homophonic misunderstandings

(phone call)

me: so my new web address is: http://punctum.typepad.com

friend: punkdom?

me: yes, punctum.

friend: well, that’s surprising.

me: yeah, i was happy it wasn’t taken.


friend: how do you spell it?

me: p-u-n-c-t-u-m. punctum. do you not know what i’m talking about?

friend: oh. i thought you said “punkdom”. and i couldn’t imagine you choosing that, because you’re so not…

me: roland barthes! camera lucida! the part of the image that punctures, punctuates, interupts! detail! clever, i was coyly referencing! not punkdom!

friend: that makes much more sense. i was confused.

read more about studium and punctum here, or buy the book. but here are excerpts of the most salient points:

The studium is that very wide field of unconcerned desire, of various interest, of inconsequential taste: I like/I don’t like. The studium is the order of liking, not of loving; it mobilizes a half-desire, a demi-volition; it is the same sort of vague, slippery, irresponsible interest one takes in the people, the entertainments, the books, the clothes one finds “all right.”

…The second element will break (or punctuate) the studium. A Latin word exists to designate this wound, this prick, this mark made by a pointed instrument: the word suits me all the better in that it also refers to the notion of punctuation, and because the photographs I am speaking of are in effect punctuated, sometimes even speckled with these sensitive points; precisely, these marks, these wounds are so many points. 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 the dice. A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).

–roland barthes, camera lucida

so there you have it. a large cornerstone of my personal aesthetic, a bit of french critical theory, and the knowledge that i am an insatiable, nostalgic sap. but god i do love me some roland barthes.

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