Sunday, February 27, 2011

You Said it Sunday

Reading some Beckett - More Pricks than Kicks - first thinking that considering all the people who ooo and ahh over Joyce, I trust Beckett got it, because I sure never have. Second wondering at B's language - determined, furious, "standing out."

Well then it comes to me that like Joyce his language is implicit with all the anger you would expect of an Irishman writing in the language of English. Beckett is to Dickens what Ice Cube is to Updike if you like it that way. This is not a thought so much as light dawning as to the nature of a family quarrel. The features of the living room, the artifacts, stand out. Thinking of Joyce like an Englishman thinks and you are lost even as you are bound to believe yourself. This does not mean I now get Joyce, but I better get not getting him, and what's more I respect him the more for it.

What is the quarrel. For my part, I see an Irishman as one who steps into a fight and pulls it up over his head and would sooner commend his soul to God than stop short of an end to it, whereas an English thinker can't stop talking about his options. Speaking of religion is to step into it. Beckett captures the distinction perfectly when a character, a Jesuit, finishing his debate with an atheist states "The best reason that can be given for believing is that it is more amusing. Disbelief is a bore. We do not count our change. We simply cannot bear to be bored."

I cannot bear to be bored, but what is my quarrel? Categories are elusive. Analogically, cycling suggests winners and losers. But for the cyclists there are racers and non-racers. A good racer helps "make the race." The more who race, the better the race, the more relevant the outcome. I do not know how not to race. I pull the race up over my head. I know the pleasure of winning and I know the pleasure of going to the front when the boys are chatting and picking up the pace so that the talk stops.

Even so, faculties diminish but not our need for love. To succeed in the game I play you must above all things endure. The final exhibit is one's naked will, unharnessed to accomplishment, untasked with admirers, unadorned, feckless, free. "The Spirit of the People," in this case is more or less a coincidence of actions ascribable to a person who wants what no one can give him and is determined to keep it so. This and bodily health buys me silence in which to enjoy a clear conscience, for I can do nothing and it will be the same to almost everyone if I were to write forever.

Which leads me to wonder, do I do too much? I think so. Recent experience has taught me to consolidate, to pull in the satellites, to retract and reside. My door is open, wide open to family, friends, wayfarers, but I will not venture outside. This is a way of seeing who you are as you prepare to do what you do. I will not expect myself to respond unless asked to. This seals a few ongoing leaks that I cannot support any longer. The quarrel has reached a stage of subtle influencings. I cannot retreat and I cannot remain in place or be bored.

The process is to work when you work and to philosophize when you do not, for that is a taking away of what hampers your work.

A hero cast the pitchfork, but who and what sharpened its prongs?

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