Ayech Mahfoudi (University of South Carolina)
Beckett's "Vagrant" Voices: Reclaiming the Dehors in Beckett's Not I, Footfalls, and Rockaby
"The whole being...hanging on its words...so that not only had she[...] to give up...admit hers alone...her voice alone...but this other awful thought" (Not I 6).
Engaging with the late plays of Not I, Footfalls, Rockaby, That Time, or A Piece of Monologuereveals the primacy of Voice and vocal theatricality in dramatizing the phsychological and existential estrangement of the Beckettian characters. Voice, in these plays, is the site and sign of a rupture or "dechirure" of being and thought. Issuing "whence unknown," it both interrogates and dislodges the long-standing logocentric certainties of presence and identity attached, from Plato's time onward to a transcendental site of origin--a monocentric and integrated subjectivity. This "vagrant" and often non-locational Voice crosses and transgresses the boundaries between inside and outside, interiority and exteriority, the Self and its uncanny Otherness. It is, accordingly, a witness-point to the encroachment of this "other awful thought"
--the "Dehors," the "Impense," or the "Neutre"-- in the Blanchotian and Foucauldian terms upon the interiority of consciousness and the rigid closure of positive experience.
This paper is an attempt to locate Beckett's Voice and vocal theatricality within a broader theoretical (mainly Foucauldian and Blanchotian) perspective. I will show how Beckett reclaims the "outside" through his disembodied--his "vagrant" Voices.