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Myth According to Roland Barthes

Jeanne Bohannon - Georgia State University

Jeanne Bohannon

on 22 July 2010

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Transcript of Myth According to Roland Barthes

Myth According to Roland Barthes
Jeanne Bohannon
Myth Is:

Type of speech
System of communication
Message that makes us understand something and it imposes it on us
Conveyed through discourse
Defined by its process, not product
Chosen by history
Contains form, concept, signification
Hides nothing, distorts everything
Constituted by linguistic meaning
Perpetual alibi
Speech justified in excess
Burglar, colonizer, kidnapper, exploiter
Powerful in its repetition
Transforming history into nature
Always-already constructed

Roots in semiology – 19th century Saussere and Peirce (enlightenment and pragmatism)
Semiology: Formal study of signs, signifiers, and signified in linguistics (first order [primal]) and myth (second order [civilized])
Three Types of Focus and Readers

Producer: focuses on empty signifier(form). This reader is characterized by cynicism, analysis, and stasis. The Producer destroys myth.

Mythologist: focuses on the full signifier (meaning). This reader is characterized by analysis, stasis, alibi, and distortion. The Mythologist demystifies myth.

Reader: focuses on the signifier as both meaning and form as a whole. Characterized by dynamism and consumption. The reader lives the myth as a true yet unreal story.
What Does Myth do To Languages

Myth robs articulated language, because it is an easy mark.

Myth colonizes interpretive language

Myth kidnaps mathematical language – because it resists.

Myth exploits poetic language (regressive system, anti-language)

Form is masculine – controlling, empty, feeding, parasitic

Meaning is feminine – nourishing, complete, full, passive

The interplay between form and meaning defines myth
Second Order - Myth, Metalanguage
Signifier (empty form)
(+)Signified (concept)
First Order - Linguistics
Signifier (full meaning)
(+)Signified (concept)
(=)Sign (concrete)
“All that is not bourgeois is obliged to borrow from the bourgeoisie” – 139

“Everything, in everyday life, is dependent on the representation which the bourgeoisie has and makes us have of the relations between man and the world” -140

“Is reality always political?” – 143
Drawing Connections
Bourgeois determines, regulates, and administers metalanguage

Myths reside in the pseudo-physis, making them fixed as a Bougeois construct

Within the Pseudo-physis (dream of the Bourgeois world), there are seven rhetorical figures (150-155)

(1)Innoculation – Bourgeois conceals its greater evils by acknowledging its lesser evils; this is done in order to maintain control over the metalanguage
(2)Privation of History – disrupts and disturbs the ideas of “real” and “history.” One might say that privation commodifies language to remove history
(3)Identification: specific to petit-bourgeois, if the Other cannot be assimilated or mirrored in reflection, it must be objectified so as not to be a threat
(4)Tautology – Linguistically, the unnecessary repetition of words to avow meaning. For bartehs, it creates “a dead, motionless world” (153)
(5)Neither-Norism: process by which reality can be reduced, measured, and gotten rid of.
(6)Quantification of Quality – “myth economizes intelligence” (153). Occurs when the bourgeois “applies aesthetic realities” to objects. This seems to be a channeling of culture industry
(7)Statement of Fact – Active speech, located in the first order language-object. No reflection, just “the facts ma’am.”
Two Choices for Positing Reality

1.One that is “entirely permeable to history”
2.One that is “ultimately impenetrable, irreducible – POETICS
The Poor Mythologist

Discussion Question: Does the mythologist operate outside of ideology?
Reference pp 156-158

Subjects drift between the first and second orders of language, between acting the language and eternalizing it.
“If we penetrate an object, we liberate it but we destroy it; and if we acknowledge its full weight, we respect it, but we restore it to a state which it is still mystified” (158).
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