Atwood's The Blind Assassin has to do with memory as retro- spection, temporality being figured spatio-materially, with the emphasis on vision. In attempting to "fix" time through an obsessive elaboration of material objects, the novel foregrounds the lure and deception of the visual, the way images, like symbols, function, to stand in for what isn't there. Images of duplicity or doubling, encapsulated in the photo of the two often indistinguishable sisters, torn in half, suggest a return to that moment of simultaneous self-identity and self-alienation in the mirror, described by Lacan as a violent "tearing" between self and other, a perpetual (self-)assassination.


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