Down to the most grotesque details, beyond our strength

I feel myself moving away from ideas of poverty and bareness. They are still superlatives. […] There is not having and there is not being able to, perhaps too much of a tendency to think of them as standing together. The poor are able to, rather. Not even poor, that is what we have to bear, not even poor and yet not able to. If there were even one specific thing that we were not able to do, but we do not know what there is that could be done. But you are only too familiar with these elaborations; old no doubt as sadness. And that we cannot follow either, from weakness of mind. How weak it must be, not to be able to follow that! Treasures of poverty, maybe; but of impotence, no, we shall do without treasures. We shall always have enough to keep living, in ignorance and weakness, really without pride, enough to keep living, right down to the most grotesque details, beyond our strength. Not without joy, this observation that every effort is the story of a collapse, it is really restful. That there are superior minds (no irony) which know and are able to, I can readily grant. But when one is not gifted, really stupid and clumsy, what is one to go in for? Cunning? Art? Keeping quiet? Silence will come soon enough, not from pride, but from weariness of speech.

— Beckett, letter to Georges Duthuit, 1950

Comments are closed.