Monday, 15 July 2013

Malone and the murmur of language..

"..too am in perpetual motion, accompanied by Malone, as the earth by its moon. "
"Me, utter me, in the same foul breath as my creatures? Say of me that I see this, feel that, fear, hope, know and do not know? Yes, I will say it, and of me alone."  (Beckett, The Unnameable)

Yes, I will say it, and of me alone

It's hard not to hear, in 'me alone', the echo and presence of 'Malone', so that we hear the supervention of  an other at the very moment of self-assertion. What matters, then, is not what is stated in the sentence, but what happens in the sentence: the ghostly reappearance of Malone, the murmur of language that stains even the clearest I. What is given in the sentence is not its propositional content* but the ventriloquism that takes place when we use language - and which is perhaps the very theme and substance of "Texts for Nothing").

It is true both that Malone speaks in him and that he speaks through Malone: 'Malone' is the proper name given to this other who the I cannot shake off, who is present depite the I; the I is never a 'clean' place from which to speak, but Malone also is a vehicle or a mask that 'permits' something which would otherwise remain not only unsaid but unknown. 

In this sense 'me' and 'Malone' are like two sides of a piece of paper.

* This serves also as a useful example of how unwise it is (although impossible, finally to avoid) to treat the clauses or sentences of a literary text as propositions. The proposition is simply one element, and not an element to which the others - sound, echo, rhythm etc are subordinate.

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