Lovers’ Discord (Explorations of Barthes)

“Love” is, along with “Art”, “Being”, “Freedom” and a host of other words is one of the most difficult concepts to completely describe in any language. But I find myself more curious as to Barthe’s experiences with love than on his writings on love. While the two of these are not doubt intrinsically connected, I think that we can question both of these in order to further explore the tenuous, occasionally tenebrous and seemingly-paradoxical facets of “love” in writing, or in general.
Despite the poetic nature of Barthe’s work that we have read, he remains in my eyes a bit of an anti-poet, ironically. He suggests that writing in the spirit of Love will, inevitably, convey either too much (and thus not be “true” or trusted) or convey too little (which fails to properly communicate the level of “love” felt from one to another). This is, in my opinion, an incredibly pessimistic view of writing, or communication of love in general. However, the small and perhaps overly-logical voice of myself that lingers in the back of my mind who has collected at least some negative impressions on the idea of “love” tells me not to think that Barthe’s suggestion about the impossibility of translating love into words or ever communicating it fully and without distortion in any sort is entirely incorrect.

When discussing the nature of language’s failure to convey “things” I am always reminded of the story of the Tower of Babel. Perhaps Barthe’s wish, or fear, is that if everyone was able to communicate perfectly, then one of the things that people would have done before the confusion of tongues destroyed the Adamical language is to speak so clearly they could find their perfect love (If one were to take any of that “soulmate” business seriously.) or to accomplish a goal or achievement that is so perfect it would be indescribable.

So I question, is Barthe only sublimely frustrated with love’s complexities, or does he lack belief in it in general? I can’t rightly say I judge either way, although the section of his work that states “What do I think of Love? As a matter of fact, I think nothing at all of love. I’d be glad to know what it is…” (Barthe, 59) suggests that one of those two possibilities are possible. One area of his writing on love that I find conspicuously absent among all the nods to Greek words in his piece is the lack of mention to “agape”, the Greek term for love that is not possessive or desirable in any unhealthy manner. I wonder and question if agape, or that type of love, is transmittable at all through writing, or if it only exists in a existential cloud that is understood only by those “in it” at the time.

Still, I think that the importance of writing to a love-object is that there is an attempt in the first place, despite the discord between what is meant and what is understood. A notion that entirely escapes Barthe, as far as I can tell, despite the clear sincerity that he conveys that he does indeed love things and wishes to do so.
Nothing would be done without attempts. I would suggest that there is the necessity of “repeated attempts” to reaffirm and build any love feelings between two parties, and perhaps this apparently “horrid duality” of saying either too much or too little is -necessary- to human communication and existence as we know it. I’m not sure whether Barthe would agree with me, or if I’d just ruffle his feathers proposing this.


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