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Beckett August 6, 2015

Posted by The Typist in books, literature, The Journey, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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How can you stand reading Beckett, she asked. I hate him.

I usually do not stand reading Beckett, as I do not frequently travel by city buses any more. More typically, I sit, although at times I recline, bolstered in the bed. And I do not read Beckett so much as enter into Beckett. I imagine myself in a chair in an empty room, as in a setting for End Game, or somewhere unidentifiable in the dark, as when I wake at an odd hour with my sleep mask on.  At such times there is an unsettling silence and stillness, leaving one entirely alone with one’s thoughts which is the most mentally unhealthy thing which a thinking person can do, I mean someone who really thinks, not just worries although worry always enters into it, worries not in the abstract but in the concrete concerns of a thinking, vivid imagination contemplating what slumbers in the dark, the great rendering gears of the world waiting for the sound of a bell to begin to grind and compress us into statistically satisfying compliance or into a reject package, like cast-off metal suitable for export. Or it is day and there is light, grey light while outside the drawn curtains the world rumbles and lurches by, an unbalanced machine always at the edge of the tipping point, lurching and smoking past the gutters of poverty where the hungry search the cast-off packaging of the rich for scraps, along streets the lamps of which are perpetually dimmed by willful ignorance, past crowded sidewalks governed by traffic rules the preeminent of which is eyes should not meet, but may wander the bodies of the opposite sex and appraise them as one does cuts of meet for quality versus expense, between buildings the windows of which have curtains drawn to hide their secrets, or which open into the spacious offices of those who rule over the cubicles, each worker like a bee assigned his place in the comb, beneath a sky laced with contrails of others hurrying on the errands of plutocratic commerce or toward resorts that decorate the coasts of mestizo poverty like colorful tumors.

I read Beckett, I tell her, to escape, to imagine him a madman, and that his material was not the world.

Beckett April 11, 2015

Posted by The Typist in art, literature, Odd Words.
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image

“Samuel Beckett with a Glass of Wine” (Samuel Beckett au verre de vin), drawing from life by Beckett’s close friend and great artist Avigdor Arikha. 1969

The Unnamable December 26, 2014

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, literature, New Orleans, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
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Three Novels: Molloy / Malone Dies / The UnnamableThree Novels: Molloy / Malone Dies / The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Malloy? By all means yes. Malone Dies? Unquestionably. Read it soon. The Unnamable, well, unless you recognize that voice, unless that voice of imagination and uncertainty, curiosity and fear is unceasing in your head, that voice springs out of your dreams and into full stream the moment you awake, then proceed with caution. This way madness lies. If the narrator stills your own voice, replaces you own neurotic fantasy dystopia with The Unnameable, bringing with it the calm of insomniac familiarity, strengthens your resolve to not surrender to the utter certainty of despair, this last book may, perhaps, but not certainly (one can never be certain) be suitable for you.

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Have A Banana April 25, 2012

Posted by The Typist in The Narrative, The Odd, Theater, Toulouse Street.
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Hell, have two. You’re going to be here a while. Or have been here a while. Perhaps a very long while. It’s hard to tell.

Who am us, anyway? May 31, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, oddities, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street, Uncategorized.
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I write about myself with the same pencil
and in the same exercise book as about him.
It is no longer I, but another whose life is just beginning.

— Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)

I first posted this quote 8/31/06 without any comment, when this blog was lurking in a dark and lonely corner of the internets and only seen by spiders.

Who are we that write out our lives on these blogs? Some of us play out the Social Media or Citizen Journalist role, but what about those of us doing something at once much more personal and still very public? I once tossed out the term “narcissistic blogger” on a mailing list and recoiled in horror at the familiarity of the face in that mirror. Some treat these little stages we erect on the Internet as the set of the one person show of our fascinating lives (so we think, or why else would we be here?), while others take on a mask and become someone else, hiding behind the possibility of anonymity. In either event the act of public writing transforms us.

As actors of a sort who we are deep inside informs whoever we try to project on this stage–a public Self or a fabulous Character. (And our public Selves are certainly contrived Characters, keeping Mr. ID corralled and Dr. Ego’s social relationships in good trim, else the world would be littered with the bodies of murdered co-workers and a long trail of casually ravished lovers). Whoever we think we are in our blogs, the act of performing in words makes us someone new, something more than the simple sum of actor and character. “It is no longer I, but another who’s life is just beginning.”

As I said, I had posted this quote before without much comment almost two years ago. I found it online the other day while looking for something else, and chose to unearth and repost it. Do we repeat ourselves because we’ve exhausted other subjects, or because repetition is an irresistible part of life; not a circle necessarily but a spiral that clocks around an imperceptible center? I like to think the latter rather than consider myself a broken record, a tiresome bore sitting on the same stool day after day drinking the same stale beer and endlessly recycling the same stories.

I think Yeats had it wrong, at least in general. If the spiral gyre runs out from the center it is not a failure of gravity but instead the trajectory of something that has reached escape velocity, acting out a driving impulse but anchored by the mathematical center without which the curve becomes a line. Our personal trajectory through time and space is certain to be governed by some center as surely as the moon controls the tides. Toulouse Street itself is the center here, seems fairly fixed in space and time: an island in this stream we think we are admiring from the deck even as the current sweeps us away, the unseen captain spinning the unresponsive wheel and shouting frantic orders lost down the tube in the diabolical noise of engines run amok.

This is an adventure.

Still waiting, still dreaming… November 11, 2007

Posted by The Typist in 504, cryptical envelopment, Debrisville, Flood, flooding, Katrina, New Orelans, New Orleans, Rebirth, Recovery, Sinn Fein, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Since all of the tickets for the Theater of Harlem’s outdoor production of Waiting for Godot were long gone by the time we arrived, we decided not to wait around under the tree at Pratt and Robert E. Lee and debate, but instead withdrew for more drinks, starting back on the porch at Chez Folse and ending at the Circle Bar for Gal Holliday.

I heard (from someone who asked last night) that there would be no Sunday show added as they did last weekend. So tonight instead of seeing Becket’s play, I am–after a prolonged episode of absurdest, existential angst in my friend’s club level seats at the Dome–reduced to watching bits of video.

I had read the script through online during a business trip this week. There is something essential in it to the current experience of so many in New Orleans, the discovery that we are not suffering from post traumatic stress disorder because we are not past the thing but instead in the very midst of it, in a landscape and a plot as bleak and confusing as Beckett’s, on a road of dubious prospects in a landscape swept clear of familiar geography and of hope, no prospect that over a hill or beyond a wood there is something different, something better.

Nothing to be done.

And yet we came in the hundreds last night, into the thousands, turning our back on the well-lit streets of the sliver by the river, forgoing the restaurants of Magazine and the lively nightclubs of Frenchman to try to sit through this difficult work, a comedy as black as the streets were for months in this part of town, as dark as the picture windows remain in so many of the empty brick boxes that line the streets. We came because all of us are so like these characters, lost in a landscape from which familiar references have been erased, clinging to the one thing that keeps us all from dropping over the brink: each other. We know Godot will not save us, that the Pollo’s of the world care not a whit for the outcome.

The careful fictions we have erected like pyramids in this country were all swept away by the flood, were taken from us as cataclysms of the Twentieth Century destroyed the illusions for Beckett’s generation. We have peered into the abyss, an abyss where many waded or swam in desperation and too many drowned, while the newsreaders stood puzzled on dry streets and the relief trucks stopped at the edge of town, waiting for word that it was safe to come, waiting for instructions from Godot. We were not simply ignored or abandoned by America. Instead we tasted the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, and were driven out of the garden of mass marketing, ashamed of our nakedness. We have peered into that abyss and come away filled with uncertainly and angst, equally incapable of trust in god or government. What is left? What reason is there to live here, to live at all?

And still we come home, even as we came to see Godot. The ticket rules changed without announcement, more turned away than admitted, we left the site of the play not confused but affirmed in the life we have found here. We left that open air stage, but we can no more leave this place, this city than these characters can hang themselves: not because we are incapable, but instead because it is beyond our human nature to surrender this life we call New Orleans. Perhaps Godot will come. Just as likely he will not. All we can be certain of us ourselves: Sinn Fein. In the end, however bleak the scene, we will not give up hope.

VLADIMIR:
Well? Shall we go?
ESTRAGON:
Yes, let’s go.

    They do not move.