Saturday, September 05, 2009

The gesture of a dandy

From Roland Barthes' essay "Cy Twombly: Works on Paper," in The Responsibility of Forms, trans. Richard Howard:
Through TW's work, the germs of writing proceed from the greatest rarity to a swarming multiplicity: a kind of graphic pruritus. In its tendency, then, writing becomes culture. When writing bears down, explodes, pushes toward the margins, it rejoins the idea of the Book. The Book which is potentially present in TW's work is the old Book, the annotated Book: a super-added word invades the margins, the interlinea: this is the gloss. When TW writes and repeats this one word: Virgil, it is already a commentary on Virgil, for the name, inscribed by hand, not only calls up a whole idea (though an empty one) of ancient culture but also "operates" a kind of citation: that of an era of bygone, calm, leisurely, even decadent studies: English preparatory schools, Latin verses, desks, lamps, tiny pencil annotations. That is culture for TW: an ease, a memory, an irony, a posture, the gesture of a dandy.

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