Taking signs for what they are: Roland Barthes, Chris Marker and the pleasure of ‘Texte Japon’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract

This chapter focuses first on the pleasure that Roland Barthes and French filmmaker Chris Marker derived from their reception of Japanese ‘signs’ in the 1960s and 70s. It argues that in Empire of Signs (1970), Barthes tends to perceive and present Japan as a fragmented text whose signs he cannot fully understand. Likewise, in Marker’s unclassifiable film Sunless (1982) and photo-text Le Dépays (The Un-Country, 1982), Japan appears as a succession of still and moving icons that trigger and at the same time resist interpretation (by Westerners). Barthes and Marker’s encounter with this fascinating – and largely fantasized – Japanese ‘text’ prompted them to develop a reflection on the very readability of signs, taking into account their concrete, visual dimension. ‘Exempted of meaning’ and irreducible to a set of fixed significations from the perspective of Western readers, Japanese signs are praised for their ‘fleshiness’ and signifiance (i.e. ‘meaning, insofar as it is sensually produced’ according to Barthes) , which becomes the basis of a singular ethics, aesthetics and eventually erotics of seeing/reading – but also writing and filming – guided by a search for pleasure.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Pleasure in/of the Text
Subtitle of host publicationAbout the Joys and Perversities of Reading
EditorsFabien Arribert-Narce, Endo Fuhito, Kamila Pawlikowska
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherPeter Lang
Chapter6
Pages107-127
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781789977271
ISBN (Print)9781789977004
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sep 2021

Publication series

NameEuropean Connections: Studies in Comparative Literature, Intermediality and Aesthetics
Volume43
ISSN (Print)1424-3792

Keywords

  • Roland Barthes
  • Japan

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  • Introduction

    Arribert-Narce, F., Endo, F. & Pawlikowska, K., 24 Sep 2021, The Pleasure in/of the Text: About the Joys and Perversities of Reading. Arribert-Narce, F., Endo, F. & Pawlikowska, K. (eds.). Oxford: Peter Lang, p. 1-11 10 p. (European Connections: Studies in Comparative Literature, Intermediality and Aesthetics; vol. 43).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution

  • The Pleasure in/of the Text: About the Joys and Perversities of Reading

    Arribert-Narce, F. (ed.), Endo, F. (ed.) & Pawlikowska, K. (ed.), 24 Sep 2021, Oxford: Peter Lang. 181 p. (European Connections: Studies in Comparative Literature, Intermediality and Aesthetics; vol. 43)

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

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