Yes, [my texts] deal with distress. Some people object to this in my writing. At a party an English intellectual—so-called—asked me why I write always about distress. As if it were perverse to do so! He wanted to know if my father had beaten me or my mother had run away from home to give me an unhappy childhood. I told him no, that I had had a very happy childhood. Then he thought me more perverse than ever. I left the party as soon as possible and got into a taxi. On the glass partition between me and the driver were three signs: one asked for help for the blind, another help for orphans, and the third for relief for the war refugees. One does not have to look for distress. It is screaming at you even in the taxis of London.

Samuel Beckett, in Tom Driver, ‘Beckett by the Madeleine’, Columbia University Forum, 4:3 (1961). (via samuelbbeckett)

kohenari:

This claim, from Jodi Dean’s book Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies, is a particularly interesting one to try out on the audience of this blog (who almost exclusively arrive at this blog via Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook).
Are you reading this?
And are you engaging with the things written on this blog (or on blogs generally)? Do you debate and discuss these ideas? Do you share them with others or do you just click “Like” and move on to the next thing?
And, especially for the Tumblr audience, why are you blogging? Knowing that there are millions and millions of Tumblr blogs, do you think your posts matter and, if so, in what way?
Or is Dean right that we’re just engrossed in the whole idea of consumption and contribution, leading us to believe that we’re participating in a national (or even global) political conversation when, in fact, we’re not?

————————————————————

Ah yes, if only I could bear to be alone, I mean prattle away with not a soul to hear… Not that I flatter myself you hear much, no Willie, God forbid… Days perhaps when you hear nothing… But days too when you answer… So that I may say at all times, even when you do not anwer and perhaps hear nothing, Something of this is being heard, I am not merely talking to myself, that is in the wilderness, a thing I could never bear to do—for any length of time… That is what enables me to go on, go on talking that is… Whereas if you were to die—or go away and leave me, then what would I do, what could I do, all day long, I mean between the bell for waking and the bell for sleep?… Simple gaze before me with compressed lips…… Not another word as long as I drew breath, nothing to break the silence of this place… Save possibly, now and then, every now and then, a sigh into my looking glass…
— Samuel Beckett, Happy Days

kohenari:

This claim, from Jodi Dean’s book Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies, is a particularly interesting one to try out on the audience of this blog (who almost exclusively arrive at this blog via Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook).

Are you reading this?

And are you engaging with the things written on this blog (or on blogs generally)? Do you debate and discuss these ideas? Do you share them with others or do you just click “Like” and move on to the next thing?

And, especially for the Tumblr audience, why are you blogging? Knowing that there are millions and millions of Tumblr blogs, do you think your posts matter and, if so, in what way?

Or is Dean right that we’re just engrossed in the whole idea of consumption and contribution, leading us to believe that we’re participating in a national (or even global) political conversation when, in fact, we’re not?

————————————————————

Ah yes, if only I could bear to be alone, I mean prattle away with not a soul to hear… Not that I flatter myself you hear much, no Willie, God forbid… Days perhaps when you hear nothing… But days too when you answer… So that I may say at all times, even when you do not anwer and perhaps hear nothing, Something of this is being heard, I am not merely talking to myself, that is in the wilderness, a thing I could never bear to do—for any length of time… That is what enables me to go on, go on talking that is… Whereas if you were to die—or go away and leave me, then what would I do, what could I do, all day long, I mean between the bell for waking and the bell for sleep?… Simple gaze before me with compressed lips…… Not another word as long as I drew breath, nothing to break the silence of this place… Save possibly, now and then, every now and then, a sigh into my looking glass…

— Samuel Beckett, Happy Days


They say I suffer, perhaps they’re right, and that I’d feel better if I did this, said that, if my body stirred, if my head understood, if they went silent and departed, perhaps they’re right, how would I know about these things, how would I understand what they’re talking about, I’ll never stir, never speak, they’ll never go silent, never depart, they’ll never catch me, never stop trying, that’s that, I’m listening. Well I prefer that, I must say I prefer that, that what, oh you know, who you, oh I suppose the audience, well well, so there’s an audience, it’s a public show, you buy your seat and wait, perhaps it’s free, a free show, you take your seat and you wait for it to begin, or perhaps it’s compulsory, a compulsory show, you wait for the compulsory show to begin, it takes time, you hear a voice, perhaps it’s a recitation, that’s the show, someone reciting, selected passages, old favourites, a poetry matinée, or someone improvising, you can barely hear him, that’s the show, you can’t leave, you’re afraid to leave, it might be worse elsewhere, you make the best of it, you try and be reasonable, you came too early, here we’d need Latin, it’s only beginning, it hasn’t begun, he’s only preluding, clearing his throat, alone in his dressing-room, he’ll appear any moment, he’ll begin any moment, or it’s the stage-manager, giving his instructions, his last recommendations, before the curtain rises, that’s the show, waiting for the show…


This vision of humanity’s predicament has echoes of Samuel Beckett at some of his more nihilistic moments – except that Beckett allows his tramps to speak for themselves, and when they do they’re often quite cheerful. The sufferers of DSM-5, meanwhile, have no voice; they’re only interrogated by a pitiless system of categorizations with no ability to speak back. As you read, you slowly grow aware that the book’s real object of fascination isn’t the various sicknesses described in its pages, but the sickness inherent in their arrangement.


A voice comes to one in the dark. Imagine.

To one on his back in the dark. This he can tell by the pressure on his hind parts and by how the dark changes when he shuts his eyes and again when he opens them again. Only a small part of what is said can be verified. As for example when he hears, You are on your back in the dark. Then he must acknowledge the truth of what is said. But by far the greater part of what is said cannot be verified. As for example when he hears, You first saw the light on such and such a day. Sometimes the two are combined as for example, You first saw the light on such and such a day and now you are on your back in the dark. A device perhaps from the incontrovertibility of the one to win credence for the other. That then is the proposition. To one on his back in the dark a voice tells of a past. With occasional allusion to a present and more rarely to a future as for example, You will end as you now are. And in another dark or in the same another devising it all for company. Quick leave him.

Use of the second person marks the voice. That of the third that cankerous other. Could he speak to and of whom the voice speaks there would be a first. But he cannot. He shall not. You cannot. You shall not.

Apart from the voice and the faint sound of his breath there is no sound. None at least that he can hear. This he can tell by the faint sound of his breath.

Samuel Beckett, Company

"Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett - Act 1 Lucky’s Scene

Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast heaven to hell so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labours left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labours of men that as a result of the labours unfinished of Testew and Cunard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labours of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation is seen to waste and pine waste and pine and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicilline and succedanea in a word I resume and concurrently simultaneously for reasons unknown to shrink and dwindle in spite of the tennis I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell to shrink and dwindle I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per caput since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per caput approximately by and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labours lost of Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labours lost of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and than the earth namely the air and then the earth in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth abode of stones in the great cold alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something the air the earth the sea the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold an sea on land and in the air I resume for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull to shrink and waste and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labours abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard (mêlée, final vociferations) tennis… the stones… so calm… Cunard… unfinished…

Samuel Beckett, Quadrat 1+2 (1981)

As far back as 1963 Beckett had thought of creating a geometrical mime. He tried to write a piece for Jack MacGowran (generally referred to as J. M. Mime) but abandoned it “in the absence of all inner need.”

“Beckett’s initial conception … was to have [a pair] of characters walking along Quadrants in all possible paths starting from O (a central origin) and returning to O. But in its final realization almost twenty years later, the mime begins and ends with the void, an empty quad, and travellers deflect their steps away from O.”

The discarded work was “intended as a mime for two players (son and father or mother) who are described as naked under their coats. The stage is plotted out in a square, the four corners of which (lettered A-D) are to be marked either by two boots and two hats or by four boots, recalling the boots and hat found onstage in Godot;” the mid-points were lettered E-G, and the centre, O.

The idea goes back even further however, “indeed Quad may be regarded as the fulfilment onstage of the goal he had set himself in 1937 in the letter to Axel Kaun, the achieving of an entirely new means of expression through the elimination of language.”