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Roland Barthes: J’aime, Je n’aime pas 1975

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Roland Barthes 1975 J'aime

Roland Barthes 1975


Interesting to note that Roland Barthes’ (12 November 1915 – 26 March 1980) “anarchic foam of tastes and distastes” is contemporaneous with You’re Gonna Wake Up. No surprise then that J’aime, je n’aime pas became the starting point for updates and personal interpretations among list-loving binary-fixated bloggers from the mid-Noughties onwards.

Here is a translation of the Great Signifier’s original, complete with coda:

J’aime, je n’aime pas

I like: salad, cinnamon, cheese, pimento, marzipan, the smell of new-cut hay (why doesn’t someone with a “nose” make such a perfume?), roses, peonies, lavender, champagne, loosely held political convictions,Glenn Gould, too-cold beer, flat pillows, toast, Havana cigars, Handel, slow walks, pears, white peaches, cherries, colors, watches, all kinds of writing pens, desserts, unrefined salt, realistic novels, the piano, coffee, Pollock, Twombly, all romantic music, Sartre, Brecht, Verne, Fourier, Eisenstein, trains, Médoc wine, having change, Bouvard and Pécuchet, walking in sandals on the lanes of southwest France, the bend of the Adour seen from Doctor L.’s house, the Marx Brothers, the mountains at seven in the morning leaving Salamanca, etc.

I don’t like: white Pomeranians, women in slacks, geraniums, strawberries, the harpsichord, Miró, tautologies, animated cartoons, Arthur Rubinstein, villas, the afternoon, Satie, Bartók, Vivaldi, telephoning, children’s choruses, Chopin’s concertos, Burgundian branles and Renaissance dances, the organ, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, his trumpets and kettledrums, the politico-sexual, scenes, initiatives, fidelity, spontaneity, evenings with people I don’t know, etc.

I like, I do not like: it does not matter to anyone, and this apparently has no meaning. Yet, in this anarchic foam of tastes and distastes, a kind of listless blur, gradually appears the figure of a bodily enigma, requiring complicity or irritation. Here begins the intimidation of the body, which obliges others to endure me liberally, to remain silent and polite confronted by pleasures or rejections which they do not share.

(A fly bothers me, I kill it: you kill what bothers you. if I had not killed the fly, it would have been out of pure liberalism: I am liberal in order not to be a killer.)

By way of a bonus, here’s Barthes reading: