Title page for ETD etd-08132010-123031

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Viljoen, Jeanne-Marie
Email jm@learningmaterials.co.za
URN etd-08132010-123031
Document Title Playing with the subject : writing in The Pillow Book and in In the Penal Colony
Degree Master of Arts
Department Philosophy
Advisor Name Title
Dr M L Mabille Supervisor
  • The Pillow Book
  • text
  • trace
  • subject
  • self
  • sameness
  • repetition
  • playpresence
  • naming
  • In the Penal Colony
  • writing
  • Kafka
  • Deleuze
  • Derrida
  • B/being
  • construction
  • identity
  • difference
  • differance
  • Greenaway
  • Foucault
Date 2010-04-14
Availability unrestricted

This study explores the nature of writing and the sorts of presence that writing gives us access to. This understanding of writing includes not only all speaking and all writing in the narrow sense of marks on a page, but goes beyond this to include the sense in which Derrida uses the term ‘writing’ in Of Grammatology, to mean a broad and complex process of the construction of textual traces or presences necessarily brought about through the structural mechanism of difference inherent in the writing process (Derrida, 1997).

This study argues that writing is a system that creates Subjects or selves as the writing happens. It suggests that writing is a remarkable site from which to explore the construction of selves, because it gives us access to (partially) identifiable presences, in the apparent absence of the writer.

It goes on to demonstrate that this identity can be distinguished through written traces of difference left for the reader to decipher, by analysing different aspects of the plot and writing devices in Peter Greenaway’s film The Pillow Book and in Kafka’s short story In the Penal Colony. These two texts are considered particularly relevant to this study, in that they both explicitly deal with the contradictory nature of writing and how it relates to the Being (there or the contextualised Being of Dasein) and being (in general), the life and death, the empowerment and destruction of the Subjects that writing sets up. Both texts explore salient aspects of writing on the human body. The study uses these texts as a platform for speculation about the kind of presence that can be traced through writing, and proposes that the written Subject is multiple, contradictory and reflexive, connected and related, and that it is impermanent and has a deferred presence.

Finally, this written Subject is also explored in the context of Foucault’s expositions of the self in texts such as Technologies of the self (Foucault, 1994) and ‘What is an Author?’ (Foucault, 1977) in answer to his question Who are we in the present, what is this fragile moment from which we can’t detach our identity and which will carry our identity away with itself? (Foucault, 1994:xviii)

Copyright © 2009, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Viljoen, JM 2009, Playing with the subject : writing in The Pillow Book and in In the Penal Colony, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08132010-123031/ >


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