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can't see beyond the end of one's nose

Also, can't see farther than the end of one's nose. Lack foresight, envisioning only immediate events or problems, as in Thomas hasn't hired an orchestra for the Christmas concert; he just can't see beyond the end of his nose. This expression originated as a French proverb that was frequently cited in English from about 1700 on. Alexander Pope used a similar expression in his Essay on Man (1734): “Onward still he goes, Yet ne'er looks forward further than his nose.”
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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