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A Marbled, Iridescent Text

In Severo Sarduy’s Cobra, the alternation is that of two pleasures in a state of competition; the other edge is the other delight: more, more, still more! one more word, one more celebration. Language reconstructs itself elsewhere under the teeming flux of every kind of linguistic pleasure. Where is this elsewhere? In the paradise of words. Cobra is in fact a paradisiac text, utopian (without site), a heterology by plenitude: all the signifiers are here and each scores a bull’s-eye; the author (the reader) seems to say to them: I love you all (words, phrases, sentences, adjectives, discontinuities: pell-mell: signs and mirages of objects which they represent); a kind of Franciscanism invites all words to perch, to flock, to fly off again: a marbled, iridescent text; we are gorged with language, like children who are never refused anything or scolded for anything or, even worse, “permitted” anything. Cobra is the pledge of continuous jubilation, the moment when by its very excess verbal pleasure chokes and reels into bliss.

—Roland Barthes, from The Pleasure of the Text

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