Roland Barthes on the whole and the remainder of the other

By a singular logic, the amorous subject perceives the other as a Whole (in the fashion of Paris on an autumn afternoon), and, at the same time, this Whole seems to him to involve a remainder, which he cannot express. It is the other as a whole who produces in him an aesthetic vision: he praises the other for being perfect, he glorifies himself for having chosen this perfect other; he imagines that the other wants to be loved, as he himself would want to be loved, not for one or another of his qualities, but for everything, and this everything he bestows upon the other in the form of a blank word, for the Whole cannot be inventoried without being diminished: in Adorable! there is no residual quality, but only the everything of affect. Yet, at the same time that adorable says everything, it also says what is lacking in everything; it seeks to designate that site of the other to which my desire clings in a special way, but this site cannot be designated; about it I shall never know anything; my language will always fumble, stammer in order to attempt to express it, but I can never produce anything but a blank word, an empty vocable, which is the zero degree of all the sites where my very special desire for this particular
other (and for no other) will form.

— Roland Barthes. A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1978. p. 19

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