Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Blindness, Lockean Empiricism, and the Continent of Britain

An Examination of the Identities of Mr Spectator and Theseus in the Writings of Ved Mehta

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2012), 6, (3), 259–274.

Abstract

As a blind autobiographer and an essayist, Ved Mehta makes use of Lockean empiricism to negotiate with the visual within and beyond the boundaries of his craft, which he nicknames Continent of Britain. The Lockean system is infested by the view that visual episteme—and, by extension, sightedness—differs from blindness in a fundamental way, and that it is by all means a superior binary. The article argues that Mehta appears to fight, yield to, and in many situations, alter the binary from within. Literary identities such as Mr Spectator, as well as Theseus, serve him in this regard. While Mehta plays into the Lockean binary through the first identity, he appears liberated from it via his special adoption of the literary personage of Theseus, who is nurtured by a radical Wittgensteinian position that blindness and sightedness are a matter of cultural and linguistic participation.

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Karah, Hemachandran