Devlin’s Love: Autopoiesis and Harold Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes


This paper uses the concept of autopoiesis to describe Harold Pinter’s approach to dramatic composition. The playwright strikes a first note and allows the play to emerge from the resonances and feedback patterns of that note. This autopoietical aesthetic, I argue, began with Samuel Beckett and flows forward through an important lineage of postwar drama. Because of its compression and its self-referential qualities, Pinter’s Ashes to Ashes shows how Pinter’s process relates both to the enactivist model of cognition, and to important strains of poststructuralist thought. In Ashes to Ashes, for example, the playwright deploys the fundamental form-generating characteristics of the theatre space itself in this contest against the totalizing schemata of neoliberalism.

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