Quantcast
Video of the Day

Masthead

Editor-in-Chief
Alex Carnevale
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Managing Editor
Kara VanderBijl
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Durga Chew-Bose
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious
(e-mail/tumblr/twitter)

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

Live and Active Affiliates
This area does not yet contain any content.

Entries in samuel beckett (8)

Tuesday
Dec022014

In Which Samuel Beckett Renders A Found Verdict

Other Writers

It is difficult for a great creator to acknowledge his or her peers without feeling he or she has diminished himself in the process. Samuel Beckett was both overly vain and excessively humble. While some of his friends were making a great living, he was struggling with long hours of translation, along with frustration that some of his editors and readers were not able to understand works like Murphy and Watt. In addition, pain in his anal cavity made his long days of sitting difficult to bear. In his letters, he appraises a variety of his precursors in a cranky, yet enlightening fashion.

CARL JUNG

He struck me as a kind of super AE, the mind infinitely more ample, provocative and penetrating, but the same cuttle-fish's discharge & escapes from the issue in the end. He let fall some remarkable things nevertheless. He protests so vehemently that he is not a mystic that he must be one of the very most nebulous kind.

His lecture the night I went consisted mainly in the so-called synthetic (versus Freudian analytic) interpretation of three dreams of a patient who finally went to the dogs because he insisted on taking a certain element in the dreams as the Oedipus position when Jung told him it was nothing of the kind!

The mind is I suppose the best Swiss, Lavater & Rousseau, mixture of enthusiasm & Euclid, a methodical rhapsody. Jolas' pigeon all right, but I should think in the end less than the dirt under Freud's nails. I can't imagine his curing a fly of neurosis. He insists in patients having their horoscope cast!

HONORE DE BALZAC

The bathos of style & thought is so enormous that I wonder is he writing seriously or in parody. And yet I go on reading it.

ARTHUR SCHOPENHAUER

When I was ill I found the only thing I could read was Schopenhauer. Everything else I tried only confirmed the feeling of sickness. It was very curious. Like suddenly a window opened on a fugue. I always knew he was one of the ones who mattered most to me, and it is a pleasure more real than any pleasure for a long time to begin to understand now why it is so.

JANE AUSTEN

Now I am reading the divine Jane. I think she had much to teach me. it is curious how English literature has never freed itself from the old morality typifications & simplifications. I suppose the cult of the horse has something to do with it. But writing infected with selective breeding of the vices & virtues becomes tiresome.


JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU

I must think of Rousseau as a champion of the right to be alone and as an authentically tragic figure in so far as he was denied the enjoyment of that right, not only by a society that considered solitude as a vice (il n'y a que le mechant qui soit seul) but by the infantile aspect, afraid of the dark, of his own constitution.

MARCEL PROUST

A short essay on him (30,000 words) was my first prose work. It had been commissioned by Chatto & Windus for their series of Dolphin Books. I concentrated on following the different stages of his key experience from the madeline dipped in tisane to the cobblestones in the courtyard of the Guermantes' great house. Since that time I have hardly looked at him. He impresses and irritates me. I find it hard to bear his obsessive need, among others, to bring everything back to laws. I think I am a poor judge of him.

GERTRUDE STEIN

The fabric of the language has at least become porous, if regrettably quite by accident and, as it were, as a consequence of a procedure somewhat akin to the technique of Feininger. The unhappy lady (is she still alive?) is undoubtedly still in love with her vehicle, if only, however, as a mathematician is with his numbers; for him the solution of the problem is of very secondary interest, yes, like the death of numbers, it must seem to him indeed dreadful.

In the meantime I am doing nothing.

FRANZ KAFKA

All I've read of his, apart from a few short texts, is about three-quarters of The Castle, and then in German, that is, losing a great deal. I felt at home, too much so - perhaps that is what stopped me from reading on. Case closed there and then. I remember feeling disturbed by the imperturbable aspect of his approach. I am wary of disasters that let themselves be recorded like a statement of accounts.

JOHN MILTON

Can't get a verse of his out of my mind: "Insuperable height of loftiest shade." 

"Free Advice" - Jonathan Wilson (mp3)

"Alpha Blondy Was King" - Jonathan Wilson (mp3)

Monday
Sep092013

In Which We Decide To Give Up Everything Even Sex

Curtains

by ALEX CARNEVALE

Marcel Duchamp introduced Peggy Guggenheim to all the artists he knew in Paris. By various looks and expressions it was obvious to Duchamp that the heiress knew little of modern art, so he endeavored to teach her. He did not ask for money in exchange for his services, since the instruction of women was not considered a financially profitable task. Moreover Peggy was planning to open a gallery in London, and he saw it as something of a duty to ensure the place was filled to his liking.

When she was not with Duchamp, Peggy socialized in Paris with frenetic abandon. At a party thrown by James Joyce she observed across the table a slender, quiet, bespectacled amalgam of Irish masculinity. She stared at Samuel Beckett the entire night.

They walked the entire way back to her apartment on the Rue de Lille. Beckett's novel Murphy had begun to slowly appear across Europe. Although she had not read it, she knew it was accomplished, and she had already pleasantly digested his views on Proust. As a friend of Sam's later wrote, "She wanted to be a part of whatever good things were going to happen to him."

Peggy Guggenheim at “peep show, manipulated by turning a huge ship’s wheel, shows a rotating exhibit of reproductions of all the works, including a miniature toilet for MEN, by screwball Surrealist Marcel Duchamp.”

In her own book, Peggy wrote that Beckett was a "a tall lanky Irishman of about thirty with enormous green eyes that never looked at you. He wore spectacles and always seemed to be far away solving some intellectual problem; he spoke very seldom and never said anything stupid." They spent the next 24 hours in bed together. The only interruption came when Beckett leapt out of the sheets to purchase a few bottles of champagne and return. After Peggy finally left the embrace, Beckett murmured, "Thank you. It was nice while it lasted."

She found his long expositions on Irish painting a bit tiring, but pretended as well as she could to listen the entire time. Besides Joyce he told her he felt Journey to the End of Night was the greatest novel written in French or English. He gave her all of his books; intellectually she felt they were really clicking.

Joyce called for Beckett the next day. Both he and Guggenheim made a point of telling everyone they knew about Beckett's Parisian night and morning.

Peggy Guggenheim and Samuel Beckett did not see each other for more than a month, before Peggy made a show of running into him. Peggy was housesitting for her friend Mary Reynolds nearby; did he want to come back for a drink?

They spent the next fortnight there, Beckett drunk throughout. The sex was far from exciting - Beckett struggled to maintain his erection when he consumed alcohol. When that happened, the two would just keep drinking as they strolled through Paris until they came out the other side. The affair ended for the first time when Beckett fucked an Irish girl visiting from Dublin. To explain this behavior to Peggy, he told her "making love without being in love is like taking coffee without brandy." She did not buy this bullshit whatsoever.

SB in the 60s

They reconciled shortly after Beckett was knifed by a pimp. Peggy visited his hospital bed then, insisting as seductively as possible that she loved him. Joyce paid the cost of a private room for his protege, and passed the time waiting for Beckett's recovery by roaming, blind, through the hospital's wards. Seeing him reduced to a patient, she eagerly forgave him.

Peggy's London gallery opening was a tremendous success. One attendee called her the female W.C. Fields. She did not stay in London long enough to enjoy this adulation, because her Beckett was in Paris.

Beckett was no longer interested in being with Peggy. He had moved on to a pianist named Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, six years his elder. Suzanne nursed the wounded writer back to health, and eventually she would become his wife in 1961. Peggy reacted to the rejection by sleeping with one of Sam's friends, briefly reigniting Beckett's interest.

Meanwhile, she prepared an exhibition of Kandinsky's work for her new gallery. She became somewhat obsessed with getting her Irishman back, writing to her friend Emily Coleman that "I love being with him. It is more and more my real life. I have decided now to give up everything else, even sex if necessary, and concentrate on him." She was aware of Suzanne's presence in Beckett's life, but struggled to view the older musician as proper competition, remarking that "she made curtains while I made scenes." Beckett refused to sleep with Peggy despite her entreaties.

She did not sell a single Kandinsky.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording. He is a writer living in Manhattan. He last wrote in these pages about Paul Bowles and the Fullbright Company's Gone Home. He tumbls here and twitters here. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here.

"By the Throat" - Chvrches (mp3)

"Lies" - Chvrches (mp3)

The new album from Chvrches is entitled The Bones Of What You Believe and it will be released on September 23rd.

standing unhappily next to her husband's self-portrait

Tuesday
Sep042012

In Which We Roll Our Eyes At Samuel Beckett

A Terrible State

For a number of reasons, reading the letters of Samuel Beckett is an exercise in frustration. In her review of the two volumes of these epistles so far released, Marjorie Perloff called Beckett "irreverent but never cynical, and, above all, a brilliant stylist whose learning is without the slightest pretension or preciousity." This sounds good, but is wholly inaccurate. The aspidistra keeps flying; when it comes to Beckett even his bowel movements contain "astonishing wordplay." Dwight Garner even called Beckett "in fact one of the century’s great correspondents." This is a fucking lie.

We have almost none of Beckett's personal correspondence because of his explicit wishes. There is nothing than can be done about the absurd restrictions of dead men, but what is left over is both extremely precious and amazingly self-pitying. Sure, the collection does have the occasional high point, but most of what remains are simple exchanges about translations, and the Beckett that emerges is pedantic, maybe justly so, and whiny. (His favorite things to complain about were his translators and his anus.) It is a reminder that the only possible consequence of a lack of self-confidence is considerable annoyance on the part of those who must deal with you.

Instead of putting you through the trouble of bearing extended witness to his constant self-immolation, we have selected all the finer moments and arranged them in a condensed form. Enjoy. - A.C.

I know the smell you describe. The decay ingredient you omit, what you get in a cemetery. You like it because it is associated with your years of innocence. I dislike it for the same reason.

Can you recommend me an informative book on Dutch painting?

For me the position is really a simple and straightforward one, or was until complicated by the analysis, obviously necessarily. For years I was unhappy, consciously & deliberately ever since I left school, so that I isolated myself more & more, undertook less & less & lent myself to a crescendo of disparagement of others & myself. But in all that there was nothing that struck me as morbid.

You know all I wish for you.

I have had the old internal combustion heart & head a couple of nights, in the bed where I had it the first time almost exactly 11 years ago, but as little anxiety as then. Perhaps it is that the phase of impatience with one's own limitations has nearly exhausted itself. I feel now that I shall meet most of my days from now on here and in tolerable content, not feeling much at making the most of what ease there is to be had and not bothering very much about effort. After all there has been an effort. But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps it is Dr. Johnson's dream of happiness, driving rapidly to & from nowhere in a postchaise with a pretty woman.

American girls are irresistible, the charm of the inorganic.

I am really indifferent about where I go or what I do, since I don't seem able or want to write any more, or let us be modest and say for the moment. I suppose the prospect of Mother being left alone should have restrained me, but it hasn't.

I wanted you to think of me sometimes when you had a drink. How else would I render it likely? Have many.

Impossible to do anything with the earth, half frozen, half muddy. I long to be digging, digging over as they say here. Went for a long walk yesterday, met no one, - yes, I did, a gravedigger coming out of a cemetery pushing a wheelbarrow. Halfway along, large dump, Brower-style inn, peasants talking their heads off, drinking wine till it was time for an aperitif. An old man comes in a terrible state, his wife has just had a fall, broken her hip. "She could hardly stand before," he said, "and now..." He was trying to get a car to transport her, so as not to have to pay for an ambulance. You had the feeling that he would have liked to finish her off with a shotgun. The innkeeper, not keen to take his car out, was all for the ambulance. The peasants were vying with each other to tell about times when some similar accident had almost happened to them. I could hear them from a long way off.

I suppose it is always gratifying to know that one is missed.

There is not much to be said for me as a friend and as a correspondent even less. I read your notes with great interest and am very touched by the strange effect my work has upon you. I feel more and more something that is almost if not quite loathing for everything I have written and simply cannot bear to go back over it and into it.

Do not envy me, do not pity me.

When I was ill I found the only thing I could read was Schopenhauer. Everything else I tried only confirmed the feeling of sickness. It was very curious. Like suddently a window opened on a fug. I always knew he was one of the ones that mattered most to me, and it is a pleasure more real than any pleasure for a long time to begin to understand now why it is so. And it is a pleasure also to find a philosopher that can be read like a poet, with an entire indifference to the apriori forms of verification. Although it is a fact that judged by them his generalisation shows fewer cracks than most.

I find it increasingly difficult to write - even letters.

Very grieved that you are so unhappy, though God knows it is hard to be anything else for more than a few minutes at a time, with the help of dope, or work, or music, or the other. Stick it out for the sake of these. And if you have found someone you'll be all right. These are silly words, but not so silly as the ones they ousted.

As night fell, my father, to amuse me, set fire to the broom.

Gertrude Stein's Logographs come closer to what I mean. The fabric of the language has at least become porous, if regrettably only quite by accident and, as it were a consequence of a procedure somewhat akin to the technique of Feininger. The unhappy lady (is she still alive?) is undoubtedly still in love with her vehicle, if only, however, as a mathematician is with his numbers; for him the solution of the problem is of very secondary interest, yes, as the death of numbers, it must seem to him indeed dreadful. on the road toward this, for me, very desirable literature of the non-word, some form of nominalistic irony can of course be a necessary phase. However, it does not suffice if the game loses some of it sacred solemnity. Let it cease altogether! Let's do as that crazy mathematician who used to apply a new principle of measurement at each individual step of the calculation. Word-storming in the name of beauty.

I feel like burying myself, burying ourselves, in this beetroot-growing hole. Let some hovel turn up that I can afford and I'll disappear into it. Too feeble to go looking anywhere else. And now I know the faces round here, and the dangers - what a spineless creature. With a tenth of your vitality and courage - no, useless, I would have locked them away. Having a bad day, of course. But that's the only kind I know now.

Can't get a verse of Milton out of my mind: "Unsuperable height of loftiest shade."

You can experience more Samuel Beckett on This Recording here.

"The Red Balloon" - Azure Ray (mp3)

"The Heart Has Its Reasons" - Azure Ray (mp3)

The new album from Azure Ray is entitled As Above, So Below, and it will be released worldwide on September 5th.