Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Barthes: Mourning

I am reading or pinch reading on thanatophobia and grief in anticipation of a piece I must write and contribute next year at a conference, thus I revisited or flittered into Roland Barthes Mourning Diary (Wang and Hill) and was taken (up) by his sentiment or the resonance to be found in this entry:

Many others still love me, but from now on my death will kill no one. 

— which is what’s new. 

(But Michel?)

He’s referring to the death of his mother and it struck me that he marks something here. That there are certain deaths — one’s parents or partner — where, if you like, a standing guard is removed. Barthes records this realization. He seems to also be asking Who will bury me now? or who will be worked up sufficiently to bury me? Since the organization of burial is involved and requires a degree of commitment it’s quite a responsibility that you cannot just ladle on to any passing person.

Barthes is calculating or re calibrating where this puts him as an adult now his mother, his reliable burial steward or executor we might imagine, is already buried. Who remains?

In burial as in most things roles are cast. He anticipates the absence of a key player and marks his grief and death anxiety through this shift.

 

 

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