Empire of Signs by Roland Barthes

By Roland Barthes

With this publication, Barthes deals a broad-ranging meditation at the tradition, society, artwork, literature, language, and iconography--in brief, either the sign-oriented realities and fantasies--of Japan itself.

"If Japan didn't exist, Barthes might have needed to invent it--not that Japan does exist in Empire of symptoms, for Barthes is cautious to show that he's no longer studying the genuine Japan, there is not any negative innerness as within the West, no soul, no God, no destiny, no ego, no grandeur, no metaphysics, no 'promotional fever' and at last no that means . . . For Barthes Japan is a try, a problem to imagine the unthinkable, a spot the place which means is eventually banished. Paradise, certainly, for the nice pupil of signs." --Edmund White, the hot York instances ebook assessment

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Journey co the purchase, from the garment tO fuod: a train can open omo a shoe stalL Dedicated co commeree, co rransitivn, co deparrure, and yet kept in a unique struerure, the station (moreover, is that whar this new complex shüuld be called)) is stripped of that sacred character which ordinarily qualifies the major landmarks of our cities: eathedrals, town halls, historical monumems. ts concentration; one might say that it is only thc prcp

36 LR , '~de:J. iIU tabuA "I j ~ f. L hc ~ fKt-t. 'n, placed on ehe raeher empry map (ehe sereers are nor named) like a news flash; ir assurnes rh ar srrongly signifying idenriry wh ich Prousr, in his fashion, has explored in his Place Names. If the neighbvrhood is quite Iimired, dense, contained, terminared beneatlt its name, ir is because ie has a center, bur this center is spirirually empry: usually it is astation. The station, a vast organism which houses ehe big erains, the urban trains, ehe subway, a deparrmem score, and a whole underground commerce-the starion gives rhe disrricr this landmark whieh, aceording co cerrain urbanists, permirs the ciry tü signify, co be read.

Anonymity is compensated fOt by a certain number of expedients (at least this is how they look to us), whose combination forms a system. One can figure Out the address by a (written or printed ) schema of orientation, a kind of r gcographical summary whICh situares the domieile stdning from a known landmark, a train station, for instanee. (The inhabitants exeel in these impromptu drawings, where we see bcing sketehcd, right on the scrap of paper, a street, an apartment house, a eanal, a railroad Jine, a shop sign, makmg the exchange of addresses inro a delieate eommunieation in whieh a life of the body, an an of the graphie gesrure reeurs: it is always enjoyable ro wateh someone write, all the more so ro wateh someone draw: from eaeh oeeasiun when some­ one has given me an address in this \Vay, I retain the gesture of my interloeuror reversing his peneil ro rub out, with the eraser at its other end, the exeessive eurve of an avenue, the interseetion of a viaduet; though the eraser is an übjeet eonrrary ro the graphie tradition of Japan, rhis gesturc ~till Addrcss book :-sL-;i~J L: ' .

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