Saturday, June 6, 2015

Killing the Other Behind Our Desire...

Beckett's literature tells us that there is something that cannot be named, that there is something suspended and empty at the heart of the relation that persons, speakers, hold with the world, with things and their bodies, with others. A hole in the community that makes it simultaneoulsy impossible and possible. A void that makes community intolerable and that nevertheless gives it the elasticity, the porosity, without which a community becomes panoptic, carceral, and totalitarian.

This something is in the language and is language, is the fact of language. To attempt to erase its trace, its blind spot, its remnant of obscurity (from the perspective of science, morality, politics, discourse, well-managed narrative) is the objective of positive discourses (without which the community would sink into barbarity without laws). To bring all of this obstinately in and through language is the objective of art and literature, without which the community would sink into the totalitarian barbarity of the Law.

In other words, the condition of being cut from the world nourishes in us a dolorous nostalgia. To be tied body and soul to the community of speakers could weigh us down to the point of throwing us in atop a schizophrenic state. We cannot dream of a happy and redemptive homecoming, of a community at once supple and solid, and of the quieting of our neurotic sufferings. We must dream of abolishing the rupture, of escaping the prison. But if it is language that isolates and incarcerates us then escaping this prison implies escaping language. In the end this... acting-out amounts to madness. This is why madness is our peculiar temptation (along with violence, bestial abjection, mystical exaltation...).

But one does not escape language without leaving behind one's being human. One does not withdraw oneself from the human (and barbarism is the horizon of this unspeakable exit). This, then, forms the dilemma, in the customary sense but also in the silhouetted cursive of fiction, in which the Becktian creatures operate. Does one remain in prison (cancel oneself out as a free subject by submitting to the norms of the community, become, as the unnamable says, "reduced to reason," live stupidity, dress oneself in neurosis, speak only with the cadaver of the mother in one's mouth) or does one escape, without any voice, in the direction of barbarism, criminality. Winnie's potted autism or Lucky's mournful and delirious logorrhea? It is not surprising that we look for more clement skies, even if we secularize them under the heading of a gratifying Utopia.

Beckett is one of those who reduce, desicate, these reveries. For him, the only solution is not only more modest, but it is no solution at all. One can only exit language from within, by intervening in it (as Michaux likewise believed), by opening within it a provisional space of freedom, by rattling it with style and laughter, by working within it this symbolic bound that stays in one place (but is nevertheless a leap, "out of the rank of murderers," as Kafka said), this perilous and clownlike leap that is named literature, "excess of language," or "scripted gibberish." Without a doubt, there is no other civic meaning to this activity wherein solitude, says Beckett, finds its "apotheosis."

Beckett was one... "resistant" to the catastrophic euphoria of an engaged and utopian humanism. This resistance had a footing in writing, art, in this kind of form of the experience and the work of language turned entirely toward negativity and a hopelessly sovereign laughter. And we can be certain that such resistance, while in modes certainly different but deriving from the same ethical and philosophphical bases, remains very much and more than ever, the order of the day.
Christian Prigent, "Engagement and Indifference: Beckett and the Political"