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Thursday, April 05, 2007


Beckett fact no. 85.

There's a poem in the current issue of Poetry Review that ends with the line 'There are bones inside my body I've never seen.' As a conceit I think this backfires somewhat: inside your body? As opposed to the rest of us who sit around manhandling our tibias and femurs into view? No, our insides are better off staying where the name says, inside, and well out of view.

Unless of course you're one of those apotemnophiliac types that lies down on railway tracks to get rid of your legs and make yourself feel 'complete', and if you are I've got some numbers here you can call.

There was/is a 'sex-positive' feminist called Annie Sprinkle who went around the place inserting a speculum into herself and beaming the results onto a video screen, examples of whose work I'm tempted to track down and reproduce here, if only for the pleasure of getting my two and a half readers sacked from the jobs they should be doing while they're reading this blog instead.

But my point, my point is that the temptations of autospectroscopy, to coin a word, are not unknown in Beckett either. Any Beckett reader will know how often bumholes hove, or gape into view in his books, but here's a slightly lesser-known example. Watt is ghosted by the mysterious Quin, and in a notebook held in Trinity College, Dublin, Beckett hails his curiosity, which so often leaves him 'filled with that selfsame chagrin as in the man, the woman, or the child, who seeks to obtain, w/o the aid of a reflector, a clear view of his or her own anus.' 'A clear view of that part', the narrator continues, leaves such landmarks as Baile's Strand and the Vale of Avoca well in its buttock-loosed wake.

Autospectroscopy. Now at last it has a name.

Apotemnophiliacs though. What a bunch.


Anonymous said...

Interesting! One of the most bizarre books I have ever cataloged (I'm a librarian) is this title:

Apotemnophilia : information, questions, answers, and recommendations about self-demand amputation / by Gregg M. Furth & Robert Smith ; foreword by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Self-demand amputation! Who knew?

I had a heck of a time assigning subject headings. Still not quite happy with the result.

Amputation--Psychological aspects.
Body dysmorphic disorder.

Anonymous said...

I remember a Private Eye cartoon of a group sitting in a circle under the words 'Creative Writing Workshop', with the caption 'Right, I want you to imagine you've got your heads up your arses.'