Nicholas Royle on psychoanalytic tropes in the work of Samuel Beckett
A brief excerpt from Nicholas Royle's fantastic essay on Samuel Beckett, which relates his work to psychoanalytic notions of the uncanny, and the idea of being buried alive:
[...] What does it mean to be buried? Isn't being buried always the thought of being buried alive? Apparently against cremation, feeling it to be against the grain, after Murphy and all the rest, what made the mole decide to be burief, if he was, if anyone ever can be, at Montparnasse on 26 December 1989? What kind of decision was this? Clov: Haven't I enough to do without burying people? Hamm: But you'll bury me. Clov: No I shan't bury you. Wonder, someone said, does the news go about whenever a fresh one is let down. Underground communication. Communication over. He buried a crowded after-life within himself. Or the crowded after-life buried him.Also at A Piece of Monologue:
He knew that he, too, had to work in solitude, far away, in the darkness, silent as the grave. He knew that he, too, could only seek the congener he could not have, and what what ensnared him, too, in his own way, was the impression, as someone said, of impenetrable mystery but cryptic significance, of verbal concepts being overpowered by non-verbal affects and narrative clarity by intangible complications. It was enough to make him laugh, all these fine and perspicacious remarks made by someone, always someone or other. And even as he was about to laugh, he recalled what someone said about laughter in Beckett: it is a site of uncolonizable resistance to the alleged total administration of society, a node of non-identity. So laughable, if true. And node or unnode, past and present, he knew too that he must follow his master's voice in part by failing to hear it, as in the burrow, always the other, demonically elsewhere. The old mole working so fast, backwards and forwards, working at the door, past and present, buried alive, or not yet alive, the life to come, claw by claw, without escape, dscourse, this must include breaking down, breaking through so-called clinical categories such as psychotic language, that it was a question of elaborating a discourse on the fact that the strategies for continuing talk survive the absence of psychological subjects, as someone said, that the hetereophonic strangeness of the mole's work called for another thinking of mourning and spectrality, in short the impossible experience of posthumous culture. Clov: Do you believe in the life to come? Hamm: Mine was always that. Got him that time. A crowded after-life: such was Beckett's legacy.
Nicholas Royle, 'A crowded after-life'The Uncanny