the "undifferentiated mass of organic sensation" origin
March 14, 2024 12:38 PM   Subscribe

In this text from 1966, Robert Smithson quotes Roland Barthes as saying the “undifferentiated mass of organic sensation.” But I can’t find the origin of the quote. A skewed translation? or possibly just made up by Smithson? Any ideas where it might come from appreciated.
posted by 0bvious to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Google Books says it's in an essay called "Objective Literature" included in Two Novels by Robbe-Grillet.
posted by Wobbuffet at 1:07 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

Best answer: searching gives some possibilities, including
"(1965, “Objective Literature,” in Two Novels By Robbe-Grillet, trans. R. Howard, 15)."
Barthes wrote the foreword to the book, so I imagine it's from there.
posted by zamboni at 1:07 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]

I am charmed by Howard's account of working with Barthes:
I would ask him questions. I remember calling him up once and saying that he had referred to somebody inadequately or incorrectly, as I just knew. Did he want me to silently correct the mistake? He said, “Oh, of course. Do whatever you want. I have no idea.” And then there was some question of some king or even Egyptian pharaoh, and he said, “Well, make it up. Make it up. I don’t remember the case myself. If it’s not correct in the French text, just make up something.” He had decided that I was trustworthy, and he could rely on me to take care of such things, and there was no further discussion about it. He was not an anxious author about his translations.
posted by zamboni at 1:20 PM on March 14 [6 favorites]

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