do you want to do

Actually, what I am consuming so happily is an absence: a paradox anything but paradoxical, if we remember that Mallarmé made it the very principle of poetry: “I say: a flower and…musically there rises the fragrant idea itself, the one missing from all bouquets.”

The fifth subject is the subject of production: the one who wants to re-produce the canvas. Thus this morning, December 31, 1978, it is still dark, it is raining, everything is still when I sit down at my worktable again. I look at Hérodiade (1960), and I really have nothing to say about it, except the same platitude: I like it. But suddenly something new appears, a desire: the desire to do the same thing: to go to another table (not the one where I write), to choose colors and to paint, to draw. Ultimately the question of painting is: “Do you want to do a Twombly?”

—Roland Barthes, The Responsibility of Forms (U. of California Press, 1991), translated by Richard Howard

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