Showing posts with label linguaphilia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label linguaphilia. Show all posts

4 Feb 2016

Carry On Cruising

Unless one happens to be aboard a ship, the term cruising is usually understood in its urban-erotic sense - appropriated from gay slang - to refer to the random quest for anonymous, casual sex partners. 

But for homotextuals, the word has a further meaning given to it by Roland Barthes, who considers reading and writing primarily in terms of enjoyment freed from any moralizing imperatives.

Thus, for Barthes, cruising is a notion that can easily be transferred from the erotic realm to the literary arena, becoming in the process a search not for strange bodies as such, but certain surprising features of the text that might give pleasure in the blissful, perverse sense that effects a loss of subjective consistency.

Cruising, writes Barthes, is the voyage of desire. The amorous reader and lover of language is always on the lookout for chance encounters and to experience that first-time feeling: “As if the first time possessed an unheard-of privilege: that of being withdrawn from all repetition.”

This, above all, is the key: cruising is an act that might obsessively repeat itself, but it’s absolutely opposed to the cosy and reassuring return of the same; of convention, of stereotype, and of the ready-made self in all its staleness.

See: 'Twenty Key Words for Roland Barthes', from an interview by Jean-Jacques Brochier (Feb 1975), trans. by Linda Coverdale in Roland Barthes, The Grain of the Voice, (University of California Press, 1991), pp. 205-32. The line quoted is on p. 231.