Unreal Nature

February 26, 2016

Our Apprehension Skeeters Off

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:38 am

… there will always be, what there only ever is, more of the here and now.

Final post from Beckett, Modernism and the Material Imagination by Steven Connor (2014):

… Finitude means embeddedness, the impossibility of ever being otherwise than at a specific place and time, ‘en situation,’ in a specific set of circumstances that cannot be discounted or set aside as merely incidental — ‘the life of Monday or Tuesday,’ in Virginia Woolf’s words, which must nevertheless have been written on one day of the week or other.

… I and some of my kind have devoted hours of long and more-or-less honest toil to showing the ways in which Beckett’s work dissolves the claims of presence. Today, I feel more inclined to protest that what characterizes Beckett’s work is the effort to find his way to a presence, though a presence denuded of all determinations, its traditional, infinitive attributes — of permanence, essence, adequacy-to-self; a parched, patched, penurious presence.

… We are wont to think that the given, limited, actual world is what presses most stiflingly upon us, and that it requires strenuous exertion or careful vigilance to break the fascinating grip of facticity, in order that we can project ourselves into possibility, futurity, transcendence, infinity … But it is in fact the realm of the given, or the so-called self-evident, that is most intractable to human thought.

[line break added] We find it almost impossible to grasp or coincide with this realm of the given, the incontinently renewable once-and-for-allness of every instant, the statute of limitations of every project. Our apprehension skeeters off the actual into whatever might prolong or retard it, making what shift we can, through fantasy, religion, literature, commerce, to remit its finitude.

Beckett’s finitude is both a predicament and a choice, the choice of a predicament (‘in search of the difficulty rather than in its clutch’). It is a finitude that is never used up, or said and done; a finitude never to be fully accounted for, abbreviated or economized on, because there will always be, what there only ever is, more of the here and now.

My most recent previous post from Connor’s book is here.

-Julie

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