Thursday, April 20, 2006
A mesozoic what? No wonder he can't get a girlfriend
Beckett fact no. 64.
An article on Beckett's letters in today's TLS (four-volume edition in the offing, I'm pleased to see) cites two examples of his strangely spermatic imagination. I'll start with them here and toss off eight more to get us into double figures.
1) To McGreevy in 1932: 'I'm in mourning for the integrity of a pendu's emission of semen, what I find in Homer & Dante & Racine & sometimes Rimbaud, the integrity of the eyelids coming down before the brain knows of grit in the wind.'
2) To Duthuit in 1949: 'we find ourselves being faced with the pure manstuprations of Orphic and abstract act. What if we simply stopped altogether having erections? As in life. Enough sperm floating about the place.'
3) To McGreevy in 1931 on the Perugino Pietà in Dublin's National Gallery: 'a lovely cheery Xist full of sperm, and the women touching his thighs.'
4) To McGreevy, also in 1931: the writing of two poems constitutes a 'double-yoked orgasm in months of aspermatic nights and days'.
5) 'Where it falls mandrakes grow' (Godot).
6) The Unnamable's 'dying sperm, in the sheets of an innocent boy'.
7) The 'seminal intoxication' of customs officials in Watt clamping down on cross-border traffic in Bando.
8) The 'self-eviscerations' to which the 'mesozoic pelican', though childless, 'is addicted' ('Recent Irish Poetry').
9) Sorry, I seem to have drifted from sperm per se to masturbation. Still, I'm assuming the line in 'Censorship in the Saorstat' about 'the man broad-minded and fair' withdrawing 'his purities' from the 'pollution' of a dirty book 'before they are entirely spent' is about sperm.
10) Which just leaves whatever the hell it is that's going in 'Sanies II', with its prostitutes named after figures from La Fontaine, and its talk of how 'the balls splash no luck comrade'. Surely worth a spermatozoon or two.