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‘But one thing knows the flower’: Whistler, Swinburne, Derrida

  • Ruth Robbins

Abstract

As Jacques Derrida has shown us, this is not a simple question, but one into which ambiguity and multiplicity are already written. ‘About’, as a preposition, offers us at least two modes of qualification — of time and space — which are also merely approximations.2 ‘About’ also suggests, in this idiomatic phrase, ‘what is this essay about?’ that the question is really: ‘What is the subject of this essay?’, though the first formulation disrupts the possibility of a knowable ‘subject’ in the vagueness of ‘about’. I point to these possible ambiguities, not as a mode of parody, but because it is essential to the investigation I want to undertake here. This essay is about ‘aboutness’; it talks about the subject of what is ‘about’ a text, in perhaps a roundabout, periphrastic way. It discusses the questions of circumlocution (talking about) and circumscription (writing about) in order to think about the ways in which a subject may be circumlocated — placed in terms of what is (spoken or written) around or about it.

Keywords

Royal Academy General Text Aesthetic Judgment White Girl Idiomatic Phrase 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Robbins

There are no affiliations available

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