the mourning post as punctum

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York, Hill and Wang, 2010.

thumbing through Camera Lucida (Barthes) in preparation for a project about mourning on social media.

sensed possibilities:

[Studium refers to experiencing an] average affect, almost from certain training … studium … which means a kind of general enthusiastic commitment, of course, but without special acuity … It is culturally (this connotation is present in studium) that I participate in the figures, the faces, the gestures, the settings, the actions (26).

The studium is the very wide field of unconcerned desire, of various interest, of inconsequential taste: I like / I don’t like … order of liking not of loving; it mobilizes a half-desire, a demi-volition (27).

scrolling through posts, emoting through ‘alright’ things as studium.

The second element will break (or punctuate) the studium. This time it is not I who seek it out … This second element which will disturb the studium I shall therefore call punctum; for punctum is also: sting, speck, cut, little hole – and also a cast of dice (27).

the encounter with death/news of death/expressed mourning as punctum (or not, depending on observer’s relationship to operator &/ prior experiences – heavier pain-body, maybe?).


To recognize the studium is to inevitably encounter the photographer’s intentions … (27).

i am not sure if/how spectators inevitably encounter intention [an internal, mental process]. the spectator encounters the photo carrying assumptions/experiences/biases. usually, spectators encounter the image with limited context. even in applying Wölfflin’s empathy theory, spectators can only experience the object of intention. i am not sure that barthes clears this up enough to say that the spectator experiences the intentions “in reverse” (28). seems an entirely different experience.

this leads to questions of how the affective experience as “resonant worldings … matters of belonging” (Seigworth & Gregg, “An Inventory of Shimmers”) accounts for the experience of self.

… if Photography seems to me closer to the Theater, it is by way of a singular intermediary (and perhaps I am the only one who sees it): By way of Death … this frenzy to be lifelike can only be our mythic denial of an apprehension of death (31-32).

curious to dig into the death-photography connection. theater-cult of the Dead. social media archive-“mythic denial.”


From S/Z &/ A Lover’s Discourse via  Stewart’s Ordinary Affects: “[Barthes’s] notion of punctum – the wounding, personally touching detail that establishes a direct contact” (6).


One thought on “the mourning post as punctum

  1. Pingback: Sontag, “In Plato’s Cave” | {kin}aesthetic composure

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