Reflection: I personally struggled to apportion time last week to post up my comments, which perhaps also meant a fairly quiet week! It is a pity as the lecture materials last week, particularly the account of ‘The Active of the Neutral’, provide very lucid views on the Neutral. I posted up a series of quotes from the text in an attempt to distil these views, which perhaps we’ll still find useful to return to as we proceed. Also an interesting point was raised regarding the role of ritual in the Neutral – something which might play into this week’s reading too…
Session of April 1, 2011 (Pages 94-106 : Supplement V / Consciousness)
This is the last week prior to a three week break for Easter and conveniently we have reached a half-way point in the text. This week just one figure, on Consciousness, which marks a return to Barthes’ interest in states or behaviours which suspend conflict, rather than discourse. Thus, as he states, consciousness here does not relate to ‘conscience’ in the moral sense, but, as he points it, in a ‘classic-psychological’ sense and to recall <i>conscientia</i>:
“Consciousness”: to know as a couple by oneself, to be composed, as one, of two complicit subjects: the knowledge of each rests on the knowledge of the other: knowledge reinforced, tied, powerful, overpowering (≠ invalidates the view of consciousness as a unitary state)
In the main the figure picks up upon writings about the effects of drugs, particularly with references to Baudelaire, Benjamin and Blanchot. It presents two phases: (1) ‘The intellectualist hyperconsciousness; and (2) hyperconsciousness ‘insofar as it stands out against an affective background’. In addition, the lecture is prefaced with a further supplment text, which reflects on previous figures, including Ideospheres, and in which Barthes challenges his own previous way of seeing things (‘the absence of ideology degree zero, the ideological Neutral as idyllic’), with the suggestive ‘picture of the absence of ideology as barbarism’.