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postgraduate thesis: The silent eye: approaches to aporia in modern literature

TitleThe silent eye: approaches to aporia in modern literature
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Smethurst, P
Issue Date2012
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Wong, Y. B. [黃育賢]. (2012). The silent eye : approaches to aporia in modern literature. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4852165
AbstractThis thesis considers silence as a problem that is felt particularly acutely in the modern period. The focus is on the silence caused by a general distrust of the representational ability of language, which has manifold manifestations in modern writings. From the existential turn that implies self-cancellation to the symbolist project to create new symbols, modernist writers display an anxiety to speak the unspeakable. This paper’s approach is to offer a metaphoric reading of the role of the Muse as the giver of knowledge and voice in writing practices, and to identify the cause of silence in the confusion over the two distinctive ideas about the goddess. The roots of such confusion are traced to Plato’s epistemological treatises and his exposition of love, as encapsulated in Phaedrus, in which the superimposition of metaphysical knowledge over physical love introduces the aporia into poetry, or literary writing. Subsequent developments of literature, including that of the modernists’, are subject to this aporetic silence. By tracing the trajectories of epistemology and the representation of love up to the eighteenth century, the work shows how the modern problem of silence is triggered by the duality in Kantian epistemology, which is itself a legacy of Platonic metaphysics. Modern silence, therefore, is studied within the critical framework of such metaphysical background, against the metaphoric representation of transcendental imagination as Mother Wit, and its application to the matter of love. The second half of the paper discusses the various responses to this duality found in the ‘transcendental power of imagination’. In the existential writings that defy analytical reason, and the symbolist writings that react against Romanticism, writers struggle to overcome the gap between subjective and objective realities. They therefore fail to give voice to things and feelings without falling back to obscurity or self-erasure – both producing silence on a semantic level. The paper studies works of Hermann Broch and Samuel Beckett to demonstrate the arrival at this great silence, which, though reached via different paths, is the same aporetic silence contained in Platonic epistemology. By examining two works of J.M. Coetzee, this paper also aims to explore the possibility of breaking this silence by going beyond knowledge, and reengaging the service of another Muse her power of love, physicality, and presence.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectSilence in literature.
Dept/ProgramEnglish

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorSmethurst, P-
dc.contributor.authorWong, Yuk-yin, Bobo.-
dc.contributor.author黃育賢.-
dc.date.issued2012-
dc.identifier.citationWong, Y. B. [黃育賢]. (2012). The silent eye : approaches to aporia in modern literature. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b4852165-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis considers silence as a problem that is felt particularly acutely in the modern period. The focus is on the silence caused by a general distrust of the representational ability of language, which has manifold manifestations in modern writings. From the existential turn that implies self-cancellation to the symbolist project to create new symbols, modernist writers display an anxiety to speak the unspeakable. This paper’s approach is to offer a metaphoric reading of the role of the Muse as the giver of knowledge and voice in writing practices, and to identify the cause of silence in the confusion over the two distinctive ideas about the goddess. The roots of such confusion are traced to Plato’s epistemological treatises and his exposition of love, as encapsulated in Phaedrus, in which the superimposition of metaphysical knowledge over physical love introduces the aporia into poetry, or literary writing. Subsequent developments of literature, including that of the modernists’, are subject to this aporetic silence. By tracing the trajectories of epistemology and the representation of love up to the eighteenth century, the work shows how the modern problem of silence is triggered by the duality in Kantian epistemology, which is itself a legacy of Platonic metaphysics. Modern silence, therefore, is studied within the critical framework of such metaphysical background, against the metaphoric representation of transcendental imagination as Mother Wit, and its application to the matter of love. The second half of the paper discusses the various responses to this duality found in the ‘transcendental power of imagination’. In the existential writings that defy analytical reason, and the symbolist writings that react against Romanticism, writers struggle to overcome the gap between subjective and objective realities. They therefore fail to give voice to things and feelings without falling back to obscurity or self-erasure – both producing silence on a semantic level. The paper studies works of Hermann Broch and Samuel Beckett to demonstrate the arrival at this great silence, which, though reached via different paths, is the same aporetic silence contained in Platonic epistemology. By examining two works of J.M. Coetzee, this paper also aims to explore the possibility of breaking this silence by going beyond knowledge, and reengaging the service of another Muse her power of love, physicality, and presence.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.source.urihttp://hub.hku.hk/bib/B48521656-
dc.subject.lcshSilence in literature.-
dc.titleThe silent eye: approaches to aporia in modern literature-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb4852165-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEnglish-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b4852165-
dc.date.hkucongregation2012-

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