Quotes from Mythologies

Roland Barthes ·  160 pages

Rating: (11.1K votes)


“We know that the war against intelligence is always waged in the name of common sense.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“What I claim is to live to the full the contradiction of my time, which may well make sarcasm the condition of truth.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“I think that cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals; I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“A light without shadow generates an emotion without reserve.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“To see someone who does not see is the best way to be intensely aware of what he does not see.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies



“Justice is always ready to lend you a spare brain in order to condemn you without a second thought”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“This book has two determinants: on the one hand, an ideological critique of the language of so-called mass culture; on the other, an initial semiological dismantling of that language: I had just read Saussure and emerged with the conviction that by treating “collective representations” as sign systems one might hope to transcend pious denunciation and instead account in detail for the mystification which transforms petit bourgeois culture into a universal nature.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“[T]he most repugnant bastard there is: the bastard-octopus.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“The cultural work done in the past by gods and epic sagas is now done by laundry-detergent commercials and comic-strip character”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“In wrestling, nothing exists unless it exists totally, there is no symbol, no allusion, everything is given exhaustively; leaving nothing in shadow, the gesture severs every parasitical meaning and ceremonially presents the public with a pure and full signification, three dimensional, like Nature. Such emphasis is nothing but the popular and ancestral image of the perfect intelligibility of reality. What is enacted by wrestling, then, is an ideal intelligence of things, a euphoria of humanity, raised for a while out of the constitutive ambiguity of everyday situations and installed in a panoramic vision of a univocal Nature, in which signs finally correspond to causes without obstacle, without evasion, and without contradiction.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies



“To instil into the Established Order the complacent portrayal of its drawbacks has nowadays become a paradoxical but incontrovertible means of exalting it.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“A film, The Lost Continent, throws a clear light on the current myth of exoticism. It is a big documentary on 'the East', the pretext of which is some undefined ethnographic expedition, evidently false, incidentally, led by three or four Italians into the Malay archipelago. The film is euphoric, everything in it is easy, innocent. Our explorers are good fellows, who fill up their leisure time with child-like amusements: they play with their mascot, a little bear (a mascot is indispensable in all expeditions: no film about the polar region is without its tame seal, no documentary on the tropics is without its monkey), or they comically upset a dish of spaghetti on the deck. Which means that these good people, anthropologists though they are, don't bother much with historical or sociological problems. Penetrating the Orient never means more for them than a little trip in a boat, on an azure sea, in an essentially sunny country. And this same Orient which has today become the political centre of the world we see here all flattened, made smooth and gaudily coloured like an old-fashioned postcard.
The device which produces irresponsibility is clear: colouring the world is always a means of denying it (and perhaps one should at this point begin an inquiry into the use of colour in the cinema). Deprived of all substance, driven back into colour, disembodied through the very glamour of the 'images', the Orient is ready for the spiriting away which the film has in store for it. What with the bear as a mascot and the droll spaghetti, our studio anthropologists will have no trouble in postulating an Orient which is exotic in form, while being in reality profoundly similar to the Occident, at least the Occident of spiritualist thought. Orientals have religions of their own? Never mind, these variations matter very little compared to the basic unity of idealism. Every rite is thus made at once specific and eternal, promoted at one stroke into a piquant spectacle and a quasi-Christian symbol.
...If we are concerned with fisherman, it is not the type of fishing which is whown; but rather, drowned in a garish sunset and eternalized, a romantic essense of the fisherman, presented not as a workman dependent by his technique and his gains on a definite society, but rather as the theme of an eternal condition, in which man is far away and exposed to the perils of the sea, and woman weeping and praying at home. The same applies to refugees, a long procession of which is shown at the beginning, coming down a mountain: to identify them is of course unnecessary: they are eternal essences of refugees, which it is in the nature of the East to produce.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


“Robar a un hombre su lenguaje en nombre del propio lenguaje: todos los crímenes legales comienzan así.”
― Roland Barthes, quote from Mythologies


About the author

Roland Barthes
Born place: in Cherbourg, France
Born date November 12, 1915
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