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StirringStill Gautam Dasgupta HOW DESCRIBE IT? THE FACE, THAT IS. Or was. For now, let tenses lie. The dead possess no grammar. And Samuel Beckett, our recalcitrant grammarian, has finished dying ... finally. No, better yet, everlastingly. That first so definitive, so monstrously inappropriate to Beckett's universe; the latter poetical. And Beckett was a poetical man. To mourn Beckett is not to mourn the living and the dead, for they come and go. It is to grieve for language, and for the silence, and the aporia, that constitute the nether side of language's being. It is to grieve for those haunted faces that speak of this and that when activated by the fickle light of visibility. It is to lament the plight of half-submerged bodies that search out half-intentioned activities and half-thoughts in the interminable ludic possession of a life that is a game of contingency, a waiting to live on and die on in sempiternity. Tobegin again, how describe it? And why the face? What about the man and his work? To begin at the end, then. The work enfolds life, buries us in life. A cosmic inscription that speaks of time, not history, of space, not geography. And all the matter within. Perhaps of all thought. Of philosophy, it encapsulates the pre-Socratics, Malebranche, Berkeley, Geulincx, their moreness and lessness. Of poetry, it breathes the spirit of Kafka, Joyce, Cioran, Paz, their moreness and lessness. Of what it means to me, the sign of the breath made body, the drama of language made poetry. In his writings, I perceive a man who reached into literature with the ease by which thought attaches itself to consciousness. 8 Now, to behold the man. A man I never met, never wanted to meet. How speak of a desire still-born? Came close once, but waited not. Scurried away. Why burden him with yet another voice, that ceaseless din, the tinnitus of being? To talk of what where. What need, what purpose? He, who has already and always spoken of me, for me, to me, he, the not I who has already and always been I, why laden his song with repetition. To add solitude to solitude, even plenitude to plenitude, changes nothing. For him, echo's bones I. How greet a man who was born before all men? He, who had seen life in the womb, lived life before being born, already dying in the sinewy, blooded, distended coffin of life. To have laid eyes upon him was to have seen man from the far shores ofStyx, to have seen man before he came into being. To have seen man as God. . would have seen him. And I was neither. And not even the gods, for had not Beckett usurped their name. Not for my sight the penumbral visage of the unnamable. And yet, to begin again, one final, no, everlasting, desire. A desire born astride of a grave. To have heard his dying, the poetry of a consummated respiration, fizzle and melodic cascando of an interregnum. And in that instant , before it's night once more, to have seen in his dying a stirring still, barely perceptible, a slight tug from the other side of being, a beckoning from his God . .[.] Or do I have it backwards? Onward again, to the unending saga of that so common and so eloquent a face. How describe it? In black and white and gray, the tones of Beckett. No color for him. That extravagance permitted in the prison house of his language, the reticulated masonry of his words. The face that haunts the world's literary imagination is bloodless, ashen, the residuum of a life. Body and soul stilled and distilled in two photographs, black white gray. Two images of momentous calm, each the interrupted equilibria of a living in perpetuity. One, a deflected gaze, head erect, strident in its righted angularity , determinedly posed-by whom? is there a subject there? or object?-eyeing fixedly the what where of the imagination dead imagine. The other frontal, eye on, caught unawares, the face haunted and hunted, pleading for release, the eye of prey. Two faces, the two sides of being...


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