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Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism (Theory and History of Literature, Vol. 7)

Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism - Paul De Man, Wlad Godzich
"Blindness" serves as Paul de Man's trope for cognition. Our acts of interpretation necessarily result in spatialization, the formation of "gaps," as we literally only see certain parts of the text. The blindness enables our insight, for if all were foregrounded, nothing would be foregrounded.

The only complete representation of the text is its replication. De Man depicts the lateral movement of interpretation by the term allegory. His use of allegory differs from its usual thematic connotations (such as the didacticism seen in Everyman) and refers instead to allegory's narrative impulse: a fragmented, metonymic, contiguous and diachronic passage along a horizontal axis.

Significantly, the writer--who is simultaneously reading his/her own text and s/he writes it--similarly highlights and represses what s/he is trying to represent. In the process of narrative, "like music, langugage is a diachronic system of relationships." De Man sees literary language, then, caught it a double-blind, its blindness inscribed into the very act of writing--of revelation--itself.