My Grading Scale for the Fall Semester, Composed Entirely of Samuel Beckett Quotes.
BY MATT BELL
[Originally published August 31, 2012.]
There is a little of everything, apparently, in nature, and freaks are common. Yes, there were times when I forgot not only who I was but that I was, forgot to be. Nothing matters but the writing. Each must find out for himself what is meant. It means what it says. I cannot imagine a higher goal for today’s writer. What is that unforgettable line? If I do not love you I shall not love.
The earth makes a sound as of sighs. To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. Not to want to say, not to know what you want to say, not to be able to say what you think you want to say, and never to stop saying, or hardly ever, that is the thing to keep in mind, even in the heat of composition. The absurdity of those things, on the one hand, and the necessity of those others, on the other. You must say words, as long as there are any. Be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. Any fool can turn a blind eye but who knows what the ostrich sees in the sand.
We wait. We are bored. Confusion amounting to nothing. Despite precautions. The confusion is not my invention. You must not think of certain things, of those that are dear to you, or rather you must think of them, for if you don’t there is the danger of finding them, in your mind, little by little. A disturbance into words, a pillow of old words. All life long, the same questions, the same answers. The churn of stale words in the heart again. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. This tired abstract anger; inarticulate passive opposition. I pushed and pulled in vain, the wheels would not turn. How hideous is the semicolon.
It’s so nice to know where you’re going, in the early stages. It almost rids you of the wish to go there. There is man in his entirety, blaming his shoe when his foot is guilty. Don’t wait to be hunted to hide. What a joy to know where one is, and where one will stay, without being there. You wiser but not sadder, and I sadder but not wiser. I don’t understand how it can be endured.
Your mind, never active at anytime, is now even less than ever so. All I heard was a kind of rattle, unintelligible even to me who knew what was intended. I can’t go on, I’ll go on: You invent nothing, you think you are inventing, you think you are escaping, and all you do is stammer out your lesson. To every man his little cross. Till he dies. And is forgotten.
Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful. So all things limp together for the only possible. In the immense confusion one thing alone is clear. I forgive nobody. Nothing to do but stretch out comfortably on the rack, in the blissful knowledge you are nobody for eternity. All I say cancels out, I’ll have said nothing. Words are all we have. Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness. To restore silence is the role.
SUGGESTED READSOn the Occasion, Give or Take, Of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the First Staging, In Paris, Of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, A Few Representative Selections from The Annotated Treasury of Waiting For Godot Parodies
by Ben Greenman (7/25/2003)
Artificial Beckett, Or, How I Used The Second Chapter Of “Murphy” To Befuddle My Ex Girlfriend With Instant Messages
by Chris Kaye (8/2/2001)
Dispatches From a Real McSweeney: Karl, the Beckett Aficionado
by Timothy McSweeney (4/13/2006)
RECENTLYA Brief Disclaimer Regarding the Think Piece You’re About to Read
by Maura Quint (5/4/2016)
How to Be a Better Teacher-Person Through Apathy: On the Hierarchy of English Professors, a Nomenclature: Scholar-Type, Teacher-Type, Artist-Type
by John Minichillo (5/4/2016)
List: Breaking Beyond the 4th Wall
by Marco Kaye (5/4/2016)
POPULARI Would Rather Do Anything Else Than Grade Your Final Papers
by Robin Lee Mozer (5/2/2016)
List: Titles of Bach Chorales, as Translated By My Niece After One Semester of German
by Nolan Bonvouloir (4/15/2016)
How to Negotiate a Raise (If You’re a Woman)
by Maura Quint (4/15/2016)