Slice #18: “Anarchic Foam”

Joan Miro

In 1977, French sociologist, Roland Barthes, published his autobiography. In it, were lists of his thoughts accompanied by his thinking on his thoughts.

In the section named, J’aime, Je n’ aime pas, Barthes lists what he likes and does not like, and then explains how our personal preferences in life are really of no relevance to anyone.

“I like, I don’t like: this is of no importance to anyone; this, apparently, has no meaning…this anarchic foam of tastes and distastes, a kind of listless blur…obliges others to endure me liberally, to remain silent and polite confronted by pleasures or rejections which they do not share.”

Thanks once again to Shaun Usher in his Lists of Notes, for allowing us to peek into the corners of brilliant minds. Barthes’ list caused me to take pause – to wonder about my own “anarchic foam of tastes and distastes” I impose on others…

I like: dark chocolate, ice cream, salads draped in a melange of vegetables and seeds, flowers of all kinds, scented candles, Jane Austen, the classics, living in my head, Lewis Carroll, poems that make me work and wonder, some classical music, Degas, the promising smell of pages in a book, Siri Husvedt, passionate conversations, traveling to new places, sitting on the deck with my family, hotdishes, the lake, teaching, cool breezes, playing with words, laughter, losing track of time when reading, a marriage that is as comfortable as a favorite cardigan, watching my youngest skip and twirl through life – my middle child handle life’s obstacles with wit – and my eldest transition into adulthood with ease and beauty, Rothko, the satisfaction of completing a challenging task, a comforting cup of tea, getting lost in thought, the feel of earth in my hands when planting flowers, sharing a glass of wine with friends, Vermeer, the smell and feel of a baby in my arms, Chagall, the ocean, shells, walking barefoot, learning, the feel of a great pen in my hands…much, much more…

I don’t like: onions, the use of “I” in conversations, procrastinating, apathy, placing my thoughts into boxes, cleaning, dresses, large parties, large parties with people I don’t know, small talk, being made to feel small, political bureaucracies, deadlines, dancing or singing in public, exercising, rap music, feeling insecure, having to expend more energy than necessary (known as exercise), making lists of what needs to be accomplished, people finishing my sentences, traffic, storms that threaten destruction, intolerance, being in the spotlight, feeling invisible, whiskey, high heels, gossip, waking up to an alarm…

I agree with Barthes that my “anarchic foam” is of no importance. I certainly would not want others to feel subjected or obliged to my idiosyncrasies. However, as I reflect on what has appeared on my lists, it is with great appreciation that I realize my “likes” are a result of being “confronted by [the] pleasures or rejections” of those I love and admire. Their world has expanded the beauty within mine.

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23 thoughts on “Slice #18: “Anarchic Foam”

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