Blathering about nothing in particular

Blathering About Nothing In Particular – Part 1.


Like a rabbit caught in the headlights, I seem to be frozen in my tracks. That is, I’ve got something stuck in my head that I’d like to blather on about, but after more than a week with this vague thought rolling around in that – apparently empty – space, I am unable to formulate anything to say. In fact I’ve come to the conclusion that I have nothing to say on this topic that is worth a post….yet I’m unable to let go of the topic and move on to anything that seems more promising.

In a perverse way, though, all of the above seems delightfully appropriate – so much so that I’m getting a gleeful enjoyment right now out of writing about how I am unable to write!

Confused?? Thinking of getting out now, yet oddly compelled to read on just to see if I say anything that actually makes sense???

Well that’s all ok, because that’s thematically appropriate too.

*At this point, I could if I chose to, imagine readers – as in, more than one person –  thinking Wow, this woman is an unrecognised genius who deserves a Nobel Prize for services to literature AND an all expenses paid trip to New York, which luckily I’m in a position to offer her! After all, imaginary people can do whatever you want them to.

Sadly though, even with the power to imagine that, I can’t quite get past the suspicion that even an imaginary reader would be thinking, OK, I gave her first few posts the benefit of the doubt, but now its clear she is a raving lunatic. That’s it! I’m not going to keep reading!

Alright, keep your imaginary hair on. If it’s any comfort (and it certainly is to me), that response also fits the theme. Because today’s volcano of suddenly erupting thoughts is inspired by recently seeing some plays by Samuel Beckett.

Samuel Beckett

Aaah, see…..some of you are nodding (although that could be because you’ve fallen asleep). Now it starts to make sense…..or alternatively, it still makes no sense, but for a reason. Or rather, it might make sense if you have ever read any Beckett. So in the spirit of Beckett, I shall continue to meander my way through this post with no fixed idea of what I intend to say, and acknowledge that whatever I might say is most likely not worth reading. But, I might also ask, is anything that you will ever read? Aha!

If you haven’t ever read any Beckett, yet have made it this far through this post, you should really delve into some Beckett at the first opportunity, because if you are willing to stick with this drivel, I’m guessing you will positively adore his work. That came out wrongly: I think Beckett is a genius! However, between his works of artistic genius and my lacklustre drivel, there are some similarities that you may perhaps enjoy. For example, so far, at least, this post cunningly gives the appearance of nonsensical rambling, bordering on the absurd, and is filled with self conscious references to the fact that I’m writing it and/or having trouble writing it.

Similarly, Beckett’s characters appear to ramble nonsensically, they carry out absurd conversations and rituals, and they refer to the fact that they feel compelled to keep talking, while acknowledging that everything they say is meaningless, or, at other times, remark that they can’t think of anything to say.

Waiting for Godot set, Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 2009

Ah yes, that’s right, for anyone who hasn’t read Beckett, there is a lot of talking – about talking – and not a lot of action – in the traditional sense. But really, who wants to go to the theatre to see a phantom clomping around in an opera house, screeching about unrequited love, when you can have a homeless hobo struggling for 5 full minutes to pull off his boot and then peer inside it?

In case you’re wondering, there are also a few clear differences between my blog and Beckett’s writing. For example, my blog really is just nonsensical rambling, and lacks any deeper, existential* themes, I don’t have a Nobel Prize for writing nor am ever likely to own one, and, at time of writing, there are no odd characters who live in bins in my blog, although I guess that in the Global Financial Crisis, anything could happen – so stay tuned!

*Beckett apparently did not see himself as an existentialist, but it’s easy to interpret his writing as being influenced by existentialist ideas. I know – because I did this without even realising existentialism was a thing! The first time I ever heard  the term existentialism was in first year uni, when my tutor wrote on my essay on Endgame, something along the lines of “You failed to acknowledge that your analysis of  the text looks at it only through the framework of existentialist ideology and excludes any other possible interpretations.”

Huh?

After I’d managed to decipher his scrawled comment, I had to go and look up Existentialism to see what this framework was that I’d apparently been using without knowing. (in doing so, I probably learned about as much in doing that as I had in a whole year of English literature at Melbourne University). Until then, I’d been labouring under the delusion that the ideas in my essay were my own original thoughts, smattered with a few secondary references, as required. Apparently you lose points for accidentally clueing in instinctively to an ideology which, as a first year uni student, you are not yet aware of. Life is harsh for the privileged university student.*

In hindsight, I think Beckett would have enjoyed that (mis)communication

*

Estragon: ..Yes, now I remember, yesterday evening we spent blathering about nothing in particular. That’s been going on now for half a century.

(Waiting for Godot)

An academic at Melbourne University earlier today, worried that this blog may have discredited his 80,000 word thesis on Beckett

 

*(That was the last year that tertiary education was free in Australia so I suppose the tutors could afford to actually be tough on students back then, instead of passing them as long as they were able to pay the tens of thousands of dollars their courses cost.)

*Update 7 years later: I just came across this review of a Beckett play which delighted me because it tackles the problem of saying anything about the work of someone whose work questions the validity of using language to create meaning, in a far more eloquent way than I was able to.

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3 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Blathering About Nothing and commented:

    Today I’m reposting an old post. It’s the post where I inadvertently illustrate how I came up with the name for this blog. It was inadvertent because the blog had a different name at time of writing this post!

    This post was originally published in October 2010.

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  2. Well, if Sartre could invent existentialism (or Existentialism), I don’t see why you couldn’t do so as well. Fair’s fair and philosophical wheels are being reinvented all the time which doesn’t mean that the thought that goes into the reinvention is not original and intelligent. All it means is that, as you observe, reinventors don’t get a share of the Nobel Prize.

    Becket was a curious cove and his works have confused many people cleverer than I and – let’s be honest – bored not a few. I suspect his time has not yet come or, alternatively, that it has already passed without our realizing it. The phrase ‘Waiting for Godot’ has taken on a life of its own and is now used as a euphemism for a long and ultimately fruitless wait. That is likely to be Becket’s main contribution to our joint culture.

    Writing a lengthy passage that apparently says nothing is itself quite a feat. It reveals a talent much in demand in political circles where it is used to justify policy and ‘clarify’ injudicious outbursts by key party members. One might also compare it to abstract art which also supposedly has a meaning without any formal expression of it. Putting that another way, perhaps a lack of meaning is the meaning of the work.

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    • I think you’ve hit the nail on the head Silver Tiger – a lack of meaning is the meaning in some abstract art and, I think, in Waiting for Godot. These works were created not long after tge Second World War, and I think that level of destruction & death caused a lot of artists and writers to turn away from making work that held a “story” or a moral, feeling such aims were pointless.

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