In a Time-Warp: The Issue of Chronology in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blindfold - Abstract/Bio

In a Time-Warp: The Issue of Chronology in Siri Hustvedt’s The Blindfold

Christian Knirsch

Despite many overwhelmingly enthusiastic reviews after its original publication in 1992, Siri Hustvedt’s debut novel The Blindfold has been treated with “critical neglect” by academia ever since, as Kristiaan Versluys justly observes (99).1 Moreover, most of these few articles focus exclusively on the question of gender and the problem of developing a female identity in a postmodern world. For Jerry Aline Flieger, these problems are a logical consequence of postmodern paranoia, of the constant “feeling of being under the [male] gaze” (87). Tracy Johnson argues that Iris’s attempts to establish a coherent female identity are sabotaged through direct and indirect acts of violence committed by different male characters in the novel. Yoko Mizuguchi combines the arguments of Flieger and Johnson and points out that the female protagonist literally suffers from “‘male gaze’ and various kinds of violence” (183). Antje Dallmann refers to the broader phenomenon of “urban paranoia” (72), however, not without putting a special emphasis on “the gendered meaning of the urban experience” (73). Kristiaan Versluys and Susanne Rohr interpret The Blindfold as a city novel: Versluys argues that the “identity crisis Iris undergoes is shaped by the city” (100), and Rohr puts special emphasis on the concept of “[u]rban consciousness” which is, in the case of The Blindfold, “essentially female” (95). In contrast to these concerns about the problem of developing a coherent female identity within the mayhem of the postmodern world, the complexities of both the narrative situation and the time structure of the novel have, so far, been treated as a minor matter—which they are not: After making an attempt to restore the chronology, I will address the function of the time structure in the novel from a postmodern perspective. A special emphasis will be on the implications of the migraine auras and the description of the resulting hallucinations as black holes with regard to the time structure.

So far, most scholars have contented themselves with short remarks on the “disjointed chronology” (Johnson 53) of The Blindfold, if they refer to the time structure at all. One-sentence statements can be found in the articles of Tracy Johnson, Antje Dallmann, Susanne Rohr, and Jerry Aline Flieger, whereas Kristiaan Versluys and Georg Deggerich spend a few more words on it. While Deggerich considers the chronology to be reconstructable without going into further detail (32), Versluys attempts to restore some order out of the chaos of the “unchronological representation” (Dallmann 73) of events in the novel and even draws the conclusion that the exact chronology is “neatly restorable”:

As a reader one is forced to wander through stories without titles and arranged out of chronological sequence […]. Yet if readers do their own rearranging, they can find out that the narrative sequence (though scrambled) is neatly restorable. The narrated time is exactly three academic years, while the time of narration is eight years after Iris’s second summer at Columbia. (104)

The narrated time covers indeed three years in the life of first person narrator Iris Vegan, a student at Columbia University; the narration is apparently told from a narrative distance of “eight years” (9). Accordingly, The Blindfold is a retrospective first-person narration, which immediately raises the question of the narrator’s reliability. The significance of this narrative situation will play a certain role in the course of this article.

Yet Versluys’s seemingly obvious assertions are far from unproblematic: of course, it is of little concern whether the narrated time covers “exactly three academic years” or “a period of roughly three years,” as Antje Dallmann has it (73). Of far greater concern for the interpretation of the time structure and its implications, however, is the question which exact moment in the narrated time the narrative distance of eight years refers to. The problem I am hinting at is obvious from the very first lines of the novel:

Sometimes even now I think I see him in the street or standing in a window or bent over a book in a coffee shop. And in that instant, before I understand that it’s someone else, my lungs tighten and I lose my breath.
I met him eight years ago. I was a graduate student then at Columbia. (9)

As one can see from this quote, the novel starts with the classical frame of a retrospective first-person narration: the first-person narrator makes some statements on her current situation before starting to relate several incidents of her former life. In the case of The Blindfold, these incidents are episodes from Iris’s student life at Columbia University. The frame, however, is never returned to, the frame is never closed—on the plot level, at discourse level, Iris as a narrator is obviously visible throughout the novel. At plot level, however, there is no recurrence to this narrative frame. Therefore, the time structure of the story remains open.

As Iris herself asserts, the time of narration is “eight years” after the incidents she relates in the novel (9). Yet, since a clear focus of The Blindfold lies on Iris’s relationships with different male characters she meets in the course of the novel, there are several potential signifieds the signifier ‘him’ could refer to (9). Kristiaan Versluys’s concentration on “Iris’s second summer at Columbia” suggests that he has singled out her literature professor at Columbia, Professor Rose, as this disturbing creature who still haunts her eight years after she first met him (104). Yet there are several further possibilities “him” could refer to:

First, there is Stephen, her eight-month boyfriend “of a kind,” who is “never sure” whether he “really” wants her or not (177). Stephen repeatedly betrays and finally leaves Iris (178). Apparently, despite the brevity of the relationship, Stephen is still on Iris’s mind since she mentions him right on the first page of the novel (9). Second, there is George, a photographer and friend of Stephen, who takes pictures of her that are directly related to her later crisis. Moreover, there are several hints in the novel that Stephen photographed Iris “in the nude” (73) and even raped her during a photo session she experiences in a state of trance, “almost unconsciously” (54). The vocabulary employed in this scene, the state of mind Iris is in after the photo session, as well as her almost trauma-like oblivion of the things that happened during the photo shooting support such an interpretation:

George continued to look at me. Drops of sweat had formed above his mouth and at his temples. He looked weary but pleased with himself, like a person who has just eaten well, and as I studied his face, […], I recoiled from him. […]. I watched as he ran his tongue over his upper lip. It was an idle motion, but for some reason it struck me as horrible, and I closed my eyes. What has happened? (55)

Yet after the second chapter, George is hardly ever mentioned again in the novel.

Third, there is Paris, a New York artist who has several very personal conversations with Iris. After their final conversation, Paris wants to seduce Iris, who is not very responsive. In the end, Paris tries to touch her against her will: “Paris moved his hand suddenly from the door and shot it toward me, pushing it over the cloth of my dress between my legs” (220). This leads to Iris’s flight to a nocturnal New York subway station:

My shoulders and my chin trembled. I turned around and took the stairs, gripping the railing as I went down. In the dark street, the nausea caught up with me, and I vomited between buildings. […]. Then I took off my shoes and ran to the IRT, ran, as they say, like a bat out of hell. (221)

Especially the fact that the novel ends with this conflict between Iris and Paris combined with the feeling of extreme bodily sickness make, in my opinion, Paris the most likely signified in relation to this ominous signifier “him.” Nevertheless, there is no definite answer to this question. Fourth and last, there is of course Professor Rose, the conclusion Kristiaan Versluys has arrived at. Rose is both Iris’s lecturer and her lover; he triggers her cross-dressing as Klaus, the protagonist of a fictitious German novella called “Der brutale Junge” Iris translates for him (133).2 “Without it, I am convinced, nothing would have happened,” Iris declares (132). Later, when Rose and Iris are a secret couple, he blindfolds and eventually tries to rape her, too—the passage, which gives the novel its title. In fact, the blindfolding is originally due to a bet: Rose makes Iris a present, a scarf, when they have dinner at a restaurant. Iris then bets that she can find her way home “blindfolded” (201). In Iris’s apartment, Rose tries to rape her but she finally fends him off (205). Afterwards, Prof. Rose vanishes from Iris’s life which makes him, in my opinion, not the obvious choice when one wants to come up with a signified for the signifier “him.”

Having briefly alluded to the four possible answers to the question who this ominous “him” in the first lines of the novel refers to, one needs to concede that there is no definite answer at all. The signifier “him” is what Derrida calls an “empty signifier,” eluding any fixed meaning and therefore representing the opposite of the “full signified” which is restricted to one fixed meaning or definition (Dissemination 220). In The Blindfold, Iris, when blindfolded, tellingly remarks that her counterpart, in this case Rose, “could have been any man” (203). As pointed out before, this multivalent irresolvability has consequences for the analysis of the time structure of the novel: without an unambiguous signified of the empty signifier “him,” it remains irresolvably unclear what the time of narration and the narrative distance in The Blindfold exactly are. Having clarified that the time structure of The Blindfold is not as “neatly restorable” as appears on first glance, I will now, nevertheless, make an attempt to restore the chronology as far as possible. In a second step, I will then try to interpret the significance of the “topsy turvy” way of rendering the plot (Rohr 95).

The Blindfold’s narrative structure is comprised of four loosely connected episodes which are ordered anachronically, almost as in a time warp. Some scholars even argue that the novel is narrated achronically since time does not seem to play any role at all for the most part (Deggerich 32). Only two exact dates are explicitly given, the day of Iris’s breakdown at the restaurant on August 21, 1979 (172) and the day of her first appointment with the neurologist Dr. Fish on September 2, 1980 (92). The two exact dates, however, are completely isolated. The time references following the exact dates, “the afternoon before it all blew up” (172) and “that fall” (179), immediately blur the timeline again. Yet taking these two dates as a starting point, one can reconstruct large parts of the novel’s chronology, at least as a relational succession of events—not without detecting some conflicting versions of what has happened at a certain point of time, however. Therefore, I would rather call the time structure anachronic than achronic.

Chronologically, the novel begins at the start of the fourth chapter in August 1978 and ends at the end of ch. 4 in 1981. Ch. 1 comprises about ten days in July 1980, ch. 2 stretches from March to April 1980, ch. 3 covers the ten days in hospital in January 1981. All these chapters are revisited in ch. 4 (178-79), which leads to a time-warp-like structure of the novel, beginning in the middle, permanently jumping back and forth, the narrated time being finally folded back onto itself. The first hint at the chronological beginning of the novel in August or September 1978 is an implicit reference to the start of the fall term at the University of Columbia when Iris registers for Professor Rose’s class on “Hegel, Marx, and the Nineteenth-Century Novel” (119); the year, however, can only be deduced from the exact dates given later in the text. Exactly when the registration takes place is left open which, means that the exact chronological start of the novel remains obscure. During the semester, Iris is invited to a party on “Halloween night” where she first meets Paris, one of the four male characters who are very influential in the course of the novel (123). Iris begins “working for” Rose early next year, “in January” (132). “In February” she starts translating The Brutal Boy, the novella that triggers her nocturnal wanderings through New York in the guise of Klaus, its protagonist (132). “Late that spring,” probably in May as Iris announces that she “hadn’t paid the rent for May” (147), she is invited to “a dinner party where Paris was one of the guests” (148). During the “last two weeks of school” (155), i.e. in June, Iris finishes the translation and has breakfast with Rose, who leaves for North Carolina for a “year and a half” (160). “For the next three months,” from June to August, Iris works three part-time jobs (160). “In the middle of June,” Iris becomes the victim of a “phantom robbery”: her apartment is broken into, but she has “nothing to steal” due to her pronounced financial problems (163). “A week later, a young architecture student” is “raped in the elevator” (163). This rape can be regarded as a second trigger for her disguise: “Not long after the rape, I started wearing the suit” (163). In other words: Klaus is “born” (166). “In early August,” Iris has her hair cut off, “no more than an inch long” (167). “Then one evening at work,” Iris faints: “That was on August 21, 1979” (172), the date she later refers to as the quasi-starting point of her migraine attacks (92).3 “[O]n the fourth” of September, Iris registers for her classes in the fall term and meets Stephen for the first time (177). “[A] month later,” i.e. in early October 1979, Iris and Stephen become “lovers, of a kind” (177). The relationship lasts eight months and is finally terminated by Stephen, who “was hot and cold for the duration, never sure whether he wanted me or not” (177). Having related what happened “on the fourth,” Iris skips the entire time of her relationship with Stephen: “But by May, Stephen was gone” (178).

The resulting time gap is partially closed in ch. 2: On “a cold day in early April” in 1980, Iris meets Stephen, who is accompanied by George, the photographer responsible for “that damned photograph” which is somehow related to her coming apart later (41). For the rest of the chapter, which covers several related incidents in April and May 1980, there are no more specific hints, and the passing of time is only mentioned relationally, e.g. a number of “days later” (59) or “[t]hat Saturday” (46), if it is mentioned at all. In May, Iris describes her first severe migraine attack with extensive hallucinations when she watches one of her pictures Stephen has taken. The hallucinations culminate in the vision of a “black hole […] devouring the entire image” (67). 

In May, Iris and Stephen split up (178). In June, Iris does “research for a medical historian” (9, 178). “In July Mr. Morning came along, […], another story altogether” (178)—a story told in ch. 1, which covers ten days in July 1980. Here, the exact number of days can be elicited from the text: When Iris first visits Mr. Morning, he asks her to come again “the day after tomorrow” (16). This time, she has “four days” to complete her tasks (24). Then, she is supposed to “return in two days” (29). Yet, how the ten days fit into the calendar remains unclear. In ch. 4, we only get to know that all this happens “[i]n July” (178).

For “four weeks” in August, Iris works as an “English instructor for low-level employees in an insurance company” (178). During one of her classes, she suffers another fit of hallucination: “That hole wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last, but staring into the black emptiness, I believed it was real” (178). Only later is she able to tell herself that she has suffered a “migraine aura” (179); during the hallucination, the black hole is real. On “Tuesday, September 2, 1980,” Iris has her “first appointment” with Dr. Fish, the neurologist who also treats her in hospital later (92). At “Christmastime,” i.e. in late December 1980, she goes “home to Webster” and visits her parents (179). Immediately after her return to New York in January 1981, Iris “finally went to pieces” (179): Dr. Fish consequently puts her in the hospital, where she stays for “ten days” (179). The occurrences of these ten days are related in ch. 3. Here she declares that she has had “pain in my head for seven months” (92), which would mean that her migraine attacks started in July 1980. During the stay, she often “can’t remember what day” it is (103). “After ten days” she checks herself out—uncured and at her own risk (178). After her stay in the hospital, Iris performs the return of Klaus, readopting her nocturnal wanderings in disguise (181). In late January 1981, “a year and a half” after their last meeting (160), Rose returns from South Carolina like a deus ex machina, “kill[s] Klaus” and after “that night in Philosophy Hall” becomes Iris’s lover (188). In March, Iris passes her oral exams, and the migraine attacks become lighter (188). “In early June,” there is the blindfold episode which gives the novel its title (200). In July 1981, she teaches literature at Queens College (211) before the novel finally ends “in the middle of August” 1981 with Iris’s disappearance into the darkness of a nocturnal subway station (221).

As mentioned before, only two exact dates are given in the whole of the novel: “August 21, 1979” when Iris faints while waiting tables in a restaurant (172) and “Tuesday, September 2, 1980” when she has her “first appointment” with the neurologist Dr. Fish (92). These two dates, however, enable the reader to roughly reconstruct the chronology of the novel: It starts with the unclosed frame, goes supposedly back “eight years” (9) to ch. 1, takes another step back to ch. 2, two steps forward to ch. 3 before the whole story is told again in ch. 4, this time seemingly in its correct chronological order.

Moreover, there are certain logical problems when the same space of time is occupied by mutually exclusive versions of how the time has passed: for example, Iris declares that she works three part-time jobs from June to August 1979 (160), but at the same time she claims to wander through New York all night, every night (163). Additionally, there is an even more obvious contradiction regarding the date of her final examinations: at first she names “May fifteenth” (94), then they are suddenly “[i]n March” (188). Furthermore, even though Iris seems to give the exact date of her first severe migraine attack when she faints at the restaurant on “August 21, 1979,” backed up even by her later assertion during the first appointment with Dr. Fish that “[i]t started last August” (92), there are several alternative versions of when the migraine attacks started (172): First, Iris claims that the “headaches started” immediately after her time with Mr. Morning, i.e. in July 1980 (178). This version is supported by her statement in hospital, made in January 1981, that she has had pain in her head “for seven months” (91), which leaves us with July 1980 as the starting point. Second, a severe migraine aura is described in great detail, just as if it were the first, when Iris watches her photograph in May 1980 (67).4 Third, during Rose’s seminar in the fall term of 1978, i.e. right from the chronological start of the novel, she loses consciousness “every once in a while” (121). Additionally, Iris describes the time immediately before her first migraine aura as “incredibly happy” (93), which rules out both August 1979 and July 1980. Just like the present time, which cannot be deduced since the pronoun “him” in the first line of the novel is multivalent (9) and the only roughly deducible chronological origin of the novel, it is impossible to give the exact starting point of her migraine attacks. Having restored the chronology with all its inherent contradictions and unanswerable questions, I will now come to the function of this anachronic time structure. My focus will rest on the implications of the migraine auras and the description of the hallucinations as black holes with regard to the time structure. In conclusion, I will also point out certain correlations with post-structuralist theory.

The importance of migraine auras to the novel lies at hand: even though one cannot incontestably identify the chronological origin of Iris’s migraine, she possibly suffers from it right from the start (121) and never really recovers. Because of her “tone, mature and poised,” Susanne Rohr well suggests that Iris “recovered” (95). By referring to the “twisted” thread of the tale as well as the “topsy-turvy” chronology (95), however, she implicitly raises two objections to her own hypothesis of recovery. Moreover, Iris releases herself from the hospital, definitely not cured from a neurological perspective (178). Even on the very last page of the novel, she suffers a fit of “nausea,” (Hustvedt 221) which is typical of migraine attacks (Sacks 16).

The immediate significance of migraine auras with respect to the time structure can also be seen from the fact that the two exact dates given in the novel both refer to migraine: on “August 21, 1979,” Iris faints during a migraine attack (172), on “Tuesday, September 2, 1980,” she has her “first appointment” with Dr. Fish (92). The significance of the neurological phenomenon of migraine for the time structure of the novel becomes even more obvious when one takes a closer look at the symptoms of a migraine aura as pointed out by Oliver Sacks in his benchmark Migraine: among the typical symptoms are “dislocations of the space- and time-perception” (53), due to which “the brain-mind constructs ‘space’ and ‘time’ […] are broken, or unmade” (75).

Another more or less typical feature of hallucinations that occur during migraine attacks are the visual impressions of black holes as can be seen from Sacks’s description of negative scotomas (60), which Iris is also diagnosed with (Hustvedt 91). In the novel, too, the visual hallucinations are repeatedly described as “black holes,” which further complicates the issue of ‘reality’ (67, 68, 91, 178, 188): 

The image was changing. With more curiosity than alarm, I noticed a small black hole in the face. […]. The hole grew, eating away the left eye and nose, […]. The hole was devouring the entire image, the face and hair, the shoulders, breasts, and torso, and I saw only the arm stumps hanging there alone for an instant, and then they too were engulfed, […]. There was no sound in me, and I watched as the hole began to swallow the picture’s frame. (67)

This is not only relevant for the time structure of the novel, but also for the overall reality conception underlying the novel: both matter (“the picture’s frame”) and the subject (“the entire image”) are devoured by the black hole, as we can see from the quote above where the black hole extends from Iris’s picture to the material world of the frame. In the end, Iris herself disappears into “the ‘black hole’ of the subway” (Flieger 107). This hints at a reality conception bordering on radical constructivism according to which we cannot get out of the epistemological circle since we cannot get out of our consciousness. Everything we see, hear, taste, or smell only exists in our consciousness; it may even be the sole product of our consciousness. If an exterior world exists at all, according to Ernst von Glasersfeld, one of the godfathers of radical constructivism, is impossible to say (10).

Yet, the implications for the time structure of the novel are especially evident: according to Stephen Hawking, “the density of matter and the curvature of space-time become infinite” in a black hole (History 49). Transferred to The Blindfold, this corresponds to the time structure’s “warped” quality of being folded back onto itself (History 29). Furthermore, “space-time began at the big bang singularity and would come to an end […] inside a black hole” (History 115). Likewise, in The Blindfold, the linear concept of time has virtually come to an end since it is impossible to infer the literary present from the specifications of time in the novel; there are also several examples which defy the linear time concept. For physicists, it is impossible to explain what the laws of space-time could be like in a black hole “since the Einstein equations and all the known laws of physics break down there” (Hawking, “The Event Horizon” 12).

Literary scholar Stuart Sim consequently considers black holes “prime examples” of postmodern science, precisely because they are physical phenomena “that seem to defy any possibility of rational explanation” (289). Moreover, Ian Hamilton Grant regards black holes as “a genuinely physical instantiation of the postmodern condition” (175) because they represent the lack of certainty, the defiance of monocausal explanations, the opposition to logocentric grand narratives as well as the uncertainty of a material existence outside of the individual consciousness which is typical of certain schools of postmodern theory where material reality is threatened from two sides: on the one hand, certain radical post-structuralists take Derrida’s ill-famed assertion that “[t]here is nothing outside of the text“ (Grammatology 158) at face value and strongly argue in favour of an absolute ontological “totality of the signifier” (Grammatology 18). On the other hand, radical constructivists like Ernst von Glasersfeld claim that we cannot be sure of any material existence outside the individual consciousness (10).

Finally, I would like to recall that the narrative frame in which the first-person narrator comments on her current situation in the literary present (“now”, 9) is not closed again on the plot level. Since the “him” mentioned in this frame cannot be identified (9), the time structure of the novel necessarily remains open, indefinite. In order to reconstruct the chronology of the story, one has only two definite starting points on which to build. Besides these two exact dates given in the text, there are only vague time specifications like “one evening” (44) or “[t]hat Saturday” (50) and relational indications like “after ten days” (178), a “week later” (163), or a number of “days later” (59).

This relational quality resembles Derrida’s definition of différance as “the movement which produces difference” (Grammatology 62), a movement along the “signifying chain” of relative time indications, from one relative indication to the other without ever reaching a definite end (Lacan 169), a movement without “‘origin’” and end (Derrida, Grammatology 23)—just like the time structure in The Blindfold which has neither a definite origin nor a definite end. This, in other words, means the “end of signification” (Derrida, Glas 31): signifiers only refer to other signifiers, no longer to a transcendent signified with a stable meaning.

Another element of postmodernist theory is implied in the time structure of the novel:5 the anachronic time structure resembling a ‘time warp’ is typical of migraine-induced scotomas on the one hand; on the other hand, the time warp corresponds to the time structure in black holes where space-time is not only “‘warped’” (History 29), but has “come to an end” (History 115). This correspondence between narrative structure and contents could be interpreted in a typical post-structuralist way, form and content becoming inseparably one in the aesthetics of postmodernism so that texts are always “of/in” a certain “tone” (Derrida, “Tone” 3).

Yet there is also an ontological dimension implied: typical of migraine auras are a multitude of “elaborate illusory images or dream-like states” (Sacks 73). These hallucinations have the status of complete and absolute “sensory deprivations” which radically cut the connection between the experiencing self and the outside world (Sacks 297), leaving the patient in “complete darkness and silence” (Sacks 96): in this state of mind, the brain does not receive any external stimuli at all; instead it starts producing simple hallucinations which develop into more “complex events and scenes” like in a dream or in a movie (Sacks 275). These scenes occasionally even resemble the daily life of the respective patient, they are sometimes set in “synthetic or imaginary geographies” (Sacks 279). Usually, the aura only lasts around half an hour, but there is also the possibility of a so-called “aura ‘status’ lasting hours” (Sacks 61).

If, in the end, hallucinations appear just like reality, if an aura status can last for several hours and appear in the guise of an episode of the daily life of a migraineur, the question of a general distinguishability between hallucination and reality becomes more and more important. For the novel, then, a first-person narration told from the perspective of a migraineur, the question arises in how far fact and hallucination belong to different ontological levels and whether they can be separated at all—especially so since the hallucinations are frequently described as black holes where “[a]ny matter” that falls “into the hole” is “destroyed” (Hawking, History 115)—just like Iris’s photo in the novel.

All that is finally left is the “empiric singularity” (Derrida, Glas 137) of the narrator’s consciousness:6 black holes are symbolically “devouring” (67) the material reality of the novel; for Iris, the sensory deprivation is absolute and interminable; she is caught within the epistemological circle which, in the theory of Ernst von Glasersfeld, is unbreakable—and, since The Blindfold is a first-person narration, the reader is her fellow prisoner, which leaves us with the “empiric singularity” of the individual consciousness as the novel’s reality conception.

1 Enthusiastic reviews in the anglophone world appeared, for example, in The Times, The Observer, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Yale Review, Antioch Review, Kirkus Reviews, and Booklist. For more information on the exact wording of these reviews, see Kristiaan Versluys’s article “New York as a Maze” (99). Yet, at the time of my research, the MLA database only listed three articles (28.12.2009).

2 Iris, chronically insecure of her own identity, repeatedly wanders through New York at night. During these nocturnal wanderings, Iris crosses several boundaries of class, sex, and gender, as Susanne Rohr points out; consequently, they are crucial in the context of Iris’s identity crisis (95).

3 This is the one of only two exact dates given in the text. These two dates contain the only specifications that enable the reader to—not “neatly”, as Kristiaan Versluys maintained, but at least roughly—reconstruct the chronological order underlying the novel. As one can see, there is contradictory information on the starting point of her migraine attacks. I will draw certain conclusions from that in more detail later.

4 This effect can be largely attributed to the fact that the reader experiences the situation through the eyes of the experiencing I, completely unfiltered. This episode is not even revealed as a mere hallucination in the context of a migraine aura, as is the case later (179).

5 I am well aware that post-structuralism and postmodernism are not to be used interchangeably. Yet post-structuralism was undoubtedly a major influence for the development of an aesthetic postmodernism.

6 Even today it is a highly debated question whether Derrida’s theory makes any reference to ontology at all. Many Derrida scholars nowadays argue that Derrida’s theory is exclusively concerned with language, and that the ontological dimension that has often been attributed to his works, is actually not implied in Derrida’s works at all (Hill 46). Others, however, also take the “epistemological question” into consideration (Lewis 13). For example, John P. Leavey, one of the most important Derrida scholars, broaches the issue of “[t]he singularity of conscious­ness” (65).

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