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Showing posts from February, 2020


Play (1963), by Samuel Beckett Three alone, condemned to speech, to utter the account of an adulterous affair, in all its banality and grievance, the suffering it caused, and not only the pain incurred at the time but the pain caused by remembering. Their voices could be those of people in therapy, obsessively returning to the trauma (whether great or petty) and unable to evaluate it differently, to see it from a different perspective, to get past the sticking points, leaving them overwhelmed by the same words as always. The urns and the encrusted faces suggest the souls of the damned in limbo, or in Dante's Purgatorio (remember that Beckett was a lifelong reader of Dante and that he underwent extensive psychoanalysis in the 1930s), souls locked forever in a place where they will relive their sins forever, knowing that hell is an eternity of repetition, never once being able to feel the sweet release into silence.


After visiting the Giacometti museum in Paris , I read James Lord's biography of the great artist. Two things stayed with me after I finished it. First, was there ever an artist in the last century in Paris whose life was as closely woven into the fabric of one district than Giacometti and Montparnasse? Perhaps the writers Sartre and De Beauvoir, or Samuel Beckett. But Giacometti's life in Paris, almost from the start, was based in Montparnasse, and in particular a building on the Rue Hippolyte Maindron to which he moved in 1926 and stayed until his death in 1967. The second thing is his absolute dedication to his work. He had a reasonable degree of early success in the late twenties and early thirties with the sculpture he made while he was associated with the Surrealists. After he broke with them in about 1935, he found himself making clay models that were smaller and smaller, to the point where they would crumble into fragments. So the next day he would start again, wor