I too once bore the icon of Saint Beatrice of the Absurd as did he, following the tracks of Dante through a blighted and ravaged series of otherworlds, bereft of dictums, of referents, a journey in which all the signs had been switched so that self-referential language led outward to realms unknown and the places marked Here Be Dragons had settled into my skin like living tattoos and could only be found by surrendering to the currents of time and dancing untethered like a leaf on the wind, or glimpsed in a mirror of endless reflections.
But unlike Samuel Beckett, grim prophet that he was, I danced in rapture and in joy. Because he who has no hope nor fear, no boundaries to one’s self, is totally free. Who cannot be compelled is free.
All the works of Samuel Becket are masterpieces, are unparalleled, revelatory and stunning. I would first read Waiting for Godot, as everyone else has, and after that my favorite, The Unnamable.
The Unnamable, final and most ferocious novel of his magnificent and terrifying trilogy, is a monologue summarizing the great themes of his works without characters, plot, or setting in the usual sense of literary devices.
There are many things it is not, as Samuel Beckett’s critique of language as a mechanism of social control and theft of identity recalls that of Gertrude Stein and travels in the direction opposite the joyful myriad experiments of James Joyce; yet it remains a brilliant and stunning set of arguments for the meaninglessness and emptiness of values and of being.
An extension of Sartre’s Existentialism which develops Absurdist Nihilism as a radical notation of its parent philosophy, and reflective aesthetically of the theatre of Eugene Ionesco and Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett’s idea of Negation rests on premises of authenticity and alienation, and is intended as an act of liberation and an answer to human suffering as a condition of being. Beckett’s Principle of Negation finds its form in the art of silences and blank spaces; here we become the disembodied voices of Molloy or the trapped and dehumanized figures of David Rabe’s Recital of the Dog or Kobo Abe’s The Box Man.
I have often wondered if he was influenced by Nagarjuna, who denies both the existence of the soul and possibly of existence itself, or other Buddhist philosophers, with which he aligns.
Both a direct refutation of the Biblical concepts of sin, soul, cosmological design, historical purpose and teleology, and divine authority, and an original and visionary reimagination of the human condition, the works of Samuel Beckett are integral to our civilization and among its finest achievements.
As I wrote in my daily journal for my political publication Torch of Liberty, March 8 2021 International Women’s Day: Interrogating the Idea of Woman and Identities of Sex and Gender As Performance Art and Revolutionary Struggle; As we learn from John Cage in music, Harold Pinter in theatre, and Piet Mondrian in art, it is the blank spaces which define and order meaning; and in history it is the silenced and erased voices to which we must listen most carefully, for here the emptiness speaks to us of secret power and of the key functions and relationships which authority must conceal to maintain its hegemony over us.
Let us pay attention to the man behind the curtain.
Always there remains the struggle between the masks that others make for us and those we make for ourselves.
This is the first revolution in which we all must fight; the struggle to create ourselves.
Our performance of identities of sex and gender is a theatre of possibilities, of negotiations and dances with normativity and the transgression of boundaries, of the questioning and reimagination of idealizations of masculinity and femininity, of self-creation as liberation and autonomous total freedom, a quest for our uniqueness and for the human transcendent, and of truths which are immanent in nature and written in our flesh.
All true art defiles and exalts.