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Amber Coady (Florida State University)
Despite its details, the diarrheic flow of words in Samuel Beckett's That Time -- which is interrupted only by the brief interludes of Listener's breathing, opened eyes, and final toothless smile -- betrays more about what Listener has forgotten than about what he remembers. Voices A, B, and C (all Listener’s) repeatedly ask “was that the time or was that another time”, and the question is one of the voices’ few points of intersection in the play’s text. The disconnection of Listener from his past(s) is mirrored in That Time by the separation between Listener’s body and his voice(s). These separations are so severe that his voices seem to metamorphose into outside interrogators or auditory hallucinations, a sense that is compounded by the fact that the play’s audience (provided it hasn’t read the play) -- unlike its readers -- is unaware that the voices A, B, and C belong to Listener. In his rehearsal notes to the German premiere of That Time (German: Damals), Walter Asmus notes Beckett’s “comments on the silence after each of the three parts [of the play]: In these moments the man comes back to the present”, and on the tenuousness of the connection between the voices and Listener‘s responses: “It is not decided whether he opens his eyes and the voice stops for that reason of whether the voice stops and therefore he opens his eyes” (On Beckett 348). Listener’s voices try to dam the loss of specific memory, paradoxically, with a flood of words and questions, but they fail. In the face of this fragmentary flood, Listener remains silent, his regular breathing only a stopgap to the jagged holes -- the toothless spaces -- in his memory
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