Power’s jargon and texts. “Le plaisir du texte” of Roland Barthes
« …nous sommes tous pris dans la vérité des langages, c’est-à-dire dans leur régionalité, entraînés dans la formidable rivalité qui règle leur voisinage. Car chaque parler (chaque fiction) combat pour l’hégémonie; s’il a le pouvoir pour lui, il s’étend partout dans le courant et le quotidien de la vie sociale, il devient doxa, nature : c’est le parler prétendûment apolitique des hommes politiques, des agents de l’État, c’est celui de la presse, de la radio, de la télévision, c’est celui de la conversation; mais même hors du pouvoir, contre lui, la rivalité renaît, les parlers se fractionnent, luttent entre eux. Une impitoyable topique règle la vie du langage; le langage vient toujours de quelque lieu, il est topos guerrier.»
(The English translation)
“For each jargon (each fiction) fights for hegemony; if power is on its side, it spreads everywhere in the general and daily occurrences of social life, it becomes doxa, nature: this is the supposedly apolitical jargon of politicians, of agents of the State, of the media, of conversation; but even out of power, even when power is against it, the rivalry is reborn, the jargons split and struggle among themselves. A ruthless topic rules the life of language; language always comes from some place, it is a warrior topos.”
Thus Roland Barthes describes relation between Power and Jargon: how Power’s discourse becomes doxa, how Power (or Centre as place of power) runs its own discourse to embrace all places appropriated and dominated by it. Every power (ergo every centre) has its own jargon: this jargon can be inscribed on the space appropriated by this power. City-text is but one of many dimensions under which power’s jargon can be written on space.
Roland Barthes’ Le plaisir du texte is not only a small book on literary theory and semiotics. It is also an exercise on relations and correlations between power, literature, pleasure, jouissance (a double meaning in French: joy and orgasm), erotism, and text. This book is a pleasure: Roland Barthes tries to theorise pleasure and jouissance of and by and in the text. Roland Barthes, by his amazing metaphors and wordplays can convince us that he does theory and practice of pleasure/jouissance in his texts (Are not “text” and “sex” to be linked in Barthes’ experience?). We cannot be sure as we do not know the very details of Barthes’ intimate life and encounters. But one thing is sure: his thoughts on relation between power and text, between what is exceptional and “inexpressible” and what is “writable” are of a great inspiration and will always be a source of fascination for text lovers.
Barthes Roland, 1982, Le plaisir du texte, 89p.