The Heart

coeur / heart

This word refers to all kinds of movements and
desires, but what is constant is that the heart is
constituted into a gift-object — whether ignored
or rejected.

1.     The heart is the organ of desire (the heart swells, weakens, etc., like the sexual organ), as it is held, enchanted, within the domain of the Image-repertoire. What will the world, what will the other do with my heart? That is the anxiety in which are gathered all the heart’s movements, all the heart’s “problems.”

2.     Werther complains of Prince von X: “He esteems my mind and my talents more than this heart of mine, which yet is my one pride . . . Ah, whatever I know, anyone may know — I alone have my heart.”
You wait for me where I do not want to go: you love me where I do not exist. Or again: the world and I are not interested in the same thing; and to my misfortune, this divided thing is myself; I am not interested (Werther says) in my mind; you are not interested in my heart.

3.     The heart is what I imagine I give. Each time this gift is returned to me, then it is little enough to say, with Werther, that the heart is what remains of me, once all the wit attributed to me and undesired by me is taken away: the heart is what remains to me, and this heart that lies heavy on my heart is heavy with the ebb which has filled it with itself (only the lover and the child have a heavy heart).

(X is about to leave for some weeks, and perhaps longer; at the last moment, he wants to buy a watch for his trip; the clerk simpers at him: “Would you like mine? You would have been a little boy when they cost what this one did,” etc.; she doesn’t know that my heart is heavy within me.)

— Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse 


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