Barthes on Desire and writing: it’s not for me, a blind subject, buried in the imaginary

31 Mar

Why do I write? — It could, among other reasons, be out of obligation: for example, in the service of a Cause, a social, moral end, to instruct, enlighten, militate, or entertain. These are not negligible reasons, but to me they look a bit like justifications, excuses, in that they make Writing contingent upon a social or moral (external) demand. Now, to the extent that I’m capable of lucidity on this point, I know that I write to satisfy a desire (in the strong sense): the Desire to Write –> I can’t say that Desire is the origin of Writing, because I’ve not been granted extensive knowledge of my Desire or of its every determination:  one Desire can always stand in for another, and it’s not for me, a blind subject, buried in the imaginary, to trace my Desire back to its original impulse: I can only say that there was a certain point of departure to the Desire to Write, which I’m able to identify.

–Roland Barthes, The Preparation of the Novel


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