Mary Bittner Wiseman
The Ecstasies of Roland Barthes
Titel: The Ecstasies of Roland Barthes, 1989
ISBN-10: ISBN-10: 0-415-01058-6
ISBN-13: ISBN-13: 978-0-415-01058-0
Roland Barthes is an experimenter in imagination whose laboratory is himself and whose experiments, in particular those of his last decade, undermine traditional conceptions of the subject self. Mary Bittner Wiseman interprets Barthes's experiments as efforts to reposition the human subject with respect to language and to time in order to let the subject escape from the language of a particular culture and the present time. The escapes are ecstasies: one is achieved in writerly reading, where the reader both accepts and rejects received meanings; the other in being touched by the past reality of photographed objects or by 'certain old and lovely things', which are abstract and out of date. The first ecstasy inaugurates a post-structuralism, the second a postmodernism. With them Barthes begins the serious game of conceptual remapping, the same game played by Socrates and Descartes in their refusal to inherit the beliefs and values of their traditions.
With her insistent pushing against the boundaries of our standard academic assumptions, Mary Bittner Wiseman succeeds in interpreting Barthes's effort to join the traditional and the new. She clarifies the inner dynamics of his career and focuses on the project governing his last works, combining an acute sense of his individual achievement with a clear grasp of how he represents significant cultural movements.
Mary Bittner Wiseman is Professor of Philosophy at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York