Reflections on Paul De Man’s Thoughts

Paul De Man is a celebrated literary theorist known for his deconstructive interpretations on the art of reading. He is notorious for leanings towards the Yale school of deconstruction. racial wealth gap

His fame became tainted when it was found out that the journals written for a newspaper during the Second World War showed traces of anti-Semitism. In this article I would like to expand some of his thoughts which I have read from an introductory text on Paul De Man.

Paul De Man is primarily an architect of the Philosophy of reading, implied as a process of deconstruction. I would like to introduce his thoughts in a microscopic view in this paragraph and then proceed to examine them macroscopically. In a reading process his introduces the term ‘Blindness and Insight’. Then he proceeds to analyze the text whether it has center of meaning. Again he goes on to say: Literature is a problem of reading. There are figural conceptions of language making a chain of reference to meanings. Readability is the possibility of placing meaning. Reading is the interpretation of figurative language. Criticism is a metaphor for reading. Allegory is the narrative of reading. While reading, one comes to identify the gap between the reference and the referent. Literalism is a conceptuality of reading. In resistance to theory, theory is described as an approach to texts. Theory is a self deconstructive trope. Meta-language of texts exists as a phenomenological entity. There is disfiguration and defacement in autobiography. In Aesthetic ideology, ideology is seen as a textual problem. History and politics are tropes. Meaning resides in the made.

‘Blindness and Insight’ are the terms used by De Man and refers to act of reading where every reading is a misreading. Through misreading the reader or the critic generates an insight. This is very true when we encounter the word: Interpretation. Interpretation in philosophical etymology suggests a plurality. Meaning is created through interpretation. For example let’s take the Marxian concept of dialectical materialism. For the bourgeoisie it would mean affluence and gratification and for the proletariat it would mean a struggle for rights and a class struggle against materialist poverty. But dialectical materialism in its root sense refers to being rooted to matter, materialism and productive forces. Further interpretation occurs through an analysis which according to Man’s language occurs through a misreading and an insight.

Analyzing the text as the center of meaning goes back to the question of an author and a creation. I would like to use Roland Barthes phrase: ‘the author is dead’. The reader has to activate the process of meaning. For example: Dead roses founded in depressed clusters can mean a sexual connotation or a meaning of mental depression. The text is a productive democracy to render meanings. The interpretation of tropes is subjective and multiple in conceptuality.

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