Wednesday, 11 November 2015

In which I deconstruct my love for you...

There is no law, whether natural or not, which forbids talking about things.
Roland Barthes, Mythologies

Barthes says that myth is a type of speech, then goes on to explain what he means by speech (an image can be speech). Everything, pretty much, can be myth: this is where I got the idea that myth is a story with meaning (as opposed to being a bunch of nonsense, or a story for kids, or an easy way to dismiss anything that I don't accept).

Barthes uses red roses as an example: I use them to signify my passion. Then he breaks it down, to show how the roses have been   passionified.

Here are some lovely red roses, just for you. Barthes divides the experience of the roses (let's not get into whether ceci n'est pas une rose) into two parts: the experiential level and the analytical. The experiential part is being in the world and seeing the roses - and feeling the emotional rush that I hope they bring, smelling them, seeing them - and the analytical part, which is a bit like sitting in Morpheus' ship and watching the roses as information on a screen.

You know what, I've just remembered, I have given real roses to people and they have appeared not to know what I was trying to say. Because I consider giving someone roses (with a big shit-eating grin) to be telling a story, a myth. And that story is I love you

Barthes says the roses are a sign. He's obviously wrong about that - a sign has less flexible interpretations, and if my rose giving has been repeated read in different ways (ranging from he's a bit creepy to what a nice gesture), it can't have the weight that Barthes reckons a sign has. 

Wait, I think I'm getting lost in romantic bitterness, again.

Okay, I am giving you some roses, and this is a myth. The myth is communicated by the associations of the roses. Myth is about communicating. I am communicating the stirrings of my libido. Or maybe the love of which I speak is a yearning to share higher experiences with you, like Plato says. They are red, the colour of blood, of passion, of desire, of Eros...

I'm assuming that we share a language, a mode of speech, in which red is sexy and roses correspond to desire and if I had gone for white roses, the desire would mean something else, but red, look, it's libidinal, for Aphrodite's sake are you getting the message?

If these roses were to decay and we could see things as they are and not through a glass darkly then perhaps they would dissolve into remains of a physical object and a detritus of the passion promised by the myth, which is made by the shared mode of speech, implied in bud and colour and not existing except on that higher plain, the analytical one where Barthes sits and reads, sits and judges.


Well, I though it was nice gesture, and a bit easier than actually saying the words. No, I haven't got any wriggle room to back down, but I'm also saying I'm the kind of person who gives you roses, and wouldn't it be nice to hang out with that kind of person? I am weighting the roses with meaning. The rose is a sign that points to me. 

Whatever. Anyone want to buy some roses? I've got some going cheap.

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