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Curt Willits (Florida State University)
Beckett’s Nohow On novels, the second and last “so-called” trilogy—Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, and Worstward Ho—map (as does The Unnamable, Texts For Nothing, and How It Is) the milieu of the Blanchovian, subject-less writer in situ. Having relinquished hold upon authority, the writer exists utterly alone, not as an alienated, paranoid, lone ego, but rather as essentially “no one” (which “Nohow On,” as anagram, both as is and backwards, puns). The writer abides at the limen of the il y a, at the “step not beyond” of what there is after everything has disappeared—where (although nowhere) an echoing, incessant, voiceless other-ness speaks. In dreadful “fascination,” “blind, dumb, and numb,” the writer, powerless to express, thoughtlessly, compellingly, records the “ill seen ill said” limit-experience. The script that materializes strains to finish, to represent at last the silence, the nonrepresentative “exteriority” of language; but, of course, it always and already fails, for language relentlessly represents. The demise of the author-position, however, releases language to ghost its own non-signifying “reality,” to parody its own opaque, nondialectical being (as trace, surface, pure becoming); and so the writing necessarily goes on, although it cannot go on, driven toward its own becoming-void yet stymied by the very proliferation of that becoming, “expressing” in vain its nameless “outside” situated in the impossible un-“saying” of the meaning-laden “said.”
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