Expenditure for Nothing

Roland Barthes, “An Interview with Jacques Chancel (Radioscopie),” Essays and Interviews Volume 5

I was alluding to the fact that writing today is an expenditure for nothing, an ‘unconditional expenditure’, as Georges Bataille would say … It’s a sort of perverse activity which, in a sense, has no purpose, cannot enter into any knind of accounting and always goes beyond the practical tasks we may ask of it..

No doubt writing’s part of social exchange. When you write books and have them published, it’s all part of a publishing market and belongs to a particular economy. But, in writing, there’s always something additional which goes beyond questions of economic return and it is the pour rien, the ‘for nothing’ that defines the ‘bliss of writing’ and is, therefore, a perversion.

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