Thursday, January 05, 2012

"Experiments in reducing language to its barest elements have been the topic of countless studies of Samuel Beckett, which are all in their own ways right in pointing out his dearth or resources at this period and a kind of despair in the face of a language so tired that traditional metaphor, rhetoric, and even normal grammar cannot be effective any more... In Beckett criticism there is a tendency to admire experimentation and reduction for their own sake; but I think it is difficult to assent to the idea that Ping, for example, adequately rewards the labour needed to winkle out its withered kernels. In recogition of Beckett's minimalism, it is not enough to recall Shelley's words from 'On Life': 'How vain it is to think that words can penetrate the mystery of our being! Rightly used they can make evident our ignorance to ourselves, and this is much.'... Shelley and Beckett are both suggesting that language helps us to perceive what is true only by ruling out what is not... Modernist orthodoxy notwithstanding, it is by no means a gain for a work of art that it should trace the difficulty involved in making it... It is, in short, justifiable to the reader to react to the short texts in much the same way Beckett reacted as maker."

from The Ideal Real: Beckett's Fiction and Imagination by Paul Davies

No comments: