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Abstract

In his paper, "Derrida's Deconstruction and the Rhetoric of Proper Genres in Leonardo and Lessing," Shun-liang Chao draws on Derrida's discourse of logocentrism to illuminate the "exorbitant" threads of metaphysical thought in Leonardo's and Lessing's texts on the comparison of poetry and painting. Both Leonardo and Lessing seek to subordinate one of the two sister arts to the other by constructing, respectively, the first, fixed principle of the proper genre and by drawing rigid borders between what is proper and what is improper. Leonardo privileges painting over poetry owing to the power of visiblity; on the other hand, Lessing subordinates painting to poetry since the former frustrates vision and thus allows the free play of the imagination. In so doing, however, they both push their metaphysical arguments into an aporia and as such, that which is proper and decidable turns out to be improper and undecidable.

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