Roland Barthes, in his autobiography, Barthes by Barthes
, arranges the fragments of his life in alphabetical order, deliberately subverting the artifice of presenting the continuous “flow of life” prevalent in traditional autobiographies.
Barthes’ alphabetical autobiography functions like an index, collapsing time, the way it is collapsed when we reflect on our lives. The text of our lives, like the text of a book, parallels Roman Ingarden’s assertion that, once read, a book “exists simultaneously in all of its parts and that none of these parts is ‘earlier’ or ‘later’ in a temporal sense” (Packman qting Ingarden 88). from an earlier publication