Barthes – The Third Meaning (1970)

Barthes’s essay, "The Third Meaning: Research notes on some

Stills," approaches a third order of meaning, an inarticulable
beyond, extant to the first-order obvious and the second-order symbolic but not
wholly divorced from them.  The third meaning takes its shape from a
"theoretical individuality" (55) (close associate to the punctum/sting,
no doubt).  And it is, of course, difficult to name
because, as Barthes puts it, the third meaning or obtuse meaning "is a signifier
without a signified" (61).  Barthes’s essay-notes proceed through a kind of
awkward profundity; piling through an array of near-descriptors, as near as one
can get without reducing the third meaning into something it is not. 

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