But words are neither significant nor experimental. They are, quite simply. That, in any case, is the most remarkable thing about them. And suddenly the obviousness of this strikes us with irresistible force. All at once the whole splendid construction collapses; opening our eyes unexpectedly, we have experienced, once too often, the shock of this stubborn reality we were pretending to have mastered. Around us, words are there. Their surfaces are distinct and smooth, intact, neither suspiciously brilliant nor transparent. All our literature has not yet succeeded in eroding their smallest corner, in flattening their slightest curve.

Instead of this universe of “signification” (psychological, social functional), we must try, then, to construct texts both more solid and more immediate. Let it be first of all by their presence that words establish themselves, and let this presence continue to prevail over whatever explanatory theory that may try to enclose them in a system of references, whether Structuralist, Freudian or metatextual.

In this future universe of the novel, words will be there before meaning something; and they will still be there afterwards, hard, unalterable, eternally present, mocking their own “meaning,” that meaning which vainly tries to reduce them to the role of precarious tools, or a temporary and shameful fabric woven exclusively—and deliberately—by the superior human truth expressed in it.

Henceforth, on the contrary, words will gradually lose their instability and their secrets, will renounce their pseudo-mystery, that suspect interiority which Roland Barthes has called “the romantic heart of things.” No longer will texts be merely the vague reflection of a hero’s vague soul, the image of her torments, the shadow of her desires. Or rather, if words still afford a momentary prop to human passions they will do so only provisionally, and will accept the tyranny of significations only in appearance—derisively, one might say—the better to show how alien they remain to people.

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