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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"Self-penned to one’s other" : reading Joyce writing Derrida Mahon, Peter

Abstract

Mimesis has always been understood as the imitation of an eidos, an idea. Understood in this way, philosophy itself, at least from its Platonic inception, is mimetic. This is because philosophical Platonism, even in its Cartesian and Hegelian manifestations, is always a "matter of imitating (expressing, describing, representing, illustrating) an eidos or idea, whether it is a figure of the thing itself, as in Plato, a subjective representation, as in Descartes, or both, as in Hegel" (Dissemination 194). This philosophical eidos or idea is understood to exist "already in the mind like a grid without a word" (The Margins of Philosophy 257). Consequently, mimetic philosophy is governed by a metaphysical understanding of the eidos as that pre-existent entity to which all thought returns as "revelation, unveiling, bringing to light, truth" (Margins 257). In this dissertation, I consider how James Joyce's Finnegans Wake offers strategies and techniques for exploring a non-Platonic writing. Insofar as it explores a non-Platonic writing, Finnegans Wake comes into close contact with Jacques Derrida's Glas. Glas explores, among other things, the sites where the Platonic sense of philosophy is overcome by the senselessness which both comes before, and remains outsid" it. Throughout this dissertation, I isolate these sites in order to explore the ways in which both Finnegans Wake and Glas produce remarkably similar images which resist this type of philosophy even as they give rise to it. My original contibution to both Joycean and Derridean studies lies in my suggestion that reading Joyce, especially Finnegans Wake, amounts to writing Glas insofar as both texts trace the imaginative grammar which both mimics and overruns philosophy. It is this imaginative mimicry that permits both Finnegans Wake and Glas interact productively with each other.

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