To My Reading And Recounting Of Roland Barthes By Roland Barthes (first letter)


To begin with, some of my not sent letters have been a treat to myself for continuing this project with you in mind (alone as I am in a literal sense).  My pleasure is a matter of fascination and therefore quite selfish.  I’ve kept only the letters which enthrall me, mostly without my knowing why exactly.  Such ignorance is the very nature of fascination, and what I can say about each not sent letter will never be anything but . . . imaginary.
And, as it happens, only the not sent letters that are publicly available make me feel this way (nothing else is preserved from the process of generation).  I enjoy conjuring them, thanks to the affection I still hold for the inherent contradictions of this project and what I hope it will hold for others.  It’s still awkward though. I’m never privy to engagements with the stuff beyond myself.  I’m left imagining this too.  So, as you might assume, it’s not solely a plain need for self-reflection or thinking-through-writing on my part that keeps me doing this.  A far more complicated lexicon of concerns and desires is involved.
When consideration (with the etymological sense of seeing the stars together as significant constellation) treats these not sent letters as detached entities, making them the object of an immediate pleasure, they no longer have much to do with reflection, however oneiric, of a particular identity or experience in context — a character in a novel for instance.  This is what I imagine beyond my own readings anyway.  Also — I’ve never meant to write like myself and don’t think I could if I tried.  Each not sent letter acts as a medium connected to possibilities, some, if not most, escape my immediate understanding; they provoke in me a kind of obtuse dream, whose units are selves which don’t belong to me, though to no one else either: here I am henceforth in a state of disturbing familiarity: I consciously (mis)recognize the fissure of the subject, the “me” of the text.
So you will perhaps find here, mingled with traces of longing and confusion (lingering ruins of the bourgeoisie?), some figurations of our cultural prehistory — of possible selves, individual and collective, making their way toward the labor and pleasure of writing.  Perhaps this is why some (perhaps most) of my efforts in these not sent letters are of little merit or accomplishment technically or artistically (given any established criteria and/or taste I’m aware of anyway).  One suddenly recognizes or remembers the abject material foundations of signification generally.  Perhaps all writing, all representation, is ultimately not sent.
This project, as it continues to accumulate, will therefore remain closed off from a connected, productive life in any conventional sense. It is constituted by writing itself, without being hampered, validated, justified, extorted, bought, sold, etc.  Once I produce, once I write, it is the text itself which (fortunately) dispossesses me of narrative continuity. The text recounts nothing; it takes me elsewhere, far from my imaginary person(s), toward a kind of memory-less speech which is already the speech of the People, of the non-subjective mass (or of the generalized subject), even if I am still separated from it, working compulsively in isolation.
I could’ve wrote to you about all of this when I started the project but I needed some practice first.  I’m so grateful to be doing it now.