Review: Camera LucidaEditorial Review - Kirkus Reviews
Nothing is more present or more mysterious, still, than the Photograph--so one blinks only at Barthes' assumption, at the start of these meditations on its nature, that he is doing something exceptional. More unusual, for such endeavors and for Barthes, is his directness (rendered in limpid prose by Richard Howard). What is there in certain photographs, he asks, that attracts me? The investigation, then, is subjective--no visual-arts touchstones, no socioeconomic ballast. Barthes distinguishes between a general interest in a scene, which he calls (with his penchant for coining terms) the stadium, and something ""which arises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me"": the puncture. Though he errs in supposing that the punctum, in the photographs he cites, is necessarily accidental (surely the Nicaraguan nuns were as important to photographer Koen Wessing as the Nicaraguan soldiers), he exactly names the sort of detail which, from photographer to photographer, surprises: ""one boy's bad teeth"" in a William Klein scene of Little Italy, the dirt road in a Kertesz picture of a blind gypsy violinist (""I recognize, with my whole body, the straggling villages I passed through on my long-ago travels in Hungary and Rumania""). Other recognitions, other distinctions emerge--between ""landscapes of predilection"" (where one feels one has been, or is going) and tourist photographs; between erotica (""disturbed, fissured"") and pornography. But it is in searching back through photographs of his mother, after her death, that Barthes arrives at the essence, for him, of photography: one childhood picture, not reproducible (""It exists only for me""), but a ""just image."" Grander statements appear--to the effect, for one, that photography alone authenticates existence and foretells death--but it is the emotional experience of photographs, ordinarily the preserve of fiction, that resonates here. Readers of Susan Sontag's On Photography will find Barthes a gentler, more private, also insinuating voice on the subject.
User Review - Flag as inappropriate
I must admit I was looking forward to receiving Roland Barthe's Camera Lucida having read the copious accolades at Amazon. When I unwrapped it I thought "Is that it? I've written longer emails"--well not quite but this appeared more essay than book.
However, what it lacked in heft was more than made-up for with his use of elaborately complex page long sentences that had me quickly wishing his brief essay had in fact been a brochure. Ok, Ok So, I exaggerate. However, when scanning the blurb by literary critics catching words like " ...book [is] ...his most painful" or "...will permanently affect the vision of the reader" one could be excused for concluding that these were tongue-in-cheek literal expressions for the grammatical torture that lay within.
Chapter One was 171 words or less than a page--I love brevity. By page five I had endured what I thought to be the longest sentence of my life being some sixty-five words when he commenced his next assault comprising an eighty-one word sentence. I had to sit with a dictionary at my side wondering which of the three meanings associated with his choice of obscure word he had in mind.
Rather than setting a critical course Roland's writing style meanders. For instance, Roland writes:
"A specific photograph, in effect is never distinguished from its referent (from what it represents), or at least it is not immediately or generally distinguished from its referent..."
I remember thinking at this point "Make your mind up!" In the space of five pages Roland's meandering sentences and haphazard contradiction was beginning to resemble an almost unedited style of writing that smacked more of thinking-out-loud than critical essay. I was beginning to think that this book should have come with a T-shirt proclaiming "I read the Camera Lucida and survived!"
Anyway, this post is at risk of running longer than the book. The point I'd like to make is that to abandon this work because of his idiosyncratic writing style would be to short-change yourself of the unique perspective Roland provides as a spectator of photography (non-photographer). Whilst his concepts of studium and punctum are limited to personal and individual perspective they provide excellent food for thought as to what pricks us about some photos and not others. I was almost moved to tears as he struggled to find a photo that for him, said everything about his mother.
I heartily recommend this book. Buy it; you'll be better for it. Remember; that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. :))
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on PhotographyUser Review - Martin - Goodreads
Such a great read! Barthes offers such lucid and poignant observations on the nature of photography and photographs. As an avid photographer the insights he offers has great personal relevance and has ... Read full review
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (Vintage Classics)User Review - Dot - Goodreads
I hate the word pretentious: not only is it overused, it ironically suggests an intimate knowledge of what the person was trying to do and therefore is almost inevitably superior and pretentious as a ... Read full review
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on PhotographyUser Review - Sarah - Goodreads
There were some glimmers of hope in this book, but on the whole it was incredibly frustrating. I thought photography was supposed to be fun... Read full review
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on PhotographyUser Review - Jialu - Goodreads
a little out of date, i'd say. a lot of stuffs in the book are common sense nowadays. and there are tats too strong of his subjectivity. too much latin. you wanna share your idea or what?? it's ... Read full review
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on PhotographyUser Review - Goodreads
I've heard a lot about Barthes, in various circles, and I rather think I should have liked to meet him. Perhaps I shouldn't jump to conclusions after reading only one of his texts--and not one of his ...
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on PhotographyUser Review - Sabrina - Goodreads
Confuses me to think this is considered 'staple' photographic theory. Read full review
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (Vintage Classics)User Review - Shane - Goodreads
A really great book about the personal relationship to photography that is somewhat prophetic and entirely fascinating, from the mind of one of the most important thinkers on the transmission of information in the 20th Century. Read full review
Review: Camera Lucida: Reflections on PhotographyUser Review - parrhesiastes - Goodreads
This little book, divided in two parts subdivided in 48 sections, could be an interesting venture beneath the superficiality of photography as an art; however, if you are already familiar with social ... Read full review
All reviews - 38
All reviews - 38
All reviews - 38