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Title: Howard Barker's drama of aporias : from a phenomenology of the body to an ontology of the flesh
Author: Fakhrkonandeh, Alireza
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 2740
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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In this thesis, I intend to approach and explore Howard Barker’s corpus, interweaving philosophical and critical analysis. This thesis posits Barker as primarily a European dramatist in whose tragic theatre aesthetics, ethics, and ontology are treated aporetically. Barker’s drama, in this study, is succinctly characterized as the drama of sense and différance which is inherently traversed with the question of aporia. The concept of aporia forms and inform this thesis. Aporia, as deployed here, designates a situation or condition in which the conditions of possibility proves as the conditions of impossibility. Furthermore, my deployment of “aporia” more than being confined to a strict philosophical-conceptual sense or logic, articulates a topological mode of relationality between two entities or processes which is at once non-synthetic and non-dualistic. To demonstrate the aporetic nature of the three foregoing domains in Barker, I will focus on four pivotal matters: body, death, subjectivity, and language. The sections concerned primarily with the body aim to investigate the ways the body plays an essential, pervasive role in Barker in its various respects prominent among which are ontology, ethics, and aesthetics. In Barker, the body is not only treated as the locus of an aesthetic process of self-fabrication, self-cultivation and re-configuration of perception and sensibility, but also as the ground (or vector) for encountering, and relating to, the Other and/or the Event; and, finally, as the medium of political resistance and subversion. The body is demonstrated to be the ground, and place of register, of contestation, convocation, and intersection between immanence and transcendence, hetero-affectivity and auto-affectivity, the lived and unlived body, and autonomy and heteronomy. I have proposed a thesis called ‘con-tactile aesthetic-ethic’. This thesis is predicated on four principles: proximity, flesh, inter-corporeality, and transitivity – of corporeal schemas, affective traces, embodied attitudes, and figural patterns; though the role of desire is not negligible. Consequently, I will expose and ponder on various facets of such moments in Barker through considering moments involving trauma, pain, transcendence/transgression, intimacy, sacrifice and eroticism. I will deliberate death from two standpoints: aporetics of death and aesthetics of death. It is my contention that, as regards Barker’s conception and depiction of death, two distinct, yet interrelated, ways can be discerned. Two propositions are thus advanced and pursued. Firstly, death in Barker involves a possibility of impossibility with all its existential-ontological implications. Second, death in Barker entails, and transpires as, an impossibility of possibility. As such, it is my argument that the nature of death (in Barker’s works) is fundamentally aporetic. Initially I will elicit and delineate the significant affinities Barker shares with Heidegger with respect to the existential-ontological dimensions of death and their import in Barker’s cosmos and his characters’ subjective, intersubjective and socio-political lives (death as a criterion for existential authenticity, individuation, and autonomy). Subsequently, I will identify and probe the crucial points at which he diverges from a Heideggerian attitude, and evinces idiosyncrasies which are more congruent, variously, with Derridean, Levinasian, and Blanchotian stances with respect to notions such as death as impossibility of possibility, death as limit, and death as gift from the Other, and death as liminal space for relation with radical alterity exteriority, the encounter with and exposure to the evental and self-transcendence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature