Natural History : Part 1- Samuel Beckett

Death overweighs Beckett’s writing. “Beginning is the end, yet we go on”. The characters are devoid of memory, even if they ‘remember’, it ends up in something they are not definite. The actors  resemble something like becoming corpse, accompanied by worn out clothes, grey lights or bare face, peeping out from trash-bins : History seems oblivious in Beckett’s writing. Transience is fixed, at one point. Time becomes null.  Death looms over birth, impotence reigns. Naturality is displaced for a time, where everything stands still, yet the characters try to recapitulate, which ends up in repetition. Repeating one another, or the whole scenario is repeated, with bare change, like the fallen leaf in Waiting for Godot (1953).  Only a faint memory  from past is what the characters have, but transience wins, nothing is left, except transience of life world, fixed at a certain point of time. No emergence. No where to go, nothing to do, except vain mannerism. Meaningless  before overwhelming, overpowering’ force’ of death. To say ‘force’ will be even too much. Death even seems vain, hinting only at some ambiguous meta-physical wound.  There is no sign of ‘myth’ , and nature is exposed.  Everything becomes plastic. No ‘originary’ point to start with. Only a faint memory of ‘something which might have happened’, runs through his writing.  In short, Beckett’s writing presumably , in an oblique way, supports Benjamin and Adorno’s concept of Natural History. His art is not living, emptied to the core. Even the formal gestation proves or shows nothing but, empty plasticity. Devoid of meaning. Things are fixed, as time doesn’t move, except few hints of change, like worn out attire to more worn out attire, or just a stich. His writing end up in “fateful structures of existential invariables”, a constant hint of nowhere, nothing and no-body. Time and setting is transposed on one another, which ends  up in motionlessness. Even memory sometimes eludes of any hope, all this is reminded is a place, when things might have been better, but not good. His play Endgame’s (1957) setting reminds of some empty garage, long turned useless: a meta-physical underbelly.  Their language is not human. It doesn’t refers back to any home, conditioned  in being at home in language. All of it is broken murmuring. Mostly  with no meaning. Only remainder of a language, with might have been before. At the end, it might be conjured, Beckett’s writing can be very much read as an ‘epithet’, in a sense, it adds up to Adorno and Benjamin’s notion of Natural History. Time and memory gets fixed, where in Beckett’s words, “no-one comes, no one goes, it’s awful”.

Jeet Bhattacharya
Latest posts by Jeet Bhattacharya (see all)

Leave a Reply