"que de sang caillé sur mon chemin griffé de lumière, l'or défunt des réverbères"

Tag: Samuel Beckett

“Thinking God as Language” in Beckett’s Endgame

“The God without being and, arguably, his favorite place – language – are interdependent, and neither can be thought without the other. Thus, God cannot be thought outside language. To this extent, negative theology addresses language and the fact that language cannot point outside itself. In other words, negative theology is a rhetorical practice that addresses its own “rhetoricity.” I suggest that Beckett’s gesture toward it is prompted by the realization that all we can say about God are his effects in language, and that God is, strictly speaking, “nothing,” but a “nothing” that “happens,” that has the status of an “event.” This was “(w)hat distressed Watt”: that “nothing had happened, with the utmost formal distinctness, and that it continued to happen, in his mind.” Thought about God, both in its positive and negative modus, originates in and through language. This is the questionable origin of God, the reason for Hamm to call him a “bastard”: God is the consequence of the way our language is. And our language is such that “any expression of an abstract idea can only be by analogy” – to an expression denoting something particular and tangible. Only by an analogy that obliterates the tangible, “primitive” referents does a new, universal, and abstract concept enter language.”


Asja Szafraniec – Beckett, Derrida, and the Event of Literature.


Adorno on the Impossibility of Representing Nature or Industry in Art

“That today any walk in the woods, unless elaborate plans have been made to seek out the most remote forests, is accompanied by the sound of jet engines overheard not only destroys the actuality of nature as, for instance, an object of poetic celebration. It affects the mimetic impulse. Nature poetry is anachronistic not only as a subject: Its truth content has vanished. This may help clarify the anorganic aspect of Beckett’s as well as of Celan’s poetry. It yearns neither for nature nor for industry; it is precisely the integration of the latter that leads to poetization, which was already a dimension of impressionism, and contributes its part to making peace with an unpeaceful world. Art, as an anticipatory form of reaction, is no longer able – if it ever was – to embody pristine nature or the industry that has scorched it; the impossibility of both is probably the hidden law of aesthetic nonrepresentationalism.”


Theodor W. Adorno – Aesthetic Theory (Transl. Robert Hullot-Kentor)

Beckett against the Singular Event


“This [Derrida’s] notion of the singular literary event appears to be in sharp contrast to the functioning of the (absence of a) unique event in the work of arguably the most “eventless” writer ever: Samuel Beckett. A characteristic feature of Beckett’s project is that of generating a world in which nothing happens: there are no dates, no events, and no places that would pretend to have a character in any way. “[N]o, no dates for pity’s sake.” Anyone familiar with Beckett’s En attendant Godot will have noticed the care with which the author avoids having anything in this play that could be qualified as unique.
Everything that could be qualified as unique (for example, the difference between this evening and the previous one) is dismissed by Estragon’s statement, “I am not a historian.” Estragon’s amnesia makes it impossible to establish any unique points of reference that could contribute to a differentiation of time and/or space. Has the number of leaves on the tree changed? Is the pair of shoes in the second act identical to or different from the pair that Estragon had left there in the first “yesterday”? (Assuming even that he had any shoes, that there was a “yesterday” – detais, of course, that he does not remember.)”


Asja Szafraniec – Beckett, Derrida, and the Event of Literature