Where to begin?

Hermaphrodite Serres Sarasin

This layered image completed in November 27, 2005 was part of a series of .psd images created with Adobe PhotoShop Creative Suite in response to a reading of Michel Serres’ L’Hermaphrodite. Sarrasine sculpteur (1987) which included the full novel by Honore de Balzac entitled Sarrasine (1830). I began collecting related images January 17, 2004 and made a first .psd entitled Serre-Hermes January 26, 2004. The next iteration on December 12, 2004 was entitled SarrazineSerresHermes which I reworked November 25, 2005. This “final” version was completed on October 26, 2006.

Michel Serres developed a philosophy of science that does not privilege a single authoritative account or metalanguage. To illustrate his methodology in his publication (1987) Hermaphrodite he used the figure of Hermes who moves back and forth between domains-maps.

Hermaphrodite Serres Sarasin


Semiology, the scientific method applied to uncovering meanings of texts, a discourse which encompasses the discourse of aesthetic, ethic or political ideology, is the most mobile of the sciences, with the most rapid evolution, whose theoretical language is outdated as soon as it becomes established.


750 BC. Homer.  “Illiad.” Ionia.

421-405 B.C Greek, Anonymous. “Caryatids of the Erechteum (Athena Polias).” Acropolis, Athens.

300 BC. Praxitele. “Hermes and Dionysos.” Musee d’Olympie.

18 BC Horace wrote Ars Poetica (Art/On the Nature of Poetry), “Epistula Ad Pisones”, “Letters to Piso.” was one of the earliest treatise on poetics in which he examines the devices of metalanguage such as techniques of rhetorics.  In Ars Poetica (18 BC) Horace used the Latin phrase deus ex machina (Latin for c. God in the machine) referring to the conventions in Greek tragedy of which he disapproved, where a mechanical crane mekhane or a trap door would be used to introduce actors playing God onto the stage from above or below the stage.

“While taking a morning stroll, Horace is joined by a mere acquaintance, who insists on accompanying him, hoping through closer intimacy to secure an introduction to Maecenas. The poet vainly endeavors to shake him off, and it is only when the man’s adversary in a lawsuit appears on the scene — a genuine deus ex machina — that Horace is rescued from his unhappy position. The delightful humour, the skilful dramatic treatment of the theme, and the poet’s well-estabhshed position in Maecenas’s circle which is assigned, indicate that this is one of the latest Satires, in point of composition, in the first book. It may be compared with the sixth Satire, in which Horace gives an account of his introduction to Maecenas [. . .] Either follow tradition or invent a consistent story. Achilles, Medea, Orestes, and so on must be portrayed as tliey are known to us in Greek literature, while new characters must be handled with a consistency of their own (1 19-127). It is hard to deal with general notions, such as anger, greed, and cowardice, so as to individualize them for yourself and you, my friend Piso, are quite right to dramatize some Homeric theme, where the characters introduced have well- known traits, rather than attempt something distinctly original. And yet, even in such public property as the Homeric epics you may win private rights by handling your material in an original fashion. Make a simple beginning, like that of the Odyssey, where the sequel becomes clearer and increases in brilliancy. Homer indulges in no lengthy introduction, but hurries on his narrative, omits what he cannot adorn, and never loses the thread of his story (128-152). If you want your play to succeed, you must study the “strange, eventful history” of human life, and note the characteristics of the several ages of man, so that the different periods may not be confused (153-178). Events may be set forth in action or, less preferably, in narrative. The latter method, however, must be used in the case of revolting and incredible incidents (179-188). A play should be in five acts. The deus ex machina should be employed only rarely, and there should never be more than three characters on the stage at one time (1 89-1 92). The Chorus should take a real part in the action; it should not sing anything irrelevant, and should promote the cause of morality and religion (193-201). As to the music, the flute was once a simple instrument, which accompanied the chorus, and was not expected to fill large theatres as nowadays. With the growth of wealth and luxury in the state, and the consequent deterioration in the taste and character of the audience, the music became more florid and sensational, the diction more artificial, and the sentiments more obscure and oracular (202-219). The satyric dramn, with its chorus of goat-footed fauns, which was devised for spectators in their lighter moods, naturally assumed a gay and frolicsome tone as compared with the serious tragedy from which it sprang, but this does not warrant a writer in permitting his gods and heroes to use vulgar speech, or on the other hand in allowing them to indulge in ranting. There should be a happy mean between the language of tragedy and that of comedy. I would aim at a familiar style, so that anyone might think it easy to write in that fashion, but on trying would find out his mistake. The rustic fauns must not talk like city wits, nor yet use such coarse language that they will give offence to the better part of an audience (220-250) (Full-text from www.archive.org).”

66–73 AD Titus Flavius Vespasianus (9AD – 79AD) was a Roman Emperor during the first Jewish-Roman War (66–73), or The Great Revolt. A coin was issued by the Jews in 68 with a Paleo-Hebrew alphabet saying “Shekel, Israel Year 3” and on the reverse: “Jerusalem the Holy. ”  In 71 AD gold coins called Vespasian sestertius, were struck by the Romans to celebrate a Roman victory in the Jewish-Roman War.  The coins inscribed Ivdaea Capta (Judea Captured) were issued throughout the Empire in order to demonstrate the futility of possible future rebellions. Judea was represented by a crying woman.  Then in c. 79 another Roman denarius was issued depicting  Titus Flavius Vespasianus c. 79. The reverse commemorates his triumph in the Judaean wars, representing a Jewish captive kneeling in front of a trophy of arms. In reference to the questionable sources of the wealthy M. de Lanty and the lack of curiosity by Parisian philosophers, politicians and wealthy women, Balzac noted that “In no other country [than France], perhaps, is Vespasian’s maxim more thoroughly understood. Here gold pieces, even when stained with blood or mud, betray nothing, and represent everything (Balzac 1830).”

117-138 CE A cult statue was made of Antinous carved in Parian marble during the reign of Hadrian (117-138 CE). It was in the temple of Apollo at Delphi and found there by archaeologists in 1893. It is now in the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.

1621 Jacques Sarrazin (1592-1660) created the Facade nymphaeum and Nymphaea Fountains in Frascati for his patron Ludovico Ludovisi (1595-1632).

1622 Bernini. 1622. “Apollo and Daphne.” Rome: Galleria Borghese.

1640 Ben Jonson  (1572-1637) translated Horace’s treatise on poetry Ars Poetica into English.

1647-52 Bernini. “The Ecstasy of Saint Therese.” Cappella Cornaro, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.

1667 Milton, John. 1667. Paradise Lost.

1764 English author Ann Radcliffe set her Gothic novel entitled The Italian or the Confessional of the Black Penitents (1797) in 1764. ” About the year 1764, some English travellers in Italy, during one of their excursions in the environs of Naples, happened to stop before the portico of the Santa Maria del Pianto, a church belonging to a very ancient convent of the order of the Black Penitents.” “It was in the church of San Lorenzo at Naples, in the year 1758, that Vincentio di Vivaldi first saw Ellena Rosalba.” In the beginning of the novel Ellena is told that a man seeking asylum in the Santa Maria del Pianto was an assassin.

1783 The first pioneering balloon flight was undertaken in France.

1797 Holderlin, Friedrich and Eric L. Santner. 1797. “Hyperion, oder der Eremit in Griechenland.”

1797 English author Ann Radcliffe (1764 – 1823) pioneer of gothic literature, published her three volume novel entitled The Italian. In Sarrasine Balzac compared the perpetual subject of curiosity of the enigmatic history of the Lanty family to the curiosity aroused by the novels of British author of gothic novels, Anne Radcliffe.

1819 Griodet de Roussy-Trioson, Anne-Louis. “Pygmalion et Galatée.”

1822 Honoré de Balzac published his novel entitled L’Héritière de Birague in which he parodied Ann Radcliffe novels. In Sarrasine Balzac compared the perpetual subject of curiosity of the enigmatic history of the Lanty family to the curiosity aroused by the novels of British author of gothic novels, Anne Radcliffe.

1830 Honore de Balzac (1799-1850) published Sarrasine.

[The story Sarrasine begins with a ball at the beautiful house owned by the elderly Monsieur de Lanty near the Elysee-Bourbon, a house that was sold to de Lanty ten years prior to the ball, during the Restoration by Marechal de Carigliano, one of the illustrious soldiers of the Empire. When our narrator begins to tell his story the clock on the Elysee-Bourbon had just struck midnight. The narrator surrounded by the wealthiest people in Paris, seemed aloof as he looked out over the trees in the garden, covered lightly with snow. The narrator’s guest was “one of the most fascinating women in Paris, a young and graceful dancer, with slender figure, a face as fresh as a child’s, all pink and white, and so fragile, so transparent, that it seemed that a man’s glance must pass through her as the sun’s rays pass through flawless glass. [She wore a] gauze dress, and the wreaths of flowers, and the hair, slightly crimped, and the floating ends of the sash.” Guests speculated about the wealth of Monsieur de Lanty: Was he as wealthy as Monsieur Nucingen or Monsieur de Gondreville? Where did he get his wealth?

A strange centarian, a gentleman in black who attended the fetes, concerts, balls, and routs given by the countess gave one of the female guests a chill as if he were a vampire, a ghoul, a sort of Faust or Robin des Bois, who “partook of the nature of all these anthropomorphic conceptions, according to those persons who were addicted to the fantastic” “chose to see in the stranger some great criminal, the possessor of enormous wealth.” Some called him a Genoese head, “a man upon whose life enormous sums depend, and whose good health is undoubtedly essential to the continuance of this family’s income.” “”I should not be surprised to learn that these people are knaves. That old fellow who keeps out of sight and appears only at the equinoxes or solstices, looks to me exactly like an assassin.” “Or a bankrupt.” “There’s very little difference. To destroy a man’s fortune is worse than to kill the man himself.” “I remember that I once heard a mesmerist, at Madame d’Espard’s, undertake to prove by very specious historical deductions, that this old man, if put under the magnifying glass, would turn out to be the famous Balsamo, otherwise called Cagliostro. According to this modern alchemist, the Sicilian had escaped death, and amused himself making gold for his grandchildren. And the Bailli of Ferette declared that he recognized in this extraordinary personage the Comte de Saint-Germain.” “Only Filippo, Marianina, Madame de Lanty, and an old servant enjoyed the privilege of assisting the unknown to walk, to rise, to sit down. Each one of them kept a close watch on his slightest movements. It seemed as if he were some enchanted person upon whom the happiness, the life, or the fortune of all depended. Was it fear or affection?” ” If Madame de Lanty were not present, the Count would employ a thousand ruses to reach his side; but it always seemed as if he found difficulty in inducing him to listen, and he treated him like a spoiled child, whose mother gratifies his whims and at the same time suspects mutiny.” “Escaped from his chamber, like a madman from his cell, the little old man had evidently crept behind a long line of people who were listening attentively to Marianina’s voice as she finished the cavatina from “Tancred”. He seemed to have come up through the floor, impelled by some stage mechanism” a deus ex machina a trap door. His eyes were “two lifeless, sea-green eyes, which could be compared to nothing save tarnished mother-of-pearl.” “His excessive thinness, the slenderness of his limbs, proved that he had always been of slight build. He wore black silk breeches which hung about his fleshless thighs in folds, like a lowered veil. ” He wore garish make-up and his “corpse-like skull was concealed beneath a light wig” and he smelled like a cemetery. Beside him was a “young woman whose bare neck and arms and breast were white as snow; whose figure was well-rounded and beautiful in its youthful grace; whose hair, charmingly arranged above an alabaster forehead, inspired love; whose eyes did not receive but gave forth light, who was sweet and fresh, and whose fluffy curls, whose fragrant breath, seemed too heavy, too harsh, too overpowering for that shadow, for that man of dust–ah! the thought that came into my mind was of death and life, an imaginary arabesque, a half-hideous chimera, divinely feminine from the waist up.” The young dancer gently touched his arm and he let out a cry which drew Madame de Lanty, her son and daughter to him. Marianina accompanied the old man to the attention of his manservant. She kissed him on his cheek and he removed an expensive ring from his finger and slipped it into her bosom from where it was plucked and slipped onto one of her fingers over her glove.

“No one knew from what country the Lanty family came, nor to what source–commerce, extortion, piracy, or inheritance–they owed a fortune estimated at several millions. All the members of the family spoke Italian, French, Spanish, English, and German, with sufficient fluency to lead one to suppose that they had lived long among those different peoples. Were they gypsies? were they buccaneers? “Suppose they’re the devil himself,” said divers young politicians, “they entertain mighty well.” “The Comte de Lanty may have plundered some Casbah for all I care; I would like to marry his daughter!” cried a philosopher (Balzac 1830).

[Although The Comte de Lanty was a “short, thin, ugly little man, as dismal as a Spaniard, as great a bore as a banker”, his sixteen-year-old daughter, Marianina and his thirty-six-year old wife, the Comtesse de Lanty,  were exceptionally beautiful. His son Filippo de Lanty, considered to be the most eligible bachelor in France, was a living image of the Greek god, Antinous (the beloved of the Roman Emperor Hadrian) who had him deified after his death. M. de Lanty “was looked upon, however, as a profound politician, perhaps because he rarely laughed, and was always quoting M. de Metternich or Wellington.”

Then the narrator and the young woman left the ballroom and came upon a painting. “Ah! the lovely picture!” she added, rising and standing in front of a magnificently framed painting. We stood for a moment gazing at that marvel of art, which seemed the work of some supernatural brush. The picture represented Adonis stretched out on a lion’s skin [the image in a painting of an extremely attractive young man, Adonis and a castrato].  The lamp, in an alabaster vase, hanging in the centre of the boudoir, cast upon the canvas a soft light which enabled us to grasp all the beauties of the picture. “Does such a perfect creature exist?” she asked me, after examining attentively, and not without a sweet smile of satisfaction, the exquisite grace of the outlines, the attitude, the color, the hair, in fact everything. “He is too beautiful for a man,” she added, after such a scrutiny as she would have bestowed upon a rival. Ah! how sharply I felt at that moment those pangs of jealousy in which a poet had tried in vain to make me believe! the jealousy of engravings, of pictures, of statues, wherein artists exaggerate human beauty, as a result of the doctrine which leads them to idealize everything. “It is a portrait,” I replied. “It is a product of Vien’s genius. But that great painter never saw the original, and your admiration will be modified somewhat perhaps, when I tell you that this study was made from a statue of a woman.” “But who is it?” I hesitated. “I insist upon knowing,” she added earnestly.” she added earnestly. “I believe,” I said, “that this”Adonis” represents a–a relative of Madame de Lanty.” I had the chagrin of seeing that she was lost in contemplation of that figure. She sat down in silence, and I seated myself beside her and took her hand without her noticing it. Forgotten for a portrait (Balzac 1830)!” His young date left the ball without him at 2:00 AM.

The next evening the narrator visited with her and began his story of the young French sculptor Ernest-Jean Sarrasine was the only son of a wealthy prosecuting attorney of Franche-Comte who arrived in Italy in 1758 with dreams of becoming a Michaelangelo. In an Argentina theatre, in the middle of an enormous Roman crowd, he first heard Zambinella- Jomelli perform Italian opera. Madame de Rochefide listens to the narrator’s story intently.]

“The brilliant light, the enthusiasm of a vast multitude, the illusion of the stage, the glamour of a costume which was most attractive for the time, all conspired in that woman’s favor. Sarrasine cried aloud with pleasure. He saw before him at that moment the ideal beauty whose perfections he had hitherto sought here rounded outline of a shapely leg, from another the contour of the breast; from another her white shoulders; stealing the neck of that young girl, the hands of this woman, and the polished knees of yonder child, but never able to find beneath the cold skies of Paris the rich and satisfying creations of ancient Greece. La Zambinella displayed in her single person, intensely alive and delicate beyond words, all those exquisite proportions of the female form which he had so ardently longed to behold, and of which a sculptor is the most severe and at the same time the most passionate judge. She had an expressive mouth, eyes instinct with love, flesh of dazzling whiteness. And add to these details, which would have filled a painter’s soul with rapture, all the marvelous charms of the Venuses worshiped and copied by the chisel of the Greeks. The artist did not tire of admiring the inimitable grace with which the arms were attached to the body, the wonderful roundness of the throat, the graceful curves described by the eyebrows and the nose, and the perfect oval of the face, the purity of its clean-cut lines, and the effect of the thick, drooping lashes which bordered the large and voluptuous eyelids. She was more than a woman; she was a masterpiece! In that unhoped-for creation there was love enough to enrapture all mankind, and beauties calculated to satisfy the most exacting critic. “Sarrasine devoured with his eyes what seemed to him Pygmalion’s statue descended from its pedestal. When La Zambinella sang, he was beside himself [When he left the theater and returned to his own apartments . . .] A prey to that first fever of love which resembles pain as much as pleasure, he sought to defeat his impatience and his frenzy by sketching La Zambinella from memory. It was a sort of material meditation. Upon one leaf La Zambinella appeared in that pose, apparently calm and cold, affected by Raphael, Georgione, and all the great painters. On another, she was coyly turning her head as she finished a roulade, and seemed to be listening to herself. Sarrasine drew his mistress in all poses: he drew her unveiled, seated, standing, reclining, chaste, and amorous–interpreting, thanks to the delirious activity of his pencil, all the fanciful ideas which beset our imagination when our thoughts are completely engrossed by a mistress. But his frantic thoughts outran his pencil. He met La Zambinella, spoke to her, entreated her, exhausted a thousand years of life and happiness with her, placing her in all imaginable situations, trying the future with her, so to speak [He returned to the theater everyday and at home he began to create a sculpture of her]. In a week he lived a whole lifetime, occupied through the day in molding the clay with which he succeeded in copying La Zambinella, notwithstanding the veils, the skirts, the waists, and the bows of ribbon which concealed her from him. In the evening, installed at an early hour in his box, alone, reclining on a sofa, he made for himself, like a Turk drunk with opium, a happiness as fruitful, as lavish, as he wished. [Through time the theater community saw how much the young man had fallen in love with Zambinella and invited him to a secret tryst which was really a dinner to which the whole troupe was present. The young sculptor declared his love for her in the presence of them all]  “A young woman listened to a declaration, unconscious that she was spilling Xeres wine on the tablecloth  (Balzac 1830).”

[They remained there all night long and the young Sarrasine became drunk. In the early morning they decided to spend the day, Saturday at the Villa Ludovisi in Frascati. Sarrasine traveled in a carriage with his beloved Zambinella. Zambinella tried to dissuade Sarrasine in his passion and pleaded for a platonic friendship. When they arrived they walked with the others in the woods of Villa Ludovisi, which at that time belonged to Cardinal Cicognara. They returned to Rome in separate carriages. Sarrasine began planning to kidnap Zambinella and asked Vien and Lauterbourg and Allegrain to help him. At the ambassador’s palace, Zambinella appeared dressed as a man and Sarrasine expressed his surprise. An older nobleman Prince Chigi  explained to the naive young man that all actors in Rome were men, even those portraying women. At midnight Sarrasine and his accomplices kidnapped Zambinella and carried him to Sarrasine’s studio where Sarrasine confronted the actor. Zambinella admitted he had fooled Sarrasine as a joke with his actor friends. Sarrasine enraged hurled a hammer at the sculpture of Zambinella but missed it without knowing. Three of Cardinal Cicognara’s men burst into the studio at that moment, and killed Sarrasine with their daggers.]

“But,” said Madame de Rochefide, “what connection is there between this story and the little old man we saw at the Lantys’?” “Madame, Cardinal Cicognara took possession of Zambinella’s statue and had it reproduced in marble; it is in the Albani Museum to-day. In 1794 the Lanty family discovered it there, and asked Vien to copy it. The portrait which showed you Zambinella at twenty, a moment after you had seen him as a centenarian, afterward figured in Girodet’s Endymion you yourself recognized the type in “Adonis.” “But this Zambinella, male or female–” “Must be, madame, Marianina’s maternal great uncle [who is now an the ambulatory corpse.]  You can conceive now Madame de Lanty’s interest in concealing the source of a fortune which comes–  (Balzac 1830).”

1844 The New York Sun published an article about a balloon flight over the British Channel that got lost over the ocean. It was a hoax.

1856 Charles Baudelaire translated Edgar Allan Poe’s novels into French. Jules Verne read them

1857 Flaubert published Madame Bovary, in book form, now considered to be the first realist novel. Flaubert argued that it was impossible to successfully imitate reality just as it was impossible to write a mimetic dialogue for his characters. He was more concerned with style and its inherent difficulties, not content (of “le sujet”).  Prior to writing Madame Bovary, Flaubert’s writing was considered to be part of the Romantic movement. The subject of Madame Bovary in her everyday life was quite dreary and boring. The main character was an idealist with no concept of negotiating the real world. The novel follows her character development from married life to a small town doctor, through her adultery and suicide with the author commenting on the immorality of her life and times. The realist does not allow employ literary conventions such as the  deus ex machina. Flaubert used the voice of Madame Bovary to speak for himself in his contempt of the self-satisfied, deluded, bourgeois culture of the time in which he lived. He detested their romantic delusions, their attraction to unrealistic romantic novels, their empty religious rituals. He rejected the characters in these novels from the insane and dangerous scientific characters, greedy money lenders and excitement-seeking adulterous lovers.

1864 Jules Verne wrote L’Île mystérieuseVerne wrote this novel in 1864 but its fictional events take place from 1865 to 1869. The novel was translated into English by  Mrs. Agnes Kinloch Kingston and W. H. G. Kingston in 1875 and entitled The Mysterious Island. Verne’s main characters (1864) were  [railroad engineer Cyrus Harding, “Neb” (Nebuchadnezzar), a sailor Bonadventure Pencroff, young Harbert Brown, the journalist Gedéon Spilett and the dog ‘Top’] during the American Civil War, were cast upon a mysterious island in the Pacific as they attempted to escape in a balloon. Verne used the convention of the deus ex machina to insert Captain Nero as the mysterious force on the island. Although this novel was written in 1874, its fictional events took place from 1865 to 1869. Some Key words:  Chapter XXI: Several degrees below zero [Le degré zéro de l’écriture (1970)], A conversation on the future of the Pacific Ocean, What will become of the globe? The awakening of the volcano, Captain Nemo, Submarine, the “Nautilus”, Lincoln Island [named to honour President Abraham Lincoln], Captain Nemo’s coffin, 1868-01-01, Ayrton, Cyrus Smith, Dakkar Crypt, island on firm ground.

“In 1865 during the American Civil War, a violent storm sweeps a balloon carrying a group of Unionists to a m island in the Pacific. After satisfying basic necessities, Cyrus Smith the engineer, Spilett the reporter, Pencroff the sailor, Harbert the adolescent, and Neb the Black find a single match and grain of wheat, and proceed to rebuild most of modern civilization. They construct a boat and rescue Ayrton from the neighboring island of Tabor, abandoned there as a punishment in Verne’s Captain Grant’s Children (1865) and now in an animal state. However, a series of puzzling incidents leads the settlers to believe they are not alone on the Mysterious Island, including a lead bullet and a washed-up chest. At the end of the novel, they discover that Captain Nemo from Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (1869) has been helping them all along. Nemo reveals his true name to be Prince Dakkar, then dies, and is entombed in his Nautilus. Following a volcanic eruption, the Island disintegrates, leaving just a small rock, from which the settlers are rescued.” Roland Barthes (1957), “Nautilus et Bateau ivre,” in Mythologies (1957), 80-82 (80).

1871 Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) wrote his poem to Paul Verlaine entitled “Le Bateau ivre” (“The Drunken Boat”) when he was only 17-years-old. Verlaine later became Rimbaud’s lover in Paris. The subject, the sinking boat, is given consciousness by Rimbaud. The boat speaks of being drunk or filled with water and sees the simultaneous beauty and horror, exaltation and debasement of its own death. As the awesome beauty of death dissipates, the exhausted boat longs for an end to its suffering. The descriptions used by Rimbaud in “Le Bateau ivre” have been described as so powerful that they stimulate synesthesia in which information from different sensory modalities-crossmodal perception and multisensory integration-takes place. In his own life the youthful Rimbaud believed that poetry could provide universal harmony and understanding but soon lost this idealistic view of the world.

1884 Adonis (1884), “a “burlesque nightmare” by William F. Gill (book). [Bijou Theatre, 603 perf.] The sculptress Talamea (Lillie Grubb) creates a statue of Adonis so beautiful that she falls in love with it and, helped by the “goddess Artea (Louise V. Essing), brings it to life. Unfortunately, she has sold the statue to the Duchess (Jennie Reiffarth), who is equally taken by the living, wickedly winking beauty, and who insists that Adonis (Henry E. Dixey) is hers. Adonis is unmoved by all the attention and prefers to play the field, so he runs away to the country, where he promptly falls in love with a simple country girl, Rosetta (Amelia Summerville). The sculptress, the goddess, and the Duchess pursue him there and in the end make life so hectic for him that Adonis begs the goddess to turn him back into stone. She does. The music was by Beethoven, Audran, Suppé, Arthur Sullivan, Planquette, Offenbach, Mozart, Haydn, David Braham, John Eller, and, as Gill wrote, by “many more too vastly numerous to individualize, particularize or plagiarize.” Sullivan provided the evening’s most popular musical moment when “A Most Susceptible Chancellor” became “A Most Susceptible Statue.” Gill’s text and E. E. Rice‘s production offered not merely an adroit spoof of the Pygmalion‐Galatea legend, but of contemporary dramatic and musical theatre mannerisms as well. Thus, the constant rejection of Rosetta by her father was a travesty of a famous scene in the then‐popular Hazel Kirke. Nevertheless, it was young Dixey’s brilliant tour de force that won the most applause and was the chief attraction. The public flocked to the theatre in such numbers that Adonis enjoyed the longest run in Broadway history up to its time, and Dixey played it off and on for twenty years (Bordman, Gerald; Hischak, Thomas S. 2004. “Adonis.” The Oxford Companion to American Theatre).”

1916 The  book entitled Course in General Linguistics (Cours de linguistique générale), based on notes taken during Ferdinand de Saussure’s (1857-1913) lectures at the University of Geneva,  was published posthumously. Saussure applied an innovative approach to the discussion of linguistic phenomena. Saussure asked the question, “Where to begin?” Saussure began by looking for meaning in the text when overwhelmed by the disparate nature of language.
“In his Course in General Linguistics, first published in 1916, Saussure postulated the existence of a general science of signs, or Semiology, of which linguistics would form only one part. Semiology therefore aims to take in any system of signs, whatever their substance and limits; images, gestures, musical sounds, objects, and the complex associations of all these, which form the content of ritual, convention or public entertainment: these constitute, if not languages, at least systems of signification. There is no doubt that the development of mass communications confers particular relevance today upon the vast field of signifying media, just when the success of disciplines such as linguistics, information theory, formal logic and structural anthropology provide semantic analysis with new instruments. There is at present a kind of demand for semiology, stemming not from the fads of a few scholars, but from the very history of the modern world. The fact remains that, although Saussure’s ideas have made great headway, semiology remains a tentative science. The reason for this may well be simple. Saussure, followed in this by the main semiologists, thought that linguistics merely formed a part of the general science of signs. Now it is far from certain that in the social life of today there are to be found any extensive systems of signs outside human language. Semiology has so far concerned itself with codes of no more than slight interest, such as the Highway Code; the moment we go on to systems where the sociological significance is more than superficial, we are once more confronted with language. it is true that objects, images and patterns of behaviour can signify, and do so on a large scale, but never autonomously; every semiological system has its linguistic admixture. Where there is a visual substance, for example, the meaning is confirmed by being duplicated in a linguistic message (which happens in the case of the cinema, advertising, comic strips, press photography, etc.) so that at least a part of the iconic message is, in terms of structural relationship, either redundant or taken up by the linguistic system. As for collections of objects (clothes, food), they enjoy the status of systems only in so far as they pass through the relay of language, which extracts their signifiers (in the form of nomenclature) and names their signifieds (in the forms of usages or reasons): we are, much more than in former times, and despite the spread of pictorial illustration, a civilisation of the written word. Finally, and in more general terms, it appears increasingly more difficult to conceive a system of images and objects whose signifieds can exist independently of language: to perceive what a substance signifies is inevitably to fall back on the individuation of a language: there is no meaning which is not designated, and the world of signifieds is none other than that of language (Barthes 1964).”
“In Saussure: The (dichotomic) concept of language/speech is central in Saussure and was certainly a great novelty in relation to earlier linguistics which sought to find the causes of historical changes in the evolution of pronunciation, spontaneous associations and the working of analogy, and was therefore a linguistics of the individual act. In working out this famous dichotomy, Saussure started from the multiform and heterogeneous’ nature of language, which appears at first sight as an unclassifiable reality’ the unity of which cannot be brought to light, since it partakes at the same time of the physical, the physiological, the mental, the individual and the social. Now this disorder disappears if, from this heterogeneous whole, is extracted a purely social object, the systematised set of conventions necessary to communication, indifferent to the material of the signals which compose it, and which is a language (langue); as opposed to which speech (parole) covers the purely individual part of language (phonation, application of the rules and contingent combinations of signs) (Barthes 1964).”

1947 Roland Barthes wrote his proto-mythology Esquisse d’une société sanatoriale (sketch of a sanatorial society) in which he examined the excessive socialization that repressed the reality of both death and illness.
1947 Roland Barthes parues dès 1947 dans la revue Combat. These texts were later published in Le degré zéro de l’écriture.
1952 The Catholic priest, L’Abbé Pierre formerly Henri Marie Joseph Grouès (1912– 2007), one of the most popular figures in post WWII France, won 256,000 francs on the Radio Luxembourg game show Quitte ou double (Double or Nothing) as one of the many ways of fund-raising for the Emmaus charity he had founded in 1949 for the poor and homeless. He  a member of the French Resistance during WWII.
1953 Barthes, Roland. 1953. Le Degre Zero de l’ecriture. Paris: Editions de Seuil [1972].
1954 In a famous Radio Luxembourg interview, Abbé Pierre called for an uprising of kindness during the extremely cold winter of 1954 in France. Homeless people were dying in the streets. Abbé Pierre was overwhelmed by the generosity of response and had to create the Emmaus communities in the next month to absorb the contributions included one from Charlie Chaplin amounting to $2 million.
1957 Barthes ( 1957:80-82) described how Jule Vernes’ Nautilus and Rimbaud’s “Bateau Ivre” could be critiqued from a structuralist perspective. Verne’s was an object of themes while Rimbaud’s
anthropomorphic sinking boat provides an almost psychoanalytical insight into human sense of loss and despair when the romantic, youthful ideal is vanquished by the real.
1954-6 The left-wing magazine Les Lettres nouvelles,  published 54 journalistic texts by Roland Barthes (1954-1956)  in which Barthes demonstrated how one could read the “trivia” of everyday life as full of meanings. Barthes examined various iterations of mass culture: films, advertisements, newspapers, magazines, photographs, cars, children’s toys, popular pastimes,

1957 54 of Roland Barthes’ (1915-1980) texts were compiled and published  Mythologies (1957). The publication also included his important theoretical essay entitled “Le Mythe aujourd’hui” (Barthes: 1970 pp.193-247).  His text entitled “Nautilus et Bateau ivre” in Mythologies (1957:80-82) contrasted the styles of the Romanticism of Verne and his use of the deus ex machina and the enfant terrible Rimbaud’s anthropomorphic bateau ivre. Barthes, Roland. 1972. Mythologies. Translated by A. Lavers. New York: Hill and Wang.

1957 [1970] Barthes, Roland. 1970. “Le Mythe aujourd’hui.” Mythologies. Paris: Seuil.

“Je suis chez le coiffeur, on me tend un numéro de Paris-Match. Sur la couverture, un jeune nègre vêtu d’un uniforme français fait le salut militaire, les yeux levés, fixés sans doute sur un pli du drapeau tricolore. Cela, c’est le sens de l’image. Mais naïfs ou pas, je vois bien ce qu’elle me signifie: que la France est un grand Empire, que tous ses fils, sans distinction de couleur, servent fidèlement sous son drapeau, et qu’il n’est de meilleure réponse aux détracteurs d’un colonialisme prétendu, que le zèle de ce noir à servir ses prétendus oppresseurs” (Barthes 1970:201 cited in (McNeill 1999).

“Barthes then, is at the barber’s and is handed a copy of Paris-Match. On the front cover he sees a photograph of a black soldier saluting the French flag and he instantly recognises the myth the photograph is seeking to peddle. However, Barthes provides a methodological justification for this essentially intuitive `reading’ of the photograph, a methodology derived from Saussure’s theory of the sign. Barthes sees the figuration of the photograph, that is to say, the arrangement of coloured dots on a white background as constituting the signifier and the concept of the black soldier saluting the tricolour as constituting the signified. Together, they form the sign. However, Barthes takes this reading one step further and argues that there is a second level of signification grafted on to the first sign. This first sign becomes a second-level signifier for a new sign whose signified is French imperiality, i.e. the idea that France’s empire treats all its subjects equally. The central modification to Saussure’s theory of the sign in `Le Mythe aujourd’hui’ is the articulation of the idea of primary or first-order signification and secondary or second-order signification. This is central to Barthes’s intellectual preoccupation in Mythologies because it is at the level of secondary or second-order signification that myth is to be found. In `Le Mythe aujourd’hui’ Barthes attempts to define myth by reference to the theory of second-degree sign systems. What myth does is appropriate a first-order sign and use it as a platform for its own signifier which, in turn, will have its own signified, thus forming a new sign. Recurrent images used to describe this process pertain to theft, colonization, violent appropriation and to parasitism: “… le mythe est … un langage qui ne veut pas mourir: il arrache aux sens dont il s’alimente une survie insidieuse, dégradée, il provoque en eux un sursis artificiel dans lequel il s’installe à l’aise, il en fait des cadavres parlants. (Barthes: 1970 p.219)” This is a central and particularly powerful image of myth as an alien creature inhabiting human form and profiting from its appearance of innocence and naturalness to do its evil business. Like a parasite needs its host or the B-movie style alien invader needs its zombie-like Earthling, myth needs is first-order sign for survival. It needs the first-order sign as its alibi: I wasn’t being ideological, myth might innocently claim, I was somewhere else doing something innocent. His model of second-degree or parasitical sign systems allows for the process of demystification by a process of foregrounding the construction of the sign, of the would-be natural texts of social culture. Myth is to be found at the level of the second-level sign, or at the level of connotation. Barthes makes a distinction between denotation and connotation. Denotation can be described, for the sake of convenience, as the literal meaning. Connotation, on the other hand, is the second-order parasitical meaning. The first-order sign is the realm of denotation; the second-order sign the realm of connotation and, therefore, of myth. To put it crudely then, the important lesson of “Le Mythe aujourd’hui'” is that objects and events always signify more than themselves, they are always caught up in systems of representation which add meaning to them (McNeill 1999).

1964 Barthes, Roland. 1964. “Introduction.” Elements of Semiology. Hill and Wang. Barthes, Roland.  Also 1967. Elements of Semiology. Translated by A. Lavers and C. Smith. London: Jonathan Cape.

1970 Barthes, Roland. 1970. S/Z. Paris: Editions du Seuil.

1970 Roland Barthes  Le degré zéro de l’écriture (1970) examined the formal history of writing by locating texts within contextualized historical and political periods.

1970 In his essay entitled “Iconographie de l’abbé Pierre’ (Barthes: 1970 pp.54-6) examined the hairstyle and beard of the well-loved French priest, Abbé Pierre.

“Le mythe de l’abbé Pierre dispose d’un atout précieux : la tête de l’abbé. C’est une belle tête, qui présente clairement tous les signes de l’apostolat : le regard bon, la coupe franciscaine, la barbe missionnaire, tout cela complété par la canadienne du prêtre-ouvrier et la canne du pèlerin. Ainsi sont réunis les chiffres de la légende et ceux de la modernité. La coupe de cheveux, par exemple, à moitié rase, sans apprêt et surtout sans forme, prétend certainement accomplir une coiffure entièrement abstraite de l’art et même de la technique, une sorte d’état zéro de la coupe ; il faut bien se faire couper les cheveux, mais que cette opération nécessaire n’implique au moins aucun mode particulier d’existence : qu’elle soit, sans pourtant être quelque chose. La coupe de l’abbé Pierre, conçue visiblement pour atteindre un équilibre neutre entre le cheveu court (convention indispensable pour ne pas se faire remarquer) et le cheveu négligé (état propre à manifester le mépris des autres conventions) rejoint ainsi l’archétype capillaire de la sainteté : le saint est avant tout un être sans contexte formel ; l’idée de mode est antipathique à l’idée de sainteté. Mais où les choses se compliquent — à l’insu de l’abbé, il faut le souhaiter — c’est qu’ici comme ailleurs, la neutralité finit par fonctionner comme signe de la neutralité, et si l’on voulait vraiment passer inaperçu, tout serait, à recommencer. La coupe zéro, elle, affiche tout simplement le franciscanisme ; conçue d’abord négativement pour ne pas contrarier l’apparence de la sainteté, bien vite elle passe à un mode superlatif de signification, elle déguise l’abbé en saint François. D’où la foisonnante fortune iconographique de cette coupe dans les illustrés et au cinéma (où il suffira à l’acteur Reybaz de la porter pour se confondre absolument avec l’abbé).”

L’Abbé Pierre did not manicure his media image. However, Barthes uses this example from everyday life to reveal how hidden meanings operate in the mundane and apparently neutral (zero degree) nature of things such as one’s choice of hairstyle which becomes, whether one is aware of it or not, a message in itself.

1970 Barthes, Roland. 1970), Where to Begin? Politique

1976 Barthes, Roland. 1976. Sade, Fourier, Loyola. Translated by R. Miller. New York: Hill and Wang.

1971 Barthes, Roland. 1971. “Réponses” in Tel Quel. 47:89-107.

1973 Barthes, Roland. 1973. Le Plaisir du texte. Paris: Seuil.

1975 Barthes, Roland. 1975. Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes. Paris: Seuil.

1977 Barthes, Roland. 1977. Death of the Author. Translated by S. Heath. London: Fontana.

1979. Barthes, Roland. 1979. The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies. Translated by R. Howard. New York: Hill and Wang.

1981 Barthes, Roland. 1981. Le Grain de la voix: Entretiens 1962-1980. Paris: Seuil.

1982 Barthes, Roland. 1982. “Authors and Writers.” Pp. 185 – 193 in A Barthes Reader, edited by S. Sontag. New York: Hill and Wang.

1982 Serres, Michel. 1982. Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

1984 Barthes, Roland. 1984. Le Bruissement de la langue. Paris: Seuil.

1987 Serres, Michel.1987. L’Hermaphrodite. Sarrasine sculpteur. Flammarion. Balzac, Honore de, (1799-1850) Sarrasine (1830)

Michel Serres developed a philosophy of science that does not privilege a single authoritative account or metalanguage. To illustrate his methodology in his publication (1987) Hermaphrodite he used the figure of Hermes who moves back and forth between domains-maps.

1991 Serres, Michel.1991. Rome: The Book of Foundations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

1993 Barthes, Roland. 1993. Oeuvres Completes, vol. 1. Paris: Seuil.

1994. Barthes, Roland.  1994. Roland Barthes. Translated by R. Howard: University of California Press.

2000 Alvesson, Mats and Kaj Sköldberg. 2000. Reflexive Methodology: New Vistas for qualitative research. London: Sage.

Webliography and Bibliography

Works by Roland Barthes

Barthes, Roland. 1953. Le Degre Zero de l’ecriture. Paris: Editions de Seuil [1972].

Barthes, Roland. 1957 [1987]. Mythologies.

Barthes, Roland. 1957. “Nautilus et Bateau Ivre.” in Mythologies (1957), 80-82 (80).

Barthes, Roland. 1964. “Introduction.” Elements of Semiology. Hill and Wang.

Barthes, Roland. 1964. “Language (Langue) and Speech: In Linguistics.” Elements of Semiology. Hill and Wang.

Barthes, Roland.  1967. Elements of Semiology. Translated by A. Lavers and C. Smith. London: Jonathan Cape.

Roland Barthes. 1970.  Le degré zéro de l’écriture.

Roland Barthes. 1970. “Iconographie de l’abbé Pierre.”  Le degré zéro de l’écriture. pp.54-6.

Barthes, Roland. 1970. Mythologies. Paris: Seuil.

Barthes, Roland. 1970. S/Z. Paris: Editions du Seuil.

Barthes, Roland. 1971. “Réponses” in Tel Quel. 47:89-107.

Barthes, Roland. 1972. Mythologies. Translated by A. Lavers. New York: Hill and Wang.

Barthes, Roland. 1973. Le Plaisir du texte. Paris: Seuil.

Barthes, Roland. 1975. Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes. Paris: Seuil.

Barthes, Roland. 1976. Sade, Fourier, Loyola. Translated by R. Miller. New York: Hill and Wang.

Barthes, Roland. 1977. Death of the Author. Translated by S. Heath. London: Fontana.

Barthes, Roland. 1979. The Eiffel Tower and Other Mythologies. Translated by R. Howard. New York: Hill and Wang.

Barthes, Roland. 1981. Le Grain de la voix: Entretiens 1962-1980. Paris: Seuil.

Barthes, Roland. 1982. “Authors and Writers.” Pp. 185 – 193 in A Barthes Reader, edited by S. Sontag. New York: Hill and Wang.

Barthes, Roland. 1984. Le Bruissement de la langue. Paris: Seuil.

Barthes, Roland. 1993. Oeuvres Completes, vol. 1. Paris: Seuil.

Barthes, Roland.  1994. Roland Barthes. Translated by R. Howard: University of California Press.

Works by Michel Serres

Serres, Michel. 1982. Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Serres, Michel.1987. Hermaphrodite: Sarrasine Sculpteur Précédé de Balzac Sarrasine: Flammarion.

Serres, Michel.1991. Rome: The Book of Foundations. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Works of Related Interest

Alvesson, Mats and Kaj Sköldberg. 2000. Reflexive Methodology: New Vistas for Qualitative Research. London: Sage.

Balzac, Honore de. 1830. Sarrasine. Trans. Clara Bell et al.

Bordman, Gerald; Hischak, Thomas S. 2004. “Adonis.” The Oxford Companion to American Theatre.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1979. La Distinction: critique sociale du jugement. Paris: Minuit.

Terry. 1991. Ideology: An Introduction. London: Verso.

Easthope, A. 1991. Literary into Cultural Studies. London: Routledge.

J. Forbes & M. Kelly (eds) 1995. French Cultural Studies: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hall, Stuart. 1990. “The Emergence of Cultural Studies and the Crisis of the Humanities” in October. 53:11-23.

Hawkes, T. 1977. Structuralism and Semiotics. London: Methuen.

Jenks, C. 1993. Culture. London: Routledge.

Rigby, Brian. 1991. Popular Culture in France: A Study of Cultural Discourse. London: Routledge.

Ross, K. 1995. Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture. London & Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Saussure, 1916 [1949] Cours de linguistique générale. Paris: Payot.

Storey, John. 1993. An Introductory Guide to Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Kravitz, Sidney. 2001. “Introduction.” The Mysterious Island

“Unabridged translation from the French by Sidney Kravitz with original illustrations by Jules-Descartes Férat.”

McNeill, Tony. 1999-02-11a. Part 1: Roland Barthes: Mythologies (1957). The University of Sunderland, Great Britain.

McNeill, Tony. 1999-02-11b. Part 2: Roland Barthes: Mythologies (1957). The University of Sunderland, Great Britain.

McNeill, Tony. 1999-02-11c. Part 3: Roland Barthes: Mythologies (1957). The University of Sunderland, Great Britain.

Hetherington, Kevin and John Law. “Allegory and Interference: Representation in Sociology.” Department of Sociology, Lancaster University.

McGregor, Glen. 2004. “TV Anchor under Fire: Caught off tape: Anchor’s rude gaffes go online.” Pp. A1, A2 in The Ottawa Citizen. Ottawa, ON. ?