In Alluvium, Neil Vallelly on the semblances of Roberto Bolaño
Martin Heidegger similarly views semblance as an appearance that conceals its interior schema, but he elaborates on Hegel’s position by arguing that all appearances conceal themselves. In Being and Time, Heidegger notes that a phenomenon reveals itself through appearance, or a “self-showing,” but he warns that an “appearance can also turn into mere semblance.” As an example, he writes that “[u]nder a certain kind of light someone can look as if he were flushed. The redness that shows itself can be taken as announcing the presence of a fever”. The appearance of the redness is not up for debate, but its appearance reveals something that it is not: a fever. “Appearance,” Heidegger suggests, “does not mean that something shows itself; rather, it means that something which does not show itself announces itself through something that does show itself”. Appearance, therefore, is always a “surface show” that in some way hides its true intention. Crucially, as Heidegger points out, an appearance, in showing itself, can either reveal what does not show itself, or it can seem to reveal what does not show itself.