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Title: The joyful and the woeful : a study of uncertainty in Meister Eckhart, Derrida and Pinter
Author: Almond, Ian
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2000
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This study purports to examine an analogous affirmation of uncertainty in the vernacular writings of Meister Eckhart (1260-1328/9) and Derrida, in contrast to a negative depiction of uncertainty in the early plays of Harold Pinter. In the introductory chapter, a preliminary review of all three figures' critical backgrounds takes place as I delineate the various interpretations which have been made of Eckhart, Derrida and Pinter. The first real stage of the argument begins in Chapter Two. Section one examines the various similarities and differences between Derrida's difference and Eckhart's Godhead. After considering their respective contexts (that of thirteenth century scholasticism and French structuralism) and the essentially generative role of nothingness in both vocabularies, the section examines how Eckhart and Derrida call the notion of 'presence' into question for different reasons - 'God' can never be grasped because he is ineffably infinite, whereas the text can never be mastered because of an infinite oscillation between finite parameters of play. Section two examines The Homecoming in precisely these terms, showing how critics have disagreed over the play in much the same way affirmative and negative theologians have disagreed over God - and ultimately proposing that the text of the play eludes all interpretations, positive and negative. This section also considers how uncertainty is negatively treated in the play - as a means of strategically dominating and humiliating other. The first section of Chapter Three examines Eckhart and Derrida's positive treatment of errancy, how both writers see the destination as (respectively) spiritually deadening and illusory. This section examines how both writers advocate a centreless thought (Eckhart's pathless way) along with an analogous, abandonment of motivations and justifications. It also considers the analogous difficulties which face both 'wandering thinkers', who profess to abandon the destination but at the same time still want to keep to one way rather than another. Section Two examines a correspondingly negative depiction of wandering in The Caretaker, delineating how Mick uses unmotivated and groundless behaviour to bully and deceive the homeless tramp of the play. In the second half of section two, a 'semiotic' reading of The Caretaker is proposed which equates 'wandering' with vulnerability, rather than any notion of liberation or spiritual freedom.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available