Prodigiousness

Where I live, people sometimes leave free things on the street. Not exactly Utopia, but you can get some cool shit –– particularly BOOKS! I have my one secret spot where some church leaves out old texts, usually language dictionaries and random religious things, but I won’t tell you lest you raid it and I am left sans-free-book-spot. This week, though, I came across a bin left out by what was probably a theater going out of business or moving, as there were a number of plays and books on theater production, etc. I grabbed Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, as every house ought to have one, and Samuel Beckett’s Company, of which I have never heard but hey, I’m a fan of the original merciless one. Plays are great reads, too, as you can usually consume the whole thing in one day, thus making yourself feel super smart and accomplished (though you’ve only read a mere seventy pages, and not even fully filled in pages at that.)

So Company…the back cover describes it as “an extraordinary blending of thought and memory with poignant glimpses of childhood”…for the beginning 84 pages (large type!) I wasn’t blown away. I mean, yes, it’s Beckett, so it was lovely in a soul-sucking kind of we’re-all-alone-“a-voice-in-the-dark” kind of way, but other than one really terrifying story about a hedgehog (don’t ask,) I wasn’t so moved. There wasn’t anything solid or beautiful (even ugly-beautiful, the best kind, on second thought) to latch on to. Faint breath, soft voice in the dark, “such and such a day” like any other day, etc.

But then…

The end. And it may not be as good out of context, but I leave it here for you, and think about how last night all I could imagine was reading this every night before I fell asleep, and being comforted by the last words, and not afraid, if I wanted to be.

“Somehow at any price to make an end when you could go out no more you sat huddled in the dark. Having covered in your day some twenty-five thousand leagues or roughly thrice the girdle. And never once overstepped a radius of one from home. Home! So sat waiting to be purged the old lutist cause of Dante’s first quarter-smile and now perhaps singing praises with some section of the blest at last. To whom here in any case farewell. The place is windowless. When as you sometimes do to void the fluid you open your eyes dark lessens. Thus you now on your back in teh dark once sat huddled there your body having shown you it could go out no more. Out no more to walk the little winding back roads and interjacent pastures now alive with flocks and now deserted. With at your elbow for long years your father’s shade in his old tramping rags and then for long years alone. Adding step after step to the ever mounting sum of those already accomplished. Halting now and then with bowed head to fix the score. Then on from nought anew. Huddled thus you find yourself imagining you are not alone while knowing full well that nothing has occurred to make this possible. The process continues none the less lapped as it were in its meaninglessness. You do not murmur in so many words, I know this doomed to fail and yet persist. No. For the first personal and a fortiori plural pronoun had never any place in your vocabulary. But without a word you view yourself to this effect as you would a stranger suffering say from Hodgkin’s disease or if you prefer Percival Pott’s surprised at prayer. From time to time with unexpected grace you lie. Simultaneously the various parts set out. The arms unclasp the knees. Teh head lifts. The legs start to straighten. The trunk tilts backward. And together these and countless others continue on their respective ways till they can go no further and together come to rest. Supine now you resume your fable where the act of lying cut it short. And persist till the converse operation cuts it short again. So in the dark now huddled and now supine you toil in vain. And just as from the former position to the latter the shift grows easier in time and more alacrious so from the latter to the former the reverse is true. Till from the occasional relief it was supineness becomes habitual and finally the rule. You now on your back in the dark shall not rise again to clasp your legs in your arms and bow down your head till it can bow down no further. But with face upturned for good labour in vain at your fable. Till finally you hear how words are coming to an end. With every inane word a little nearer to the last. And how the fable too. The fable of one with you in the dark. The fable of one fabling of of one with you in the dark. And how better in the end labour lost and silence. And you as you always were.

Alone.”

Sleep well.

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