There is no Country but childhood’s (Yes, I stole that from Barthes)

Posted: June 12, 2012 in On Beauty
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Recently, after being reminded about how much I like Roland Barthes book “A Lovers Discourse” (See my post on “The Marriage Plot“) I was re-reading another of Barthes’ little gems, “Incidents“. The beauty of one particular statement blew me away. In the essay called “The Light of the Sud-Ouest” Barthes says: “For to read a country is first of all to perceive it in terms of the body and of memory, in terms of the body’s memory”… “That is why childhood is the royal road by which we know a country best. Ultimately, there is no Country but childhood’s“. It reminded me of how much I disliked Los Angeles when I lived there but how, now that I’m older, I seem to have so many good memories of it. More than the concept, though, is how much I liked (man… I’m going to regret saying this) the pleasure of the text; just the sheer beauty of the words. For some reason, those few words struck me as almost unbearably beautiful. Each of the 4 essays in this tiny volume has at least one or 2 such beautiful tidbits. Unlike much of the convolution in Barthes other works, this book is easy to read, easy to understand, and simply lovely prose. Since I’ve had a lot of hits on my other posts about writers, I just thought I should share that.

While I’m thinking about childhood and beautiful prose, it’s time to settle in and read the newly released Kindle edition of the original French edition of “Le Petit Prince”. Can’t read Barthes in French; but a nice kids book on ‘Matters of Consequence”, along with a tasty single malt sounds like a reasonable alternate plan!

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