Tag Archive: samuel beckett


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Ingres – Luigi Cherubini & the Muse of Lyric Poetry (1842)

Habit is a great deadener” wrote Samuel Beckett in Waiting For Godot.

But establishing a set routine doesn’t always have to be mechanical or tedious.

There’s a difference between a habit that is imposed upon you and one that you have some control over.

I have learnt the truth of this from setting the modest goal of keeping this blog alive. It’s not that I always have a brilliant idea or endless flashes of inspiration (chance would be a fine thing!) but I’ve come to recognize the value of simply putting something down.

Unexpressed thoughts have a nasty tendency to fester like untreated wounds – it’s best to get them out in the open even if in a relatively crude form.

Most writers of substance advocate the practice of setting aside some time on a daily basis and to go with the flow. The point of this is not that it will necessarily produce great art on a regular basis but it’s a habit of being which acknowledges the need to keep the creative juices flowing. Quality is not the goal. Ruthless editing comes after.

Unless you follow this advice, you can easily waste a lot of precious time procrastinating or waiting for inspiration to come. The muse is notoriously elusive and is not a friend of the desperate.

The right attitude and a trained mind do not supplant raw talent but habit sharpens the intellect and strengthens the mind’s capacity to put in the work necessary to complete anything of substance.

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viv_albertineCLOTHES, CLOTHES, CLOTHES. MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC. BOYS, BOYS, BOYS by Viv Albertine (Faber & Faber, 2014)

I started this autobiography expecting a fun but frivolous account of the punk era. It is all that and more.

Viv Albertine was at the heart of the heady period in the late 1970s when the British establishment were running scared. The Slits were one of the many bands that were inspired by the so-called ‘filfth and fury’ of The Sex Pistols; four feisty females who were not about to let a lack of musical expertise hold them back.

Albertine was the guitarist in that band’s early years. I regret to say that I never did see them play live but I treasure the memory of first hearing them on a John Peel session – four tracks recorded in September 1977 that captured their ramshackle brilliance.

The book contains plenty of fascinating insights into the ordinary world that preceded and followed the extraordinary explosion of rebel yells. Continue reading

THE BOOK I READ : MOLLOY

The second in a series of 13 book reviews written in my pre-blogging years.

MOLLOY by Samuel Beckett (First published in English – translated from French – in 1955)

molloyMolloy is far from being a conventional novel. In fact, Beckett seems to mock traditional plot devices and characterisation.

He gives impressions of people and places through images rather than details. He pointedly avoids using descriptions, apparently regarding them as superfluous. Of a bicycle he writes : “I would gladly write four thousand words on it alone” but does not do so!

The novel is divided into two sections, both written in the first person singular. The first is by Molloy, the second is by Moran. Through these two characters Beckett explores the central themes of freedom, doubt and human frailty.

At first the two elderly men seem dissimilar aside from the fact that they are both world-weary. Gradually they become to seem like one of the same person with Moran as the public face of Molloy.

Moran’s comment that “As soon as two things are nearly identical, I am lost”, is therefore highly significant.

Each slowly becomes aware of their failings. They have tried trusting in others but now feel disillusioned. Molloy says “All the things you would do gladly, oh, without enthusiasm but gladly, all the things there seems to be no reason for your not doing and that you do not do! Can it be that we are not free? It might be worth looking into”. Continue reading

1. WRITING IS THERAPEUTIC.

Blogging has a healing power. I find writing down my thoughts and ideas , even when not fully formed, is cathartic and makes me feel calmer, more balanced and less alone.

2. DAILY BLOGGING IS NOT FOR WIMPS.

I wrote a post every single day from 1st January 2011  to 30th September 2013. It takes willpower or just plain bloody mindedness to persevere. I feel quite smug that I kept going for so long but I  finally waved the white flag when I was taking a week long break and had nothing scheduled.  Now I try to post something as regularly as I can secure in the knowledge that I have conquered the wimp within.

Tis-Better-to-be-brief3. BREVITY IS BEST.

Enough said?
Remember the words of the Psycho Killer in the Talking Heads song : “Say something once, why say it again?” Continue reading

A POST-MODERN GOLDONI FLOP

Carlo Goldoni’s Il Servitore di due padroni (The servant of two masters) rewritten by Ken Ponzio (Teatro Bonci, Cesena)

Spot the difference! The classic Harlequin and Roberto Latini as the post-modern version.

Spot the difference! The classic Harlequin and Roberto Latini in the post-modern version.

Prepositions have never been my strong point. The consequence of this is that I failed to appreciate the significance of the fact that this Venetian theatre company’s production was ‘da’ and not ‘di’ Carlo Goldoni. The first means ‘from’ the second means ‘by’.

The distinction is crucial because the only connection Ken Ponzio’s version had to the original play from 1743 is in the character names and token references to the plot.

In the programme notes Ponzio seeks to justify his presumptions act of literary terrorism: “Our way of perceiving comedies and tragedies has changed. Today’s expressive methods are radically different from those of Goldoni since we have experienced two world wars, been to the moon and we’ve read Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Heiner Müller; our way of seeing has fundamentally changed”.

When the curtain  rose my heart sank. The set was a characterless hotel hall with three doors on each side. A pot plant, some chairs, a telephone and a TV (tuned to American shows) are the only props. Continue reading

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