The Order of Sounds, 195–260


Authoritarian Listening


As we have seen, for Barthes listening is the theatre of operations for the struggle between desire and power. But desire and power are not two opposing terms: each excites and stimulates the other, each one is by turns means and end of the other. Power is desirable, but it is also an instrument for the deployment of desire.

But power has another ability which desire does not have at its disposal. Or rather, it is a placeholder for the perfect attainment of that which desire seeks above all: order. Power is the setting in motion, in rhythm, of an order which is, at the same time, the very expression of power…