Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Art of Memory - 2

Me, Myself and I: Autobiography.

Readings are:
Barthes, R. "Deliberation", The Rustle of Language (trans. Richard Howe), Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986, pp 359-373.
Calle, S. " The Detective", Double Game, London: Violette, 2007, pp 122-139.

For every set of readings we have to hand in a Question or Comment to prove that we did read and think.

The Detective:
"In April 1981, at my request, my mother went to a detective agency. She hired them to follow me, to report my daily activities, and to provide photographic evidence of my existence." Sophie Calle. 
This work consists of:
-The brief and basic facts of the Artist's movements on that day make up the written report which is accompanied by photographs from the private eye.
- the Artist's own more detailed and personal account of the same day.
- Some photographs and notes from a friend of the artist who takes a photo of the Private eye doing his job following Sophie.

I think of the difference between how we see ourselves from the outside and the inside. I can recognise a friend from how they hold a coffee cup or the way they walk but I would never be able to see this in myself. I am generally unaware of my own identifying mannerism's.


·        If Roland Barthes had access to the instant publishing of today’s blogging world, would he still be pondering "Is it worth the trouble?" This thought leads me to suspect that his question is more about his own frustration with Journal writing rather than the question of the literary validity of the genre.

The keyword here (if I may quote Woody Allen's Annie Hall) for this aptly named essay is, self- indulgent. My first impulse was to utter "For god's sake Roland just shut up!" That is perhaps not the intelligent level of discourse that our lecturer is looking for.

In "Deliberation" M. Barthes gives excessive consideration to whether he ought to write a journal or not. He also doubtfully wonders if the few attempts that he has made in the past would be publishable. Barthes gives the reader four sound reasons why a journal could be of literary interest but then cites Kafka's Journal as the only one of worth, and therefore damning all others. For the main part of the essay he labours the inadequacies of journal writing as he attempts to pin down it's literary status. It may be, because of his poor opinion of "The Journal", that he does not give 'his' journal the full efforts of his usual writing practice and is subsequently disappointed with the outcome.

Barthes includes 2 of his journal writing efforts (sneakily publishing them despite his insecurity of their worth) to illustrate some of his arguments and to convince me that he really shouldn't publish his diary. I agree however, from personal experience, with one of his sentiments on the power of the journal entry to act as a highly effective and evocative memory hook.
"(rereading: this bit gave me distinct pleasure, so vividly did it revive the sensations of that evening; but curiously, in reading it over, what I remembered best was what was not written,..)"
 M. Barthes' queries "Is it worth the trouble?" Well if it feels like trouble, then don't bother, but if he had kept one, i'm sure there would be some who would want to read it, perhaps for an academic research on his life or maybe comparatively to other French philosophers of the time.

I also think about the way we create a persona by our selection of what we write in a journal, after all, everything would be tiresome to the writer and reader. The memory hook operation only works for the writer as the public reader has no access to the memories that blossom from the reading of a few words.

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