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Notes on the Margin

Well, Thursday night was somewhat clichéd.  I saw Waiting for…

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Well, Thursday night was somewhat clichéd.  I saw Waiting for Godot in Covent Garden.  I enjoyed it, even if the deliberately excruciating aspects mean that I wouldn’t want to see it again.  Fount it an indictment of the human condition, a profound criticism of the meaningless of life, and a depressing assertion that nothing changes and death can come any day; it makes no difference when.

That sounds pretentious, and it is.  The only reason I had to make so precise and highfalutin’ my impressions of the philosophy and put it in such officious terminology is that I met Yuri outside the theater and joined his troika of doctoral students for drinks.  One of them, a phil major in undergrad, had spent years in Korea and Thailand embracing Buddhism, and he saw in the overwhelming bleakness of the play not quite a questioning of the human condition, but a message of transcendence and hope.  Damn yuppies.

I consider that I may have watched a different play than he.  However, he referred to Camus as finding some measure of hope in the existential issue of purposelessness, and marshaled Camus’s arguments to defend his interpretation of Beckett.  This was a mistake, as one of the other docs-in-training and I launched in, refusing to see our favorite author subverted for partisan purposes.  Actually, he and I spent time asserting the differences between Stranger and Waiting, insisting that the latter held noting but grim fatalism.

It was great fun, and we were out until 2:30, when Yuri and I stumbled into Rosebery.

I also have a tremendous headache.

  • In defence of the buddhist doc-in-training, compared to Buddhism with its insistence on total renunciation of the world, almost anything looks positive ;-).

    Interestingly, until fairly recently I agreed with your take on Godot. While I now see that aspect of it as perhaps the strongest, I also see it as very funny, particularly after having watched Richard Fisher be Lucky in one of his scenes. Believe it or not, the play can be quite funny if it's played that way. If so, I suspect it becomes a metaphor for the finding-humor-in-the-human-condition without analyzing the ultimate point of life too much...

    I'm sure you've heard that the inmates at San Quentin thought the play very profound and an extremely accurate reflection of life when it was put on there in the 60's.
    • I'd never heard the story about San Quentin, but I think it's both amusing and apt. Seriously, that's probably the best venue for the work. And the play is very funny across a wide number of scenes, but it's suffused with such an overall gloom and interrupted by enough humorless, depressing, and nearly excruciating moments to convince me that I'll never find it completely humorous.
      • Perhaps you should be drunk when you see it... (Somewhat) more seriously, I'm beginning to think that a great deal of it depends on one's expectations. If you don't really see much Godot-esque in the human condition, I expect it's much easier to feel so superior to their situation that you feel they are amusing little sods. Start to identify a bit, though, and I suspect that the gloom starts to set in a bit.
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