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Andrew McFeaters (Florida State University)
Memory and Repetition in Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape

Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape is an interrogation into memory-production wherein series of temporalities coexist and variously subordinate or are subordinated by competing temporal series. While Krapp pronounces judgment on his precursors, he, at his teleological endpoint, and despite all the attempts of Krapp to know Krapp, is forced to experience the pause before the moment that will never arrive: “Krapp motionless staring before him. The tape runs on in silence.” The silence as the atemporal is the result of a cathexis (variously triggered by memories of women) that short- circuits the recording instrument, the writing machine, the wunderblock. As Jacques Derrida writes in “Freud and the Scene of Writing”: “Temporality as spacing will be not only the horizontal discontinuity of a chain of signs, but also will be writing as the interruption and restoration of contact between the various depths of psychical levels: the remarkably heterogeneous temporal fabric of psychical work itself” (Difference and Repetition 225). At the level of text the different spools of Krapp’s experience, though representing a “heterogeneous temporal fabric of psychical work,” resist chronological reduction. In the end Krapp’s many voices are heard through the pause, the absence, provoked by the irrepressible cathexis, that leads us, like so many psychic recorders with our spools in disorder, looping in silence.

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