We read Roland Barthes for our Critical Theory class this week. And I have learned stuff. For instance, from this quote from Image-Music-Text:
Narrative thus appears as a succession of tightly interlocking mediate and immediate elements; dystaxia determines a ‘horizontal’ reading, while integration superimposes a ‘vertical’ reading: there is a sort of structural ‘limping’, an incessant play of potentials whose varying falls give the narrative its dynamism or energy: each unit is perceived at once in its surfacing and in its depth and it is thus that the narrative ‘works’; through the concourse of these two movements the structure ramifies, proliferates, uncovers itself – and recovers itself, pulls itself together: the new never fails in its regularity.
What have I learned, you ask? That apparently I can use as many semicolons and colons within a single sentence as I darn well please! Plus a dash, thank you very much. Now every time professors ask me to rephrase rather than use dashes or semicolons, I’m going to point to this passage and say “Barthes did it.” Note for any fiction writers out there, you can use Jane Eyre to pull the same trick; I swear, she’s got some sentences that go on for a whole page – separated only by semicolons and dashes. Or Vanity Fair, which has the most prodigious dash use I’ve seen in my life, and believe me, I love me some dashes.