Saturday, 11 April 2015

Meghan Henning: Metaphorical, Pedagogical, and Punitive Blindness in Hell

Within the apocalypses that depict tours of hell there are several instances in which the damned are “blind,” configuring visual impairment as a punishment that is correlated to a specific sin.In these depictions of hell a theology of bodily and spiritual impairment emerges, in which the blind body is a marker for spiritual ignorance, envisioning soteriology in terms of bodily perfection.  As we will see, these visions of hell emphasize that these torments are inscribed upon real bodies, making a direct link to the disabled body on earth.  Furthermore, the apocalyptic visions of hell make the pedagogical import of punitive blindness explicit so that ethics and bodily impairment are inextricable.  Situated within apocalypses that privilege “sight” as a means of enlightenment and salvation, the depictions of blindness in hell heighten the impact of the ancient “physiognomic consciousness,” constructing a theology in which the blind body is synonymous with ethical failure.

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