Friday, 7 March 2008

They Give Birth Astride Of A Grave..........

[I am presently writing a rather lengthy thesis for the International Beckett Foundation and the Journal of Beckett Studies on a new psychological interpretation of mine on Samuel Beckett's plays, but in light of a request from Tony in a comment on his previous post I shall post a snippet here.]
(specially adapted for the Cheating The Ferryman Blog)

Samuel Beckett’s seminal masterpiece “Waiting For Godot” has been disseminated, deconstructed and dissected many times owing to its deeply metaphoric content, working on a multitude of levels.

In recent discussions with Tony I have spoken to him of my own psychological and Daemonological interpretation of “Godot” and indeed several other of Beckett’s dramatical works – indeed I am currently writing a thesis on a particularly ITLADian psychological connection within Beckett that, as far as I am aware, has not been previously suggested.

So, for now, I shall keep that particular angle under wraps *smile* and shall address merely the Nietzschean Eternal Return elements of Godot alongside that of my Peakeian Daemonology.

The play itself is a prodigy of sorts. Easily one of the most profound and suggestive plays of the 20th century, it's also among the most profound and suggestive ever written; its plentiful vaudevillian comedy notwithstanding. The dialogue is a marvel as well, and contains many worlds in its concise, tightly coiled lines; lines that pierce my heart, mind, and soul as with daggers even as they entertain.

Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (GoGo) are simply waiting for a gentleman by the name of Godot - I must stress at this point that Beckett intended absolutely no connection with the nature of God within Godot; Beckett wrote the play in French as “En Attendant Godot” and in the original French "Godot" has no phonetic connection with God.

They play consists of two acts which take place on consecutive days, Act II mirroring Act I to a degree but with minor subtle alterations and Vladimir becoming more aware of the recurrence whereas Estragon remains very much with the feeling that there is "Nothing to be done."

To me, the other two characters in the play, Pozzo and Lucky seem a potential epiphanic vision to Vladimir and Estragon by Daemonic communication; a vision of the reality of what they're waiting for as it really is [guidance in my opinion], as opposed to what they but dimly imagine it might be. Pozzo is Godot incarnate, and Lucky is the incarnate whole of mankind that is Vladimir and Estragon — and us. Part (but only part) of my reason for being driven to that view is that Beckett puts into the mouth of Pozzo (in Act II) the most profound and searing lines in all of Godot, and perhaps the most ITLADian ever uttered by any character in any play whatsoever:

Pozzo: (Spoken to Vladimir in a fury) Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It's abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he [Lucky] went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we'll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? (Calmer, and more to himself) They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.

That simultaneously searing and chilling speech is towards the play's climax, its crisis, after which Pozzo and Lucky exit the tragicomedy, and it's left to Vladimir to musingly, all the while feeling the full weight of it, round off the horrific image while Estragon sleeps:

Vladimir: (Looking at Estragon sleeping) He'll know nothing. He'll tell me about the blows he received and I'll give him a carrot. (Pause) Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave-digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. (He listens) But habit is a great deadener. (He looks again at the sleeping Estragon) At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, He is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. (Pause) I can't go on!

But he will go on. He's seen a glimmer of the truth; more than is seen by most of humanity, and certainly more than is even imagined by his sleeping-even-when-awake soul mate. He will go on, as will Estragon but Vladimir is becoming awakened to reality as in one of the many quips in the play:

Estragon: I can't go on like this.

Vladimir: That's what you think.

Vladimir is becoming aware of the Eternal Recurrence and Godot may well be the direction and guidance of the Daemon. He sees the manifestations of Pozzo to be the pathway to escaping the wait and Lucky's "think" monologue in Act I is symbolic of the stream of waking consciousness within us all. This post is merely the tip of a titanic iceberg (pun very much intended) which will form a mere fraction of my Beckett thesis (and hopefully, one day, lecture. With gags obviously!)

A Dark Philosopher

Karl Le Marcs


Karl L Le Marcs said...

"Let's Go!"

susan marie said...

KARL: Thank you for this wondrous post. You are correct; it is all very ITLADian and Peakian, and Nietzschean as well. And the title has a beautiful resonance, too. Wouldn't it be nice if you gave this as a short, concise presentation along with a lecture of Tony's? Do you know I had similar insights about Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire"? ("It was Desire that brought me here. . . . we all of us keep riding that streetcar. . . ) I started to see the streetcar as the eidolon recurring. . .

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Susan Marie:
Your mind continues to amaze me, as your very suggestion has been a matter of discussion between Tony and I for weeks and indeed as we speak he is meeting with someone who could provide the venue for us to produce such a joint lecture.
Synchrondipity !
Interested point on Williams - I can see your thinking. When I have finished my entire Beckett thesis (including Endgame, Happy Days, Not I and some of the more obscure of his plays I will get a copy over to you for your comments)

susan marie said...

KARL: I would like that very much, thank you. And this joint lecture given by you and Tony: would it be taped for YouTube? Tell me this instant.

ken said...

While I don't recall an "eternal return" component, there is a movie with ... (drum roll, please) ... Kevin Spacey ... (thank you) called "The Big Kahuna" in which three salesmen (Spacey, Danny Devito, and ??) are waiting for a very important client to arrive (and he never does). The movie is basically them talking -- the actor whom I do not remember is a rookie and the other two are more seasoned but with varying degrees of regret, remorse, resignation. It was very interesting when I watched it years ago but a fresh viewing may provide more connections with ITLAD, Nietzsche, etc.

(Should we add a "Kevin Spacey" label to the blog? He's becoming quite the conversation topic.)

ra from ca said...

I'm not sure you want to post this as you will be the only one to understand.
The pictures I sent you contain one that shows my son reading for a play from a book. If you look at the title of the book you will note it is Waiting for Godot, and he was Pozzo. The year before he was Algernon in the Importance of Being Ernest. I get this strange feeling the dark philosopher is channeling something... The coincidences seem remarkable.

Anthony Peake said...

Ra from Ka,

Thank you for this contribution. I know how talented your son was. It comes as no surprise to me that he was intereted in Beckett. But what a strange synchronicity!

Karl L Le Marcs said...

I'm confused: You said "I don't recall an "eternal return" component" [to Waiting For Godot].
Act II is a repeat of Act I, they are still waiting, as they were "yesterday" and before, and as they will "tomorrow" and beyond as Vladimir is becoming aware of this eternal repetition. Subtle differences between characters from Act I to Act II suggest the return CAN be changed through guidance [Godot/Daemon]. There are a multitude of quotes in Godot/Endgame and Happy Days which are symbolic of the Eternal Return. If you wish me to go further I shall be pleased to do so.
And as your other reference relates to a film, you can probably guess that I am not aware of it!! I shall add it to the list that HurlyBurly has given me of ITLADian films I have to see.

Vladimir: So there you are again.
Estragon: Am I?
Vladimir: I'm glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.
Estragon: Me too.

Estragon: Didi?
Vladimir: Yes.
Estragon: I can't go on like this.
Vladimir: That's what you think.
Estragon: If we parted? It might be better for us.
Vladimir: We'll hang ourselves tomorrow. Unless Godot comes.
Estragon: And if he comes?
Vladimir: We'll be saved.

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Susan Marie:
Just for you, I would make it so.

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Ra from Ca:
WOW, thanks for your comment. I hope Tony has explained to you that neither he nor I are surprised any more by the sheer number of sinchronicities that we share (WAAAAYY beyond the explanation of my "Kangaroo Paradox" and the laws of large numbers).
Also interesting you mention "The Importance of Being Earnest" as I studied that particular play for my English Literature A Level in college and several of my ITLADian friends on here seem to take some delight in calling me Wildean at regular interludes!
*the swines*
And TONY: To lose one of Ra's coincidences may be considered a misfortune, but to lose both looks like carelessness.
*knowing smile*

ken said...

KARL-- I meant that I don't recall an ER component to "The Big Kahuna." Sorry for the confusion.

I'm also not sure how ITLADian it is ... surly HurlyBurly (how I love alliteration) who is a master of all "Spacey" things can comment on that. Regardless, it is a good movie with intersting dialogue.

Anonymous said...

By reviewing the physics of reality, the science of perception and the neurology of the brain it suggests that we may not inevitably have to cross into the world of the dead. This is a blog site for all interested in this new, revolutionary theory.

"Revolutionary". [sic, obviously, or maybe sick.]. In other words, you'll redefine death as something other than losing consciousness (or falling asleep) with the stoppage of all your organs, never waking up again and not continuing on in the form of a "soul" in any afterlife.

If you can alter that correct definition of death and present ONE piece of evidence of any kind that can be proved scientifically, you would, indeed, start a revolution.

So get to work (:o) .

Anthony Peake said...

Hi anonymous,

Glad to see that this blog site is attracting readers from outside of those who know of me, my books, and my lectures.

You point is an extremely valid one if the statement you quote is taken in total isolation and with no reference to my book. I am assuming from your comments that you have not, in fact, read the book because if you had you would realise that I make no attempt to redefine death as such. Death is death. You die, your body rots and that is, as far as modern science is concerned, is the end of you as a conscious entity. I totally agree. If one approaches death from a spiritual viewpoint then death is not the end and consciousness continues in another form outside of the body (the soul to use one of the many terms). Again, with regard to this position I have no position. It may or may not be the case but cannot be 'proven' by science. It can be implied from personal and subjective experiences but not objectively. However as my theory presents no position on this I am not making any suggestions.

You will be interested to know that I do present absolutely no evidence for the survival of consciousness after death ... but I present a considerable amount of evidence from neurology, quantum physics, psychology and psychiatry as to support my theory as to what happens to human consciousness 'at the point of death'. i.e. before you die.

I have stressed regularly on this blog, and during my lectures, that CTF is a theory, nothing more. I present evidence and I let my readers decide whether the theory 'holds water'. It may or may not be correct but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that something very peculiar does take place at the point of death.

I am really pleased that you have made your contribution. Please, if you have the inclination, get hold of a copy of ITLAD, read it, and then let me know what you think.

Best Wishes


Anthony Peake said...

In responding to the comments I overlooked thanking Karl for the original posting. Having discussed this in some detail I am convinced that Karl has found something of great importance with regard to the work of Beckett. Indeed I am sure that his paper will bring about a good deal of interest (and, hopefully, accolades).

Susan Marie - interested in your link with Tennessee Williams. I saw a production of "Suddenly Last Summer" last year and at the time I was taken be the subtle Daemon-Eidolon themes lying below the surface as a kind of subtext - specifically in relation to the main character Sebastian. It is really annoying though because I cannot, at the moment, recall why I made such a link. Can anybody help?

susan marie said...

Tony; Yes, there is a reason why you made such a connection, and a good one: The main character that you mention, Sebastian, is a thinly-disguised symbol of Williams himself. The play is autobigraphical. It is full of eidolon/daemon meaning and import. Sebastian predicts his own demise and death (which TW did as well). He changes one summer; he becomes different (hence, the title). He is altered by the feeling that he can tell what is about to happen next, and one of the things he sees is his own violent death. At an outdoor restaurant, he has an anxiety attack because the sun looks like an all-knowing eye peering at him. A streetboy blows a horn, and he realizes it is his own deathknell. He is wearing an outfit that he had on in one of his own prescient nightmares. He thinks the restuarant manager is a sort of god of the whole day's scenario. I have written and lectured extensively on Williams' plays: I often feel that he himself is the very best example of the eidolon/daemon dyad. His short story, "Hard Candy", written in his youth, did in fact predict the time and manner of his own death.

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Apologies for the confusion over the confusion
*gets confusing doesn't it*
I'll leave Hurly to comment on "The Big Kahuna"

Karl L Le Marcs said...

To Anonymous,
Initially, welcome. And secondly, I was going to launch into a LeMarcsian discourse regarding your comments but found Tony has done a sterling job ahead of me.
I would be interested to read further contributions of yours but I too suggest actually reading ITLAD as the two areas that Tony's book DO NOT deal with are reincarnation and the afterlife (a common mistake made by those who have not read the book)

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Thanks for your comments, as ever, but knowing me (as you do fairly well), you can keep the accolades thanks.
As when Beckett won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 and exclaimed "this is a catastrophe"

Anthony Peake said...

Susan Marie,

Thank you for your fascinating posting with regard to Tennessee Williams. Rather like Philip K Dick he predicted is own death it seems. I am more and more coming to the conclusion that the Eidolon-Daemon Dyad is of profound importance. Clearly anything you can add to this with regard to Mr Williams will be read with great interest.

thecatalyst said...

Eternal Recurrence is "da bomb". Yes, if we wait for the Recurrence in a state of gracelessness, then we experience the dark side of the Universe, the "Dante" tour.

If, on the other hand, we are in synch with some element of the universe which would be "renewal", then Eternal Return or Recurrence would be the chance to say "yes" to the whole process as Nietzsche said.- Roy C, aka "the Catalyst".