Saturday, February 18, 2006


this extra long quote is my response to a blogpost i read recently, which compared that "desiderata" poem with beckett's _Waiting for Godot_. Here's what adorno has to say about the meaning of beckett's works. (Plus, this'll motivate me to start putting adorno quotes here.)

"In recent years it has been fashionable to accuse Samule Beckett of simply repeating his basic idea; he exposed himself to this accusation in a provocative fashion. In this his consciousness was correct that the need for progress was inextricable from its impossibility. The gesture of walking in place at the end of Godot, which is the fundamental motif of the whole of his work, reacts precisely to this situation. Without exception, his response is violent. His work is the extrapolation of a negative kairos. The fulfilled moment reverses into a perpetual repetition that converges with desolation. His narratives, which he sardonically calls novels, no more offer objective descriptions of social reality than -- as the widespread misunderstanding supposes -- they present the reduction of life to basic human relationships, that minimum of existence that subsists in extremis. These novels do, however, touch on fundamental layers of experience hic et nunc, which are brought together in a paradoxical dynamic at a standstill. The narratives are marked as much by an objectively motivated loss of the object as by its correlative, the impoverishment of the subject. Beckett draws the lesson from montage and documentation, from all the attempts to free oneself from the illusion of a subjectivity that bestows meaning. Even where reality finds entry into the narrative, precisely at those points at which reality threatens to suppress what the literary subject once performed, it is evident that there is something uncanny about this reality. Its disproportion to the powerless subject, which makes it incommensurable with experience, renders reality unreal with a vengeance. The surplus of reality amounts to its collapse; by striking the subject dead, reality itself becomes deathly; this transition is the artfulnesss of all antiart, and in Beckett it is pushed to the point of the manifest annihilation of reality" (Aesthetic Theory 31).

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