Toward a Phenomenology of “The Other World”: This World as It Is for No One in Particular

In: Research in Phenomenology
Shannon Hayes Assistant Professor, Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy, Tennessee State University Nashville, TN USA

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In the working notes to The Visible and the Invisible, Merleau-Ponty uses punctum caecum (physiological blind spot) as a metaphor for the unconscious and the invisible of the visible. I read the punctum caecum alongside Merleau-Ponty’s call in another working note to “[e]laborate a phenomenology of the other world.” I take up a phenomenology of the other world as directed toward the punctum caecum of this world. I begin with a discussion of Merleau-Ponty’s unconscious and continue its unfinished thought by drawing in other iterations of the punctum caecum – the involuntary memories in Marcel Proust’s, In Search of Lost Time, the punctum Roland Barthes finds in Camera Lucida and in words that refer to other worlds. Among Merleau-Ponty, Proust, and Barthes I sense something shared – a latent intentionality, and a question about mourning expressed across their disparate texts: the other who existed once, do they exist still? The other who looked at me once, do they look at me still?

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