This study purports to examine an analogous affirmation of uncertainty in the vernacular writings of Meister Eckhart ( 1260-
1328/9) and Denida, in contrast to a negative depiction of uncertainty in the early plays of Harold Pinter.
In the Introductory chapter, a preliminary rev iew of all three fi gures' 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 diff6rance 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 moti vations 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
Chapter Four examines the association of certainty and representation with violence in Eckhart and Derrida. Although the
early Denida is seen as initially skeptical towards a possible non-violent relationship with the Other, an analogous 'openness'
towards the mystery of God/the Other is finally perceived in both writers. Eckhart and D~rrida, it is shown, see the uncertainty of
God/the Other as something which must be preserved, not dispelled.
In contrast to this fundamentally positive understanding of the uncertainty of otherness in Eckhart and Derrida. section two
undertakes an examination of the Other in Pinter as radically evil. Through a neoplatonic reading of this section examines how
Pinter's darker version of the Absurd employs the theological language of ineffability and unfathomable motives to more sinister
effecL Groundless love becomes groundless malice.
Chapter Five ends with the uncertainty of the secret. Derrida's long-abiding objection that Meister Eckhart- and negative
theology in general - is the logocentric keeper of a secret, is fin ally dealt with. Each of the points Derrida raises against Eckhart are
systematically dealt with. This section attempts to show how the version of Eckhart Derrida deconstructs is undermined by the
existence of another, more unorthodox Eckhart whose deconslructive implications Derrida has simply not allowed for.
The second section examines briefly whether Pinter, like Derrida's Eckhart, is the keeper of a secret - and what role secrets
play in The.Birthday Party and The Dumb Waiter . It also considers the possibility that there are secrets in Pinter which ultimately
have no meaning.
In the conclusion, I summarise my findings and re-iterate my final point: that the dangers and menace of Pinter's drama
remains a sobering corrective to Eckhart and Derrida's joyful affirmation of the uncertain.