Beckett on how we got here and what to do now

Who better than Samuel Beckett to explain our current absurd situation and what to do about it? So as we are hurling toward the unthinkable, we can take stock with the lyrical analysis in The Unnamable, the last of his great trilogy of novels beginning with Malloy and Malone Dies.

Where now? Who now? When now? Unquestioning. I, say I. Unbelieving. Questions, hypotheses, call them that. Keep going, going on, call that going, call that on. Can it be that one day, off it goes on, that one day I simply stayed in, in where, instead of going out, in the old way, out to spend day and night as far away as possible, it wasn’t far. Perhaps that is how it began. You think you are simply resting, the better to act when the time comes, or for no reason, and you soon find yourself powerless ever to do anything again. No matter how it happened. It, say it, not knowing what. Perhaps I simply assented at last to an old thing. But I did nothing. I seem to speak, it is not I, about me, it is not about me. These few general remarks to begin with. What am I to do, what shall I do, what should I do, in my situation, how proceed? By aporia pure and simple? Or by affirmations and negations invalidated as uttered, or sooner or later? Generally speaking. There must be other shifts. Otherwise it would be quite hopeless. But it is quite hopeless. I should mention before going any further, any further on, that I say aporia without knowing what it means. Can one be ephectic otherwise than unawares? I don’t know. With the yesses and noes it is different, they will come back to me as I go along and how, like a bird, to shit on them all without exception. The fact would seem to be, if in my situation one may speak of facts, not only that I shall have to speak of things of which I cannot speak, but also, which is even more interesting, also that I, which is if possible even more interesting, that I shall have to, I forget, no matter. And at the same time I am obliged to speak. I shall never be silent. Never.

From Three Novels by Samuel Beckett (New York: Grove/Atlantic, 2009), pp. 286–87.

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  1. Very prescient – I had Becketts voice in my ear as I drove down to the working week yesterday – I lead a periapatetic existence living across two counties. I was thinking about Godot, but not much. More around than about.

  2. Kind of fascinating . . . this little rap — or not rap.

  3. A very apt description of these times…

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