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I was introduced to the word “aporia” in Samuel Beckett’s work of prose, The UnnameableThe Unnameable is one of Beckett’s three successful novels, following the publication of Molloy (1951) and Malone Dies (1951). Each of these novels pursues questions of mortality, time, and truth through a Derridan lens, emphasized by Beckett’s deconstructive and nonlinear style of writing (any of these novels can be read in any order, starting at any point, and the resolution would be the same.) If Beckett’s prose could be neatly tied into a single word, then this word would be “aporia.” “Aporia” is defined, according to the dictionary, as an irresolvable internal contradiction, like, for example, using language to describe the indescribable.

Aporia is vague and specific, like all the other interesting and rewarding aspects of life that suggest otherworldliness. If aporia had an identical, theoretical counterpart then it would reflect poststructuralism, a theory drowning, perpetually, in its own irony. Beckett sheds a single light on aporia when he writes in The Unnameable: it is a “labyrinthine torment that can’t be grasped, or limited, or felt, or suffered, no, not even suffered” (Beckett 308).

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