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Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins

Overview


In this brilliant essay, Jacques Derrida explores issues of vision, blindness, self-representation, and their relation to drawing, while offering detailed readings of an extraordinary collection of images. Selected by Derrida from the prints and drawings department of the Louvre, the works depict blindness—fictional, historical, and biblical. From Old and New Testament scenes to the myth of Perseus and the
Gorgon and the blinding of ...
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Overview


In this brilliant essay, Jacques Derrida explores issues of vision, blindness, self-representation, and their relation to drawing, while offering detailed readings of an extraordinary collection of images. Selected by Derrida from the prints and drawings department of the Louvre, the works depict blindness—fictional, historical, and biblical. From Old and New Testament scenes to the myth of Perseus and the
Gorgon and the blinding of Polyphemus, Derrida uncovers in these images rich, provocative layers of interpretation.

For Derrida drawing is itself blind; as an act rooted in memory and anticipation, drawing necessarily replaces one kind of seeing (direct) with another (mediated). Ultimately,
he explains, the very lines which compose any drawing are themselves never fully visible to the viewer since they exist only in a tenuous state of multiple identities: as marks on a page, as indicators of a contour. Lacking a "pure"
identity, the lines of a drawing summon the supplement of the word, of verbal discourse, and, in doing so, obscure the visual experience. Consequently, Derrida demonstrates, the very act of depicting a blind person undertakes multiple enactments and statements of blindness and sight.

Memoirs of the Blind is both a sophisticated philosophical argument and a series of detailed readings.
Derrida provides compelling insights into famous and lesser known works, interweaving analyses of texts—including
Diderot's Lettres sur les aveugles, the notion of mnemonic art in Baudelaire's The Painter of Modern
Life, and Merleau-Ponty's The Visible and the
Invisible. Along with engaging meditations on the history and philosophy of art, Derrida reveals the ways viewers approach philosophical ideas through art, and the ways art enriches philosophical reflection.

An exploration of sight, representation, and art,
Memoirs of the Blind extends and deepens the meditation on vision and painting presented in Truth and
Painting. Readers of Derrida, both new and familiar, will profit from this powerful contribution to the study of the visual arts.

Derrida explores issues of vision, blindness, self-representation, and their relation to drawing, while offering detailed readings of an extraordinary collection of images he selected from the prints and drawings department of the Louvre. 22 color plates. 49 halftones.

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What People Are Saying

Michael Fried
A brilliant, challenging, intensely personal (at moments autobiographical) book about drawing, vision, blindness, self—portraits, fathers and sons, conversion, confession, tears—in short a further, indispensable chapter in the ongoing adventure of Derrida's thought.
—(Michael Fried, author of Courdet's Realism)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226143088
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1993
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 152
  • Sales rank: 1,422,756
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 11.81 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) was director of studies at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, and professor of humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents


Translators' Preface
Memoirs of the Blind: The Self-Portrait and Other Ruins
List of Illustrations
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