If you read this blog often enough, you’ll know there is a penchant toward serendipity. (Penchant does not really work, though, if it is really serendipitous…does it?)
Is it serendipity when a person’s name is spoken, or an action is described, only to have it really ‘appear/ happen’ within 24 hours? A cohort calls this power ‘evil’ – I call it unusual. It seems I have an uncanny ability to speak of someone out of the blue and they will (yes, you know it is coming) appear/call/communicate ‘out of the blue’. These can be personal people or library patrons, there seems to not be a line. It happens with ideas of interest, too…let me explain.
Samuel Beckett has become a bit of an obsession after reading “Waiting for Godot” last summer. (Education is in the sciences, not literature, ergo my knowledge is a bit stunted.) Beckett’s approach to the human condition is rather sublime. ”Waiting” is just one of his many works that addresses the human condition, especially with this idea of happiness; the state of our consciousness in this world.
“Endgame”certainly addresses this conceit – relation to happiness, and/or acceptance of this world we are tethered within. (I cannot get into specifics for the used bookshop sold its copy, so I did a mad dash read at B&N — I’m cheap, I refuse to pay full price) The quick take-away, however, was a sense that Beckett approaches it as a game — this idea of reality and our perception within it. The ending of “Endgames” certainly had me questioning who Really wins – who is checkmate – who is Really in control. The larger question, though, is what is Beckett, the artist, really addressing that he wishes his reader to know about herself.
Reading Beckett’s “Proust” has given a bit of insight. Becket summarizes a main conceit within Proust’s writing :
We are alone. We cannot know and we cannot be known. ‘Man is a creature that cannot come forth from himself, who knows others only in himself, and who, if he asserts the contrary, lies.’
Here, as always, Proust is completely detached from all moral considerations. There is no right and wrong in Proust nor in his world. … Tragedy is not concerned with human justice. … The tragic figure represents the expiation of original sin, of the original and eternal sin of him and all his ‘scoii malorum;, the sin of having ben born. (66-67)
That is one of many revelations into not only the mind of Proust, but the mind of Beckett. One cannot read Beckett’s work and feel that there is a moral certitude at work. We begin to wonder while reading Beckett…
STOP! Back-up. Let us not venture into this and discuss what was serendipitous about all of this before I have lost you forever. (perhaps I already have …)
All jarring text aside, as I sat down this afternoon to ‘focus’ on reading more of Beckett I became distracted by various things. One was to get my hands dirty ala via art. You see, last night I watched a documentary (highly recommended and linked at the end) on Jean-Michel Basquiat via Hulu. Basquiat has always spoken to my creative soul. I cannot explain it, but his approach is beauty and edge and confusion and angst-filled soliloquy bled onto a canvas in such an energy that it does take my breath away. So, I blew the dust off my art table, unearthed some oil pastels and an old “BOMB” magazine as ‘canvas’.
Before I cracked open the old plastic lid to see if the oils remained supple, I thought it best to do a bit more reading since I keep amassing books (for example, bought 3 used gems yesterday). My reading blanket was spread out near a table with several stacks of books and for some reason Susan Sontag’s “Against Interpretation and Other Essays” called to me. I’ve not read much of it, but the book opened to a passage I had underlined in pencil….
“The Death of Tragedy” explores Metatheatre by Lionel Abel. It meant nothing to me at the time. In fact, as I re-read the essay, there was a bit of shock at what had been underlined for there is no recall of it at all. The concept of meta only Now has an impact because of the poetry course I took via Coursera. I shall not wax on, but take us to the tidbit of serendipity, part I
The metatheatre of Genet and Beckett reflects the feelings of an era whose greatest artistic pleasure is self-laceration, an era suffocated by the sense of eternal return, an era which experiences innovation as an act of terror. That life is a dream, all the metaplays presuppose. But there are restful dreams, troubled dreams, and nightmares. The modern dream – which the modern metaplays project is a nightmare… (Sontag, 138).
She goes on to discuss the concept of tragedy and how it cannot really apply today; how it really has not appeared even in Shakespeare’s time. She goes on to explain that tragedies have been explained away by Christianity. We place each tragic event in light of another event which explains away the tragedy. “Tragedy says there are disasters which are not fully merited, that there is ultimate injustice in the world”. Right or wrong, her ideas were refreshing and her insight into Beckett’s writing was interesting.
I shall not go on about this either for apologies are in order for this non-linear post that actually could go on in length. Let us quickly look at serendipity, part II…
Below is the mishmash coloring. You shall not be able to see, but the page I ended up opening to in my one and only issue of BOMB magazine, circa September 2009, contains two book reviews – one is on Susan Sontag; two is on Charles Reznikoff. I never read those reviews, I’m certain for I knew not of either’s work until the last two years. Reznikoff is actually another obsession after hearing his work via Jacket 2/PennSound -
serendipitous… indeed ~