The Story of a Migraineur: Black Holes in Siri Hustved’s “The Blindfolded”


  • Christian Knirsch University of Mannheim, Germany


Most articles on Siri Hustvedt’s The Blindfold exclusively focus on gender issues. The general view seems to be that the novel is not concerned with epistemological/ontological questions. Taking into consideration that first-person narrator Iris suffers from scotomata which cause severe hallucinations, one could, however, reach a different conclusion–especially since hallucinations in the context of migraine auras are known as extremely realistic sensory deprivations which radically cut the connection between the experiencing self and the outside world: Since, from the first-person narrator’s perspective, hallucinations cannot be distinguished from reality, the question arises in how far fact and hallucination belong to different ontological levels and whether they can be separated at all. Moreover, the hallucinations are repeatedly referred to as black holes devouring the (im-)material world of the novel. These are not mere references, but structural analogies to the astrophysical phenomenon of black holes, which are generally taken to destroy matter. Yet, matter that has been devoured by a black hole is not ultimately destroyed but integrated into the black hole’s singularity which raises the ‘singularity-question’ in the novel. From a neurological starting point, I will develop a radical constructionist reading of the novel based on Iris’s repeated perception of black holes.