Sunday, August 4, 2013
abandoned erect motion
Write about Voice in Molloy, wrote Kevin Neilson. All right, I said. Voice in Molloy, top layer: there are two narrators in Molloy, one is Molloy and one is Moran. Beckett wrote both but he is not writing them now. He has left them there like Escher-fish worked into one another. Moran at the end of his story becomes aware that the act of writing is falsifying him, perhaps. He is overwriting himself. He is contradicting. The more he writes from this point on, the more he will overwrite himself. (He stops writing or the publisher stops printing.)
Molloy has trouble with words (but not enough trouble with words; his trouble is that they come to him readily and he doesn't trust them); he is conscious of them, he will say a word and it will not be the right word, then he picks another one, but they both seem arbitrary; it seems that he could go on for an indefinite period of time, choosing words that sort of fit something like the thing he wants to indicate but he leaves it at two or three. Any other word he picked would be just as inaccurate, so these corrections terminate with an implied despair. Then there is the fabricated formality of the phrases he finds, which, once he has discovered them, will be used to outline a degrading circumstance. "But leaves or no leaves I would have abandoned erect motion, that of man. And I still remember the day when, flat on my face by way of rest, in defiance of the rules, I suddenly cried, striking my brow, Christ, there's crawling, I never thought of that."
The library of human phrases will not keep him out of the mud; he can speak formally, he can say "that of man" and "striking my brow," and still he will have to crawl, they will not lift him up, they will not save him, he'd be better off with a forked raggy stick for a crutch, and yet his range of language removes his voice from monotony; it defies his circumstances and betrays them. I mean the possible registers, one minute poshly, "that of man," one minute down at the pub, "Christ, I never thought of that," elsewhere Latin, elsewhere the Flemish philosopher Arnold Geulincx referred to very casually as if he is a normal part of any conversation, and so the voice might be capable of any sentence in English, with this flow at its disposal.
It changes octaves; he talks like a deprived aristocrat and self-consciously he says, "And every time I say, I said this, or I said that, or speak of a voice saying, far away inside me, Molloy, and then a fine phrase more or less clear and simple, or find myself compelled to attribute to others intelligible words, or hear my own voice uttering to others more or less articulate sounds, I am merely complying with the convention that demands you either lie or hold your peace."
"I might doubtless have expressed otherwise and better if I had gone to the trouble. And so I shall perhaps some day when I have less horror of trouble than today. But I think not."