Barthes | Miria 101 | The other on the paper

So, Roland Barthes wrote “Camera Lucida” in 1980, the version I have is translated by Richard Howard and includes a foreword by Geoff Dyer.

I was told by a faculty member that this here reference, in his words is “Miria 101”, this made me laugh as I had not read this book ever but a few fellow MFA peers knew what it was all about.  I was told to read this book in inches, meaning section by section as it could get a little confusing, so I took it real slow… Actually, I must be honest I never read the whole book – I flipped randomly through chapters, jotted down notes and in result this blog post is probably going to be as confusing as the actual book! So here it goes, straight out of my visual diary..



Translation by Richard Howard | Forward by Geoff Dyer

“Camera Lucida is a glimpse of the world as rendered by a master stylist; as such, it offers a version of the pleasures derived from the best discursive fiction.”

discursive: digressing from subject, relating to discourse or modes of discourse.

Determining a new mode of “observation”.. (life consists of these little touches of solitude).  Ontological (desire) – the nature of being, things that have existed. Photography in opposition to cinema, there is no difference!

Barthes distributions of photography include:

empirical – professionals/amateurs

rhetorical – landscapes/objects/portraits/nudes

aesthetic – realism/pictorialism

“the object without relation to its’ essence.”

antiphon: a short sentence sung or recited after a psalm or canticle

deictic: word/expression dependent on content – here, you, me

Barthes two experiences:

observing subject & that of subject observing – being observed – not knowing and can never speak of the experience | “being photographed” to Barthes is considered as “posing” – changes perspective.

“instantaneously making another body for myself” “transforming myself into an image”

referent: from what is represents

impasse: a situation in which no progress is possible, a dead-lock

eidolon: idealized person or thing

stenope: pinhole

Barthes believes the photograph “creates his body and mortifies it” – “altering the precious essence of my individuality: what I am apart from an effigy.”

mortify: practice self-denial, held within limits and control, caused to feel shame

effigy: a representation of person – usually in the form of a sculpture

Titian, Tiziano Vecillio: Old master of The Veteran School (1490-1576)

Visions of the double – hallucinosis – mythic themes, mythic heritage

How Barthes, sometimes looks at himself.. | randomly, objects end up suffer surgical operations – haha

Sensations of inauthentic/imposture – pretending to be someone else


For Barthes said, “time is not sad.. “i love bells, clocks and watches”, he relates this to his memory of cabinet making, “in the photographic mechanism of the living sound of wood.”

Do photographs please Barthes?.. they “exist” to him, well some.. – banality/pedestrian & consequences of culture..

punctum: a small point or area

Back to the term referent – “not the optionally real thing to which an image or sign refers but the necessarily real things which has been placed before the lens – without which there would be no photograph.”

The super-imposition of reality and past; the thing that has been there.. the essence, the noeme of Photography.

noeme: meaning or thought or what is thought about

Basically Barthes efforts to share his perspective and modes of observation, using photography – his own reflections, many different accounts, very personal – he ultimately created himself “a history of looking”..

“photography permits drawing an object through a prism.. on the eye of a model, the other on the paper..


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