Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Boileau: knew a good rump when he saw one
Beckett fact no. 17.
I mentioned the poem about Becky Cooper and her fessade à la mode a few posts back, and have been mentioning backsides more or less all the time, which leads me to these entries from Beckett's Dream Notebook:
Flickem, flapem, over the knee,
Say, Thank you, good dame, for whipping of me
– copied from a book called Flagellation and the Flagellants by one William Cooper, BA, and then on the next page:
The human arse, to quote the Abbé Boileau, is extremely deserving of esteem, conferring as it does the faculty of assiduity.
Just how kinky was the young Beckett? He toyed with the idea of translating the Marquis de Sade, after all. Is the whole backside thing about wanting to be whipped or about the fact that the nether quarters, unlike the front-facing ones, offer no route to parturition?
Early Christian heretics could never make up their mind about sex. While some gnostics thought it was evil, always and everywhere, others decided that, with them having the inside track to God and all, they might as well just do it all the time anyway. What they did agree on was that parturtition was wrong, and when it occurred they resorted to ritual abortion.
It's odd that the gnostic influence on Beckett hasn't received more attention, but for anyone who doubts its presence, consider the 'Mani' (i.e. Manichaean) notes in his theatrical notebook for Krapp's Last Tape and the references therein to the signaculum sinus, the symbolic sealing-in of the body against carnality:
Note that Krapp decrees physical (ethical) incompatibility of light (spiritual) and dark (sensual) only when he intuits possibility of their reconciliation intellectually as rational-irrational. He turns from fact of anti-mind alien to mind to thought of anti-mind constituent of mind. He is thus ethically correct (signaculum sinus) through intellectual transgression, the duty of reason being not to join but to separate (deliverance of imprisoned light). For this sin he is punished as shown by the aeons.
The constipation being his punishment, presumably. Constipation is a sign of health, in pomeranians. That's from Molloy.