The Word That Cuts to the Quick



We know from Blanchot that the space of writing is the space of death. And Ruffilli can be taken as the single and singular case of the way in which the poetic word always reveals itself as the word that cuts to the quick, after having been for a more or less prolonged instant the word of luminosity.

This is evident in the comparison that his poetry offers with the photos that are its point of departure, but in some ways even its point of arrival; sharing in the perplexed and haunted atemporality that belongs to Photography, whose evidence does not count from the point of view of nostalgia-pleasure, but via the seal of love-death stamped upon it.

It is not common to find such disturbing effects in a context so apparently relaxed and light. The strength of this poetry is its capacity to cause the reader distress while enchanting him. As a consequence, the poet represents the faded components of bourgeois ‘hell’ effectively: the fads, the emptiness, the cruelties, a certain insanity, floating beyond decorum and discretion. This is due to that law of antiphrasis by which the more ruthless a text, the more agreeable it is. In addition, one cannot help but be in total agreement with the author on the tragic (and yet unspeakable and pronounceable only in short volatile phrases) nature of existence.

Translated by Berenice Cocciolillo

First published in Cahier de poésie, E3, 1978, then translated in La filigrana dell’essere 1979 and included as an editorial in P. Ruffilli, Camera oscura, Garzanti, Milano, 1992.

© Roland Barthes  

• Links (Italy)
• Organisations (Italy)
• poems with audio • articles with audio

Subscribe to the newsletter

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter Follow us (international)  

follow us on facebook follow us on twitter Follow us (Dutch)