Monday, March 25, 2013
Watching Beckett on YouTube
Rockaby is astounding: the whole sense of unconnected rhythms, the busted circle of memory, the rocking chair, the eyes going in an our of shadow, the life petering out, the glorious moment where they go "fuck life" and you are suddenly taken aback like the preceding grind of that very life wasn't enough and you wait and wait and wait until those "time she stopped" moments and they are so satisfying.
Harold Pinter in Krapp's Last Tape
I've always wanted to like Krapp's Last Tape - I like tape machines and reels of tapes and little boxes to put the tapes in and even a botched, obscure filing system, but I never could get into it until I saw this version with Harold Pinter. Most versions overdo the stillness when it's the restlessness in the face of documentation, the muted laughter/rage against one's own ordering that kills me. I can picture old Harold Pinter going through his own files in the same way.
Breath, directed by Damien Hirst
Beckett's short pieces are jump starts for me, quick bolts from some rusted cables locked away in the trunk until a cold morning when I can't get started, and Breath is the shortest and most electric. Say what you will about Damien Hirst, the pickler of sheep and sharks, the skull-encrsuting-with-diamonds art huckster supreme. The man can pan over a table full of garbage and make it feel like a festival ride.
Waiting for Godot
I think people miss that the crushing uncertainty of where one's tick mark lies on cosmic timetable is supposed to be funny.
Quad I + II, directed by Beckett for German television in 1981
Back in college, I once convinced a bunch of students I was supposed to be tutoring in college algebra to do Quad in the little classroom we used. It was weirdly fun. I doubt it actually helped with explaining quadratic equations, nor was that really my purpose. I was going through a thing where I kept my worn anthology of Beckett's shorter plays in my backpack for emergencies of post-adolescent specialness and it turned out that this one is pretty easy and fun. Like life is when you just do it. That can't be what the old man was going on about, is it?