Barthes Simpson

JK, I wish there was a Roland Barthes/Bart Simpson mashup. There is a reference to such a thing in this Vice article about Simpsons books and zines. A Simpsons bibliography includes this depressed Simpsons comic that is eminently #relatable in these gruesome times (let’s be honest–in all times):

That is to say, I felt like an immature brat reading and annotating Barthes. In the same way technology breakdowns can make me both mad at whoever and self-hating for my own ignorance, laziness, or stupidity, I felt less valid attempting to read Barthes. Benito Cereno, too.

I “read” the whole Barthes piece and posted snarky annotations and tweets, I guess out of my frustration with how impenetrable I found the text to be. Maybe I should have really focused on the one or two paragraphs that touched on my chief interests in the piece: description and classification. Or maybe I should have sucked it up and studied the damn thing like a grad student. I may have claimed in my first blog post to be an overachiever, but like many driven people, my efforts come out of a fears of inadequacy and failure. I seriously don’t know how to tackle something like Barthes or how to read fiction I can’t get into.

As for Hypothes,is, however, I found it intuitive and fun. I’d like to be able to “like” other people’s annotations, but maybe I’m again showing my academic immaturity. The low-stakesness of the medium encourages my “playful” criticism, as Jeff generously put it, but I think I should fight that, if just to prove to myself that I can engage more seriously with a text. My goal for next week’s secondary readings will be close reading without snark. I can’t promise the same for Benito Cereno. I’m thirty pages in, and my most penetrating observation is that there are two captains on a boat and probably racism and colonialism in play.

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