Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body: The Organs and Senses in Modernism 0230008178, 9780230008175

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Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body: The Organs and Senses in Modernism
 0230008178, 9780230008175

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Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body The Organs and Senses in Modernism

Yoshiki Tajiri

Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

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Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body The Organs and Senses in Modernism Yoshiki Tajiri

© Yoshiki Tajiri 2007 All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission of this publication may be made without written permission. No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or transmitted save with written permission or in accordance with the provisions of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, or under the terms of any licence permitting limited copying issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency, 90 Tottenham Court Road, London W1T 4LP. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages. The author has asserted his right to be identified as the author of this work in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. First published 2007 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG21 6XS and 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010 Companies and representatives throughout the world PALGRAVE MACMILLAN is the global academic imprint of the Palgrave Macmillan division of St. Martin’s Press, LLC and of Palgrave Macmillan Ltd. Macmillan is a registered trademark in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries. Palgrave is a registered trademark in the European Union and other countries. ISBN-13: 9780230008175 ISBN-10: 0230008178 This book is printed on paper suitable for recycling and made from fully managed and sustained forest sources. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Tajiri, Yoshiki. Samuel Beckett and the prosthetic body : the organs and senses in modernism / Yoshiki Tajiri. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0230008178 (cloth) 1. Beckett, Samuel, 19061989“Criticism and interpretation. 2. Body, Human, in literature. 3. Senses and sensation in literature. 4. Technology in literature. 5. Literature and technology. 6. Modernism (Literature)“Great Britain. I. Title. PR6003.E282Z842 2006 2006046059 848 .91409“dc22 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham and Eastbourne

For my Father

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Contents

Acknowledgements

ix

Introduction

1

1 The Prosthetic Body and Sexuality The masturbation machine in Dream of Fair to Middling Women Beckett and the bachelor machine The attempt to dam up flows The machine and sexuality in Beckett’s later work

13 13 19 24 30

2 The Question of Boundaries The body parts as prostheses Confusion of the organs The instability of the body’s surface A critique of Deleuze and Guattari’s discussions of Beckett

40 41 47 54

3 The Prosthetic Body and Synaesthesia Fragmentation of the body and synaesthesia Technology and the transformation of the senses: three theories Synaesthesia in Beckett’s early work Synaesthesia in Beckett’s later work

75 76 83 91 101

4 The Camera Eye Beckett and the cinema The camera eye/the naked eye The double and self-reflexivity Ill Seen Ill Said

109 110 116 122 133 vii

63

viii Contents

5 The Prosthetic Voice Beckett, Derrida, telecommunication Communication over distance: The Unnamable and How It Is The prosthetic voice and the ghostly The interpenetration between the material and the immaterial

138 140

Notes

169

References

190

Index

197

145 151 156

Acknowledgements

First and foremost I would like to thank my former supervisor, Steven Connor, for working with me on the research project that formed the basis of this book. I am happy to have been part of the growing body of what I like to call ‘the Steven Connor School’. My thanks also go to Mary Bryden and Andrew Gibson, whose warm encouragement and incisive comments helped me a great deal. I have benefited much from associating with several members of the London Beckett Seminar. In particular I am grateful to Daniela Caselli for giving me extremely timely advice, without which I might not have published this book. Before going to London I studied English literature at the University of Tokyo. I decided to do so simply because the late Yasunari Takahashi, the founder of Beckett studies in Japan, was teaching there. My debt to him, both academic and personal, is beyond words. I strongly wish I could show him this modest fruit of my research. I have also been given considerable help by my fellow members of the Samuel Beckett Research Circle in Japan. I would especially thank Minako Okamuro for reading a large part of the typescript and offering useful suggestions. I should also point out that I was in part aided by the Japanese Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research. Despite its old age, my IBM Think Pad served me to the end as a positive prosthesis. Last but not least, I express my heart-felt gratitude to my wife and children for their support. The author and publishers wish to thank John Calder Ltd for permission to quote from Dream of Fair to Middling Women and The Unnamable. Much shorter versions of Chapters 1 and 3 appeared in the journal Samuel Beckett Today/Aujourd’hui, vols 11 (2001) and 12 (2002), and a condensed Japanese version of Chapter 4 appeared as a chapter in The Vision and Movement of Samuel Beckett (ed. Kojin Kondo; Tokyo: Michitani, 2005). The author and publisher are grateful for permission to reprint those works here. YOSHIKI TAJIRI

ix

Introduction

‘Prosthesis’ is undoubtedly a term that has been conspicuously used in recent critical discourses. In 2002, a journal devoted an entire issue to the theme of ‘prosthetic aesthetic’. The editors of that issue observed: ‘This past decade has witnessed the emergence and dissemination of discussions around prosthesis as an historical, philosophical, technological, political, ethical, and medical concern’ (Smith and Morra 5).The trend pointed out here does not show any sign of waning even now. Prosthesis has indeed been discussed in diverse fields including, above all, literature, philosophy and critical theory. It is not difficult to understand why the concept of prosthesis has proliferated in contemporary discourses. First, there has been the predominant interest in alterity in the field of critical theory, in which the general influence of deconstructive thought is notable. One of the principal tendencies in the field is to unsettle the integrity of the self (identity) by introducing the other (difference). For example, the conventional distinction between self and other is deconstructed by critical practice which discloses that the self is in fact infiltrated and contaminated by the other. Many other binary oppositions such as mind/body, man/woman and culture/nature are also subject to deconstruction. Promoted in this intellectual milieu are notions such as hybridity, heterogeneity, multiplicity and nomad, which subvert conventional binary oppositions. Placed indeterminately between body and technology, inside and outside, self and other, prosthesis certainly seems akin to those notions and eligible for promotion. It is no surprise that Jacques Derrida favoured this term. As I will discuss shortly, he used it almost synonymously with his key term ‘supplement’. And David Wills’ Derridean work Prosthesis (1995) decisively highlighted the term’s applicability in critical theory. 1

2

Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

Yet, needless to say, theory is inseparable from the empirical reality of contemporary culture, in which the interface between the body and technology is becoming increasingly problematic as our daily life is being permeated by numerous technologies to a degree hitherto unknown. Information technologies are infiltrating every aspect of our life and connecting our bodies ineluctably to vast cyber networks. The clear-cut distinction between the body (considered internal and organic) and technology (considered external and inorganic) is being rendered obsolete by advanced medical technologies including genetic engineering. In ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ (first published in 1985), undoubtedly one of the most representative pronouncements on this situation, Donna J. Haraway writes: In so far as we know ourselves in both formal discourse [  ] and in daily practice [  ], we find ourselves to be cyborgs, hybrids, mosaics, chimeras. Biological organisms have become biotic systems, communications devices like others. There is no fundamental, ontological separation in our formal knowledge of machine and organism, of technical and organic. (177–8) With the concept of cyborg, Haraway attempts to forge a new type of feminism that embraces the reality of our high-tech-infiltrated life, overcoming old-fashioned binary oppositions such as mind/body, animal/machine and idealism/materialism. Prosthesis can naturally be foregrounded in this kind of cultural criticism. Meaning far more than a simple artificial organ, the term prosthesis is useful for addressing the general cultural situation in which the distinction between the body and technology (and by extension, inside and outside, self and other) is blurred or abolished. In such an environment, even the idea of selfidentity becomes unsettled by the permeation of technologies. Thus, in Prosthetic Culture: Photography, Memory and Identity (1998), the sociologist Celia Lury describes as ‘prosthetic culture’ the culture in which one’s self-identity, along with one’s memory, can be modified at will by manipulation of the photographic image. She argues that in this prosthetic culture, ‘the previously naturally or socially fixed or determined aspects of self-identity are increasingly brought within the remit of choice or, better, selection’ and ‘taken out of context and refashioned’. Those aspects are now prosthetic extensions of the self that ‘may be continually dis- and re-assembled across contexts’ (19). Photography, which produces these effects via its ability to frame, freeze and fix the object, plays a crucial role in this prosthetic culture.

Introduction

3

Photography was popularised in the late nineteenth century. The same period also saw the invention of important technologies that would irrevocably transform people’s lives: the phonograph, telephone and film. It was at that time that the wholesale technologisation of life, which continues today, began with the rapid advance of capitalism in big cities. Modernism in art and literature, which emerged around the turn of the twentieth century, registered the impact of new technologies and actively engaged with them. As R. L. Rutsky says, a new conception of technology was formed in modernist art, ‘a conception in which technology is no longer defined solely in terms of its instrumentality, but also in aesthetic terms’. With both the aestheticisation of technology and the technologisation of art, ‘[f]rom the late nineteenth century on, [  ] aesthetic modernism becomes the privileged site for the conjunction of technology and art’ (73). In recent years, we have witnessed the emergence of a new type of study in modernist art and literature, which, interacting with the abovementioned theoretical concerns, considers the relation between technology and the body with more theoretical sophistication and greater attention to historical details. Marshall McLuhan’s pioneering media studies in the 1960s should be noted as a precursor, but the more important source of inspiration for the new orientation is Friedrich Kittler’s theoretically sophisticated historical studies, represented by Discourse Networks, 1800/1900 (1985) and Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1986), of how new technologies in the late nineteenth century (the gramophone, film and typewriter) transformed the conception of art and literature. While drawing on the archaeological method of Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things, Kittler criticises Foucault for neglecting the importance of those new technologies. Whereas Foucault sets the age of modernity in a contionuous time span over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (as opposed to the classical age of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), Kittler contends that around 1880 there was a crucial epistemological break that separated the ‘discourse network of 1800’ from the ‘discourse network of 1900’. The latter was characterised by the technologisation of man, which was especially salient in the physiological scrutiny of the human body and mind, and the concomitant invention of new media technologies. In the late nineteenth century, ‘[s]o-called Man is split up into physiology and information technology’ (Gramophone 16). The communication of souls between author and reader, guaranteed by writing and reading the book in the ‘discourse network of 1800’, was completely destroyed with this

4

Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

death of Man. Kittler discusses modernist literature in this framework, with reference to a wealth of historical materials. Strongly influenced by Kittler, Tim Armstrong’s Modernism, Technology and the Body (1998) marks a high point of achievement in the new cultural-historical approach to modernism. Adopting a largely New Historicist method, Armstrong illuminates many interesting facets of literary modernism in relation to the body and technology, by digging out lesser-known documents, minor anecdotes and other minute details of literary history. Especially significant for my discussion is the chapter entitled ‘Prosthetic Modernism’. Here Armstrong discusses some modernists’ reactions to the impact of technology in terms of the double meanings of prosthesis: the ‘negative’ prosthesis, involving ‘the replacing of a bodily part, covering a lack’; and the ‘positive’ prosthesis, involving ‘a more utopian version of technology in which human capacities are extrapolated’ (78). These two meanings are developed out of Freud’s ambivalent comment on technology in Civilization and Its Discontents (1930): ‘Man has, as it were, become a kind of prosthetic God. When he puts on all his auxiliary organs he is truly magnificent; but those organs have not grown on to him and they still give him much trouble at times’ (Standard Edition [hereafter, SE] XXI 91–2). As Armstrong shows, the responses to technology ranged from celebration of its utopian possibilities to denunciation of its dehumanising effects. Another recent study to be mentioned in this context may be Sara Danius’ The Senses of Modernism: Technology, Perception, and Aesthetics (2002). When we consider the relation between the body and technology in modernism, the way in which the senses are transformed by technologies that heighten them naturally comes to the fore, because sense perception is obviously a crucial part of the body’s work. Danius’ book starts with the old-fashioned distinction between modernism (regarded as elitist and anti-technological) and the avant-garde (regarded as open to the masses and technology), and unjustifiably ignores the latter completely.1 Nevertheless, her book can be considered a major study of sense perception in modernist literature. Through a close reading of three modernist novels ( Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and James Joyce’s Ulysses), Danius shows how technology was internalised into human sensory life. In other words, she highlights ‘a general transition from technological prosthesis to technological aisthesis’ (3),2 the latter term meaning perception. Mainly but not exclusively focusing on the representation of visual technology in the three texts, she demonstrates how human sense perception became infiltrated by technology in the early twentieth

Introduction

5

century, amply referring to the major technological innovations such as X-ray photography, chronophotography and cinematography. These studies of cultural history concerning technology and the body are transforming the idea of modernism. Similar tendencies can be found in the field of art history. Jonathan Crary, in Techniques of the Observer (1990) and Suspensions of Perception (1999), discusses how the new physiological research on the human nervous system in the late nineteenth century, which was inseparable from technological inventions, was related to a transformation of perception (vision in particular) detectable in the art of the period. Hal Foster, in his Compulsive Beauty (1993) and Prosthetic Gods (2004), and Rosalind Krauss, in her The Optical Unconscious (1993), also shed new light on modernist art by investigating the psychodynamics of artists with the help of highly sophisticated theoretical (mainly psychoanalytical) apparatus. All these scholars explore the aesthetic concern with technology and the newly conceived body. This book aims to discuss Samuel Beckett’s work in terms of the ‘prosthetic body’, taking into account the recent rise of the concept of prosthesis and the new research on modernism, which I have just outlined. By the term prosthetic body, I primarily mean a body that harbours the inorganic other within it. Especially important is the body that is felt to be alien and disintegrating, with its parts resembling detachable prostheses. Such a body is ubiquitous in Beckett’s work. Many characters in his work, from Belacqua in Dream of Fair to Middling Women to Mouth in Not I, feel as though their body and organs were alien like a broken machine and its parts. Beckett critics have of course noted the strong penchant for mechanisation of the human body in his work, starting with Hugh Kenner’s classic essay ‘The Cartesian Centaur’ (1961), which discusses how the Cartesian dream of the perfect union of the human body and machine, as represented by a man riding a bicycle, is doomed to deterioration in Beckett’s work.3 More generally, it is obvious that we cannot discuss Beckett’s later work without considering its profound involvement, explicit or implicit, with actual media technologies. In my view, however, there has been insufficient consideration of the technological engagements in Beckett’s work in the specifically historical context of what Tim Armstrong calls ‘prosthetic modernism’.4 In the process of illuminating aspects of the prosthetic body in Beckett’s work, I will therefore examine the broad cultural context in which this body emerged, taking the position that Beckett’s work is indelibly marked by the modernist involvement with technologies in the early twentieth century.

6

Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

The prosthetic body also includes what can be called the ‘prosthetic sense’: that is, the sense involving technological mediation or enhancement, as in the case of vision with the camera eye and hearing with sound technology. Instead of sharply distinguishing prosthesis from aisthesis, as Sara Danius has done, I will discuss the senses within the framework of the prosthetic body. Various critics have been duly attentive to the enormous importance of the sensory dimensions of hearing (sound, voice, music) and seeing (image, vision, painting) in Beckett’s work. However, there has been little attempt to develop a comprehensive view of how his work shares with that of other modernists the impulse to explore new aspects of sensory life opened up by technologies from the late nineteenth century onwards. Again, in the light of the recent studies of the senses in modernism, I will try to contextualise the prosthetic senses in Beckett’s work. In its ordinary usage, the term prosthesis has instrumental connotations. A prosthesis is something that aids the body and makes life easier. However, I am going to use this term without being bound to this definition. Rather, the prosthetic body is a body that has the inorganic other or the outside within it. To be more precise, it is the locus for dynamic interactions between the body and material objects (including machines and technological devices), inside and outside, self and other, and for the concomitant problematisation and blurring of these distinctions. The phrase prosthetic body has an advantage over neutrally descriptive phrases such as ‘mechanised body’ or ‘technologised body’ because the term prosthesis, charged with the recent theoretical concerns, allows us to address those interactions in a new and coherent way. In order to delineate my idea of the prosthetic body further, it would be better to show what it is not. As I noted at the beginning, the concept of prosthesis is congenial to deconstructive thought and Derrida himself often makes use of this term. In The Truth in Painting (1978), he pays attention to the use of the Greek term ‘parergon’ in Kant’s Critique of Judgement in order to consider the problematic of the border and the frame. A parergon, like a frame, is a ‘supplement outside the work’ (55), but it is also characterised as ‘[n]either simply outside nor simply inside’, ‘neither essential nor accessory, neither proper nor improper’ (54, 63). This ambiguous thing is not simply an addition to the work (‘ergon’) but is in fact necessitated by a certain lack inside it. It is therefore a version of the supplement in the specifically Derridean sense.5 Derrida concludes after a deconstructive reading that the passage on the parergon in Kant’s third Critique is itself a parergon, imported from the other (first) Critique (73). Because of a certain internal lack within

Introduction

7

the third Critique, such a parergon is necessary. Derrida describes this structure with the term prosthesis: If things run as though on wheels, this is perhaps because things aren’t going so well, by reason of an internal infirmity in the thesis which demands to be supplemented by a prosthesis or only ensures the progress of the exposition with the aid of a wheelchair or a child’s pushchair. (78) Here we can clearly see that the three concepts – supplement, parergon and prosthesis – are linked by a common feature; namely, that they are neither simply outside nor simply inside as they are all necessitated by an internal lack within a given body or work. In Specters of Marx (1993), Derrida makes a distinction between the spectre or the ‘revenant’ (ghost) and the spirit. He argues that the spirit is paradoxically endowed with the semblance of a body when it becomes a spectre or ghost: ‘For there to be ghost, there must be a return to the body, but to a body that is more abstract than ever’ (126). He calls this body ‘a prosthetic body’, which is also characterised as a ‘visible– invisible’ or ‘sensuous–non-sensuous’ body. The prosthetic body here is on the border between visibility and invisibility, sensibility and insensibility, like a ghost’s body. Again, the proximity between prosthesis and supplement is clear because Derrida also describes the incarnation here as ‘a supplementary dimension’ (126). Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other; or, the Prosthesis of Origin (1996) is unique in having the word prosthesis in its title. Here he considers his own complicated colonial background as a Franco-Maghrebian Jew. Alienated from three languages and cultures – Arabic (or Berber), French and Jewish – he suffered a disorder of identity. French was the only language he had, but at the same time it was not his, it was a language of the other. This condition is called ‘monolingualism of the other’. In Derrida’s view, it is universal because no one can appropriate language. He argues that one has to invent oneself when there is no identity, and that one desires to invent a ‘prior-to-the-first’ language (that is, ‘writing’, the outside or the other) within a given language, where there is no language of one’s own. The subtitle ‘the Prosthesis of Origin’, then, seems to suggest that when there is no origin, a pseudoorigin must be invented as a prosthesis. This can be interpreted as ‘the supplement of origin’. There is an infinite chain of supplements but no origin as a substantial, self-sufficient entity. In other words, due to its constitutive lack, origin needs to be supplemented.

8

Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

I have extracted these instances of the use of the term prosthesis more or less randomly from Derrida’s extremely dense and complex discussions. The purpose has been simply to show that he uses the term in a highly abstract way that does not seem to refer directly to the actual physical body. Of course, it is one of his strategies to deconstruct the ordinary binary opposition between body and mind, or the physical and the metaphysical. To use ‘prosthesis’ to mean ‘supplement’ has a fresh, provocative effect in this sense. And the concept of the ‘prosthesis of origin’ in Monolingualism of the Other is in fact not completely dissociated from the actual body because Derrida argues that the experience of the ‘ex-appropriation’ of language is a (re-)mark inscribed on the body (27). In this book, however, I want to be cautious about the overabstraction or overmetaphorisation of the term prosthesis that Derrida’s strategic use of it inevitably risks. I intend to use the term in a more limited, physical sense in order to concentrate on the problematisation of the boundaries between the body and its other in Beckett’s work. Therefore, I refrain from using this term in the widely applicable, enlarged sense of Derrida’s ‘supplement’. And although Derrida’s idea of the prosthetic body as a ghost’s paradoxical body in Specters of Marx may be partly relevant to the discussion in Chapter 5, it does not underlie my overall framework. Derrida’s Monolingualism of the Other is dedicated to David Wills, and it is probable that when he decided to use the word prosthesis in the subtitle, he was conscious of Wills’ book Prosthesis.6 The latter develops the Derridean concept of prosthesis in remarkably diverse ways. Since it exemplifies the way in which the concept is highlighted and elaborated in the current theoretical discourse, it deserves some consideration here. One of the most conspicuous features of Wills’ book is the strategic mixture of autobiographical accounts and critical discourse. In all nine chapters, Wills’ very personal recollections of his father, who wore a prosthetic leg, mingle with his critical analysis of the subject of the chapter. Wills displaces the classic opposition between the two modes of writing by this deliberate hybridisation, which he calls prosthesis. He intends ‘to have one infringe upon or append itself to the other in an event that can only be called prosthesis; so that there is a rewriting of the relation as prosthesis’ (18). The constant references to Wills’ father’s prosthesis makes Prosthesis itself a prosthesis in this sense. As such, it investigates various relations between the natural and the unnatural (artificial), or between the same and the other. At one point Wills goes so far as to say, ‘Any relation is a relation to difference or otherness, and prosthesis is a name for that’ (45). With such a generalised conception

Introduction

9

of prosthesis, Wills discusses a wide range of subjects: Virgil, Charles Conder, Freud, Peter Greenaway, Derrida, Raymond Roussel, William Gibson, and the rhetoric and medicine of the sixteenth century. In the chapter on the English impressionist painter Charles Conder, Wills analyses one of his paintings in a way that is reminiscent of Derrida’s above discussion of the ‘parergon’. In terms of prosthesis, Wills problematises the boundaries between the painting’s outside and inside, by paying close attention to the figures inside the painting and referring to Conder’s biography that is outside it. When he discusses cyberspace technology in William Gibson’s novels, he notes the shift ‘from the prosthesis of the body to a prosthesis of the mind’ (72), which invalidates the distinction between software, body and mind. In the chapter on Derrida’s The Post Card, he focuses on a missing parenthesis in one of the letters in ‘Envois’ and discusses parenthetical interpolation in texts in general as prosthesis. These are just a few examples of the numerous meanings given to the word prosthesis in Wills’ unsystematic and heterogeneous writing. At times we get the impression that Wills expands the meaning of the word to the point of making it too general. Any relation is a prosthesis for him, but he also claims that ‘the act of writing [  ] is a prosthetic act par excellence’, and that ‘language is a prosthesis’ (30, 300). I intend to resist this tendency to overgeneralise the term prosthesis. However, Wills’ book contains some useful hints for reading Beckett in reference to prosthesis. I want to single out one such point here: the conjunction of rhetoric and medicine in the sixteenth century. In the seventh chapter, Wills points out that in the sixteenth century, when the word prosthesis was first used in English (in 1553 in Arte of Rhetorique by Thomas Wilson), a fundamental reconfiguration of knowledge was taking place that indicated a shift to modernity. This was especially evident in the fields of rhetoric and medicine. Wills discusses this change in terms of prosthesis: In the case of medicine there is a challenge to the integrity of the living body, a challenge different from that represented by the dissections and anatomical advances of Leonardo, while in the case of rhetoric the challenge is made to the integrity of the word. And a case might be made for calling such a challenge that of prosthesis. (220–1)7 In Thomas Wilson’s usage, ‘prosthesis’ means ‘[t]he addition of a letter or syllable at the beginning of a word’ (The Oxford English Dictionary

10 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

[hereafter, OED], definition 1). This meaning is closely related to the fact that at that time the invention of quotation marks had begun to disrupt the continuity of the written (printed) word and change textual form. The spread of printing technology brought about the technologisation of the word and text, and Wills calls it ‘prosthesis’ (222). ‘Prosthesis’ in its original sense, which implies dislocation of the continuity of the word, was possible only on the artificial typographic page. Parallel to this technologisation of the word, in the field of medicine, the Frenchman Ambroise Paré – Wilson’s contemporary – was challenging the assumed wholeness of the body by inventing artificial limbs. This change was based on a mechanical conception of the body that was to be systematised by Descartes in the next century. Although it was not until 1706 that ‘prosthesis’ in the medical sense was first used in English,8 it seems significant that in the sixteenth century, medicine and rhetoric were going through a similar transformation in relation to prosthesis. The intellectual milieu in which the word prosthesis was first used thus reminds us of the underlying interrelation between the rhetorical or linguistic dimension and the medical or physical one. My idea of the ‘prosthetic body’ in Beckett’s work concerns prosthesis in the physical, and now more ordinary, sense of the word. However, prosthesis in the original linguistic sense may not be entirely irrelevant to our discussion of Beckett’s work. If we depart from the specific historical circumstances in respect of printing technology and enlarge the idea of the linguistic prosthesis, we can discuss his work precisely in such terms. In his work there is alienation of language as well as of the body. This is most obvious in The Unnamable. The narrator of this novel is compelled to speak on, even though he feels that his voice and words are not his own. Words are both his and the other’s at the same time. Language here is prosthetic in the sense that it is both inside and outside. As the Derrida-inspired critics of Beckett have noted, the situation here, in which the subject is never guaranteed self-identity and is constantly displaced from itself, can be fruitfully discussed in terms of Derrida’s différance, which Wills also regards as prosthesis (31). And Wills would probably discuss the language in The Unnamable in reference to prosthesis. The relentless alienation of the subject described in this novel can therefore be taken to involve the linguistic dimension as well as the physical one. I will examine the Derridean interpretation of The Unnamable in Chapter 5 in relation to the question of the voice. But in order not to overgeneralise the concept of prosthesis, I will not highlight the conjunction of the two dimensions of prosthesis in the way Wills would with his equation of différance with prosthesis.

Introduction 11

However, there is another perspective in which the linguistic prosthesis is kept in sight. Tim Armstrong says of the etymology of the word, ‘What is grammatically an addition becomes the covering of a lack in the body. “Prosthetics” is thus a useful heading under which to consider the general field of bodily interventions, technology, and writing in Modernism’ (78). If by linguistic prosthesis we mean broadly the situation in which technology impinges on writing, as it did in the sixteenth century, then it could be argued that it applies to the period of modernism. The media technologies that emerged in the late nineteenth century transformed writing profoundly – not only directly, as in the case of the typewriter, but also indirectly, as with the camera eye and the mechanically reproduced voice. This transformation is saliently inscribed in modernist experimental writing, and Beckett’s work is no exception. Although I do not stress the aspect of the linguistic prosthesis in this sense, it is always implied in the course of my discussion. In other words, it may be possible to say that this book is after all about prosthesis in the original double sense – prosthesis as a field where technology intervenes not only in the body but also in writing. This book consists of five chapters, each of which discusses an aspect of the prosthetic body in Beckett’s work. Chapter 1 analyses the prosthetic body in terms of sexuality. It situates the mechanisation of the sexual body in his early work and its transformation in his late work in the broad context of the modernist regression to the early psychic stages. Continuing the hypothesis of the regressive body, Chapter 2 focuses on the three major aspects of the Beckettian prosthetic body, all of which are related to the question of boundaries in the ‘body image’ in the early psychic stages: prosthetisation of the organs, confusion of the organs and instability of the body’s surface. It also examines the views of Beckett held by Deleuze and Guattari, who consider the same aspects of the prosthetic body but in a different framework. Chapter 3 first examines the prosthetic body as the formless, disintegrating body that emerged in modernism, and then turns to the phenomenon of synaesthesia (sensory cross-connection) as its corollary, thereby entering the realm of the prosthetic senses. After considering the general logic that links technology and synaesthesia, the chapter next contextualises Beckett’s synaesthetic sensibility and considers its manifestation from the early work to the late work. The next two chapters separately deal with two senses: vision and hearing. Chapter 4 analyses Beckett’s engagement with the camera eye, with reference to the cultural context of modernist visuality characterised by the intertwinement of

12 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

the technological eye and the naked eye. The conspicuous image of the inner eye in Beckett’s work is also considered in this connection. Finally, Chapter 5 concentrates on the prosthetic voice; that is, the mechanically mediated voice. It demonstrates how Derrida’s idea of telecommunication can cast light on the voice in Beckett’s work. However, it also lays stress on the aspect of Beckett’s prosthetic voice that eludes this approach, pointing out that the applicability of Derrida’s thought to Beckett’s engagement with actual media technologies is limited. The subject of the prosthetic body obviously necessitates careful attention to various presentations of the body. Throughout this book, therefore, I try to highlight concrete marks of physical and sensorial realities that involve the reader or audience of Beckett’s work. Indeed, Beckett’s work often plunges us into a world filled with peculiar bodily sensations in terms of uncontrollable bodily flows, anarchic interchanges of organs and an unstable bodily surface. Such sensations underlie both his novels and his dramas. Even The Unnamable, which appears to be aridly abstract and cerebral, and has often been treated as such, is in fact replete with vivid physical sensations. In fact, the narrator exclaims at one point: ‘How physical this all is!’ (360). In order to address this feature, the first three chapters draw on the supposition that the body in Beckett’s work is in a regressive state where it is still considerably disorganised. Some recent psychoanalytical approaches to Beckett are relevant in this regard as they are attentive to the peculiar physicality in his work.9 However, I do not adopt a single theoretical or methodological framework. I simply wish to accentuate the importance of the tangible, corporeal dimension in Beckett’s work, by taking heed of what the mouth, the anus, the ear, the eye and other body parts are felt to be doing. And as will be seen, physical and sensorial life tends to be inseparable from the question of prosthesis in Beckett’s case.

1 The Prosthetic Body and Sexuality

This chapter aims to discuss the prosthetic body in Beckett in terms of sexuality and gender. In his early work, there is an interesting connection between the mechanisation of the body and a peculiar type of sexuality. The prosthetic body here, therefore, primarily refers to the mechanised body that this special sexuality tends to entail. I will start with an analysis of an early scene in Dream of Fair to Middling Women (written in 1931–32 but published posthumously in 1992),1 where Belacqua’s disguised masturbation is described as a mechanical process. Belacqua’s ‘masturbation machine’ exemplifies the nexus of the allure of the womb, the avoidance of women’s physical presence, and mechanical imagery. When considering the psychic mechanism underlying this nexus, which is characteristic of Beckett’s early work, I put stress on situating Beckett’s mechanisation of the sexual body in the larger context of modernist art and literature, referring to Michel Carrouges’ notion of the ‘bachelor machine’, Klaus Theweleit’s analysis of Nazi soldiers’ psychology, Hal Foster’s discussions of modern artists and other relevant material. This is intended to make up for Beckett critics’ relative lack of interest in contextualising Beckett’s work in terms of what Tim Armstrong calls ‘prosthetic modernism’ or ‘mechanomodernism’. In the final section, I will briefly consider how the above-mentioned nexus is transformed in Beckett’s later work, where the strict dichotomy between man and woman gives way to more indeterminate gender configurations.

The masturbation machine in Dream of Fair to Middling Women Dream of Fair to Middling Women (hereafter Dream) largely centres on Belacqua’s failed love affairs with women: the voluptuous and 13

14 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

irritable Smeraldina-Rima in the first half; the intellectual and beautiful but desperately bored Alba in the latter. Both affairs are unfulfilled, ultimately because Belacqua is afraid of physical contact with them, which always feels threatening to him even though he is spiritually attracted to them. Smeraldina ‘rapes’ him one morning, although ‘it was his express intention, made clear in a hundred and one subtle and delicate ways, to keep the whole thing pewer and above-bawd’ (18). He thinks that only in her absence can he have her ‘truly and totally, according to his God’ (25) – ‘Absence makes the heart grow fonder is a true saying’ (40), the narrator also says – but Smeraldina never understands such an idea.2 Belacqua adores the Alba, with whom he can have intellectual conversations, but we are also told, ‘He has not lain with her. Nor she with him. None of that kind of thing here, if you don’t mind’ (177). At the end of the novel, Belacqua is invited into her house at night, but he soon leaves her without doing anything untoward. The narrator says, ‘[Y]ou didn’t suppose, it is to be hoped, that we were going to allow him to spend the night there’ (240). Belacqua thus wishes to live as spiritually as possible without being disturbed by anything physical or sexual. Ultimately he longs to cut himself off completely from worldly concerns and withdraw into the blissful state of the ‘wombtomb’, where he can attain absolute peace. The ‘wombtomb’ is described impressively as follows: The mind, dim and hushed like a sick-room, like a chapelle ardente, thronged with shades; the mind at last its own asylum, disinterested, indifferent, its miserable erethisms and discriminations and futile sallies suppressed; the mind suddenly reprieved, ceasing to be an annex of the restless body, the glare of understanding switched off. The lids of the hard aching mind close, there is suddenly gloom in the mind; not sleep, not yet, nor dream, with its sweats and terrors, but a waking ultra-cerebral obscurity, thronged with grey angels; there is nothing of him left but the umbra of grave and womb where it is fitting that the spirits of his dead and his unborn come abroad. (44) In this state the mind is cut off from its annoying cerebral activity and the body, and is left in peace with the dead and the unborn. This ‘Limbo purged of desire’ (44) is the ideal state to which Belacqua is constantly drawn. Love for a woman presents him with difficulty because it entails the disturbing dimensions of physicality and sexual desire. But even he has to confront and dispose of his sexual desire. At one point the narrator explicitly presents him as an onanist whose ideal

The Prosthetic Body and Sexuality 15

way of discharging sexual desire is masturbation, and he analyses this disposition of the protagonist with a comically exaggerated defensive tone (38–43). In contrast to the preferred method of masturbation, the use of the brothel does not satisfy Belacqua because it spoils his image of Smeraldina, which must remain intact. The narrator describes how, after sex in the brothel, ‘flooding’ occurs to obliterate the sacred image of Smeraldina. He calls this process a ‘demented hydraulic that was beyond control’ (41). The word ‘hydraulic’ suggests a mechanism operated by water: the sexual process is imagined as a mechanical regulation of flows and the mechanism is ‘demented’ and ‘out of control’. There is a more complex and important example at the beginning of Part Two. Since Part One is just a half-page recollection of Belacqua’s childhood, this is virtually the beginning of the novel. Here Belacqua is sitting on a stanchion on the Carlyle Pier and engaged in a strange activity. He has just bidden farewell to Smeraldina, who is leaving for Vienna. Remembering her image, he is engrossed in a mechanical repetition of inducing and checking tears:

He sat working himself up to the little gush of tears that would exonerate him. When he felt them coming he switched off his mind and let them settle. First the cautious gyring of her in his mind till it thudded and spun with the thought of her, then not a second too soon the violent voiding and blanking of his mind so that the gush was quelled, it was balked and driven back for a da capo. He found that the best way to turn over the piston in the first instance was to think of her béret that she had snatched off to wave when the ship began to draw clear. (4)

Such phrases as ‘switched off’ or ‘turn over the piston’ clearly indicate that the whole process is imagined as mechanical. Notably, Belacqua’s machine soon breaks down:

He sat hunched on the stanchion in the evening mizzle, forcing and foiling the ebullition in this curious way, and his hands were two clammy cadaverous slabs of cod in his lap. Until to his annoyance the fetish of her waving the béret [  ] refused to work. He switched on as usual, after throttling and expunction, and nothing happened. The cylinders of his mind abode serene. That was a nasty one for him if you like, a complete break down of the works like that. (5)

16 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

Then he is seized with the sense that he is ‘cursed with an insubordinate mind’ (5). In this passage, it appears that Belacqua is attempting a mechanical control of his emotions after parting from his girlfriend, as well as of the concomitant emission of tears. But in fact, what is really at issue is sexual drive rather than mind or emotion. There are evident sexual connotations in this curious activity. The emission of tears is called ‘the little teary ejaculation’ (4), which implies an analogy between tears and semen, as the word ejaculation is usually applied to the emission of semen. The whole process is described as a ‘chamber-work of sublimation’ (5). The Freudian term sublimation also indicates that Belacqua’s activity has a hidden sexual dimension. In the same manner, ‘the fetish of [  ] the béret’ is highly suggestive of sex. Since Belacqua is later explicitly presented as a masturbator, it is not difficult to recognise that this sexually charged activity, solitarily conducted with a girlfriend’s image in mind, is a thinly disguised surrogate for masturbation, knowingly described in psychoanalytic terms. The fact that Belacqua’s hands are ‘clammy’ in his lap may also be hinting at ‘Platonic manualisation’ or ‘chiroplatonism’, the labels given to masturbation later in the novel (43). There is another, even more subtle clue to masturbation in the scene in question. My first quotation from this scene started with the sentence ‘He sat working himself up to the little gush of tears that would exonerate him’ (4). The meaning of the verb exonerate is rather unclear in this context if we take it to mean ‘free from blame’ or ‘release from a duty’, as there is no apparent reason why Belacqua should be exonerated in this sense. Beckett’s Dream Notebook edited by John Pilling, however, provides us with unexpected information about the verb. One of the source materials Beckett used when writing Dream was Pierre Garnier’s book on onanism, Onanisme seul et à deux sous toutes ses formes et leurs conséquences. Three of the many notes taken from this book appear to link ‘exoneration’ and ‘exonerate’ to the ejaculation of semen. The first ([447]) admonishes one euphemistically against wilful exoneration when one is succumbing to lust – that is, against masturbation. The second ([458]) explicitly uses the adjectival form of semen to modify the word exoneration, and in the third ([466]) self-exonerating seems to be masturbatory. Hence it is possible to detect, in the phrase ‘tears that would exonerate him’, a surreptitious substitution of tears for semen, and this shows how elaborately Beckett tried to mask (but in the end, also to hint at) masturbation. Belacqua’s masturbation is rendered innocent or ‘sublimated’ not only because it is disguised as a manipulation of tears but because it

The Prosthetic Body and Sexuality 17

is mechanised. Belacqua seems to be trying to regulate and control his sexual drive by mechanising it. The chaotic, irrational force of the sexual drive can be subdued if it is reduced to a machine that works with pistons, cylinders and switches. This is in line with the fact that throughout the novel Belacqua shrinks away from normal sexual encounters with women and resorts to masturbation. Masturbation is itself a means to put sexual drive under a certain degree of control because the masturbator can satisfy it at will without encountering the other’s body and its alterity. If Belacqua succeeds in mechanising masturbation, he can doubly control the disturbing force of sexual drive. He might then move a little closer to his ideal state of the ‘wombtomb’, where he will not be disturbed by anything, including his sexual drive.3 In Belacqua’s masturbation machine, there are some noteworthy features that prefigure Beckett’s later work. First, Belacqua’s activity is centred on the retention of tears. He seems to find perverse pleasure in deliberately holding back tears at the moment of their emission. It may be worthwhile to recall here Freud’s account of anal eroticism in ‘Three Essays on Sexuality’. According to his theory of infantile sexuality, children go through the oral and then the anal phase of sexuality before their sexuality is properly organised around the genitalia. In these pregenital phases, the mouth and the anus are erotogenic zones from which children derive sexual pleasure. In the case of the anal phase, children take pleasure in defecating and some deliberately retain their stools until enough of them have accumulated: ‘One of the clearest signs of subsequent eccentricity or nervousness is to be seen when a baby obstinately refuses to empty his bowels when he is put on the pot [  ] and holds back that function till he himself chooses to exercise it’ (SE VII 186). Significantly, Freud points out that this kind of deliberate retention of faeces is carried out ‘in order to serve [  ] as a masturbatory stimulus upon the anal zone’ (SE VII 186–7). The similarity between Belacqua’s deliberate checking of tears and children’s retention of faeces may be viewed as another indication of the former’s masturbatory nature. This inference is not groundless given that in the half-page Part One, immediately preceding the scene in question, Belacqua as a little boy sees a horse defecating right in front of him – one of the earliest instances of the scatology that is abundant in Beckett’s work. We may also remember that the word exoneration, discussed above, could mean defecation in French (exonération). But more generally, the preoccupation with retention is indicative of what is called ‘anal character’ in Freudian psychoanalysis. In ‘Character and Anal Eroticism’, Freud says that the ‘character-traits of orderliness, parsimony and

18 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

obstinacy, which are so often prominent in people who were formerly anal erotics, are to be regarded as the first and most constant results of the sublimation of anal eroticism’ (SE IX 171). ‘Anal erotics’ are those who hold back their stools in order to derive pleasure from defecation. In Beckett’s work, the traits pointed out by Freud are often conspicuous: the absurdly permutational language in Watt, Molloy’s mathematical attempt to suck stones in the right order, Krapp’s parsimonious retention of his memory in tapes (his name itself is explicitly anal), and the strictly geometrical patterning of human action in Quad. Krapp’s case is the most obvious because one of the problems he had at the age of thirty-nine was ‘[u]nattainable laxation’ (The Complete Dramatic Works [hereafter, CDW] 218) – that is, constipation. Freud attributes the constipation that is common among neurotics to the infantile retention of faeces (‘Three Essays on Sexuality’, SE VII 186–7).4 As Phil Baker notes (62), in Dream Belacqua’s friend Chas has a strange habit of completing statements – literary quotations in particular – that others have started. This is observed to be an ‘[a]nal complex’ and related to ‘inhibition’ in sexuality (Dream 148). Evidently Beckett was familiar with Freud’s discussion of the anal character when he wrote Dream, and there is even a possibility that he might have drawn on Freudian theory when describing Belacqua’s disguised masturbation.5 The second feature that prefigures Beckett’s later work is the displacement of the organs. In the masturbation scene, ordinary masturbation with the penis and semen is displaced by quasi-masturbation with the eyes and tears, which might justify the narrator’s description of it as ‘sublimation’. Underlying this is a third hidden dimension concerning the anus and faeces, discernible with reference to Freud. A certain structure could then be postulated in which the penis/semen, the anus/faeces and the eyes/tears could link with and slip into each other. Freud himself discusses such structures. In ‘On Transformations of Instinct as Exemplified in Anal Eroticism’, for instance, he argues that faeces, baby and penis ‘are often treated as if they were equivalent and could replace one another freely’ in the unconscious (SE XVII 128). However, in Beckett’s work there seems to be a comprehensive bodily economy in which many other organs, including the eye, have equivalent value. This is in fact a salient feature of Beckett’s entire oeuvre. One often comes across passages where various organs, including the eye or the ear, are juxtaposed or confused with each other: ‘this eye is hard of hearing’ (The Unnamable 364); ‘I confuse them, words and tears, my words are my tears, my eyes my mouth’, ‘the head and its anus the mouth’ (Texts for Nothing, The Collected Shorter Prose 1945–1980 [hereafter, CSP] 96, 104);

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‘the eye breathes’ (Ill Seen Ill Said 22). Belacqua’s activity could be regarded as an early instance of this general tendency in Beckett’s work, which might suggest a regression to the very early stages of psychic life when the organs and their functions are not yet clearly demarcated or properly organised into unity. I will discuss this aspect more closely in the next chapter. Finally, Belacqua’s masturbation machine eventually breaks down. This too is characteristic of Beckett’s work in general. In ‘The Cartesian Centaur’, Hugh Kenner considers the bicycles that appear in many of Beckett’s works and suggests that Beckett’s ideal state is represented by a man riding a bicycle. In the union of man and machine (the ‘Cartesian Centaur’), the body works as a perfect machine independently of the mind. But in reality, the body and the bicycle are always defective or disintegrating in Beckett so that the ideal remains an unachievable dream. Kenner shows how, in the course of the trilogy, the ideal of the ‘Cartesian Centaur’ is dismembered. In The Unnamable, the bicycle and the body are gone, and the mind is left in the muddle of endless selfreferential language. The dream of mechanising the body is doomed. As I mentioned earlier in relation to anality, there is a notable tendency in Beckett’s work to resort to mechanical order. Just as the Cartesian Centaur remains an impossible dream, this tendency often seems to be overturned by the contrary tendency for chaos and disorder. The permutational language in Watt is simply nonsensical and absurd, and Molloy’s elaborate systems of sucking stones lead him nowhere. Belacqua’s masturbation machine is a prosthetic body in the sense that the sexual body has its inorganic other within it in the form of a machine – a machine for regulating the anarchic sexual force inside the body. And because the machine breaks down, its prosthetic nature or otherness is even more manifest. Leaving the disorganised, fragmentary feature of the prosthetic body for the next chapter, I am going to examine the prosthetic body in the sense of the mechanised sexual body. I will first track its genealogy and further explore the psychodynamics underlying it.

Beckett and the bachelor machine Belacqua’s masturbation machine is far from exceptional in the context of modernism. There are many modernists whose mechanical imagery is engendered by certain sexual dispositions. Particularly relevant to Beckett is a group of artists whom Michel Carrouges analysed under the rubric of the ‘bachelor machine’ (machine célibataire).6 His ideas

20 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

about this machine are first elaborated with regard to Duchamp and Kafka, and then applied to many other artists, including Roussel, Jarry, Apollinaire and their precursors such as Poe and Lautréamont. Carrouges points out numerous similarities between Duchamp’s glasspainting, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, which is commonly known as The Large Glass, and Kafka’s story ‘In the Penal Colony’. In The Large Glass, which looks like a plan of a machine, the lower part called the ‘bachelor machine’ is separated from the upper part depicting the bride, although the two parts are supposed to be connected in their mechanical functions. It is easy to see that Duchamp views sexual relations between man and woman with derisive detachment. Carrouges discerns a similar negative attitude towards eroticism (impotence, this time) in the torturing machine in Kafka’s story, which inscribes letters (of the violated law) on the bare back of a criminal lying on the bed below. What is common to Duchamp and Kafka is the bachelor’s attitude. Carrouges defines this as follows: ‘In effect, the bachelor, not as a simple fact but as a characteristic mental attitude, is founded on a certain loss of human sense, or on the impossibility of involvement and communion with women.’ Duchamp and Kafka’s bachelor machines ‘represent the modern form of the Narcissus complex and its icy asceticism’.7 Belacqua’s masturbation machine is much cruder than the complex machines of Duchamp and Kafka. Yet in terms of his general attitude towards sex, Belacqua can be aligned with them and the other makers of bachelor machines discussed by Carrouges. Drawn to the narcissistic confinement of the ‘wombtomb’, he cannot communicate normally with women and therefore resorts to masturbation, by means of which he can avoid women’s physical presence. As discussed earlier, the mechanisation of the body is a means to regulate and control the disturbing sexual drive incited by women. It is also notable that, as with Belacqua’s masturbation machine, Carrouges’ bachelor machines are all ultimately dysfunctional. Duchamp’s machine does not lead to consummation of love, while Kafka’s torturing machine destroys itself in the end. The nexus between the allure of the womb, the avoidance of women and the mechanisation of the body can also be detected in other early works by Beckett. In ‘Fingal’ in More Pricks Than Kicks, Belacqua goes out hill-walking with his girlfriend Winnie, but just as in Dream, their conversation is unharmonious because of his extremely introvert nature. After referring to the Cartesian distinction between body and mind, he abruptly says, ‘I want very much to be back in the caul, on my back in the dark forever’ (31). As ‘caul’ is the membrane that encloses a foetus, this remark is an explicit expression of Balacqua’s desire to return to

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the womb. In the end, he leaves Winnie with Dr. Sholto, whom they have met on the way, and enjoys riding a bicycle he has picked up. He is reported to be ‘going like flames’ on the bicycle (35). He ‘could on no account resist a bicycle’, and as soon as he starts to ride, his ‘sadness [falls] from him like a shift’ (28, 33). Here Belacqua seems to be almost coterminous with his bicycle – his prosthesis – and have become a ‘Cartesian Centaur’. The desire to return to the womb results in escape from a woman and mechanisation or prosthetisation of the body. The same pattern can be found in Beckett’s early poem ‘Sanies I’. In this very obscure poem, the narrator is riding a bicycle in the suburbs of Dublin – apparently another example of a ‘Cartesian Centaur’. On the way back home, he suddenly thinks of the womb just like Belacqua in ‘Fingal’: ‘ah to be back in the caul now with no trusts/no fingers no spoilt love’ (Collected Poems 17). Then he imagines the situation of his own birth, in which a ‘gory’ midwife takes him up to the joy of his father. Towards the end of the poem, there appears a woman, who seems to be the object of the narrator’s desire: I see main verb at last her whom alone in the accusative I have dismounted to love gliding towards me dauntless nautch-girl on the face of the waters dauntless daughter of desires in the old black and flamingo (18) Like Smeraldina and other women in Beckett’s early work, this woman – the ‘dauntless daughter of desires’ – seems to be more amorous than her lover. The narrator has ‘dismounted’ his bicycle to love her.8 Characteristically, however, she is at once dismissed by him: ‘get along with you now take the six the seven the eight or the little single-decker/take a bus for all I care walk cadge a lift/home to the cob of your web in Holles Street’ (18). Here again, the mechanisation or prosthetisation of the body – the unity of the body and the bicycle – is connected to a desire to return to the womb and a concomitant rejection of the woman. In these two instances (‘Fingal’ and ‘Sanies I’), the bicycle can be regarded as a bachelor machine, even if – uncharacteristically – they do not break down.9 What underlies the bachelor machine is fundamentally the denial of sexual difference or of the otherness of the woman. In Beckett’s case, the obsession with the womb is very conspicuous, but this is no surprise given that the denial of sexual difference is the common element in

22 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

both the mechanisation of the sexual body and the desire to return to the womb. The former seeks to control the disturbing sexual drive caused by sexual difference, whereas the latter implies a desire to return to the primordial psychic state where as yet there is no sexual difference. The control of sexual drive could take the form of mechanising the woman’s body. It may be worthwhile to consider this in relation to the pull of the womb or the maternal in general, in order to make clearer the background of the emergence of bachelor machines. In the history of the relation between the woman and the machine, the Romantic period was an important turning point.10 According to Hal Foster, the ideal of the automaton can be directly linked to the rise of industrial capitalism during the Enlightenment. However: a strange thing happens to this ideal of automaton in its industrial application: it becomes less a paragon of rational society than a ‘threat to human life,’ less a figure of enlightenment than a cipher of uncanniness. In romantic literature at the turn of the nineteenth century, these mechanical figures become demonic doubles of danger and death (the tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann are only the most obvious examples). Moreover, as soon as they are coded as demonic, they are also gendered as female. In this way, a social ambivalence regarding machines, a dream of mastery versus anxiety about loss of control, becomes bound up with a psychic ambivalence, of desire mixed with dread, regarding women. (Compulsive Beauty 134) Thus in the Romantic period, there emerged a distinct tendency to associate the machine with the woman, a tendency engendered by the ambivalent feelings (fascination and fear) commonly held about them. In her study of the link between the woman’s voice and the artificial in nineteenth-century French literature, Felicia Miller Frank similarly notes that the machine began to assume a negative literary image in German Romanticism, and complements Foster’s view by introducing the motif of the fatal woman (femme fatale), which became dominant in art and literature in the latter half of the nineteenth century (137–42). The fatal woman is cold, demonic and inhuman, and cruelly subjugates the man who is in love with her. Behind this image lies a masochistic desire on the man’s part: the woman is dreadful, but because of that she is also alluring. Miller Frank argues that the image of the fatal woman was affiliated with the positive view of the artificial in the woman, which was first formulated by Baudelaire. Naturally, then, it easily combined with the figure of the automaton, as exemplified in Villiers de l’Isle-Adam’s

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novel Tomorrow’s Eve (1886), in which the protagonist prefers a female automaton to a defective real woman.11 Both Foster and Miller Frank thus focus on the way in which the woman and the machine became associated as a result of the man’s ambivalence (fascination and fear) towards them after the Romantic period. It could be argued, however, that behind this ambivalence lurked the man’s desire to regulate and control female sexuality by mechanically neutralising it. In other words, the woman and the machine were connected not only because both of them were deemed uncanny, but also because the man’s fear of female sexuality made it necessary to keep it under control by mechanisation. There must have been a defensive attempt to overcome this fear by desexualising the woman and reducing her alterity – ultimately by making her an ideal automaton that could be manipulated at will.12 Miller Frank starts with the observation that in both Rousseau and Proust – whom she dubs the ‘bookends’ of French Romanticism – nostalgia for the maternal voice constituted an important element of the writer’s self. Her main discussion, however, centres on how the female voice was desexualised and rendered artificial by Balzac, Sand, Baudelaire, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam and others. She deals with this seeming contradiction in the following way: The feminine voice emerges as a signifier that is erotically charged with nostalgia for the maternal but circulates in a system based on the devaluation of the feminine. The woman’s voice functions as a double term that refers to a certain affective plenitude, but whose signification is yet structured by a representational system the defining terms and resulting perspectives of which elide the representation of feminine subjectivity. The result is an effacement of a genuine feminine subjectivity as ‘voice,’ reflected in representation by its structural position as echo. (3) It is implied that existing nostalgia for the maternal is deflected by a representational system to desexualisation. But in my view, nostalgia for the maternal (and by extension the womb) and mechanisation of the woman’s body – the latter entails desexualisation of the female voice – are inherently connected through the denial of sexual difference. Miller Frank’s discussion of Rousseau is revealing in this context. Rousseau was obsessed with the maternal voice, while he tended to avoid sexual intercourse with women and had a passionate fetishistic fascination with the desexualised female voice. Nostalgia for

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the maternal made it necessary to keep his love objects sexually intact. This structure is reminiscent of that which produces Beckett’s bachelor machines. As observed above, the pull of the womb compels Beckett’s male protagonists to distance themselves from the real physicality of women.13 But the mechanisation and desexualisation of female physicality is just part of the problematic of the bachelor machine. Not only the woman’s body but also sexuality itself (and so the man’s sexual body) can be subject to mechanisation. Belacqua’s masturbation machine is an example of this. In the next section, I will focus on the psychology that regards women and the sexual drive as flows, and cast additional light on the mechanisation of the sexual body. Such a consideration will make clearer the psychodynamics underlying Beckett’s prosthetic body, by foregrounding the man’s defensive mechanism against the threat of the woman and the unconscious.

The attempt to dam up flows With Belacqua’s masturbation machine, what is to be regulated and controlled mechanically is sexual drive represented as a bodily flow. This flow is disguised as tears, but in fact it is a sexually charged flow of semen or excrement. We may also recall that Belacqua’s sexual act in the brothel is described as a ‘demented hydraulic’. Such representation of sexual drive as flows is common in modern bourgeois society. According to Klaus Theweleit’s historical and psychological analysis of the fascist male, Male Fantasies (1977, 78), the fascist male’s essential need is to stop, dam up or stand fast against flows and floods that threaten him psychologically. Along with communists, women are commonly represented as such flows and floods. Theweleit points out that ‘political enemies and the hostile principle of femaleness appear in the floods in much the same way – both of these flow as embodiments of the eruption of the soldier male’s unconscious’ (I 403). Examining the long history of Western literature in which women are associated with water, rivers, the sea and all manner of flows, Theweleit observes that from the Romantic period onwards, the female body was withdrawn from the public sphere as a dangerous flow and became subject to renewed control. As a result, ‘[t]he love objects, withheld from men and negativized, [  ] dissolved into an all-encompassing, threatening principle called (among other things) femininity’ (I 362). The threatening principle called femininity now turns inward and governs the unconscious of men.14 The unconscious (or the femininity

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within) threatens to erupt and engulf the masculine ego. Theweleit suggests: In patriarchy, where the work of domination has consisted in subjugating, damming in, and transforming the ‘natural energy’ in society, that desiring-production of the unconscious has been encoded as the subjugated gender, or femaleness; and it has been affirmed and confirmed, over and over again, in the successive forms of female oppression. [  ] In the course of the repression carried against women, those two things – the unconscious and femaleness – were so closely coupled together that they came to be seen as nearly identical. (I 432) In order to prevent encroachment of the flows, morass, slime and pulp of women and the unconscious – these two are now ‘nearly identical’ – men build up their body as armour, which gives them a clear sense of the boundary between the inside and the outside. Such armouring leads to mechanisation of the sexual body. Unlike Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘desiring machine’, which is always coupled with flows, this ‘totality machine’ sets itself against flows and tries to regulate them.15 In his further analysis Theweleit suggests that the fascist male could be described as ‘born in a state of incompletion’ or ‘not-yet-fully-born’ (II 212).16 He does not have any secure sense of body boundaries, as in the very early stages of life, so that he needs to have protective armour imposed from the outside. This armour can be any form of social organisation – ranging from the family to the army – that guarantees a sense of boundaries (II 222). As Theweleit makes clear, such a psychic mechanism of the man is not limited to the fascist male. Rather, the fascist male’s relation to the woman ‘represents a segment within the continuum of bourgeois patriarchy – and thus, in the present context, a segment within the genesis of fascism’ (I 362). It is therefore no surprise that the same psychic mechanism is widely visible in art and literature, especially around the turn of the century. As Joseph Boone notes, Freud repeatedly represented the libido as a flow (to be dammed by the ego) and there were related literary representations of (primarily emancipating) libidinal flow in the works of Kate Chopin and D. H. Lawrence (Boone 63–72). The idea of defensive armouring illuminates the works of modernists such as Wyndham Lewis and Marinetti, where the penchants for fascism, misogyny and machines coexist.17 The young Beckett was not unresponsive to the prevalent imagery of libidinal flow. With remarkable

26 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

explicitness his early story ‘Assumption’ (published in transition 16–17 in 1929) dramatises the tension between the libidinal flow and the ego’s efforts to dam it in. In this short story, the protagonist is trying to choke back the rising stream of whispers within himself. But the collapse seems to be imminent: ‘By damming the stream of whispers he had raised the level of the flood, and he knew the day would come when it could no longer be denied. Still he was silent, in silence listening for the first murmur of the torrent that must destroy him. At this moment the Woman came to him    ’ (5). This woman visits him every night to talk to him, but he does not welcome her. Like other male protagonists in Beckett’s early work, he is a misogynist. Her talking provokes ‘a fury against the enormous impertinence of women, their noisy intrusive curious enthusiasm [  ]’ (5). Nevertheless she contributes to the coming of the dreaded but also desired dissolution.18 She causes him to lose ‘something of the desire to live, something of the unreasonable tenacity with which he shrank from dissolution’ or ‘a part of his essential animality’. Every evening she pushes him closer to deathly dissolution by ‘loosen[ing] yet another stone in the clumsy dam set up and sustained by him’ (6).19 Then finally ‘a great storm of sound’ explodes and ‘it fused into the breath of the forest and the throbbing of the sea’ (7). The protagonist is found dead with the woman caressing his hair. The woman in the story is clearly associated with the menacing flood of sound that finally brings about a total fusion with nature, the kind of death aimed at in the Freudian death drive. The flood of sound that the protagonist tries to dam up could be interpreted as an analogue of the unconscious drive – or the femininity within – that can lead to death. In this respect, the story seems to illustrate the man’s defensive mechanism against the woman and the unconscious, which, according to Theweleit, underlies modern patriarchal society and manifests itself most prominently in the fascist male. It should be noted, however, that the protagonist abandons himself almost willingly to the final dissolution which resembles an ecstatic death. In a sense he reaches the nirvana-like state of the ‘wombtomb’ with the annoying but secretly desired help of a woman. Such a view is supported by the fact that in the last scene, the woman looks like a mother holding her dead son – the image of Pietà that strongly evokes maternity. Belacqua’s masturbation machine in Dream appears to be a simplified extension of the mechanism depicted in ‘Assumption’ in the sense that Belacqua’s attempt to regulate the flow of sexual drive mechanically is parallel to the attempt to dam up the flood. Both are designed to

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cope with the uncontrollable sexual force within that is figured as fluid. And just as the dam collapses, the masturbation machine breaks down, although there is no total dissolution or death.20 In staging the inevitable breakdown of damming and mechanisation, Beckett seems to reveal the fundamental dysfunction of the man’s defence mechanism. This may also be related to the fact that in Dream Belacqua’s ideal state of the ‘wombtomb’ is invariably associated with water, although it is said to be completely free of ‘flight and flow’ (45, 121).21 For instance, it is called ‘an unsurveyed marsh of sloth’, ‘a slough of indifference and negligence and disinterest’ (121), ‘his dear slush’ (182). In such a state Belacqua ‘was bogged in indolence’ (121). The final fusion in ‘Assumption’, which is comparable to the state of the ‘wombtomb’, also evokes an image of the sea. These watery conditions are supposed to be avoided by means of armouring and mechanisation. One of the modernists whose work includes a similar coexistence of the womb fantasy and an obsession with the machine is the Italian Futurist F. T. Marinetti. Marinetti repeatedly expresses intense scorn for women while he adores machines and advocates the mechanisation of men. These two subjects are strongly related. To take just one example, Marinetti starts ‘Multiplied Man and the Reign of the Machine’ (1911–15) by denouncing the idea of a woman’s beauty. Instead he exalts mechanical beauty: ‘Have you never seen a mechanic lovingly at work on the great powerful body of his locomotive? His is the minute, knowing tenderness of a lover caressing his adored woman’ (98). Here a locomotive is substituted for an adored woman. He also puts forward an ideal of ‘multiplied man’ made up of mechanical parts: ‘These energetic beings have no sweet mistress to visit in the evening, but each morning they love to check meticulously the perfect working of their factories’ (100). Women are harmful to this ideal because they trap men in ‘the disease of Amore’ with ‘the double alcohol of lust and sentiment’. The new mechanical men are free from any lust or sentiment associated with women. As Cinzia Sartini Blum notes, Marinetti’s aesthetic of the machine ‘betrays a deep need for new paradigms of order, power, and control: the search for a new all-male symbolic structure to “harness” the eruption of feminine-connoted irrationality’ (51). The machine is substituted for women because it ‘fulfills male desire for total possession’ and helps to domesticate female difference (51). This is the familiar psychic mechanism examined in the previous section. On the other hand, Marinetti’s penchant for the machine is not unrelated to the allure of the womb. In ‘The Founding and Manifesto of

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Futurism’ (1909), he is running after death by speeding in his car. He plunges into a ditch, and then comes the well-known passage: Oh! Maternal ditch, almost full of muddy water! Fair factory drain! I gulped down your nourishing sludge; and I remembered the blessed black breast of my Sudanese nurse   . When I came up – torn, filthy, and stinking – from under the capsized car, I felt the white-hot iron of joy deliciously pass through my heart! (48–9) In this symbolic rebirth, the womb is directly associated with the machine, although the maternal water or sludge evoked here is supposed to be antithetical to the well-functioning metallic machine that Marinetti adores. Just as in the early Beckett, the womb is an exception to the generally repudiated femininity (coded as fluid). The womb fantasy and the machine can coexist in this manner because both imply regressive denial of sexual difference or the otherness of women. The concept of abjection elaborated in Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror (1980) might be helpful in considering the ambivalence about the womb: it is supposed to be rejected as fluid femininity but in fact it is exalted as an ideal. In order for the subject to be properly established, it has to separate itself from the maternal entity. If the process is successful, the subject enters the symbolic order and develops a repugnance of the abject: Loathing an item of food, a piece of filth, waste, or dung. The spasms and vomiting that protect me. The repugnance, the retching that thrusts me to the side and turns me away from defilement, sewage, and muck. The shame of compromise, of being in the middle of treachery. The fascinated start that leads me towards and separates me from them. (2) These abject matters disturb the identity of the subject by their ambiguity. Kristeva argues, ‘It is [  ] not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite’ (4). Bodily wastes such as urine and excrement are typical abject matters that traverse the subject’s boundaries. By rejecting them the subject can become clean and proper. But separation from the maternal entity is precarious and the abject not only repulses but also fascinates us. As Kristeva states, the release from maternal entity ‘is a violent, clumsy breaking away, with the constant risk of falling

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back under the sway of a power as securing as it is stifling’ (13). The abject haunts the subject as its other and is ready to erupt and disturb the demarcation of inside/outside or self/other. Sociologically the abject is represented by various taboos related to hygiene and defilement. Women are often secluded in primitive rituals as a danger to be warded off because their maternal power of procreation is dreaded. The man’s defensive armouring or mechanisation clearly points to abjection, because it is an attempt to demarcate the boundaries of the male subject and to be separate from the maternal. But the maternal keeps alluring the subject and may draw it back towards the watery, viscous womb or the repulsive bodily waste that crosses its boundary. As David Houston Jones shows in The Body Abject, Beckett’s work is in many ways marked by failed separation from the maternal or failed abjection: the obsession with incomplete birth, the womb, scatology, the body’s boundaries and so on. The coexistence of the image of the watery womb and the machine in Beckett and Marinetti could be regarded as suggesting the ambiguity of abjection. If abjection is successful, it clearly demarcates the boundaries of the subject – and from here the mechanised body might be produced – but if not, it threatens the demarcation.22 However, it is impossible to ignore the many fundamental differences between Beckett and Marinetti. For instance, Marinetti rejects any lust or sentiment associated with women whereas the male protagonists in Beckett’s early work are capable of spiritual (if not physical) love for women. The womb fantasy is far more prevalent in Beckett than in Marinetti. And most importantly, the early Beckett lays stress on the failure of the man’s defensive armouring, while Marinetti continues to exalt the mechanisation of the man’s body. Even if it is certain that the womb fantasy and mechanisation are related undercurrents of modernism, there are a variety of manifestations of them. Useful here is Hal Foster’s schematic overview of the modernist positions on technology in Prosthetic Gods.23 His principal concept is ‘the double logic of prosthesis’, that is, the ‘paradoxical view of technology as both extension and constriction of the body’ (109), exemplified by Freud. As I mentioned in the Introduction to this book, Freud observes in Civilization and Its Discontents that man has become ‘a kind of prosthetic God’ who is both blessed and troubled by technologies, his ‘auxiliary organs’ (SE XXI 91–2). According to Foster, Russian constructivism presents technology as a positive extension of the body in the communist celebration of engineering. On the other hand, Dadaism (‘especially, the Cologne version of Max Ernst’) derided technology as a constriction of the body: ‘this version of Dada figured the new

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technological subject in terms of physical breakdown and psychic regression: in lieu of the paragon of the communist engineer, it offered the parody of the capitalist man-machine as autistic’ (113). Similar to this contrasting pair is the Bauhaus and surrealism. And though Dadaism and surrealism both presented technology as a constriction of the body, there was a difference between them: ‘rather than image this irrationality as a regressive breakdown of the body à la Dada, surrealism figured it, with broken automatons [sic] and fragmented mannequins, in terms of a castrative dismemberment’ (114). As an example of surrealism, Foster is mainly thinking of Hans Bellmer, who produced the poupées, made up of unnaturally rearranged parts of the female body.24 Foster also contrasts Dadaism (Max Ernst) and surrealism (Hans Bellmer) with reactionary modernists such as Marinetti and Wyndham Lewis, in whose work the armouring of the man’s body is conspicuous.25 In this schema, Beckett seems to be closest to Dadaism in the sense that his ‘machinic imagery’ is manifestly related to ‘physical breakdown and psychic regression’. Foster explains how Ernst resisted and undermined the fascistic armouring of the body. In the dysfunctional machines in Ernst’s six early collages Foster finds a regressive ego: In each collage he associates a dysfunctional machine with a narcissistic disturbance, as if the machine were an attempt to image the disturbance and/or to rectify it – an attempt that, again, only debilitates the damaged subject further. In effect, Ernst juxtaposes historical reification, in the military–industrial development of the subject, with psychic regression, in a pre-Oedipal disordering of the drives [  ]. (172) Behind the dysfunctional machine is a damaged ego, which regresses to the pregenital stage when there is no sexual distinction. In foregrounding the psychic regression that underlies mechanisation, Foster illuminates the proximity between Ernst and Beckett, even though he does not directly discuss the maternal or the womb.26 Beckett’s dysfunctional machines, like Ernst’s, present the breakdown of the defensive mechanisation to which reactionary modernists such as Marinetti and Wyndham Lewis are compelled to resort.

The machine and sexuality in Beckett’s later work Behind Foster’s view of the damaged ego in Ernst is Theweleit’s claim that the fascist male is in a state of ‘not-yet-fully-born’ and haunted

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by uncertainty about the boundaries of his own body, which requires defensive armouring or mechanising. In this formulation, an amorphous and precarious regressive ego exists, and then it seeks to armour or mechanise the body in defence against various stimuli. This is basically the psycho-mechanism of the prosthetic body that I have considered in relation to sexuality. However, the prosthetic body could be seen in a slightly different light. That is, in contrast to the mechanised body as a defensive shield, it might be possible to conceive of the body that is itself imaged as an alien machine. A theoretical model of this conception can be found in Victor Tausk’s paper ‘On the Origin of the “Influencing Machine” in Schizophrenia’ (read in 1918 and published in 1919). Tausk, a Freudian psychoanalyst, aims to interpret the ‘influencing machine’ complained of by a certain type of schizophrenic. He thinks that a sense of self-estrangement, produced by sensations of inner change in the body, leads to postulation of an originator that is in some cases crystallised into a machine. The patient regresses to the stage of primary narcissism, where the distinction between the ego and its outside has not yet been established. Infants, whose body is not yet organised into unity, feel each part of their body to be a foreign object and they project disturbing inner stimuli onto those objects. Therefore it could happen that ‘[t]he estranged organ – in our case, the entire body – appears as an outer enemy, as a machine used to afflict the patient’ (550).27 Significantly, Tausk suggests such a regression may go back to the intrauterine period: ‘The fantasy [of the regression to the pregenital phase] originates in the intrauterine (mother’s body) complex and usually has the content of the man’s desire to creep completely into the genital from which he came [  ]’ (554). If Tausk’s explanation is taken as a general theoretical model and not an actual diagnosis of a particular type of schizophrenia, it illuminates the intrinsic relation between the womb fantasy and the mechanical imagery in modernism. I have laid emphasis on the mechanisation of the body as a defence against a disturbing sexual drive, but Tausk provides an alternative framework in which the body itself is an alien, troublesome machine in a regressive psychic state. However, these two views might in fact complement each other. The mechanised body as a defensive shield and as an alien nuisance – this ambiguity precisely reflects the ambiguity of the machine (something that is both useful and uncontrollable) that began to be discerned around the turn of the nineteenth century. It is nothing but the ‘double logic of prosthesis’ or the ‘paradoxical view of technology as both extension and constriction of the body’ (Foster’s reformulation of Freud’s idea). In light of this, we could enlarge our

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scope by bearing in mind that the prosthetic body not only points to the regressive male ego’s defensive attempt to regulate and control a disturbing sexual drive, but also implies, especially in its malfunction, a regressive projection of the foreignness and uncontrollability of various disturbing forces of the body – features that would no doubt be more salient in the regression to the womb. As I will discuss in the next chapter, there are indeed many instances in Beckett’s later work where the body is likened to a defective machine and its parts are felt to be alien and prosthetic. In consequence, many of his characters are deprived of physical mobility, as though they were trapped in the quasi-intrauterine state. Beckett’s obsession with the womb in his own life is well known. Particularly important is the psychoanalytic treatment he received from Wilfred Bion in the mid-1930s. In 1935, he and Bion attended a lecture by C. G. Jung, who mentioned a girl who ‘had never been born entirely’. Famously, this phrase impressed Beckett so much that it later surfaced in Mrs. Rooney’s speech in All That Fall (‘she had never really been born!’, CDW 196). It seems that Bion’s therapy was significant in making Beckett conscious of his womb fixation. About a month before his death, Beckett told James Knowlson about the effect of the therapy: extraordinary intrauterine memories were evoked and he felt painfully and helplessly trapped and imprisoned (Knowlson 177). Peggy Guggenheim, who was Beckett’s girlfriend around 1937, also notes his womb obsession in her memoir Out of This Century: ‘Ever since his birth he had retained a terrible memory of life in his mother’s womb. He was constantly suffering from this and had awful crises, when he felt he was suffocating’ (175). These testimonies reveal that at that time Beckett was aware of the constricting aspect of the womb (as opposed to the blissful ‘wombtomb’). During the course of his therapy with Bion, Beckett read many psychoanalytic texts, of which the Freudian psychoanalyst Otto Rank’s The Trauma of Birth (1924) is the most significant in the present context.28 Rank argues that human beings suffer the trauma of birth – that is, the trauma of being expelled from the blissful womb. He discusses wide-ranging cultural phenomena such as art, religion, mythology, philosophy, neurosis or psychoanalysis itself as attempts to come to terms with this trauma by recreating the quasi-intrauterine state. While Rank acknowledges negative representations of the womb as forms of painful confinement – such as hell, where one is subject to eternal punishment – in the end he relates them to the fundamental pleasure of re-experiencing the intrauterine state. He argues that the

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neurotic patient’s attempt to confine himself painfully disguises his desire to escape from the trauma of birth by the fantasy of selfpunishment. This is why ‘the patient makes himself prisoner by withdrawing into a room which he locks, or by pessimistically phantasying the whole world as a dungeon and thereby unconsciously comfortable in it’ (136). Many of Beckett’s characters tend to lock themselves into a closed space, and Rank would surely interpret this as a form of selfpunishment that enables escape from the birth trauma. As examples of representations of the womb as a place for punishment, Rank refers to Ixion, Tantalus, Sisyphus and the crucified Christ, all of whom are kept immobile or in enormous physical pain.29 Beckett’s ‘Whoroscope’ notebook (MS 3000 at the Reading University Library), in which he jotted down inspirations for his novel Murphy in the mid-1930s, includes three pages, each explaining Ixion, Sisyphus and Tantalus in this order. Since this was the time when Beckett was being treated by Bion, there can be no doubt that the notes were related to his reading of Rank’s The Trauma of Birth, although that book is not mentioned in the notebook.30 Whether Beckett approved of Rank’s theory or not, he presented various forms of the defective and immobile body in his later work, which can readily be interpreted as self-punishment based on obsession with the womb.31 Although Beckett must have realised by the mid-1930s that the womb was a constricting, alienating place, in Murphy he still refers to the nirvana-like state of the ‘wombtomb’ in the fashion of earlier works such as Dream. The motif of escaping from the physicality of women coupled with the obsession with the womb is explicitly or implicitly present in this novel as well. The following observation by Mary Bryden neatly applies to the earlier works up to Murphy: ‘Within Beckett’s early fiction [  ] the mental and spiritual equilibrium of the male is constantly perceived to be in danger of disruption by the bodily proximity of women’ (40). More Pricks Than Kicks is largely governed by the contrast between the introvert and spiritual Belacqua and sexually threatening women, although the obsession with the womb is explicitly expressed only in ‘Fingal’. And it is easy to see that Murphy is a complicated extension of Belacqua. He has his ‘Belacqua fantasy’ (Murphy 48), the aspiration for the ‘wombtomb’ state. Although the ‘Belacqua bliss’ that constitutes the second of the three zones of Murphy’s mind is superseded by the third zone (where he is ‘a mote in the dark of absolute freedom’) in terms of pleasure (65–6), it is clear that it still guarantees considerable beatitude. He tries to create the state of the ‘wombtomb’ artificially by binding himself to a rocking chair. This obviously Rankian

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re-establishment of the intrauterine state is not a painful selfpunishment but a genuinely pleasurable act: ‘He sat in his chair in this way because it gave him pleasure!’ (6). Murphy also has a fixation with the caul, just like Belacqua in ‘Fingal’: ‘Murphy never wore a hat, the memories it awoke of the caul were too poignant, especially when he had to take it off’ (45). Preferring to enclose himself in his solipsistic ‘little world’ completely free from any worldly concerns, he is reluctant to find a job despite his girlfriend Celia’s instigation. Celia after all belongs to and represents the ‘big world’ from which he wishes to escape. Machines are also present. Murphy is reported as ‘saving up for a Drinker artificial respiration machine to get into when he was fed up breathing’ (32). As Phil Baker argues, the description of him and his rocking chair as ‘the entire machine’ (Murphy 21) endorses the idea that the rocking chair is a bachelor machine suggestive of an anti-erotic tendency to return to the ‘wombtomb’ (Baker 143). It is ironical, then, that exactly when Murphy begins to relax in the rocking chair (and the big world begins to die down), a telephone call from Celia ‘burst[s] into its rail’ (8). Even by telephone she invades the peaceful world of the ‘wombtomb’ he has created with a bachelor machine. And again the mind is at odds with the body: ‘The part of him that he hated craved for Celia, that part that he loved shrivelled up at the thought of her’ (8). In the works up to and including Murphy, the ‘wombtomb’ fantasy and mechanical imagery are conjointly opposed to the presence of women. The ‘wombtomb’ is a refuge where the male protagonists can be free from their disturbing sexual drive, and the mechanisation of the sexual body is conducive to this escape by regulating sexual flows or providing a defensive shield. But from Watt onwards, the clear opposition between the threat of women’s physicality and the allure of the womb coupled with mechanical imagery is no longer the key motif. The simple dichotomy of the threatening woman and the introvert misogynist recedes from the foreground. As Mary Bryden argues, there is a significant difference between the gender representation in Beckett’s early fiction and that in his later work (both drama and fiction). The change is ‘from an essentialist and often deeply misogynistic construction of Woman towards much more erratic, often contingent or indeterminate gender configurations’ (7). The turning point was the time when Beckett began to write plays and made the female presence more and more salient: [T]he epoch of Beckett’s venture into drama can be seen as a turningpoint in his inscription of women. As women’s voices begin to inhabit

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the Beckettian stage, their otherness – as creations of an overtly male narratorial function – is eroded. Moreover, once the stigma attaching to womanhood is dissolved, it remains absent from not only the remaining stage drama, but also from most of the later prose fiction. (58) There is indeed a wide gap between the misogynistic descriptions of women in Dream and More Pricks Than Kicks, and the apparently empathetic foregrounding of women in later works such as Happy Days, Not I, Rockaby and Ill Seen Ill Said. One factor that seems to be related to the shift is what could be called the ‘inward turn’ of the narrative point of view. Around the time when Beckett began the trilogy, he adopted first-person narrators, and notably, these narrators often seem to live in a state that is analogous to the early pregenital phases when there is no sexual difference as yet.32 This ‘lived regression’, as it were, also invokes the state of the ‘wombtomb’ – in the sense of the state at once prenatal and postmortem. Molloy is writing in his mother’s room, which is obviously suggestive of the womb. On the other hand, he implies that he is already in a postmortem world: ‘But it is only since I ceased to live that I think of these and the other things. It is in the tranquillity of decomposition that I remember the long confused emotion which was my life [  ]’ (25). Malone, who describes himself as a foetus ‘being given [  ] birth to into death’ (285), also wonders whether he is not already dead: ‘Perhaps I expired in the forest, or even earlier’ (220). In The Unnamable, where the distinction between life and death seems to be rendered meaningless, the narrator always feels enclosed, though the boundaries of his space are constantly unstable. The narrator of Texts for Nothing very explicitly states: ‘here are my tomb and mother [  ] I’m dead and getting born, without having ended, helpless to begin, that’s my life’ (CSP 101). This characterises Beckett’s mature work. The ‘wombtomb’ is no longer a rarely attainable goal to be aspired to at a distance, but an agonising locus in which the narrator is compelled to narrate stories endlessly. At the same time, many characters begin to have a defective or uncontrollable body that is reminiscent of the foetus constrained in the womb. Both Molloy and Moran undergo gradual physical paralysis and Malone is virtually confined to bed with minimum mobility. As I noted earlier, by the mid-1930s Beckett had recognised that the womb could be a painful place. However, it was only in the trilogy that he began to materialise this recognition fully in his work. Concomitantly, representation of uncontrollable flows becomes salient with The Unnamable.

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The world of The Unnamable is permeated and overwhelmed by uncontrollable flows – mainly of words the narrator is uttering and hearing but also of bodily fluids such as tears: ‘I know no more questions and they keep on pouring out of my mouth’ (309); ‘And from my sleeping mouth the lies would pour, about me’ (312); ‘It is they who dictate this torrent of balls [  ]. And out it all pours unchanged [  ]’ (338); ‘Where do these words come from that pour out of my mouth [  ]’ (373); ‘I feel my tears coursing over my chest, my sides, and all down my back. Ah yes, I am truly bathed in tears’ (307). Here no attempt seems to be made any more to regulate or control the flows, unlike in Beckett’s early work. Stylistically, How It Is shows increased control of words. But the narrator crawls in mud that is highly suggestive of the viscosity of the womb – the abject par excellence.33 Indeed he takes a foetal position like Belacqua: ‘the knees drawn up the back bent in a hoop the tiny head near the knees curled round the sack Belacqua fallen over on his side’ (How It Is 26). In all these instances, there is helpless exposure to flows and fluid states, internal or external, as in early life, especially the foetus in the womb. In Beckett’s early work, the physical presence of young women was opposed to the ideal state of the ‘wombtomb’ and the related occasional emergence of the mechanical imagery of the body. This structure is disbanded as menacing women recede and the narratorial viewpoint is located inside the regressive psychic state including that of the ‘wombtomb’, where sexual difference is not marked. And once the ‘inward turn’ is established around the time of the trilogy, the new gender configurations, no longer governed by the strict dichotomy, continue to underlie even the works that do not so directly evoke regression as the trilogy. In this new paradigm, the mechanical imagery is no longer predicated on regressive male sexuality. Machines still appear, but they are desexualised and generalised. Watt’s puppet-like walk does not seem to have any sexual resonance. Molloy rides a bicycle, but it is not related to rejection of women as in ‘Fingal’ and ‘Sanies I’ (although the fact that he is narrating his bicycle journey towards his mother = womb may be regarded as a vestigial link with those earlier works). Lucky in Waiting for Godot is a mechanical figure who is worth special attention in this context. It is fairly likely that when creating this figure, Beckett was inspired, consciously or unconsciously, by the broken phonograph in the Marx brothers’ film Duck Soup (1933). Just as the phonograph in the film suddenly emits unbearably loud sounds, Lucky keeps pouring out torrents of almost incomprehensible words – in fact a parody of academic writing – and harasses other characters until his

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cap is taken away. He is a broken machine that runs out of control until the switch (the cap) is off. Notably, Lucky as a machine is imploded and overwhelmed by the flow – this time a flow of words – while Belacqua’s masturbation machine was out to regulate and control flows. The machine’s inability to control flows was in fact anticipated by the breakdown of Belacqua’s masturbation machine, or more manifestly by the failed attempt to dam up the floods of sound in ‘Assumption’. However, Lucky seems to mark a new paradigm in which the male attempt to control flows mechanically has completely disappeared. The earlier gender polarity (the flow = woman/the machine = man) is no longer working. In Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism, Elizabeth Grosz reconsiders Western representations of women as flows by examining Mary Douglas’ discussion of defilement in Purity and Danger and Julia Kristeva’s development of it as ‘abjection’ in Powers of Horror. Grosz argues that ‘women’s corporeality is inscribed as a mode of seepage’: The metaphorics of uncontrollablility, the ambivalence between desperate, fatal attraction and strong revulsion, the deep-seated fear of absorption, the association of femininity with contagion and disorder, the undecidability of the limits of the female body [  ], its power of cynical seduction and allure are all common themes in literary and cultural representations of women. But these may well be a function of the projection outward of their corporealities, the liquidities that men seem to want to cast out of their own selfrepresentations. (203) Grosz is presenting an idea that is very similar to Klaus Theweleit’s without mentioning him. As if to generalise what Theweleit says historically of the fascist male, she maintains that men have to ‘demarcate their own bodies as clean and proper’ by disposing of flows and liquidities (201). If we start from this premise, Lucky as man = machine = flow seems to entail a profound unsettling of the conventional gender representation. Mary Bryden argues that Waiting for Godot as a whole puts traditional patriarchy into question despite its all-male cast: ‘These males are not ordained as icons, concelebrating their masculinity; rather they participate in a diaspora of the dispossessed, deprived of control over both their ingestive (by poverty) and their excretive (by illness) capacities, and condemned to assume the (stereotypically female) status of waiting’ (83). Lucky is in line with this description in terms of his ‘stereotypically female status’ of being a flow.

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Although there is no longer any machine or mechanical figure in it, The Unnamable could be considered an extension of Lucky’s position in that the apparently male narrator’s world is permeated by uncontrollable flows, primarily of words and voices but also of tears. As Elizabeth Grosz says, ‘A body that is permeable, that transmits in a circuit, that opens itself up rather than seals itself off [  ] would involve a quite radical rethinking of male sexual morphology’ (201). Beckett seems to come close to such a radical rethinking in presenting a totally permeable male body in The Unnamable. Not I presents another broken machine that pours out torrents of almost incomprehensible words. Mouth describes her body as ‘the machine    so disconnected’ and ‘the whole machine’ (CDW 378, 380). Mouth might be called a female version of Lucky, but this female machine is not a version of the mechanisation of the woman’s body exemplified by Tomorrow’s Eve – it is too much imploded by flows to be so categorised. Neither does it simply conform to that often patriarchal convention of associating femininity with fluidity. It is more fruitful to note that the same kind of machine with a flow can assume two genders equally or indiscriminately. Not I, in which Auditor is significantly described as ‘sex undeterminable’ (CDW 376), is squarely placed in the indeterminate gender configurations that characterise Beckett’s later work. The same can be said of Rockaby in that the old woman in the rocking chair in this play could be regarded as a female version of Murphy at the beginning of the novel. The situation in Rockaby suggests both regression to the infantile stage (the rocking chair as a cradle) and death (the old woman in black), thereby approaching the state of the ‘wombtomb’ that Murphy tried to create with the rocking chair. As I argued earlier, however, Murphy was still governed by the tight gender division that characterised Beckett’s early work, and his rocking chair was an anti-erotic bachelor machine continuous with Belacqua’s masturbation machine. Rockaby completely overturns the early structure by having an old woman as the central figure, while retaining the device for attaining the state of the ‘wombtomb’. The old woman in this late play looks all the more striking because of the familiar device that appears like a ghost from the distant past, when such a gender traversal would have been unthinkable. When considering Beckett’s prosthetic body in terms of gender and sexuality, it is inevitable to focus on his earlier work. The mechanical image of the body that is exemplified by Belacqua’s masturbation machine bears comparison with the images presented by other

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mechanomodernists such as Marinetti, thereby making it possible to situate Beckett in a larger context of modernism, where psychic regression (including the womb fantasy) is a notable undercurrent. In his later work, however, the prosthetic body is no longer determined by problematic male sexuality. It becomes too general or prevalent to be anchored to that particular type of sexuality. The ‘inward turn’ of the narratorial point of view to the regressive psychic state including that of the ‘wombtomb’ – where sexual difference does not count – contributed to the replacement of the earlier dichotomised gender configurations by the later indeterminate ones. This turn seems to have had another important consequence. Drawing on the theoretical model suggested by Tausk in his paper on the ‘influencing machine’, it is possible to say that in the regressive psychic state, disturbing forces of the body itself are projected as an alien torturing machine. This is a different type of regression from the one in which a problematic male ego has to mechanise the body in order to defend itself against the threatening sexual drive. The body is not a defensive shield but itself an alien, troublesome machine. As noted above, these two aspects of the prosthetic body seem to complement each other, reflecting the ‘double logic of prosthesis’ – prosthesis as at once an instrumental aid and an alien, uncontrollable nuisance. In Beckett’s later work, in which the mechanised body is no longer linked to the gender dichotomy, the latter aspect of the prosthetic body comes to the fore. The limbs and organs are often like prostheses or parts of a defective, uncontrollable machine. Just as a foetus or infant is constrained to very limited physical movements, the narrators tend to have bodies like dysfunctional machines that deprive them of physical ability. This feature is particularly prominent in the trilogy, which strongly suggests a narratorial viewpoint inside the ‘wombtomb’. The ‘wombtomb’ is no longer a haven to escape to but a locus where the narrators are already situated and compelled to narrate their stories. Consequently, the constricting aspects of both the womb and the machine loom large and replace their positive aspects (that is, the womb and the machine that help to keep sexual drive at bay). I will start the next chapter with a discussion of this kind of prosthetic body, focusing mainly on the trilogy.

2 The Question of Boundaries

This chapter discusses the prosthetic body in Beckett in relation to the question of the body’s boundaries. From the outset my definition of the prosthetic body stresses the significance of the interaction between the inside and the outside, which necessarily highlights boundaries. The previous chapter touched upon the boundaries of the body and the flows across them. In this chapter, however, I will examine more directly and closely how the boundaries of the body are problematised in Beckett’s work. In the process, the prosthetic body as the locus for the negotiation of boundaries will be foregrounded. More specifically, I am going to consider three major aspects of this prosthetic body in Beckett, mainly with reference to the trilogy. The first section aims to illuminate how the limbs and organs are felt to be prostheses, and conversely, how prostheses are incorporated into the body, so that the boundaries of the body become ambiguous. The second section turns to the interesting phenomenon of the confusion of the organs, especially the orifices. As privileged sites of interaction between the inside and the outside, the orifices, along with the flows coming and going through them, are considered to have a particularly prosthetic status. In Beckett’s work, they tend to be exchanged for each other as though their differences were nullified and they could be reduced to one polyvalent hole. Holes are inseparable from the surface into which they are bored. The third section will therefore discuss the instability of the bodily surface with reference to the concept of the ‘skin ego’, as elaborated by the psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu. Underlying and linking these aspects of the prosthetic body is the dimension of the ‘body image’. The concept of the body image was developed by the psychiatrist Paul Schilder, especially in his book The Image and Appearance of the Human Body (1935). This concept is known to 40

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have influenced Merleau-Ponty and has recently been revalued by theorists aiming to forge a new, more flexible conception of corporeality.1 The body image is ‘the picture of our own body which we form in our mind, that is to say the way in which the body appears to ourselves’ (Schilder 11). Thus it is the image of the body we hold internally as opposed to the objective, physical body. We may feel that our body is larger or smaller than it really is. We may feel that the car is continuous with our body when driving. Clothes we wear might change the image of our body. Once we consider the dimension of the body image in this way, we begin to realise that the boundaries of our body are far more unstable and plastic than generally thought. The body image is formed gradually in infancy. At the beginning, the body is alien like an external object for the infant. But, starting with the oral zone, images of parts such as the head, arms, hands, trunk, legs and feet develop to form the basic body image before the body ego is differentiated from the outside world (cf. Schilder 194–5). If this process and subsequent development in infancy go wrong, it can cause psychiatric disorders in later adult life. On the basis of Freudian psychoanalysis Schilder examines various disorders that cause extraordinary body images. In Beckett’s case, it is plausible that there was a fixation on the undeveloped, amorphous body image of the intrauterine period and early infancy.2 When I say that the prosthetic body in his work is related to a regression to the early stages of life when the body and its parts are alien and constrictive, I am in fact referring to the regressive body image. In Beckett’s work, the same regressive body image repeatedly highlights the instability of the body’s boundaries, as exemplified by the three aspects of the prosthetic body mentioned above. In the final section, I will attempt a critique of Deleuze and Guattari’s discussions of Beckett. Their framework is completely different from the psychoanalysis-oriented approach in the first three sections of this chapter, but their frequent if unsystematic references to Beckett are often relevant to my argument so that it would not be reasonable to ignore them.

The body parts as prostheses At the end of Dream, Belacqua leaves the Alba’s home and goes out in the rain, thereby escaping sexual temptation. In the virtual opening scene I analysed in the previous chapter, Belacqua was engaged in disguised masturbation – also in the rain (described as ‘mizzle’) – immediately after parting from Smeraldina. The correspondence between these two

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scenes is evident: both point to Belacqua’s inability to face women’s sexuality. In the closing scene, however, Belacqua’s body is quickly deteriorating. Suffering from aching bones, feet and stomach, he cannot walk any more. Then he feels that his own hands are totally estranged from him: ‘What was that in his lap? He shook off his glasses and bent down his head to see. That was his hands. Now who would have thought that! He turned them this way and that, he clenched and unclenched them, keeping them on the move for the wonder of his weak eyes [  ]’ (241). This scene, later reused for the ending of ‘A Wet Night’ in More Pricks Than Kicks (87–8), is significant in introducing a different type of body from the mechanised masturbating body in the virtual opening scene. The new type of body is deteriorating and experienced as foreign. As the narrator begins to ‘live’ a regressive psychic stage in the trilogy, his body begins to be constrained like that of a foetus or young infant, and to resemble an assemblage of prostheses. The prosthetic body in this sense reappears in various guises in later works after the trilogy: the body is constrained, as in those figures buried in urns in Play and Winnie sinking into a mound in Happy Days; it is defective, as in Lucky’s ‘thought’ (like a broken machine) and Pozzo’s deteriorating body in Waiting for Godot, or Hamm in Endgame who is blind and bound to a wheelchair; it is explicitly described as a disconnected ‘machine’ in Not I. It is also well known that Beckett relentlessly demanded that his actors and actresses control their body accurately like a machine. Yet in this chapter, I will focus mainly on the trilogy which exemplifies the constrained and constraining prosthetic body.3 Often in the trilogy, the body is disorganised. Its parts – the limbs and organs – are isolated from each other rather than forming a coherent whole. Concomitantly, they are often described as extraneous and alien, like mechanical or inanimate objects. They are sometimes casually lost as though they were detachable prostheses. The body is like an assemblage of these prosthetic parts – ‘a cluther of limbs and organs’, to use a phrase in Texts for Nothing (CSP 78). On the other hand, the limbs and organs frequently go wrong and demand to be supplemented by real prostheses such as a stick or crutches. These ‘negative’ prostheses, as well as ‘positive’ ones such as a bicycle, tend to have an uncanny congeniality with the body, as though they were somehow incorporated into it as its parts. As a consequence of this reciprocity (body parts becoming prostheses, prostheses becoming body parts), the boundaries between the body and its outside (the material world) are problematised and rendered ambiguous.

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Molloy’s body deteriorates. At the beginning he has one stiff leg. When he starts his journey to his mother, he has to rely on crutches and a bicycle, both privileged prostheses in Beckett’s world. Molloy takes pleasure in talking about his strange chainless bicycle: ‘crippled though I was, I was no mean cyclist at that period. This is how I went about it. I fastened my crutches to the cross-bar, one on either side, I propped the foot of my stiff leg (I forget which, now they’re both stiff) on the projecting front axle, and I pedalled with the other’ (16). Here it sounds as though his crutches and foot were becoming parts of the machine, just like the cross-bar, axle and pedals. In his classic essay ‘The Cartesian Centaur’, Hugh Kenner notes, ‘This odd machine exactly complements Molloy. It even compensates for his inability to sit down’ (118). Far more than an ordinary prosthesis, it is almost an essential part of the body. But during the journey, the stiff leg shortens and the other leg also becomes stiff. The toes of one foot are lost, and only one of his eyes functions ‘more or less correctly’ (50). At the end of his journey, he is reduced to crawling and rolling on the ground.4 The bicycle is gone except for its horn, and he has to rely on his crutches to crawl forward. Now his crutches are the indispensable substitutes for his limbs. As Hugh Kenner observes, whereas a man riding a bicycle (what he calls the ‘Cartesian Centaur’) is Beckett’s Cartesian dream, in which ‘body and mind go each one nobly about its business, without interference or interaction’ (121), the actual world of Beckett lacks a perfectly functioning bicycle and is therefore doomed to an ever deteriorating machine – that is, the human body. In Kenner’s words, ‘Cartesian man deprived of his bicycle is a mere intelligence fastened to a dying animal’ (124). Just as Molloy’s bicycle is eventually reduced to a horn, the body in Beckett keeps deteriorating until only voices and fragmentary physical sensations remain in The Unnamable. But as Kenner also suggests (119–20), even if the Cartesian Centaur is an unrealisable dream, Beckett inherits from Descartes a completely detached, observing attitude towards the body, the deficient machine. In the following passage Molloy describes his own body at his narrating present: And when I see my hands, on the sheet, which they love to floccillate already, they are not mine, I have no arms, they are a couple, they play with the sheet, love-play perhaps, trying to get up perhaps, one on top of the other. But it doesn’t last, I bring them back, little by little, towards me, it’s resting time. And with my feet it’s the same, sometimes, when I see them at the foot of the bed, one with toes, the other without. (66, emphasis added)

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His hands and feet are remote and alien. He has to ‘bring back’ his hands towards him. (As regards his feet, he says he cannot bring them back because they stay far from him.) His hands are like prostheses, and as such potentially have the same status as crutches or a stick. Malone has a very similar sense of his body parts becoming remote: But this sensation of dilation is hard to resist. All strains towards the nearest deeps, and notably my feet, which even in the ordinary way are so much further from me than all the rest, from my head I mean, for that is where I am fled, my feet are leagues away. And to call them in, to be cleaned for example, would I think take me over a month, exclusive of the time required to locate them. Strange, I don’t feel my feet any more, my feet feel nothing any more, and a mercy it is. And yet I feel they are beyond the range of the most powerful telescope. Is that what is known as having a foot in the grave? And similarly for the rest. (234) He goes on to say that his fingers, his penis and his anus are also receding from him. He believes that his excrement ‘would fall out in Australia’ and that he ‘would fill a considerable part of the universe’ if he were to stand up (235).5 Even worse than Molloy, he is pinned down to the bed and has minimal mobility. For him, the body itself can be a nuisance: ‘If I had the use of my body I would throw it out of the window’ (219). His sense of the body falling apart is mirrored by Macmann, a protagonist of his story who comes to resemble him (and by extension Molloy and Moran) in terms of physical deterioration. Macmann ‘fancied that the nape of the neck and the back right down to the loins were more vulnerable than the chest and belly, not realizing [  ] that all these parts are intimately and even indissolubly bound up together, at least until death do them part’ (239). It is to be noted that he does ‘not realize’ that the body parts are connected to each other and unified into an organic whole. Malone has to do many things with a stick. Just like Molloy’s bicycle and crutches, the stick is more than an ordinary prosthesis. Apart from his writing, which he performs with his pencil and exercise-book, most of Malone’s physical action rests on this stick. Moreover, it can serve as a substitute hand, as the following passage shows: ‘I drew [a little packet] over beside the bed and felt it with the knob of my stick. And my hand understood, it understood softness and lightness, better I think than if it had touched the thing directly, fingering it and weighing it in its

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palm’ (197). Here the stick seems to be incorporated into the body and function like a sentient hand – a better hand, actually. The Unnamable continues the process of physical decomposition described in Molloy and Malone Dies and brings it to the limit. Earlier in the novel, the narrator or Mahood, his ‘vice-exister’, tells the story of his journey, which is similar to Molloy’s. He has only one leg, and therefore uses crutches. At one point, with the megalomaniac spatial sense reminiscent of Malone, he says quite casually, ‘[P]erhaps I had left my leg behind in the Pacific [  ]’ (319), as though his leg were a detachable prosthesis. Predictably, he soon falls to the ground. Satisfied with this story, the narrator says: Mahood must have remarked that I remained sceptical, for he let fall that I was lacking not only a leg, but an arm also. With regard to the homologous crutch, I seemed to have retained sufficient armpit to hold and manoeuvre it, with the help of my unique foot to kick the end of it forward as occasion required. (323–4) The arm is lost just as casually as the leg, and the crutch is expected to function in its place. Body parts are prostheses and vice versa, just as in the former novels. But this story of a journey is nothing more than a brief echo of the former novels and is soon abandoned in the narrator’s endless self-questioning about his identity. What marks The Unnamable truly is the culmination of the decomposition of the body, which is exemplified by the following passage, where the narrator imagines himself to be a ‘big talking ball’ with all the organs fallen off: [I]t is a great smooth ball I carry on my shoulders, featureless, but for the eyes, of which only the sockets remain. And were it not for the distant testimony of my palms, my soles, which I have not yet been able to quash, I would gladly give myself the shape, if not the consistency, of an egg, with two holes no matter where to prevent it from bursting, for the consistency is more like that of mucilage. [  ] Why should I have a sex, who have no longer a nose? All those things have fallen, all the things that stick out, with my eyes, my hair, without leaving a trace, fallen so far so deep that I heard nothing, perhaps are falling still, my hair slowly like soot still, of the fall of my ears heard nothing. (307) Soon afterwards the narrator says, ‘Organs, a without, it’s easy to imagine [  ]’ (307). This implies that the organs are close to ‘a without’

46 Samuel Beckett and the Prosthetic Body

(‘un dehors’ in L’Innommable 31), close to something external that would include detachable prostheses.6 Molloy likewise said, ‘I had so to speak only one leg at my disposal, I was virtually onelegged, and I would have been happier, livelier, amputated at the groin. And if they had removed a few testicles into the bargain I wouldn’t have objected’ (35). It is easy to see the Cartesian attitude towards the body behind this desire to lose the limbs and organs. Descartes himself says in the sixth Meditation, ‘Although the whole mind seems to be united to the whole body, I recognize that if a foot or arm or any other part of the body is cut off, nothing has thereby been taken away from the mind’ (Selected Philosophical Writings 120). The passages in which the limbs and organs fall off casually seem to be persistently confirming Descartes’ claim that even if the body loses its parts, the mind can remain intact.7 In The Unnamable, there is an implicit reference to Descartes in respect of the loss of limbs: I may therefore perhaps legitimately suppose that the one-armed one-legged wayfarer of a moment ago and the wedge-headed trunk in which I am marooned are simply two phases of the same carnal envelope, the soul being notoriously immune from deterioration and dismemberment. Having lost one leg, what indeed more likely than that I should mislay the other? And similarly for the arms. (333) From a Cartesian point of view, the body is a machine, or an assemblage of mechanical parts. The organs and limbs are nothing but prostheses that can be removed. Conversely, real prostheses or any material objects can become parts of the body. The trilogy thus appears to register the persistence of the Cartesian perception of the body. However, a more careful consideration of the prosthetic body in Beckett quickly makes it clear that a Cartesian interpretation is far from sufficient. One might wonder, for example, why Beckett was so concerned with the Cartesian distinction in the first place. In other words, this concern itself may have been a manifestation of a deeper psychological preoccupation. It is therefore necessary to probe the realm of the subjective, psychological perception of the body – the realm of the body image that straddles the simple Cartesian distinction between mind and body.8 Paul Schilder says: I have many times emphasized how labile and changeable the bodyimage is. The body-image can shrink or expand; it can give parts to the outside world and can take other parts into itself. When we take

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a stick in our hands and touch an object with the end of it, we feel a sensation at the end of the stick. The stick, has, in fact, become a part of the body-image. In order to get the full sensation at the end of the stick, the stick has to be in a more or less rigid connection with the body. (202) The extraordinary expansion of the body or the substitution of a prosthesis for a limb in Beckett’s trilogy could be better discussed within such a framework. The same is true of the sense of loss of the organs. Undoubtedly, Beckett is obsessed with the extreme and pathological forms of the body image. As I suggested at the beginning of this chapter, the representation of the body in Beckett is related to a regression to the early psychic stages (including the intrauterine period) when the body image is still amorphous. Here the boundaries between the body and the outside world are unstable, and the body is still disorganised and inarticulate. As the distinction between self and other is also unclear, the body parts are alien or constrictive. It is no surprise, then, that the organs are felt to be substituted by prostheses, or detached and lost like prostheses. From the same amorphous body image springs an important aspect of the Beckettian prosthetic body: confusion of the organs. This is because in the primordial, amorphous state of the body image, the lack of distinction between outside and inside is necessarily tied up with disorganisation of the body, especially the imperfect articulation or distinction of the openings through which the body interacts with the outside. In the analysis of Belacqua’s disguised masturbation in the previous chapter, I pointed out that there is an implicit confusion of tears/semen/excrement and concomitantly of the eye/penis/anus. This instance is in fact exemplary in the sense that different orifices and their flows are rendered equivalent. In Beckett’s later work, the orifices of the body are often highlighted as privileged sites of interaction between the outside and the inside, an interaction realised by flows. The ambiguity of being both outside and inside the body gives a prominently prosthetic status to orifices and flows, which tend to be confused most saliently. In the next section, I will focus on this aspect.

Confusion of the organs There are striking images of the transposition of one organ onto another in The Unnamable: ‘They could clap an artificial anus in the hollow of my hand [  ]’; ‘A head has grown out of his ear [  ]’ (318, 359). However,

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the most conspicuous displacement of the organs in Beckett’s work occurs between the mouth and the anus. These are often juxtaposed and even equated with each other. Molloy tries to subvert their usual hierarchy, saying, ‘But is [the arse-hole] not rather the true portal of our being and the celebrated mouth no more than the kitchen door’ (79–80). Malone, whose bodily function is reduced to the minimum, says, ‘When my chamber-pot is full I put it on the table, beside the dish. [  ] What matters is to eat and excrete. Dish and pot, dish and pot, these are the poles’ (185). The narrator of The Unnamable refers to a doctor who holds that ‘the latest breath could only issue from the fundament and this therefore, rather than the mouth, the orifice to which the family should present the mirror, before opening the will’ (345). In the following passage in Texts for Nothing, the mouth and the anus are very explicitly equated: But there is not silence. No, there is utterance, somewhere someone is uttering. Inanities, agreed, but is that enough, is that enough, to make sense? I see what it is, the head has fallen behind, all the rest has gone on, the head and its anus the mouth, or else it has gone on alone, all alone on its old prowls, slobbering its shit and lapping it back off the lips like in the days when it fancied itself. (CSP 104, emphasis added) Here the narrator has in mind someone’s utterance that goes on interminably, like the voice in The Unnamable and Not I. Therefore, along with the equation of the mouth with the anus (‘the head and its anus the mouth’), speech – the nobler function of the mouth – is equated with defecation. The phrase ‘slobbering its shit’ reinforces this interpretation because the verb slobber means ‘to utter thickly and indistinctly’ (OED, definition 3), as well as ‘to slaver’.9 Or to be more precise, the phrase contains a triple equation between uttering, slavering and defecating. All these examples testify to a Bakhtinian subversion by the ‘material bodily lower stratum’ (Bakhtin 368–436). The mouth is normally considered to be a ‘higher’ organ mainly because it speaks and carries words. But this ‘noble’ aspect of the mouth is doubly debased in Beckett’s work: first by being relegated to the level of the mouth’s lower functions, such as breathing, eating, spitting, vomiting;10 and second, more decisively, to the level of the anus (excretion, farting). The equation between the mouth and the anus or that between words (voice) and excrement can also be discussed in terms of physiological phonetics. Ivan Fónagy, when discussing the relation between

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pronunciation and physical drives in La Vive voix, suggests a close connection between pronunciation and defecation, between the mouth and the anus, the two ends of the ‘digestive tube’, each with its own sphincter (the glottic sphincter and the anal sphincter). Trouble in the larynx might be related to trouble in the anus. By extension, silence can be compared to the retention of faeces, and loquacity to diarrhoea. Referring to Freud’s idea in ‘Character and Anal Eroticism’ that orderliness, parsimony (avarice) and obstinacy are elements of the anal character, Fónagy suggests that the pronunciation of velar occlusives such as /k/ cuts the vocal flow in pieces and therefore parallels the parsimonious attempt to retain faeces.11 This is why the /k/ sound is often used in scatological words, the most notable example of which is ‘caca’. To illustrate his idea with literary examples, Fónagy cites a passage from Beckett’s Molloy, in which Molloy calls his mother Mag because ‘the letter g abolished the syllable Ma, as it were spat on it, better than any other letter would have done’ (Molloy 17). In the same passage, Molloy comments that ‘the question of whether to call her Ma, Mag or the Countess Caca’ did not arise. Noting the casual reference to ‘the Countess Caca’ here, Fónagy argues, ‘It is significant that in replacing Mag with another name, Molloy happens to choose the title , as if the nickname Mag is a condensation of Mama and caca with k softened into g’.12 This is a very subtle way of detecting the anal impulse in speech. The letter g, which is said to ‘abolish’ the syllable Ma, certainly sounds aggressive in cutting the vocal flow (likened to cutting and withholding the faecal flow), even though Molloy’s additional description of it as ‘spitting’ may contradict this image due to its expulsive connotation. The link between the oral/verbal and the anal in Beckett is, however, more obvious, as shown in the passage from Texts for Nothing quoted above. Let us look at some other examples. Lucky’s ‘thought’ in Waiting for Godot might strike the audience primarily by its resemblance to a broken phonograph, but in the present context, it could also be regarded as verbal diarrhoea. He says ‘quaquaquaqua’ twice at the beginning of his ‘thought’, and he also turns ‘academy’ into ‘Acacacacademy’ (CDW 40–1). The anal impulse is easy to detect here. To borrow a neologism of the narrator of Texts for Nothing, words are ‘wordshit’ (CSP 100). The gush of ‘wordshit’ reappears visibly in Not I. In fact, this play offers some of the best examples of the estrangement and prosthetisation of the organs in Beckett’s work. First of all, the entire body is explicitly referred to as a machine: ‘some flaw in her make-up    incapable of deceit    or the machine    more likely the machine    so disconnected    never got the message    or

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powerless to respond’ (CDW 378). Then the movements of the eye or the mouth, which are normally too natural for us to be particularly aware of, are described with sheer detachment as some external mechanical processes. As for the eye, Mouth says, ‘no part of her moving    that she could feel    just the eyelids    presumably    on and off [  ] no feeling of any kind    but the lids    even best of times    who feels them?    opening    shutting    all that moisture’ (378). The act of speaking is similarly decomposed into alien, heterogeneous movements of various organs: ‘imagine!    her lips moving!    as of course till then she had not    and not alone the lips    the cheeks    the jaws    the whole face    all those –    what?    the tongue?    yes    the tongue in the mouth    all those contortions without which    no speech is possible’ (379). In such a system of the body where the organs are felt to be alien, the bodily flows will also be alien. The unstoppable ‘stream of words’ came to her suddenly: ‘words were coming    imagine!    words were coming    a voice she did not recognize    at first [  ] then finally had to admit    could be none other    than her own’ (379). It is a bodily flow that comes from within but is foreign to her. As such it might have the same status as a faecal flow. As Keir Elam notes (146), there is a strong suggestion in the following passage that this stream of words and voice might actually be a gush of ‘wordshit’: ‘sudden urge to    tell    then rush out stop the first she saw    nearest lavatory    start pouring it out    steady stream    mad stuff    half the vowels wrong    no one could follow’ (CDW 382). In How It Is, when ‘the panting stops’, the narrator hears a voice in him, which he quotes. The voice is not felt to be his, but it is his after all because he says, ‘I say it as I hear it’ about the opening words. There is a deferral of the origin of the voice and in this respect, this novel is a continuation of The Unnamable. In the second fragment of Part One we read, ‘voice once without quaqua on all sides then in me’ (7). In accordance with what I have observed so far, the voice, which is both outside and inside the body, is implicitly linked to the anus by the nonsensical word ‘quaqua’. The narrator is surrounded by mud, to which he murmurs. He lets out what could be called ‘wordfart’ into the mud: ‘a word from me and I am again I strain with open mouth so as not to lose a second a fart fraught with meaning issuing through the mouth’ (29). It is obvious that the mud contains excrement as the narrator is excreting into it. He even hints at the possibility that the mud may consist of faeces: ‘quick a supposition if this so-called mud were nothing more than all our shit’ (58). Yet curiously, he also takes in the mud, as the following passages suggest: ‘the mouth opens the tongue

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comes out lolls in the mud’ (9); ‘I fill my mouth with [the mud] that can happen too it’s another of my resources last a moment with that and question if swallowed would it nourish and opening up of vistas they are good moments’ (30). Just as in Texts for Nothing, where the head is described as ‘slobbering its shit and lapping it back off the lips’ (CSP 104, quoted above), there seems to be an intake of ‘wordshit’ as well as its expulsion. The narrator’s situation is very similar to that of a foetus in the womb in the sense that he takes in what he excretes. The circulatory system, in which both words (voice) and excrement circulate, coming into and going out of the orifices, characterises The Unnamable as well. The narrator says: I shall transmit the words as received, by the ear, or roared through a trumpet into the arsehole, in all their purity, and in the same order, as far as possible. This infinitesimal lag, between arrival and departure, this trifling delay in evacuation, is all I have to worry about. (352, emphasis added) While he issues forth ‘wordshit’ just like the narrators of Texts for Nothing and How It Is (note the use of the word ‘evacuation’ for speaking), he receives it through the ear or the anus. The expulsion and intake of ‘wordshit’ are described in a similar way in the following passage: It’s true I have not spoken yet. In at one ear and incontinent out through the mouth, or the other ear, that’s possible too. [  ] Two holes and me in the middle, slightly choked. Or a single one, entrance and exit, where the words swarm and jostle like ants, hasty, indifferent, bringing nothing, taking nothing away, too light to leave a mark. (357–8, emphasis added) The word ‘incontinent’ is suggestive of the equation of the mouth with the anus, but what is more important is the fact that the ear is also involved in the mouth/anus equation. There is a suggestion in this passage that all the orifices could be equated with each other and ultimately reduced to a single multi-functioning orifice. Before considering this question, it may be worthwhile to see what psychoanalysis can tell us about confusion of the organs in the infant. As mentioned in the previous chapter, Freud observes that in the unconscious, the faeces, the baby and the penis ‘are often treated as if they were equivalent and could replace one another freely’ (‘Transformations of Instinct as Exemplified in Anal Eroticism’, SE XVII 128). This is because

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the instinctual impulses of the anal-erotic phase are not completely buried after the infant’s sexuality is organised around the genital organs. When discussing the anal eroticism of the infant, Freud argues that the ‘contents of the bowels, which act as a stimulating mass upon a sexually sensitive portion of mucous membrane, behave like forerunners of another organ, which is destined to come into action after the phase of childhood’ (‘Three Essays on Sexuality’, SE VII 186). Thus it is easy to understand why the faeces and the penis are confused. With regard to the equivalence between the faeces and the baby, Freud suggests that children believe that ‘[t]he baby must be evacuated like a piece of excrement, like a stool’ (‘The Sexual Theories of Children’, SE IX 219). As if to follow Freud’s view, Molloy thinks that he was born out of his mother’s anus.13 When discussing Not I, Keir Elam points out that in the projection of the spectator’s unconscious onto Mouth, Mouth is identified with the vagina (the ‘godforsaken hole’ that expelled her into the world), the mouth (of the infant deprived of the mother’s breast) and the anus. At work here is ‘what Klein defines as “early (infantile) confusion, which expresses itself in a blurring of the oral, anal and genital impulses”’ (146). This remark is suggestive because the vagina is another important orifice in Beckett’s work, where the fact of being born is so much questioned. It is plausible that the three erotogenic zones highlighted by psychoanalysis – the mouth, the anus and the genitals – are confused in the regressive state of the psyche that seems to characterise Beckett’s work. But confusion of the orifices in Beckett cannot be fully explained by reference to these basic erotogenic zones, because, as noted above, other orifices such as the ear seem to be involved as well. With regard to the eye, I have already discussed Belacqua’s disguised masturbation with the confusion of tears/semen/excrement. The following passage from Texts for Nothing serves as another typical example: It’s an unbroken flow of words and tears. With no pause for reflection. But I speak softer, every year a little slower. Perhaps. It is hard to judge. If so the pauses would be longer, between the words, the sentences, the syllables, the tears, I confuse them, words and tears, my words are my tears, my eyes my mouth. (CSP 96) Based on just the three erotogenic zones, it is impossible to explain this confusion of the eye with the mouth adequately. Also in Ill Seen Ill Said, the eye ‘breathes’ or ‘digests its pittance’. It appears necessary to postulate a curious general economy in Beckett’s work, where all the

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orifices and the flows from them seem to be potentially equivalent and interchangeable. In fact, Freud too had a very broad idea of the erotogenic zones. For example, he thinks it ‘probable that any part of the skin and any sense-organ – probably, indeed, any organ – can function as an erotogenic zone, though there are some particularly marked erotogenic zones whose excitation would seem to be secured from the very first by certain organic contrivances’ (‘Three Essays on Sexuality’, SE VII 233). Then, it may be potentially possible that in the libidinal body (as opposed to the anatomical body) one organ is made equivalent to another as an erotogenic zone. Nevertheless, it remains true that the openings of the body are particularly important because with their flows they serve as a privileged locus for interaction between the body and the outside world. Freud highlighted the mouth, the anus and the genitals, but other orifices such as the ear and the eye must also be marked in the formation of the body image in infancy. When discussing the erotogenic zones in the body image, Paul Schilder remarks that the ‘enormous psychological importance of all openings of the body is obvious, since it is by these openings that we come in closest contact with the world’ (124). Interestingly, he treats the eye as just one of those openings: ‘The eyes, after all, are at least symbolically a receptive organ, and the symbolic significance of the eye [  ] is closely related to this function of the eye as a symbolic opening through which the world wanders into ourselves’ (125). It may be added that by shedding tears, the eye can be equated with the urethra, the anus and the genitals, all of which are inseparable from their flows. Elsewhere, Schilder suggests: What goes on in one part of the body may be transposed to another part of the body. The hole of the female genital organs may appear as a cavity in another part of the body, the penis as a stiffness or as a piece of wood somewhere else. There is said to be a transposition of one part of the body to another part of the body. One part may be symbolic of the other. There must be some foundation for this symbolic substitution. The nose may take the significance of the phallus. The protruding parts of the body may become symbols of the male sex organ. Cavities and entrances of the body are largely interchangeable. Vagina, anus, mouth, ears, and even the entrances of the nose and ears belong to the same group. (171, emphasis added) Given what he says about the eyes, it would be justifiable to add the eyes to this list of the interchangeable orifices. It now seems clear that

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the confusion of the organs, especially the orifices, in Beckett’s representation of the body is taking place in the realm of the body image. The possibility of the symbolic substitution of one body part for another that Schilder mentions is normally hidden deep in the unconscious, but resurfaces in dreams or psychic disorders. The obsession with the orifices and their exchangeability in Beckett’s work suggests a fixation on the earlier psychic stages where the body is not yet articulated and one has to rely on the orifices and their flows – themselves hardly distinguishable – to obtain a sense of the demarcation between one’s body and the outside world. This coexistence of the uncertainty of boundaries and the related confusion of the orifices is the feature of the prosthetic body I am exploring here. Independently of the psychological concepts of erotogenic zones or body image, Peter Ehrhard observes that the orifices have a particular significance in Beckett’s work. According to his Anatomie de Samuel Beckett: Anyone who closely reads Beckett’s texts is constantly faced with the semantic field of the ‘hole’, together with verbs derived from this notion, such as ‘go out’ [sortir], ‘open’ [ouvrir], ‘penetrate’ [pénétrer], ‘close’ [fermer] and ‘shut up’ [s’enfermer]. [  ] It is [  ] the presence and function of the eye, the mouth and the ear – cavities in the largest sense of the word – that constitute the important points of existential concern in Beckett’s work.14 In this ‘imagination of the hole’ (Ehrhard’s phrase), the functional differences between the orifices tend to be neglected. What looms large instead is a topologically reduced relation between the inside and the outside, mediated by flows coming and going through holes on the surface. In the prosthetic body, whose boundaries are problematised, the holes, the flows and the surface are highlighted as particularly prosthetic parts because of the ambiguity of their being both inside and outside the body.15 In the next section, I will examine the topological relation between these three factors.

The instability of the body’s surface The trilogy is suffused by a sense of being in an inner space, which primarily implies the womb and the skull. Molloy is writing in his mother’s room, suggestive of the womb. Malone, shut up in a room, says, ‘The ceiling rises and falls, rises and falls, rhythmically, as when

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I was a foetus’ and he imagines that he is ‘given [  ] birth to into death’ out of ‘the great cunt of existence’ (285). On the other hand, he occasionally feels he is inside the skull: ‘sometimes it seems to me I am in a head and that these eight, no, six, these six planes that enclose me are of solid bone’ (222). This image also appears in The Unnamable, where the narrator says, ‘And sometimes I say to myself I am in a head, [  ] surrounded on all sides by massive bone’ (353). But the feeling of being within a space is never stable. Molloy sometimes feels that the boundaries between himself and the world disappear: ‘Then I was no longer that sealed jar to which I owed my being so well preserved, but a wall gave way’ (49).16 He also says, ‘[T]he confines of my room, of my bed, of my body, are as remote from me as were those of my region’ (66), before stating that his hands and feet are far away from him. As noted earlier, both Molloy and Malone have the sense of the body expanding. The narrator of The Unnamable constantly remarks that he is shut up inside, but at one point he also feels there is no end to him: ‘this place, if I could describe this place, portray it, I’ve tried, I feel no place, no place round me, there’s no end to me, I don’t know what it is, it isn’t flesh, it doesn’t end, it’s like air [  ]’ (403). These examples clearly show that the boundaries of the self are unstable and problematic. One may be a tiny being inside a vast space or one may completely fill up a space. The following passage in The Unnamable refers to this ambiguity precisely: ‘[The narrator’s place] is perhaps merely the inside of my distant skull where once I wandered, now I am fixed, lost for tininess, or straining against the walls, with my head, my hand, my feet, my back [  ]’ (304–5). When one fills up a space and that space expands, he will feel that he himself is expanding. But he might also feel that he is located exactly on the unstable borderline. In The Unnamable, we come across a striking description of such a situation: an outside and an inside and me in the middle, perhaps that’s what I am, the thing that divides the world in two, on the one side the outside, on the other the inside, that can be as thin as foil, I’m neither one side nor the other, I’m in the middle, I’m the partition, I’ve two surfaces and no thickness, perhaps that’s what I feel, myself vibrating, I’m the tympanum, on the one hand the mind, on the other the world, I don’t belong to either [  ]. (386) The psychoanalyst Didier Anzieu contends in Beckett et le psychanalyste that this passage prefigures the notion of the ‘skin ego’ (169), which he

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elaborated in his earlier work The Skin Ego (Le Moi-peau, 1985). Anzieu’s psychoanalytic framework might be helpful to our discussion because it precisely concerns the question of the unstable boundaries of the self.17 He defines the skin ego as follows: ‘By Skin Ego, I mean a mental image of which the Ego of the child makes use during the early phases of its development to represent itself as an Ego containing psychical contents, on the basis of its experience of the surface of the body’ (The Skin Ego 40).18 It is easy to see that this concept is closely related to Schilder’s idea of the body image, because it is a sort of mental image of the body’s surface. Needless to say, the skin as a marker of the body’s boundaries is an important factor in the body image. Indeed, in The Skin Ego, Anzieu regrets that Schilder’s idea was neglected in the general disregard of the body in the third quarter of the twentieth century (21), and when he discusses Freud and Paul Federn as precursors of the notion of the skin ego, he comments that Federn’s work complements that of Schilder (89). The infant forms an image of the skin ego, which provides a sense of itself, through contact and communication with the mother. At first the neonate’s psyche is dominated by an intrauterine phantasy – ‘a phantasy of reciprocal inclusion, of primary narcissistic fusion’ (63) – which denies birth. Then the infant starts to have a phantasy of sharing skin with its mother. Through a painful process, it has to suppress this phantasy of the common skin in order to recognise its own skin and ego. Defects in the formation of a skin ego result in psychotic problems that are best represented by the image of a ‘perforable envelope’:19 The infans comes to perceive its skin as a surface as it experiences the contact of its body with that of the mother, and within the framework of a secure relation of attachment to her. Thus it arrives not only at the notion of a boundary between the exterior and the interior but also at the confidence required for progressively mastering the orifices, for it cannot feel confident as to their functioning unless it also possesses a basic feeling which guarantees the integrity of its bodily envelope. Clinical practice here confirms the theoretical findings of Bion [  ] with his notion of a psychical ‘container’: the dangers of depersonalization are bound up with the image of a perforable envelope and with the anxiety – primary, according to Bion – of a flowing away of vital substance through holes [  ]. (38–9)20 Here Anzieu is precisely pointing to the aspect of the prosthetic body I am considering here – that is, the prosthetic body as the locus of interaction between the inside and the outside. He refers to all those

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particularly prosthetic parts – the surface, the orifice and the flow – in a single framework. The instability of the boundaries of the self in the trilogy may be related to a failure of the skin ego to demarcate a secure ‘boundary between the exterior and the interior’. The recurrent references to orifices and bodily flows could also be explained by defects of the skin ego. If a secure sense of the ‘bodily envelope’ fails to be formed, one might be obsessed with anxiety about ‘a flowing away of vital substance through holes’. The image of uncontrollable, gushing flows seems to be particularly related to this anxiety. As I discussed in Chapter 1, the narrator of The Unnamable is helplessly shedding tears and words keep pouring out of his mouth. The unstoppable speeches of Lucky and Mouth in Not I are more obvious cases in point.21 In Beckett et le psychanalyste, Anzieu suggests that Beckett himself suffered from a defective skin ego, because of his mother’s unresponsiveness, and he provides a number of observations, if not substantial analyses, of Beckett’s work in this light. The following image, created out of his reading of Beckett, is of particular importance: ‘Everywhere in my body, holes swallow words, expectorate them, sniff them up, ooze them, shit them’.22 Here Anzieu seems to endorse my argument in the previous section that in the Beckettian prosthetic body, words can be confused with vomit, excrement and other bodily flows, and that ultimately, any hole and its flow can substitute for various other holes and their flows. The narrator of The Unnamable not only finds himself on the border between inside and outside, but also imagines that he is inside (or even identified with) liquid flowing through a hole. For example, he says, ‘[The place] spews me out or swallows me up [  ]’ and ‘I wonder if I couldn’t sneak out by the fundament, one morning, with the French breakfast. No, I can’t move, not yet. One minute in a skull and the next in a belly, strange, and the next nowhere in particular. Perhaps it’s Botal’s Foramen, when all about me palpitates and labours’ (304, 355). In the latter quotation, the initial image of the narrator in (or as) excrement going out of the fundament23 is replaced by the idea that he could be anywhere inside the body. Then he refers to Botal’s Foramen, which means the foramen ovale, the orifice that connects the left and right atriums in the foetus’s heart prior to its birth. While the image of being inside the womb lingers here, it is more important to note the narrator’s transformational imagination: he can be (in) any liquid inside any organ in the body. Wondering why he keeps shedding tears, he says, ‘Perhaps it is liquefied brain’ (295), a remark that is echoed by Hamm in Endgame: ‘There’s something dripping in my head. [  ] A heart, a heart

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in my head’ (CDW 100). Referring to his own situation, the narrator of The Unnamable also says, ‘[S]trange this mixture of solid and liquid [  ]’ (395, 396). He can be the air as well: ‘I’m the air, the walls, the walledin one, everything yields, opens, ebbs, flows, like flakes, I’m all these flakes [  ]’ (390). It can be inferred that these images of liquefaction or gasification of the self derive from defects of the skin ego. One of the nine functions of the skin ego listed by Anzieu is the supporting function, which helps the baby to form a vertical axis and stand upright, struggling against gravity. It could be said that the skin ego here functions as a prosthesis in the literal, instrumental sense. Of Francis Bacon, Anzieu makes a comment that could equally be applied to the above-quoted instances in Beckett: ‘Francis Bacon depicts in his paintings deliquescent bodies whose skin and clothing provide them with a superficial unity, but which lack that spinal axis which is the support of the body and thought: they are skins filled with a substance more liquid than solid’ (The Skin Ego 99). The fact that many Beckett characters – Molloy, Moran, Malone, the narrator of How It Is, to name but a few – crawl or lie with no ability to stand upright may also be related to a defect of the supporting function. The most important function of the skin ego is, however, the containing function.24 Its failure leads to two forms of anxiety. First, without an envelope, ‘the individual seeks a substitute shell in physical pain or psychical anxiety: he wraps himself in suffering’ (102). Second, the ‘envelope exists, but its continuity is broken into by holes. This Skin Ego is a colander: thoughts, and memories are only with difficulty retained; they leak away’ (102). I have already noted the second case in Beckett’s work: the uncontrollable flows from the ‘perforable envelope’. With regard to the first, Anzieu refers to masochism. In the fantasy of a certain type of masochist, the skin ego is shared by the mother and the infant, and separation from the mother does violent damage to the skin ego. This damage is embodied in burning or tearing the real skin, which the masochist is compelled to do in order to regain (after the self-imposed injury) a sense of union with the mother. It seems to be difficult to find such an instance in Beckett’s work. Perhaps the carving of letters on the back of Pim in the second part of How It Is, which is strikingly reminiscent of Kafka’s ‘In the Penal Colony’, is the only one that comes to mind. Since the roles of tormentor and victim are reversible in the novel and Pim appears to be the narrator’s phantasmic double, the carving could be regarded as self-inflicted injury, even if the pain is not described from the victim’s point of view.

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However, the destructive image of actively piercing holes on the surface has considerable importance in Beckett’s work. In other words, while bodily liquid is represented as a kind of prosthesis, the surface, across which the liquid flows, can also be envisioned as an alien prosthetic material to be pierced. This image could be a vestige of a masochistic attempt to create the condition of the ‘perforable envelope’ deliberately. What is interesting is that in Beckett this is often linked to his aesthetic ideas. In his ‘German Letter of 1937’, Beckett famously says: [M]ore and more my own language appears to me like a veil that must be torn apart in order to get at the things (or the Nothingness) behind it. [  ] To bore one hole after another in [language], until what lurks behind it – be it something or nothing – begins to seep through; I cannot imagine a higher goal for a writer today. (Disjecta 171–2)25 Beckett urges literature to catch up with music and painting by tearing apart the surface of the word with silence. He asks: Is there any reason why that terrible materiality of the word surface should not be capable of being dissolved, like for example the sound surface, torn by enormous pauses, of Beethoven’s seventh Symphony, so that through whole pages we can perceive nothing but a path of sounds suspended in giddy heights, linking unfathomable abysses of silence? (Disjecta 172) Beckett had already expressed this sort of aesthetic view in Dream, where Belacqua admiringly says, ‘The terms of [Rimbaud’s and Beethoven’s] statements serve merely to delimit the reality of insane areas of silence, [their] audibilities are no more than punctuation in a statement of silences’ (102). When he conceives of his own book, his artistic models are Rembrandt, in whose painting he finds a dissolving surface, or ‘the dehiscing, the dynamic décousu’, and Beethoven, who ‘incorporates a punctuation of dehiscence’ into the musical statement so that its unity is gone, ‘the notes fly about, a blizzard of electrons; and then vespertine compositions eaten away with terrible silences’ (138–9). The young Beckett discerned a surface punctuated or dissolved by silence in the artists he respected.26 Belacqua also sees in the star-lit night sky an ideal presentation of his aesthetic idea: ‘The inviolable criterion of poetry and music, the nonprinciple of their punctuation, is figured in the demented perforation of

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the night colander’ (Dream 16). Here, an ‘insistent, invisible rat’ is said to be ‘fidgeting behind the astral incoherence of the art surface’ (17). When he imagines that he is braced against a flood of the thickets and stones around him (in a way that is reminiscent of the protagonist in ‘Assumption’ coping with the flood of his inner whisper), the image of piercing a surface occurs again: The fragile dykes were caving in on him, he would be drowned, stones and thickets would flood over him and over the land, a nightmare strom of timber and leaves and tendrils and bergs of stone. He stood amidst the weeds and the shell of the Hof, braced against the dense masses, strained away from him. Over the rim of the funnel, when he looked up, the night sky was stretched like a skin. He would scale the inner wall, his head would tear a great rip in the taut sky, he would climb out above the deluge, into a quiet zone above the nightmare. (26–7) The image of the head piercing the sky ‘stretched like a skin’ inevitably suggests the problematic of the bodily boundaries. It is notable that behind or above the surface, there is ‘a quiet zone’ in contrast with the ‘strom’ or ‘nightmare’ which is supposed to be full of sounds. This prefigures the structure in The Unnamable, where the narrator seeks to escape from the hell of voices to the silence outside.27 And as in the ‘German Letter’, ripping a surface leads to silence. The principal configurations of the skin ego include the sound envelope as well as the thermal and olfactory envelopes. According to The Skin Ego, the formation of a skin ego is preceded by the formation of a sound envelope through vocal communication with the mother: [T]he Self forms as a sound envelope through the experience of a bath of sounds (concomitant with the experience of nursing). The soundbath prefigures the Skin Ego with its double face, one half turned towards the outer world, the other towards the inner, since the sound envelope is composed of sounds emitted either by the baby or by the environment. (167) Reading this description brings to mind the above-quoted passage in The Unnamable, where the narrator says that he is the tympanum vibrating between the inner world and the outer world. Anzieu’s notion of the sound envelope might shed some light on the problematics of the

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boundaries in relation to sounds or words. The sound envelope functions as a kind of mirror (‘the sound mirror’), because by the mother’s vocal response to the infant’s cry the latter can acquire a sense of itself. This sound mirror precedes the ordinary ‘visual’ mirror emphasised in Lacanian psychoanalysis. If the mother’s voice is uncomfortable to the infant, the constitution of the Ego will be disturbed: ‘the sound bath no longer envelops, but has become unpleasant [  ]; it contains holes and causes them’ (169). In Beckett et le psychanalyste, Anzieu suggests that the strange words ‘Hop’ and ‘Bing’ that punctuate Beckett’s short prose piece ‘Bing’ (‘Ping’) indicate disturbance of the sound envelope by an unresponsive mother (119). He even claims that ‘[i]t is with the defects of the sound mirror that Beckett is confronted’, although he does not offer a substantial analysis of Beckett’s work in these terms.28 It could be argued that the compulsion to pierce the veil of sounds or words is related to a defective sound envelope. Just as a person with a defective skin ego inflicts pain on his skin in order to regain a sense of boundaries, one might be obsessed with the image of damaging the sound envelope if it fails to be formed properly. However, an in-depth pathological analysis of Beckett’s work is beyond the scope of this book and it is more important to concentrate on distinct features of the instability of boundaries revealed in his texts. For example, words are often represented as a flow (‘wordshit’ in particular) but they are also a veil to be pierced. This paradox is similar to the paradox of the location of the self: the narrator of The Unnamable can be right on the border between inside and outside, but he can also be identified with a liquid flowing out through an orifice. Such a paradox indicates that boundaries are not in fact functioning to demarcate the inside and the outside. The two realms can freely penetrate each other, rendering boundaries illusory. Or rather, boundaries are presented only to highlight the interpenetration. The narrator of The Unnamable says, ‘[The voice] issues from me, it fills me, it clamours against my walls, it is not mine, I can’t stop it, I can’t prevent it, from tearing me, racking me, assailing me’; ‘I am walled round with [others’] vociferations [  ]’; ‘I’m not outside, I’m inside, I’m in something, I’m shut up, the silence is outside [  ]’ (309, 328, 414). There is thus a very clear sense of being wrapped up by a sound envelope made up of others’ voices and words. Outside this envelope is the much-coveted silence. Therefore it could be potentially subject to piercing. But the last quotation continues like this: ‘outside, inside, there is nothing but here, and the silence outside, nothing but this voice and the silence all round, no need of walls, yes, we must have walls, I need

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walls, good and thick, I need a prison [  ]’ (414). The narrator’s need for walls or a prison suggests that the demarcation between the inside (voice) and the outside (silence) is in fact shaky. The passage I quoted earlier is also illuminating: ‘In at one ear and incontinent out through the mouth, or the other ear, that’s possible too. [  ] Two holes and me in the middle, slightly choked. Or a single one, entrance and exit, where words swarm and jostle like ants [  ]’ (357–8). Holes are equated with each other and could be replaced by just one polyvalent hole that is both entrance and exit. This one hole is simply a locus for interactions between two realms and the distinction between inside and outside is insignificant. There is a border, but that border is rendered insubstantial by the hole – the above passage indicates this essential feature with a topological reduction that is typical of Beckett.29 In Worstward Ho, one of Beckett’s last works, the paradoxical topological relation is presented in a highly distilled manner. The following is the whole of the third fragment: ‘Say a body. Where none. No mind. Where none. That at least. A place. Where none. For the body. To be in. Move in. Out of. Back into. No. No out. No back. Only in. Stay in. On in. Still’ (7). Although body, mind and place are all said to be non-existent (‘Where none’), movement of the body going in and out is clearly suggested. There is no longer any mention of an identifiable place (hole) through which the body goes in and out. Rather than a border, which does seem to exist, the image of the body’s movement itself is given abstractly. Later in the work, the verbs ‘secrete’ and ‘ooze’ are used for words. This is a clear indication of the equation of words with bodily liquid or weakened bodily flow.30 Towards the end, the two eyes are presented as two black holes: Stare clamped to stare. Bowed backs blurs in stare clamped to stare. Two black holes. Dim black. In through skull to soft. Out from soft through skull. Agape in unseen face. That the flaw? The want of flaw? Try better worse set in skull. Two black holes in foreskull. Or one. Try better still worse one. One dim black hole mid-foreskull. Into the hell of all. Out from the hell of all. So better than nothing worse say stare from now. (43–4) The passage ‘In through skull to soft. Out through soft to skull’ is another image of going in and out. This time, something (probably light) goes in and out through an orifice of the body, rather than the body itself going in and out as in the former passage. And ‘Two black holes in foreskull.

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Or one’ is reminiscent of the passage in The Unnamable, in which the narrator says that his ears can be one: (‘Two holes and me in the middle, slightly choked. Or a single one, entrance and exit [  ]’ (358)). One hole can substitute for any number of orifices. ‘Into the hell of all. Out from the hell of all’ again indicates a purified image of moving in and out,31 as does ‘Black hole agape on all. Inletting all. Outletting all’ on the next page (44, 45). The almost mechanical coupling of ‘in’ and ‘out’ in these passages strengthens the impression that what matters is interaction – not demarcation – between the outside and the inside. For the study of the Beckettian prosthetic body in this chapter, I started with the observation that body parts can become prostheses and vice versa in Beckett’s work. The amorphous body image of the regressive psychic stages, which produces this uncertainty about the body’s boundaries, also entails confusion of the orifices and their flows. The orifices and their flows are necessarily highlighted because they pertain to interactions between the inside and the outside. They are also confused because of the disorganisation of the body. In this section, with the help of the notion of the skin ego, I explored the mechanism of the prosthetic body, paying attention to the way in which the particularly prosthetic parts on the borders – the surface, the orifice, the flow – are interrelated. Two basic types of body image have been identified: the ‘perforable envelope’, which lets liquid flow helplessly, and the fierce attempt to pierce the surface. In the process, there has emerged a purified topological model based on a tendency to a kind of reduction. In the Beckettian body, various orifices ultimately tend to be reduced to a hole on the surface, through which flows come and go. Interaction between the inside and the outside occurs there, but the distinction between the two realms tends to be insubstantial. In this topological model, we see at a higher level of abstraction the fundamentally prosthetic nature of the Beckettian body in which the outside (the alien other) can become the inside (the self) and vice versa. Yet at the same time it should be remembered that such a body might be a re-embodiment of the incompletely formed body of a foetus or an infant that has no sense of the clear boundaries of itself, no articulate organisation of the organs and no ability to control the organs which feel like alien objects.

A critique of Deleuze and Guattari’s discussions of Beckett In this final section, I will turn to examine Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of the ‘organ-machine’, the ‘body without organs’ and

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‘disjunctive synthesis’. They adopt a completely different framework that dismantles the basic premises of psychoanalysis, but their frequent if unsystematic references to Beckett in their own way address aspects of the prosthetic body that I have considered in this chapter – especially the prosthetisation of body parts and confusion of the organs. Some of their points are so relevant to my ideas of the prosthetic body that it is appropriate to conduct a substantial examination of how they impinge on what I have discussed so far. Unlike psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, Deleuze and Guattari in AntiOedipus (1972) do not consider the schizophrenic’s conception of the world to be abnormal or regressive. Instead they view it as the crucial key to an innovative understanding of capitalism and the contemporary world. In the schizophrenic’s world, everything can be regarded as production by machines. Machines – or to be more precise, ‘desiringmachines’ – are interconnected by their flows. When one machine produces a flow, another coupled to it disconnects or drains the flow. The bodily organs, with their particular fluids, are regarded as ‘organmachines’. For example, the breast is an organ-machine that produces a flow of milk, and the mouth sucking the breast is an organ-machine that interrupts the flow.32 Organ-machines are directly linked to other machines/flows of nature because in the schizophrenic’s world there is no distinction between man and nature, industry and nature, society and nature. Deleuze and Guattari put forward this model to criticise psychoanalysis, which reduces everything to the Oedipal triangle of the family (father–mother–me). According to them, a ‘schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch’ (2). Using the comprehensive concept of the ‘desiring-machine’, which crosses the boundaries between man, society and nature, Deleuze and Guattari amalgamate their analysis of capitalism with their analysis of the human psyche, thus bypassing the narrow ‘familialism’ of psychoanalysis. At the beginning of Anti-Oedipus, they refer to Beckett’s Molloy to illustrate their point. They quote Molloy’s words: ‘What a rest to speak of bicycles and horns. Unfortunately it is not of them I have to speak, but of her who brought me into the world, through the hole in her arse if my memory is correct’ (Anti-Oedipus 2–3). They highlight the relationship between ‘the bicycle-horn machine’ and ‘the mother-anus machine’, and imply that psychoanalysis is inadequate in the face of this juxtaposition of a material object and a bodily organ, because ‘Oedipus presupposes a fantastic repression of desiring-machines’ (3). In this connection they also mention the well-known sucking-stone

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episode in Molloy. The entire circuit made up of stones and pockets is a machine. In it ‘the mouth, too, plays a role as a stone-sucking machine’ (3). It should be noted here that an organ-machine, the mouth, is directly coupled to stones which belong to nature. They are both machines. In the prevalence of schizophrenic desiring-machines, ‘the self and non-self, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever’ (2). It appears that, without using the term, Deleuze and Guattari are touching on the prosthetic feature of the Beckettian body I have been analysing, in which the limbs and organs are felt to be external or alien like material objects, and the boundaries of the body are ambiguous and problematic. Their argument is a highly general one about the schizophrenic’s world-view and Beckett is only referred to sporadically as an illustration. Moreover, the idea of the organ-machine has comprehensive connotations that encompass all social relations.33 My idea of the prosthetic body is narrower in scope, focusing simply on the boundaries between the body and its outside. Nevertheless, I am going to examine the aspects of Deleuze and Guattari’s discussions that are relevant to my analysis of Beckett, thereby trying to delineate the characteristics of their use of Beckett. I will concentrate on the way in which they discuss confusion of the organs, which is an important factor in the prosthetic body. They address this question in terms of the rather abstract concept of disjunctive synthesis or inclusive disjunction. Therefore it will be necessary in the end to judge the validity of this concept. Although they often refer to Beckett as one of their favourite literary examples, they never really analyse his work. We are requested to interpret their references to his work in our own way, taking into account the relevant parts of their extremely wide-ranging arguments. I will first consider their concept of the ‘body without organs’, which they discovered in Antonin Artaud and developed into a key concept in Anti-Oedipus. Beneath well-functioning desiring machines lurks the body without organs, which is an amorphous, unorganised mass. Whereas ‘desiring-machines make us an organism’ (8), the body without organs resists organisation, if not the organ-machines themselves.34 And it stops dead the whole process of production by machines for a moment. Deleuze and Guattari postulate three kinds of relationship between organ-machines and the body without organs. First, in ‘connective synthesis’ (production of production), the body without organs repulses the organ-machines. Machines here appear as

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‘paranoiac’ machines that break into and torture the body without organs. Deleuze and Guattari state: In order to resist organ-machines, the body without organs presents its smooth, slippery, opaque, taut surface as a barrier. In order to resist linked, connected, and interrupted flows, it sets up a counterflow of amorphous, undifferentiated fluid. In order to resist using words composed of articulated phonetic units, it utters only gasps and cries that are sheer unarticulated blocks of sound. (9) They cite Artaud’s words, ‘The body is the body/it is all by itself/and has no need of organs/the body is never an organism/organisms are the enemies of the body’ (9). But they could equally have cited the passage in Beckett’s The Unnamable, where the narrator imagines himself to be a ‘great smooth ball’ with all the organs fallen off.35 And it is a conspicuous feature of Beckett’s writing that words also tend to become a disorganised, unarticulated flow, as discussed in the previous sections.36 Second, in ‘disjunctive synthesis’ (production of recording), the body without organs attracts the organ-machines: ‘An attraction-machine [  ] takes the place, or may take the place, of a repulsion-machine: a miraculating-machine succeeding the paranoiac machine’ (11). The organ-machines now come under a special law of ‘disjunctive synthesis’ Machines attach themselves to the body without organs as so many points of disjunction, between which an entire network of new syntheses is now woven, marking the surface off into co-ordinates, like a grid. The ‘either    or    or’ of the schizophrenic takes over from the ‘and then’: no matter what two organs are involved, the way in which they are attached to the body without organs must be such that all the disjunctive syntheses between the two amount to the same on the slippery surface. Whereas the ‘either/or’ claims to mark decisive choices between immutable terms (the alternative: either this or that), the schizophrenic ‘either    or    or’ refers to the system of possible permutations between differences that always amount to the same as they shift and slide about. As in the case of Beckett’s mouth that speaks and feet that walk [  ]. (12) They go on to quote a passage from Beckett’s ‘Enough’, to which I will return shortly. At the moment it is important to note that the image here precisely fits the way in which different orifices are confused and equated with each other in Beckett. They are different, but the

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differences ‘amount to the same on the slippery surface’. The idea of a system of disjunctive synthesis seems to impinge significantly on my discussion of the topologically reduced prosthetic body in Beckett, where different orifices can ultimately be replaced by one polyvalent hole. Third, in ‘conjunctive synthesis’ (production of consumption), the body without organs is reconciled with the organ-machines. This time the ‘celibate machine’ appears. Here a certain subject is produced that experiences various nervous states or becomes various things, depending on the degree of intensity in the body without organs.37 Deleuze and Guattari quote Nietzsche’s words ‘Every name in history is I’: he could be any historical figure. A schizophrenic can thus be ‘Homo historia’ as well as ‘Homo natura’ (21). As I will note soon, this schizophrenic identification can also be considered in connection with disjunctive synthesis. It would not be necessary to enlarge further on Deleuze and Guattari’s tripartite system. What is immediately relevant to the present discussion of the prosthetic body is their idea that the organ-machines on the body without organs can amount to the same under the law of disjunctive synthesis. This may provide a theoretical model for interpreting the way in which the organs are confused in Beckett. Let us return to the passage in Beckett’s ‘Enough’, which Deleuze and Guattari quote to illustrate the disjunctive synthesis of the organ-machines. They suggest that in the following passage, the mouth that speaks and the feet that walk amount to the same thing: He sometimes halted without saying anything. Either he had finally nothing to say, or whole having something to say he finally decided not to say it   . Other main examples suggest themselves to the mind. Immediate continuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. Delayed continuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. Immediate discontinuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. Delayed discontinuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. (CSP 141–2, quoted in AntiOedipus 12) It is certainly possible to suggest, as Deleuze and Guattari do, that here the two organ-machines – the mouth and the feet – are at stake, though they are not directly mentioned. But what impresses us more here is a permutation of words such as ‘communication’, ‘redeparture’, ‘delayed’,

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‘immediate’, ‘continuous’, ‘discontinuous’ – the kind of permutation that characterises Watt. Is it not a matter of words rather than organmachines? Why did they not choose those passages in which the organ-machines are more explicitly confused – that is, the passages I quoted earlier in this chapter? In fact, Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of disjunctive synthesis is so general that it cannot help but be somewhat ambiguous when it is applied to confusion of the organ-machines. It is now necessary to examine more closely how they use this concept in relation to Beckett. Unlike an ‘exclusive, restrictive and negative use of the disjunctive synthesis’ that psychoanalysis imposes on us, schizophrenia teaches us an ‘affirmative, nonrestrictive, inclusive’ use of it: ‘A disjunction that remains disjunctive, and that still affirms the disjoined terms, that affirms them throughout their entire distance, without restricting one by the other or excluding the other from the one, is perhaps the greatest paradox. “Either    or    or,” instead of “either/or”’ (76). Deleuze and Guattari illustrate this point by referring to Beckett: The schizophrenic is dead or alive, not both at once, but each of the two as the terminal point of a distance over which he glides. He is child or parent, not both, but one at the end of the other, like the two ends of a stick in a nondecomposable space. This is the meaning of the disjunctions where Beckett records his characters and the events that befall them: everything divides, but into itself. Even the distances are positive, at the same time as the included disjunctions. (76) Disjunctive synthesis, inclusively used, is therefore different from Hegelian synthesis which abolishes disjunctions. Disjunctions persist and coexist in the form of ‘trans’. The schizophrenic ‘is not simply bisexual, or between the two, or intersexual. He is transsexual. He is trans-alivedead, trans-parentchild. He does not reduce contraries to an identity of the same; he affirms their distance as that which relates the two as different’ (77). The disjunction is also non-restrictive in that it can freely go across the ordinary distinction of entities or persons. It opens out without being confined to its own terms, as when Molloy says, ‘Then I was no longer that sealed jar to which I owed my being so well preserved, but a wall gave way’ (Molloy 49).38 I have already considered this passage when discussing the ambiguity of the boundaries of the body. Deleuze and Guattari call it ‘an event that will liberate a space where Molloy and Moran no longer designate persons, but singularities flocking from all sides, evanescent agents of production’ (77). In the

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same vein, they refer to ‘Homo historia’ which they have discussed in terms of conjunctive synthesis earlier in their book. As did Nietzsche, Nijinsky identified with anyone, anything: ‘I am God I was not God I am a clown of God; I am Apis. I am an Egyptian. I am a red Indian. I am a Negro. I am a Chinaman. I am a Japanese. I am a foreigner, a stranger. I am a sea bird. I am a land bird’ (quoted in Anti-Oedipus 77). The well-known ending of Molloy – ‘It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining’ – belongs to the same category. Here they could have quoted the following sentence from Texts for Nothing, which Deleuze does quote in his later essay ‘The Exhausted’ (1992): ‘Yes, I was my father and I was my son’ (CSP 74). Reading these arguments on the inclusive use of disjunctive synthesis (or as I will call it here, inclusive disjunction), in which Beckett is a constant reference, we find that it is a very comprehensive concept that pertains to many different aspects of Beckett’s work: the mania for combination and permutation exemplified in Watt; the paradoxical use of language that goes beyond logical contradictions; the tendency to go across binary oppositions such as man/woman39 and death/life; the interpenetration of outside and inside through ambiguous boundaries (which I discussed in terms of the prosthetic body). In the quotation above from Anti-Oedipus (76), Deleuze and Guattari emphasise the formula ‘everything divides, but into itself’ to epitomise what they mean by inclusive disjunction. In his essay ‘Louis Wolfson; or, the Procedure’ (1970), Deleuze explicitly asserts: ‘A large part of Beckett’s work can be understood in terms of the great formula of Malone Dies [  ]: “Everything divides into itself” ’ (Essays Critical and Clinical [hereafter, ECC] 186n5).40 Beckett’s essence is thus grasped at a very general level of inclusive disjunction. Now it is clear why the earlier extract from ‘Enough’ appears to be ambiguous to my discussion of organ confusion in Beckett. When Deleuze and Guattari quote that passage, they have in mind all the features in Beckett that relate to inclusive disjunction, particularly his disposition for permutation. They do not exclusively focus on how the organs are confused and equated in Beckett, though their idea that the organ-machines come under the law of inclusive disjunction on the body without organs surely points to this phenomenon. That passage in ‘Enough’ was more useful to them than other passages that explicitly describe confusion of the organs, because it not only concerns the organ-machines but also the permutation of words. The idea of inclusive disjunction is so comprehensive that it can bridge the physical and textual aspects of Beckett, which are often considered separately.

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However, its very comprehensiveness might also serve to blur the focus on organ confusion. Deleuze continued to discuss Beckett in terms of inclusive disjunction in his later works, but his views are fluid and flexible, not systematic or consistent. In an essay that specifically focuses on Beckett, ‘The Exhausted’, Deleuze connects inclusive disjunction to his new idea of exhaustion. Unlike a tired person, for whom the possibility remains though its realisation is exhausted, an exhausted person has exhausted the possible. Realisation of the possible follows the law of exclusive disjunction, which presupposes preferences and goals. Tiredness is still a matter of this realm. Exhaustion, however, is characterised by inclusive disjunction, which exhausts the possible without any preference or goal. Therefore an exhausted person can go on permutating and combining possibilities without bothering to realise them. In this context, Deleuze discusses the inclusive disjunction in Beckett in the manner I have already noted. He quotes the ending of Molloy, ‘I was my father and I was my son’ from Texts for Nothing, and the formula ‘everything divides, but into itself’. Then he goes on to mention as typical examples the biscuit episode in Murphy, the sucking-stone episode in Molloy, and the outrageous permutations in Watt. In this essay, Deleuze uses the term ‘language I’ for the language used for the combinations and permutations in these examples. It is ‘a language in which enumeration replaces propositions and combinatorial relations replace syntactic relations: a language of names’ (ECC 156). On the other hand, ‘language II’ is a language that dries up the flows of voices exemplified in The Unnamable. And ‘language III’ is ‘no longer a language of names or voices but a language of images, resounding and coloring images’ (ECC 159). It opens up language to visual and auditory dimensions, to reveal ‘the outside’ of language. This characterises Beckett’s later work after How It Is, most notably his plays for television, which Deleuze analyses in this essay. In such a formulation, it is clear that inclusive disjunction is specifically linked to the combinatorial language in Watt. In his essay ‘He Stuttered’ (1993) in Essays Critical and Clinical, however, Deleuze presents a slightly different formulation.41 As the preface clearly shows, Essays Critical and Clinical as a whole focuses on the idea that a writer invents a foreign language within language, and that in the process, the outside of language is revealed – that is, language is opened up to visual and auditory dimensions. According to Deleuze, ‘[o]ne must say of every writer: he is a seer, a hearer, “ill seen ill said,” she is a colorist, a musician’ (lv).42 These features correspond to what he calls ‘language III’ in ‘The Exhausted’. ‘He Stuttered’ discusses these

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features quite explicitly. In this essay, Beckett is mentioned in relation to inclusive disjunction: Beckett took this art of inclusive disjunctions to its highest points [  ]. Hence, in Watt, the ways in which Knott puts on his shoes, moves about his room, or changes his furniture. It is true that, in Beckett, these affirmative disjunctions usually concern the bearing or gait of the characters: an ineffable manner of walking, while rolling and pitching. But this is how the transfer from the form of expression to a form of content is brought about. But we could equally well bring about the reverse transition by supposing that the characters speak like they walk or stumble, for speaking is no less a movement than walking: the former goes beyond speech toward language, just as the latter goes beyond the organism toward a body without organs. A confirmation of this can be found in one of Beckett’s poems that deals specifically with the connections of language and makes stuttering the poetic or linguistic power par excellence. (ECC 111, emphasis added) Here inclusive disjunction is first linked to ‘language I’ (Watt), and then loosely to the body without organs. But all this is discussed within the framework of ‘language III’, which is the central topic of this essay, though the term is not mentioned. Moreover, the ‘poem’ by Beckett that Deleuze refers to at the end of the extract is his last work ‘What Is the Word’, which is characterised by ‘language III’ as Deleuze himself suggests at the end of ‘The Exhausted’. Inclusive disjunction seems to be most inclusive here: it includes ‘language I’, ‘language III’ and the body without organs. In a sense this confusion is due to the comprehensiveness that has haunted the concept from the beginning. Inclusive disjunction thus functions as a kind of master key for Deleuze’s discussion of Beckett. Deleuze provides a rather different interpretation of confusion of the organs in his book Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981). In the seventh chapter, he discusses the body without organs in Bacon’s paintings, but in relation to hysteria instead of schizophrenia and without mention of the organ-machine or inclusive disjunction. He starts with the same quotation from Artaud (attacking organisms) as the one in Anti-Oedipus, and restates that the body without organs is opposed to organisation and organisms, rather than the organs themselves. But here he emphasises the intensity of the body without organs that exceeds an organism: ‘It is an intense and intensive body. It is traversed by a wave that traces levels or thresholds in the body according to the

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variations of its amplitude’ (39). The account here is similar to the one in Anti-Oedipus in the context of conjunctive synthesis, where a certain subject is born to experience various nervous states, or more precisely, becomes various things, depending on the degree of intensity of the wave that runs through the body without organs.43 In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari highlight how a schizophrenic becomes various historical figures in this framework. In Francis Bacon, Deleuze in the same vein focuses on what happens to the organs. What is experienced in the body without organs is determined by the sensation born in the encounter between the wave inside the body (at various levels) and exterior forces. An organ is also determined by this sensation. Therefore, when the forces or the level change, it too changes. An organ is thus provisional and indeterminate: ‘What is a mouth at one level becomes an anus at another level, or at the same level under the action of different forces’ (42). Concomitantly, one organ can function as several different organs: it can be polyvalent. Deleuze quotes from William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch: ‘Instead of a mouth and an anus to get out of order why not have one all-purpose hole to eat and eliminate? We could seal up nose and mouth, fill in the stomach, make an air hole direct into the lungs where it should have been in the first place’ (quoted in Francis Bacon 41). The Beckettian tone of this passage is obvious if we remember how the orifices (and their flows) are equated in the Beckettian body. Ultimately, one multi-functional hole could replace the other orifices in such an economy. Deleuze thus explains the important aspect of the prosthetic body without recourse to the abstract law of inclusive disjunction. He then goes on to list the similarities between Bacon and Beckett, one of which is ‘the way the body escapes from itself, that is, the way it escapes from the organism’: It escapes from itself through the open mouth, through the anus or the stomach, or through the throat, or through the circle of the washbasin, or through the point of the umbrella. The presence of the body without organs under the organism, the presence of transitory organs under organic representation. (43) Indeed, the mouth through which the body escapes from itself in Beckett’s Not I resembles the fiercely open mouths in Bacon’s paintings. It may be worthwhile to recall that in The Unnamable the narrator imagines himself to be a ball that is barely prevented from bursting by two holes. Deleuze detects in Beckett as well as in Bacon the body

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that tries to escape from itself through the orifices. Though he does not say exactly what comes out of the orifices, his view of the body here seems to correspond, at least formally, to the body as the ‘perforable’ envelope that uncontrollably lets out flows. The works of both Bacon and Beckett register the liquefaction of bodily contents that need to be vented, thereby foregrounding the flows going through the orifices.44 In the quotation above, Deleuze says that in both Bacon and Beckett the body escapes from itself through the circle of the washbasin or the point of an umbrella, as well as through the orifices of the body. Though washbasins and umbrellas appear in Bacon’s paintings and not in Beckett’s works, Deleuze is addressing the inseparability of the body and material objects – in other words, the prosthetic quality of the body – in the work of the two artists. One critic who has developed this motif in Bacon is Allon White. In his review of Deleuze’s Francis Bacon, “Prosthetic Gods in Atrocious Places” (written in 1983), White criticises Deleuze for his lack of concern with cultural history and situates Bacon’s prosthetic body in the tradition of what he calls the ‘prosthetic grotesque’, which conflates the human with the mechanical in the manner of the familiar human/plant and human/animal dyads. Mentioning many artists working in this tradition, from Breugel and Bosch to modernists such as de Chirico, Picasso, Dalí, Ernst, Otto Dix and George Grosz, White contends that Bacon ‘exploited the power of the prosthetic grotesque most relentlessly’ (173). Drawing heavily on Kristeva’s idea of abjection, he continues: [Bacon’s] canvases not only frequently depict prosthetic objects, these objects become content-correlatives of abjection as it destroys the subject–object separation necessary for normal psychological functions. Prosthesis becomes a mode of spatial and symbolic reification. [  ] [Prostheses] occupy and occlude a disturbing middle ground, disrupting the clear mediation of subject and object. Ontologically unstable, they can be definitively claimed neither by the body nor by the world and they thereby violate the coherence and integrity of the body-image. They are the very stuff of abjection. (173) It could be claimed that the same applies to Beckett. The ambiguity of the boundaries of the body explored in this chapter might equally be discussed in terms of abjection and the prosthetic grotesque. White also notes that the prosthetic grotesque ‘juxtaposes hard against soft, geometry and linearity against flesh’ (174). Beckett’s How It Is provides a good example of this feature in that there is a coexistence of bodies

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However, the destructive image of actively piercing holes on the surface has considerable importance in Beckett’s work. In other words, while bodily liquid is represented as a kind of prosthesis, the surface, across which the liquid flows, can also be envisioned as an alien prosthetic material to be pierced. This image could be a vestige of a masochistic attempt to create the condition of the ‘perforable envelope’ deliberately. What is interesting is that in Beckett this is often linked to his aesthetic ideas. In his ‘German Letter of 1937’, Beckett famously says: [M]ore and more my own language appears to me like a veil that must be torn apart in order to get at the things (or the Nothingness) behind it. [  ] To bore one hole after another in [language], until what lurks behind it – be it something or nothing – begins to seep through; I cannot imagine a higher goal for a writer today. (Disjecta 171–2)25 Beckett urges literature to catch up with music and painting by tearing apart the surface of the word with silence. He asks: Is there any reason why that terrible materiality of the word surface should not be capable of being dissolved, like for example the sound surface, torn by enormous pauses, of Beethoven’s seventh Symphony, so that through whole pages we can perceive nothing but a path of sounds suspended in giddy heights, linking unfathomable abysses of silence? (Disjecta 172) Beckett had already expressed this sort of aesthetic view in Dream, where Belacqua admiringly says, ‘The terms of [Rimbaud’s and Beethoven’s] statements serve merely to delimit the reality of insane areas of silence, [their] audibilities are no more than punctuation in a statement of silences’ (102). When he conceives of his own book, his artistic models are Rembrandt, in whose painting he finds a dissolving surface, or ‘the dehiscing, the dynamic décousu’, and Beethoven, who ‘incorporates a punctuation of dehiscence’ into the musical statement so that its unity is gone, ‘the notes fly about, a blizzard of electrons; and then vespertine compositions eaten away with terrible silences’ (138–9). The young Beckett discerned a surface punctuated or dissolved by silence in the artists he respected.26 Belacqua also sees in the star-lit night sky an ideal presentation of his aesthetic idea: ‘The inviolable criterion of poetry and music, the nonprinciple of their punctuation, is figured in the demented perforation of

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the night colander’ (Dream 16). Here, an ‘insistent, invisible rat’ is said to be ‘fidgeting behind the astral incoherence of the art surface’ (17). When he imagines that he is braced against a flood of the thickets and stones around him (in a way that is reminiscent of the protagonist in ‘Assumption’ coping with the flood of his inner whisper), the image of piercing a surface occurs again: The fragile dykes were caving in on him, he would be drowned, stones and thickets would flood over him and over the land, a nightmare strom of timber and leaves and tendrils and bergs of stone. He stood amidst the weeds and the shell of the Hof, braced against the dense masses, strained away from him. Over the rim of the funnel, when he looked up, the night sky was stretched like a skin. He would scale the inner wall, his head would tear a great rip in the taut sky, he would climb out above the deluge, into a quiet zone above the nightmare. (26–7) The image of the head piercing the sky ‘stretched like a skin’ inevitably suggests the problematic of the bodily boundaries. It is notable that behind or above the surface, there is ‘a quiet zone’ in contrast with the ‘strom’ or ‘nightmare’ which is supposed to be full of sounds. This prefigures the structure in The Unnamable, where the narrator seeks to escape from the hell of voices to the silence outside.27 And as in the ‘German Letter’, ripping a surface leads to silence. The principal configurations of the skin ego include the sound envelope as well as the thermal and olfactory envelopes. According to The Skin Ego, the formation of a skin ego is preceded by the formation of a sound envelope through vocal communication with the mother: [T]he Self forms as a sound envelope through the experience of a bath of sounds (concomitant with the experience of nursing). The soundbath prefigures the Skin Ego with its double face, one half turned towards the outer world, the other towards the inner, since the sound envelope is composed of sounds emitted either by the baby or by the environment. (167) Reading this description brings to mind the above-quoted passage in The Unnamable, where the narrator says that he is the tympanum vibrating between the inner world and the outer world. Anzieu’s notion of the sound envelope might shed some light on the problematics of the

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boundaries in relation to sounds or words. The sound envelope functions as a kind of mirror (‘the sound mirror’), because by the mother’s vocal response to the infant’s cry the latter can acquire a sense of itself. This sound mirror precedes the ordinary ‘visual’ mirror emphasised in Lacanian psychoanalysis. If the mother’s voice is uncomfortable to the infant, the constitution of the Ego will be disturbed: ‘the sound bath no longer envelops, but has become unpleasant [  ]; it contains holes and causes them’ (169). In Beckett et le psychanalyste, Anzieu suggests that the strange words ‘Hop’ and ‘Bing’ that punctuate Beckett’s short prose piece ‘Bing’ (‘Ping’) indicate disturbance of the sound envelope by an unresponsive mother (119). He even claims that ‘[i]t is with the defects of the sound mirror that Beckett is confronted’, although he does not offer a substantial analysis of Beckett’s work in these terms.28 It could be argued that the compulsion to pierce the veil of sounds or words is related to a defective sound envelope. Just as a person with a defective skin ego inflicts pain on his skin in order to regain a sense of boundaries, one might be obsessed with the image of damaging the sound envelope if it fails to be formed properly. However, an in-depth pathological analysis of Beckett’s work is beyond the scope of this book and it is more important to concentrate on distinct features of the instability of boundaries revealed in his texts. For example, words are often represented as a flow (‘wordshit’ in particular) but they are also a veil to be pierced. This paradox is similar to the paradox of the location of the self: the narrator of The Unnamable can be right on the border between inside and outside, but he can also be identified with a liquid flowing out through an orifice. Such a paradox indicates that boundaries are not in fact functioning to demarcate the inside and the outside. The two realms can freely penetrate each other, rendering boundaries illusory. Or rather, boundaries are presented only to highlight the interpenetration. The narrator of The Unnamable says, ‘[The voice] issues from me, it fills me, it clamours against my walls, it is not mine, I can’t stop it, I can’t prevent it, from tearing me, racking me, assailing me’; ‘I am walled round with [others’] vociferations [  ]’; ‘I’m not outside, I’m inside, I’m in something, I’m shut up, the silence is outside [  ]’ (309, 328, 414). There is thus a very clear sense of being wrapped up by a sound envelope made up of others’ voices and words. Outside this envelope is the much-coveted silence. Therefore it could be potentially subject to piercing. But the last quotation continues like this: ‘outside, inside, there is nothing but here, and the silence outside, nothing but this voice and the silence all round, no need of walls, yes, we must have walls, I need

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walls, good and thick, I need a prison [  ]’ (414). The narrator’s need for walls or a prison suggests that the demarcation between the inside (voice) and the outside (silence) is in fact shaky. The passage I quoted earlier is also illuminating: ‘In at one ear and incontinent out through the mouth, or the other ear, that’s possible too. [  ] Two holes and me in the middle, slightly choked. Or a single one, entrance and exit, where words swarm and jostle like ants [  ]’ (357–8). Holes are equated with each other and could be replaced by just one polyvalent hole that is both entrance and exit. This one hole is simply a locus for interactions between two realms and the distinction between inside and outside is insignificant. There is a border, but that border is rendered insubstantial by the hole – the above passage indicates this essential feature with a topological reduction that is typical of Beckett.29 In Worstward Ho, one of Beckett’s last works, the paradoxical topological relation is presented in a highly distilled manner. The following is the whole of the third fragment: ‘Say a body. Where none. No mind. Where none. That at least. A place. Where none. For the body. To be in. Move in. Out of. Back into. No. No out. No back. Only in. Stay in. On in. Still’ (7). Although body, mind and place are all said to be non-existent (‘Where none’), movement of the body going in and out is clearly suggested. There is no longer any mention of an identifiable place (hole) through which the body goes in and out. Rather than a border, which does seem to exist, the image of the body’s movement itself is given abstractly. Later in the work, the verbs ‘secrete’ and ‘ooze’ are used for words. This is a clear indication of the equation of words with bodily liquid or weakened bodily flow.30 Towards the end, the two eyes are presented as two black holes: Stare clamped to stare. Bowed backs blurs in stare clamped to stare. Two black holes. Dim black. In through skull to soft. Out from soft through skull. Agape in unseen face. That the flaw? The want of flaw? Try better worse set in skull. Two black holes in foreskull. Or one. Try better still worse one. One dim black hole mid-foreskull. Into the hell of all. Out from the hell of all. So better than nothing worse say stare from now. (43–4) The passage ‘In through skull to soft. Out through soft to skull’ is another image of going in and out. This time, something (probably light) goes in and out through an orifice of the body, rather than the body itself going in and out as in the former passage. And ‘Two black holes in foreskull.

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Or one’ is reminiscent of the passage in The Unnamable, in which the narrator says that his ears can be one: (‘Two holes and me in the middle, slightly choked. Or a single one, entrance and exit [  ]’ (358)). One hole can substitute for any number of orifices. ‘Into the hell of all. Out from the hell of all’ again indicates a purified image of moving in and out,31 as does ‘Black hole agape on all. Inletting all. Outletting all’ on the next page (44, 45). The almost mechanical coupling of ‘in’ and ‘out’ in these passages strengthens the impression that what matters is interaction – not demarcation – between the outside and the inside. For the study of the Beckettian prosthetic body in this chapter, I started with the observation that body parts can become prostheses and vice versa in Beckett’s work. The amorphous body image of the regressive psychic stages, which produces this uncertainty about the body’s boundaries, also entails confusion of the orifices and their flows. The orifices and their flows are necessarily highlighted because they pertain to interactions between the inside and the outside. They are also confused because of the disorganisation of the body. In this section, with the help of the notion of the skin ego, I explored the mechanism of the prosthetic body, paying attention to the way in which the particularly prosthetic parts on the borders – the surface, the orifice, the flow – are interrelated. Two basic types of body image have been identified: the ‘perforable envelope’, which lets liquid flow helplessly, and the fierce attempt to pierce the surface. In the process, there has emerged a purified topological model based on a tendency to a kind of reduction. In the Beckettian body, various orifices ultimately tend to be reduced to a hole on the surface, through which flows come and go. Interaction between the inside and the outside occurs there, but the distinction between the two realms tends to be insubstantial. In this topological model, we see at a higher level of abstraction the fundamentally prosthetic nature of the Beckettian body in which the outside (the alien other) can become the inside (the self) and vice versa. Yet at the same time it should be remembered that such a body might be a re-embodiment of the incompletely formed body of a foetus or an infant that has no sense of the clear boundaries of itself, no articulate organisation of the organs and no ability to control the organs which feel like alien objects.

A critique of Deleuze and Guattari’s discussions of Beckett In this final section, I will turn to examine Deleuze and Guattari’s concepts of the ‘organ-machine’, the ‘body without organs’ and

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‘disjunctive synthesis’. They adopt a completely different framework that dismantles the basic premises of psychoanalysis, but their frequent if unsystematic references to Beckett in their own way address aspects of the prosthetic body that I have considered in this chapter – especially the prosthetisation of body parts and confusion of the organs. Some of their points are so relevant to my ideas of the prosthetic body that it is appropriate to conduct a substantial examination of how they impinge on what I have discussed so far. Unlike psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, Deleuze and Guattari in AntiOedipus (1972) do not consider the schizophrenic’s conception of the world to be abnormal or regressive. Instead they view it as the crucial key to an innovative understanding of capitalism and the contemporary world. In the schizophrenic’s world, everything can be regarded as production by machines. Machines – or to be more precise, ‘desiringmachines’ – are interconnected by their flows. When one machine produces a flow, another coupled to it disconnects or drains the flow. The bodily organs, with their particular fluids, are regarded as ‘organmachines’. For example, the breast is an organ-machine that produces a flow of milk, and the mouth sucking the breast is an organ-machine that interrupts the flow.32 Organ-machines are directly linked to other machines/flows of nature because in the schizophrenic’s world there is no distinction between man and nature, industry and nature, society and nature. Deleuze and Guattari put forward this model to criticise psychoanalysis, which reduces everything to the Oedipal triangle of the family (father–mother–me). According to them, a ‘schizophrenic out for a walk is a better model than a neurotic lying on the analyst’s couch’ (2). Using the comprehensive concept of the ‘desiring-machine’, which crosses the boundaries between man, society and nature, Deleuze and Guattari amalgamate their analysis of capitalism with their analysis of the human psyche, thus bypassing the narrow ‘familialism’ of psychoanalysis. At the beginning of Anti-Oedipus, they refer to Beckett’s Molloy to illustrate their point. They quote Molloy’s words: ‘What a rest to speak of bicycles and horns. Unfortunately it is not of them I have to speak, but of her who brought me into the world, through the hole in her arse if my memory is correct’ (Anti-Oedipus 2–3). They highlight the relationship between ‘the bicycle-horn machine’ and ‘the mother-anus machine’, and imply that psychoanalysis is inadequate in the face of this juxtaposition of a material object and a bodily organ, because ‘Oedipus presupposes a fantastic repression of desiring-machines’ (3). In this connection they also mention the well-known sucking-stone

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episode in Molloy. The entire circuit made up of stones and pockets is a machine. In it ‘the mouth, too, plays a role as a stone-sucking machine’ (3). It should be noted here that an organ-machine, the mouth, is directly coupled to stones which belong to nature. They are both machines. In the prevalence of schizophrenic desiring-machines, ‘the self and non-self, outside and inside, no longer have any meaning whatsoever’ (2). It appears that, without using the term, Deleuze and Guattari are touching on the prosthetic feature of the Beckettian body I have been analysing, in which the limbs and organs are felt to be external or alien like material objects, and the boundaries of the body are ambiguous and problematic. Their argument is a highly general one about the schizophrenic’s world-view and Beckett is only referred to sporadically as an illustration. Moreover, the idea of the organ-machine has comprehensive connotations that encompass all social relations.33 My idea of the prosthetic body is narrower in scope, focusing simply on the boundaries between the body and its outside. Nevertheless, I am going to examine the aspects of Deleuze and Guattari’s discussions that are relevant to my analysis of Beckett, thereby trying to delineate the characteristics of their use of Beckett. I will concentrate on the way in which they discuss confusion of the organs, which is an important factor in the prosthetic body. They address this question in terms of the rather abstract concept of disjunctive synthesis or inclusive disjunction. Therefore it will be necessary in the end to judge the validity of this concept. Although they often refer to Beckett as one of their favourite literary examples, they never really analyse his work. We are requested to interpret their references to his work in our own way, taking into account the relevant parts of their extremely wide-ranging arguments. I will first consider their concept of the ‘body without organs’, which they discovered in Antonin Artaud and developed into a key concept in Anti-Oedipus. Beneath well-functioning desiring machines lurks the body without organs, which is an amorphous, unorganised mass. Whereas ‘desiring-machines make us an organism’ (8), the body without organs resists organisation, if not the organ-machines themselves.34 And it stops dead the whole process of production by machines for a moment. Deleuze and Guattari postulate three kinds of relationship between organ-machines and the body without organs. First, in ‘connective synthesis’ (production of production), the body without organs repulses the organ-machines. Machines here appear as

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‘paranoiac’ machines that break into and torture the body without organs. Deleuze and Guattari state: In order to resist organ-machines, the body without organs presents its smooth, slippery, opaque, taut surface as a barrier. In order to resist linked, connected, and interrupted flows, it sets up a counterflow of amorphous, undifferentiated fluid. In order to resist using words composed of articulated phonetic units, it utters only gasps and cries that are sheer unarticulated blocks of sound. (9) They cite Artaud’s words, ‘The body is the body/it is all by itself/and has no need of organs/the body is never an organism/organisms are the enemies of the body’ (9). But they could equally have cited the passage in Beckett’s The Unnamable, where the narrator imagines himself to be a ‘great smooth ball’ with all the organs fallen off.35 And it is a conspicuous feature of Beckett’s writing that words also tend to become a disorganised, unarticulated flow, as discussed in the previous sections.36 Second, in ‘disjunctive synthesis’ (production of recording), the body without organs attracts the organ-machines: ‘An attraction-machine [  ] takes the place, or may take the place, of a repulsion-machine: a miraculating-machine succeeding the paranoiac machine’ (11). The organ-machines now come under a special law of ‘disjunctive synthesis’ Machines attach themselves to the body without organs as so many points of disjunction, between which an entire network of new syntheses is now woven, marking the surface off into co-ordinates, like a grid. The ‘either    or    or’ of the schizophrenic takes over from the ‘and then’: no matter what two organs are involved, the way in which they are attached to the body without organs must be such that all the disjunctive syntheses between the two amount to the same on the slippery surface. Whereas the ‘either/or’ claims to mark decisive choices between immutable terms (the alternative: either this or that), the schizophrenic ‘either    or    or’ refers to the system of possible permutations between differences that always amount to the same as they shift and slide about. As in the case of Beckett’s mouth that speaks and feet that walk [  ]. (12) They go on to quote a passage from Beckett’s ‘Enough’, to which I will return shortly. At the moment it is important to note that the image here precisely fits the way in which different orifices are confused and equated with each other in Beckett. They are different, but the

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differences ‘amount to the same on the slippery surface’. The idea of a system of disjunctive synthesis seems to impinge significantly on my discussion of the topologically reduced prosthetic body in Beckett, where different orifices can ultimately be replaced by one polyvalent hole. Third, in ‘conjunctive synthesis’ (production of consumption), the body without organs is reconciled with the organ-machines. This time the ‘celibate machine’ appears. Here a certain subject is produced that experiences various nervous states or becomes various things, depending on the degree of intensity in the body without organs.37 Deleuze and Guattari quote Nietzsche’s words ‘Every name in history is I’: he could be any historical figure. A schizophrenic can thus be ‘Homo historia’ as well as ‘Homo natura’ (21). As I will note soon, this schizophrenic identification can also be considered in connection with disjunctive synthesis. It would not be necessary to enlarge further on Deleuze and Guattari’s tripartite system. What is immediately relevant to the present discussion of the prosthetic body is their idea that the organ-machines on the body without organs can amount to the same under the law of disjunctive synthesis. This may provide a theoretical model for interpreting the way in which the organs are confused in Beckett. Let us return to the passage in Beckett’s ‘Enough’, which Deleuze and Guattari quote to illustrate the disjunctive synthesis of the organ-machines. They suggest that in the following passage, the mouth that speaks and the feet that walk amount to the same thing: He sometimes halted without saying anything. Either he had finally nothing to say, or whole having something to say he finally decided not to say it   . Other main examples suggest themselves to the mind. Immediate continuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. Delayed continuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. Immediate discontinuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. Delayed discontinuous communication with immediate redeparture. Same thing with delayed redeparture. (CSP 141–2, quoted in AntiOedipus 12) It is certainly possible to suggest, as Deleuze and Guattari do, that here the two organ-machines – the mouth and the feet – are at stake, though they are not directly mentioned. But what impresses us more here is a permutation of words such as ‘communication’, ‘redeparture’, ‘delayed’,

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‘immediate’, ‘continuous’, ‘discontinuous’ – the kind of permutation that characterises Watt. Is it not a matter of words rather than organmachines? Why did they not choose those passages in which the organ-machines are more explicitly confused – that is, the passages I quoted earlier in this chapter? In fact, Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of disjunctive synthesis is so general that it cannot help but be somewhat ambiguous when it is applied to confusion of the organ-machines. It is now necessary to examine more closely how they use this concept in relation to Beckett. Unlike an ‘exclusive, restrictive and negative use of the disjunctive synthesis’ that psychoanalysis imposes on us, schizophrenia teaches us an ‘affirmative, nonrestrictive, inclusive’ use of it: ‘A disjunction that remains disjunctive, and that still affirms the disjoined terms, that affirms them throughout their entire distance, without restricting one by the other or excluding the other from the one, is perhaps the greatest paradox. “Either    or    or,” instead of “either/or”’ (76). Deleuze and Guattari illustrate this point by referring to Beckett: The schizophrenic is dead or alive, not both at once, but each of the two as the terminal point of a distance over which he glides. He is child or parent, not both, but one at the end of the other, like the two ends of a stick in a nondecomposable space. This is the meaning of the disjunctions where Beckett records his characters and the events that befall them: everything divides, but into itself. Even the distances are positive, at the same time as the included disjunctions. (76) Disjunctive synthesis, inclusively used, is therefore different from Hegelian synthesis which abolishes disjunctions. Disjunctions persist and coexist in the form of ‘trans’. The schizophrenic ‘is not simply bisexual, or between the two, or intersexual. He is transsexual. He is trans-alivedead, trans-parentchild. He does not reduce contraries to an identity of the same; he affirms their distance as that which relates the two as different’ (77). The disjunction is also non-restrictive in that it can freely go across the ordinary distinction of entities or persons. It opens out without being confined to its own terms, as when Molloy says, ‘Then I was no longer that sealed jar to which I owed my being so well preserved, but a wall gave way’ (Molloy 49).38 I have already considered this passage when discussing the ambiguity of the boundaries of the body. Deleuze and Guattari call it ‘an event that will liberate a space where Molloy and Moran no longer designate persons, but singularities flocking from all sides, evanescent agents of production’ (77). In the

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same vein, they refer to ‘Homo historia’ which they have discussed in terms of conjunctive synthesis earlier in their book. As did Nietzsche, Nijinsky identified with anyone, anything: ‘I am God I was not God I am a clown of God; I am Apis. I am an Egyptian. I am a red Indian. I am a Negro. I am a Chinaman. I am a Japanese. I am a foreigner, a stranger. I am a sea bird. I am a land bird’ (quoted in Anti-Oedipus 77). The well-known ending of Molloy – ‘It is midnight. The rain is beating on the windows. It was not midnight. It was not raining’ – belongs to the same category. Here they could have quoted the following sentence from Texts for Nothing, which Deleuze does quote in his later essay ‘The Exhausted’ (1992): ‘Yes, I was my father and I was my son’ (CSP 74). Reading these arguments on the inclusive use of disjunctive synthesis (or as I will call it here, inclusive disjunction), in which Beckett is a constant reference, we find that it is a very comprehensive concept that pertains to many different aspects of Beckett’s work: the mania for combination and permutation exemplified in Watt; the paradoxical use of language that goes beyond logical contradictions; the tendency to go across binary oppositions such as man/woman39 and death/life; the interpenetration of outside and inside through ambiguous boundaries (which I discussed in terms of the prosthetic body). In the quotation above from Anti-Oedipus (76), Deleuze and Guattari emphasise the formula ‘everything divides, but into itself’ to epitomise what they mean by inclusive disjunction. In his essay ‘Louis Wolfson; or, the Procedure’ (1970), Deleuze explicitly asserts: ‘A large part of Beckett’s work can be understood in terms of the great formula of Malone Dies [  ]: “Everything divides into itself” ’ (Essays Critical and Clinical [hereafter, ECC] 186n5).40 Beckett’s essence is thus grasped at a very general level of inclusive disjunction. Now it is clear why the earlier extract from ‘Enough’ appears to be ambiguous to my discussion of organ confusion in Beckett. When Deleuze and Guattari quote that passage, they have in mind all the features in Beckett that relate to inclusive disjunction, particularly his disposition for permutation. They do not exclusively focus on how the organs are confused and equated in Beckett, though their idea that the organ-machines come under the law of inclusive disjunction on the body without organs surely points to this phenomenon. That passage in ‘Enough’ was more useful to them than other passages that explicitly describe confusion of the organs, because it not only concerns the organ-machines but also the permutation of words. The idea of inclusive disjunction is so comprehensive that it can bridge the physical and textual aspects of Beckett, which are often considered separately.

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However, its very comprehensiveness might also serve to blur the focus on organ confusion. Deleuze continued to discuss Beckett in terms of inclusive disjunction in his later works, but his views are fluid and flexible, not systematic or consistent. In an essay that specifically focuses on Beckett, ‘The Exhausted’, Deleuze connects inclusive disjunction to his new idea of exhaustion. Unlike a tired person, for whom the possibility remains though its realisation is exhausted, an exhausted person has exhausted the possible. Realisation of the possible follows the law of exclusive disjunction, which presupposes preferences and goals. Tiredness is still a matter of this realm. Exhaustion, however, is characterised by inclusive disjunction, which exhausts the possible without any preference or goal. Therefore an exhausted person can go on permutating and combining possibilities without bothering to realise them. In this context, Deleuze discusses the inclusive disjunction in Beckett in the manner I have already noted. He quotes the ending of Molloy, ‘I was my father and I was my son’ from Texts for Nothing, and the formula ‘everything divides, but into itself’. Then he goes on to mention as typical examples the biscuit episode in Murphy, the sucking-stone episode in Molloy, and the outrageous permutations in Watt. In this essay, Deleuze uses the term ‘language I’ for the language used for the combinations and permutations in these examples. It is ‘a language in which enumeration replaces propositions and combinatorial relations replace syntactic relations: a language of names’ (ECC 156). On the other hand, ‘language II’ is a language that dries up the flows of voices exemplified in The Unnamable. And ‘language III’ is ‘no longer a language of names or voices but a language of images, resounding and coloring images’ (ECC 159). It opens up language to visual and auditory dimensions, to reveal ‘the outside’ of language. This characterises Beckett’s later work after How It Is, most notably his plays for television, which Deleuze analyses in this essay. In such a formulation, it is clear that inclusive disjunction is specifically linked to the combinatorial language in Watt. In his essay ‘He Stuttered’ (1993) in Essays Critical and Clinical, however, Deleuze presents a slightly different formulation.41 As the preface clearly shows, Essays Critical and Clinical as a whole focuses on the idea that a writer invents a foreign language within language, and that in the process, the outside of language is revealed – that is, language is opened up to visual and auditory dimensions. According to Deleuze, ‘[o]ne must say of every writer: he is a seer, a hearer, “ill seen ill said,” she is a colorist, a musician’ (lv).42 These features correspond to what he calls ‘language III’ in ‘The Exhausted’. ‘He Stuttered’ discusses these

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features quite explicitly. In this essay, Beckett is mentioned in relation to inclusive disjunction: Beckett took this art of inclusive disjunctions to its highest points [  ]. Hence, in Watt, the ways in which Knott puts on his shoes, moves about his room, or changes his furniture. It is true that, in Beckett, these affirmative disjunctions usually concern the bearing or gait of the characters: an ineffable manner of walking, while rolling and pitching. But this is how the transfer from the form of expression to a form of content is brought about. But we could equally well bring about the reverse transition by supposing that the characters speak like they walk or stumble, for speaking is no less a movement than walking: the former goes beyond speech toward language, just as the latter goes beyond the organism toward a body without organs. A confirmation of this can be found in one of Beckett’s poems that deals specifically with the connections of language and makes stuttering the poetic or linguistic power par excellence. (ECC 111, emphasis added) Here inclusive disjunction is first linked to ‘language I’ (Watt), and then loosely to the body without organs. But all this is discussed within the framework of ‘language III’, which is the central topic of this essay, though the term is not mentioned. Moreover, the ‘poem’ by Beckett that Deleuze refers to at the end of the extract is his last work ‘What Is the Word’, which is characterised by ‘language III’ as Deleuze himself suggests at the end of ‘The Exhausted’. Inclusive disjunction seems to be most inclusive here: it includes ‘language I’, ‘language III’ and the body without organs. In a sense this confusion is due to the comprehensiveness that has haunted the concept from the beginning. Inclusive disjunction thus functions as a kind of master key for Deleuze’s discussion of Beckett. Deleuze provides a rather different interpretation of confusion of the organs in his book Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981). In the seventh chapter, he discusses the body without organs in Bacon’s paintings, but in relation to hysteria instead of schizophrenia and without mention of the organ-machine or inclusive disjunction. He starts with the same quotation from Artaud (attacking organisms) as the one in Anti-Oedipus, and restates that the body without organs is opposed to organisation and organisms, rather than the organs themselves. But here he emphasises the intensity of the body without organs that exceeds an organism: ‘It is an intense and intensive body. It is traversed by a wave that traces levels or thresholds in the body according to the

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variations of its amplitude’ (39). The account here is similar to the one in Anti-Oedipus in the context of conjunctive synthesis, where a certain subject is born to experience various nervous states, or more precisely, becomes various things, depending on the degree of intensity of the wave that runs through the body without organs.43 In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari highlight how a schizophrenic becomes various historical figures in this framework. In Francis Bacon, Deleuze in the same vein focuses on what happens to the organs. What is experienced in the body without organs is determined by the sensation born in the encounter between the wave inside the body (at various levels) and exterior forces. An organ is also determined by this sensation. Therefore, when the forces or the level change, it too changes. An organ is thus provisional and indeterminate: ‘What is a mouth at one level becomes an anus at another level, or at the same level under the action of different forces’ (42). Concomitantly, one organ can function as several different organs: it can be polyvalent. Deleuze quotes from William Burroughs’ The Naked Lunch: ‘Instead of a mouth and an anus to get out of order why not have one all-purpose hole to eat and eliminate? We could seal up nose and mouth, fill in the stomach, make an air hole direct into the lungs where it should have been in the first place’ (quoted in Francis Bacon 41). The Beckettian tone of this passage is obvious if we remember how the orifices (and their flows) are equated in the Beckettian body. Ultimately, one multi-functional hole could replace the other orifices in such an economy. Deleuze thus explains the important aspect of the prosthetic body without recourse to the abstract law of inclusive disjunction. He then goes on to list the similarities between Bacon and Beckett, one of which is ‘the way the body escapes from itself, that is, the way it escapes from the organism’: It escapes from itself through the open mouth, through the anus or the stomach, or through the throat, or through the circle of the washbasin, or through the point of the umbrella. The presence of the body without organs under the organism, the presence of transitory organs under organic representation. (43) Indeed, the mouth through which the body escapes from itself in Beckett’s Not I resembles the fiercely open mouths in Bacon’s paintings. It may be worthwhile to recall that in The Unnamable the narrator imagines himself to be a ball that is barely prevented from bursting by two holes. Deleuze detects in Beckett as well as in Bacon the body

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that tries to escape from itself through the orifices. Though he does not say exactly what comes out of the orifices, his view of the body here seems to correspond, at least formally, to the body as the ‘perforable’ envelope that uncontrollably lets out flows. The works of both Bacon and Beckett register the liquefaction of bodily contents that need to be vented, thereby foregrounding the flows going through the orifices.44 In the quotation above, Deleuze says that in both Bacon and Beckett the body escapes from itself through the circle of the washbasin or the point of an umbrella, as well as through the orifices of the body. Though washbasins and umbrellas appear in Bacon’s paintings and not in Beckett’s works, Deleuze is addressing the inseparability of the body and material objects – in other words, the prosthetic quality of the body – in the work of the two artists. One critic who has developed this motif in Bacon is Allon White. In his review of Deleuze’s Francis Bacon, “Prosthetic Gods in Atrocious Places” (written in 1983), White criticises Deleuze for his lack of concern with cultural history and situates Bacon’s prosthetic body in the tradition of what he calls the ‘prosthetic grotesque’, which conflates the human with the mechanical in the manner of the familiar human/plant and human/animal dyads. Mentioning many artists working in this tradition, from Breugel and Bosch to modernists such as de Chirico, Picasso, Dalí, Ernst, Otto Dix and George Grosz, White contends that Bacon ‘exploited the power of the prosthetic grotesque most relentlessly’ (173). Drawing heavily on Kristeva’s idea of abjection, he continues: [Bacon’s] canvases not only frequently depict prosthetic objects, these objects become content-correlatives of abjection as it destroys the subject–object separation necessary for normal psychological functions. Prosthesis becomes a mode of spatial and symbolic reification. [  ] [Prostheses] occupy and occlude a disturbing middle ground, disrupting the clear mediation of subject and object. Ontologically unstable, they can be definitively claimed neither by the body nor by the world and they thereby violate the coherence and integrity of the body-image. They are the very stuff of abjection. (173) It could be claimed that the same applies to Beckett. The ambiguity of the boundaries of the body explored in this chapter might equally be discussed in terms of abjection and the prosthetic grotesque. White also notes that the prosthetic grotesque ‘juxtaposes hard against soft, geometry and linearity against flesh’ (174). Beckett’s How It Is provides a good example of this feature in that there is a coexistence of bodies

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mingling with the mud on the one hand, and arithmetic patterning (most conspicuously in the frequent use of numbering in Part Three) on the other. While White’s argument is illuminating, he misses an important feature of Bacon that surely pertains to the prosthetic grotesque – that is, the confusion of the organs that I have focused on in respect of the regressive body image and that Deleuze discusses in terms of the body without organs. When the prosthetic grotesque violates ‘the coherence and integrity of the body-image’, such confusion occurs to add to the grotesque feature. Is there any perspective for situating this phenomenon in cultural history in a different way from that adopted by White? In the next chapter, I will start with a consideration of the cultural context from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, when the fragmentation of society advanced as capitalism pervaded big cities. Against that background I will consider how the fragmentation of the body, to which confusion of the organs is closely related, also occurred and strengthened the image of the disintegrated body (the ‘body in pieces’) that modernist art and literature registered.

3 The Prosthetic Body and Synaesthesia

With the idea of ‘language III’, which opens up language to the dimensions of seeing and hearing or painting and music, Deleuze points to an important aspect of Beckett’s work in his own manner based on unique philosophical intuitions. Adopting a more cultural-historical approach, this chapter discusses the same subject under the rubric of synaesthesia, or cross-connections of the senses. Throughout his oeuvre, Beckett showed a keen interest in coordinating visual and acoustic senses with pictorial and musical effects in mind. Yet, Beckett was far from alone in being drawn to synaesthesia, as it was conspicuous in cultural discourse and artistic practice from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. I will argue that the interest in synaesthesia was closely related to the permeation of society by media technologies invented in the late nineteenth century. I will also examine how technologies worked to divide the senses, while at the same time producing anarchic confusion of them. The previous chapter discussed how the organs are prosthetised and confused in the Beckettian body. With the amorphous body image, the uncertainty about the body’s boundaries (or confusion between the outside and the inside) that characterises the prosthetic body is tied up with confusion of the organs. This chapter considers the link between the prosthetic body and disorganisation of the body in a broad historical context. More specifically, it examines how the rise of new technologies can be related to the prosthetic body, which reveals itself as a fragmented, disorganised and also reorganised body in modernism. Synaesthesia, as a derangement of the senses, comes in view as part of this prosthetic body. As long as it can be regarded as emerging on the interface between technology (the outside) and the senses (the inside), it should be discussed in the light of the prosthetic body or prosthetic 75

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sense. It may not be so directly mediated by prosthesis as vision with the camera eye and hearing with sound technology (the subjects of the next two chapters), but it is closely related to those more obvious prosthetic senses, and as will be seen, it is highly significant in Beckett’s work. I will start by sketching how modernism registers the fragmentation of the body, the correlative emergence of the formless body, and synaesthesia as part of the formless body. This is followed by a consideration of how technologies entailed the simultaneous division and confusion of the senses. Thus preparing the basic framework, I proceed to examine how Beckett started his career in the cultural milieu that privileged technology-inspired synaesthetic vision, and how synaesthesia underlay his later work involving different media.

Fragmentation of the body and synaesthesia In Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (1907), the mentally retarded boy Stevie is blown up by a bomb he is carrying. Referring to the disturbingly detailed descriptions of Stevie’s fragmented and scattered body, Rod Edmond observes: The body in pieces, whether fragmented or mutilated, has often been used as a way of expressing a distinctively modern sense of the loss of wholeness and coherence. This became marked around the turn of the twentieth century when biological theories of decline were increasingly applied to social theory, and the body itself became a source of knowledge about society rather than merely a way of thinking about it. (49) Edmond discusses the theme of the body in pieces in terms of the discourse on degeneration, which caused a sensation among intellectuals in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. Degeneration meant regression of the individual mind to earlier infantile states as well as that of civilisation to savagery at the collective level. As I will discuss later, the young Beckett’s obsession with the intrauterine period induced him to read Max Nordau’s Degeneration (1892), the chief source of the sensation of the day. Edmond’s mention of the body as ‘a source of knowledge about society’ also reminds us of the fact that late nineteenth-century anthropometric criminologists made catalogues of body parts, thereby fragmenting the body and subjecting it to the policing eye of society. The theme of the body in pieces can also be connected to the logic of capitalism, which rapidly permeated European society, especially in

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big cities, from the early nineteenth century onwards.1 As capitalism advances, ‘all that is solid melts into air’, as Marx and Engels put it in The Communist Manifesto. People and things are dislodged from their authentic positions and thrown into new relations in an increasingly liquefying society. Heterogeneous values lose their ‘aura’ and are arbitrarily juxtaposed or combined with each other on newly formed common planes. In a broad perspective, the disorganised body and confusion of the organs – so conspicuous in modernist art and literature, including Beckett – might be regarded as a correlate of the logic of capitalism, even if they cannot be fully ascribed to it. The body is fragmented into parts that can be recombined or confused arbitrarily. The same applies to the use of language. The radical experiments with language by avant-garde movements such as Futurism, Dadaism and surrealism largely consisted in cutting language into smaller units of letters and words and recombining them to create refreshing effects. Needless to say, the techniques of collage and montage, much favoured in modernist art and literature, exemplify this principle. In this regard, Joseph McLaughlin discusses the use of fragments from world literature in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. He refers to the fact that Eliot was a banker in London, ‘a crossroads of empire and global capitalism where products, peoples, and styles from around the world are brought into contact’ (169). Few artists seem to exploit the principle of rearranging the fragmented body more explicitly than the German surrealist Hans Bellmer, whose dolls are made up of grotesquely recombined body parts of a young woman. In an essay ‘Notes on the Subject of the Ball Joint’ (1938), he explains one of his basic ideas as follows: The ensemble of images of the body tending to remain intact, even after real amputations, enables us to think that the parts situated at the interior of the frame of our description – the chin, the armpit, the arm – besides their own meaning, take upon themselves images of the leg, the sex, etc., which have become available precisely by their ‘repression.’ That leads back to this: the body, like the dream, can capriciously displace the center of gravity of its images. Inspired by a curious spirit of contradiction, it superimposes on some what it has taken away from others, the image of the leg, for example, on that of the arm, that of the sex onto the armpit, in order to make ‘condensations,’ ‘proofs of analogies,’ ‘ambiguities,’ ‘word games,’ strange anatomical ‘calculations of probability.’ (quoted in Taylor 217)

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Referring to Freud’s analysis of the dream, Bellmer thus contends that the body parts can be displaced and confused with each other, in a way reminiscent of Beckett’s prosthetic body discussed in the previous chapter. Indeed, Bellmer was deeply influenced by Paul Schilder’s study of the body image, as Sue Taylor’s recent work on Bellmer reveals (104–9). The most important influence was Schilder’s view that there could be a symbolic substitution of one body part for another. Bellmer took full advantage of this insight, performing unnatural and grotesque recombinations of body parts in his dolls and drawings. This seems to be an instance of parallel between psychiatric or psychoanalytic discourse and artistic practice. As the mention of ‘word games’ in the above quotation suggests, the bodily dimension and the symbolic or linguistic dimension are inseparable for Bellmer. As Taylor says, ‘Figures of speech such as hyperbole and metaphor do not belong for Bellmer solely to the realm of literature; he wants to apply them to the body’ (101). When someone with a toothache clenches his hand, for instance, it means that ‘attempting to displace the pain, the body impulsively makes a kind of portrait or representation of the tooth by means of a violent muscular contraction elsewhere in the anatomy’ (103). Corporeal expression is thus figurative. There is further evidence of Bellmer’s conflation of the bodily and linguistic dimensions in the following remark: ‘The body can be compared to a sentence inviting one to disarticulate it for its true elements to be recombined in a series of endless anagrams’ (quoted in Chasseguet-Smirgel 21). Given these ideas, it was profoundly apt that it was Bellmer who illustrated a new edition of Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye in 1946. This story, originally published in 1928 with illustrations by André Masson, depicts a young couple’s extreme acts of sexual perversity and transgression. The disintegration of the body is suggested by a perverse dislocation of the eyeball: towards the end of the story an eyeball is plucked from a dead priest and inserted into the vagina of the female protagonist. In the essay ‘The Metaphor of the Eye’, Roland Barthes argues that sexual transgression in this story is matched by linguistic transgression. Two metaphorical chains – the chain of round objects (eye, egg, testicle) and that of liquid (tears, yolk, sperm or urine) – are crossed metonymically to produce unconventional images, such as ‘breaking an eye’ instead of ‘breaking an egg’. The simultaneous transgression of physical and linguistic norms in the story must have appealed to Bellmer. Around the time he wrote Story of the Eye, Bataille was forming a new conception of the body in terms of ‘formless’ (informe) and base

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materialism in his essays (published mainly in his journal Documents). Denouncing conventional materialism as idealistic, Bataille turns to the lower organs like feet to subvert the usual hierarchic organisation of the body, in a way similar to Bakhtin’s argument about debasement by the ‘material bodily lower stratum’ (Bakhtin 368–436). For instance, he maintains that feet, associated with mud and usually despised, have a special attraction and that the big toe’s appearance ‘gives a very shrill expression to the disorder of the human body, that product of the violent discord of the organs’ (‘The Big Toe’, Visions of Excess 22). He also displaces the eye: ‘I imagined the eye at the summit of the skull like a horrible erupting volcano, precisely with the shady and comical character associated with the rear end and its excretions’ (‘The Jesuve’, Visions of Excess 74).2 Thus in Bataille’s view the body is provocatively disorganised and formless. Unsurprisingly, when discussing contemporary art in terms of Bataille’s concept of formless in Formless: A User’s Guide, Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss connect Bataille’s Story of the Eye and essays of the same period to Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of organ-machines that are equated with each other on the body without organs (156). The list of modernists who addressed the disorganisation of the body could be extended considerably. Despite their differences, these artists shared with Beckett a conception of the body as fundamentally fragmented, disintegrated, formless and subject to arbitrary reorganisation. Disintegration of the body at the general level necessarily entails dislocation of the sense organs and the senses themselves, which brings into focus the phenomenon of synaesthesia. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines synaesthesia as ‘the production of a mental sense-impression relating to one sense by the stimulation of another sense’. It is a crossconnection between the senses, such as hearing colours or seeing sounds. This does not appear to be unusual as such phrases as ‘soft tone’, ‘sweet voice’ and ‘loud colour’ are commonly used and similar metaphors can be found in the literature of probably any age and culture. The relevant idea of sensus communis – the higher sense that synthesises the different senses – has a very long tradition in Western philosophy, dating back to Aristotle.3 Paul Schilder, who noted the potential interchangeability of one organ with another, also argued that ‘synaesthesia [  ] is the normal situation. The isolated sensation is the product of an analysis’ (38). It is only natural that confusion of the organs in general should be accompanied by that of the senses. However, the concept of synaesthesia was relatively new when Schilder stressed its normality in his 1935 book, The Image and Appearance of the Human Body. It became particularly important in medical studies and art in the late nineteenth

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century. The following sections will explore how the development of new media technologies affected the senses and foregrounded synaesthesia, and how Beckett’s work can be discussed in this light. The fact that Schilder argued for the normality of synaesthesia suggests that it had been regarded as abnormal until that time. According to Kevin Dann’s Bright Colors Falsely Seen, synaesthesia first became a serious subject of psychopathology in 1812. It was reported as an anomalous experience of colour sensations associated with certain sounds and concepts. After that it was continuously studied as colour hearing, but only by members of the medical profession. Things changed drastically with the publication of Rimbaud’s sonnet ‘Vowels’ (‘Voyelles’, written in 1871) in 1883.4 This famous sonnet, which starts with ‘A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue’, made synaesthesia ‘something of an intellectual fad’ in fin-de-siècle France (Dann 17). In A Season in Hell (written in 1873), Rimbaud says of this sonnet, ‘I regulated the form and movement of each consonant, and, with instinctive rhythms, I prided myself on inventing a poetic language accessible some day to all the senses. I reserved translation rights’ (193). Here ‘translation’ probably means translation between the different senses. This wild attempt to attain fundamental delirium through ‘the derangement of all the senses’5 strongly appealed to the artistic sensibility of late nineteenth-century Europe. It was especially in line with symbolists’ emphasis on musicality or visuality in poetry, as represented by Verlaine’s privileging of music and Mallarmé’s typographic experiments. The popularity of ‘Vowels’ also drew attention to Baudelaire’s sonnet ‘Correspondences’ (1857) as a great precursor of the trend. While symbolists were enchanted by the new possibilities of aesthetic sensibility, ‘Vowels’ was also linked to a topic that was much discussed in the late nineteenth century – ‘degeneration’ – and thus entered into the major cultural debate.6 The growing interest in synaesthesia in turn stimulated medical research and many papers were produced on it. Thus science and art interacted with each other in their rush to embrace synaesthesia. As Dann notes, ‘[w]hat medical science tended to see as pathological, or at least abnormal, the Romantic, cultivator of the intensely personal, saw as sublime’ (23).7 Synaesthesia was just as important in early twentieth-century modernism as in fin-de-siècle symbolism. In Russia, many avant-garde artists took an interest in it, especially because in that country modernism emerged from spiritualism and theosophy, which valued synaesthesia as a door to the transcendent spiritual world. For example, Wassily Kandinsky was obsessed with the correspondence between the senses. Discussing the psychic effect of colours in Concerning the Spiritual

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in Art (1911), he suggested that colours could appeal to senses other than sight through vibrations in the soul and cited medical reports of the experience of ‘tasting’ or ‘hearing’ colours (24). He once wrote a fantasy opera, ‘The Yellow Sound’, in which he made links between colour, music and human movement.8 In a similar vein, Nikolai Kublin, a supporter of Russian Futurism, contrived his own synaesthetic alphabet in which phonemes, colours and meanings were connected. One of the most radical Futurists, Velimir Khlebnikov, contrived a similar universal alphabet, while the deeply theosophical composer Aleksandr Scriabin created a symbology to link musical notes to colours and feelings. Kevin Dann makes a sharp distinction between synaesthetic artists such as Rimbaud and Kandinsky, and true synaesthetes in the strictly defined medical category. He argues that these artists were ‘invented’ as synaesthetes by those in the Romantic tradition who regarded synaesthesia as offering the possibility of transcending the material, sensible world. Although synaesthesia was a sensible phenomenon for true synaesthetes, the artists or their interpreters tended to link it to the supersensible, transcendental world. Behind this prevalent Romantic error was the desire to regain the lost unity of experience and to transcend the material world in turn-of-the-century Europe, where there was a strong sense of the fragmentation and disintegration of urban life. The artists were mistaken for synaesthetes and revered as advocates of a new truth. One of the decisive factors in this fragmentation of life was the technological advancement that took place in the late nineteenth century. For example, new technologies as prostheses expanded the capacity of the senses: photography and the cinema in the case of seeing, the phonograph and telephone in the case of hearing. The eye and the ear were separately developed, as it were. Dann views synaesthesia as a countermove against this separation or fragmentation. Things were not quite so simple, however, because the marked emergence of synaesthesia, in the sense of new connections and interrelations between the senses, might not have been possible without the separation or fragmentation of the senses in the first place. Advanced capitalist society in late nineteenth-century Europe not only fragmented human sensory experiences but also created an environment in which heterogeneous values, including different sensory channels, could be connected or exchanged.9 While many modernist artists were quick to explore the perceptive fields separately opened up by the new technologies, they also showed considerable interest in synaesthesia and created art that appealed to more than one sense, thereby breaking down conventional genre distinctions.

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Marinetti seems to illustrate the coexistence of these two seemingly contradictory tendencies – the simultaneous separation and crossconnection of the senses – in the context of modernism. He extols the body as a machine made up of metallic parts. In ‘Multiplied Man and the Reign of the Machine’ (1911–15), he says that once man achieves the required identification with matter, he ‘will be endowed with surprising organs: organs adapted to the needs of a world of ceaseless shocks’ (99). Such a man is like a machine and has no human feelings, no love: ‘These energetic beings have no sweet mistress to visit in the evening, but each morning they love to check meticulously the perfect working of their factories’ (100). Marinetti calls such a man ‘the multiplied man’. The implication is that his body is made of multiple ‘factories’. Marinetti’s urge to identify with matter or to become material even goes as far as the molecular level. In ‘Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature’ (1912), he says, ‘Be careful not to force human feelings onto matter. Instead, divine its different governing impulses, its forces of compression, dilation, cohesion, and disaggregation, its crowds of massed molecules and whirling electrons’ (95). This seems to represent the extreme end of the tendency to fragment and disintegrate the materialised body. More importantly, however, the multiplicity of the body can lead to anarchic cross-connections of the senses. In ‘Tactilism’ (1924), Marinetti conceives a new art based on the sense of touch, which in fact entails a free interplay of the senses: ‘The distinction between five senses is arbitrary. Today one can uncover and catalog many other senses./ Tactilism promotes this discovery’ (119). In a subsection entitled ‘Toward the Discovery of New Sense’, he says: A visual sense is born in the fingertips. X-ray vision develops, and some people can already see inside their bodies. Others dimly explore the inside of their neighbors’ bodies. They all realize that sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste are modifications of a single keen sense: touch, divided in different ways and localized in different points. Other localizations take place. For instance: the epigastrium sees. The knees see. The elbows see. All admire the variations in velocity that differentiate light from sound. (120)10 It could be said that such anarchic confusion of the organs and senses also underlies his earlier statement in ‘Technical Manifesto’ that sound, weight and smell should be introduced into literature (96).

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Marinetti is exemplary in the present context because he clearly demonstrates that there is a necessary connection between the mechanisation, fragmentation and arbitrary reorganisation of the body, and that these entail confusion of the senses as well. With him in mind as a model, I will next examine the relation between the new technologies and the transformation of the senses in the late nineteenth century, thereby constructing a framework in which to discuss Beckett’s use of technological devices (prostheses) in terms of the prosthetic senses. I will consider the work of three authors: Marshall McLuhan, Friedrich Kittler and Jonathan Crary. In his classic study of media, McLuhan emphasises the newly made interconnections between the senses. Kittler, who could be regarded as a poststructuralist successor to McLuhan, puts more stress on the separation and autonomisation of the senses by late nineteenthcentury technologies. In Crary’s study of the reconfiguration of the idea of vision in the nineteenth century, we shall see how the two tendencies coexisted. Their theories will be examined closely because, by showing the ways in which the relation between technology, modernism and the body (or the senses) can be considered, they will be useful to the more specific discussions of Beckett’s prosthetic senses later in this book.

Technology and the transformation of the senses: three theories In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), Marshall McLuhan at one point admits that technology brings about a separation of the senses: ‘Most technology produces an amplification that is quite explicit in its separation of the senses. Radio is an extension of the aural, highfidelity photography of the visual’ (333). His point, however, does not lie in this aspect. Contrary to the common assumption that television is primarily related to the visual sense, he argues: TV is above all, an extension of the sense of touch, which involves maximal interplay of all the senses. For Western man, however, the all-embracing extension had occurred by means of phonetic writing, which is a technology for extending the sense of sight. All nonphonetic forms of writing are, by contrast, artistic modes that retain much variety of sensuous orchestration. Phonetic writing, alone, has the power of separating and fragmenting the senses and of sloughing off the semantic complexities. The TV image reverses this literate process of analytic fragmentation of sensory life. (333)

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The television image is thus said to function in the same way as nonphonetic writing, whose iconicity involves ‘sensuous orchestration’. This passage is characteristic in that it contains important ideas that recur throughout the book. According to McLuhan, Western man has long been governed by the visual sense. This is because of the nature of the phonetic alphabet, as he indicates in the above passage, but with Gutenberg’s art of printing, the centrality of the sense of sight became even more emphatic, and thus the ‘typographic man’ was born.11 The typographic man was not closely interrelated with others as in a tribal community. Rather, he was ‘detribalized’, individualised and detached from others. His knowledge and sensibility were also fragmented and specialised. But with the advent of electricity and new communication media in the late nineteenth century, people were relinked by the instantaneous exchange or spread of information. They were ‘retribalized’ in the ‘global village’. Correspondingly, their sensibility was again integral and unified, and the supremacy of the visual sense was replaced by an ‘interplay of all the senses’. For McLuhan, this means that the sense of touch became essential, because ‘ “keeping in touch” or “getting in touch” is a matter of a fruitful meeting of the senses, of sight translated into sound and sound into movement, and taste and smell’ (60). Using the term ‘synesthesia’ for the ‘interplay of all the senses’, McLuhan points out the effect of integration and reunification (as regards both community and individual sensibility) in respect not only of television but also of telegraph, radio, telephone and other electric media. He argues that ‘[e]lectricity offers a means of getting in touch with every facet of being at once, like the brain itself. Electricity is only incidentally visual and auditory; it is primarily tactile’ (249). McLuhan refers to modern art in the same context. He suggests that synaesthesia or the sense of touch underlies abstract art: This faculty of touch [  ] was popularized as such by the Bauhaus program of sensuous education, through the work of Paul Klee, Walter Gropius, and many others in the Germany of the 1920s. The sense of touch, as offering a kind of nervous system or organic unity in the work of art, has obsessed the minds of the artists since the time of Cézanne. For more than a century now artists have tried to meet the challenge of the electric age by investing the tactile sense with the role of a nervous system for unifying all the others. (107)12 Artists’ attempts to ‘meet the challenge of the electric age’ even enabled them to anticipate the impact of later media such as television.

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According to McLuhan, painters and sculptors ‘have been striving, ever since Cézanne abandoned perspective illusion in favor of structure in painting, to bring about the very change that TV has now effected on a fantastic scale’ (322).13 What Cézanne and other nineteenthcentury artists did was to create a mosaic-like pictorial space that closely resembled the television screen.14 Mosaic dissolved the sense of depth based on perspective, which was in fact invented around the same time as typography in the Renaissance. Both a perspective painting and a printed page compel us to fix our point of view, thereby privileging the visual sense and constituting linear and uniform space (172, 287–8). As the dominance of the printed book was encroached upon by electric media, perspective gave way to experiments with spatial representation which led to the abstract art of the early twentieth century. And both electric media and modern art called for synaesthesia or tactility. McLuhan thus emphasises the linkage between technology and synaesthesia in modern art, but he does not elaborate on their precise relation. He simply suggests that technology creates an environment that necessitates synaesthesia, and that artists respond to it more sensitively than other people. It is easy to detect the naively Romantic idea of the artist held by McLuhan, when he says, for example, ‘The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception’ (18). He is also innocently Romantic in another sense. According to Kevin Dann, the Romantic interpretation of synaesthesia tends to reflect a simplistic view of history that goes as follows. Once there was unity of all the senses, but this can now be observed only in infants and primitive people. In the materialistic, alienated contemporary world, it is totally lost. But in the future, the original condition will be restored (Dann 94–105). It goes without saying that McLuhan’s view that electric media were restoring the long lost synaesthesia perfectly fits this pattern of paradise–fall–redemption. In the 1960s, there was a resurgence of the idea of synaesthesia as a way of transcending reality in counterculture movements and popular occult mysticism. The huge success that McLuhan’s work enjoyed in the 1960s should be considered in this light. As far as the interpretation of synaesthesia is concerned, McLuhan was just one of the many authors who followed the Romantic view with the tripartite pattern. The difference may be that he connected synaesthesia directly to technology, which has often been condemned as a cause of the fragmentation and alienation of modern life. Marinetti, with his admiration for the machine and technology and his privileging of tactility (which in fact means an interplay of all the

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senses), appears to exemplify in an extreme form McLuhan’s formulation of synaesthesia in modern art of the electric age.15 This impression is strengthened when we consider that Marinetti was not only infatuated with steely machines – cars, trains and aeroplanes – but also dreamt of total electrification of the world, to which communication technology such as the telephone and telegraph would contribute (see, for example, his ‘Electrical War’). It should be noted, however, that McLuhan never emphasised the multiplicity of the body that formed the basis of the anarchic interplay of the senses in Marinetti. Whereas McLuhan thinks that the unification of human sensory experience started in the late nineteenth century with the advent of electric media, Friedrich Kittler emphasises that nineteenth-century technologies divided and separated people’s sensibilities and experiences, and that this division lasted until electronic and digital technologies came to dominate the world. In Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1986), Kittler says, ‘Electrics does not equal electronics’ (2), because electric media remain in incompatible channels and cannot unify our world and experience, contrary to McLuhan’s argument. He also considers that ‘[w]ithin the spectrum of the general data flow, television, radio, cinema, and the postal service constitute individual and limited windows for people’s sense perceptions’ (2). He singles out the gramophone, film and typewriter – which he calls ‘ur-media’ (50) – to demonstrate his point in his Foucauldian archeological research into the relation between technology and literature. These three technologies put an end to the reign of the book which started around 1800 (9–10). Departing again from McLuhan, who connects the book with the fragmentation of experience and sensibility, Kittler thinks that in this classical Romantic period (represented by Goethe), the book conferred upon both the writer and the reader a total or unified imaginary experience.16 The acoustic and optical storage technologies (gramophone and film) and the writing technology (typewriter) disintegrated this totality of writing and reading:17 ‘The dream of a real visible or audible world arising from words has come to an end. The historical synchronicity of cinema, phonography, and typewriting separated optical, acoustic, and written data flows, thereby rendering them autonomous’ (14). As regards the three technologies, McLuhan never fails to point out the unifying effects that electric media have, while acknowledging counter tendencies.18 Kittler relates the development of physiology to the separation of experience and sensibility brought about by the late nineteenth-century technologies. The system in which human communication was ensured

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by the reign of the book was destroyed when body and soul were subject to physiological research. Kittler argues: The hard science of physiology did away with the psychological conception that guaranteed humans that they could find their souls through handwriting and rereading. [  ] The unity of apperception disintegrated into a large number of subroutines, which, as such, physiologists could localize in different centers of the brain and engineers could reconstruct in multiple machines. Which is what the ‘spirit’ – the unsimulable center of ‘man’ – denied by its very definition. (188, emphasis added) Kittler’s idea that man could be reconstructed in ‘multiple machines’ inevitably reminds us of Marinetti’s concept of ‘multiplied man’ made up of multiple mechanical parts. The development of physiology in combination with technological applications in the nineteenth century divided and disintegrated the human body and soul, and Marinetti’s concept was one of the ultimate outcomes of this process in the field of art and literature. It is also important to note that physiological research was associated with the need to overcome disabilities. The typewriter was intended to help the blind, and Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, was partially deaf. Kittler succinctly summarises the connection: ‘Blindness and deafness, precisely when they affect either speech or writing, yield what would otherwise be beyond reach: information on the human information machine. Whereupon its replacement by mechanics can begin’ (189). The last sentence could be paraphrased as ‘whereupon the prosthetic body can be born’. It seems that in the nineteenth century, physiology was reborn as a new type of science, due to a fundamental change in the conception of man – the technologisation or prosthetisation of man. Jonathan Crary illuminates this change by focusing on vision. Although Crary’s Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (1990) does not mention Kittler, it parallels the latter’s approach in many ways. Both adopt Foucault’s method of archeological research, which sharply punctuates history according to epistemological ruptures. For Kittler, the period around 1800 established the reign of the book linked to the classical idea of humanity, whereas the turn of the twentieth century was characterised by the total collapse of the former system due to the development of physiology and technology. Crary also divides modern history into two periods, placing the turning point in the early nineteenth century, when there

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was a fundamental shift in the conception of human vision. And just as Kittler, Crary foregrounds the importance of physiology in the later period. According to Crary, the camera obscura model, in which a detached, disembodied metaphysical subject observes representations of the outside world in the interior space of the mind, had dominated the discourse on vision since Descartes. But in the early nineteenth century, it gave way to a more physiological model that conceived of vision being produced by unreliable subjective sensations in the body, thereby undoing the referential relation between the outer world and the inner mind on which the camera obscura model was based. When demonstrating how vision became opaque and physical in this shift, Crary discusses experiments by physiologists that revealed that human senses were dependent on the stimulation of nerves, which could be technically manipulated to cause confusion of the senses. On the other hand, he argues that these experiments were conducted in the context of specialisation or separation of the senses. How can we explain this paradoxical coexistence of two contradictory tendencies? Goethe’s Theory of Colours (1810) marked a departure from the camera obscura model by paying attention to the colours that belonged to the corporeal subjectivity of the observer. Crary states that this was the ‘moment when the visible escapes from the timeless order of the camera obscura and becomes lodged in another apparatus, within the unstable physiology and temporality of the human body’ (70). This shift was inseparable from the new physiological research into the human body, including the eye.19 Crary mentions two major consequences of the development of physiology in the first half of the nineteenth century: (1) the gradual transferral of the holistic study of subjective experience or mental life to an empirical and quantitative plane, and (2) the division and fragmentation of the physical subject into increasingly specific organic and mechanical systems. (81) The second of these closely parallels Kittler’s description of man’s disintegration into ‘multiple machines’ and, by extension, Marinetti’s ‘multiplied man’. The representative physiologist is Johannes Müller, who ‘unfolded an image of the body as a multifarious factory-like enterprise, comprised of diversified processes and activities, run by measurable amounts of energy and labor’ (88). It was but a step from this view to Marinetti’s multiplied men, who ‘love to check meticulously the perfect working of their factories’. Along with the multiplication of the body occurred the specialisation and separation of the senses.

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mingling with the mud on the one hand, and arithmetic patterning (most conspicuously in the frequent use of numbering in Part Three) on the other. While White’s argument is illuminating, he misses an important feature of Bacon that surely pertains to the prosthetic grotesque – that is, the confusion of the organs that I have focused on in respect of the regressive body image and that Deleuze discusses in terms of the body without organs. When the prosthetic grotesque violates ‘the coherence and integrity of the body-image’, such confusion occurs to add to the grotesque feature. Is there any perspective for situating this phenomenon in cultural history in a different way from that adopted by White? In the next chapter, I will start with a consideration of the cultural context from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, when the fragmentation of society advanced as capitalism pervaded big cities. Against that background I will consider how the fragmentation of the body, to which confusion of the organs is closely related, also occurred and strengthened the image of the disintegrated body (the ‘body in pieces’) that modernist art and literature registered.

3 The Prosthetic Body and Synaesthesia

With the idea of ‘language III’, which opens up language to the dimensions of seeing and hearing or painting and music, Deleuze points to an important aspect of Beckett’s work in his own manner based on unique philosophical intuitions. Adopting a more cultural-historical approach, this chapter discusses the same subject under the rubric of synaesthesia, or cross-connections of the senses. Throughout his oeuvre, Beckett showed a keen interest in coordinating visual and acoustic senses with pictorial and musical effects in mind. Yet, Beckett was far from alone in being drawn to synaesthesia, as it was conspicuous in cultural discourse and artistic practice from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. I will argue that the interest in synaesthesia was closely related to the permeation of society by media technologies invented in the late nineteenth century. I will also examine how technologies worked to divide the senses, while at the same time producing anarchic confusion of them. The previous chapter discussed how the organs are prosthetised and confused in the Beckettian body. With the amorphous body image, the uncertainty about the body’s boundaries (or confusion between the outside and the inside) that characterises the prosthetic body is tied up with confusion of the organs. This chapter considers the link between the prosthetic body and disorganisation of the body in a broad historical context. More specifically, it examines how the rise of new technologies can be related to the prosthetic body, which reveals itself as a fragmented, disorganised and also reorganised body in modernism. Synaesthesia, as a derangement of the senses, comes in view as part of this prosthetic body. As long as it can be regarded as emerging on the interface between technology (the outside) and the senses (the inside), it should be discussed in the light of the prosthetic body or prosthetic 75

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sense. It may not be so directly mediated by prosthesis as vision with the camera eye and hearing with sound technology (the subjects of the next two chapters), but it is closely related to those more obvious prosthetic senses, and as will be seen, it is highly significant in Beckett’s work. I will start by sketching how modernism registers the fragmentation of the body, the correlative emergence of the formless body, and synaesthesia as part of the formless body. This is followed by a consideration of how technologies entailed the simultaneous division and confusion of the senses. Thus preparing the basic framework, I proceed to examine how Beckett started his career in the cultural milieu that privileged technology-inspired synaesthetic vision, and how synaesthesia underlay his later work involving different media.

Fragmentation of the body and synaesthesia In Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent (1907), the mentally retarded boy Stevie is blown up by a bomb he is carrying. Referring to the disturbingly detailed descriptions of Stevie’s fragmented and scattered body, Rod Edmond observes: The body in pieces, whether fragmented or mutilated, has often been used as a way of expressing a distinctively modern sense of the loss of wholeness and coherence. This became marked around the turn of the twentieth century when biological theories of decline were increasingly applied to social theory, and the body itself became a source of knowledge about society rather than merely a way of thinking about it. (49) Edmond discusses the theme of the body in pieces in terms of the discourse on degeneration, which caused a sensation among intellectuals in Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. Degeneration meant regression of the individual mind to earlier infantile states as well as that of civilisation to savagery at the collective level. As I will discuss later, the young Beckett’s obsession with the intrauterine period induced him to read Max Nordau’s Degeneration (1892), the chief source of the sensation of the day. Edmond’s mention of the body as ‘a source of knowledge about society’ also reminds us of the fact that late nineteenth-century anthropometric criminologists made catalogues of body parts, thereby fragmenting the body and subjecting it to the policing eye of society. The theme of the body in pieces can also be connected to the logic of capitalism, which rapidly permeated European society, especially in

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big cities, from the early nineteenth century onwards.1 As capitalism advances, ‘all that is solid melts into air’, as Marx and Engels put it in The Communist Manifesto. People and things are dislodged from their authentic positions and thrown into new relations in an increasingly liquefying society. Heterogeneous values lose their ‘aura’ and are arbitrarily juxtaposed or combined with each other on newly formed common planes. In a broad perspective, the disorganised body and confusion of the organs – so conspicuous in modernist art and literature, including Beckett – might be regarded as a correlate of the logic of capitalism, even if they cannot be fully ascribed to it. The body is fragmented into parts that can be recombined or confused arbitrarily. The same applies to the use of language. The radical experiments with language by avant-garde movements such as Futurism, Dadaism and surrealism largely consisted in cutting language into smaller units of letters and words and recombining them to create refreshing effects. Needless to say, the techniques of collage and montage, much favoured in modernist art and literature, exemplify this principle. In this regard, Joseph McLaughlin discusses the use of fragments from world literature in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. He refers to the fact that Eliot was a banker in London, ‘a crossroads of empire and global capitalism where products, peoples, and styles from around the world are brought into contact’ (169). Few artists seem to exploit the principle of rearranging the fragmented body more explicitly than the German surrealist Hans Bellmer, whose dolls are made up of grotesquely recombined body parts of a young woman. In an essay ‘Notes on the Subject of the Ball Joint’ (1938), he explains one of his basic ideas as follows: The ensemble of images of the body tending to remain intact, even after real amputations, enables us to think that the parts situated at the interior of the frame of our description – the chin, the armpit, the arm – besides their own meaning, take upon themselves images of the leg, the sex, etc., which have become available precisely by their ‘repression.’ That leads back to this: the body, like the dream, can capriciously displace the center of gravity of its images. Inspired by a curious spirit of contradiction, it superimposes on some what it has taken away from others, the image of the leg, for example, on that of the arm, that of the sex onto the armpit, in order to make ‘condensations,’ ‘proofs of analogies,’ ‘ambiguities,’ ‘word games,’ strange anatomical ‘calculations of probability.’ (quoted in Taylor 217)

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Referring to Freud’s analysis of the dream, Bellmer thus contends that the body parts can be displaced and confused with each other, in a way reminiscent of Beckett’s prosthetic body discussed in the previous chapter. Indeed, Bellmer was deeply influenced by Paul Schilder’s study of the body image, as Sue Taylor’s recent work on Bellmer reveals (104–9). The most important influence was Schilder’s view that there could be a symbolic substitution of one body part for another. Bellmer took full advantage of this insight, performing unnatural and grotesque recombinations of body parts in his dolls and drawings. This seems to be an instance of parallel between psychiatric or psychoanalytic discourse and artistic practice. As the mention of ‘word games’ in the above quotation suggests, the bodily dimension and the symbolic or linguistic dimension are inseparable for Bellmer. As Taylor says, ‘Figures of speech such as hyperbole and metaphor do not belong for Bellmer solely to the realm of literature; he wants to apply them to the body’ (101). When someone with a toothache clenches his hand, for instance, it means that ‘attempting to displace the pain, the body impulsively makes a kind of portrait or representation of the tooth by means of a violent muscular contraction elsewhere in the anatomy’ (103). Corporeal expression is thus figurative. There is further evidence of Bellmer’s conflation of the bodily and linguistic dimensions in the following remark: ‘The body can be compared to a sentence inviting one to disarticulate it for its true elements to be recombined in a series of endless anagrams’ (quoted in Chasseguet-Smirgel 21). Given these ideas, it was profoundly apt that it was Bellmer who illustrated a new edition of Georges Bataille’s Story of the Eye in 1946. This story, originally published in 1928 with illustrations by André Masson, depicts a young couple’s extreme acts of sexual perversity and transgression. The disintegration of the body is suggested by a perverse dislocation of the eyeball: towards the end of the story an eyeball is plucked from a dead priest and inserted into the vagina of the female protagonist. In the essay ‘The Metaphor of the Eye’, Roland Barthes argues that sexual transgression in this story is matched by linguistic transgression. Two metaphorical chains – the chain of round objects (eye, egg, testicle) and that of liquid (tears, yolk, sperm or urine) – are crossed metonymically to produce unconventional images, such as ‘breaking an eye’ instead of ‘breaking an egg’. The simultaneous transgression of physical and linguistic norms in the story must have appealed to Bellmer. Around the time he wrote Story of the Eye, Bataille was forming a new conception of the body in terms of ‘formless’ (informe) and base

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materialism in his essays (published mainly in his journal Documents). Denouncing conventional materialism as idealistic, Bataille turns to the lower organs like feet to subvert the usual hierarchic organisation of the body, in a way similar to Bakhtin’s argument about debasement by the ‘material bodily lower stratum’ (Bakhtin 368–436). For instance, he maintains that feet, associated with mud and usually despised, have a special attraction and that the big toe’s appearance ‘gives a very shrill expression to the disorder of the human body, that product of the violent discord of the organs’ (‘The Big Toe’, Visions of Excess 22). He also displaces the eye: ‘I imagined the eye at the summit of the skull like a horrible erupting volcano, precisely with the shady and comical character associated with the rear end and its excretions’ (‘The Jesuve’, Visions of Excess 74).2 Thus in Bataille’s view the body is provocatively disorganised and formless. Unsurprisingly, when discussing contemporary art in terms of Bataille’s concept of formless in Formless: A User’s Guide, Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss connect Bataille’s Story of the Eye and essays of the same period to Deleuze and Guattari’s idea of organ-machines that are equated with each other on the body without organs (156). The list of modernists who addressed the disorganisation of the body could be extended considerably. Despite their differences, these artists shared with Beckett a conception of the body as fundamentally fragmented, disintegrated, formless and subject to arbitrary reorganisation. Disintegration of the body at the general level necessarily entails dislocation of the sense organs and the senses themselves, which brings into focus the phenomenon of synaesthesia. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines synaesthesia as ‘the production of a mental sense-impression relating to one sense by the stimulation of another sense’. It is a crossconnection between the senses, such as hearing colours or seeing sounds. This does not appear to be unusual as such phrases as ‘soft tone’, ‘sweet voice’ and ‘loud colour’ are commonly used and similar metaphors can be found in the literature of probably any age and culture. The relevant idea of sensus communis – the higher sense that synthesises the different senses – has a very long tradition in Western philosophy, dating back to Aristotle.3 Paul Schilder, who noted the potential interchangeability of one organ with another, also argued that ‘synaesthesia [  ] is the normal situation. The isolated sensation is the product of an analysis’ (38). It is only natural that confusion of the organs in general should be accompanied by that of the senses. However, the concept of synaesthesia was relatively new when Schilder stressed its normality in his 1935 book, The Image and Appearance of the Human Body. It became particularly important in medical studies and art in the late nineteenth

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century. The following sections will explore how the development of new media technologies affected the senses and foregrounded synaesthesia, and how Beckett’s work can be discussed in this light. The fact that Schilder argued for the normality of synaesthesia suggests that it had been regarded as abnormal until that time. According to Kevin Dann’s Bright Colors Falsely Seen, synaesthesia first became a serious subject of psychopathology in 1812. It was reported as an anomalous experience of colour sensations associated with certain sounds and concepts. After that it was continuously studied as colour hearing, but only by members of the medical profession. Things changed drastically with the publication of Rimbaud’s sonnet ‘Vowels’ (‘Voyelles’, written in 1871) in 1883.4 This famous sonnet, which starts with ‘A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue’, made synaesthesia ‘something of an intellectual fad’ in fin-de-siècle France (Dann 17). In A Season in Hell (written in 1873), Rimbaud says of this sonnet, ‘I regulated the form and movement of each consonant, and, with instinctive rhythms, I prided myself on inventing a poetic language accessible some day to all the senses. I reserved translation rights’ (193). Here ‘translation’ probably means translation between the different senses. This wild attempt to attain fundamental delirium through ‘the derangement of all the senses’5 strongly appealed to the artistic sensibility of late nineteenth-century Europe. It was especially in line with symbolists’ emphasis on musicality or visuality in poetry, as represented by Verlaine’s privileging of music and Mallarmé’s typographic experiments. The popularity of ‘Vowels’ also drew attention to Baudelaire’s sonnet ‘Correspondences’ (1857) as a great precursor of the trend. While symbolists were enchanted by the new possibilities of aesthetic sensibility, ‘Vowels’ was also linked to a topic that was much discussed in the late nineteenth century – ‘degeneration’ – and thus entered into the major cultural debate.6 The growing interest in synaesthesia in turn stimulated medical research and many papers were produced on it. Thus science and art interacted with each other in their rush to embrace synaesthesia. As Dann notes, ‘[w]hat medical science tended to see as pathological, or at least abnormal, the Romantic, cultivator of the intensely personal, saw as sublime’ (23).7 Synaesthesia was just as important in early twentieth-century modernism as in fin-de-siècle symbolism. In Russia, many avant-garde artists took an interest in it, especially because in that country modernism emerged from spiritualism and theosophy, which valued synaesthesia as a door to the transcendent spiritual world. For example, Wassily Kandinsky was obsessed with the correspondence between the senses. Discussing the psychic effect of colours in Concerning the Spiritual

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in Art (1911), he suggested that colours could appeal to senses other than sight through vibrations in the soul and cited medical reports of the experience of ‘tasting’ or ‘hearing’ colours (24). He once wrote a fantasy opera, ‘The Yellow Sound’, in which he made links between colour, music and human movement.8 In a similar vein, Nikolai Kublin, a supporter of Russian Futurism, contrived his own synaesthetic alphabet in which phonemes, colours and meanings were connected. One of the most radical Futurists, Velimir Khlebnikov, contrived a similar universal alphabet, while the deeply theosophical composer Aleksandr Scriabin created a symbology to link musical notes to colours and feelings. Kevin Dann makes a sharp distinction between synaesthetic artists such as Rimbaud and Kandinsky, and true synaesthetes in the strictly defined medical category. He argues that these artists were ‘invented’ as synaesthetes by those in the Romantic tradition who regarded synaesthesia as offering the possibility of transcending the material, sensible world. Although synaesthesia was a sensible phenomenon for true synaesthetes, the artists or their interpreters tended to link it to the supersensible, transcendental world. Behind this prevalent Romantic error was the desire to regain the lost unity of experience and to transcend the material world in turn-of-the-century Europe, where there was a strong sense of the fragmentation and disintegration of urban life. The artists were mistaken for synaesthetes and revered as advocates of a new truth. One of the decisive factors in this fragmentation of life was the technological advancement that took place in the late nineteenth century. For example, new technologies as prostheses expanded the capacity of the senses: photography and the cinema in the case of seeing, the phonograph and telephone in the case of hearing. The eye and the ear were separately developed, as it were. Dann views synaesthesia as a countermove against this separation or fragmentation. Things were not quite so simple, however, because the marked emergence of synaesthesia, in the sense of new connections and interrelations between the senses, might not have been possible without the separation or fragmentation of the senses in the first place. Advanced capitalist society in late nineteenth-century Europe not only fragmented human sensory experiences but also created an environment in which heterogeneous values, including different sensory channels, could be connected or exchanged.9 While many modernist artists were quick to explore the perceptive fields separately opened up by the new technologies, they also showed considerable interest in synaesthesia and created art that appealed to more than one sense, thereby breaking down conventional genre distinctions.

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Marinetti seems to illustrate the coexistence of these two seemingly contradictory tendencies – the simultaneous separation and crossconnection of the senses – in the context of modernism. He extols the body as a machine made up of metallic parts. In ‘Multiplied Man and the Reign of the Machine’ (1911–15), he says that once man achieves the required identification with matter, he ‘will be endowed with surprising organs: organs adapted to the needs of a world of ceaseless shocks’ (99). Such a man is like a machine and has no human feelings, no love: ‘These energetic beings have no sweet mistress to visit in the evening, but each morning they love to check meticulously the perfect working of their factories’ (100). Marinetti calls such a man ‘the multiplied man’. The implication is that his body is made of multiple ‘factories’. Marinetti’s urge to identify with matter or to become material even goes as far as the molecular level. In ‘Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature’ (1912), he says, ‘Be careful not to force human feelings onto matter. Instead, divine its different governing impulses, its forces of compression, dilation, cohesion, and disaggregation, its crowds of massed molecules and whirling electrons’ (95). This seems to represent the extreme end of the tendency to fragment and disintegrate the materialised body. More importantly, however, the multiplicity of the body can lead to anarchic cross-connections of the senses. In ‘Tactilism’ (1924), Marinetti conceives a new art based on the sense of touch, which in fact entails a free interplay of the senses: ‘The distinction between five senses is arbitrary. Today one can uncover and catalog many other senses./ Tactilism promotes this discovery’ (119). In a subsection entitled ‘Toward the Discovery of New Sense’, he says: A visual sense is born in the fingertips. X-ray vision develops, and some people can already see inside their bodies. Others dimly explore the inside of their neighbors’ bodies. They all realize that sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste are modifications of a single keen sense: touch, divided in different ways and localized in different points. Other localizations take place. For instance: the epigastrium sees. The knees see. The elbows see. All admire the variations in velocity that differentiate light from sound. (120)10 It could be said that such anarchic confusion of the organs and senses also underlies his earlier statement in ‘Technical Manifesto’ that sound, weight and smell should be introduced into literature (96).

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Marinetti is exemplary in the present context because he clearly demonstrates that there is a necessary connection between the mechanisation, fragmentation and arbitrary reorganisation of the body, and that these entail confusion of the senses as well. With him in mind as a model, I will next examine the relation between the new technologies and the transformation of the senses in the late nineteenth century, thereby constructing a framework in which to discuss Beckett’s use of technological devices (prostheses) in terms of the prosthetic senses. I will consider the work of three authors: Marshall McLuhan, Friedrich Kittler and Jonathan Crary. In his classic study of media, McLuhan emphasises the newly made interconnections between the senses. Kittler, who could be regarded as a poststructuralist successor to McLuhan, puts more stress on the separation and autonomisation of the senses by late nineteenthcentury technologies. In Crary’s study of the reconfiguration of the idea of vision in the nineteenth century, we shall see how the two tendencies coexisted. Their theories will be examined closely because, by showing the ways in which the relation between technology, modernism and the body (or the senses) can be considered, they will be useful to the more specific discussions of Beckett’s prosthetic senses later in this book.

Technology and the transformation of the senses: three theories In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964), Marshall McLuhan at one point admits that technology brings about a separation of the senses: ‘Most technology produces an amplification that is quite explicit in its separation of the senses. Radio is an extension of the aural, highfidelity photography of the visual’ (333). His point, however, does not lie in this aspect. Contrary to the common assumption that television is primarily related to the visual sense, he argues: TV is above all, an extension of the sense of touch, which involves maximal interplay of all the senses. For Western man, however, the all-embracing extension had occurred by means of phonetic writing, which is a technology for extending the sense of sight. All nonphonetic forms of writing are, by contrast, artistic modes that retain much variety of sensuous orchestration. Phonetic writing, alone, has the power of separating and fragmenting the senses and of sloughing off the semantic complexities. The TV image reverses this literate process of analytic fragmentation of sensory life. (333)

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The television image is thus said to function in the same way as nonphonetic writing, whose iconicity involves ‘sensuous orchestration’. This passage is characteristic in that it contains important ideas that recur throughout the book. According to McLuhan, Western man has long been governed by the visual sense. This is because of the nature of the phonetic alphabet, as he indicates in the above passage, but with Gutenberg’s art of printing, the centrality of the sense of sight became even more emphatic, and thus the ‘typographic man’ was born.11 The typographic man was not closely interrelated with others as in a tribal community. Rather, he was ‘detribalized’, individualised and detached from others. His knowledge and sensibility were also fragmented and specialised. But with the advent of electricity and new communication media in the late nineteenth century, people were relinked by the instantaneous exchange or spread of information. They were ‘retribalized’ in the ‘global village’. Correspondingly, their sensibility was again integral and unified, and the supremacy of the visual sense was replaced by an ‘interplay of all the senses’. For McLuhan, this means that the sense of touch became essential, because ‘ “keeping in touch” or “getting in touch” is a matter of a fruitful meeting of the senses, of sight translated into sound and sound into movement, and taste and smell’ (60). Using the term ‘synesthesia’ for the ‘interplay of all the senses’, McLuhan points out the effect of integration and reunification (as regards both community and individual sensibility) in respect not only of television but also of telegraph, radio, telephone and other electric media. He argues that ‘[e]lectricity offers a means of getting in touch with every facet of being at once, like the brain itself. Electricity is only incidentally visual and auditory; it is primarily tactile’ (249). McLuhan refers to modern art in the same context. He suggests that synaesthesia or the sense of touch underlies abstract art: This faculty of touch [  ] was popularized as such by the Bauhaus program of sensuous education, through the work of Paul Klee, Walter Gropius, and many others in the Germany of the 1920s. The sense of touch, as offering a kind of nervous system or organic unity in the work of art, has obsessed the minds of the artists since the time of Cézanne. For more than a century now artists have tried to meet the challenge of the electric age by investing the tactile sense with the role of a nervous system for unifying all the others. (107)12 Artists’ attempts to ‘meet the challenge of the electric age’ even enabled them to anticipate the impact of later media such as television.

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According to McLuhan, painters and sculptors ‘have been striving, ever since Cézanne abandoned perspective illusion in favor of structure in painting, to bring about the very change that TV has now effected on a fantastic scale’ (322).13 What Cézanne and other nineteenthcentury artists did was to create a mosaic-like pictorial space that closely resembled the television screen.14 Mosaic dissolved the sense of depth based on perspective, which was in fact invented around the same time as typography in the Renaissance. Both a perspective painting and a printed page compel us to fix our point of view, thereby privileging the visual sense and constituting linear and uniform space (172, 287–8). As the dominance of the printed book was encroached upon by electric media, perspective gave way to experiments with spatial representation which led to the abstract art of the early twentieth century. And both electric media and modern art called for synaesthesia or tactility. McLuhan thus emphasises the linkage between technology and synaesthesia in modern art, but he does not elaborate on their precise relation. He simply suggests that technology creates an environment that necessitates synaesthesia, and that artists respond to it more sensitively than other people. It is easy to detect the naively Romantic idea of the artist held by McLuhan, when he says, for example, ‘The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception’ (18). He is also innocently Romantic in another sense. According to Kevin Dann, the Romantic interpretation of synaesthesia tends to reflect a simplistic view of history that goes as follows. Once there was unity of all the senses, but this can now be observed only in infants and primitive people. In the materialistic, alienated contemporary world, it is totally lost. But in the future, the original condition will be restored (Dann 94–105). It goes without saying that McLuhan’s view that electric media were restoring the long lost synaesthesia perfectly fits this pattern of paradise–fall–redemption. In the 1960s, there was a resurgence of the idea of synaesthesia as a way of transcending reality in counterculture movements and popular occult mysticism. The huge success that McLuhan’s work enjoyed in the 1960s should be considered in this light. As far as the interpretation of synaesthesia is concerned, McLuhan was just one of the many authors who followed the Romantic view with the tripartite pattern. The difference may be that he connected synaesthesia directly to technology, which has often been condemned as a cause of the fragmentation and alienation of modern life. Marinetti, with his admiration for the machine and technology and his privileging of tactility (which in fact means an interplay of all the

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senses), appears to exemplify in an extreme form McLuhan’s formulation of synaesthesia in modern art of the electric age.15 This impression is strengthened when we consider that Marinetti was not only infatuated with steely machines – cars, trains and aeroplanes – but also dreamt of total electrification of the world, to which communication technology such as the telephone and telegraph would contribute (see, for example, his ‘Electrical War’). It should be noted, however, that McLuhan never emphasised the multiplicity of the body that formed the basis of the anarchic interplay of the senses in Marinetti. Whereas McLuhan thinks that the unification of human sensory experience started in the late nineteenth century with the advent of electric media, Friedrich Kittler emphasises that nineteenth-century technologies divided and separated people’s sensibilities and experiences, and that this division lasted until electronic and digital technologies came to dominate the world. In Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (1986), Kittler says, ‘Electrics does not equal electronics’ (2), because electric media remain in incompatible channels and cannot unify our world and experience, contrary to McLuhan’s argument. He also considers that ‘[w]ithin the spectrum of the general data flow, television, radio, cinema, and the postal service constitute individual and limited windows for people’s sense perceptions’ (2). He singles out the gramophone, film and typewriter – which he calls ‘ur-media’ (50) – to demonstrate his point in his Foucauldian archeological research into the relation between technology and literature. These three technologies put an end to the reign of the book which started around 1800 (9–10). Departing again from McLuhan, who connects the book with the fragmentation of experience and sensibility, Kittler thinks that in this classical Romantic period (represented by Goethe), the book conferred upon both the writer and the reader a total or unified imaginary experience.16 The acoustic and optical storage technologies (gramophone and film) and the writing technology (typewriter) disintegrated this totality of writing and reading:17 ‘The dream of a real visible or audible world arising from words has come to an end. The historical synchronicity of cinema, phonography, and typewriting separated optical, acoustic, and written data flows, thereby rendering them autonomous’ (14). As regards the three technologies, McLuhan never fails to point out the unifying effects that electric media have, while acknowledging counter tendencies.18 Kittler relates the development of physiology to the separation of experience and sensibility brought about by the late nineteenth-century technologies. The system in which human communication was ensured

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by the reign of the book was destroyed when body and soul were subject to physiological research. Kittler argues: The hard science of physiology did away with the psychological conception that guaranteed humans that they could find their souls through handwriting and rereading. [  ] The unity of apperception disintegrated into a large number of subroutines, which, as such, physiologists could localize in different centers of the brain and engineers could reconstruct in multiple machines. Which is what the ‘spirit’ – the unsimulable center of ‘man’ – denied by its very definition. (188, emphasis added) Kittler’s idea that man could be reconstructed in ‘multiple machines’ inevitably reminds us of Marinetti’s concept of ‘multiplied man’ made up of multiple mechanical parts. The development of physiology in combination with technological applications in the nineteenth century divided and disintegrated the human body and soul, and Marinetti’s concept was one of the ultimate outcomes of this process in the field of art and literature. It is also important to note that physiological research was associated with the need to overcome disabilities. The typewriter was intended to help the blind, and Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, was partially deaf. Kittler succinctly summarises the connection: ‘Blindness and deafness, precisely when they affect either speech or writing, yield what would otherwise be beyond reach: information on the human information machine. Whereupon its replacement by mechanics can begin’ (189). The last sentence could be paraphrased as ‘whereupon the prosthetic body can be born’. It seems that in the nineteenth century, physiology was reborn as a new type of science, due to a fundamental change in the conception of man – the technologisation or prosthetisation of man. Jonathan Crary illuminates this change by focusing on vision. Although Crary’s Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century (1990) does not mention Kittler, it parallels the latter’s approach in many ways. Both adopt Foucault’s method of archeological research, which sharply punctuates history according to epistemological ruptures. For Kittler, the period around 1800 established the reign of the book linked to the classical idea of humanity, whereas the turn of the twentieth century was characterised by the total collapse of the former system due to the development of physiology and technology. Crary also divides modern history into two periods, placing the turning point in the early nineteenth century, when there

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was a fundamental shift in the conception of human vision. And just as Kittler, Crary foregrounds the importance of physiology in the later period. According to Crary, the camera obscura model, in which a detached, disembodied metaphysical subject observes representations of the outside world in the interior space of the mind, had dominated the discourse on vision since Descartes. But in the early nineteenth century, it gave way to a more physiological model that conceived of vision being produced by unreliable subjective sensations in the body, thereby undoing the referential relation between the outer world and the inner mind on which the camera obscura model was based. When demonstrating how vision became opaque and physical in this shift, Crary discusses experiments by physiologists that revealed that human senses were dependent on the stimulation of nerves, which could be technically manipulated to cause confusion of the senses. On the other hand, he argues that these experiments were conducted in the context of specialisation or separation of the senses. How can we explain this paradoxical coexistence of two contradictory tendencies? Goethe’s Theory of Colours (1810) marked a departure from the camera obscura model by paying attention to the colours that belonged to the corporeal subjectivity of the observer. Crary states that this was the ‘moment when the visible escapes from the timeless order of the camera obscura and becomes lodged in another apparatus, within the unstable physiology and temporality of the human body’ (70). This shift was inseparable from the new physiological research into the human body, including the eye.19 Crary mentions two major consequences of the development of physiology in the first half of the nineteenth century: (1) the gradual transferral of the holistic study of subjective experience or mental life to an empirical and quantitative plane, and (2) the division and fragmentation of the physical subject into increasingly specific organic and mechanical systems. (81) The second of these closely parallels Kittler’s description of man’s disintegration into ‘multiple machines’ and, by extension, Marinetti’s ‘multiplied man’. The representative physiologist is Johannes Müller, who ‘unfolded an image of the body as a multifarious factory-like enterprise, comprised of diversified processes and activities, run by measurable amounts of energy and labor’ (88). It was but a step from this view to Marinetti’s multiplied men, who ‘love to check meticulously the perfect working of their factories’. Along with the multiplication of the body occurred the specialisation and separation of the senses.

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Müller discovered that the senses were based on physiologically distinct nerves – that is, one kind of nerve was responsible for one specific sense. The senses were therefore physiologically separated. However, while Müller’s theory ‘asserted [  ] that a uniform cause (for example, electricity) generates utterly different sensations from one kind of nerve to another’, he also ‘showed that a variety of different causes will produce the same sensation in a given sensory nerve’ (90). Thus it became clear that a stimulus given to a sensory nerve had only an arbitrary relation to the resultant sensation. As regards the eye, for example, the sensation of light could be created by other stimuli, such as electricity, chemical agents and so on. This meant that it was possible to use electricity or chemicals to produce false sensory experiences. For instance, one physiologist ‘seriously pursued the possibility of electrically cross-connecting nerves, enabling the eye to see sounds and the ear to hear colors, well before Rimbaud’s celebration of sensory dislocation’ (93). The reference to Rimbaud – obviously to his sonnet of the vowels – is telling because it suggests that physiology paralleled art in its discovery of synaesthesia. We may also recall Kandinsky’s mention of a medical report on ‘hearing’ or ‘tasting’ colours. Separation of the senses, which appears to contradict synaesthesia, was in fact accompanied by the very condition for synaesthesia: the discovery of the manipulability of nerves and sensory experiences. Separation of the senses, tied up with the multiplication of the body, paradoxically engendered the possibility of interrelations between them. Crary does not address this paradox directly, but it haunts his account of nineteenth-century physiology.20 Citing a passage in which Helmholtz – Müller’s successor – compares nerves to telegraph wires used for different purposes, Crary makes a comment that goes against the main theme of his chapter (the specialisation and separation of the senses): Far from the specialization of the senses, Helmholtz is explicit about the body’s indifference to the sources of its experience and of its capacity for multiple connections with other agencies and machines. The perceiver here becomes a neutral conduit, one kind of relay among others allowing optimum conditions of circulation and exchangeability, whether it be of commodities, energy, capital, images, or information. (94) Undoubtedly, Crary is recalling Baudrillard’s view of the sign in modernity, which he refers to earlier in the book. The sign in modernity is severed from its referent and floats freely, making heterogeneous

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values equivalent and indifferent – a condition best exemplified by the infinite reproducibility of the photograph (11–13). In the same system of ‘circulation and exchangeability’, the eye can be connected to the other sensory organs, and vision to the other sense perceptions – in other words, the possibility of synaesthesia emerges. Crary notes that physiologists’ discovery of the new visual field as a ‘pure’ surface paralleled the new idea of vision held by artists such as Ruskin, Cézanne and Monet – the idea of the ‘innocent eye’ free of signification (95–6) – and he later discusses Turner as representing the best artistic example of the new paradigm of vision (138–41). He does not discuss synaesthesia in relation to these artists, but by showing how the possibility of synaesthesia emerged in physiology, he illuminates the epistemological condition in which synaesthesia could appear in art – the condition in which the circulation and exchangeability of different values were dominant. It is important to note that it was under this same condition that technologies to do with vision, including photography and film, were invented. Once vision was set free from the camera obscura model and lodged in the subjective corporeality, it became not only autonomised and separated from the other senses but also vulnerable to various techniques for controlling and modifying it (24).21 Crary mainly discusses now obsolete optical devices such as the stereoscope, paying less attention to photography and almost ignoring film.22 However, it is evident that film would never have been invented without the physiological discovery of the retinal afterimage. Unlike McLuhan, who simplistically attributes synaesthesia to the emergence of electric media, Crary illuminates how both the technologies of vision and synaesthesia became possible in the new paradigm of vision. Despite differences in formulation, the three theories are all concerned, directly or indirectly, with the way in which synaesthesia became prominent in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in tandem with the growing influence of new media technologies on the human body and senses. The relation between technology and human sensory life was certainly not simple. The new media technologies no doubt contributed to the fragmentation of the body and senses (Kittler), whilst at the same time foregrounding synaesthesia (McLuhan). Yet as Crary maintains with regard to vision, the new technologies and synaesthesia were possible only after and because of the fundamental epistemological shift in the early nineteenth century. It is undeniable in any case that the permeation of new media technologies into human life went hand in hand with the prosthetisation of the

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body and senses, or the production of the prosthetic body and the prosthetic senses. The prosthetic body is made up of foreign body parts that are akin to removable and exchangeable prostheses. It is a fragmented body, but fragmentation is tied up with the possibility of reorganisation – the arbitrary recombination of body parts as prostheses. The prosthetic senses are primarily the senses (the visual and acoustic senses in particular) individually heightened by new technologies. But they are also inseparable from synaesthesia because after all they are part of the prosthetic body and therefore subject to mutual confusion and exchange. Both the body and the senses are subject to fragmentation, equation and recombination at the same time, as if to follow the logic of capitalism. In the previous chapters, I examined the prosthetic body in Beckett. Now it is time to turn to the prosthetic senses in his work. Beckett was one of the many avant-garde artists who registered the impact of new media technologies on the body and senses and explored the perceptual and sensuous dimensions opened up by these technologies. His art seems to involve the dual tendencies of the senses in the age of advanced media technology I have explored in this section: simultaneous separation and fusion. He effectively used audio and visual technologies to explore the auditory and visual senses in their prosthetically heightened and isolated states. On the other hand, his art shows a deep concern with synaesthesia as part of the formless body. Leaving the former aspect for the subsequent chapters, I will now start to consider synaesthesia in his work. The final part on Not I will show how the two tendencies coexist in that play.

Synaesthesia in Beckett’s early work Beckett’s concern with synaesthesia is evident in his early work. In discussing Work in Progress in ‘Dante    Bruno . Vico . . Joyce’ (1929), he addresses the synaesthetic quality of James Joyce’s work: ‘It is not written at all. It is not to be read – or rather it is not only to be read. It is to be looked at and listened to’; ‘[I]ts adequate apprehension depends as much on its visibility as on its audibility’ (Disjecta 27, 28). Along with modernists such as Eisenstein and Moholy-Nagy, Beckett was one of the many authors who noted the innovative potential of synaesthesia in Finnegans Wake.23 This aspect of Joyce’s work has recently been discussed in terms of the technologies and media that began to permeate people’s lives and experiences from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. In Beyond the Word: Reconstructing Sense in the Joyce Era of Technology, Culture, and Communication, Donald Theall, who further

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develops McLuhan’s media studies, argues that Joyce’s work, especially Finnegans Wake, is the most important exploration of how sensibility was transformed in the age of new technologies and media. Just like McLuhan, he stresses that technological change and the subsequent emergence of new modes of communication evoked tactility, gesture and synaesthesia in art. Communication in the new technological age worked on various senses simultaneously and therefore went ‘beyond the word’ and the related privileging of the visual sense. Theall details the link between the new technologies of communication and Finnegans Wake, maintaining that ‘this enigmatic book is not only a polysemic, encyclopaedic book designed to be read with the simultaneous involvement of ear and eye, but it is also a self-reflexive book about the role of the book in the electro-machinic world of the new technology’ (12). In his essay on Joyce, Beckett does not directly address the technological changes behind Joyce’s innovation in literary language. It would be a mistake, however, to presume that in this formative period there was nothing that anticipated Beckett’s later engagement with technology. The imagery of the mechanised body in his early work (examined in relation to sexuality in Chapter 1) ties him to the many ‘mechanomodernists’ who explored the aesthetic possibilities of the technologised body and perception. Beckett was also very interested in film making, and in 1936 he went so far as to write a letter to Eisenstein for permission to work with him in Moscow (Knowlson 226). More generally, in his formative years Beckett was part of the environment in which art and literature sought renewal by engaging with new technologies and media. The magazine transition, which serialised Joyce’s Work in Progress and published some of Beckett’s earliest works including his Joyce essay, was attentive from the outset to the experiments in visual art and literature, and featured various artists’ explorations of the artistic possibilities of new media such as photography and film. Such explorations were regarded as inseparable from literary experiments that went beyond the word by involving all the senses. The February 1929 issue of transition (no. 15) carried artistic photographs by Man Ray and Moholy-Nagy. In the opening essay, the editor Eugene Jolas gave an overview of the latest developments in painting, music and architecture. With regard to painting, he acknowledged the impact of the camera as follows: With the development of technology, the possibilities for enlarging the magical have become automatically emphasized. The new use of the camera, with its light and dark contrasts, has made it possible to

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create expressions of the enigmatic and marvellous, beyond all our expectations. (‘Super-Occident’ 14) His main intention, however, was to stress the urgent need to revolutionise literature. In a tone that anticipates Beckett’s ‘German Letter of 1937’ (to which I will return soon), Jolas insisted that literature should not lag behind the other genres: While these arts are going ahead, literature is still rooted in the ideas of the past. The reality of the universal word is still being neglected. Never has a revolution been more imperative. We need the twentieth century word. We need the word of movement, the word expressive of the great new forces around us. Huge, unheard-of combinations must be attempted in line with the general tendency of the age. We need the technological word, the word of sleep, the word of half-sleep, the word of chemistry, biology, the automatic word of the dream, etc. With this must go the attempt to weaken the rigidity of the old syntactic arrangements. The new vocabulary and the new syntax must help destroy the ideology of a rotting civilization. (‘SuperOccident’ 15) It is evident that Jolas was thinking mainly of Joyce’s Work in Progress when describing the features of the future word and literature. His reference to ‘the technological word’ as an important feature of the new literature suggests a close link between literary experiments, as represented by Work in Progress, and the impact of technology on the arts. The general idea expressed here crystallised into a proclamation of the ‘Revolution of the Word’ in the subsequent issue (nos 16–17 in June 1929).24 It was also in this issue that Beckett made his debut in the magazine – or better, in the authentic literary circle in general – publishing ‘Dante    Bruno . Vico . . Joyce’ and ‘Assumption’. Although the proclamation does not refer to technology, it is clear that Jolas believed that technology would help the revolution of the word. In his essay ‘Logos’ in the same issue, he mentioned the change of perceptions brought about by film: ‘Poetry, using the words as mechanics, may, like the film, produce a metaphoric universe which is a sublimation of the physical world’ (16). Six years later he explicitly referred to the importance of modern technology in his conception of revolutionary literature: ‘The mutation now going on, which is helped dynamically by the new technological means such as the cinema, the radio, and other mechanical forces, is about to create a linguistic interpenetration

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that will doubtless have its effect on the final morphological process of modern languages’ (‘Workshop’ 104). He considered that the new literary language should explore the irrational unconscious realm that he believed to be ‘identical in all races throughout the world’ (103). By reaching for such a universal substratum of the psyche, it would overcome the barriers of national languages, and modern technology would assist this process by linking the world into what McLuhan calls ‘a global village’. Needless to say, ‘the cinema, the radio, and other mechanical forces’ also facilitated the interpenetration of genres, which transition was aiming at from the outset. Beckett’s Proust (1931) also shows his interest in the new media technologies. He pays attention to the passages in Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past where the narrator marvels at the extraordinary reality that the telephone and photography reveal. The voice (of the narrator’s grandmother) on the telephone sounds strangely real because it is cut off from the body. It is also ghostly because it is both present and absent.25 Beckett immediately goes on to discuss the passage in Proust where the narrator closely inspects his grandmother, as if through the lens of a camera, and finds her virtually dead. These episodes in Proust’s novel show that the new media technologies could expand the visual and acoustic senses separately and reveal a reality that eludes normal perception. Beckett’s Proust essay also suggests that he is responding to synaesthetic sensibility. But it is less overtly linked to technology and therefore is different in kind from that of Joyce and those in the transition circle. The work of involuntary memory that Beckett admiringly discusses is nothing other than synaesthetic in that it involves all the senses. He lists instances of involuntary memory in Remembrance of Things Past. They are induced not only by sight, as in ‘The steeples of Martinville, seen from Dr. Percepied’s trap’, but also by taste, smell, sound and touch: ‘The madeleine steeped in an infusion of tea’, ‘A musty smell in a public lavatory in the Champs Elysées’, ‘The noise of a spoon against a plate’, ‘He wipes his mouth with a napkin’ (36–7). The operation of involuntary memory thus seems to cross the ordinary sensory division. Sometimes what we might call a general kinetic sense is involved, as in ‘He stoops to unbutton his boots on the occasion of his second visit to the Grand Hotel at Balbec’, and ‘Uneven cobbles in the courtyard of the Guermantes Hotel’ (37). The former suddenly evokes the kindness of the narrator’s grandmother in the past, while the latter, making him stumble, carries him to the forgotten days he spent in Venice.

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Later in the essay, Beckett argues that unlike the intellectual evocation of the past (voluntary memory), which rejects as insignificant ‘whatever word or gesture, sound or perfume, cannot be fitted into the puzzle of a concept’ (72), involuntary memory springs from precisely those elements and brings back ‘the total past sensation, not its echo nor its copy, but the sensation itself’ to engulf the subject (72). In other words, involuntary memory revives the deeper realm of sensation that includes all the senses, even if it may be triggered by one particular sense. Merleau-Ponty, who emphasises the importance of the communion of the body and the world in our sensory experience, calls this realm ‘a “primary layer” of sense experience which precedes its division among the separate senses’ (Phenomenology 227). Following Paul Schilder, he maintains that once we suspend our scientific attitude towards the world, we find that synaesthetic perception – which emerges in that primary layer – is nothing exceptional: ‘Synaesthetic perception is the rule, and we are unaware of it only because scientific knowledge shifts the centre of gravity of experience [  ]’ (229). Involuntary memory is a deeply physical phenomenon that is rooted in the synaesthetic realm prior to sensory division. This is not unrelated to Beckett’s observation that Proust does not record the surface reality but ‘searches for a relation, a common factor, substrata’. It means that Proust perceives a situation indirectly through ‘intermediate’ stimuli. Beckett argues: Withdrawn in his cool dark room at Combray he extracts the total essence of a scorching midday from the scarlet stellar blows of a hammer in the street and the chamber-music of flies in the gloom. Lying in bed at dawn, the exact quality of the weather, temperature and visibility, is transmitted to him in terms of sound, in the chimes and the calls of the hawkers. Thus can be explained the primacy of instinctive perception – intuition – in the Proustian world. (83) What Beckett calls ‘instinctive perception’ or ‘intuition’ here could also be described as synaesthetic perception, in which the auditory sense is transferred to the sense of heat. Though Beckett does not particularly focus on the question of the senses in his study, it can be surmised that in his tenacious engagement with Proust’s world, he was made even more sensitive to the operation of the senses and the deeper, synaesthetic realm in the human experience. Let us now look at Beckett’s fiction for signs of synaesthetic sensibility. Dream of Fair to Middling Women clearly shows that the young Beckett placed language and literature in close relation to the visual and auditory

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senses. In this novel, Belacqua tells his girlfriend the Alba about shortor long-sightedness in poetry, using the term ‘verbal retina’ (170). When the Alba asks him whether a word can have a retina, Belacqua says, ‘I could justify my figure, [  ] if I could be bothered. Words shall put forth for me the organs that I choose. Need I remind you how they relieved themselves under Apollinaire?’ (171). It is fairly likely that Belacqua is referring to Apollinaire’s visual poem calligramme. At another point Belacqua tells the Mandarin about the enormous silence he discerns in Rimbaud and Beethoven: ‘The terms of [their] statements serve merely to delimit the reality of insane areas of silence, whose audibilities are no more than punctuation in a statement of silences’ (102). It is well known that the young Beckett was infatuated with Rimbaud. He translated Rimbaud’s Drunken Boat into English around the same time as he wrote Dream. Rimbaud’s ‘Vowels’, which sparked enthusiasm for synaesthesia in fin de siècle Europe, was also familiar to him. According to James Knowlson, for the Stuttgart television version of What Where, Beckett considered using colours for the different characters in accordance with Rimbaud’s allocation of colours to vowels (686).26 Belacqua’s idea of visual and auditory literature culminates in a passage where he plans to write a book of his own. As I discussed in the previous chapter in relation to the body’s boundaries, he wants his book to be invaded and disintegrated by silence, just as Rembrandt’s paintings and Beethoven’s music are in his view. He says of Beethoven: I think of his earlier compositions where into the body of the musical statement he incorporates a punctuation of dehiscence, flottements, the coherence gone to pieces, the continuity bitched to hell because the units of continuity have abdicated their unity, they have gone multiple, they fall apart, the notes fly about, a blizzard of electrons; and then vespertine compositions eaten away with terrible silences. (139) Such conditions are ideal for Belacqua’s own book. Beckett reformulates this idea in the ‘German Letter of 1937’. Insisting that we should do everything to discredit language by boring holes in it, he asks: [I]s literature alone to remain behind in the old lazy ways that have been so long ago abandoned by music and painting? Is there something paralysingly holy in the vicious nature of the word that is not found in the elements of the other arts? Is there any reason why that terrible materiality of the word surface should not be dissolved,

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like for example the sound surface, torn by enormous pauses, of Beethoven’s seventh Symphony [  ]? (Disjecta 172) It is therefore possible to argue that when Beckett was in the process of forming his artistic credos, he always thought of literature in close relation to painting and music, or the visual and auditory senses. This points to the fundamentally synaesthetic nature of his artistic sensibility. However, his uniqueness seems to lie in the fact that his idea of painterly or musical language was inseparable from his attempt to reach for silence, as is clear in Dream and the ‘German Letter’. In symbolism and modernism, the pursuit of visuality and musicality in literature was often linked to the relegation of the communicative function of language as a vehicle of messages, and from this emerged the opaque materiality or ‘being’ of language. Beckett’s synaesthetic conception of language and literature seems to go against this general tendency in its attempt to dissolve the ‘materiality of the word surface’ by means of silence. Painting and music could become literature’s models only because Beckett perceived silence in them. Another important point in this connection is that Beckett was also interested in the phenomenon of ‘coenaesthesis’, which is comparable to synaesthesia.27 The Oxford English Dictionary defines this as follows: ‘The general sense or feeling of existence arising from the sum of bodily impressions, as distinct from the definite sensations of the special senses; the vital sense’. Roughly put, while synaesthesia is a confusion of already articulated senses, coenaesthesis is a general sense prior to the articulation of specific senses. But the two might be related to each other as both are in opposition to the generally held assumption that each sense is clearly divided. Moreover, coenaesthesis, as ‘the sum of bodily impressions’, could be a kind of matrix from which synaesthesia can arise. In order for synaesthesia to be possible, there must be a general sensory realm in which the different senses are mediated. The Proustian involuntary memory, which I have just examined, is a case in point. It could be said that it works through coenaesthesis precisely, though it may be triggered by one specific sense. Coenaesthesis, then, equals what Merleau-Ponty means by synaesthesia: ‘the realm prior to sensory division’. In a sense, it is a matter of emphasis: either we highlight the manifest cross-connection of the senses or the hidden prior sensory realm upon which this cross-connection is based.28 Beckett probably became familiar with the word coenaesthesis when reading the English translation of Max Nordau’s Degeneration (1895).

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Originally published in German in 1892, this book caused a considerable sensation among European intellectuals of the day by enhancing the fin de siècle anxiety that European civilisation was degenerating. Beckett’s Dream Notebook registers numerous notes he took from this book. Item [664] records the general meaning of this term, noting that it is a dim sense of the ego devoid of consciousness in the cerebral state. Item [666], which refers to coenaesthesis in the prenatal period, reveals Beckett’s persistent obsession with the womb. Building on these notes, Beckett uses this term twice in Dream. When Belacqua arrives in Paris after a long and exhausting journey, he receives a strange sensation from the dawn dusk that surrounds him: ‘But it was only a dim impression, no more than the tumultuous coenaesthesis (Bravo!) of the degenerate subject’ (32). Here Beckett makes clear the allusion to Nordau (‘the degenerate subject’), and the insertion of ‘Bravo!’ seems to imply his awareness of the inappropriate heaviness of this obscure technical term. Later in the novel, there is a description of Belacqua’s doomed attempt to bring about the blissful state of the ‘wombtomb’. It includes the following passage: ‘in every imaginable way he flogged on his coenaesthesis to enwomb him, to exclude the bric-à-brac and expunge his consciousness’ (123). Just like item [666] in the Notebook, this passage reflects Beckett’s concern with the link between coenaesthesis and the womb. This link is only natural because in the intrauterine state, where there cannot be any articulate perception of the inner or outer world, coenaesthesis must be the predominant sensation. It is only dimly felt and fundamentally antithetical to cerebral consciousness.29 Coenaesthesis strongly appealed to Beckett because it evoked the state of the ‘wombtomb’. Beckett’s two notes about coenaesthesis are taken from the chapter on the psychology of ‘ego-mania’ in Nordau’s Degeneration. Nordau maintains that the distinction between the ‘Ego’ and the ‘non-Ego’ is an illusion because each organism is after all a part of the whole universe. The advance of humanity lies in reaching the conception of the ‘not-I’ or the external world, after overcoming both the infantile preoccupation with the internal organic process – that is, coenaesthesis – and the clear consciousness of an individual ego. Nordau says: Development advances from the unconscious organic ‘I’ to the clear conscious ‘I,’ and to the conception of the ‘not-I.’ The infant probably has coenaesthesis even before, in any case after, its birth, for it feels its vital internal processes, shows satisfaction when they are in healthy action, manifests its discomfort by movements and cries, which are

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also only a movement of the respiratory and laryngeal muscles, when any disturbances appear there, perceives and expresses general states of the organism, such as hunger, thirst and fatigue. (251–2) This is the passage that induced Beckett’s note on coenaesthesis before birth (item [666]). In Nordau’s view, the insane or degenerate person has not departed from the infantile state. He is an ‘ego-maniac’ who can hardly perceive the external world. Using this framework, Nordau in Book III (‘Ego-Mania’) goes on to denounce major artists of his time, including Baudelaire (for smelling colours) and his followers (for hearing colours) (cf. 296). For him, those artists were pathologically regressive and therefore degenerate. At another point, Nordau refers to Rimbaud’s ‘The Vowels’ (139) and denounces colour hearing in the symbolists’ poems as madness, before presenting the devastating conclusion that ‘[t]o raise the combination, transposition and confusion of the perceptions of sound and sight to the rank of a principle of art, to see futurity in this principle, is to designate as progress the return from the consciousness of man to that of the oyster’ (142). Without using the term, Nordau thus dismisses synaesthesia as an alarming reversion to the state of a lower creature, while modernists in the twentieth century, including Beckett, actively explored and exploited the possibilities of the sensory disorder opened up by Baudelaire and Rimbaud. Beckett did not take any note of Nordau’s discussions of colour hearing. It is possible to say, however, that in Nordau’s view there is an implicit link between synaesthesia and coenaesthesis because he discusses the synaesthetic sensibility (as represented by colour hearing) of Baudelaire and his followers in the framework of ego-mania, which is closely linked to coenaesthesis. Both synaesthesia and coenaesthesis indicate regression to the earlier psychic state. Their link to regression is plausible even leaving aside Nordau’s discussions, because in the undeveloped psychic state the body is disorganised and the organs, including those dealing with the senses, are not totally differentiated. It seems certain that Nordau’s description of the regressive state in respect of synaesthesia and coenaesthesis hit a chord in Beckett’s self-analytical mind because of its relevance to his obsession with the intrauterine period. Apart from this, there may be other reasons why Beckett studied Nordau’s book so seriously, despite its superficial denunciation of contemporary art.30 The Dream Notebook shows that at this time Beckett was avidly reading books on sexual perversity and eccentricity.31 He might have been similarly interested in the way in which Nordau

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analysed art pathologically, linking it to perversity and degeneration. Also, the young Beckett’s misogyny (see Chapter 1) might have been relevant. The idea of degeneration that Nordau and others propagated was closely related to the fear of women in the late nineteenth century. William Greenslade provides an overview of this context as follows: Fear and anxiety extended to sexuality, particularly fear of female sexuality by men. This took extreme forms as in Otto Weininger’s polemics, or the misogyny of Schopenhauer and the paranoia of Strindberg. Images from art and literature at the fin de siècle [  ] show how fear of loss of control led to distorted projections of attraction and threat in the destructive figure of the vampire or parasite. Images of reversion to lower states of animality signified the uncontrollable mystery of female desire. (18–19) Beckett’s early work clearly manifests such anxiety about female sexuality. It is likely that his well-known enthusiasm for Schopenhauer was at least partly due to the latter’s misogyny. Like other modernists, Beckett actively explored the delirium of the mind that Nordau denounced as degenerate. However, in terms of misogyny, the young Beckett might have been in line with Nordau and what he represented. Beckett continued to use the term coenaesthesis. In More Pricks than Kicks, Belacqua’s feeling is likened to ‘the coenaesthesis of the consultant when he finds the surgeon out’ in ‘Love and Lethe’ (99), and Smeraldina’s mental state is described as ‘a teary coenaesthesis’ in ‘Draff’ (175). Molloy says ‘coenaesthetically speaking of course’ when describing his physical conditions (54). And in ‘Three Dialogues’, Beckett uses an almost identical term when commenting on Tal Coat: ‘In any case a thrusting towards a more adequate expression of natural experience, as revealed to the vigilant coenaesthesia’ (Disjecta 138). From what we have seen so far, it is not surprising that in The Painted Word: Samuel Beckett’s Dialogues with Art, Lois Oppenheim quotes the last of these passages. She does so in order to buttress her main argument that Beckett’s art criticism reveals his Merleau-Pontyian conception of the world, which emphasises the intertwining of the self and the world in pre-objective experience and thus overcomes objectifying thought (102). When discussing Beckett’s Proust, I noted that involuntary memory is rooted in a general sensory realm prior to sensory division, and as such is congenial to Merleau-Ponty’s idea of the essential interplay of the senses. Oppenheim detects in Beckett’s art criticism a resurfacing of the Merleau-Pontyian sensibility expressed in Proust.

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As I argued earlier, synaesthesia can be regarded as part of the general economy of the body in pieces, in which the bodily organs are divided and recombined. And yet, it seems that it inevitably foregrounds the primary dimension of coenaesthesis as something like its shadow. If the Joycean technology-related synaesthesia directly reflects the logic of division and recombination, the Proustian involuntary memory represents the primordial coenaesthetic realm. It is noteworthy that the young Beckett was exposed to and interested in both.

Synaesthesia in Beckett’s later work Beckett’s later advance into genres such as theatre, radio, film and television enabled him to experiment with the interplay of language, vision and music that he so passionately called for in his early years. It is well known that when he directed his own plays, he often behaved like a conductor of an orchestra or a painter. One of the most striking testimonies is Billie Whitelaw’s following comment. While Beckett was directing her, she felt ‘like a moving, musical, Edvard Munch painting – one felt like all three – and in fact when Beckett was directing Footfalls, he was not only using me to play the notes, but I almost felt that he did have the paintbrush out and was painting [  ]’ (quoted in Knowlson 624). James Knowlson, in his biography of Beckett, repeatedly points out that many of the paintings that had impressed Beckett ‘resurfaced when he came to create his own visual images for the stage or to realise his plays on the stage as his own director’ (256). He also notes that ‘[w]hile directing his own plays, musical terms like “piano”, “fortissimo”, “andante”, “allegro”, “da capo”, “cadenza” tripped lightly off his tongue at rehearsals’ (655). In Knowlson’s view, ‘ “[c]onducting” is a more appropriate word for what he was doing as a director. Sitting behind him, Rosemary Pountney noticed, as the actors spoke their lines, that his left hand was beating out the rhythms like Karajan’ (668). There is no doubt that Beckett’s original vision, which he subsequently tried to realise on the stage, was both musical and painterly. In this sense, his fundamental attitude towards literature remained unchanged from his younger days when he wrote Dream of Fair to Middling Women and the ‘German Letter of 1937’. It is to this synaesthetic quality of Beckett’s art that Gilles Deleuze responds (in ‘The Exhausted’), when he discerns a special kind of language (‘language III’), which is open to visual and auditory dimensions. He finds this language in Beckett’s later work, the television plays in particular, but he also connects it to the ‘German

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Letter’ and Belacqua’s conception of new literature in Dream of Fair to Middling Women (ECC 158, 164, 172–3). When we consider Beckett’s use of technology, we need to be aware that an artificially isolated sense – the obvious ‘prosthetic sense’ – is still related to synaesthetic sensibility at a deeper level. It is notable that before Beckett began to combine sound technology (recorded voice) and visual technology (the camera) effectively in Eh Joe (1966), he experimented with each technology separately. With his radio dramas such as All That Fall (1957) and Embers (1959), he first explored how sound, given in isolation from vision, could still evoke vision in the mind, due to the synaesthetic linkage between the two sensory channels. Martin Esslin says, ‘Concentrated listening to a radio play is [  ] more akin to the experience one undergoes when dreaming than to that of the reader of a novel: the mind is turned inwards to a field of internal vision’ (177). Therefore the radio was a suitable medium for the innovative twentieth-century literature that explored ‘the inner landscape of the soul’ (178). The same was true of the silent film, the possibilities of which Beckett seems to have believed in so strongly that his only film – Film (1965) – was almost totally silent. He may have been interested in the synaesthetic sensibility that enabled the audience to have ‘acoustic experiences’ when viewing a silent film. Even after Beckett began to combine sound and visual technologies, he tried hard to coordinate sound and vision to be faithful to his original synaesthetic conception. I will discuss Beckett’s involvement with visual technology and sound technology in detail in the next two chapters. At the moment, it is to be noted that even in his prose works there are some peculiar instances of synaesthesia.32 In The Unnamable, for instance, the question of language is largely reduced to that of being forced to hear the voice or noise. But the narrator’s visual perception, particularly of dim lights, runs parallel to his hearing. A ‘vice-exister’ Worm ‘does not suffer from the noise alone, he suffers from the grey too, from the light’ (368). And hearing and seeing can sometimes be mixed. At one point the narrator says, ‘Decidedly this eye is hard of hearing. Noises travel, traverse walls, but may the same be said of appearances? By no means, generally speaking. But the present case is rather special’ (364). This is a world where the distinction between vision and hearing has little meaning. Accordingly, the narrator wonders whether silence is grey or black (368–9). This is probably related to the novel’s evocation of regression to the early psychic stages, especially the intrauterine period. The space of Company is characterised by a similar correlation between sound and light: ‘By the

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voice a faint light is shed. Dark lightens while it sounds. Deepens when it ebbs’ (25). The French text makes the link even more explicit: ‘La voix émet une lueur’ (Compagnie 24).33 As I will show later, Not I reproduces the simultaneous perception of voice and light in the above-mentioned passage in The Unnamable. It is therefore certain that synaesthetic sensibility kept running at a deep level in Beckett’s art. The fact that he always thought of literature in close relation to music and painting suggests that his aesthetic view lay in the realm prior to division of the senses and the media. The images of disintegration, punctuation and surface piercing in his early work, which were equally connected to literature, music and painting, also suggest that his sensibility was coenaesthetic or tactile before being specifically visual or acoustic. This does not mean, however, that Beckett’s work is amenable to actual mixed-media collaboration. In this regard Beckett makes a sharp contrast to modernists such as Jean Cocteau, whose Parade, with Picasso’s designs and Satie’s music, is a prime example of mixed-media collaboration in modernism.34 There are quite a few indications of Beckett’s aversion to mixed-media collaboration. One of the earliest examples can be found towards the end of Proust where Beckett denounces opera as corrupting the immateriality of music with words (92). This conviction does not seem to have faltered even in his later career. In the case of the set of Waiting for Godot, for instance, he argued against appropriation of theatre set design by painting and rejected the Wagnerian collaboration of arts.35 For Beckett, Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk was nothing but a naïve assemblage of media. It is well known that Beckett tried to control everything as director of his own plays and tended to be intolerant of their adaptation. He tyrannically forced his actors and actresses to conform to his vision, which was both musical and painterly. It is plausible that because he regarded his vision as absolute, he did not want his chosen medium to be contaminated by other media. Therefore, even if his vision was synaesthetic and involved musical or painterly elements, he would stick to literature, the art of words. Of course he went back and forth between theatre and prose in his later career, but he never believed that actual music or paintings were suitable for expressing his vision.36 Finally, I want to analyse Not I as a play that interestingly illustrates the points made in this chapter. The play spotlights a woman’s mouth. The eerie impression that one body part has been cut off and isolated is even stronger in its television version (first produced in 1975 and broadcast

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in 1977), which shows a close-up of a mouth pouring forth torrents of words. But however bewildering the mouth in close-up may seem, it is nothing new if we think of the photographic and cinematographic experiments of the 1920s. First, there was a prevalent concern with the fragmented body around the turn of the twentieth century. The photographic technique of close-up was an ideal means to present a fragmented body with isolated body parts, and early photographers and cinematographers relished it. The surrealist photographers, especially Man Ray, produced many photographs that cut off and closed up on body parts.37 And Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy’s film Ballet Mécanique (1924), for instance, frequently shows a close-up of a woman’s mouth and eyes. In this experimental film, the repetitive movements of both machines and people are presented in the same plane, so that we are impressed with the interpenetration of the machine and the human (the mechanisation of the human or humanisation of the machine).38 The fragmentation of the body is in keeping with this feature because the bodily organs can easily be identified with mechanical parts, just as in Marinetti. Not I also shows the simultaneous fragmentation and mechanisation of the body. In Not I, Mouth says that ‘she’ is feeling a dull roar or buzzing and a ray like moonbeam in the dark. This could be regarded as a reproduction of the passage in The Unnamable, where the narrator is suffering simultaneously from the voice and the dim light. In that scene, the visual and auditory senses are cross-connected to produce a synaesthetic sense (‘Decidedly, this eye is hard of hearing’), which suggests regression to a primordial psychic state. It is possible to discern vestiges of this situation in Mouth’s narrative. Five times it mentions the buzzing in close connection with the beam, as in the following line: ‘for she could still hear the buzzing    so-called    in the ears    and a ray of light came and went’ (CDW 377). It is as if the buzzing could not be mentioned without reference to the beam. Mouth also says that the buzzing is occurring in the skull: ‘all the time the buzzing    so-called    in the ears    though of course actually    not in the ears at all    in the skull    dull roar in the skull’ (378). Inside the skull, which is often a spatial analogue of the mind in Beckett’s work, sensory division might indeed be immaterial. Despite the technical limitations, the stage version of Not I goes as far as possible to approximate this original synaesthetic situation and to involve us in it. We share the same situation as Mouth in that just as ‘she’ hears buzzing and sees a ray, we hear Mouth’s flow of words as a kind of buzz and see a beam spotlighting it in the dark, even if the presence of Auditor helps us to detach ourselves

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from this involvement. Moreover, the spotlight can create the illusion that light is coming from Mouth. Then, voice and light might indeed be confused and approach the synaesthetic condition in The Unnamable (and in Company, where voice emits light). There are subtler correspondences to be noted between Mouth’s situation and ours. As I discussed in the previous chapter, Mouth imagines the body to be a machine, and with detachment describes the opening and shutting of the eyelids and the movements of the lips, cheeks, jaws and tongue in the act of speaking, as though they were external and unfamiliar mechanical processes. These organs are conceived as prostheses. It may be said that corresponding defamiliarisation of the organs takes place for the audience as well: seeing and hearing are both defamiliarised by the unfamiliar sight of a mouth in isolation and the unfamiliar sound of Mouth’s gibberish. In particular the eye is estranged by being forced to concentrate on an unusual sight. Because the eye cannot apprehend the sight adequately, we cannot help being conscious of the act of seeing itself or the eye itself. As Enoch Brater suggests, we may even feel conscious of the camera-like quality of our eyes.39 As regards the mouth and the act of speaking, even if we are not induced to experience their foreignness directly, the view of a speaking mouth will at least make us realise that the act of speaking is a rather peculiar phenomenon. These defamiliarising effects are enhanced in the television version, where the huge Mouth occupies the entire screen. But this is not all. As is often pointed out, Mouth on the television screen can remind us of the vagina – the ‘godforsaken hole’ at the beginning of Mouth’s narrative – and unsettle us.40 This is not only because the mouth and the vagina are similar in shape, but also because we are put into the position of a voyeur who obscenely watches a particular part of the female body. As sexual desire is evoked (if only vaguely) in this way, our gaze is brought down to its sheer physicality. This is a crucial point in view of the fact that in the Beckettian prosthetic body the organs as prostheses are often confused with and exchanged for each other. In Mouth’s narrative, there is a suggestion that the stream of words is equated with vomit or excrement, as when, urged to speak, ‘she’ goes to the ‘nearest lavatory’ to ‘start pouring it out’ (382). Considering the frequent equation of the mouth and the anus in Beckett, the analogy with excrement is not far-fetched, as noted in the previous chapter. If we pay close attention to the text, we can see that Mouth’s description of the opening and shutting of the eyelids is similar to the movements of the mouth that we are watching.41 Thus the mouth easily lends itself to association with other orifices. Our eyes are confronted

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with the general confusion of the organs, which is characteristic of the Beckettian prosthetic body. I started with the primordial synaesthetic situation in which the eye and the ear, vision and hearing are mixed. Then, using the technique of close-up in the television version, Beckett makes our eyes into a sort of camera eye that intensifies our vision in isolation. This works to stress the separation of hearing and seeing. However, what emerges after all is the involvement of the eye in the general confusion of the organs. It appears as though we have returned to the original primordial situation. I examined earlier how in the nineteenth century the possibility of synaesthesia arose while new technologies served to divide the senses, and how modernism in art and literature registered both the separation and the fusion of the senses. The television version of Not I illustrates how these two seemingly contradictory tendencies are combined. Here the camera eye, the prosthesis that expands the capacity of vision in isolation, encounters confusion of the organs, which would entail confusion of the senses as well. In other words, prosthesis in the ordinary sense is involved in a peculiar physical condition in which the organs themselves are confused or exchanged like so many prostheses. Not only does Not I defamiliarise the organs such as the eye and mouth, it also attempts to involve us in the eeriness of the formless body. In evoking sexual desire in the gaze, Beckett of Not I is moving into the territory of his one-time chess partner, Marcel Duchamp. In her The Optical Unconscious, Rosalind Krauss demonstrates how carnal and physical the visuality in Duchamp’s art is. This is most explicit in the case of Etant donnés, which makes us peep at the female genital organ through a hole in a door. But more relevant in the present context is the enterprise called ‘Precision Optics’, to which Duchamp was committed in the 1920s and 1930s. This involves turning discs (‘rotoreliefs’) whose various patterns evoke erotic optical illusions. Krauss describes how Duchamp engages our eyes in the general confusion of the organs, evoking sexual desire in the process: The rhythm of the turning discs is the rhythm of substitution as, at an iconic level, various organs replace one another in an utterly circular associative chain. First there is the disc as eye; then it appears as breasts; this then gives way to the fictive presence of a uterine cavity and the implication of sexual penetration. And within this pulse, as it carries one from part-object to part-object, advancing and receding through the illusion of this three-dimensional space, there

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is also a hint of the persecutory threat that the object poses for the viewer, a threat carried by the very metamorphic rhythm itself, as its constant thrusting of the form into a state of dissolve brings on the experience of formlessness, seeming to overwhelm the once-bounded object with the condition of the informe. (137) The similarity to Not I (the television version in particular) is striking. Vision is confronted with a confusion of the organs that leads to an underlying sense of formlessness. As Krauss makes clear, Duchamp made use of the optical devices that nineteenth-century physiologists employed to explore the physicality of vision – those devices that Jonathan Crary discusses. Duchamp’s enterprise can be situated ‘at a kind of threshold or bridge between a nineteenth-century psychophysiological theory of vision and a later, psychoanalytic one’ (Krauss 135). Duchamp also challenged the modernist assumption (represented by Clement Greenberg) that the visuality required by modernist painting was instantaneous and devoid of physicality, just as with the older camera obscura model. Although Beckett did not explicitly refer to the kinds of optical device that Duchamp used, the comparison between him and Duchamp illuminates the nature of the gaze in his work, and induces us to situate his work in the context of visuality delineated by Crary and applied to art criticism by Krauss. As I will discuss in the next chapter, Beckett’s presentation of the eye always involves the physiological dimension, even when the eye seems to be equipped with a camera lens. Marcel Duchamp’s work certainly provides a prominent instance of the formless body in modernism which I discussed earlier in this chapter.42 Indeed, Hans Bellmer, whom I highlighted, mentions Duchamp’s rotoreliefs in his essay ‘Notes on the Subject of the Ball Joint’ (quoted in Taylor 214). Understandably, Bellmer is impressed with the apparent confusion of breast and penis (see Taylor 121). The formless, disintegrated body and its corollary – synaesthesia – are important undercurrents in modernism.43 This chapter has considered Beckett’s concern with synaesthesia in relation to these modernist undercurrents, marking its link to the prosthetic body. In the prosthetic body, the body parts are isolated and alienated like removable prostheses. The prosthetic sense is the sense that is heightened in isolation by technology. But just as the prosthetic body is also a disorganised body in which the organs can be confused, the prosthetic sense is subject to anarchic recombination and from this emerges synaesthesia. I have examined this structure

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as a historical process and situated Beckett’s work in it. Bearing in mind that the individual prosthetic senses are closely related to the realm of synaesthesia or the formless body as in the case of Not I, I will now turn to the two prosthetic senses in Beckett’s work: prosthetic vision with the camera eye and the prosthetic voice mediated by sound technology.

4 The Camera Eye

In the early twentieth century, when modernism flourished, the newly invented media technologies were permeating human life. The senses were more and more mediated by these technologies, and what I call the ‘prosthetic senses’ emerged. The senses were not simply technologically heightened but profoundly transformed in quality. Vision was no doubt heightened by photography, film and X-ray, but at the same time, the quality of human vision changed significantly. This chapter aims to situate Beckett’s art in the broad cultural context in which such a change in human vision occurred. Beckett was certainly one of the most important modernists who explored the new possibilities opened up by the camera eye. The camera eye is so representative of prosthesis for vision that it can almost be considered synonymous with prosthetic vision. I am going to examine how the camera eye as prosthesis is incorporated into Beckett’s work. In the process, a new type of interplay between the inside and the outside will come in sight as an aspect of the prosthetic body. This chapter will first examine Beckett’s engagement with cinematic art. Noting the bifurcation of human vision into the technological and the physiological in the age of technology, it will then turn to Film and compare this with Vladimir Nabokov’s novella The Eye. These two works exemplify the point at which not only visual perception but also selfconsciousness was represented with the camera eye. Next, the splitting of the self in Film will be connected to the theme of the double, with which a group of silent films were preoccupied, and Beckett’s television plays will be discussed in this light. Since Beckett’s camera pieces are mostly concerned with inner vision (vision of the inner mental space), due attention will be given to the image of the inner eye that is prevalent in Beckett from the trilogy onwards. The final section will 109

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analyse Ill Seen Ill Said, which seems to synthesise Beckett’s concerns with vision.

Beckett and the cinema For a discussion of the features of the camera eye in Beckett’s art, it would be appropriate to start by considering the relationship Beckett had with the cinema. Although a full exploration of this important but poorly researched subject is beyond the scope of this book, it may be possible at least to investigate the general cultural background in which the cinema impinged on Beckett’s artistic progress.1 In his biography of Beckett, James Knowlson reports that as an undergraduate in Dublin, Beckett enjoyed the early silent films featuring Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin (57). Later, in 1936, when Beckett was desperate to establish himself as a writer, he seriously studied the cinema. Knowlson writes: He had always been very interested in cinema. And at this time he borrowed many books on the subject, reading about Vsevolod Pudovkin and the theoretician, Rudolf Arnheim and going through back numbers of Close-Up. He even seriously considered going to Moscow to the State Institute of Cinematography, writing a letter to Sergei Eisenstein in which he asked him to take him on as a trainee. He thought that the possibilities for the silent film had been far from exhausted [  ]. (226) Knowlson then cites a letter in which Beckett states that despite the arrival of the talkie, the silent film would keep its independent position. The information here is obviously insufficient to give a coherent idea of what Beckett thought of the cinema.2 However, it is noteworthy that he believed in the possibilities of the silent film. It is well known that the appearance of the talkie in 1927 ignited a very heated debate among film critics. (Rudolf Arnheim was one of those critical of the talkie.) The film magazine Close Up (1927–33), the back issues of which Beckett read, was deeply involved in the debate from the outset. In October 1928, it published a significant statement on the sound film written by Eisenstein, Pudovkin and Alexandrov. These Soviet film makers maintained that because montage was the most important technique in the film, sound should be used to reinforce the effect of montage on the viewer – that is, sound’s ‘pronounced non-coincidence with the visual images’ was necessary, and therefore ‘a new orchestral counterpoint of sight-images and sound-images’ should be

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created (Donald et al. 84). One of the editors of the magazine, Kenneth Macpherson, first denounced the sound film as a regression to theatre, but he soon changed his position and admitted its value – an indication of how confused critics were at the time. In an overview of the debate, James Donald emphasises that not sound as such but synchronised speech was the issue: The emphasis on language, it was argued, would inevitably be bought at the expense of the inner speech that was supposedly invoked and conveyed by the art of silent montage. It would disrupt the integrity and coherence of film in the same way as intertitles and subtitles had done. (Donald et al. 79) It could be argued that this objection derived from the belief that the visual autonomy of the silent film should remain intact. It was feared that the introduction of synchronised speech would make film regress to theatre. It should be noted, however, that the sound film was not exactly a reversion to theatre, although it may have appeared so on the surface. The silent film presented a soundless world by separating vision from hearing and excluding the latter. This separation entailed not just new ways of seeing but also new ways of hearing. As Sara Danius argues, ‘to apprehend the absence of sound is also to rediscover sound, in effect to reinvent it – in its pure and abstract form’ (149). The silent film contributed to the technological separation and reinvention of sound ‘in its pure and abstract form’, which had already been under way since the mid-nineteenth century owing to the invention of various acoustic technologies. In the early twentieth century, the separate technological heightening of vision and hearing was considerably advanced. Therefore, the sound film should be described not as a regression to theatre, but as a newly invented means of recombining the two separated sensory channels. Awareness of the artistic potential of this disjunction seems to underlie the above-quoted pronouncement by the Soviet film directors, who advocated the non-coincidental, contrapuntal use of visual image and sound. Judging from Beckett’s interest in the possibilities of the silent film, it would not be far-fetched to suppose that he was conscious of the debate on the talkie. The literary magazine transition might have been another source of inspiration for his concern with film. It was one of the magazines that devoted serious attention to film, and as Michael North says, ‘the most active years in the publication life of transition, 1927– 1933, coincided with an extended crisis in the avant-garde’s relation to

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film [  ]’. During these years, transition itself became a kind of ‘logocinema’, ‘a hybrid object, not only multi-lingual but visual as well as verbal’ (65).3 Examining Eugene Jolas’ ‘logocinematic’ poetry, North concludes, ‘The synesthetic portmanteau words on which Jolas’ mature poetry depends so heavily are certainly indebted to Finnegans Wake, but they are also attempts to produce a verbal montage that would mimic the juxtapositional syntax of modern film editing’ (70). As I discussed in the previous chapter, Beckett must have been conscious of the synaesthetic, cross-generic experiments in transition. But probably because he believed that he could not slavishly follow Joyce’s path, he did not revel in the kind of verbal montage that characterised Jolas’ poetry. He may have been more interested in the synaesthetic effect produced by the separation of vision from hearing. When viewing a silent film, we imagine sound (including speech and music) in our mind due to the synaesthetic linkage between the two senses. In the silent film we ‘see’ sound, as it were. The fact that Beckett believed in the possibilities of the silent film suggests that he was attracted by the workings of the deeper synaesthetic sensibility exerted by the artificial isolation of vision.4 In any event, he later explored these possibilities when he produced Film. Before discussing this film, however, I want to turn to Beckett’s fiction because even if he did not make his prose explicitly cinematographic, the influence of the camera eye on his prose work is worth considering. Alan Spiegel, in his Fiction and the Camera Eye, examines how the cinematographic form in the novel developed – it was initiated by Flaubert, greatly sophisticated by Joyce, and diversely employed by many postJoycean novelists including the French New Novelists. He argues that even before the invention of film at the end of the nineteenth century, a certain visual consciousness that could be called cinematographic existed and significantly shaped the texture of the novels of Flaubert and his successors. The invention of film was the culmination of this general tendency (xii).5 But after Joyce’s time – that is, after film was invented – it became difficult for the novelist to escape from the influence of the cinematographic form. The camera eye is put on the novelist’s vision, whether he is conscious of it or not. Then what is the precise nature of the camera eye? It evidently expands the capacity of our vision as prosthesis and introduces us to hitherto unknown aspects of the world (what Benjamin calls ‘unconscious optics’). Because of this, it could significantly transform our entire world view if it infiltrates our vision. Spiegel cites the famous passage in Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, in which the narrator sees his grandmother with a photographer’s eye

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and keenly realises that she is different from his image of her. Spiegel says that ‘Proust reaffirms the first and oldest function of the camera as a semiautotelic device that mechanically records and reproduces whatever is present within its field of vision’ (85). As noted in the previous chapter, the young Beckett was just as sensitive to this photographic eye as he was to another technology in Proust’s novel, the telephone. In Proust, immediately after he admiringly discusses the significance of the telephone scene, Beckett turns to the camera eye:6 His gaze is no longer the necromancy that sees in each precious object a mirror of the past. The notion of what he should see has not had time to interfere its prism between the eye and its object. His eye functions with the cruel precision of a camera; it photographs the reality of his grandmother. And he realises with horror that his grandmother is dead, long since and many times [  ]. (27) Because habitual memory does not intervene, he is obliged to see his grandmother with ‘the cruel precision of a camera’, which evokes death. The camera destroys the familiar human dimension and reveals a striking reality. Beckett’s own fiction contains some evidence of the influence of the photographic gaze he analyses here. Spiegel distinguishes four features of the camera eye: adventitious detail, the anatomy of motion, depthlessness, and montage. It is not difficult to find examples of these features in Beckett’s fiction.7 Among them, depthlessness seems to be the most conspicuous. Spiegel defines this as follows: Since the photographic image depicts its subject only in terms of its physical surface, it tends to stress the subject’s purely structural, geometric, and material properties. Furthermore, the camera eye tends to de-emphasize and flatten out the depth of field that the human eye ordinarily perceives; to foreground and thus equalize everything in the visual field – people, objects, and surrounding environment – on the same flat, two-dimensional plane. (88) When such a photographic gaze is directed at human beings, they are often dehumanised and presented as automata, from which the seer or the reader is distanced and alienated (cf. 145–6). The following passage from Dream of Fair to Middling Women could be regarded as an example of depthlessness. In the quasi-masturbation scene (analysed in Chapter 1),

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Belacqua is recollecting how his girlfriend Smeraldina waved to him when her ship was leaving the Carlyle Pier: It might have been a tuft of grass growing the way she ripped it off her little head and began to wave it with an idiotic clockwork movement of her arm, up and down, not to flutter it like a handkerchief, but grasping it in the middle to raise it and lower it with a stiff arm as though she were doing an exercise with a dumb-bell. (4) What is supposed to be an emotional, or even tearful scene of parting is here rendered comical in Bergson’s sense because Smeraldina’s waving action is described without emotion as a mechanical repetition, as if in accordance with Belacqua’s mechanised quasi-masturbation. A very similar scene appears more than two decades later in From an Abandoned Work (1958). The narrator is describing his mother waving to him: Then I raised my eyes and saw my mother still in the window waving, waving me back or on I don’t know, or just waving, in sad helpless love, and I heard faintly her cries. The window-frame was green, pale, the house-wall grey and my mother white and so thin that I could see past her (piercing sight I had then) into the dark of the room, and on all that full the not long risen sun, and all small because of the distance, very pretty really the whole thing, I remember it, the old grey and then the thin green surround and the thin white against the dark, if only she could have been still and let me look at it all. No, for once I wanted to stand and look at something I couldn’t with her there waving and fluttering and swaying in and out of the window as though she were doing exercises, and for all I know she may have been, not bothering about me at all. (CSP 130, emphasis added) Again, a supposedly emotional scene is completely flattened out by a description that is devoid of depth, although this narrator does sound more self-conscious. Each item of the visual field is reduced to a colour – ‘the old grey [the house wall] and then the thin green surround [the window frame] and the thin white [his mother] against the dark [the room]’. And the mother’s waving is reduced to a mechanical exercise, just as in the passage in Dream. The apparent use of the camera eye to effect depthlessness in these instances enhances the impression of apathy or fundamental discommunication between human beings, which the young Beckett emphasised in Proust: ‘For the artist [  ] the rejection of friendship is not only reasonable, but a necessity. [  ] [A]rt is the

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apotheosis of solitude. There is no communication because there are no vehicles of communication’ (64).8 In Murphy, Beckett’s awareness of the cinema is explicit in a description of Ticklepenny: ‘Ticklepenny as though thrown on the silent screen by Griffith in midshot soft-focus sprawling on the bed’ (108).9 And the following description of Mr. Endon’s eyes would be impossible without the camera eye: In shape they were remarkable, being both deep-set and protuberant, one of Nature’s jokes involving sockets so widely splayed that Mr. Endon’s brows and cheekbones seemed to have subsided. And in colour scarcely less so, having almost none. For the whites, of which a sliver appeared below the upper lid, were very large indeed and the pupils prodigiously dilated, as though by permanent lack of light. (139–40) This passage is followed by a detailed inspection of the iris, the lids, ‘the red frills of mucus’. Mr. Endon’s eyes are subject to an extremely minute microscopic scrutiny that would not arise in ordinary human perception of the other’s eyes. The eyes are reduced to sheer material properties in a depthless visual field, as if they were inanimate objects. In a sense, such a treatment of Mr. Endon’s eyes may be appropriate because he is a grave psychiatric patient who cannot ‘see’ in the ordinary sense of the word. Murphy ‘see[s] himself stigmatised in those eyes that did not see him’ (140) as if Mr. Endon’s eyes were mirrors. Murphy, unseen by Mr. Endon, sadly realises that he cannot achieve Mr. Endon’s perfect apathy, to which he aspires. The microscopic scrutiny of the eye in this scene is later revived with a real camera eye in the striking opening close-up of Buster Keaton’s eye in Film. After Beckett became familiar with the operations of the camera eye by producing Film (1965) and television plays starting with Eh Joe (1966), it is plausible that he was more conscious of cinematographic techniques even when writing prose. Hence it is natural that some of his late prose incorporates terms suggestive of cinematography. In Company, as the object of vision is switched, we read: ‘Dissolve to your father’s straining against the unbuttoned waistband’ (58). In Ill Seen Ill Said, the verb ‘dissolve’ is similarly used and the more explicit term ‘close-up’ also appears. But in order adequately to analyse his later works involving the camera eye, it is necessary to consider some other aspects of the relation between visual technology and literature, thereby exploring the cultural context in which the Beckettian eye emerged.

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The camera eye/the naked eye Famously, Walter Benjamin wrote in ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (1936), ‘The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses’ (237). The analogy he draws between psychoanalysis and the camera eye is far from fortuitous. The modern invention of visual technology was from the outset strongly related to the irrational psychic realm explored by psychoanalysts. Friedrich Kittler argues that the phenomenon of the double (doppelgänger), one of the subjects of psychoanalytic enquiry, is a particularly suitable subject matter for film because the body on the screen is nothing but the ghostly double of the actor’s body. In the Romantic period, the double was an important theme in the world of imagination guaranteed by the book, but this structure was dismantled in the modernist period by both psychoanalysis and film. Kittler says, ‘Psychoanalysis clinically verified and cinema technically implemented all of the shadows and mirrors’ (‘Romanticism – Psychoanalysis – Film’ 95), thereby ousting the theme of the double from the book.10 The film magazine Close Up, which Beckett read, also published articles on the close connection between psychoanalysis and film. According to Laura Marcus, this magazine, ‘whose project was substantially informed by psychoanalytic thought and theory, played a significant role in the development of this symbiotic relationship’ between the two (Donald et al. 240). For instance, film was considered analogous to dream and fantasy, and the trivial detail it showed was compared to the symptomatic gestures by the analysand that revealed his or her unconscious.11 Given this general paradigm, in which the camera eye is intertwined with the irrational, dream-like realm of the unconscious, it is little surprise that surrealists actively explored the unconscious by means of photography and cinematography. In an examination of the photography of surrealists, that of Man Ray in particular, which defamiliarises the human body by fragmenting or distorting it, Rosalind Krauss argues that ‘the surrealist photographers were masters of the informe’ (‘Corpus Delicti’ 60). The camera eye is confronted with and even involved in the formless body. Or in other words, it discovered a new, unfamiliar body and was fascinated with it. As discussed in the previous chapter, Beckett’s Not I can be squarely situated in this paradigm. The extraordinary closeup of Buster Keaton’s eye at the beginning of Film, which accentuates the strangeness of the physical eye and defamiliarises our normal idea of the eye and seeing, could also be regarded as an offshoot of surrealist photographers’ discovery of the unfamiliar body.12 Here it is possible to

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discern two connected factors: the technology of the camera eye, which isolates and enhances our vision as prosthesis; and a new discovery of the body, the formless body in particular in the case of avant-garde art. Vision seems to be anchored to these apparently opposing poles: the camera eye and the flesh. Beckett’s Ill Seen Ill Said is typical in this context. The eye in it ‘breathes’ or ‘digests’ – an indication of palpable physicality – while it uses ‘close-up’, as if equipped with a camera. Sara Danius maintains that with the advent of technologies of vision, human vision was divided into two separate sectors – the more and more abstract and inaccessible field of vision explored by technology, and the physiological ‘naked eye’: [A] powerful discrepancy emerged between, on the one hand, visual means of representing domains that had been inaccessible to the eye and, on the other, the naked eye itself, a discrepancy that provoked a new conception of their respective theoretical tasks. Yet, the very notion of the naked eye, in all its physiological contingency, was an invention, too, since the terms through which it was articulated had been altered. Indeed, the historically strong form of the notion of the naked eye became operative after the successful introduction of technoscientific apparatuses such as those designed by Marey and Röntgen. (19) It is plausible that because technology introduced pictures that were remote from our ordinary visual perception, the naked eye began to surface in a kind of compensatory reaction. But these two domains – the technological and the physiological – are not really antithetical but interlocked with each other. Paradoxically, the naked eye is in fact infiltrated by technology because ‘technologically mediated matrices of perception are prone to becoming internalized by the habits of the sensorium’ (Danius 194). A good example is Proust’s attitude towards photography and film. Proust valued unmediated visual experiences, while at the same time resorting to chronophotography in articulating such experiences.13 While human vision was technologised (not only with the extension of its capacities by technology but also with its internalisation of technology in the way that Danius describes), technology exploited the newly discovered physicality of the human eye. We can recall Jonathan Crary’s argument that around the turn of the nineteenth century, human vision began to be conceived as embodied and corporeal, and that various optical devices were invented to exploit the physiological nature of the eye, thus preparing the way for film.14

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The simultaneous accentuation of technological vision and physiological vision was, needless to say, linked to the correlation between the camera eye and the formless body, as typically seen in surrealist photography and the television version of Beckett’s Not I. As the concept of the naked eye came to the fore with the arrival of new visual technologies, the formless body – susceptible to manipulation – also emerged and was explored by the camera eye. And here the naked eye could itself be part of the formless body and involved in its manipulation, as in Bataille’s Story of the Eye. In sum, it could be said that because prosthesis not only infiltrated vision but also foregrounded its physicality, the prosthetic sense in this regard was in fact more than the technologically mediated sense and pertained to the new interlocking of the two terms: technological vision and physiological vision, or the camera eye and the naked eye. Bearing this observation in mind, we can start from the point at which Danius leaves off. In her schema, Joyce (after Thomas Mann and Proust) represents the culmination of the technologisation or prosthetisation of the senses. However, it is possible to propose a subsequent phase – a phase in which technology permeates not only sense perception but also a more incorporeal and intangible realm such as self-consciousness. As far as vision is concerned, this would mean that self-consciousness is represented as a self-reflexive gaze equipped with the camera eye. Such a phase is explored in at least two works that bear interesting comparison: Vladimir Nabokov’s novella The Eye (1930) and Beckett’s Film (filmed in 1964), whose original title was also The Eye.15 Nabokov’s The Eye was written in Russian in 1930 and appeared in a Russian émigré review in Paris in the same year. Its English translation by Dmitri Nabokov, in collaboration with the author, was published in 1965. Just like Nabokov himself when he wrote the novella, the narrator is a Russian émigré living in Berlin (in 1924–25). He commits suicide after being humiliatingly attacked by a man whose wife has had an adulterous relationship with the narrator. But even after his death, he remains in the same environment, as if he were still alive and nothing had significantly changed. He takes interest in a family who lives in the same apartment building. He falls in love with a girl in the family, Vanya. He is also curious about the identity of a man named Smurov, who is a frequent visitor to the family home. The narrator secretly investigates what other people think of Smurov, but his search for the true Smurov is fruitless. Eventually it turns out that Smurov is none other than the narrator himself.

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As a Russian émigré in Berlin, the narrator is conscious of the possibility of being spied on by Russian agents (cf. 26). This factor could be discussed in terms of the policing eye of society, but what is more important in the novella is the narrator’s obsessive self-scrutiny – the policing eye internalised in an individual’s psyche. Even before suicide he divulges his obsession: ‘Yet I was always exposed, always wide-eyed; even in sleep I did not cease to watch over myself, understanding nothing of my existence, growing crazy at the thought of not being able to stop being aware of myself [  ]’ (7). After death he becomes a pure consciousness liberated from the body, but even in this phantom-like state, the self-scrutinising gaze dominates: ‘I saw myself from the outside, treading water as it were, and was both touched and frightened like an inexperienced ghost watching the existence of a person whose inner lining, inner night, mouth, and taste-in-the-mouth, he knew as well as that person’s shape’ (23, emphasis added). He is reduced to a phantom eye observing himself (in Smurov) and other people. At one point he explicitly says with a common pun, ‘I – the cold, insistent, tireless eye’ (66). When he finds the true Smurov hopelessly elusive, he realises that ‘all these people I met were not live beings but only chance mirrors of Smurov’ (89). He concludes with an explicit reference to cinematography: Whenever I wish, I can accelerate or retard to ridiculous slowness the motions of all these people, or distribute them in different groups, or arrange them in various patterns, lighting them now from below, now from the side    For me, their entire existence has been merely a shimmer on a screen. (90) After all, everything is just a creation of his imagination. Even Vanya, ‘like all the others, existed only in my imagination, and was a mere mirror [  ]’ (91). But more importantly, Smurov is also nothing but a mirror of the narrator, though he does not say so explicitly. If the narrator watches himself in Smurov, it means that Smurov is his mirror image. This is suggested in two scenes involving a mirror, scrupulously placed towards the beginning and the end of the novella. Immediately before his suicide, the narrator notes his mirror image: ‘A wretched, shivering, vulgar little man in a bowler hat stood in the center of the room, for some reason rubbing his hands. That is the glimpse I caught of myself in the mirror’ (17). After he is rejected by Vanya towards the end of the novella, he goes into a flower shop, where a side mirror attracts his attention: ‘As I pushed the door, I noticed the reflection in the side

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mirror: a young man in a derby carrying a bouquet, hurried toward me. That reflection and I merged into one’ (97). For the narrator, all people including Smurov are mirror images of himself. He says, ‘I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me’ (103). After all, then, Smurov or the narrator is nothing but an image on the screen just like other people. Certainly, he could be like an ordinary embodied being who feels pain, as when he is rejected by Vanya.16 And other people are not actually under his control, even though he thinks that they are all created by his imagination. This ambiguity somewhat awkwardly provides a narrative drive, creating suspense about Smurov’s identity or Vanya’s real intention. However, at the end of the novella, the narrator wholeheartedly celebrates the state of being a detached, phantom-like eye: And yet I am happy. Yes, I am happy. I swear, I swear I am happy. I have realized that the only happiness in this world is to observe, to spy, to watch, to scrutinize oneself and others, to be nothing but a big, slightly vitreous, somewhat bloodshot, unblinking eye. I swear this is happiness. (103) The phrase ‘slightly vitreous, somewhat bloodshot’ is revealing because it looks like an illustration of my earlier topic: the bifurcation of human vision into the technological and the physiological in the early twentieth century. The fact that the self-scrutinising gaze (representing selfconsciousness) is described as vitreous is perfectly in line with the cinematographic terms that the narrator employed earlier (90) when describing other people, and by implication, himself.17 The theme of the self-scrutinising gaze was in fact not new. Victor Hugo’s poem ‘La Conscience’, which describes a man (Cain) haunted by the gaze of conscience until after death, is a good example of self-consciousness represented as a gaze.18 But Nabokov’s The Eye shows that in 1930 this theme inevitably registered the impact of new visual technologies. On the other hand, the eye is also ‘bloodshot’. This may indicate that the phantom-like eye can be embodied, just as the narrator at times seems to regain the corporeal dimension and experience uncomfortable things (like Vanya’s rejection) that his imagination cannot control. It may also suggest the limits of subjective vision. The narrator cannot grasp himself totally because the truth of himself is nothing but scattered mirror images. His view of himself is dependent on others’ views of him.19

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As should be clear by now, there are striking similarities between Nabokov’s The Eye and Beckett’s Film. In Film the subject is split between E (Eye) and O (Object). While E chases O, O tries to escape from E’s gaze, as well as from all other eyes. As Beckett clearly states, this work is based on Berkeley’s principle, Esse est percipi (Being is being perceived). O is searching for ‘non-being’ by avoiding being perceived. He escapes from E but he also removes all the eyes (including animals’ and a painted god’s) that can see him in a deserted room. But in the last scene, O confronts E and seems to realise that E’s gaze is nothing but his own. It is suggested that ‘[a]ll extraneous perception suppressed, animal, human, divine, self-perception maintains in being’, and that ‘[s]earch for nonbeing in flight from extraneous perception breaks down in inescapability of self-perception’ (CDW 323). Just like Nabokov’s novella, Film is about self-consciousness presented as a self-scrutinising gaze equipped with the camera eye – in this case, literally. In this sense, Film can be considered as an extension of The Eye that illustrates the infiltration of technology not only in vision but also in self-consciousness. The two works are also structurally similar in that the divided self eventually turns out to be one. The suspense created by the splitting of the self into doubles (perceiver and perceived) is resolved at the end. But of course, it is no more than a structural similarity because the endings of the two works give different impressions of the status of the eye. The narrator of The Eye celebrates and affirms the state of being a detached perceiving eye, whereas Film ends with the characteristically Beckettian irony that any attempt to escape from being perceived is doomed. In other words, the former ends with an affirmation of the perceiving eye, while the latter stresses the inescapable agony of being perceived.20 In both works the state of non-existence is regarded as positive, but in different ways. In The Eye, the narrator says, ‘I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me’ (103). But this comment leads straight to the final affirmation of being a perceiving eye. He has already achieved the state of non-existence – no surprise in a sense because he is supposed to be dead – and at the same time he enjoys being an eye. In Film, by contrast, the state of non-existence or nonbeing remains an unattainable ideal because of the persistence of selfperception. And given that many of Beckett’s characters keep on talking even after death, it is unlikely that death will guarantee their entrance to the state of non-existence. Finally, because Film strictly focuses on the relation between the perceiving self and the perceived self, the question of how other people mirror the protagonist is out of the scope. The Eye is still far more realistic than Film in that the narrator’s relations

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with others generate dramatic elements and sustain the narrative. Film is stripped of realistic elements that could generate a tangible drama, and concentrates almost entirely on the relation between O and E in an experimental visual space.21 Apart from these similarities and differences, there are factors in Film that suggest that, like The Eye, it belongs to the paradigm characterised by the coexistence of the physical eye and the technological eye. First, the abnormally magnified eye (with numerous viscous wrinkles on the eyelid, the eyeball looking like an uncommon precious stone, and the acts of blinking) in the opening close-up strongly evokes the strange physicality of the human eye, which tends to be disembodied in the traditional linkage between vision and intellect. With the aid of the camera eye, Beckett defamiliarises this body part in the manner of surrealist photographers who discovered new attractions of the human body. Second, Beckett is at pains to differentiate O’s vision from E’s. He even says, ‘This seems to be the chief problem of the film, though I perhaps exaggerate its difficulty through technical ignorance’ (CDW 331). The eventual solution was to make O’s vision fuzzy and show two types of vision alternately. Even though it is equipped with the camera eye, O’s vision is supposed to be an embodied one. In other words, through O’s fuzzy vision we are induced to see nothing but what O as an embodied human being would see. In contrast, E’s clear vision is a disembodied one that is capable of normally impossible observation: E can see himself (O) from the outside, just as the narrator of The Eye can. In a sense, E’s vision is objective (or potentially unlimited) while O’s is subjective (or limited). Seeing oneself objectively from the outside requires mirrors or the camera eye which can store an image for later viewing. In the case of Film, the camera eye makes normally impossible vision (E) possible, while an attempt is made to preserve the subjective or physical limitation of an embodied eye (O). In this way Beckett’s distinction between O’s and E’s visions can be interpreted with reference to the bifurcation of human vision into the technological and the physical.

The double and self-reflexivity Another important thing to note about The Eye is that Nabokov chose the world after death as the stage for this drama of the self-scrutinising gaze. This is natural because the narrator commits suicide at the beginning, but it is not unrelated to the cinematographic nature of his gaze. Here it will be useful to recall the close connection between modern

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media technologies and the world of death and ghosts. As Friedrich Kittler succinctly reminds us: [T]he invention of the Morse alphabet in 1837 was promptly followed by the tapping specters of the spiritistic seances sending their messages from the realm of the dead. Promptly as well, photographic plates – even and especially those taken with the camera shutter closed – furnished reproductions of ghosts or specters, whose blackand-white fuzziness only served to underscore the promise of resemblance. Finally, one of the ten applications Edison envisioned for his newly invented phonograph in the North American Review (1878) was to record ‘the last words of dying persons.’ (Gramophone 12) According to Kittler, the phenomenon of the double (doppelgänger) is quintessentially cinematic because a person on the screen is nothing but a ghostly double of the actor. He also draws our attention to the fact that many German silent films self-referentially dealt with the theme of the double.22 As ‘media have always been advertising themselves’, this means that ‘films are filming filming’ (Gramophone 155). In this context, Kittler refers to Nabokov’s earlier novel Mary (1926), in which the protagonist ‘goes to the movies with his girlfriend, unexpectedly sees his “doppelgänger” (following his brief engagement as a movie extra months earlier), and feels “not only shame but also a sense of fleeting evanescence of human life”’ (150). It is clear that The Eye fully develops the theme of the double in cinematography already touched upon in Mary. The narrator is practically a phantom eye watching everything including himself (his double) on the screen. It can be inferred that this novella is founded on the uncanny feeling that the early viewers of film might have had when they saw ghostly doubles of actors on the screen. The technology of reproduction will go on showing the doubles, irrespective of whether the actors are alive or dead. Prosthesis as exteriority introduces the dimensions of death and ghosts in this manner. Given this connection between death and the cinema, Nabokov’s recourse to the postmortem world becomes more intelligible. If the narrator is but an image on the screen, it is only natural for him to be dead. The comparison between The Eye and Film helps us to realise that Film also deals with the theme of the double in relation to the cinema. In Film, E is watching his double, O, literally with the camera eye. To be precise, E is always watching O from behind (at an angle not exceeding 45 degrees, the ‘angle of immunity’ that relieves O from the ‘agony of perceivedness’) until, in the final scene, he stares at O from the front.

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This last scene has alternate shots of E’s and O’s identical faces (though with different expressions), and thus creates a strong impression of the doubles mirroring each other. On the surface, Film does not seem to suggest a nexus between death or ghosts and the double in the cinema – the nexus that Kittler emphasises and The Eye evokes. Certainly, O’s violent destruction of photos depicting seven stages of his life might indicate rejection of life and, given his old age, its approaching end. But it is no more than a subtle hint. In the final scene, O dozes off in a rocking chair before being surprised by E’s stare in front of him. The use of the rocking chair, which in Murphy and Rockaby seems to function as a vehicle for attaining the state of the ‘wombtomb’, might also be regarded as a suggestion of death.23 The rocking, which stops as O falls asleep, is ‘revived by start’ when O discovers E’s gaze, and finally it dies down after the confrontation. Nevertheless, the strong impression of sudden disruption that the confrontation gives is at odds with the final cessation of the rocking, which would otherwise suggest a peaceful end (or entry into the ‘wombtomb’) as in the ending of Rockaby. It is thematically emphasised that the persistence of self-perception will not grant a peaceful end. In fact, however, the nexus between death or ghosts and the double was clearly in Beckett’s mind when he wrote the first draft, which is now kept in the Beckett Archives at the University of Reading (MS1227/7/6/1). In a brief note in the eleventh page, he suggests Schubert’s ‘Doppelgänger’ as possible music for the film, citing German phrases.24 Here Beckett is in fact conflating two songs by Schubert. The German phrases are from his ‘Der Tod und Das Mädchen’ (D531), based on Matthias Claudius’s poem, which describes Death advancing on a frightened young girl.25 ‘Der Doppelgänger’, the thirteenth piece in Schwanengesang (D957), is based on Heinrich Heine’s poem about a lonely man, who sees his spectral double when he revisits the house of his former sweetheart. It is impossible to know exactly how Beckett associated these two songs with Film. Yet given the fact that the basic motif of the split between the seer and the seen was already in the first draft (see Gontarski 105), it is possible to hazard an interpretation of the link between the two songs and that basic motif. ‘Der Doppelgänger’, with its theme of the ghostly double, upholds the view that E and O are mutual doubles. Then it foregrounds the cinema’s function to project ghostly doubles onto the screen, which Kittler emphasises and Nabokov’s The Eye evokes. E and O may be somewhat ghostly like the narrator of The Eye from the start. And as the theme of the double in Heine/Schubert is transferred to the medium of film, this interpretation appears to be in accord with Kittler’s

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idea that film and psychoanalysis appropriated the Romantic theme of the double from the book. If we consider ‘Der Tod und Das Mädchen’, however, another interpretation is possible: E (as Death) is bringing death to O. Since death is not very successfully evoked at the end of Film, this interpretation in effect accentuates the lethal quality of E’s gaze with the camera eye. The gaze here is exactly what Beckett discussed in Proust: a gaze ‘with the cruel precision of a camera’ (Proust 27), which destroys the familiar human dimension and evokes death. In fact, generally speaking, the camera eye could be associated with death in two ways: in being reproduced, its image or vision presents the ghostly double of objects; or its mechanical precision kills human familiarity. In both cases, the prosthesis that enhances human visual capacity also opens up inhuman, deathly dimensions. Beckett’s reference to the two songs by Schubert might be taken to correspond to these two relations between the camera eye and death. In the completed Film, the second point seems to be more impressive than the first one. And the lethal gaze of E soon leads to the aggressive camera eye in Eh Joe. On the other hand, the suggestion of the Romantic theme of the double tempts us to place Film in the context of the early twentiethcentury German silent films in which the double was favoured. Beckett believed in the possibilities of the silent film, and it can be surmised that the connection between the double, death and film, which was explored in earlier silent films, re-emerged in his own film. Film is entirely silent, except for ‘sssh!’, and features the silent film star Buster Keaton. Moreover, Film is set in ‘about 1929’ – that is, just two years after the talkie was introduced and silent films lost ground. In a sense Film is a silent film that pays homage to the genre of the silent film more than three decades after it was superseded by the talkie.26 After Film, Beckett did not return to cinematography per se but produced five television plays. The camera of television is no different from that of the cinema in respect of projecting the ghostly double, and Beckett’s television plays indeed appear to make use of this potential. Also, the camera eye continues to be interiorised and explore intricacies of the mind or consciousness imagined as an inner space.27 In Eh Joe (1966), the camera eye gradually closes in on Joe as a female voice accuses him of past wrongs, especially his desertion of a woman. This play is a departure from Film in that it combines the camera eye with a recorded voice just like the talkie. Beckett’s preference for the silent film over the talkie suggests that he pursued the purity of visual experiences and the entailed evocation of sound by synaesthetic connection between the two senses. Likewise, his radio dramas such as All That Fall

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(1957) and Embers (1959) conjured up vision with the isolated acoustic sense. In Eh Joe, Beckett no longer pursues the purity of either visual or acoustic experiences but recombines the two sensory channels, which he explored separately. Synaesthetic sensibility is suggested this time by the close collaboration between the camera eye and the voice. (Carrying on the recombination, the television version of Not I later mediates between Eh Joe and Ghost Trio.) Nonetheless, Eh Joe takes up many aspects of Film. The camera eye that gradually corners Joe in collaboration with the voice (not simultaneously but alternately) is similar in its aggressiveness to E in Film. This time it is provided with affective substance because, like the voice, it is considered to represent Joe’s conscience. Joe’s mind, haunted by dead people’s voices, is explicitly spatialised. The female voice says, ‘You know that penny farthing hell you call your mind   . That’s where you think this is coming from, don’t you?    That’s where you heard your father   . Isn’t that what you told me?    Started in on you one June night and went on for years   . On and off   . Behind the eyes    ’ (CDW 362–3, emphasis added). If the voice is heard in the space ‘behind the eyes’, it is plausible that the camera eye closing in on Joe represents his inner eye, thus indicating his split self. The camera eye and the voice may not be exactly Joe’s double – they are not so symmetrically contrasted to Joe as E is to O in Film – but they are at least part of Joe’s split self. His self seems to be disintegrated and filled with uncontrollable memories materialised in other’s voices, just as Henry’s self is in the earlier radio play Embers. According to the voice, Joe has already throttled dead people’s haunting voices (including his parents’) in his head, and she is the ‘last of them’ (CDW 365). Just as the voice is ghostly, then, the collaborating gaze of the camera eye might have a ghostly quality. The ghostly motif in Ghost Trio (1977) is explicit in the title that comes from the Beethoven piano trio used in the play. It inherits from Eh Joe the collaboration of the camera eye and a female voice (V) inspecting a male figure (F), but it is more simple and ambiguous with less specificity of personal past. After the voice and the camera inspect the room (‘Preaction’), the voice says what F does before F actually does it (‘Action’). It seems that F is waiting for a woman while playing music on his cassette recorder from time to time. In the final part (‘Re-action’), only the camera follows F and the surroundings and predicts F’s movement. At the end, a boy appears, shakes his head and leaves, as if to suggest the hopelessness of F’s waiting in a manner that is reminiscent of Waiting for Godot. In this play, the camera and the voice are not loaded with specific emotional substance as in the case of Eh Joe. The relation between F,

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the woman he expects, and the female voice is left highly ambiguous and does not allow any unitary interpretation. Yet, if we make much of this play’s continuity with Eh Joe, it is difficult to rule out the possibility that the camera represents F’s self-consciousness: F watching himself (his ghostly double) in an imagined mental space. The play    but the clouds    (1977) is even simpler and shorter. The camera alternately shows M (‘Near shot from behind of man sitting on invisible stool bowed over invisible table’) and M1 (‘M in set’). M’s voice, V, makes M1 (evidently M’s double) rehearse his recollection just as a director directs an actor. M wants M1 to wait for a woman (whose face is shot as W) exactly as he did in the past, but there is a suggestion that the woman never appeared. Thematically, therefore, it is a continuation of Ghost Trio – a vain hope of seeing a woman. The difference is that because the camera is behind M, it observes how M sees M1. Unlike Eh Joe and Ghost Trio, which simply present a gaze (the camera) and a seen object (Joe and F), this play reveals that M’s gaze at M1 is also seen (by the camera). In a word, the camera here is one level higher than in the previous two plays and in consequence there are three parties rather than two (the camera which sees M who sees M1). The camera might be objectively recording how M recollects his past by using his double. It is also possible that the camera represents self-consciousness – M’s self-consciousness that is conscious of how M recollects his past (M1).28 The camera in Nacht und Träume (1983) also presents a tripartite relation. It shows both a dreamer (A) and his dreamt self (B) from a meta-level. This play has no voice but uses Schubert’s song of the same title. Because a consciousness cannot grasp both the dreaming self and the dreamt self, the camera here may not be a representation of self-consciousness but an objective observer. It is remarkable that such an observing camera eye is incorporated to represent the split self in the act of dreaming. Except for Quad (1982), which concentrates on the geometrical patterning of four figures’ walk, Beckett’s television plays are thus all concerned with the theme of the double. They explore the inner mental space by means of the camera eye, carefully coordinating visual image and sound (the voice and music). The theme of death or ghosts, closely related to the theme of the double, could also show itself as in Eh Joe and Ghost Trio. However, the theme of the double or the split self is so prevalent in Beckett’s work that it does not have to be connected only to his film and television plays which use the real camera eye. It is more appropriate to say that Beckett made full use of the potential that film and television have for evoking the double and death. The split of the

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self into two visual perceptions in Film exemplifies the self-reflexivity of vision or the inseparability of seeing and being seen, which is a manifestation of the larger theme of the split self in Beckett’s work. The camera eye was useful to Beckett because the prosthetically heightened vision can represent the split between the seeing self and the seen self more sharply. The prosthesis of the camera eye works as exteriority and, evoking death in connection with the double, marks the self-division more clearly. This means that prosthesis is incorporated into the inner world of self-consciousness. But it could also be said that the inner world is exteriorised by prosthesis in being represented by it. If the camera eye is used to deepen the exploration of the split self, we need to examine the nature of the originary self-reflexive inner vision that is to be equipped with the camera eye. Beckett’s work is full of images of the inner eye. As opposed to the physical eye (‘the eye of flesh’ in Ill Seen Ill Said ),29 it is a kind of mind’s eye that watches the spatially imagined mental world. The metaphor of the mind’s eye is traditional and common, but in Beckett, it gains special significance.30 Objects or scenes can be evoked to the mind’s eye by imagination and that happens often in Beckett’s work. But what distinguishes Beckett’s mind’s eye is its highly self-reflexive exploration and analysis of the structure of the mind. Devoid of ordinary objects or scenes to be seen, the mind’s eye or the inner eye is confined to a closed mental space, and therefore inevitably becomes self-reflexive. In Beckett’s world, the eye itself is a kind of prosthesis. That is, it can be removed as though it were a mechanical part of the body. Nothing essentially wrong happens if the eye is removed, as in The Unnamable. The narrator of that novel imagines himself to be ‘a great smooth ball [  ], featureless, but for the eyes, of which only the sockets remain’ (307). All his organs have fallen off. However, this does not mean impoverishment of his sensory life, because what matters more to him are his inner senses, which are referred to in Texts for Nothing as ‘the eye staring behind the lids, the ears straining for a voice not from without’ (CSP 85). The operation of these inner senses is closely related to the fact that space in Beckett’s work is often the space inside the skull. The image of the inner eye can be traced back at least to Molloy. At the beginning of the novel, Molloy says that he saw two persons, A and C (B in the French version). While talking about hills, which each of them must have seen, Molloy mentions ‘other eyes’: But now he knows these hills, that is to say he knows better, and if ever again he sees them from afar it will be I think with other eyes,

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and not only that but the within, all that inner space one never sees, the brain and heart and other caverns where thought and feeling dance their sabbath, all that too quite differently disposed. (10) ‘[O]ther eyes’ see ‘the within’ – that is, the ‘inner space’ of ‘thought and feeling’ – which ‘one never sees’ in the ordinary way of seeing.31 The world of the mind, which can never be spatialised since it has no ‘extension’ in Descartes’ sense, is here spatialised and made visible to the inner eye. Malone also has ‘other eyes’. He says, ‘Then, live long enough to feel, behind my closed eyes, other eyes close’ (Malone Dies 196). Malone explicitly imagines his space to be the inside of the skull: ‘sometimes it seems to me I am in a head and that these eight, no, six, these six planes that enclose me are of solid bone’ (222). If we can spatialise the inside of the skull in this way, it is easy to imagine the inner eyes that ‘see’ it after the ordinary outer eyes close. Malone says: And if I close my eyes, close them really, as others cannot, but as I can, for there are limits to my impotence, then sometimes my bed is caught up into the air and tossed like a straw by the swirling eddies, and I in it. Fortunately it is not so much an affair of eyelids, but as it were the soul that must be veiled, that soul denied in vain, vigilant, anxious, turning in its cage as in a lantern, in the night without haven or craft or matter or understanding. (222) This ‘soul’ remains ‘vigilant’, whatever happens to the (outer) eyelids, ‘turning in its cage as in a lantern’.32 In The Unnamable too, the space is often imagined to be the inside of the skull, and accordingly, the image of the inner eye occurs. The narrator says, ‘How all becomes clear and simple when one opens an eye on the within, having of course previously exposed it to the without, in order to benefit by the contrast’ (345). But in the world of The Unnamable, where consciousness endlessly refers to itself in an enclosure and no external referent is truly conceivable, only the inner eye matters and the outer eye can fall out without causing problems. Hence the narrator’s remarks such as ‘the eye stays open, it’s an eye without lids, no need for lids here, where nothing happens, or so little [  ]’ (362), and ‘with closed eyes I see the same with them open, namely, wait, I’ll say it, I’ll try and say it, I’m curious to know what it can possibly be that I see, with closed eyes, with open eyes, nothing, I see nothing [  ]’ (395). This is a world where it does not matter whether the eyes have lids or not, or whether they are open or closed. ‘Nothing’ is to be seen in any case.

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The visual images that the narrator sometimes sees are nothing but ephemeral figments, just as his words are. The inner eye may only feel the dim grey light with which the narrator often says he is afflicted.33 ‘But this livid eye, what use is it to him? To see the light, they call that seeing [  ]’, says the narrator with regard to his surrogate Worm (369). The stress on this impoverished visual condition no doubt underlies Beckett’s preoccupation with blindness, as is instanced in Pozzo, Hamm, Mr. Rooney, and A in Rough for Theatre I. As if to universalise the priority of inner vision, the blind man Hamm says to Clov, with ‘prophetic relish’, ‘One day you’ll be blind, like me. You’ll be sitting there, a speck in the void, in the dark, forever, like me’ (CDW 109).34 The references to the inner eye also illustrate the self-reflexivity of vision. Because the inner eye has no external referent, it is often directed to itself – it sees itself. As a result, seeing becomes closely connected to being seen. Beckett frequently foregrounds the inseparability of seeing and being seen with the image of the inner eye.35 Ill Seen Ill Said is typical in that the eye watching an old woman is itself being inspected. In The Unnamable, the narrator constantly feels that he is being looked at by others. And his eye needs to be seen by others: ‘This eye, curious how this eye invites inspection, demands sympathy, solicits attention, implores assistance [  ]’ (378). The following statement sums up the situation: ‘I sometimes wonder if the two retinae are facing each other’ (303). Needless to say, Film directly portrays this situation, especially in the final scene where E and O mirror each other. With the prosthesis of the camera eye, Film dramatises the situation explored in The Unnamable and other works in relation to the inner eye – the situation in which the subject is split between seeing and being seen. Given the conceptual framework of Film, the opening close-up of the eye (which directly derives from Murphy’s microscopic inspection of Mr. Endon’s eyes) and the last close-up of E’s and O’s mirroring faces indicate that the camera eye intervenes in the inner split of the subject between seeing and being seen. Of course, even if vision is heightened by the camera eye, it cannot literally display the inner space of the mind or the skull. But as discussed earlier, Beckett continued to present the double in the spatially imagined mental space with the camera eye in most of his television plays. In Beckett’s work with the camera eye, the inner eye is equated with and represented as the outer eye equipped with a camera lens. This can be described both as interiorisation of the camera eye and as prosthetic exteriorisation of the inner eye. Beckett was not satisfied just with referring to the inner eye in his fiction and stage plays. He attempted to represent inner vision by the use of the camera eye, though inner vision

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is unrepresentable and therefore such an attempt is ultimately doomed to failure. Here we find another type of interplay between the inside and the outside that characterises the prosthetic body. The former chapters were concerned with the interaction between the body and its outside (prosthesis). What is at stake here is the interplay between mind and prosthesis: the inner eye works as the camera eye and vice versa. This is possible because the mind is spatially imagined and the prosthesis can be more easily incorporated there. Long Observation of the Ray (written in 1975–76 but left unfinished) interestingly weaves some of the motifs I have discussed so far. In an enclosed chamber (a cube in the earlier drafts and a sphere in the later ones), a dim ray is inspecting the inner surface, while the ray itself is being observed by an eye linked to the mind. At first sight this structure looks very like that of the camera obscura in that a ray is observed in a dark, enclosed space. But the vital difference is, of course, that here there is no hole to let in light from the outside. The source of the ray is postulated inside the chamber.36 Since there is no external referent, what becomes questionable is the relation between the ray inspecting the inside and the eye (and the mind) observing the ray. As seen above, the inner eye of The Unnamable is self-reflexive and caught up in the circularity of seeing and being seen in the inner space of the mind. Long Observation of the Ray seems to imply that the ray and the eye are two agents involved in the same circularity of seeing and being seen. In ‘Between Theatre and Theory’, Steven Connor suggests that the ray itself theatricalises the operations of the eye and the mind that observe the ray (90). That is, the ray is inseparably intertwined with the eye like its mirror image. Indeed in the final draft (MS2909/6 at the Reading University Library), the ray’s inspection is almost equated with the eye’s inspection. The self-reflexivity or redoubling of vision here reminds us of the new paradigm of vision discussed by Jonathan Crary. The camera obscura depended on a stable referential relation between the outside (the seen object) and the inside (the seeing eye or mind). But after this model collapsed in the early nineteenth century, vision became subjective and corporeal. According to Crary, ‘rather than a privileged form of knowing, [vision] becomes itself an object of knowledge, of observation’ (Techniques 70). Given Crary’s formulation, it appears that Long Observation of the Ray is demonstrating a state of the camera obscura after its basic conditions are nullified. It is a curious amalgam of the old and new regimes for vision. Of course, when Crary says that vision itself came to be observed, he is referring to the fact that vision became an object

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of physiological research. But the self-reflexivity of vision in Beckett is not devoid of a physical dimension. It is often foregrounded in tandem with the physicality of the eye. Steven Connor notes: In their different ways, all of Beckett’s ‘eye-pieces’, Play, Film, The Lost Ones, Long Observation of the Ray and Ill Seen Ill Said (others could be added to this list), subject the predatory, inquisitory eye to inspection, revealing its vulnerability and its inescapable physicality. [  ] [T]he eye of Long Observation of the Ray is both authoritative [  ] and physically weak – an eye that must ‘strain’ as the mind ‘struggles’. (‘Between Theatre and Theory’ 93) The eye cannot be purely intellectual or metaphysical, as is often supposed in the Western philosophical tradition. It is pulled down to its own physicality in Beckett. I noted earlier that the intertwining of the camera eye and the physical eye, which became prominent after the invention of new visual technologies, is also discernible in Beckett. Now the physicality of the eye is foregrounded again, this time in terms of the self-reflexivity of vision that pertains to inner vision. Although the inner eye is by definition immune to any physicality, its ‘physical’ nature can be evoked paradoxically in connection with self-reflexivity. After all, even the inner eye is obliged to operate like the outer eye by positing a physical space. As Connor argues (94), it cannot but be situated in a particular physical space (such as ‘behind the eyes’) and is therefore subject to physical limitations from the outset. Thus it is no surprise that it is sometimes described as if it were the physical ‘eye of flesh’. By extension, it could also be equipped with a camera lens that enhances vision, as in Film and the television plays. In Beckett’s case, it seems that the intense interior exploration of self-reflexive vision in a spatially imagined mental space underlies the dimension in which the camera eye and the naked eye are juxtaposed. Because the inner eye can operate as though it were the outer eye, it can be described as physical or equipped with a camera lens. The distinction between the inner eye and the outer eye or the camera eye tends to be blurred in consequence. It may be said that herein lies the important feature of the prosthetic body: interplay between the interior mind and the exterior prosthesis. This is possible only because the mind is spatially imagined despite its intrinsic unrepresentability in spatial terms. In the next section, I will further explore the relation between the inner eye, the camera eye and the physical eye, by analysing Ill Seen Ill Said. In this

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short prose piece there is a condensed synthesis of the problematics of vision in the former works, so that it is proper and necessary to analyse it before concluding this chapter.

Ill Seen Ill Said Ill Seen Ill Said starts with a description of how an old woman sees Venus: From where she lies she sees Venus rise. On. From where she lies when the skies are clear she sees Venus rise followed by the sun. Then she rails at the source of all life. On. At evening when the skies are clear she savours its star’s revenge. At the other window. (7) The word ‘On’, which punctuates this description with typically Beckettain repetition, suggests that the narrator is self-consciously goading himself to keep narrating. Throughout the work this self-consciousness is repeatedly suggested by words such as ‘quick’, ‘careful’ and ‘enough’. After describing the woman’s movements and positions, the first fragment ends like this: ‘Save for the white of her hair and faintly bluish white of face and hands all is black. For an eye having no need of light to see. All this in the present as had she the misfortune to be still of this world’ (7–8). The eye ‘having no need of light to see’ is nothing but what I have been calling the inner eye, and it is sometimes expressly opposed to the outer eye, ‘the eye of flesh’. The suggestion of death in the final sentence also permeates the entire work. There are at least three levels in the narrative: the self-conscious narrator; the eye, which observes the woman and her surroundings intensely but is in turn followed, inspected and described by the narrator; and the woman. The narrator describes the eye as follows: ‘The eye glued to one or the other window has nothing but black drapes for its pains’; ‘Riveted to some detail of the desert the eye fills with tears’; and ‘She is there. Again. Let the eye from its vigil be distracted a moment’ (12, 17, 19). In this manner, the narrator is in a position to supervise the eye, which vigilantly observes the woman and the environment. Sometimes, however, it seems that the narrator and the eye merge with each other. For example, one fragment starts like this: ‘But quick seize her where she is best to be seized’ (15). Evidently the narrator is giving advice to himself.37 But since ‘seize’ virtually means ‘observe’ or ‘watch’, it sounds as though the narrator were putting himself in the position of the eye. More generally, the narrator often gives visual descriptions as though he were the observing eye. The eye seems to be the narrator’s

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visual consciousness projected onto a third-person agent. The narrator creates the impression that the eye, not himself, is observing the woman. This is similar to the use of the third person in Not I and Company. Like a ghost, the woman appears and disappears suddenly. In the eleventh fragment, we read: ‘But she can be gone at any time. From one moment of the year to the next suddenly no longer there. No longer anywhere to be seen. Nor by the eye of flesh nor by the other. Then as suddenly there again. Long after’ (17). Here the distinction between the inner eye and the outer eye (‘Nor by the eye of flesh nor by the other’) is in fact nothing more than illusory, as I will show in a moment. The fact that the woman can appear and disappear at any time is enough to suggest that she is imaginary. Later on the narrator makes it explicit that she is a fictional being whose existence is completely at his will, just like the characters in Malone’s stories:38 ‘No shock were she already dead. As of course she is. But in the meantime more convenient not. Still living then she lies hidden’ (41). However, the narrator questions the ‘reality’ of his narrative, instead of being content to treat everything as imaginary and fictitious: ‘Already all confusion. Things and imaginings. As of always. Confusion amounting to nothing. Despite precaution. If only she could be pure figment. Unalloyed. This old so dying woman. So dead. In the madhouse of the skull and nowhere else’ (20). The use of the subjunctive (‘If only she could be pure figment’) suggests some reality in respect of the existence of the woman and the other things. At a mid-point he sounds as though he has decided that everything is fictive: ‘Not possible any longer except as figment. Not endurable. Nothing for it but to close the eye for good and see her. Her and the rest. Close it for good and all and see her to death. [  ] Close it for good this filthy eye of flesh’ (30). Apparently the narrator wants to close the outer eye forever and see the woman with the inner eye, thereby concentrating purely on the fictive world. Later this question is taken up again: ‘Such the confusion between real and – how say its contrary? No matter. That old tandem. Such now the confusion between them once so twain’ (40). The narrator seems to be weary of the age-old binary opposition. The implication is that the binary opposition does not matter any more in his world. The distinction between the outer eye and the inner eye, and the distinction between reality and fiction (or imagination) are both untenable and meaningless. Given that the woman is nothing but a product of the narrator’s imagination, this world is considered to be imaginary and the eye the inner eye. Indeed what is supposed to be a ‘real’ view of the outside is only derisively mentioned: ‘In the outward and so-called visible. That daub’ (38). But

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curiously, the imaginary world is described as though it were real to a certain extent (hence the narrator’s ‘confusion’), and the inner eye becomes indistinguishable from the outer eye. This is why the eye in this work is highly ambiguous. For instance, we read in one fragment, ‘Here without having to close the eye sees her afar’, and soon after, ‘The eye closes in the dark and sees her in the end’ (34, 35). Closed or open, the eye sees her anyway. While the eye is described as ‘having no need of light to see’ (7–8, 23), it is also referred to as ‘this filthy eye of flesh’ and ‘the vile jelly’ (30, 52). Moreover, the eye is often oddly physical – it ‘fills with tears’, ‘breathes’, ‘digests its pittance’, and is ‘glutted’ (17, 22, 23, 24). The inner eye is given the features of the physiological outer eye, and as a consequence the distinction between them is rendered meaningless. Interestingly, the woman also seems to have an inner eye: ‘Eyes on the horizon perhaps. Or closed to see the headstone’; ‘Head haught now she gazes into emptiness. That profusion. Or with closed eyes sees the tomb’ (29, 37). In a detailed observation of her eyes, we read: ‘Gaping pupil thinly nimbed with washen blue. No trace of humour. None any more. Unseeing. As if dazed by what seen behind the lids. The other plumbs its dark. Then opens in its turn. Dazed in its turn’ (39). ‘The other’ would mean the inner eye, and again the non-distinction between the two kinds of eye is suggested as both are dazed. If the woman also has an inner eye, the possibility arises that she is the narrator’s double. But unlike other works that deal with the double, Ill Seen Ill Said gives only a tenuous impression of the link between the narrator and the woman. The woman is too detached and objectified to be connected to the narrator’s self-consciousness in any way. She and the narrator cannot be connected in the way in which E and O in Film, Joe and the camera/voice in Eh Joe and F and V in Ghost Trio are connected. In    but the clouds    , it seems that M1 represents M’s memory of himself, which M rehearses in his mind. But the woman in Ill Seen Ill Said does not appear to be even an image in memory. She is far more like the narrator’s ‘figment’, completely at his disposal. On the other hand, in Ill Seen Ill Said, there are many suggestions of the use of the camera eye. It may be difficult to argue that the woman is the narrator’s double on the screen, but the eye’s aggressive or lethal power, implied in phrases such as ‘Till under the relentless eye [the grass] shivers’ and ‘Close [the eye] for good and all and see her to death’ (29, 30), is reminiscent of the prosthetically strengthened gaze in Film (E’s gaze) and Eh Joe. There are also very concrete visual details, as if the real camera eye were being used.39 Perhaps this is partly why the narrator wonders whether his objects might not be real. One of the most

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striking visual details is that of the buttonhook. The eye, filled with tears, observes: Before left for the stockings the boots have time to be ill buttoned. Weeping over as weeping will see now the buttonhook larger than life. Of tarnished silver pisciform it hangs by its hook from a nail. It trembles faintly without cease. As if here without cease the earth faintly quaked. The oval handle is wrought to a semblance of scales. The shank a little bent leads up to the hook the eye so far still dry. (18) This is a minute description that Alan Spiegel would call the ‘adventitious detail’ by the camera eye. The phrase ‘the buttonhook larger than life’ implies that it is not a sight by normal human vision. At the same time as the eye’s physicality is marked (‘weeping’, ‘still dry’), the eye functions like the camera eye. The final sentences of the description make clearer the function of the camera eye with the word ‘close-up’: ‘Close-up then. In which in defiance of reason the nail prevails. Long this image till suddenly it blurs’ (19). These sound like directions for the camera. In other places, the woman’s face (25–6), her eyes (39, 57–8) and a dial (45–6) are given minute descriptions (the last instance with the word ‘close-up’). The close-up of the woman’s eye is an outcome of the eye’s desire to look into her eyes. The woman’s eyelids are said to ‘occult the longed-for eyes’ (25). The narrator says, ‘Quick the eyes. The moment they open’ before observing her eyes closely (39). Needless to say, these confrontations between two eyes are extensions of Murphy’s gaze into Mr. Endon’s eye and the opening close-up of Keaton’s eye in Film. Another instance of the coexistence of the camera eye and the physical eye can be found in the description of the twelve men to whom the eye turns, ‘weary of the inanimate’. They surround the woman like the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. One of them is described as follows: ‘Dark greatcoat reaching to the ground. Antiquated block hat. Finally the face caught full in the last rays. Quick enlarge and devour before night falls’ (22–3). ‘Quick’ is the narrator’s advice to himself when he puts himself in the position of the eye. ‘Enlarge’ is evidently a technical term for the camera work. ‘Devour’ can simply mean ‘take in greedily with the eyes or the ears’ (The Concise Oxford Dictionary), but given that the eye is so often physical and physiological, it would not be far-fetched to suppose that it is another indicator of the eye’s physicality. The juxtaposition of ‘enlarge’ and ‘devour’, then, neatly encapsulates the coexistence of the eye’s two apparently contradictory features.

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The woman’s movement is also subject to an observation that is associable with the camera eye. The following is the description of her meal: At last in a twin movement full of grace she slowly raises the bowl toward her lips while at the same time with equal slowness bowing her head to join it. Having set out at the same instant they meet halfway and there come to rest. Fresh rigor before the first spoonful slobbered largely back into the slop. Others no happier till time to part lips and bowl and slowly back with never a slip to their starting points. As smooth and even fro as to. Now again the rigid Memnon pose. With her right hand she holds the edge of the bowl. With her left the spoon dipped in the slop. (35) This is a totally ‘depthless’ portrayal of human movement, of the kind detected in Beckett’s prose earlier in this chapter. The reduction to the purely mechanical enhances the impression of the woman’s non-human quality. It is equally possible to say that the eye observing the woman is not human. Before the quoted passage, we read, ‘The eye closes in the dark and sees her in the end. With her right hand as large as life she holds the edge of the bowl resting on her knees’ (35). The phrase ‘as large as life’ implies that the ordinary proportions of normal human vision can be distorted, as the passage on the buttonhook shows. Such distortion may not be unnatural in the imaginative space where fidelity to ‘reality’ is abandoned. Yet it is to be noted that Beckett could surreptitiously introduce the camera eye, with its possibility (minute visual details) and limitation (distortion of normal vision). In this way, the physical eye and the camera eye appear in tandem in Ill Seen Ill Said. In the television version of Not I, the camera eye was faced with the formless body and in effect was involved in its uncanny sense. In Ill Seen Ill Said, there are hints of the formless body: the eye is said to ‘breathe’ or ‘digest’. But here the same eye can be both physical like this and prosthetic from the start. This is possible because in the exploration of the inner world with the inner eye, the distinction between the inner and the outer is nullified. The inner eye, then, is no different from the outer eye, which can be either physical or equipped with a camera. The correlation between the physical eye and the technological eye emerges only with the third factor: the inner eye exploring the inner world.

5 The Prosthetic Voice

This chapter considers the voice in Beckett’s work in terms of the concept of prosthesis. In Beckett’s case, the inner eye discussed in the previous chapter is inseparable from the inner ear, as suggested in Texts for Nothing: ‘the eye staring behind the lids, the ears straining for a voice not from without’(CSP 85). But whereas the correlation between the technological and the physical is significant in Beckett’s prosthetic vision, it does not seem to be so in his engagement with sound technologies. In other words, a notion such as the physiological ear or the ‘ear of flesh’ does not appear to be important. This is because the ear as an organ is not highlighted as often as the eye. Instead of the ear itself, the voice is the chief component in Beckett’s concern with the auditory sense. Chapter 2 showed how in Beckett’s work the bodily organs are like detachable prostheses and as such can be confused with each other. In this economy, where the boundaries of the body are constantly problematised, the orifices and the bodily flows running through them are highlighted as important sites of interaction between the inside and the outside. The voice is one of those flows and can be equated with tears or excrement. It is also figured as an enveloping veil (Didier Anzieu’s concept of the ‘sound envelope’) that should be torn apart in order to reach silence. In either case, it is possible to regard the voice as a kind of prosthesis in that it is both inside and outside the body, something that belongs to but is alien to the body. In this chapter, however, I intend to link the Beckettian voice to prosthesis in a different way. In order to consider the prosthetic sense in terms of the auditory sense, I will focus on what I call the ‘prosthetic voice’. This is the voice that is mediated by machines or technology – the voice coming from the tape recorder, telephone or radio, for example. Just as in the case of visual technologies, the sound 138

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technologies invented and developed from the late nineteenth century onwards profoundly transformed sensory perceptions, and their impact is variously inscribed in the art and literature of modernism including Beckett’s work. But what is unique in his case? The focus in this chapter will be primarily on the relation between the prosthetic voice and the inner voice (heard in the skull). This will necessarily entail an examination of the relation between the voice ‘not from without’ and that ‘from without’.1 In his essay ‘Echo’s Bones: Myth, Modernity and the Vocalic Uncanny’, Steven Connor argues that while inheriting the Romantic idea of the voice, modernism replaced it with what he calls a sense of the ‘vocalic uncanny’. He argues that ‘the modernist desire for origin and presence is vexed and pestered by the suspicion of belatedness and absence’ (215). In other words, the values historically associated with the voice, such as ‘presence; life; redemption; truth; and the human subject’, are diminished as ‘the vocalic uncanny focuses upon the moments of separation, spacing, and distance within the excursive exercise of the voice’ (234, 215). This shift was closely related to the invention of various acoustic technologies. The phonograph, for example, brought death into the voice by separating it from its origin and letting the dead speak (227). Connor suggests that Beckett exemplifies this link between the ‘vocalic uncanny’ and sound technology, which was already evident in the works of such modernists as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf. We are easily reminded of Krapp’s Last Tape, in which the use of a tape recorder successfully stages an uncanny resurrection of the young Krapp in the presence of the old Krapp. However, even when sound technologies are not actually used or mentioned, the voice in Beckett’s work has a curious affinity with the mechanically mediated voice – the prosthetic voice. The voice in The Unnamable, for example, has a structure that can be fruitfully likened to the voice of the telephone or gramophone, though it seems to be the inner voice in the skull. The actual use of a tape recorder in Krapp’s Last Tape can be seen as continuous with this fundamentally prosthetic nature of the Beckettian voice. I am going to discuss this prosthetic voice with reference to Derrida’s ideas on telecommunication and teletechnology, which are remarkably relevant but hitherto little explored in Beckett criticism. In the same context, I will also consider the theme of the ghost, which was touched upon in the previous chapter in respect of visual technology. The final section will highlight an aspect of Beckett’s voice that eludes the Derridean approach. Mainly with regard to his radio dramas, it will be emphasised that Beckett had to resort to

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sound technology because of the impulse to externalise and materially represent, as faithfully as possible, the situation of the interior mind that is already spatialised. This discussion will develop the arguments in the previous chapter about the spatial representation of the mind, a crucial feature of Beckett’s work.

Beckett, Derrida, telecommunication The narrator of The Unnamable hears himself speak all the time, though he can never be sure whether the voice he is hearing is really his: ‘[t]he voice being heard, the voice which could not be mine, [  ] and yet which could only be mine’ (400) – he repeats this kind of remark. He cannot help feeling that the voice he is hearing comes from the other, not from within himself. He is alone but at the same time he feels he coexists with the other. The other is called ‘delegate’, ‘vice-exister’ and ‘surrogate’, and is even given the proper names Basil, Mahood and Worm. The other is inseparable from the narrator, even if it is just a ‘puppet’ to be fended away. For example, Mahood’s voice constantly mingles with his voice: ‘It is his voice which has often, always, mingled with mine, and sometimes drowned it completely’ (311). Indeed, the narrator tells long stories, assuming that Mahood is narrating them. The ‘vice-existers’ can usurp the narrator’s identity: ‘Mahood. Before him there were others, taking themselves for me [  ]’ (317). Consequently, the narrator wonders, ‘What if we were one and the same after all, as he affirms, and I deny?’ (317). When he renames Mahood as Worm, he says, ‘Perhaps he too will weary, renounce the task of forming me and make way for another, having laid the foundations’ (340, emphasis added). Therefore, these ‘vice-existers’ are necessary to ‘form’ the narrator’s self, although they are also alien to it. This ambiguity is present in a number of places where the other, whether singular or plural, is figured as a higher authority (‘master’ or ‘tyrant’) that observes the narrator or compels him to speak on. In the self-enclosed system where the other can be the self, this authority can also be the victim of its power – a structure that is made explicit in the inseparable couple of the tormentor and the tormented in How It Is. A number of critics have discussed how the situation in The Unnamable can be illuminated with reference to Derrida. Here a brief reference to Derrida’s Speech and Phenomena (1967) will suffice to make a point that is relevant to our discussion.2 According to Derrida, Husserl’s phenomenology is based on the assumption that the subject is present to itself in its pure interiority. The subject is guaranteed absolute proximity to

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itself by the operation of ‘hearing oneself speak’, in which speaking and hearing take place simultaneously in the living present. But in fact, the seeming purity of self-presence is always already contaminated by impurity or split by exteriority. The subject cannot be present to itself without difference from itself, without the possibility of being supplemented. It harbours an outside within itself from the beginning. In other words, it is exposed to ‘différance’, which is ‘the operation of differing which at one and the same time fissures and retards presence, submitting it simultaneously to primordial division and delay’ (88). The Unnamable is in a sense a record of how the subject is inescapably submitted to this différance. The subject in the novel can never be guaranteed presence to itself, but is always differentiated from itself. That is why the narrator feels that his own voice is coming from the other. For instance: ‘I shall transmit the words as received, by the ear, or roared through a trumpet into the arsehole, in all their purity, and in the same order, as far as possible. This infinitesimal lag, between arrival and departure, this trifling delay in evacuation, is all I have to worry about’ (352). The ‘infinitesimal lag between arrival and departure’ suggests that différance is at work, at least in its temporal sense, between hearing (‘arrival’) and speaking (‘departure’) in the operation of ‘hearing oneself speak’. Because of this différance the narrator’s self cannot coincide with itself, and this causes him to feel that the other is speaking instead of him. Here is a similar passage: ‘A second later, I’m a second behind them, I remember a second, for the space of a second, that is to say long enough to blurt it out, as received, while receiving the next, which is none of my business either’ (371). In this passage too, the narrator is reduced to a secondary position of receiving and then repeating (‘blurt it out’) a message sent ‘a second’ before by the other (‘they’). The operation of ‘hearing oneself speak’ is fissured by ‘a second’. This structure also appears in How It Is in the form of recurrent phrases such as ‘I say it as I hear it’ and ‘I quote’. In these two instances, one might wonder why the narrator first hears his voice as though it were coming from outside, instead of speaking first and then hearing. The priority of hearing over speaking here suggests that the subject is so disintegrated that it cannot take any initiative.3 If the originary moment is that of hearing, it means that there is no originary moment at all, because hearing is necessarily a secondary act, and also because with the total breakdown of subjectivity in The Unnamable, the hearing ‘I’ will be no more originary or self-sufficient than the speaking ‘I’.4 There is no origin or destination, and words and voices simply keep drifting. This is reminiscent of the third and most pleasurable

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zone of Murphy’s mind, where he savours ‘the sensation of being a missile without provenance or target’ (66).5 The Unnamable is a description of consciousness in such a fundamental state ‘without provenance or target’, although there is never-ending agony in it instead of pleasure. But how does all this link to the prosthetic voice, as defined at the beginning of this chapter? The voice of the narrator of The Unnamable is coming from outside rather than from within. This situation can be likened to that of hearing our own voice on a tape recording – our voice coming from outside, from an external machine. Of course, it would be impossible to reproduce the narrator’s situation faithfully with recording technology, because whereas it is inevitable that a recorded voice should come after a real voice, the narrator paradoxically hears his voice before speaking. However, the similarity is worth noting. A mechanically reproduced voice is dislodged from its origin. It is cut off from the subject and the body of the owner of the voice, and it can even survive his death. The voice in The Unnamable is also cut off from its only possible owner, the narrator, and keeps drifting without origin or destination. It can be said that just as when we hear our own recorded voice, the narrator’s voice is both his and not his, both inside and outside himself. The narrator’s voice is in this regard like a mechanically mediated prosthetic voice. The telephone, which was invented around the same time as the gramophone, is another machine that dislodges a voice from its origin.6 If we use the word ‘telephone’ in the broad sense of ‘the voice from afar’ (tele-phone), we could also call the voice in The Unnamable ‘telephonic’. And given the fact that the narrator is constantly interacting with his own voice, it is possible to argue that he is telephoning himself.7 In any event, devices such as the tape recorder and telephone remove a voice from its origin and create distance or exteriority in the voice, which is normally assumed to be fully present to the subject in the ‘logocentric’ tradition of Western thought. To the extent that the narrator of The Unnamable feels that his voice is dislodged from himself and coming from outside, his voice bears comparison with this mechanically mediated prosthetic voice. In order to clarify this point, let us now turn to the nexus between telecommunication and technology in Derrida’s thought. The idea of telecommunication was very important in Derrida’s conception of speech, writing and language throughout his long career. In an early essay ‘Signature, Event, Context’ (1971), he contends that in communication by writing, the absence or even death of both the sender and the addressee is structurally inscribed because writing cannot be writing without the possibility of its being repeated in their absence, or

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even beyond their death. Writing is thus cut off from the consciousness, intention or authority of the sender and addressee, and abandoned to ‘its essential drift’. Derrida goes on to claim that exactly the same applies to spoken language, which is traditionally considered inseparable from its origin; that is, the speaker’s ‘live’ consciousness or intention. Spoken language is also subject to the possibility of being repeated in or grafted onto a totally different context, regardless of the referent, signified or intention in the actual context in which it is uttered. In this sense, a phonic sign is a grapheme (10). In both written and oral communications, iterability (‘iter’ meaning both repetition and alterity) undermines the elements of presence. It could be said that, for Derrida, all communication is telecommunication in the sense that the immediate presence of neither the sender nor the addressee is essential to it. In other words, the death of the subject is inscribed in any communication.8 Interestingly, Derrida uses a mechanical metaphor to explain the structural absence of the sender of the written sign: ‘To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a sort of machine, which is productive in turn, and which my future disappearance will not, in principle, hinder in its functioning, offering things and itself to be read and to be rewritten’ (8, emphasis added). It is implied that, for Derrida, the mark (both written and spoken) is something mechanical or inanimate, as opposed to an ‘animated’ presence – of the subject’s intention, for example.9 We could call the mark in this sense prosthetic. Just like a prosthesis, it is both inside and outside the subject. All communication has something prosthetic structurally inscribed in it. It is no surprise that Derrida takes great interest in the voice of the gramophone or telephone, which exemplifies the essence of communication as he understands it because it is manifestly cut off from the presence of its origin. In ‘Ulysses Gramophone’ (1984), Derrida discusses Joyce’s Ulysses expressly in reference to the gramophone. This lengthy, tortuous essay circles around ‘yes’ in Molly’s monologue, which Derrida analyses with his own theoretical apparatus.10 Or perhaps it would be better to say that he takes liberties with some details of Ulysses in order to test and develop his own ideas. Early in the essay, Derrida pays attention to the use of communication media such as letters, postcards, typewriters, telegraphs and the telephone in Ulysses. In his discussion of the telephone, there is a significant passage that is worth quoting at length: It is repeatedly said that the phone call is internal. ‘Mr. Bloom    made for the inner door’ when he wants to ring; then ‘the telephone whirred inside,’ and finally, ‘Mr. Bloom phoned from

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the inner office.’ So, a telephonic interiority: for before any appliance bearing the name ‘telephone’ in modern times, the telephonic techn¯e is at work within the voice, multiplying the writing of voices without any instruments, as Mallarmé would say, a mental telephony, which, inscribing remoteness, distance, différance, and spacing [espacement] in the phon¯e, at the same time institutes, forbids, and interferes with the so-called monologue. At the same time, in the same way, from the first phone call and from the simplest vocalization, from the monosyllabic quasi-interjection of the word oui, ‘yes,’ ‘ay.’ A fortiori for those yes, yeses which speech act theorists use as an illustration of the performative and which Molly repeats at the end of her so-called monologue, the ‘Yes, Yes, I do’ that consents to marriage. (271–2, parenthesis original) First, Derrida is saying that the voice is distanced from itself within itself. He seems to be developing, under the rubric of ‘telephonic interiority’, his idea in Speech and Phenomena that the supposedly pure interiority guaranteed by the phenomenological voice is in fact distanced from itself, subject to ‘différance’. When he says that ‘a mental telephony [  ] at the same time institutes, forbids, and interferes with the so-called monologue’, it probably means that the monologic operation of ‘hearing oneself speak’ is ‘instituted’ by the anterior différance, but that precisely because of this différance the coincidence of ‘hearing’ and ‘speaking’ is ‘forbidden’ and ‘interfered with’. This ‘telephonic interiority’ is linked to ‘yes’, especially the ‘yeses’ in Molly’s monologue. ‘Yes’ seems to be an indicator of ‘telephonic interiority’. Later in ‘Ulysses Gramophone’, Derrida repeats his argument in ‘Signature, Event, Context’ to characterise ‘yes’. In order for the yes of affirmation, assent, consent, alliance, of engagement, signature, or gift to have the value it has, it must carry the repetition within itself. [  ] This essential repetition lets itself be haunted by an intrinsic threat, by an internal telephone which parasites it like its mimetic, mechanical double, like its incessant parody. (276) That ‘yes’ is haunted by its ‘mechanical double’ means that it is haunted by its other: ‘Yes indicates that there is address to the other’ (299). Because of this address, which is anterior to any meaning or signification,11 ‘A priori [yes] breaches all possible monologue’ (299).

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This is a rephrasing of Derrida’s critique of Husserl, where the monologic operation of ‘hearing oneself speak’ is revealed to be inhabited by the other due to différance. I have already noted that the voice in The Unnamable is subject to différance in the same way as the phenomenological voice Derrida critiques in Speech and Phenomena. Derrida’s explicit association of différance with telephony (or ‘telephonic techn¯e’) gives us more solid ground for regarding the voice in The Unnamable as telephonic and prosthetic. Accordingly, it may be possible to say that ‘yes’ in Derrida’s sense – an indicator of ‘telephonic interiority’ and address to the other – is implicitly at work in the novel. As I will discuss later, this illuminates the fact that How It Is, which in many ways is an extension of The Unnamable, ends with a curious proliferation of ‘yeses’ that cannot but remind us of Molly’s monologue.

Communication over distance: The Unnamable and How It Is The narrator of The Unnamable does not feel that the voice he is hearing is his, though it can only be his. This alone entitles us to call his voice telephonic in the Derridean sense of the word. But in order to accentuate the distance or spacing inscribed in the narrator’s inner voice by the telephonic structure, I will turn to the instances in which the narrator imagines he is (tele)communicating with the other over distance. The narrator attributes the voice to the other but he can never be confident that it is not his own. The origin of the voice cannot be located either inside or outside him. While he says ‘it issues from me’ (309), he also asks ‘where it can possibly come from’ (391), without getting any answer. At one point he makes some resolutions: Assume notably henceforward that the thing said and the thing heard have a common source, resisting for this purpose the temptation to call in question the possibility of assuming anything whatever. Situate this source in me, without specifying where exactly, no finicking, anything is preferable to the consciousness of third parties and, more generally speaking, of an outer world. (393–4) The fact that he is obliged to make such resolutions indicates not only that the hearing and speaking in ‘hearing oneself speak’ are ineluctably differentiated from each other, but that he cannot situate the source inside him. We are reminded of what Derrida calls the ‘essential drift’ in communication, which has no fixed origin or

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destination. In The Unnamable, ‘words [are] falling, you don’t know where, you don’t know whence [  ]’ (386). The narrator himself seems to be drifting as words: ‘I’m all these words, all these strangers, this dust of words, with no ground for their settling, no sky for their dispersing [  ]’(390). It should be noted, however, that the narrator feels there is some communication between him and the other. Thinking he has been forced to learn about human beings by his ‘delegates’, he wonders, ‘But when, through what channel, did I communicate with these gentlemen?’ (299). Realising that he is ‘a prey to communications’(338), he says: Faint calls, at long intervals. Hear me! Be yourself again! Someone has therefore something to say to me. But never the least news concerning me, beyond the insinuation that I am not in a condition to receive any, since I am not there, which I knew already. I have naturally remarked, in a moment of exceptional receptivity, that these exhortations are conveyed to me by the same channel as that used by Mahood and Co for their transports. (339) This passage suggests that there is distance within the narrator’s inner world, over which communication takes place between the narrator and the other (including ‘Mahood and Co’). The other is also called ‘my purveyors’ (354). The following remark implies that what is happening to the narrator is conceived in terms of postal communication: ‘What doesn’t come to me from me has come to the wrong address’ (353). However, we should recall that, unlike ordinary communicators, both the sender and the addressee here are ephemeral or illusory. In this novel, any distinction between the other (be it singular or plural) and the self cannot but be ephemeral because the other can also be the self (the voice, after all, is his), as the narrator admits on a number of occasions.12 What I have been calling ‘the narrator’ of the novel is nothing but a stage where the nominal system has completely broken down and pronouns (I, we, he and they) and nouns (Basil, Mahood, Worm) are perpetually confused because of the unclear distinction between the self and its other.13 In other words, no stable positionality can be established to uphold the nominal system. Any distinction between fixed positions, which could become two poles of communication, comes to nothing in the novel. Hence the similarity to Derrida’s idea of telecommunication, according to which a message drifts without origin or destination.

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Distance is variously imagined by the narrator. When he thinks he is observed by the other with authority (the master), a messenger traverses some distance to make a report about him: [T]hey have to be ratified by the proper authority, that takes time, he’s far from here, they bring him the verbatim report of the proceedings, once in a way, he knows the words that count, it’s he who chose them, in the meantime the voice continues, while the messenger goes towards the master, and while the master examines the report, and while the messenger comes back with the verdict, the words continue [  ]. (373) This hierarchical structure – narrator/messenger/master – is an extension of the hierarchy of Moran/Gaber/Youdi in Molloy, and Didi and Gogo/boys/Godot in Waiting for Godot. In The Unnamable, the hierarchy is incorporated into the internal ‘space’ of the subject. This is made possible by the internal distance within the subject – the fissure implied in Derrida’s concept of ‘telephonic interiority’ or ‘mental telephony’.14 On other occasions, the narrator imagines that he (as Worm) is observed through a hole by the other. ‘They’ look at him, ‘gluing one eye to the hole and closing the other’ (359). But at the same time, they are also ‘launching their voices’ through a hole (362). Both the vision and the voice of the other traverse some distance through a hole.15 And the hole is vividly imagined as an actual physical existence. It seems for example that ‘they have made other holes through which to pass their arms and seize him’ (360). What is notable in these examples is that the distance within the subject is literalised and imagined as an actual physical distance to be traversed. How It Is carries over this and other important motifs in The Unnamable, despite the significant stylistic change that determines Beckett’s later prose. How It Is begins this way: ‘how it was I quote before Pim with Pim after Pim how it is three parts I say it as I hear it/voice once without quaqua on all sides then in me when the panting stops tell me again finish telling me invocation’ (7). ‘I quote’ and ‘I say it as I hear it’ both suggest that this novel continues the situation in The Unnamable, where the narrator has no initiative of speaking and is hearing his voice as though it were coming from outside. ‘[V]oice once without quaqua on all sides then in me’ implies that the source of the voice cannot be fixed – it can be outside or inside – just as in The Unnamable. These phrases are indicative of the basic framework of the novel and are repeated over and over again.

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In Part One (‘before Pim’) the narrator crawls in the mud towards Pim; in Part Two (‘with Pim’) he torments him in many ways; in Part Three (‘after Pim’) he is abandoned by Pim and Bom is crawling in the mud towards him. Much of Part Three is devoted to a consideration of how these movements of the narrator, Pim, Bom and others can be pictured as a whole. It is suggested, for example, that the narrator was with Bom before Part One: ‘when I hear or in fact it says that before going towards Pim part one I was with Bom as Pim with me part two’ (125). It seems that the following pattern is repeated: Bom and I / Pim and another; I abandon Bom and journey towards Pim (Part One); Bom and another / Pim and I (Part Two); I am abandoned by Pim and Bom journeys towards me (Part Three). From the narrator’s point of view, it is a series of ‘couple’ – ‘journey’ – ‘couple’ – ‘abandon’. There are always a tormentor and a victim in the ‘couple’ phase. The narrator torments Pim and is supposedly tormented by Bom. In The Unnamable, the narrator at one point imagines that the other comes to torment him: ‘[h]e’ll come and lie on top of me, lie beside me, my dear tormentor, his turn to suffer what he made me suffer, mine to be at peace’ (384). The exchangeability of the roles of tormentor and victim is suggested in another passage, where the narrator says, ‘Perhaps there is only one of them, one would do the trick as well, but he might get mixed up with his victim, that would be abominable, downright masturbation’ (364). It is because the distinction between the narrator and the other is illusory that the roles of tormentor and victim can be easily exchanged. In How It Is, the narrator is Pim’s tormentor and Bom’s victim, and this distinction seems to be more stable and secure than in The Unnamable. However, at the end of the novel, it is emphatically repeated that there is nothing but the narrator’s voice. For example, we read: ‘yes this voice quaqua yes all balls yes only one voice here yes mine yes’ (158). Here again How It Is continues the basic structure of The Unnamable with regard to the narrator and the other – Pim, Bom and others are the narrator’s illusory ‘vice-existers’; they are postulated to suggest the internal distance (or différance) within the subject; the voice coming from outside is after all his; tormenting is nothing but selftormenting. The difference is that unlike the chaotic confusion in The Unnamable, How It Is has a more neatly ordered structure as regards the relation between the narrator and the other. Accordingly, the description of the narrator’s situation or his relation with Pim is also more sustained and stable. Probably this is related to the stylistic change from the heated torrents of words to the sober, quasi-poetical arrangement of words.

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How is the motif of communication over distance dealt with in How It Is? The distance the narrator traverses to journey towards Pim can be viewed as a literalisation of the internal distance within the subject. In Part Three, a certain transmission of rumour over ‘millions of us’ is imagined. The narrator imagines he is not only with Pim and Bom but also with many others: ‘millions millions there are millions of us’ (123). Then an image appears in which all of them form a closed circle: ‘as for example our course a closed curve and let us be numbered 1 to 1000000 then number 1000000 on leaving his tormentor number 999999 instead of launching forth into the wilderness towards an inexistent victim proceeds towards number 1’ (127). In this circle there is transmission of rumour: number 814327 may speak misnomer the tormentors being mute as we have seen part two may speak of number 814326 to number 814328 who may speak of him to number 814329 who may speak of him to number 814330 and so on to number 814345 who in this way may know number 814326 by repute (130) This process can be neatly reversed: ‘rumour transmissible ad infinitum in either direction’ (130). Each of the million assumes the role of either tormentor or victim in relation to his neighbour, and each has to traverse a distance to journey towards his neighbour, just like the narrator journeying towards Pim. It is important to note here that the transmission of rumour from one to another parallels or mirrors the narrator’s own ‘quotation’ of the other’s voiced speech. The narrator suddenly remembers that he is repeating and quoting the other’s words, as if to indicate the parallel: ‘all these words I repeat I quote on victims tormentors confidences repeat quote I and the others all these words too strong I say it again as I hear it again murmur it again to the mud [  ]’ (130). Then, immediately the narrator says, ‘but question to what purpose’, and reasons that ‘when number 814336 describes number 814337 to number 814335 and number 814335 to number 814337 for example he is merely in fact describing himself to two lifelong acquaintances’ (131). As in The Unnamable, the division into a million is in fact no division at all. Whether there is no one but the narrator or there are millions, it amounts to the same thing. That is why an image soon appears of all of them ‘glued together like a single body’ (132). In this case, ‘linked thus bodily together each one of us is at the same time Bom and Pim tormentor and tormented pedant and dunce wooer and wooed speechless and reafflicted with speech’ (153).

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Towards the end of the novel, a higher authority is imagined. He appears as someone in charge of sacks of food, which each of the inhabitants of this world has to take up and carry during his journey (135). This authority, called ‘an intelligence somewhere’, is thought to be the source of the voice and stories (150, 151). But predictably, this hypothesis of a higher being is soon relinquished: ‘a formulation that would eliminate him completely and so admit him to that peace at least while rendering me in the same breath sole responsible for this unqualifiable murmur’ (157). The novel ends with insistent claims, interspersed with ‘yes’, that everything has been false and that there has been nothing but the narrator and his own voice. To give one instance: ‘there was something yes but nothing of all that no all balls from start to finish yes this voice quaqua yes all balls yes only one voice here yes mine yes when the panting stops’ (158). At first sight, this ‘yes’ appears to endorse the narrator’s admission that after all he is alone and that everything he has narrated is ‘balls’ – the admission suggesting that finally the narrator’s self is united with itself and that the other is thrown out of scope. Yet things are not so simple. In the final paragraph we read: ‘good good end at last of part three and last that’s how it was end of quotation after Pim how it is’ (160). The phrase ‘end of quotation’ suggests that until the very end the entire narrative has been a quotation. This means that all the words have come from the other instead of being originated by the narrator. All the words are uttered somewhere ‘between’ the self and the other, which are ineluctably intertwined and cannot be completely distinguished, just as in The Unnamable.16 As long as this structure involving the other persists, there cannot be any unification of the self. It would be more fruitful, then, to link ‘yes’ here to the intrinsic alterity haunting the self rather than to unification of the self. As already noted, the curious proliferation of ‘yes’ in the final pages of the novel inevitably reminds us of Molly’s monologue in Ulysses. It could be taken to mark what Derrida calls ‘telephonic interiority’, which refers to the way in which the subject is submitted to différance and inhabited by the other as a ‘telephonic techn¯e ’. The ‘yes’ of affirmation is possible only because of the fundamental alterity to which it is addressed. Like The Unnamable, it is evident that How It Is concerns itself with the way in which the subject is infected with the other and is fissured with internal distance, over which the originary response to the other (‘yes’) is possible. At least as far as these points are concerned, the ‘yes’ that Derrida discusses seems to apply to the ‘yeses’ at the end of How It Is.

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The prosthetic voice and the ghostly Communication can establish itself without the presence of the sender and the addressee, and Derrida finds not only the mechanical but also death structurally inscribed in it. The mechanical and death both stand in contrast to the live, animate presence of the subject or its intention. The prosthetic voice makes the deathly dimension even more manifest. It is cut off from its ‘live’ origin. The gramophone in particular can preserve a voice almost eternally, regardless of the speaker’s presence, even beyond his death, as if to confirm Derrida’s idea of communication. The dead can really speak from it. When we hear the recorded voice of someone, it is in a sense like an uncanny resurrection of the dead. The voice drifts in the ghostly realm between life and death. In his later years, Derrida made explicit reference to the ghostly or the spectral. In Specters of Marx (1993), the motif of the ghostly or spectral is linked to the idea of doing justice to or taking responsibility for a ghost as the other, and this is developed extensively in the discussion of Marx and Marxism. But since deconstruction radically calls into question any kind of presence in favour of différance, trace, supplement, absence or death, it is from the start familiar with the realm of ghosts. Just as ghosts, it blurs the distinction between presence and absence, past and present, life and death. However, the same could be said of contemporary teletechnology. By recording the present and reproducing it anytime anywhere, for example, teletechnology makes it manifest that the present is divided from itself, instead of being identical to itself. As I will discuss in the next section, Derrida’s idea of the ghostly and the spectral is inseparable from his growing concern about the teletechnology that now permeates our life.17 The conjunction between technology and the ghostly has a solid historical background. In reference to Friedrich Kittler, I have already noted that in the nineteenth century, when new media technologies were invented and developed, technology was generally imagined to be closely related to the dead and the ghostly. The link between spiritualists’ séances and sound technology from the late nineteenth century onwards is well documented.18 For example, Edison, the inventor of the gramophone, became engrossed with the possibility of recording dead people’s voices.19 The telephone also became a medium through which the dead could send messages.20 Or it could create a deathly distance between two persons, as in the scene in Proust‘s Remembrance of Things Past where the narrator telephones his grandmother. Her voice sounds to him so different that he cannot recognise it as hers. In Proust, Beckett

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notes: ‘He hears it also as the symbol of her isolation, of their separation, as impalpable as a voice from the dead. The voice stops. His grandmother seems as irretrievably lost as Eurydice among the shades’ (27). The unfathomable void that separates him from his grandmother is a space of death and the dead. The distance inscribed in the structure of telecommunication opens up this ghostly space where no one is present. Beckett, who did not miss the significance of this scene, subsequently explored the ghostly realm that was neither life nor death, making many of his characters inhabit it. Sound technology as well as visual technology served his purposes fully, with its evocation of the dead and the ghostly. Also notable in the present context is the fact that the young Beckett was very interested in the myth of Narcissus and Echo. Echo bears resemblance to the prosthetic voice in the sense that both are cut off from the body as the origin of the voice, and therefore are ghostly. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the nymph Echo is destined to repeat other people’s last words. When she is rejected by Narcissus whom she loves, dejection withers her body until only her voice and bones remain. Her bones turn to stones and she lives on only as a voice like a ghost, while Narcissus falls hopelessly in love with his own image reflected in the water and dies of despair. As well as entitling his collection of poems ‘Echo’s Bones’, Beckett wrote a story with the same title for inclusion in More Pricks than Kicks. It was intended to be the final story in the volume, but it was rejected by the publisher and has not yet been published. In this story, which itself has a ghostly status, Belacqua still hangs around in this world after his death. At the end, it is revealed that his tomb contains some stones, and therefore a link between Belacqua and Echo is explicitly made.21 Thomas Hunkeler interprets Beckett’s work in terms of an oscillation between Narcissus (= identity) and Echo (= difference or repetition). However, he argues that these two figures, which are both present in Beckett’s early work, do not make a contrast but are inextricably related. For instance, Narcissus seeing his own image in the water is not exactly an emblem of identity because the image is nothing but an illusion, just as in Lacan’s mirror stage.22 The figure of Narcissus does not guarantee self-identity but in fact undermines it in favour of difference, just like the figure of Echo. Hunkeler observes that the ‘principle of Echo’ rather than the myth of Echo governs Beckett’s work after World War II (214). That is, Narcissus and Echo are no longer present in the later work, but the motifs concerning Echo – difference, repetition, supplement and so on – are developed in the radical exploration of language and subjectivity.

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With regard to the trilogy, Hunkeler concludes that Beckett gave the form of Echo to the subject that suffers from exteriority (237–8). His study is more Lacanian than Derridean, but reading this observation, we could say that what he means by the principle of Echo could be safely paraphrased as Derrida’s ‘différance’. With such a broad interpretation of Echo, it can be argued that the features of the prosthetic voice in The Unnamable and How It Is, as discussed in the previous section, indicate none other than the principle of Echo. As regards The Unnamable, however, the narrator’s affinity with Echo can be marked more simply: they are both destined to repeat or quote the other’s words. The difference is that whereas Echo repeats other people’s words, the narrator of The Unnamable repeats his own words, which he feels are coming from the other. Nevertheless, it is possible that, as Didier Anzieu notes, Echo may also be repeating herself in her interior speech, so that she cannot tell whether the words come from herself or other people.23 In that case, Echo’s deed curiously coincides with the major feature of what Kittler calls the ‘discourse network of 1900’ in Discourse Networks, 1800/1900. Kittler argues that in the ‘discourse network of 1900’, language becomes automatised and repeats itself endlessly, dissociated from the human subject. He finds an exemplary model in the neurotic patient Daniel Paul Schreber, who published his famous Memoirs of My Nervous Illness in 1903. Schreber was afflicted with alien voices that, as a way of torturing him, interfered with his thoughts by repeatedly reminding him that all his thoughts, sentences and personal possessions were written down somewhere.24 Since words and phrases were stored and repeated endlessly, regardless of his intention, the distinction between his own words and others’ became meaningless. The ‘ownership of discourses’ was totally nullified. Noting the direct link between Schreber’s case and data-storage machines such as the gramophone, Kittler argues, ‘Data-storage machines are much too accurate to make the classical distinctions between intention and citation, independent thought and the mere repetition of something already said. They register discursive events without regard for so-called persons’ (300). In our context, Schreber could be regarded as a mechanised version of Echo, who cannot distinguish her speech from that of others. Or it may be more accurate to say that Echo is ‘literally’ mechanised here because Echo’s voice, cut off from its origin, resembles the prosthetic voice from the outset. In any case, Echo is obliged to present herself as a recording machine in the age of modernism. Kittler goes on to mention the significance of noise in Dadaist performances, suggesting that modernism was based on a mechanised

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or automatised language that disregarded the authenticity of human speech in favour of the unarticulated, ‘which is the background of all modern media’ (302). Literature became a simulacrum of madness, as represented by Schreber’s paranoid machine. The relevance of this view to Beckett’s work is obvious. In The Unnamable and How It Is, Beckett presents an automatised language that does not distinguish speech from quotation. Mouth in Not I and Lucky in Godot are more explicitly presented as (broken) machines that keep on speaking, or rather giving out words as noises. And in a sense, Krapp’s Last Tape suggests that human memory can be substituted by a tape recorder. Kittler’s ‘discourse network of 1900’ is characterised by the replacement of human communication by the play of data-storage machines: that is, it heralds the death of Man. It is intrinsically congenial to the realm of the dead and the ghost. To return to The Unnamable, it could be said that just like Echo, the prosthetic voice in the novel is by definition ghostly. I have already noted that all the ‘characters’ in it, including the narrator himself, are ephemeral, non-originary and insubstantial. They are like ghosts. Worm is described as something that is never present but still functions, just like Derrida’s ‘trace’: ‘Worm will vanish utterly, as if he had never been, which indeed is probably the case, as if one could ever vanish utterly without having been at some previous stage’ (376–7). What applies to Worm will apply to all the ‘characters’ including the narrator. All of them live in a limbo-like space where neither life nor death is possible: ‘Come into the world unborn, abiding there unliving, with no hope of death [  ]’; ‘No, one can spend one’s life thus, unable to live, unable to bring to life, and die in vain, having done nothing, been nothing’; ‘But what’s all this about not being able to die, live, be born [  ]’ (349, 361, 378). And ‘they’ who are supposed to be producing the voice are called ‘these voluble shades’ (378). The narrator of Texts for Nothing, which is basically an extension of The Unnamable, states: ‘And the voices, wherever they come from, have no life in them’ (CSP 81). In How It Is, the voice becomes calmer and more like a murmur. Maurice Blanchot says of this voice, ‘One might say that speech turns into a soft specter of speech, at times nearly appeased’ (331). Even in Waiting for Godot, ‘dead voices’ emerge that seem to be continuous with the voices in the novels: Estragon: In the meantime let’s try and converse calmly, since we’re incapable of keeping silent. Vladimir: You’re right, we’re inexhaustible. Estragon: It’s so we won’t think.

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Vladimir: We have that excuse. Estragon: It’s so we won’t hear. Vladimir: We have our reasons. Estragon: All the dead voices. Vladimir: They make a noise like wings. Estragon: Like leaves. Vladimir: Like sand. Estragon: Like leaves. (CDW 57) In this impressive dialogue, it is suggested that – just like Schreber who needs to say something loudly to drown the alien inner voices25 – Vladimir and Estragon continue talking in order to avoid thinking about and hearing the dead voices, which ‘talk about their lives’ since ‘[t]o have lived’ and ‘[t]o be dead’ are ‘not enough for them’ (CDW 57). Thinking is equated with hearing the dead voices. Thinking means hearing oneself speak in the inner consciousness, and the voice in this situation is put in the camp of the dead and ghosts, just as in The Unnamable. This passage seems to hint at a continuity between Waiting for Godot and the exploration of the inner consciousness in The Unnamable.26 This should come as no surprise as Godot was written immediately before The Unnamable, though the two works are not often discussed in connection. We may also add that the structure in which the dead voices inevitably come up, unless they are suppressed by conversation, prefigures that in How It Is, where the voice is heard ‘when the panting stops’. In The Unnamable, where there is no room for talking or panting to quench the dead voices, there is nothing to do but grapple with them endlessly. Deconstruction is congenial to ghosts because it unsettles the distinctions between presence and absence, past and present, life and death. At the same time, it favours the metaphor of technology and machine in order to indicate the inanimate, death or space structurally inscribed in the ‘live’ and ‘self-present’ subject. Beckett seems to be engaged with the same theoretical conjunction of the ghostly and the prosthetic.27 I have so far focused on how the voice in The Unnamable and How It Is could be described as telephonic (in the sense of Derrida’s ‘telephonic interiority’ or ‘mental telephony’) and therefore prosthetic, while it is necessarily linked to the ghostly dimension. However, there is an intrinsic problem with this kind of attempt to discuss Beckett in the light of Derrida’s theory. Since Derrida discusses the structure of communication in general, we could gain the impression that Beckett is just an illustration of his highly general theory, and therefore run the risk of

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losing sight of the uniqueness of Beckett’s work. Also, I have yet to touch upon Beckett’s media works, which involve actual machines and technologies. The next section will displace the Derrida–Beckett parallels I have pursued so far.

The interpenetration between the material and the immaterial In his work Derrida often refers to technology as one of the most important factors in deconstruction. His late works, such as Specters of Marx (1993), Archive Fever (1995) and Paper Machine (2001), pay serious attention to the fact that contemporary society is permeated by media technologies. The interviews with Bernard Stiegler reproduced in Echographies of Television (1996) are particularly noteworthy because they extensively reveal his ideas of the impact of media technologies. (The interviews were themselves conducted before the television camera.) In the interviews, Derrida repeats a thesis of his earlier work – the essential self-division of the present – to address the question of contemporary teletechnology. He does so by referring to the more recent concept of spectrality. Teletechnology conjures up the spectral or ghostly dimension of the self-division of the present. By reproducing the recorded present any time, anywhere, teletechnology makes manifest the anterior self-division of the living present, ‘which bears its specter within itself’ (51). But self-division exists anyway in speech and writing. Then what is the specificity of contemporary teletechnology that makes it different from writing in general? When Stiegler aptly asks this question, Derrida answers: [T]his specificity, whatever it may be, does not all of a sudden substitute the prosthesis, teletechnology, etc., for immediate or natural speech. These machines have always been there, they are always there, even when we wrote by hand, even during so-called live conversation. And yet, the greatest compatibility, the greatest coordination, the most vivid of possible affinities seems to be asserting itself, today, between what appears to be most alive, most live [  ], and the différance or delay, the time it takes to exploit, broadcast, or distribute it. (38) Thus Derrida claims that speech and writing already have ‘machines’ within them and that teletechnology is merely their extension. He then considers the compatibility between what appears to be live and the

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différance. What is believed to be live can be transported over a great distance (both spatially and temporarily) by teletechnology, and this coexistence of ‘the closest and the farthest away’ is the specificity of contemporary teletechnology in Derrida’s tentative answer.28 But he hastens to add: This polarity already existed, with the [  ] most ‘archaic’ or most ‘primitive’ writing, but today it is taking on a dimension out of all proportion with what it was before. Of course, we should not define a specificity by a quantitative difference. And so we would have to find structural differences – and I think there are some, for example, this restitution as ‘living present’ of what is dead – within this acceleration or amplification, which seems incommensurable, incomparable with all that preceded them for millions of years. (39) After all Derrida does not spell out ‘structural difference’ here as this topic is left unexplored. We are left with the suspicion that it is a matter of ‘acceleration’ or ‘amplification’ of something that existed from the start. In this way, Derrida’s idea of teletechnology is haunted by the possibility that it is ultimately subsumed in his idea of communication in general. Derrida’s point about the self-division of the present holds even without actual teletechnology. We could recall here that in ‘Ulysses Gramophone’ he states that ‘before any appliance bearing the name “telephone” in modern times, the telephonic techn¯e is at work within the voice’ (271). The voice is always already telephonic regardless of the actual existence of the telephone. In this framework, the actuality of teletechnology inevitably has only a secondary status as a sort of surplus, an engagement with which the internal logic of his theory does not necessitate. Herein lies the difficulty Derrida faces in elucidating the specificity of contemporary teletechnology. In Embodying Technesis, Mark Hansen criticises several twentiethcentury thinkers including Derrida for reducing the ‘robust materiality’ of actual technology to the mere figure of a machine – an operation he calls the ‘machine reduction of technology’. He says: Poststructuralists and contemporary cultural critics alike tend to invoke technology not for its own sake but as an enabling means and a material support for a more pressing account of subject constitution, whether on ontogenetic or strictly empirical grounds. In case after case, technology is invoked as a concrete placeholder for the

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alterity that has become, at least in the postmodern academic scene, a compulsory component of any respectable account of subjectivity. (5) Hansen rigorously examines how technology is metaphorised, textualised and reduced to a mere support for theoretical concerns with otherness by such thinkers as Heidegger, Freud, Derrida, Lacan, Deleuze and Guattari. His view helps us to understand the quality of the references to technology and the machine in Derrida’s work. For example, we noted earlier the following comment in ‘Signature, Event, Context’: ‘To write is to produce a mark that will constitute a sort of machine, which is productive in turn, and which my future disappearance will not, in principle, hinder in its functioning, offering things and itself to be read and to be rewritten’ (8, emphasis added). By using a mechanical metaphor in this manner, Derrida may be running the risk of figuralising the machine too much and therefore turning away from the actuality of technology. The term machine is used merely to note the ‘relative exteriority’ (Hansen’s term) within the subject the deconstruction of which is his primary concern. It goes without saying that the same applies to the metaphor of the telephone in ‘Ulysses Gramophone’. We may also call into question Derrida’s frequent use of the term prosthesis. As I pointed out in the Introduction to this book, ‘prosthesis’ is often made equivalent to the highly abstract concept ‘supplement’ and is thereby deprived of its actual physical connotations. It seems that as long as we follow Derrida’s idea of teletechnology, we cannot fully address the actuality of technology or Beckett’s engagement with teletechnology. This may explain why most of the Derridean critics of Beckett confine themselves to discussing his fiction and neglect his media works.29 In the case of his fiction, especially the trilogy, Derrida’s theory can offer an illuminating interpretative framework. However, the unique quality of Beckett’s media works seems to demand a different perspective. Hence it is now necessary to depart from Derrida and investigate the relation between the voice in The Unnamable and How It Is and the actual prosthetic voice in Beckett’s works that involve teletechnology. Earlier, I discussed how in The Unnamable and How It Is the distance within the subject – the distance linked to Derrida’s ‘telephonic interiority’ – is literally represented in spatial terms. In The Unnamable the voice that drifts without any fixed origin or destination is represented as information transmitted through the narrator. The transmission of information is also imagined as the conveyance of message by a messenger who traverses some distance to report to the higher authority

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about the narrator. This theme is carried over to How It Is, in which the narrator says, ‘I say it as I hear it’, and an infinite chain of people conveying information (‘rumour’) is imagined in Part Three. What is remarkable about these examples is that the distance within the subject, the Derridean concept that is supposed to be abstract and resist any kind of spatial representation, is given a concrete and literal analogue in the form of a spatial distance over which human figures transmit information. This interpenetration between the cerebral and immaterial realm of the mind and its material embodiment is one of the most important features of the Beckettian imagination. In a revealing comment on Beckett’s spatial representation, Ellen Frank draws attention to the tradition in which the mind is architecturally represented: We persist, it seems, in feeling that the mind has no extension – to use Descartes’ term – and when we seek to describe it, we translate it into metaphors which, of necessity, do have extension. In other words, ‘mind’ without the analogue is shaky, threatening on the one hand to disappear into a puff of abstraction or, on the other, to so reduce itself to essentials as to be matter no longer, but only energy (a chemical, electrical brain). (234–5)30 Then she discusses Beckett’s Murphy, in which Murphy’s mind finds an analogue in his padded cell. Frank says, ‘Beckett never lets an abstraction “exist” without a concrete, literal parallel or equivalent: thus [  ] the padded cell for schizoids in Magdalen Mental Mercyseat becomes the extended equivalent, the architectural analogue, to Murphy’s mind’ (236–7). The same principle must underlie the fact that the mind is often represented as the inside of the skull in Beckett’s work. Here we find that ‘distance’ or ‘spacing’ in the abstract Derridean sense is literalised and given concrete representation. Needless to say, Beckett’s stage and media works carry this literalisation forward by materialising the immaterial ‘space’ of the mind in actual space, instead of simply describing it with words. There is remarkable ease with which the inner voice in fiction can be transferred to the material voice in plays, and this brings about the often discussed intergeneric quality of Beckett’s work. The intertwinement of his fiction and drama has been widely noted, as in the case with the prose work Company, which lends itself to theatrical adaptation because of its evocation of a physical space with a lying human body and a voice in the dark.

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It would still be possible to explain these features by means of a generalised Derridean logic: the immaterial in the mind necessarily has to be supplemented by material support; the one cannot establish itself without recourse to the other; pure spirituality is impossible because it is always already infected by materiality; virtuality cannot be distinguished from actuality. As in other cases, Derrida would deconstruct all these binary oppositions. However, the persistent tendency in Beckett’s work to embody and materialise phenomena of the mind, to reconstruct the mind physically as a skull-like space where voice reverberates and vision emerges, and thereby to break down the conventional distinction between the immaterial and the material, is radical and unique enough to deserve particular attention, apart from the general logic of supplementarity. I will therefore consider Beckett’s use of actual media technology in the light of the compulsion to give concrete, spatial and material representation to phenomena of the mind, which lacks extension in Descartes’ sense and therefore supposedly resists any such attempt. It is ultimately an attempt at impossible representation – or representation pushed to its limit, where it is faced with the unrepresentable – simply because the mind can never be spatially represented and portraying it as a skull, for example, remains a crude approximation. Beckett was anxious to go beyond the traditional representational relations in art, as can be seen most clearly in ‘Three Dialogues’.31 But this does not mean that he relinquished all attempts at representation. He persisted with the impossible goal of representing the inner ‘space’ of the mind by the camera eye. The impossibility of representation can only be acknowledged after tenacious investment in representation. It is well known that Beckett obstinately adhered to his vision when directing his plays, and at times prevented the production of his plays by others who did not conform to that vision. It is therefore necessary to pay serious attention to his persistent effort to represent his vision as faithfully as possible by means of actual space and media.32 Derrida’s discussion of actual teletechnology, which is subsumed under his discussion of the structure of communication in general (oral and written), does not address what compelled Beckett to use actual sound technology. Beckett needed sound technology in order to materialise the telephonic voice in The Unnamable and How It Is, to recreate it in actual space. This should be regarded as a unique feature of the Beckettian voice, rather than an illustration of the general structure of communication. References to the inside of the skull are ubiquitous in Beckett’s work. The suggestion is that everything narrated is only occurring in the

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head, and is therefore devoid of external referents. The concentration on mental phenomena, spatially represented as the inside of the skull, gives rise to the image of the inner eye and inner ear: ‘the eyes staring behind the lids, the ear straining for a voice not from without’ (Texts for Nothing, CSP 85). And the blurring of the distinction between the inner eye and the outer eye, as examined in the previous chapter, stems from the peculiarly tenacious tendency to equate the mental realm with the physical realm. Then, the inner voice in the head would also be indistinguishable from the real physical voice. It is useful to remember that Lucky’s extravagant speech is a response to the order to think, not speak. The flow of inner thought, usually separated from materiality or physicality, is rendered indistinguishable from voiced speech. But the physical voice comes from a human body and its source or origin is normally easy to identify. For an effective representation of the inner voice, which drifts without origin or destination, it is better to separate the voice completely from the body. Sound technologies such as the gramophone, telephone and radio suit this purpose. The inner voice in the skull can emanate from those devices as an alien, exterior and literally prosthetic voice, no longer anchored to the human body. In many of his plays Beckett used the prerecorded voice to represent the ‘telephonic interiority’ in actual space, where the disembodied inner voice travels ‘telephonically’ over distance. Beckett’s engagement with sound technology started with his first radio drama All That Fall (1957), but this piece was rather realistic and did not directly deal with the inner mental realm. Beckett’s exploration of phenomena in the skull by means of sound technology was truly inaugurated in the stage play Krapp’s Last Tape (1958). The use of a tape recorder provided a vivid contrast between the young Krapp’s youthful, ambitious voice and the physical presence of the old, decrepit Krapp on the stage. The narrator of Remembrance of Things Past compares the voice of an old friend whom he is seeing for the first time in many years, to a voice on the gramophone:

I was astonished. The familiar voice seemed to be emitted by a gramophone [  ] more perfect than any I had ever heard, for, though it was the voice of my friend, it issued from the mouth of a corpulent gentleman with greying hair whom I did not know, and I could only suppose that somehow artificially, by a mechanical device, the voice of my old comrade had been lodged in the frame of this stout elderly man who might have been anybody. (Quoted in Danius 16)

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By means of the tape recorder, Krapp’s Last Tape exploits the similar incongruity between the young voice and the old body emitting it. The voice of the young Krapp would have been lost forever without the tape recorder. It is a ghostly voice, resurrected from the irretrievable past, just as the young Beckett noted in the telephone scene in the Proust novel. It bewilders, enchants or enrages the old Krapp on the stage, who will soon join the realm of the dead and ghosts. If it is possible to interpret the space in Krapp’s Last Tape as a representation of mental phenomena, the recorded voice of the young Krapp might correspond to a sound long preserved in memory. In a sense, the tape recorder enabled Beckett to represent the work of memory on the stage. The recorded voice here is both like and unlike the involuntary memory Beckett discussed in Proust. Krapp voluntarily revives his past voice by switching on the recorder, but he cannot predict what it will say. Once started, his recorded voice is not completely under his control because it takes him by surprise with unexpected details or carries him away to his past, transcending time just like involuntary memory. An objection might be raised to the analogy drawn here between the recorded voice and memory because we usually do not remember how our voice sounded in our younger days. But the important point here is that our memory can in fact be external and alien to us, as in the case of the involuntary memories that suddenly visit us. Thus an alien machine like the tape recorder can naturally replace it. In other words, the tape recorder as an alien prosthesis can be incorporated into the inner realm of human memory. In 1880, soon after the gramophone was invented, the French philosopher Jean-Marie Guyau published an essay entitled ‘Memory and Phonograph’, in which he compared the human brain to a phonograph: ‘it would be neither very imprecise nor very disconcerting to define the brain as an infinitely perfected phonograph – a conscious phonograph’ (quoted in Kittler, Gramophone 33). Apart from the fact that Krapp has the freedom to choose and control his tapes, he is not unlike Daniel Paul Schreber whose mind was dominated by an alien data-storage machine that recorded everything. Unlike Beckett’s first radio drama – All That Fall, which is relatively realistic – his second radio piece Embers (1959) probes directly into a man’s inner mind. Henry goes to a seashore and sits down. (The sound of the sea evoked here remains audible throughout the drama.) Soon Henry says, ‘Who is beside me now? [Pause.] An old man, blind and foolish. [Pause.] My father, back from the dead, to be with me. [Pause.] As if he hadn’t died. [Pause.] No, simply back from the dead, to be with

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me, in this strange place’ (CDW 253). His father is thus resurrected to become a listener to Henry’s words. In the past Henry did not need a listener, but now he does. He begins to tell a rather dreary story about Bolton and his doctor Holloway. Henry imitates his father’s voice when he remembers his words. But when he calls his wife Ada, her real voice responds and they start to talk to each other. While they talk about their daughter Addie, two scenes are suddenly evoked by real voices and sounds – scenes in which Addie is scolded by her piano teacher and her riding instructor respectively. These scenes, suggesting the futility of educating a child, function like Proust’s involuntary memory, though they are triggered by Henry’s conversation with Ada. Unlike Krapp, who can choose and manipulate his taped memories, Henry is completely vulnerable to a sudden resurrection of acoustic memory. Later, when Henry says that his father does not answer him, Ada says: I suppose you have worn him out. [Pause.] You wore him out living and now you are wearing him out dead. [Pause.] The time comes when one cannot speak to you any more. [Pause.] The time will come when no one will speak to you at all, not even complete strangers. [Pause.] You will be quite alone with your voice, there will be no other voice in the world but yours. (CDW 262) This speech implies that Ada might also cease to speak to Henry, just like his father. It does not matter whether Ada is really alive somewhere at the moment of this drama, because after all her voice too is evoked in Henry’s imagination. Ada’s status is the same as that of Henry’s father, and thus ghostly. Soon, as if to prove her own words, Ada leaves despite Henry’s request that she stay on to listen to his story of Bolton and Holloway. Henry’s mind is inhabited by ghosts and seized upon by their voices. The ghostly voices are supposed to be ringing in his imagination, or to use a more Beckettian phrase, inside his skull. Involuntary memories also come up in the form of voice. But here all the voices are materialised as real voices coming from the radio. The listener is directly plunged into the world of Henry’s imagination and compelled to experience it. Those voices come to the listener externally from the radio, in accordance with the fact that for Henry too they are alien, even if they are in his mind. Since the radio dissociates voices from the body, it can effectively involve the listener in the ghostly inner voices inhabiting Henry’s mind. On the stage, the pure and intense concentration on ghostly voices, made possible by the radio, would be undermined by the inevitable

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presence of human figures. While Krapp’s Last Tape presents a striking contrast between the old Krapp on the stage and the young Krapp’s recorded voice, in Embers, the human body is eliminated and the inner world of the mind is conjured up more purely by sound and voice only. In the above-quoted speech, Ada says, ‘You will be quite alone with your voice, there will be no other voice in the world but yours’. This is reminiscent of the narrators in The Unnamable and How It Is, who find themselves alone after all. Like them, Henry is alone but interacting with his imaginary others. It could be argued that the voices in Embers are a materialised extension of the inner and immaterial voices in the novels. Beckett in this manner transposes the inner voices in the head to the real voices in the radio, collapsing the distinction between the inner world and the outer world. However, when we are listening to Embers, the source of sound is inevitably one: the radio’s speaker. In order to represent the situation in The Unnamable more faithfully, it would be better if the source of sound were entirely indeterminable, or even movable like the ghost’s voice (‘Swear’) in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Beckett’s later stage play That Time (1976) could be viewed as an attempt to approximate such a situation. In this play, an old man is exposed to three voices from different sources (loudspeakers), each recounting a segment of his past life. Although the vocal source is not multiplied in this way, Beckett’s later stage plays such as Footfalls (1976) and Rockaby (1981) create a space in which the human body interacts with a recorded voice that is dissociated from it. In Not I, the human body is itself reduced to being a kind of mechanical sound source, listened to by Auditor whose body is present on the stage. In these plays, we are expected to see the interaction between the body and the mechanical voice, while Embers plunges us directly into the soundscape inside the skull. In the later radio dramas, Beckett turns away from the realistic elements that still linger in Embers (the sound of the sea, for example) and concentrates more on the workings of the inner consciousness. In Words and Music (1962), the master Croak is served by Words (Joe) and Music (Bob), who do not seem to be on good terms with each other. Joe’s words are excessively elaborate, verging on a parody of a highbrow academic discourse like Lucky’s ‘thought’. Croak orders them to give a performance on themes he chooses – such as love and age – and scolds them when they fail to satisfy him. Eventually, Joe and Bob remind Croak of his past lover Lily and break his heart. Croak leaves them in the end.

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Music here might be literally music because we sometimes find ourselves listening to music running in our head – music that has impressed us recently or become familiar to us. We can usually start and stop music in our head by conscious will, just as Croak does. However, there is room for a broader interpretation. Martin Esslin maintains that music here represents ‘a nonverbal component’ of human consciousness: [A]fter all, human consciousness – the self’s awareness of its own existence – does not only consist of a constant stream of language. It has a nonverbal component as well, the parallel and no less unbroken stream of wordless consciousness of being, made up of body sensations, inner tensions, the awareness of body temperature, aches, pains, the throbbings of the flow of one’s own blood: all are the multiple facets of nonverbal consciousness summed up in the overall concept of emotion. (135) In order to represent what is going on in the head more faithfully, Beckett used music for the nonverbal stream of consciousness. Or, following Kittler, it could be said that Beckett sublimated into music the unarticulated noise that steeps language and literature in the “discourse network of 1900”. In this discourse network, thoughts continue automatically with or without articulated words, regardless of the subject’s intention. Just as Krapp can operate and control the recorded voice of his younger days, Croak in Words and Music is in a position to order and control words and music – that is, both verbal and nonverbal streams of consciousness.33 But significantly, both Krapp and Croak are unsettled by what they are supposed to control. If Krapp’s Last Tape implies that memory can become alien or unpredictable and therefore be replaced by an external machine, Words and Music seems to show that the mind can be figured in terms of an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to control the verbal and nonverbal streams of consciousness. By suggesting that memory or consciousness can go on somewhat independently of the subject’s intention, they both present a variation of the ‘thought’ of Lucky, the broken word-producing machine that best exemplifies the state of the ‘discourse network of 1900’. Cascando (1963) is an obvious development of Words and Music. The Opener, the equivalent of Croak, ‘opens’ Voice and Music by turns or together. The Voice tells a story about Woburn (Maunu in the French version), who seems to be crawling on the sand near the sea. At the end, it says that it has nearly caught him. There is a suggestion that the end

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of this drama coincides with the end of the ‘Woburn story’ – the pattern echoing Malone Dies. It is obvious that it is a representation of the inner consciousness, just as in Words and Music. But the difference is that the Opener is more self-conscious and makes some comments on his own operations. While he says, ‘They say, He opens nothing, he has nothing to open, it’s in his head’ (CDW 300), he protests against such remarks and insists, ‘It’s my life. I live on that’ (299). Similarly, he objects when ‘they’ say, ‘It’s his own, it’s his voice, it’s in his head’ (302). The voice must be someone else’s. The Opener’s denial here inevitably reminds us of Mouth in Not I, who fiercely denies that she is talking about herself. He wants to think that the words and music he is hearing are something outside himself that he can control by the act of opening, and that he has ‘lived on’ such an operation. However, the more strongly he negates, the more suspicious we become that the words and music are indeed in his head. They are not totally controllable because they are streams of his consciousness that will go on regardless of his will. When he says, ‘I’m afraid to open./ But I must open./ So I open’ (302), there is a suggestion that sometimes he is compelled to open against his will. The ending of this drama with the end of the Voice’s story of Woburn may imply the Opener’s death, because death comes when the stream of consciousness ends. Both Words and Music and Cascando use radio sounds to explore the workings of the inner consciousness. The words and music in these radio dramas are needless to say recorded in advance and reproduced for the audience. Consciousness, which the subject cannot control totally, is imagined to be mechanical and replaceable by recorded voices and music – the inner realm is infiltrated by prosthesis. This feature is not unique to Beckett because surrealists had already conceived of the workings of the mind in terms of a recording machine or radiophony.34 More generally, it is sufficient to recall Victor Tausk’s patients afflicted by the influencing machine and Daniel Paul Schreber’s experiences of nervous illness in order to see how deeply the human psyche was permeated and dominated by prosthesis around the turn of the century. Yet Beckett was compelled to represent and exteriorise the already prosthetised interior mind by actual sound machines. The resultant interpenetration between the mental, immaterial realm and the physical, material realm seems to be unique to his work. The use of the tape recorder and radio was necessary because they were suitable for the Beckettian compulsion to represent the inner world as concretely as possible in actual space.

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The voice in The Unnamable and How It Is can be described as telephonic and therefore prosthetic because it traverses distance (created by the différance) within the subject. It resonates in the space of what Derrida calls ‘telephonic interiority’ or ‘mental telephony’. If Beckett had confined himself to writing fiction, ‘telephone’ might have remained just a metaphor. Yet he was compelled to go beyond fiction writing and engage in the production of plays, which involved actual space and technology. This aspect of Beckett’s artistic undertaking cannot be adequately illuminated by Derrida’s theory, in which technology tends to function as a metaphor that indicates alterity in the subject. The use of actual machines was absolutely necessary for Beckett because of the fundamental impulse in his art to represent phenomena of the mind with maximum precision in material space, even though this endeavour was ultimately doomed to failure due to the unrepresentability of the mind in spatial terms. The telephonic and prosthetic voice that was metaphoric (and thus conducive to Derrida’s theory) in The Unnamable and How It Is was materialised or literalised in his media works with sound technologies. Beckett seized upon the artistic potential of the tape recorder and radio to separate the voice from the body and make it resemble a ghostly voice in the head. In the previous chapter, I argued that Beckett’s concern with the spatial representation of the mind underlay his exploration of vision using the actual camera eye. In the spatialised mind, there was a link between the inner eye, the physical eye and the camera eye. When considering the way the inner eye works as the camera eye and vice versa, we identified the most important feature of the prosthetic body: the interplay of the inside (the mind as a physical space) and the outside (prosthesis). In this chapter, a similar structure has emerged in relation to the prosthetic voice: the mind is spatialised and infiltrated by prosthesis, but this state is exteriorised or actualised by prosthesis. It is also notable that in both prosthetic senses, the dimensions of death and ghosts, familiar to Beckett from the start, were opened up and explored. The prosthetic body is a body that harbours the outside or the alien within it, thereby becoming the locus of interactions between the inside and the outside. Beckett’s exploration of it is staged primarily in two kinds of inner space: the womb and the skull. Regression to the earlier psychic stages invokes the image of a body made of mechanical parts, a body whose boundaries are constantly problematised and transgressed. In this disorganised body there is confusion of the organs and synaesthesia. In the case of the prosthetic senses, the instability of

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the boundaries is manifest as interpenetration between the inner immaterial realm and the outer material realm. Whether in the womb or the skull, Beckett explored prosthetisation by intense concentration on the minutiae of the conditions of the body and the mind. He forged his art by grappling with and taking advantage of the permeation of prosthesis that reaches the innermost consciousness as well as the body. In this sense, we could say that his art carried to the utmost one of the most important aspects of modernism.

Notes

Introduction 1. I use the term modernism to include radical movements such as Futurism, Dadaism and surrealism, which are sometimes called the avant-garde rather than modernism. 2. Throughout this book, emphases in quotations are in the original unless otherwise stated. 3. As a one-time student of McLuhan, Kenner also discusses Beckett in the broad perspective of the history of media and technology in The Stoic Comedians: Flaubert, Joyce, Beckett (1962) and The Mechanic Muse (1984). In the latter, Kenner interestingly connects Beckett’s language with computer language. 4. A recent exception is Daniel Albright’s Beckett and Aesthetics (2003), the second chapter of which provides some information on the historical background of Beckett’s engagement with technologies such as radio, television, film and tape recording. 5. In Of Grammatology, Derrida maintains that there are two kinds of supplement. One is ‘a surplus, a plenitude enriching another plenitude, the fullest measure of presence’ (144). In contrast, the other works ‘by the anterior default of a presence’. ‘As substitute, it is not simply added to the positivity of a presence, it produces no relief, its place is assigned in the structure by the mark of an emptiness’ (145). It is clear that Derrida uses this latter logic when discussing the parergon. 6. Derrida’s book is based on a presentation given at a conference in 1992, organised by Patrick Mensah (the English translator of the book) and Wills. Wills has translated some of Derrida’s texts, including The Gift of Death. 7. Wills stresses that Protestantism lay behind these challenges, and he regards Protestantism itself as prosthetic (220). 8. Wills puts the year at 1704 (218). The OED’s precise definition (2a) is ‘[t]hat part of surgery which consists in supplying deficiencies, as by artificial limbs or teeth, or by other means’. The sense of ‘[a]n artificial replacement for a part of the body’ (2b) first emerged in 1900. According to Wills (218), in French, the medical term prothèse occurred first in 1695, and the rhetorical prosthèse in 1704. The latter meaning still survives. 9. I have in mind Didier Anzieu’s Beckett et le psychanalyste (1992), Phil Baker’s Beckett and the Mythology of Psychoanalysis (1997), Evelyne Grossman’s L’Esthétique de Beckett (1998) and David Houston Jones’s The Body Abject (2000), the latter two influenced by Julia Kristeva. As well as these (broadly) psychoanalytical approaches, Steven Connor’s recent works such as Dumbstruck (2000) and The Book of Skin (2004) are also helpful in focusing on the concrete physical realities in cultural history. 169

170 Notes

1 The Prosthetic Body and Sexuality 1. When necessary, I indicate the publication date of Beckett’s works. In the case of his dramatic works, including his film, radio and television plays, the years indicated are those when they were first performed, shown or broadcast. 2. The preference for absence over presence is the core of the aesthetic attitude propounded in the novel. For example, the narrator says, ‘The real presence was a pest because it did not give the imagination a break. Without going as far as Stendhal, who said ‘[  ] that the best music [  ] was the music that became inaudible after a few bars, we do declare and maintain stiffly [  ] that the object that becomes invisible before your eye is, so to speak, the brightest and best’ (12). Such a view is inseparable from the priority of silence over words that is also conspicuous in this novel, and needless to say, it prefigures Beckett’s later aesthetic development. 3. When Belacqua attempts to create the state of the ‘wombtomb’, he always fails. This vain attempt is described as ‘try[ing] to mechanise what was a dispensation’ (123). Although the word ‘mechanise’ here primarily means ‘routinise’ and lacks the wide-ranging connotations I am discussing, this passage deserves some attention if we take it as another instance of the general failure of the mechanical in Beckett’s work. 4. For an extensive discussion of Beckett and the anal character, see Baker 48–63. Baker observes that Beckett’s anality is ‘linked to failed Oedipality, obsessionality, and a denial of genitality and of women’ (62). This aspect is also related to the obsession with the womb. 5. Beckett knew psychoanalysis very well and sometimes it appears that he made use of its materials. Therefore, as Phil Baker’s book illustrates, a psychoanalytic study of his work inevitably becomes in part an analysis of the psychoanalytic materials embedded in his texts (see Baker xii). 6. The link between Beckett and Carrouges’ idea of the ‘bachelor machine’ has been pointed out by Hiroshi Takayama (385) and Phil Baker (140–4). 7. My translations from Carrouges 37. 8. When discussing the grammatical uncertainty in Beckett’s prose, Daniel Katz presents an alternative reading of this passage. He suggests that the object of ‘dismounted’ might be the woman, not the bicycle. This implies that in order to love, the narrator has to leave the woman with whom he has been. Katz says that this interpretation ‘places us squarely within the thematics of solipsism, narcissism, voyeurism, and onanism so prevalent in the early Beckett’ (149). The only problem with this reading is the implication that if he ‘dismounts’ the woman, he must have been in physical contact with her, if not exactly ‘mounting’ her, which seems implausible in view of the manifest fear of women’s physicality in the early Beckett. 9. Phil Baker discusses bicycles and rocking chairs as Beckett’s bachelor machines in the context of the Freudian death instinct to return to the original inorganic state (140–4). He rightly observes that rocking chairs, by mechanical, repetitive movement, send Murphy and the old woman in Rockaby to a sort of death in the embrace of a mother – the ‘wombtomb’. But with regard to bicycles, he only points out that they often bring about the death of women and children by collision. In my view, it is also important to note the internal psychic linkage between the allure of the womb,

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10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

anti-eroticism and the bicycle as a prosthetic extension of the body – the linkage that can be observed in ‘Fingal’ and ‘Sanies I’. As Harold B. Segel observes, ‘The literary and dramatic fascination with puppets, marionettes, automatons [sic], and other animated objects grew considerably in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. German literature is especially noteworthy in this respect’ (11). Apart from Goethe’s passion for puppet theatre and Hoffmann’s tale ‘The Sandman’, Heinrich von Kleist’s essay on the marionette theatre (1810) is a typical example. For Beckett’s interest in this essay, see Knowlson and Pilling. See also Okamuro for a concise account of Beckett and the genealogy of mechanical performance in modernism (‘Kikaijikake no meikyu [The Clockwork Labyrinth]’). This novel is allocated a chapter in Carrouges’ Les Machines célibataires. E. T. A. Hoffmann’s tale ‘The Sandman’, with the female doll Olympia, might be considered a precursor of Tomorrow’s Eve. Analysing this tale, Freud in ‘The Uncanny’ argues that the uncanny effect of the animate-looking doll is due to the return of a repressed infantile belief or wish that the doll is alive (SE XVII 233). He also suggests that the womb, where everyone once was, is an uncanny place par excellence, in view of his definition that the uncanny (unheimlich) is in fact something familiar (heimlich) (SE XVII 245). Unfortunately, however, he does not discuss any link between the uncanny doll and the womb. Miller Frank is therefore misleading in establishing such a link in reference to Freud (78). Miller Frank therefore discusses Tomorrow’s Eve in terms of the idealising fetishisation of the woman, which necessarily involves a denial of sexual difference (154–7). The same structure can be observed even when the woman’s body is not exactly mechanised, but kept away through the artificial and the mechanical. George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion (first produced in 1914) is a case in point. Unlike Pygmalion, who loves the Galatea he creates, Professor Higgins is a misogynist who cannot have a normal sexual relationship with women. He treats Eliza not as a real woman but simply as an object to be refined and to be relied upon for the chores of daily life. This is related to the fact that Higgins is too attached to his own mother, which Shaw explicitly states in his afterword (135–6). The pull of the maternal prohibits Higgins from normal sexual relations with women. Characteristically, he distances himself from Eliza by means of machines. His laboratory is filled with various machines or prostheses – a phonograph, a laryngoscope, a telephone and so on (cf. 33) – which represented the latest developments in vocal technology around the turn of the century. Eliza seems to be constantly observed by machines, as the following remark by Colonel Pickering (Higgins’ companion) suggests: ‘We keep records of every stage [of Eliza’s progress] – dozens of gramophone disks and photographs’ (82). Theweleit says, ‘All of the flows in which the body might have dissolved and discarded its armor are now stemmed. Held within all too narrow confines, desire begins to swirl in dangerous currents; under the mounting pressure, attention turns inward to processes of explosion, eruption, implosion’ (I 360).

172 Notes 15. This regulation naturally includes the mechanisation of the woman’s body discussed in the previous section. Theweleit mentions Jean Paul’s portrayal of the high-born woman as a wooden doll. Jean Paul ‘saw the social functionalizing of “high-born” women as a false mechanizing of their bodies (prepared speeches from robot-mouths, the striking of beautiful poses, etc)’ (I 357). It was a ‘false’ mechanising because it was a ‘totality-machine’, which stems flows unlike Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘desiring machine’. For the distinction between these two machines, see Theweleit II 198–99. 16. Here ‘not-yet-fully-born’ does not link directly to the womb fixation because it means the incompletion of ‘individuation’, which separates the infant from the mother and others so that it can form its own sense of boundaries. (The process takes about two and a half years after birth.) Yet this idea is obviously relevant to the psychic regression that I am now exploring in Beckett, although Theweleit argues rather fastidiously that the ‘not-yet-fullyborn’ do not attain higher psychic levels from which they can regress at all (II 259). The ‘not-yet-fully-born’ protect their underdeveloped ego from disturbing sexuality by armouring. The fantasy of the idealised womb, free of sexual difference, is congenial to such a psychic condition. In the next chapter, I will discuss the uncertainty of the body’s boundaries in relation to regression to the earlier psychic stages. 17. See Foster, Prosthetic Gods 109–49. 18. This ambivalence is clearly described: ‘[H]e felt compassion as well as fear; he dreaded lest his prisoner escape, he longed that it might escape [  ]’ (5). 19. We may note that the dam in ‘Assumption’ is equated to ‘something of the desire to live, something of the unreasonable tenacity with which he shrank from dissolution’ or ‘a part of his essential animality’. Quite paradoxically, the dam, which is supposed to lead to lifelessness of the body, is built by the desire for life. In other words, the only way to keep ‘life’ is on the side of the inanimate. Probably the same could be said of the fascist male’s armouring. He armours and mechanises himself in order to ‘live’. Death is doubly involved here: it is inherent in both the unconscious drive (the flood) and the mechanisation (the dam) that counteracts it. 20. In Dream, the (desirable) dissolution is hinted at by the recurring image of the ‘wombtomb’ to which Belacqua aspires. 21. The real womb is certainly full of various flows. Therefore Belacqua is idealising the womb when he says that the ‘wombtomb’ has ‘no flight and flow’ (45). 22. Cinzia Sartini Blum also refers to the concept of abjection when discussing Marinetti’s misogyny (35–6, 55–78). In the process she points out the ambiguity of the mother in his novel Mafarka the Futurist. She says, ‘The repudiated mother [  ] is an impossible goal, part of a utopian effort at escape from the adult world of ambitious self-reliance. Or else she is the dangerous and nearby threat, the dreaded magnet of a relapse into smothering dependency – Medusa and engulfing womb’ (63). 23. Foster provides a similar schema also in Compulsive Beauty 145-8. I would note here that during the conception of this book, I was greatly inspired by Foster’s earlier essay ‘Prosthetic Gods’ (on Marinetti and Wyndham Lewis). 24. Given that Bellmer was inspired by Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann to create these fragmented female dolls, it is clear that the Romantic literature

Notes 173

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30. 31.

(including E. T. A. Hoffmann) and surrealism share the fetishistic employment of the uncanny effect of the female automaton. For an analysis of Bellmer’s poupées, see Foster, Compulsive Beauty 101–22 and Prosthetic Gods 227–38. For extensive analyses of Marinetti and Wyndham Lewis in terms of binding/unbinding energy and armouring/aggressivity, see Prosthetic Gods 109–49. For Bellmer’s opposition to fascist armouring, see Compulsive Beauty 118–22. Analysing one of Ernst’s early collages, Foster points out that ‘as in childhood theories of conception this “self-construction” conflates the sexual and the scatological’, and that while ‘the sexual-scatological mocks the mechanical’, ‘the mechanical is seen to penetrate the sexual-scatological [  ]’ (168). This description inevitably reminds us of Belacqua’s masturbation machine, in which, as I noted earlier in reference to Freud, the sexual and the scatological can indeed be shown to be conflated. Incidentally, Beckett and Ernst were not remote from each other in real life. Peggy Guggenheim, Beckett’s onetime girlfriend, married Ernst. He was her fourth husband. Ernst illustrated Beckett’s From an Abandoned Work (the trilingual edition published by Manus Presse in Stuttgart in 1967). For a discussion of these illustrations, see Hubert. The narcissistic stage to which the patient regresses is a pregenital phase, in which the infant is a diffuse sexual being. His entire body is a libidinal zone – that is, a genital. Thus it could be said that when the patient projects his own body (or to be precise, the libidinal flux in his body) as a machine, he is implicitly projecting his own genitalia. This is how Tausk makes his analysis consistent with Freud’s claim that machines in dreams stand for the dreamer’s own genitalia. Tausk also suggests that the dreams of the machines are of a masturbatory nature (528). This could be significant if we think of Belacqua’s mechanical imagination, and the psychical regression in the bachelor machines in general. Beckett read Rank’s book carefully by taking notes (Knowlson 178, 738n49). For a substantial discussion of Rank and Beckett, see Baker 64–105. Baker argues that The Trauma of Birth created a ‘womb-lore’ that influenced many avant-gardists, such as Salvador Dalí, André Breton, Paul Eluard, Henry Miller, Anais Nin and Cyril Connolly. He convincingly situates Beckett in this trend. Rank maintains that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ also symbolises the painful aspect of the womb, and that neurotics identify with ‘the hero who succeeds in returning to the womb by means of pleasurable suffering’ (137). This might explain the frequent reference to crucifixion in Beckett’s work. Ixion and Tantalus did creep into Murphy (16). As well as the motif of self-punishment, Rank mentions a neurotic symptom of paralysis (characterised by immobility of the body) as indicative of the desire to return to the womb (49–50). In fact, the descriptions of physical symptoms that Beckett gave to Bion included ‘total paralysis’ (Knowlson 176). More interestingly, while maintaining that psychosis should be considered as a deeper regression into the foetal state than neurosis (and therefore less hopeful), Rank praises Tausk’s paper on the influencing machine for illuminating the link between schizophrenia (its catatonic symptoms in particular) and the fantasy of returning to the womb, in which the body is alien and uncontrollable (69–70).

174 Notes 32. As Mary Bryden argues, the misogynistic treatment of women continues even in the trilogy. But the dichotomy of the threatening woman and the introvert man ceases to be foregrounded after Murphy as the narrator’s pursuit of his inner world intensifies. Therefore I prefer to set the turning point somewhere between Murphy and the trilogy, regarding Watt as a transitional work. 33. Needless to say, this setting is a full extension of the image of the watery womb that appeared in Dream. In the next chapter, I will discuss the flows in The Unnamable and How It Is in relation to the question of bodily boundaries.

2 The Question of Boundaries 1. Notable examples are Elizabeth Grosz’s Volatile Bodies (1994) and Gail Weiss’ Body Images (1999), both of which discuss Schilder and Merleau-Ponty. 2. The possession of a body image by the foetus is not a far-fetched idea because even it must have a very primitive, fragmentary sense of its body. 3. In this chapter, I carry over the idea that psychic regression underlies the prosthetic body, but this may not be the only way to consider the prosthetic body. James Knowlson, for example, relates the estrangement of the body in Dream to ‘the existential concern with the viscosity of being that was found in Jean-Paul Sartre’s La Nausée’ (153, 732n46). 4. Moran, who shares Molloy’s enthusiasm for the bicycle, suffers a similar fate in the second part of the novel. 5. Interestingly, just as the body falls apart, so does writing. Malone says, ‘But my fingers too write in other latitudes and the air that breathes through my pages and turns them without my knowing, when I doze off, so that the subject falls far from the verb and the object lands somewhere in the void, is not the air of this second-last abode, and a mercy it is’ (235, emphasis added). 6. The sense of losing organs is frequently expressed in this novel: ‘I don’t feel a mouth on me, nor a head, [  ] I don’t feel an ear either [  ]’ (386); ‘I don’t feel a mouth on me, [  ] I don’t feel any arms on me, if only I could feel something on me, [  ]’ (408–9); ‘I see nothing, It’s because there is nothing, or it’s because I have no eyes, or both [  ]’ (414). 7. Also in Murphy, we read, ‘As [Murphy] lapsed in body he felt himself coming alive in mind, set free to move among its treasures’ (65). 8. The phenomenon of the phantom limb, which cannot be explained by either mechanistic physiology or psychology, is typical of such a realm. Schilder discusses the phantom limb in The Image and Appearance of the Human Body (63–70). For Schilder’s influence on Merleau-Ponty’s view of it, see Grosz 89–90. 9. The French text only says ‘chiant sa vieille merde’ (Nouvelles et textes pour rien 184), thus lacking the productive ambiguity of the verb ‘slobber’. 10. For example, the narrator of The Unnamable says, ‘I never understood a word of [the “gibberish” he is hearing] in any case, not a word of the stories it spews, like gobbets in a vomit’ (327). The narrator’s doubt about the ‘noble’ function of the mouth is also indicated by the following remark: ‘Would it not be better if I were simply to keep on saying babababa, for example, while waiting to ascertain the true function of this venerable organ?’ (310).

Notes 175 11. The voice here is conceived of as a material substance, like faeces, that can be cut. According to Fónagy, the pronunciation of certain sounds has the effect of strangling the voice (89). 12. My translation from La Vive voix 94. 13. He says that his mother ‘brought me into the world, through the hole in her arse’ (16). See also Baker 61. 14. My translation from Anatomie de Samuel Beckett 91–2. 15. With regard to bodily flows, Schilder emphasises that things that come out of or fall off the body still remain a part of ourselves. ‘We are dealing with a spreading of the body-image into the world’, he says, referring not only to faeces, fingernails and hair but also to voice and language (188). 16. Molloy also describes his ‘ruins’ as ‘a place with neither plan nor bounds’ (40). 17. Starting from the concept of the skin ego, Angela Moorjani discusses various artists including Beckett in terms of skin fetishism. For Beckett and skin fetishism, see Moorjani 98–9. 18. Anzieu goes on to say, ‘This corresponds to the moment at which the psychical Ego differentiates itself from the bodily Ego at the operative level while remaining confused with it at the figurative level’ (40). Then he makes it clear that he owes to Victor Tausk the distinction between the bodily Ego and the psychical Ego. When the bodily Ego is not recognised as belonging to the subject, Tausk’s ‘influencing machine’ emerges. 19. Klaus Theweleit parallels Anzieu in his observation that the fascist male fears the occurrence of flows at the orifices of the body because it threatens the boundaries between inside and outside that he is so anxious to establish by armouring. Theweleit links this psychic mechanism to nineteenthcentury bourgeois society, which strictly disciplined infants to dispose of bodily flows correctly, thereby denying ‘sufficient opportunity for pleasurable overflowing’. He says, ‘Then, according to Margaret Mahler, the child will withdraw its psychic cathexes from its own periphery; it will be unable to break the (unpleasant) symbiotic connection to its mother; and if it is ripped violently out of that symbiosis, it will perceive itself as a thing filled with “evil” streams and will have no sense of its own boundaries. Where other people have skin, this child (under certain social conditions) will grow armor’ (I 411–12). In other words, the child has a problem with the formation of the skin ego. 20. The Bion referred to here is Wilfred Bion, who analysed Beckett. One of the principal tenets of Anzieu’s Beckett et le psychanalyste is that though Bion and Beckett parted company in 1936, their writings began to mirror each other after the war. Beckett’s trilogy is a kind of self-analysis, while Bion developed many themes that could illuminate Beckett’s mature work. For a balanced account of the relationship between the two, see Connor, ‘Beckett and Bion’. 21. In her comparative study of images of flow in Joyce and Beckett, Susan Brienza argues that whereas in Joyce ‘the mind flows on as the body does’ (117), ‘in Beckett flows of various sorts constantly threaten to stop, and Nature is usually on the verge of freezing or drying up’ (133). This view appears too simplistic when we think of the recurrent images of the bodily fluids helplessly flowing in Beckett’s work. It is true, however, that apart

176 Notes

22. 23.

24.

25. 26.

27.

28. 29.

from Not I, the works after How It Is have slowed-down flows or oozing rather than torrents. My translation from Beckett et le psychanalyste 51. This is in line with William Hutchings’ interesting view of How It Is. He considers this novel to be ‘Beckett’s ultimate embodiment of the scatological vision’ (79), and situates it in the Western tradition (involving St. Paul, Dante, Martin Luther, Rabelais, Swift and Joyce) that regards life as excrement in the digestive process. The narrator’s intermittent style is ‘an exact verbal equivalent’ of peristalsis (69) and he could be identified with excrement to be expelled through the anus. Another function that is relevant to our discussion is that of intersensoriality, ‘which leads to the creation of a “common sense” [  ] whose basic reference is always to the sense of touch’. Anzieu says, ‘A defect in this function gives rise to the anxiety of body being fragmented, or more precisely of it being dismantled [  ], that is, of an anarchic, independent functioning of the various sense organs’ (104). When discussing synaesthesia in the next chapter, I will refer to the importance of the tactile sense which unifies the other senses. When I quote from the ‘German Letter of 1937’, I use Martin Esslin’s English translation in Disjecta 170–3. The aesthetic view here corresponds to what Evelyne Grossman calls the sublimated (as opposed to the abject) version of ‘l’écriture de l’abcès’ in L’Esthétique de Beckett, one of the rare studies that properly address the peculiar body image in Beckett’s work. Grossman refers to Didier Anzieu and relates the image of dehiscence to the abscess (thus ‘l’abcès déhiscent’), which afflicted the young Beckett in his real life and is often mentioned in his work. She goes on to postulate the two versions of Beckett’s ‘écriture de l’abcès’. Its abject (physical) version concerns ‘la décomposition humide du corps, le pus, la coulée de boue, de larmes et de mots mêlés. Les sacs crevés des corps charrient inlassablement la sanie de leurs mots décomposés’ (39). The sublimated (aesthetic) one is related to a fetishistic desire to see something beneath the surface, as exemplified by the ‘German Letter’. In the end she combines these two versions in conceiving of ‘boring holes in the body of language’: ‘[Beckett] tente de percer des trous dans le corps de la langue et chaque coupure dans le corps des mots est fantasmée comme un orifice’ (69). If we interpret this scene in Dream as suggesting a foetus getting out of the womb, we could say that there is recognition of the nightmarish side of the womb already in Dream. My translation from Beckett et le psychanalyste 25. This topological paradox – there is no real border between outside and inside – is impressively prefigured in a different way by the structure of Murphy’s mind: ‘Murphy’s mind pictured itself as a large hollow sphere, hermetically closed to the universe without. This was not an impoverishment, for it excluded nothing that it did not itself contain. Nothing ever had been, was or would be in the universe outside it but was already present as virtual, or actual, or virtual rising into actual, or actual falling into virtual, in the universe inside it’ (Murphy 63). In this formulation, the inside contains everything outside so that the border loses its meaning.

Notes 177 30. As Andrew Renton suggests, this reminds us of the passage in Waiting for Godot, in which Estragon says ‘Everything oozes’. Renton also reveals that Beckett originally wrote ‘drip’ for ‘ooze’ in his draft, echoing Hamm who feels something ‘dripping’ in his head (Renton 128). 31. It is implied that the inside is considered as ‘the hell of all’. But Edith Fournier translates this passage as ‘En quoi l’enfer de tout. Hors quoi l’enfer de tout’ (Cap au pire 58), thus rendering both inside and outside ‘the hell of all’. 32. As noted in the previous chapter, Deleuze and Guattari’s view contrasts with that of Klaus Theweleit who focuses on the ‘totality-machine’ which stems the flow instead of being coupled with it. 33. In A Thousand Plateaus (1980), this idea is developed to that of the ‘machinic assemblage’. The special term ‘machinic’ is used to overcome the distinction between the human and the mechanical. 34. The body without organs is not opposed to organ-machines but to organization, unification and totalisation. According to Deleuze and Guattari, ‘[t]he body without organs and the organs-partial objects are opposed conjointly to the organism. The body without organs is in fact produced as a whole, but a whole alongside the parts – a whole that does not unify or totalize them, but that is added to them like a new, really distinct part’ (Anti-Oedipus 326). 35. David Watson also links this image to the body without organs (50). 36. In this context, Deleuze and Guattari criticise Victor Tausk’s essay ‘On the Origin of the “Influencing Machine” in Schizophrenia’ for considering the ‘influencing machine’ to be ‘a mere projection of “a person’s own body” and the genital organs’ (9), but as Tim Armstrong points out (269n95), it seems probable that their idea of the organ-machine owes something to Tausk’s essay. 37. Deleuze and Guattari liken the body without organs in this context to an egg, which ‘is crisscrossed with axes and thresholds, with latitudes and longitudes and geodesic lines, traversed by gradients marking the transitions and the becomings, the destinations of the subject developing along these particular vectors’ (19). Interestingly, the narrator of The Unnamable also refers to an egg when he imagines himself to be a smooth ball: ‘Were it not for the distant testimony of my palms, my soles, which I have not yet been able to quash, I would gladly give myself the shape, if not the consistency, of an egg’ (307). 38. The translators of Anti-Oedipus translate the French text of Molloy into their own English: ‘I was then no longer this closed box to which I owed being so well preserved, but a partition came crashing down’. 39. Mary Bryden highlights this aspect with extensive reference to Deleuze and Guattari in Women in Samuel Beckett’s Prose and Drama. 40. The quotation is from Malone Dies 182. 41. It should be noted that unlike the original Critique et clinique (1993), the English translation Essays Critical and Clinical contains ‘The Exhausted’, which was published separately as an introduction to the French translations of Beckett’s four plays for television (Quad et autres pièces pour la télévision suivi de L’Épuisé par Gilles Deleuze, 1992). 42. Referring to Beckett’s ‘German Letter of 1937’, Deleuze also says, ‘There is also a painting and a music characteristic of writing, like the effects of colors and sonorities that rise up above words. It is through words, between words,

178 Notes that one sees and hears. Beckett spoke of “drilling holes” in language in order to see or hear “what was lurking behind.” ’ (ECC lv). 43. As in the account of the body without organs and conjunctive synthesis in Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze here likens the body without organs to an egg. 44. In Beckett’s work, the intensity of venting the body is most conspicuous in The Unnamable, Waiting for Godot (Lucky) and Not I.

3 The Prosthetic Body and Synaesthesia 1. Linda Nochlin starts her concise study of the representation of the body in pieces by focusing on Henry Fuseli’s late eighteenth-century painting. In her view ‘[i]t is the French Revolution, the transformative event that ushered in the modern period, which constituted the fragment as a positive rather than a negative trope’ (8). 2. Bataille calls this eye the ‘pineal eye’. Curiously, Beckett uses the same term in ‘Walking Out’ in More Pricks Than Kicks: ‘He tethered the bitch to a tree, switched on his pineal eye and entered the wood’ (119). It is unlikely, however, that Beckett picked up this term from Bataille because the essays in which the latter referred to it (‘The Jesuve’ and ‘The Pineal Eye’) were published after his death in 1962. 3. Synaesthesia, the connection of the different senses, is considered to be impossible without the synthesising agency of sensus communis. Descartes thought that the seat of sensus communis was the pineal gland (see the editorial note in Selected Philosophical Writings 120). 4. As I will mention later, Beckett deeply admired Rimbaud and knew this sonnet very well. 5. This is what Rimbaud aimed at in his famous ‘letters of the seer’ in 1871 (303, 307). 6. According to Dann, ‘[l]iterary artists, who left behind such copious records of their efforts to see that which others did not, were particularly susceptible to being labeled as neurotic or psychotic and, after about 1860, as degenerate’ (28). The debate on synaesthesia was intensified by Max Nordau’s Degeneration, which polemically denounced it as a regression to lower states of being. 7. See also Dann (65) for his succinct account of the mutual stimulation by science and art in their pursuit of synaesthesia. Dann also makes the interesting claim that Rimbaud relied upon medical literature when discovering sensory delirium (23). 8. From this sentence onwards I am indebted to Mel Gordon’s overview of the Russian avant-garde’s experiments with sound. Incidentally, Beckett was an admirer of Kandinsky’s art (see Knowlson 196, 285, 357). 9. When discussing Conrad’s novels in The Political Unconscious, Fredric Jameson argues that in the process of the geometricisation and quantification of the world, sense perception became a sort of surplus and was semi-autonomised. In other words, ‘an objective fragmentation of the socalled outside world is matched and accompanied by a fragmentation of the psyche which reinforces its effects’ (229). He could have added that this fragmentation and semi-autonomisation of sense perception was closely linked

Notes 179

10.

11. 12.

13.

14.

15. 16. 17.

18.

19.

to the exchangeability of the sense values, which was another consequence of the advance of urban capitalism. The final sentence here probably suggests that it is only variations in the frequency of the electromagnetic waves that distinguish sight from sound. Marcel Duchamp had similar interest in this fact (see Note 43 of this chapter). This process is fully discussed in his previous work, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962). McLuhan also says, ‘As the age of electricity began to establish itself in the later nineteenth century, the entire world of the arts began to reach again for the iconic qualities of touch and sense interplay (synesthesia, as it was called) in poetry, as in painting’ (249). Merleau-Ponty also points out synaesthetic sensibility in Cézanne. In ‘Cézanne’s Doubt’, he says, ‘Cézanne does not try to suggest the tactile sensations which would give shape and depth. These distinctions between touch and sight are unknown in primordial perception. [  ] We see the depth, the smoothness, the softness, the hardness of objects; Cézanne even claimed that we see their odor’ (Aesthetics Reader 65). He also suggests that Cézanne tried to ‘make visible how the world touches us’ (70). But in a later essay ‘Eye and Mind’, he says, ‘Painting evokes nothing, least of all the tactile’ (Aesthetics Reader 127). Elsewhere McLuhan contends that Seurat’s pointillisme anticipated the mosaic-like television image (249). McLuhan argues that television undermines, rather than enhances, the supremacy of sight by demanding synaesthesia. For him, the television image is essentially a mosaic that does away with perspective connected to the privileging of sight: ‘As in any other mosaic, the third dimension is alien to TV’ (313). Other Italian Futurists had the same tendency. See, for instance, Carlo Carrà’s ‘The Painting of Sounds, Noises and Smells’ (1913) (Apollonio 111–14). However, Kittler concurs with McLuhan in thinking that the printed book tended to privilege the visual sense (cf. 50). In Discourse Networks, 1800/1900, the Romantic period and the modernist period (after the technological innovations) are linked to ‘the discourse network of 1800’ and ‘the discourse network of 1900’ respectively. For instance, McLuhan admits that the typewriter ‘carried the Gutenberg technology into every nook and cranny of our culture and economy’ (262). But at the same time he points out that it unified writing, speech and publication, and that modernist poets’ use of special typographic layout, made possible by the typewriter, paradoxically created musical effects: ‘Seated at the typewriter, the poet, much in the manner of the jazz musician, has the experience of performance as composition’ (260). When emphasising that physiological research into the eye preceded the invention of visual technologies, Kittler also mentions Goethe’s Theory of Colours, but relates it to the paradigm of the classical Romantic age, instead of regarding it as an announcement of a new paradigm (Gramophone 119– 20). According to Kevin Dann, in the nineteenth century, colour hearing was studied as an optical problem ‘within the context of other subjective visual sensations – hallucinations, afterimages, and entoptic phenomena’ (19) – that is, it was squarely located in the new paradigm of subjective vision that Crary discusses.

180 Notes 20. In his shorter essay ‘Modernizing Vision’, Crary more unambiguously plays down the motif of the separation of the senses (38). 21. Here Crary is conscious of Foucault’s idea of the disciplinary power of modern society. 22. Photography is secondary to Crary because the paradigm shift he focuses on occurred before its invention (14). He is more interested in obsolete optical devices such as the stereoscope because they were more directly derived from physiological discoveries. Photography could defeat those devices because it could rely on the older illusion of mimetic reference or ‘naturalism’, even after the simple relation between subject and object became obsolete in the paradigm shift of the early nineteenth century (133, 136). He seems to think that the same applies to film. For the relation between the physiological discoveries and the invention of film, see Kittler, Gramophone 121–2. 23. For Eisenstein’s and Moholy-Nagy’s interest in synaesthesia in Finnegans Wake, see Theall 83–90. 24. The proclamation was drawn up by Jolas (McMillan 48) and it contained two statements about destroying the existing linguistic order: ‘The literary creator has the right to disintegrate the primal matter of words imposed on him by text-books and dictionaries’, and ‘He has the right to use words of his own fashioning and to disregard existing grammatical and syntactic laws’ (‘Proclamation’ 13). When Beckett said that grammar and style had become irrelevant to him in the ‘German Letter of 1937’ (Disjecta 171), he was being faithful to the spirit of the ‘Revolution of the Word’ proclamation. 25. Beckett says that after reading the telephone scene, ‘Cocteau’s Voix Humaine seems not merely a banality but an unnecessary banality’ (Proust 14). Cocteau’s play La Voix humaine (1929), throughout which a woman is talking on the telephone, must have been considered at the time as an avantgardist’s innovative application of the new technology to the stage. Given that Beckett later worked so hard on the representation of the voice on the stage, it is revealing that he was aware of Cocteau’s experiment. 26. See also Brater, Beyond Minimalism 161. 27. Since ‘coen’ means ‘communis’ and ‘aesthesis’ means ‘sensus’, coenaesthesis is obviously aligned with sensus communis, to which synaesthesia is also closely linked (cf. Nakamura 114). According to Yujiro Nakamura, some schizophrenic patients feel that their body is fragmented because of the malfunction of coenaesthesis. Beckett’s interest in coenaesthesis must be related to his sense of the disorganised body. 28. For this reason, Donald Theall uses the two terms, synaesthesia and coenaesthesia (= coenaesthesis), without distinction (24 et passim). 29. At least Beckett perceived the state of the ‘wombtomb’ in this way. See the long description of the ‘wombtomb’ in Dream I quoted in Chapter 1 (14). 30. The sensation over Nordau’s Degeneration had long died down by 1930, when Beckett read it. George Mosse reports that ‘[t]he last German and French editions had appeared by 1909’, and that when Nordau died in 1923, The Times carried an obituary that refuted the basic tenets of Degeneration (xv). 31. These included William Cooper’s Flagellation and the Flagellants (1887), Mario Praz’s The Romantic Agony (1930) and Pierre Garnier’s Onanisme seul et à deux sous toutes ses formes et leurs conséquences. In Dream, there are also references to Havelock Ellis and Sade.

Notes 181 32. The visual and auditory qualities of Beckett’s prose have been separately discussed by Beckett critics. For example, Lois Oppenheim argues that ‘[t]he ever increasing minimalism that characterizes the evolution of Beckett’s fictive and dramatic style is a paradoxical result of his preoccupation with the visual as prototype’ (29), while Enoch Brater maintains that ‘Beckett’s real energy as a writer of prose is based on a single assertion: the line is written primarily for recitation, not recounting’ (The Drama in the Text 5). 33. In Company, we also read ‘the faint light the voice imagined to shed’, and ‘the voice’s glimmer’ (70–1, 80). 34. See Albright, Untwisting the Serpent 185–215. 35. See Beckett’s letter to Georges Duthuit, quoted and translated in Oppenheim 211. 36. In this respect, Beckett corresponds to what Daniel Albright calls a Marsyan artist. A Marsyan artist tends to resist collaboration with other media since he values the medium less than his original vision that lies beneath it. In contrast, an Apollonian artist, working in an abstract, formalistic realm, does not worry about collaboration. See Untwisting the Serpent 18–33. In the third chapter of his Beckett and Aesthetics, Albright starts by regarding Beckett as basically Marsyan, but in fact discusses how he oscillated between Marsyas and Apollo, paying attention to his Apollonian predilection for abstraction and order. 37. Man Ray’s painting A l’heure de l’observatoire, Les Amoureux (The Lovers) (1932–34), which depicts a huge lip floating in the sky, is particularly interesting in its similarity to Beckett’s Not I. 38. See Albright, Untwisting the Serpent 238–43. 39. Brater says of the stage version: ‘As Mouth talks about fixing something with her eye, “lest it elude her,” this is precisely the audience’s visual limitation in focusing the lenses of its own eyes on the minimal image of Mouth. Such steady concentration on a minute object calls attention, quite literally, to the cameralike lenses we carry about with us all the time and bring with us, inevitably, to the theatre’ (Beyond Minimalism 20). 40. For instance, Enoch Brater says of the original television version (broadcast in 1977) that ‘[i]n close-up color Beckett’s protagonist looked more like a vagina than a mouth’. It was ‘originally shot in color [but] had to be neutralized by broadcast in black and white’ because of its shocking visual effect (Beyond Minimalism 35). 41. In Paul Lawley’s view, ‘[t]he mechanics of the eye find their visual referent in the mouth we are looking at: the lids are the lips, which we see shutting out the light, opening, and shutting again, and the saliva is the moisture’ (409). He goes so far as to suggest an equation between the eye and the ear: ‘The eye we cannot see might even be turned into the ear we cannot see: “   she fixing with her eye    a distant bell    as she hastened towards it    fixing it with her eye” ’ (409). 42. Duchamp used rotoreliefs in a film (Anémic Cinéma) he made (in 1924–26) with the help of Man Ray and Marc Allégret. In it, verbal puns presented by letters alternate with visual puns (the overlap of plural organs evoked by the turning of the rotoreliefs). Stuart Liebman argues that if we attend to the verbal puns in Dalí and Bunuel’s film Un Chien Andalou, we shall find that many visual images in the film are based on punning words that

182 Notes ‘slide quickly back and forth from literal to figurative to sexual and even to scatological meanings’ (149). 43. Duchamp was in his own way deeply interested in synaesthesia. Craig Adcock shows how he persistently explored the possibility of ‘looking at hearing’ and ‘listening to vision’. For example, Duchamp mentions ‘a painting of frequency’. Since both sight and sound can be reduced to the frequency of electromagnetic waves, Adcock interprets this as a manifestation of his ‘hypothetical ways of connecting (or conflating) aural and visual phenomena’ (107). Duchamp’s interest in sensory crossover was connected to his concern with the fourth dimension. A good example is With Hidden Noise, a readymade that contains an invisible ball of twine and makes a sound when shaken. Adcock says, ‘The object in With Hidden Noise is kept from view; it is secret, invisible, and can thus act as a metaphor in aural terms for the invisible directionality or the invisible virtuality of the fourth dimension’ (121). Duchamp’s interest in synaesthesia was far more scientific and systematic than Beckett’s.

4 The Camera Eye 1. Enoch Brater points out several allusions to the early silent films in Beckett’s works (Beyond Minimalism 76–7). 2. The earlier biographer Deirdre Bair reports that Beckett also wrote to Pudovkin, after receiving no reply from Eisenstein: ‘From [Pudovkin] he hoped to learn how to edit film and perfect the zoom technique. He wrote a long letter, saying he wanted to revive the naturalistic, two-dimensional silent film, which he felt had died unjustly before its time’ (204–5). 3. North also notes that it was only in the 1920s that many film magazines began to be published (63). Beckett was in his important formative years when film began to be discussed seriously. 4. As Mariko Hori Tanaka argues in ‘Elements of Haiku in Beckett’, the effect of the synaesthetic substitution of vision for hearing was discussed by Arnheim and Eisenstein, whose writings Beckett was reading. Eisenstein meticulously discusses synaesthesia under the rubrics of ‘synchronization of senses’ and ‘colour and meaning’, citing Rimbaud’s ‘Vowels’, Kandinsky’s ‘The Yellow Sound’ and numerous other examples. See his The Film Sense 73–122. 5. In suggesting that the ‘way of thinking and feeling’ and the ‘body of ideas’ about vision that produced the cinematographic form preceded the actual invention of film (xii), Spiegel is not unlike Crary who foregrounds the new paradigm of vision, although he is methodologically conventional. Spiegel also parallels Crary in emphasising the subjectivity of vision, as reflected in novels written between Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Joyce’s Ulysses. He says that two changes were notable in the novels of this period: ‘(1) a change in emphasis from the object seen to the seer seeing (that is, a literal depiction of the observed field as it appears in the image on the retina); and (2) a change in the presentation of the field of vision itself, from a continuous, open, and unobstructed presentation to one that is discontinuous, fragmented, and incarcerated’ (82). Both suggest that the seer is alienated from the world seen – ‘a broken circuit between the seer and the contents of his visual

Notes 183

6.

7.

8.

9.

10. 11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

landscape’ (82). Evidently, this view corresponds to the state of vision after the camera obscura model, with its stable referential relation between the seeing subject and the seen object, gave way to subjective (corporeal) vision. In fact the camera scene comes only few pages after the telephone scene in Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. Sara Danius suggests that this proximity is not accidental (13). The transformations of hearing and vision by technology might have been connected in Proust. Spiegel does not make a distinction between photography and cinematography, saying that ‘whenever one looks at a film one is also looking at a photograph, but usually of a special kind – a photograph of a duration’ (72). I would concur with this basic idea. Behind this striking assertion may be the ‘Revolution of the Word’ proclamation in transition (16/17, June 1929), which includes the statement ‘The writer expresses. He does not communicate’ (‘Proclamation’ 13). In Dream, we find references to Sturm über Asien (by Pudovkin) and Der Lebende Leichnam (with Pudovkin as the lead actor) in one of Smeraldina’s letters to Belacqua (56). These letters were to constitute ‘The Smeraldina’s Billet Doux’ in More Pricks Than Kicks. See also Gramophone, Film, Typewriter 141–70. The Freudian analyst Hanns Sachs, who made a psychoanalytic film Secrets of a Soul with Karl Abraham in 1925, particularly influenced the magazine Close Up (cf. Laura Marcus’s Introduction in Donald et al. 240–6). There is no reference to this opening close-up in the script. It was shot after the failed shooting of the crowd scene originally intended for the beginning (see Schneider 85, 88). Enoch Brater sees in this close-up shot an allusion to a scene in Un chien andalou, in which an eyeball is slit with a razor blade (Beyond Minimalism 76). Sara Danius argues that Proust was dismissive of photography and film when he was addressing the question of memory, but otherwise he did resort to photographic representations (123). See her interesting analysis of how chronophotography of Marey and Muybridge serves ‘as a model of the veracity of the human eye’, and helps to reconstruct the immediacy of human vision in Proust’s novel (138–46). Mary Ann Doane points out the ambivalence of embodiment and disembodiment as regards the cinema. She argues that while a human visual deficiency (the persistence of vision), discovered by physiology, was inscribed in the cinematic apparatus (humanisation of the cinematic machine), the cinema as prosthesis extended human perceptual capabilities and disembodied them by liberating them from the contingency of being located in a particular time and space. Steven Connor analyses the parallel process in which the disembodiment of the voice by acoustic technologies was accompanied by the counter tendency to preserve the body (Dumbstruck 362–93). One could argue against this comparison because Film was written much later than The Eye. But as Enoch Brater says, ‘Film displays a fascination with the camera lens, linking it very closely to the more ambitious films of the twenties’ (Beyond Minimalism 75). It is far more fruitful to discuss this film in the context of the avant-garde art of the 1920s. For example, the narrator says ‘There follows a brief period when I stopped watching Smurov: I grew heavy, surrendered again to the gnawing gravity,

184 Notes

17.

18. 19.

20.

21.

22. 23. 24.

25.

26.

donned anew my former flesh, as if indeed all this life around me was not the play of my imagination, but was real, and I was part of it, body and soul’ (69). Immediately after concluding that all other people are just shimmers on a screen, the narrator says, ‘But wait, life did make one last attempt to prove to me that it was real – oppressive and tender, provoking excitement and torment, possessed of blinding possibilities for happiness, with tears, with a warm wind’ (90). This comment is followed by a description of how his amorous hope for Vanya is shattered by her rejection. That the narrator’s visual perception is already photographic is shown in an early passage in which he is beaten by a man with whose wife he is having an affair (15). Rosemary Pountney suggests that this poem might have been a source of inspiration for Beckett’s Film (43). Discussing the ending of The Eye, Karen Jacobs says, ‘Unlike the pristine, idealized “mind’s eye” of the detached Cartesian subject that invisibly surveys the conceptual theater of the self, this openly embodied eye, veins and all, inversely conjures an “eye’s mind” – a subordinate mind, of and by the flesh, that insists on its subjective roots, and their potentially far-reaching perceptual consequences’ (78). But I think that the equally important ‘vitreous’ feature of the eye should also be addressed. This is emphasised by the fact that not only O but also other people, such as the couple in the street scene (Part One) and the flower woman in the stairs scene (Part Two), show ‘an agony of perceivedness’. To involve other people in this way impairs the pure focus on the self-reflexive relation inside the self (E-O). That is probably why Beckett says that the episode of the couple is ‘undefendable except as a dramatic convenience’ (CDW 330). In the ‘Notes’ for Film, Beckett tantalisingly says of the room, ‘It may be supposed it is his mother’s room, which he has not visited for many years and is now to occupy momentarily, to look after the pets, until she comes out of hospital’ (CDW 332). S. E. Gontarski demonstrates that in the early stage of composition, Film had more realistic information (106–8). Kittler refers to such films as The Student of Prague (1913), Phantom (1922), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Other (1913) and Golem (1914). This is also in line with Beckett’s note suggesting that the room might be the protagonist’s mother’s (CDW 332). See Pountney 42. I cannot reproduce Beckett’s own words for copyright reasons, though I have examined the manuscript. Pountney wrongly assumes that Claudius’s poem also inspired Schubert’s song ‘Der Doppelgänger’. In the first half of ‘Der Tod und Das Mädchen’, a young girl tries to drive away Death, and in the second half Death coaxes her, saying, ‘Gib deine Hand, du schön und zart Gebild!/Bin Freund, und komme nicht, zu strafen./Sei gutes Muts! ich bin nicht wild,/Sollst sanft in meinen Armen schlafen!’ (Claudius 87). Beckett cites the underlined parts continuously in reverse order. This song is different from the string quartet of the same name (D810) that Beckett used for All That Fall, though the quartet develops the theme of the song. Examining the earlier, more realistic drafts of and notes for Film, S. E. Gontarski goes so far as to say, ‘Such realistic preoccupation for Film

Notes 185

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32. 33.

34.

35.

seems almost a fulfillment of Beckett’s 1936 comment to Pudovkin that he wanted to “revive the naturalistic, two-dimensional silent film,” and he was doubtless writing through the influence of the Russian filmmakers, at least in the early stages of composition’ (107). Here Gontarski is referring to the letter from Beckett to Pudovkin that is summarised in Bair (204–5). Jack MacGowran, who played Joe in Eh Joe, said, ‘It’s really photographing the mind. It’s the nearest perfect play for television that you could come across, because the television camera photographs the mind better than anything else’ (quoted in Pountney 45). This structure is similar to that in Long Observation of the Ray, in which ‘we see the observing mind observing itself in the role of the observing ray’ (Connor, ‘Between Theatre and Theory’ 90). This phrase echoes Job’s ‘Hast thou eyes of flesh,/Or seest thou as man seest?’ (Knowlson 669). Beckett used it in The Expelled: ‘I saw the horse as with my eyes of flesh’ (CSP 29). According to the OED, the use of the word ‘mind’ in the sense of ‘one’s mind’s eye: mental view or vision, remembrance’ (definition 17d) dates back to 1412. The word ‘eye’ in the sense of ‘in one’s (mind’s) eye: in one’s mental view, in contemplation’ (4d) was famously used in Hamlet : ‘I see my father [  ] In my minds eye’ (I. ii. 184–85). A more recent famous use of this metaphor can be found at the very beginning of W. B. Yeats’ play At the Hawk’s Well: ‘I call to the eye of the mind [  ]’, which Winnie in Happy Days quotes (CDW 164). In Endgame Hamm says abruptly that he saw inside his breast (CDW 107). His breast may be similar to ‘the brain and heart and other caverns’ that Molloy mentions here. The image of a lantern reappears in Long Observation of the Ray, which I shall discuss later. There is a scene in Endgame that might be echoing the grey light here. Asked what can be seen from the window, Clov answers to Hamm, ‘Grey!’ (CDW 107). The priority of inner vision is also connected to Beckett’s view of art. In ‘La peinture des van Velde ou le Monde et le Pantalon’, written in 1945, Beckett argues that in Bram van Velde’s paintings words are rendered meaningless because what matters is an internal vision (‘une prise de vision [  ] au champ intérieur’) (Disjecta 125). In the same context, Beckett also suggests that only in the darkness of the skull does one begin to see at last (126). It is evident that Beckett projected onto Bram van Velde’s paintings his own idea of inner vision in the skull, which he was to present repeatedly in his work. His view of Bram van Velde developed into a stronger conviction about art. In ‘Three Dialogues’ (1949), Beckett praises him for transcending the conventional relation between representer and representee (or subject and object) and being ‘the first to admit that to be an artist is to fail’ (Disjecta 145). Lacan’s theory of the gaze offers a way to explain this inseparability. It suggests that the split of the subject between seeing and being seen is already rooted in our vision. After we (mis)recognise the mirror image as a unified self in the mirror stage, it is never possible to possess a field of vision entirely to ourselves. The originary alterity in vision persists and the seeing subject

186 Notes

36.

37. 38. 39.

is always already seen by the Other. In this sense, the inner eye and the split of the subject in Beckett might be indicative of the latent structure of our normal vision. For a Lacanian interpretation of vision in Beckett, see Watson 127–45. The early drafts posit a kind of lantern situated somewhere in the cubic chamber, thus recollecting the image of the inner eye as a lantern in Malone Dies. In the later drafts, the source of the ray is at the centre of the sphere. The French version is more neutral, with ‘la saisir’ instead of the imperative form ‘la saisis’ for ‘seize her’. For example Malone says, ‘Moll. I’m going to kill her’ (265). As noted earlier, the use of the verb ‘dissolve’ for the disappearance of an object might also be suggestive of the cinema (21, 53).

5 The Prosthetic Voice 1. Since his experiments with sound technology preceded his use of the camera eye starting with Film, in a sense I will be trying to capture the moment at which Beckett’s exploration of the inner mind and senses encountered actual technology for the first time. 2. Among the Derridean studies of Beckett, Thomas Trezise’s Into the Breach (1990) contains sustained analyses of Beckett’s trilogy, based on Derrida’s critique of Husserl in Speech and Phenomena (see esp. 115–21). But throughout the book Trezise’s terminology is rather problematic. For instance, he uses ‘separation’ for the self-sufficient closure of the subject, and ‘intersubjectivity’ for the subject that is always already infected by the other. 3. For an excellent discussion of the priority of hearing in Beckett, see Katz 85–6. 4. In other words, the hearing ‘I’ can never be independent of the speaking ‘I’ in the fissured operation of ‘hearing oneself speak’. 5. This idea can be traced back to Beckett’s essay on Joyce. In it he maintains that unlike Dante’s unidirectional Purgatory, Joyce’s Work in Progress is a non-directional or multi-directional purgatory, where between the two stases of hell and paradise ‘there is a continuous purgatorial process at work’ with ‘the absolute absence of Absolute’ (Disjecta 33). This concern with the unanchored in-between state seems to underlie Beckett’s obsession with the ‘wombtomb’. 6. The phonograph (later also called the gramophone) was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison and Charles Cros. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. With regard to the difference between these two media, it could be said that the telephone transcends space whereas the gramophone transcends both time and space. 7. Normally on the telephone, we speak while our interlocutor listens and we listen while our interlocutor speaks. But if we imagine the impossible situation of telephoning oneself, we would be speaking and at the same time hearing that speech coming from the receiver, so that we would not be able to tell whether we were speaking or hearing – this is similar to the situation in The Unnamable.

Notes 187 8. Derrida had already said as much in Speech and Phenomena: ‘And just as the import of a statement about perception did not depend on there being actual or even possible perception, so also the signifying function of the I does not depend on the life of the speaking subject. Whether or not perception accompanies the statement about perception, whether or not life as selfpresence accompanies the uttering of the I, is quite indifferent with regard to the functioning of meaning. My death is structurally necessary to the pronouncing of the I’ (96). 9. Echoing Derrida, Franc Schuerewegen explicitly says, ‘Qu’on le veuille ou non, le langage humain se comporte comme une machine parlante, c’est-à-dire que l’homme qui parle est toujours déjà pris dans l’engrenage de la mécanique’ (28). 10. In this essay Derrida says, ‘Yes in Ulysses can only be a mark at once written and spoken, vocalized as a grapheme and written as a phoneme, yes, in a word, gramophoned’ (267). The word ‘gramophone’ is useful to him because, combining the voice (phoneme) and writing (grapheme), it underlines his idea that the structure of oral communication is the same as that of written communication. 11. Derrida says, ‘Yes, the condition of any signature and of any performative, addresses itself to some other which it does not constitute, and it can only begin by asking the other, in response to a request that has always already been made, to ask it to say yes. Time appears only as a result of this singular anachrony’ (299). Daniel Katz rightly argues that this structure is relevant to Beckett’s trilogy. But I wonder why he states that The Unnamable ‘abandons’ or ‘relinquishes’ this ‘yes’. If this ‘yes’ is abandoned, the anachrony it entails should also disappear, though Katz says that The Unnamable is characterised precisely by the anachrony to which Derrida refers (see Katz 107–9). 12. Any distinction between the narrator and his vice-existers can be nullified. This appears to corroborate Deleuze’s observation that a ‘large part of Beckett’s work can be understood in terms of the great formula of Malone Dies [  ]: “Everything divides into itself” ’ (ECC 186n5). 13. When the other is imagined as plural, the pronoun ‘they’ is used. Correspondingly, the pronoun ‘I’ becomes ‘we’ when ‘they’ are felt to be on the same side as the narrator. The word ‘narrator’ is ultimately unsuitable in The Unnamable because it implies a stable self or subject. However, for lack of a better term, I will continue to use this word. 14. Again, the distinction between master and follower is nothing but illusory and the two roles are exchangeable. As Daniel Katz says, ‘[i]n The Unnamable’s anachrony, the “voice” is never either the response or the demand, Moran or Youdi, but always already both, and not yet either’ (112). This structure is taken over by the reversibility of tormentor and victim in How It Is. 15. I referred to this interesting conjunction between vision and voice in Chapter 3. 16. It follows that even the self-referential statements such as ‘I quote’ and ‘end of quotation’ cannot be made from a completely self-sufficient narratorial position. 17. One of the clearest manifestations of the conjunction of the technological and the ghostly can be found in Specters of Marx. As I noted in the Introduction to this book, Derrida calls ‘a prosthetic body’ the body with

188 Notes

18. 19.

20.

21. 22.

23.

24.

25.

26. 27.

28.

29.

which the ghost is paradoxically endowed (126). It is also called ‘a technical body or an institutional body’ (127). See Connor, Dumbstruck (362–93). For a general discussion of technology and occultism in turn-of-the-century literature, see Thurschwell. Douglas Kahn recounts how Edison experimented with communicating with the dead after inventing the gramophone, and draws a parallel with the resurrection of a dead girl in Raymond Roussel’s Locus Solus (‘Death’ 76–84). As recently as 1997, the young Irish playwright Conor McPherson published a play The Weir, in which a mother receives a mysterious telephone call from her dead child. See Hunkeler 184–96 and Rabinovitz 55–63. I examined the typescript of this story at Rauner Library, Dartmouth College. See Hunkeler 190. Daniel Katz comes to a very similar conclusion: ‘[t]he Beckettian Narcissus could be said to gaze at his own echoes, to witness that trace-of-self which precisely by being trace defeats the “narcissism” it is invoked to satisfy’ (152); and ‘Beckett’s narcissistic structure is in fact unthinkable without the component of the echo’ (154). In ‘Le théâtre d’Echo dans les récits de Beckett’, Anzieu postulates four possibilities for Echo’s discourse after Narcissus’ death. He states that all of them characterise Beckett’s work (written between 1946 and 1950), especially The Unnamable. One of them is: ‘Echo se répète à elle-même, dans une ébauche à mi-voix de parole intérieure, des phrases déjà ressassées. Faute d’avoir une parole à elle, elle imite le langage des autres pour s’entendre parler et se confirmer existante, mais elle reste incertaine si ce qu’elle se dit vient d’elle ou d’autrui’ (42). Schreber writes: ‘Books or other notes are kept in which for years have been written-down all my thoughts, all my phrases, all my necessaries, all the articles in my possessions with whom I come into contact, etc. I cannot say with certainty who does the writing down’ (Schreber 123). Schreber writes: ‘There had been times when I could not help myself but speak aloud or make some noise, in order to drown the senseless and shameless twaddle of the voices, and so procure temporary rest for my nerves’ (Schreber 128). Another instance of this continuity is Lucky’s ‘thinking’, which seems to suggest a chaotic stream of consciousness. The similarity between Derrida and Beckett in this respect is not surprising if, as David Wellbery suggests, poststructuralist thought itself is inside the ‘discourse network of 1900’ (xxvi). They are both in the epistemological situation in which death reigns after the human soul has been murdered by technology. Derrida also says, ‘What we call real time is simply an extremely reduced “différance,” but there is no purely real time because temporalization itself is structured by a play of retention or of protention and, consequently of traces’ (129). This is another instance of the discussion of teletechnology being subsumed in the more general theses that Derrida developed in his early work. I have in mind Leslie Hill, Thomas Trezise, Richard Begam and Daniel Katz. An exception is Steven Connor’s pioneering Samuel Beckett: Repetition, Theory and Text (1988), though he does not address the question of technology

Notes 189

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

per se, choosing instead to discuss it in the light of the general theme of repetition. Though Frank uses the term ‘metaphor’ here, my argument in this section is that Beckett does not let the spatial representation of the mind remain a mere metaphor. Famously Beckett said that he preferred ‘[t]he expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express’ (Disjecta 139). To give two examples of the primacy of the original vision: ‘[Beckett] had a clear picture of the play in his head and however well everyone performed, reality could hardly ever live up to this mental vision’ (Knowlson 607, regarding the Schiller Theater’s production of Godot in 1975); and ‘There were, he conceded, a few minor things on the tape that he heard a little differently in his head’ (Knowlson 664, on the 1982 production of Rockaby). Croak’s thumps of the club to command his servants (= stream of consciousness) correspond to Krapp’s operation of his tape recorder. This is prefigured by the scene in Waiting for Godot, where Vladimir and Estragon stop Lucky’s ‘thought’ by taking his cap away, as if to press the stop button on a machine. According to Douglas Kahn, André Breton ‘brought principles of recording into his own body as a form of psychotechnics, implanting a trope into the brain where actual technology could not go’, using the term ‘modest recording instruments’ for automatic writing. Kahn also states that for Louis Aragon, the action of the unconscious could be delivered by way of radiophony (Introduction 7, 24–5).

References

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Index

Adcock, Craig, 182n43 Albright, Daniel, 169n4, 181nn34,36,38 All That Fall, 32, 102, 125, 161, 162 Anzieu, Didier, 40, 55–7, 58, 60–1, 138, 153, 169n9, 175nn18,20, 176n24, 188n23 Armstrong, Tim, 4, 5, 11, 13, 177n36 Artaud, Antonin, 65, 66, 71 ‘Assumption’, 26–7, 37, 60, 93, 172nn18,19

Carrouges, Michel, 13, 19, 170n6 Cascando, 165–6 Claudius, Matthias, 124, 184n25 Cocteau, Jean, 103, 180n25 Company, 102–3, 115, 134, 159, 181n33 Connor, Steven, 131, 132, 139, 169n9, 175n20, 183n14, 188nn18,29 Conrad, Joseph, 76 Crary, Jonathan, 83, 87–90, 107, 117, 131, 179n19, 180nn20,l21,22, 182n5

Bacon, Francis, 58, 71–4 Bair, Deirdre, 182n2, 185n26 Baker, Phil, 18, 34, 169n9, 170nn4,5,6,9, 173n28, 175n13 Bakhtin, Mihail, 48, 79 Barthes, Roland, 78 Bataille, Georges, 78–9, 118, 178n2 Begam, Richard, 188n29 Bellmer, Hans, 30, 77–8, 107, 172n24 Benjamin, Walter, 112, 116 Berkeley, George, 121 Bion, Wilfred, 32, 175n20 Blanchot, Maurice, 154 Blum, Cinzia Sartini, 27, 172n22 Bois, Yve-Alain, 79 Boone, Joseph, 25 Brater, Enoch, 105, 180n26, 181nn32,39,40, 182n1, 183nn12,15 Brienza, Susan, 175n21 Bryden, Mary, 33, 34–5, 37, 174n32, 177n39    but the clouds    , 127, 135

Danius, Sara, 4–5, 111, 117, 183nn6,13 Dann, Kevin, 80, 81, 85, 178nn6,7, 179n19 ‘Dante    Bruno . Vico . . Joyce’, 91, 93, 186n5 Deleuze, Gilles, 11, 25, 41, 63–73, 75, 79, 101–2, 177nn30,31,32,36,37,42, 178n43, 187n12 Derrida, Jacques, 1, 6–8, 12, 139, 140–5, 150, 151, 155–8, 160, 167, 169nn5,6, 187nn8,10,11,17, 188n28 Descartes, René, 10, 46, 178n3 Doane, Mary Ann, 183n14 Donald, James, 111 Dream Notebook, 16, 98, 99 Dream of Fair to Middling Women, 13–20, 26–7, 35, 37, 41–2, 47, 52, 59–60, 95–7, 98, 101–2, 113–14, 170nn2,3, 172nn20,21, 176n27, 180n29, 183n9 Duchamp, Marcel, 20, 106–7, 179n10, 181n42, 182n43 197

198 Index

‘Echo’s Bones’ (story), 152 Edmond, Rod, 76 Eh Joe, 102, 115, 125–6, 135 Ehrhard, Peter, 54 Eisenstein, Sergei, 91, 92, 110, 182n4 Elam, Keir, 50, 52 Eliot, T. S., 77 Embers, 102, 125, 162–4 Endgame, 42, 57–8, 130, 185nn31,33 ‘Enough’, 66, 67, 69 Ernst, Max, 30, 173n26 Esslin, Martin, 102, 165 Expelled, The, 185n29 Film, 102, 109, 112, 115, 116, 121–5, 128, 130, 135, 136, 183nn12,15, 184nn20,21,23,26 ‘Fingal’ (More Pricks Than Kicks), 20–1, 36 Fónagy, Ivan, 48–9, 175n11 Footfalls, 164 Foster, Hal, 5, 13, 22, 29–30, 172nn17,23, 173nn24,25,26 Foucault, Michel, 3, 87, 180n21 Frank, Ellen, 159, 189n30 Freud, Sigmund, 4, 17–18, 29, 49, 51–3, 171n11 From an Abandoned Work, 114, 173n26 ‘German Letter of 1937’, 59, 60, 93, 96–7, 101–2, 176n26, 177n42, 180n24 Ghost Trio, 126–7, 135 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 88 Gontarski, S. E., 184nn21,26 Gordon, Mel, 178n8 Greenslade, William, 100 Grossman, Evelyne, 169n9, 176n26 Grosz, Elizabeth, 37, 174nn1,8 Guattari, Félix, 11, 25, 41, 63–70, 79, 177nn30, 31, 32, 36, 37 Guggenheim, Peggy, 32, 173n26

Hansen, Mark, 157–8 Happy Days, 35, 42, 185n30 Haraway, Donna, 2 Heine, Heinrich, 124 Hill, Leslie, 188n29 How It Is, 36, 50–1, 58, 73–4, 140, 141, 145, 147–50, 154, 158–9, 164, 167, 187nn14,15 Hubert, Renee Riese, 173n26 Hugo, Victor, 120 Hunkeler, Thomas, 152–3, 188nn21,22 Hutchings, William, 176n23 Ill Seen Ill Said, 19, 35, 52, 110, 115, 117, 128, 130, 132–7, 186nn37,39 Jakobs, Karen, 184n19 Jameson, Fredric, 178n9 Jolas, Eugene, 92–4, 112, 180n24 Jones, David Houston, 29, 169n9 Joyce, James, 91–2, 93, 143 Jung, C. G., 32 Kafka, Franz, 20, 58 Kahn, Douglas, 188n19, 189n34 Kandinsky, Wassily, 80–1, 89, 178n8 Katz, Daniel, 170n8, 186n3, 187nn11,14, 188nn22,29 Kenner, Hugh, 5, 19, 43, 169n3 Khlebnikov, Velimir, 81 Kittler, Friedrich, 3–4, 83, 86–7, 90, 116, 123, 124–5, 151, 153–4, 165, 179nn16,17,19, 180n22, 184n22 Knowlson, James, 32, 96, 101, 110, 174n3 Krapp’s Last Tape, 18, 139, 154, 161–2, 164, 165, 189n33 Krauss, Rosalind, 5, 79, 106–7, 116 Kristeva, Julia, 28–9, 37, 73 Kublin, Nikolai, 81 Lacan, Jacques, 185n35 Lawley, Paul, 181n41 Lewis, Wyndham, 25, 30

Index 199

Liebman, Stuart, 181n42 Long Observation of the Ray, 131, 185nn28,32, 186n36 Lury, Celia, 2 MacGowran, Jack, 185n27 Macpherson, Kenneth, 111 Malone Dies, 35, 44–5, 48, 54–5, 69, 70, 129, 134, 166, 174n5, 177n40, 186n38, 187n12 Marcus, Laura, 116 Marinetti, F. T., 25, 27–8, 29, 30, 82–3, 85–6, 87, 88 Marx brothers, 36 McLaughlin, Joseph, 77 McLuhan, Marshall, 3, 83–6, 90, 179nn11,12,14,18 McPherson, Conor, 188n20 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 41, 95, 97, 100, 174n8, 179n13 Miller Frank, Felicia, 22–3, 171nn11,12 Moholy-Nagy, László, 91, 92 Molloy, 18, 19, 35, 43–4, 46, 48, 49, 52, 54, 55, 64–5, 68, 69, 70, 100, 128–9, 147, 174n4, 175nn13,16 Moorjani, Angela, 175n17 More Pricks Than Kicks, 20–1, 33, 35, 36, 42, 100, 152, 178n2 Morra, Joanne, 1 Mosse, George, 180n30 Müller, Johannes, 88–9 Murphy, 33–4, 38, 70, 115, 124, 130, 136, 142, 159, 173n30, 174n7, 176n29 Nabokov, Vladimir, 109, 118–23, 183nn16,17 Nacht und Träume, 127 Nakamura, Yujiro, 180n27 Nochlin, Linda, 178n1 Nordau, Max, 76, 97–100, 178n6, 180n30 North, Michael, 111–12, 182n3 Not I, 35, 38, 42, 48, 49–50, 52, 57, 72, 103–6, 118, 134, 137, 154, 164, 166

Okamuro, Minako, 171n10 Oppenheim, Lois, 100, 181nn32,35 ‘Ping’, 61 Play, 42 Pountney, Rosemary, 184nn18,24 Pudovkin, Vsevolod, 110, 182n2, 183n9, 185n26 Proust, Marcel, 94–5, 112–13, 117, 151, 161, 183nn6,13 Proust, 94–5, 100, 103, 113, 114–15, 125, 151–2, 162, 180n25 Quad, 18, 127 Rabinovitz, Rubin, 188n21 Rank, Otto, 32–3, 173nn28,29,31 Ray, Man, 92, 104, 116, 181n37 Renton, Andrew, 177n30 Rimbaud, Arthur, 80, 81, 89, 96, 99, 178nn4,5 Rockaby, 35, 38, 124, 164 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 23–4 Rutsky, R. L., 3 ‘Sanies I’, 21, 36 Schilder, Paul, 40–1, 46–7, 53, 56, 78, 79, 80, 95, 174n8, 175n15 Schreber, Daniel Paul, 153, 155, 162, 166, 188nn24,25 Scriabin, Aleksandr, 81 Schubert, Franz, 124 Schuerewegen, Franc, 187n9 Segel, Harold, 171n10 Shaw, George Bernard, 171n13 Smith, Marquard, 1 Spiegel, Alan, 112–13, 136, 182n5, 183n7 Stiegler, Bernard, 156 Takayama, Hiroshi, 170n6 Tanaka, Mariko Hori, 182n4 Tausk, Victor, 31, 39, 166, 173nn27,31, 175n18, 177n36 Taylor, Sue, 78

200 Index

Texts for Nothing, 18, 35, 42, 48, 49, 51, 52, 69, 70, 128, 138, 154, 161, 174n9 That Time, 164 Theall, Donald, 91–2, 180nn23,28 Theweleit, Klaus, 13, 24–5, 30, 37, 171n14, 172nn15,16, 175n19, 177n32 ‘Three Dialogues’, 100, 160, 185n34, 189n31 Thurschwell, Pamela, 188n18 Trezise, Thomas, 186n2, 188n29 transition, 26, 92–4, 111–12 Unnamable, The, 10, 12, 18, 35–6, 38, 45–6, 47, 51, 55, 57–8, 60, 61–2, 63, 66, 70, 72, 102, 104, 128, 129–30, 139, 140–2, 145–8, 153, 154, 155, 158, 164, 167, 174nn6,10, 177n37, 186n7, 187nn13,14

van Velde, Bram, 185n34 Villier de l’Isle-Adam, August de, 22–3, 38 Wagner, Richard, 103 Waiting for Godot, 36–7, 42, 49, 57, 103, 126, 147, 154–5, 177n30, 188n26, 189n33 Watson, David, 177n35, 186n35 Watt, 18, 19, 68, 69, 70 Weiss, Gail, 174n1 Wellbery, David, 188n27 Wills, David, 1, 8–10, 169nn6,7,8 ‘What is the Word’, 71 What Where, 96 White, Allon, 73–4 Whitelaw, Billie, 101 ‘Whoroscope’ Notebook, 33 Words and Music, 164–5, 166, 189n33 Worstward Ho, 62–3