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Romantic ThingsA Tree, a Rock, a Cloud$
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Mary Jacobus

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780226390666

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226390680.001.0001

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“On the Very Brink of Vacancy“

“On the Very Brink of Vacancy“

Things Unbeseen

Chapter 7 (p.128) “On the Very Brink of Vacancy“
Romantic Things

Mary Jacobus

University of Chicago Press

The obscure meaning of “vacancy” in Wordsworth’s drama is explored in this chapter, where the word takes on metaphysical significance. In another of Wordsworth’s works, Home at Grasmere, vacancy again makes an appearance. Wordsworthian vacancy is intended to mean an unbalanced state of mind and is also a description of the mind’s unplumbed depths. Wordsworth’s use of “vacant” in his early poetry indicates that there is a dismaying quality about it, earning Wordsworth a reputation as a negative phenomenologist. Derrida’s visual history of blindness is also examined in the chapter through his work Memoirs of the Blind, a work that is centrally concerned with the relations among writing, drawing, and self-portraiture. The negativity contained in the title suggests that only through the lens of negativity or an unknowing blindness are certain kinds of knowledge made available to us.

Keywords:   vacancy, Wordsworth, Wordsworthian vacancy, Home at Grasmere, negative phenomenologist, Derrida, Memoirs of Blind

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