May 22, More Barthes- A Sovereign Innocence

  “ I studied the little girl and at last rediscovered my mother. The distinctness of her face, the naive attitude of her hands, the place she had docilely taken without either showing or hiding herself, and finally her expression, which distinguished her, like Good from Evil, from the hysterical little girl, from the simpering doll who plays at being a grownup- all this constituted the figure of a sovereign innocence (if you will take this word according to its etymology, which is”: “ I do no harm”), all this had transformed the photographic pose into that untenable paradox which she nonetheless maintained all her life:  the assertion of a gentleness. In this little girl’s image I saw the kindness which had formed her being immediately and forever, without her having inherited it from anyone; how could this kindness have proceeded from the imperfect parents who loved her so badly-in short: from a family? Her kindness was specifically out-of-play, it belonged to no system, or at least it was located at the limits of a morality (evangelical, for instance); I could not define it better than by this feature (among others): that during the whole of our life together, she never made a single “observation”. This extreme and particular circumstance, so abstract in relation to an image, was nonetheless present in the face revealed in the photograph I had just discovered. “Not a just image, just an image” Goddard says. But my grief wanted a just image: an image which would be both justice and accuracy- justesse: just an image, but a just image. Such for me, was the Winter Garden Photograph.”

-Roland Barthes

 Camera Lucida

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