Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, and Worstward Ho
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The quintessential distillation of Beckett’s philosophy on human existence and the ultimate example of his minimalist approach to fiction, Nohow On is a vital collection, concerned with conception and perception, memory and imagination.
serene it seems this ancient mask. Worthy those worn by certain newly dead. True the light leaves to be desired. The lids occult the longed-for eyes. Time will tell them washen blue. Where tears perhaps not for nothing. Unimaginable tears of old. Lashes jet black remains of the brunette she was. Perhaps once was. When yet a lass. Yet brunette. Skipping the nose at the call of the lips these no sooner broached are withdrawn. The slab having darkened with the darkening sky. Black night
faintly afar and the cabin walls seen white at last. Said white. The guardians—the twelve are there but not at full muster. Well! Above all not understand. Simply note now those still faithful have moved apart. Such ill seen that night in the pastures. While head included she lies hidden. Under on closer inspection a long greatcoat. A man’s by the buttons. The buttonholes. Eyes closed does she see him? White walls. High time. White as new. No wind. Not a breath. Unbeaten on by all that comes
latest last rays they cast to the east-north-east their long parallel shadows. Evening therefore. Winter evening. It will always be evening. Always winter. When not night. Winter night. No more lambs. No more flowers. Empty-handed she shall go to the tomb. Until she go no more. Or no more return. So much for that. Undistinguishable the twin shadows. Till one at length more dense as if of a body better opaque. At length more still. As faintly at length the other trembles under the staring gaze.
nohow on. All there as now when somehow on. The dim. The void. The shades. Only words gone. Ooze gone. Till ooze again and on. Somehow ooze on. Preying since last worse the stare. Something there still far so far from wrong. So far far far from wrong. Try better worse another stare when with words than when not. When somehow than when nohow. While all seen the same. No not all seen the same. Seen other. By the same other stare seen other. When with words than when not. When somehow than when
Worstward Ho in the early drafts it was clear that in addition to the “pained body” and “combined image of man and child,” we have “The perceiving head or skull. ‘Germ of All.’”12 But the term “all” already contains a paradox that threatens to block the narrative. Can the skull be “germ of all,” that is, even of itself: “If of all of it too”? (97). Can it then perceive itself if there is, to adapt Jacques Derrida, no outside the skull. From what perspective, from what grounding could it then be