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Power and Subjectivity in the Late Work of Roland Barthes and Pier Paolo Pasolini


Viola Brisolin

Roland Barthes and Pier Paolo Pasolini were two of the most eclectic cultural personalities of the past century, as elusive as they were influential. Despite the glaring differences between them, they also shared a number of preoccupations, obsessions and creative approaches. Certain themes recur insistently in the works of both men: the pervasiveness of power and the violence inherent in the modernising process; the possibility of freedom and subjective autonomy; and the role of creative practices in a society configured as a desert of alienation. Despite this common ground, no systematic attempt at reading the two authors together has been made before now. This book explores this uncharted territory by comparing these two intellectual figures, focusing in particular on the similarities and productive tensions that emerge in their late works. Psychoanalysis plays a key role in the articulation of this comparison.


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Contents Acknowledgements vii List of Abbreviations ix Introduction 1 Chapter 1 On Power, History and Mourning 19 Pasolini’s ‘Industrial Entropy’: Historical Break and the Totality of Power 19 ‘Le langage est un huis clos’: The Totality of Power/Language According to Barthes 50 Power, Ideology and the Return of the Past: A Critique and a Defence 78 Chapter 2 Two Versions of Sade 89 Interpretations of Sade: On the (Im)materiality of Fantasies of Violence 89 An Endless Obligation 94 ‘Il lager dove tutto è trasgressione’ 106 Sade Unbound? The Logothete 115 Repetition, Invention, Suspension 125 Chapter 3 From Jouissance to Suspension 137 Introduction 137 Porcile and the Ethics of Jouissance 140 Le Plaisir du texte: Pleasure, Jouissance and Suspension 159 vi Chapter 4 Deadly Attachments: Love and Grief 179 The Subject as Monad. Love and Trauma 179 Pasolini’s Personal and Cultural Mourning: The Obdurate Attachement to Grief 195 Mourning the Living and the Dead. From Acedia to the Quest for a Vita nuova 210 Mourning and Creativity 218 Chapter 5 The Novel: Project, Fantasy, Violence 227 Towards the Novel 227 Ideal Ego, Ego-ideal and Montage 235 On Petrolio 249 Conclusion: In Praise of Montage and Completion 267 Afterword 273 Bibliography 275 Index 291

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