Roland Barthes’ Desire and Boredom

by Christian Parreno

I sent him away, saying I had work to do, knowing it was over, and that more than Oliver was over: the love of one boy.


I asked him to come and sit beside me on the bed during my nap; he came willingly enough, sat on the edge of the bed, looked at an art book; his body was very far away – if I stretched out an arm toward him, he didn’t move, uncommunicative: no obligingness; moreover he soon went into the other room. A sort of despair overcame me, I felt like crying. How clearly I saw that I would have to give up boys, because none of them felt any desire for me, and I was either too scrupulous or too clumsy to impose my desire on them; that this is an unavoidable fact, averred by all my efforts of flirting, that I have melancholy life, that, finally, I’m bored to death by it.

Barthes, Roland (1992) Incidents, trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley, CA – USA: University of California Press. First published in French as Incidents. Paris – France: Éditions du Seuil, 1987. Note 79, 73.