from samuel beckett’s letters

"Is there any reason why that terrifyingly arbitrary materiality of the word surface should not be dissolved . . . so that for pages on end we cannot perceive it as other than a dizzying path of sounds connecting unfathomable chasms of silence?”

“Is
there any reason why that terrifyingly arbitrary materiality of the
word surface should not be dissolved . . . so that for pages on end
we cannot perceive it as other than a dizzying path of sounds
connecting unfathomable chasms of silence?”

Cover Image

 

It is indeed getting more and more difficult, even pointless, for me to write in formal English. And more and more my language appears to me like a veil which one has to tear apart in order to get to those things (or the nothingness) lying behind it. Grammar and style! To me they seem to have become as irrelevant as a Biedermeier bathing suit or the imperturbability of a gentleman. A mask. It is to be hoped the time will come, thank God, in some circles it already has, when language is best used when most efficiently abused . . . . to drill one hole after another into it until that which lurks behind, be it something or nothing, starts seeping through—I cannot imagine a higher goal for today’s writer. . . . . Or is literature alone to be left behind on that old, foul road long ago abandoned by music and painting? Is there something paralysingly sacred contained within the unnature of the word that does not belong to the elements of the other arts? Is there any reason why that terrifyingly arbitrary materiality of the word surface should not be dissolved, as, for example, the sound surface of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is devoured by huge black pauses, so that for pages on end we cannot perceive it as other than a dizzying path of sounds connecting unfathomable chasms of silence? An answer is requested.

 

from a 1937 letter by Samuel Beckett to Axel Kaun in Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck (eds.), The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume One: 1929–1940, Cambridge University Press, 2009

Advertisements

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s