“… torn between two languages, one expressive, the other critical…*

Image: René Magritte: “The Lovers” Paris, 1928. MoMA: “The device of a draped cloth or veil to conceal a figure’s identity corresponds to a larger Surrealist interest in masks, disguises, and what lies beyond or beneath visible surfaces.”

*It was better…to make my protestation of singularity into a virtue – to try making what Nietzsche called the “ego’s ancient sovereigntyinto an heuristic principle.”

from: Camera Lucida (La Chambre Claire) (1980) by Roland Barthes.

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher and cultural critic who published intensively in the 1870s and 1880s. He is famous for uncompromising criticisms of traditional European morality and religion, as well as of conventional philosophical ideas and social and political pieties associated with modernity. Many of these criticisms rely on psychological diagnoses that expose false consciousness infecting people’s received ideas; for that reason, he is often associated with a group of late modern thinkers (including Marx and Freud) who advanced a “hermeneutics of suspicion” against traditional values (see Foucault [1964] 1990, Ricoeur [1965] 1970, Leiter 2004).”

Rita Felski writes, in “Suspicious Minds” Poetics Today 32:2 (Summer 2011):

“…The hermeneutics of suspicion is a phrase coined by Paul Ricoeur, who famously identified Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud as the founders of a “school of suspicion,” the primary architects of a distinctively modern style of interpretation that is driven by a desire to demystify, an adamant refusal to take words at face value. In spite of their many differences, Ricoeur (1970: 32) argues, these thinkers share a common commitment to reducing “the illusions and lies of consciousness.” What drives such a hermeneutic is the conviction that appearances are deceptive, that texts do not grace- fully relinquish their meanings, that manifest content shrouds darker, more unpalatable truths. It is a mode of interpretation that adopts a distrustful attitude toward texts in order to draw out meanings or implications that are not intended and that remain inaccessible to their authors as well as to ordinary readers. In his argument, Ricoeur develops a key distinction between a hermeneutics of trust, which is driven by a sense of reverence and goes deeper into the text in search of revelation, and a hermeneutics of suspicion, which adopts an adversarial sensibility to probe for concealed, repressed, or disavowed meanings (ibid.: 9). The difference between these approaches, we might say, is the difference between unveiling and unmasking…”

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