The abyss of Calvino's deconstructive writing: an apology for non-foundational theology

Dunster, Ruth M. (2010) The abyss of Calvino's deconstructive writing: an apology for non-foundational theology. MTh(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis argues that the later works of Italo Calvino function as an apologetic for a non-foundational theology. Calvino’s two late novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter’s night a traveller are viewed as embodiments of self-deconstructing rhetoric. Calvino’s essays offer a literary theory which is practised in these novels to lead to an expression of aporetic epistemology. This technique of ironic reflexivity is described as a rhetoric of the abyss. This becomes an apologetic for a theology of postmodernism when If on a winter’s night a traveller is viewed in terms of its treatment of the death of the author, because its application to theology is shown in a parallel to the historical process of secularisation. Similarly, Invisible Cities is offered as an apologetic for non-foundational theology because by embodying an exercise in rhetorical self criticism it becomes, for the reader, an experience of epistemological de-stabilisation. Reader-response criticism is the framework which makes this possible.
An allegorical model of reading Invisible Cities is offered in viewing Marco Polo as a Heideggerean counsellor who supports his interlocutor, Kublai Khan, to explore the inadequacy of a metaphysical mastery in terms of western concepts of imperialism and philosophical absolutism. The counsel offered is compared to the concept of gift as being without Being, and grace as icon, in Jean-Luc Marion’s God Without Being.
The equation of the rhetoric of abyss with Tillich’s God as ground and abyss is viewed as inadequate. The argument is made that instead, a careful reading of Calvino’s rhetoric creates an appreciation of the reasons for accepting the radical a-theology of faith put forward by the work of Thomas J.J. Altizer and John Caputo.
Its ethical consequences are aligned to the argument made in Mark C. Taylor’s After God, for religion as a complex adaptive system with ethical and social responsibilities. Finally, following on from the pastoral concern of the Polo-Khan dialogue and briefly discussing Calvino’s novel Mr Palomar, links are made to the issue of autism as a spectrum of universal human problem and opportunity, and to the model of the 12 step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous as a secular spiritual praxis. The idea of nomadic theology is suggested as a possible response.

Item Type: Thesis (MTh(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Non-foundational theology, literary theory, Italian literature,Italo Calvino,autism.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Jasper, Professor David
Date of Award: 2010
Depositing User: Ms Ruth Dunster
Unique ID: glathesis:2010-1961
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:49

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