The Case for Incomprehension

Neal Allar


I argue that Glissant conceived of opacity first and foremost in his poetry and in his readings of earlier writers, from Mallarmé to Saint-John Perse to William Faulkner, whose moments of complication or incomprehensibility he found productive. By examining the literary valence of this concept of Caribbean philosophy, I claim that opacity not only protects the subject from the invasive grasp of (neo)colonial thought but also, more affirmatively, invites the reader to join the poet on equal footing in the process of sense-making. It is this kind of collective poetics, a collectivity created in opacity, that Glissant imagines in his broader world vision of Relation and the Tout-Monde.


Glissant; opacity; Caribbean; postcolonial

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