The Metanarrative of Blindness
A Re-reading of Twentieth-Century Anglophone Writing
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
What a thrill it is for me to have this book published. For my work to become part of the field-defining Corporealities series is a great honor indeed. But after only a moment of pondering this prospect and bearing the unavoidable pride, I am struck by the sheer number of people to...
An Embodied Introduction
The decision to write about blindness has hit some academics like the proverbial bolt from the blue. This is illustrated by, for instance, Jacques Derrida in Memoirs of the Blind (1990) and Naomi Schor in “Blindness as Metaphor” (1999).1 Both were writing in a prompt response to the onset of their visual impairments, the one temporary and the other permanent...
Community, Controversy, and Compromise: The Terminology of Visual Impairment
On the topic of terminology, as noted in David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder’s introduction to The Body and Physical Difference (1997), there has been “much debate within the disability community” (25), from which we may infer a couple of things that are germane to this chapter: first, that there has also been much debate without the disability community...
Character Designation: Normate Reductionaism and Nominal Displacement
So disability may be understood as a malleable identity that links other identities, and because we are all visually limited a continuum may be identified between those of us who have high visual acuity and those of us who do not perceive by visual means. This postmodern, indeed dismodern perspective recognizes that complex, temporary, and variable...
Come-to-Bed Eyes: Ophthalmocentrism, Ocularcentrism, and Sumbolic Castration
As we consider the mechanics of the way in which labels such as blind girl and blind man invoke the metanarrative of blindness, it becomes clear that blindness-castration synonymy is something of a cardinal motif. Though easily traced back to ancient times, the motif is used in many ways and afforded new significance by Modernism, especially in relation...
"A Hand of the Blind Venture Forth" : The Grope, the Grip, and Haptic Perception
If we wish to be unprejudiced in our actions and attitudes, then we do our utmost to resist metanarratives that perpetuate negative stereotypes. That is an undeniable fact. Yet so-called positive stereotyping too frequently remains unchallenged or unnoticed. Extraordinary senses constitute the...
Social Friction and Science Fiction: Alrerity, Avoidance, and Constructs of Contagiousness
The link between contagiousness and avoidance is obvious, for many if not most of us endeavor or at least wish to avoid anyone who has pretty much anything deemed contagious. But avoidance is also a common act of prejudice, as noted in the introduction to the present book, positioned, as it is, in Gordon Allport’s list of worsening behaviors that...
Visual Violation: Staring, Panopticism, and the Unseen Gazer
Be it via the look, the stare, or the gaze, uninvited scrutiny is unwelcome for many reasons and on many levels. Indeed, there can be no denying the ubiquity of ocularcentric notions, behaviors, and practices, yet the rendering of vision as the supreme means of perception has profound implications for us all. For example, in identifying members of social...
Culturally Assisted Suicide: The Mourning and Melancholia of Blindness Deconstructed
Many self-help books are written to explain how people can “endure” or “triumph over” impairments, observes Michael Davidson, and several figures are deemed exemplary in this respect—as illustrated in chapter 5 with reference to the fictional community named after Mary Keller. This ableist ideology serves both to shape a “fragile sense of embodiment”...
Though not in a position to make any overarching claims about literature, I can assert that evidence of the metanarrative of blindness is recurrent in twentieth-century writing. If I speculate a little about why this is so, I wonder if it is simply because authors who do not have visual impairments can nonetheless close their eyes and imagine blindness, albeit distinct from the experiential knowledge of people who have...