Why do critics . . . periodically proclaim their helplessness or their lack of understanding? It is certainly not out of modesty. [. . .]Related: "We lack jouissance"
. . . one believes oneself to have such sureness of intelligence that acknowledging an inability to understand calls in question the clarity of the author and not that of one's own mind. [. . .]
The reality behind this seasonally professed lack of culture is the old obscurantist myth according to which ideas are noxious if they are not controlled by 'common sense' and 'feeling': Knowledge is Evil, they both grew on the same tree. [. . .] To be a critic by profession and to proclaim that one understands nothing about existentialism or Marxism (for as it happens, it is these two philosophies particularly that one confesses to be unable to understand) is to elevate one's blindness or dumbness to a universal rule of perception, and to reject from the world Marxism and existentialism: 'I don't understand, therefore you are idiots.'
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Noted: Roland Barthes
From "Blind and Dumb Criticism", in Mythologies: