes beautiful prose, elegant, thrumming with careful imagery. He lightly uses words I've never before encountered: fulguration (to flash or dart like lightning); advenience (coming from outward causes); hebetude (dullness). I like that, the deft use of obscure words, even when he's clearly showing off (come on, dude, recantation and palinode mean the same thing!)
Here are some fragments, anyway, perhaps frustratingly anonymous out of their context, and yet... some particular cadence in and of themselves, too:
'Whatever it grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible: it is not it that we see.'
'I lend myself to the social game, I pose, I know I am posing, I want you to know that I am posing, but (to square the circle) this additional message must in no way alter the precious essence of my individuality: what I am, apart from my effigy. What I want, in short, is that my (mobile) image, buffeted among a thousand shifting photographs, altering with situation and age, should always coincide with my (profound) "self"; but it is the contrary that must be said: "myself" never coincides with my image; for it is the image which is heavy, motionless, stubborn [...] and "myself" which is light, divided, dispersed.'
'the emphatic truth of gesture in the great circumstances of life'- Baudelaire.
'odd contradiction: a floating flash'
'History is hysterical: it is constituted only if we consider it, only if we look at it- and in order to look at it, we must be excluded from it [...] That is what the time when my mother was alive before me is - History [...] No anamnesis could ever make me glimpse this time starting from myself [...] whereas, contemplating a photograph in which she is hugging me, a child against her, I can waken in myself the rumpled softness of her crêpe de Chine and the perfume of her rice powder.'