Saturday, 16 February 2008

A dash of Beckett

My favourite 20th-century writer is Samuel Beckett. No writer makes me laugh more; no writer (except Milton) fills me with more dread.

At the moment I’m filling my leisure time with Alan Badiou’s book on Beckett, together with Andrew Gibson’s new study, Beckett and Badiou: The Pathos of Intermittency (Oxford UP, 2007). And I’ve also been watching some of the performances in the flawed but lovable Beckett on Film series. As one of Beckett’s own characters puts it: “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.” Oh, how I love it!

So anyway, in this Beckettian mood, I was delighted to come across this hilarious piece of spoof journalism in The Onion: “archivists analyzing papers from [Beckett’s] Paris estate uncovered a small stack of blank paper that scholars are calling ‘the latest example of the late Irish-born writer’s genius’. The 23 blank pages, which literary experts presume is a two-act play composed some time between 1973 and 1975, are already being heralded as one of the most ambitious works by the Nobel Prize-winning author of Waiting for Godot…”

On a more theological note, one of my favourite moments in Waiting for Godot is Lucky’s thinking scene, which you can see on YouTube. It’s a great speech, and it includes some important doctrinal elucidations about “the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattman 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…”

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