And I care almost too much... Haha, yay, my thesis is drafted!
In Beckett’s The Unnamable, the figure of Mahood represents the world of the mind, and conceptualizes an idealized, intellectual approach to the problem of naming that ultimately abuses, falsifies, obscures, and attempts to control the very language it wishes to perfect. Mahood, along with his antithesis, Worm, acts simultaneously as a part of the narrator and a separate entity, and speaks for, of, and through the narrator while constantly attempting to harness him with fixity and stability. By hounding the narrator with linguistic ideals such as wholeness of language, fixation of essence through naming, and having ones own unique voice, Mahood, rather a concept than an actual being, represents an elevated, intellectual system of naming that allows the text to further explore and explicate the binary opposition between labels and things that the first two sections of The Trilogy began developing. Through Mahood, the reader discovers the flaws and obstacles that make the attainment of these linguistic ideals impossible, but understanding Mahood alone reveals nothing; The Unnamable inextricably links the concepts he represents with those of Worm, and ties both figures to the narrator. Once he has scrutinized Mahood, the reader can then decode the narrator as language itself, opening the gateway to fully understanding the problem of naming as it appears in The Trilogy.
The idea of Mahood symbolizing the mental realm litters The Unnamable as the text constantly identifies him with the concepts of naming, abstract thought, knowledge, and idealism. These concepts, however, are continuously associated with the theme of domination. When speaking of those adhering to “Mahood” ideas, the narrator refers to the word “think” as “one of their words,” indicating a possessive and tyrannical approach to the issue of words and naming as well as that of thought (335). These figures of the mind prompt the narrator into “asking [him]self questions,” in order make him intellectual, in other words, to have him learn (334). As an incarnation of such knowledge and learning, “pupil Mahood,” recites the phrase, “man is a higher mammal,” associating the world of the mind with hierarchical notions of existence that place thinking man in an idealized, superior position to the rest of the world (337). When prompting the narrator to learn, then, the Mahood-ites attempt to force him to adhere to their own idealistic conception of existence. Also, the narrator speaks of Mahood’s tendency “to note...certain things, perhaps I should say all things, so as to turn them to account, for his governance,” which not only aligns Mahood with intellectualism, but again intellectualism with a desire to manipulate and control (339). Mahood, by his very name, attempts self-definition, “mahood” denoting “my-hood,” or “my-ness,” the idea of drawing from an object itself a name that captures the essence of that object. However, Mahood’s wish to control the world by forcing upon it ideas of hierarchy belies the legitimacy of the idealistic “my-ness.” Through the attempt to force correspondence between words and concepts, Mahood ceases to be “my-hood” and becomes “my hood,” or that which covers and conceals the truth of non-correspondence.
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I want the P-funk!My band is better than yours...