Rough for Radio II


Rough for Radio II

"Rough for Radio II" is a radio play by Samuel Beckett. It was written in French in 1961 as "Pochade radiophonique" and published in "Minuit" 16, November 1975. Beckett translated the work into English shortly before its broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 13th April 1976. Martin Esslin directed Harold Pinter ( [http://www.thefreedictionary.com/animator Animator] ), Billie Whitelaw (Stenographer) and Patrick Magee (Fox). The English language version was first published in "Ends and Odds" (Grove, 1976, Faber, 1977) as "Radio II".

Esslin tells us that Beckett himself “regard [ed] the work as unfinished, no more than a rough sketch, and felt, having heard the production that it had ‘not come off’.” [Esslin, M., ‘Beckett and the Art of Broadcasting’ in "Meditations: Essays on Brecht, Beckett and the Media" (London: Methuen, 1980), p 149] Beckett "put the blame on the script but he told Esslin that 'the production which made the Animator and his team start briskly and become more weary and discouraged as time went on should already have started on a high degree of weariness and despair.'" [Brater, E., "The Drama in the Text: Beckett's Late Fiction" (London: Oxford University Press, 1994), p 50]

ynopsis

A man, who we discover has the title “Animator” makes small talk with his young female stenographer: is she ready to get to work, does she have the tools of her trade? The interchange is light and familiar. He then consults a character called Dick [Dick was Alfred Péron's nickname (as in Moby Dick) during his time in the French resistance cell that he was a part of along with Beckett. When the cell was betrayed, Péron was arrested by the Gestapo and ended up in Mauthausen where he survived the war. Beckett, of course, had to go into hiding.] ; is he on his toes? The man, a mute, doesn’t answer other than to make a swishing noise to which the Animator exclaims, “Wow! [There are four types of fox calls. The call most often heard is the 'wow-wow-wow'. (See IPCC Information Sheet: [http://www.ipcc.ie/infofox.html On the Fox's Trail] )] Let’s hear it land.” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 115] Dick strikes the desk with, what the text refers to as, a “bull’s pizzle”, [Although used the world over, the use of the pizzle is common in Europe and particularly Germany. It is mentioned in French sources as used by the Gestapo in World War II during the German’s occupation which is perhaps why it was chosen as the torture weapon here bearing in mind Beckett’s wartime experiences.] a whip made from a bull's penis. (‘Dick’ is, of course, a euphemism for penis). It is certainly humorous, though hardly revolutionary, to use a character that is unable to speak in a radio play. What is of interest is that it is his job to encourage Fox "to" speak.

Dick is instructed to remove a hood from a fourth figure, Fox, followed by his gag, blindfold and earplugs. The man is kept bound though. As his eyes adjust to the light he recognises “the same old team” – evidently this is not then the first time he has been interrogated. Unexpectedly he smiles [Sly as a fox's smile - crafty, cunning.] at the woman and this startles her, which prompts a coarse remark from the Animator: “What is it, miss? Vermin in the lingerie?” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 115] This is not the first time he has smiled; she checks to see if it should be recorded but is told not to.

The Stenographer proceeds to read her report on the results from day before but the Animator has her skip practically all of it apart from the first three “exhortations”. Item #3 expresses particular concern regarding the condition and use of the Fox’s gag. It is imperative he make no utterance that cannot be recorded and scrutinized in case what he says “"may be it"”. [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 116] “But no word, [A reoccurring notion [in Beckett's writing is] that "thoughts and the concomitant words that shape them are merely sounds made by a voice, ‘nothing beyond mere ejaculations of air’; that the idea of meaninglessness is only a mere ‘feeling’ which is not provable and slowly fades into emptiness ... the more it is pondered and the more the writer or speaker attempts to capture it in words, ‘in one pure word’. There is also the determination, in the face of the impossible, to continue to try ‘over and over again to get hold of this mood’. – Ben-Zvi, L., "Journal of Beckett Studies", No 9, spring 1983, pp 76,77 (All internal quotes taken from Mauthner, F., "Beitnäge zu einer Kritik der Sprache", 3rd ed., 3 vols. Leipzig, 1923: rpt. (Hildesheim: Georg Olmes, 1967), III, pp 615,616) [http://www.english.fsu.edu/jobs/num09/Num9Ben-Zvi.htm] ] says Mauthner, can have such transcendent power; however tortured, words cannot reveal truth.” [Ackerley, C. J. and Gontarski, S. E., (Eds.) "The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett", (London: Faber and Faber, 2006), p 360]

She is stopped just after this and goes on to read Fox’s closing remarks from the day before which refer to him washing and drying a mole in front of a fire before returning the creature to its “chamber with his weight of grubs.” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 117] From the expression, “in that instant his little heart was beating still” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 117] it could be construed that the mole was actually dead, perhaps killed by accident when he was a child but more likely frozen to death in the blizzard ["The next time we saw each other, a year later in Paris, our conversation continued, where it had begun and where it had left off, with the difficulties of writing ... 'It's not a good time at all,' he sighed, 'I walk the streets trying to see what's in my mind. It's all confusion. Life is all confusion. A blizzard. It must be like this for the newborn. Not much difference I think between this blizzard and that.'" – Shainberg, L., ‘ [http://samuel-beckett.net/ShainExor1.html Exorcising Beckett] ’ in "The Paris Review" No. 104, Fall 1987 ] he has to endure to return it to the ground.

The Animator wants to know if the glare bothers her. The woman says not and adds that heat doesn’t trouble her either but still asks permission to remove her overall. This – predictably – prompts comment from the Auditor: “Staggering! Ah were I but … forty years younger” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 117] , another inappropriate remark underlining his lascivious nature. The text does not comment on what she is – or is not – wearing underneath but Billie Whitelaw’s observation in a Radio Times interview is revealing: “I felt that the girl I play, the stenographer, starts out in uniform and ends with nothing on.” [Interview with Billie Whitelaw, "Radio Times", 10-16 April 1976; University of Reading (MS3081)] Her response is to reread the end of Fox’s last testimony: “Ah my God my God ["Blow with pencil"] My God,” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 117] words that remind one of someone’s cries while in a state of sexual ecstasy but presented in the least erotic of tones. [The simplest and most universal exclamation of ecstasy is "Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, my God!" [http://archive.salon.com/sex/feature/2000/06/12/test/ ] ] Having worked with him before she is doubtless well aware of the nature of the man she is dealing with – someone who could undress her with his eyes no matter what she was wearing – and his hidden agenda. Her response annoys him. He calls her a “ [http://dict.die.net/crabbed/ Crabbed] youth,” [Beckett could here be twisting the opening line of Shakespeare’s Poem: “Crabbed age and youth cannot live together” – [http://www.bartleby.com/70/5212.html The Passionate Pilgrim, XII] , Shakespeare, W., "The Oxford Shakespeare: Poems", 1914] before proceeding.

She recommends “a touch of kindness” be applied to Fox, “perhaps just a hint.” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 117] The Animator says he appreciates the sentiment but is obdurate: they stick with his method (despite its obvious lack of results).

After further prompting by Dick, Fox begins his second monologue describing a life underground (perhaps the mole’s he spoke of before), “living dead in the stones.” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 118] He fades away but, when threatened with the whip again, moves onto his third outpouring, where he mentions a brother – the first family member he has spoken of – his twin, actually inside himself and hungry. Someone named “Maud” [Perhaps a nod to Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem " [http://www.englishverse.com/poems/maud Maud] " with its famous opening line: “Come into the garden Maud.”] – the only person he has ever mentioned by name – has proposed a Caesarean section volunteering to nurse the twin when born. At this point Fox breaks down and starts weeping. The Animator remains undecided as to whether this should be recorded. Up until this point he has been adamant that only Fox’s words are relevant.

A final stoke of Dick’s pizzle brings only one line. Fox – or more likely the mole/twin – cries out: “Let me out! Peter out in the stones!” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 118]

In a change of tactic, the Animator quietly tries to make clear to Fox what he really wants: “More variety! … [A] stonish me.”, [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), pp 121,122] He even hints to him that he might try being creative with the truth, the very notion of which shocks the Stenographer. It may seem at first look that the bound protagonist is the captive, but by this stage of the play, the audience is beginning to realise that the Stenographer and Animator are the ones who are truly captive. They hang upon every word Fox emits. The Animator even confesses that he doesn’t know precisely what he is looking for other than he’ll know it when he hears it, unlike Bam in "What Where" who is after specific details. It is becoming clearer that the Animator is seeking something in Fox that most likely isn’t there.

Since physical violence hasn’t proved successful, nor has gentle persuasion, the Animator modifies his approach once more: “Dick! – no, wait. Kiss him, miss, perhaps that will stir some fibre … on his stinker of a mouth … Till it bleeds! Kiss it white!” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 122] Fox howls and faints.

Since nothing more is to be gotten from Fox the two review the evidence, the tear – he had shed a number the previous winter – and Maud’s willingness to act as a wet nurse. The Stenographer highlights the point that, for Maud to be able to produce milk pointed to the fact she is likely already pregnant. The Animator drools over the image of a milk-engorged breast: “One can almost see it!” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 124]

The woman wonders out loud who might be the father. This finally fires Animator’s imagination: “May we have that passage again, miss?” She reads it verbatim but he objects insisting she is omitting the phrase, “"between two kisses".” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 124] She tries to stand her ground but he gets angry and demands she amend her notes accordingly effectively “insert [ing] the Stenographer (and her kissing of Fox) into Fox’s discourse.” [Lawley, P., ‘The Difficult Birth: An Image of Utterance in Beckett’ in Davis, R. J. and Butler, L. St J., (Eds.) "‘Make Sense Who May’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works" (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1988), p 5] (This is in violation of Item #2 of the “exhortations”). She acquiesces and timidly reads back the text. Finally, something to appeal to his crude tastes.

He is now satisfied and is hopeful that by the next day their work may very well be done. “Don’t cry, miss, dry your pretty eyes and smile at me. Tomorrow, who knows, we may be free.” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 124] This reminds us of the ending of "Radio I": “Tomorrow … noon.” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 111] Everything will be better tomorrow. Beckett brings many of his characters to this brink (e.g. Clov at the end of Endgame) but for these trapped souls the future only turns out to be an endless succession of todays.

Interpretation

Scholars have demonstrated a fondness for grouping Beckett’s works according to perceived themes: memory plays, political plays, ghost plays and so on. "Rough for Radio II" can easily sustain a political interpretation (one wonders how much it influenced Pinter’s own "One for the Road", for example) but alternative readings can also be made of the other so-called ‘political’ plays. These plays, "Catastrophe" and "What Where" can also be grouped along with "Rough for Theatre II" and "Rough for Radio II" as ‘procedural’ plays.

Whereas many of Beckett’s work have a circular aspect, these four plays all have a linear core; each can be, or is, stopped when certain conditions are met. In the case of "Catastrophe", when the living statue meets the director’s aesthetic criteria; in "What Where", when one of the interrogators extracts the required information; in "Rough for Theatre II", when a decision is made as to Croker’s future and in "Rough for Radio II", if an unknown sign or set of words is provided by Fox. Each play has its own process, procedures that have to be followed. All evoke bureaucracy even though in "What Where" there is no physical paperwork "per se".

Robert Sandarg has put forward this short possible synopsis of the play:

: “"Rough for Radio II" may concern a critic torturing an author. The Animator speaks of Sterne and Dante, ‘old spectres from the days of book reviewing’, [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 120] and the twin which Fox carries monstrously within himself could be his book.” [Sandarg, R., ‘A Political Perspective on "Catastrophe"’ in Davis, R. J. and Butler, L. St J., (Eds.) "‘Make Sense Who May’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works" (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1988), p 143]

As regards a ‘true’ interpretation a good starting point is Martin Esslin’s comment that the play is “about the artistic process” itself [Esslin, M., ‘Beckett and the Art of Broadcasting’ in "Meditations: Essays on Brecht, Beckett and the Media" (London: Methuen, 1980), p 148] which Beckett by no means found easy; his output is respectable but he was not exactly prolific. “There are two moments worthwhile in writing,” he summed up to a friend, “the one where you start and the other where you throw it in the waste-paper basket.” [Samuel Beckett to Jacoba van Velde, 12 April 1958. Quoted in Knowlson, J., "Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett" (London: Bloomsbury, 1996), p 446]

The play interestingly reverses the act of creation of a radio play: “instead of the sequence {text → speech → electromagnetic vibration}, we have the sequence {twitch of whip → speech → text} –first the slap of the bull’s pizzle on flesh, then Fox’s words, then the stenographer’s transcript.” [Albright, D., "Beckett and Aesthetics" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p 114] To produce this article, this author – and by extension those authors quoted – first tuned into a radio broadcast (or put on a recording of one), listened to the words and then converted his understanding of them into text.

Fox

"Which is more painful," I asked him, "writing or not writing?"
"They're both painful, but the pain is different."
[”He spoke a little about the different sorts of pain, the pain of being unable to write, the pain of writing itself, and — as bad as any — the pain of finishing what he'd begun. I said, ‘If the work is so painful when one does it and so painful when it's done, why on earth does anyone do it?’
“This was one of those questions that caused him ... to disappear behind his hand, covering his eyes and bending his head toward the table for what must have been two full minutes. Then, just when I'd begun to suspect that he'd fallen asleep, he raised his head and, with an air of relief, as if he'd finally resolved a lifelong dilemma, whispered, ‘The fashioning, that's what it is for me, I think. The pleasure in making a satisfactory object.’"- Shainberg, L., Exorcising Beckett, "The Paris Review" No. 104, Fall 1987 [http://samuel-beckett.net/ShainExor1.html]
]

An old adage says that people hear what they want to hear; they hone in on what’s relevant to "them". Animator is not really listening to Fox any more than a great number of Beckett’s audiences over the years haven’t "listened" to him: Godot sounds like God so he must be God, mustn’t he? [Samuel Beckett’s standard answer, when asked by him who Godot was: “If I knew I wouldn’t have written he play.” Once he went a little further and said to Sir Ralph Richardson, “if by Godot I had meant God, I would have said God and not Godot.” – Ackerley, C. J. and Gontarski, S. E., (Eds.) "The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett", (London: Faber and Faber, 2006), p 232]

Fox sounds like ‘"vox"’, the Latin word for ‘voice’, but in this case it is not unreasonable to assume this is intentional on Beckett’s part considering his only requirement is to give voice to that certain something that will satisfy his interrogator. It is worth mentioning that in the French original the interrogatee is still named ‘Fox’ rather than ‘"Renard"’ perhaps because Beckett wanted his audience to make the Fox/Vox connection first. The French for ‘voice’ is ‘"voix"’. [The Modern English "fox" is derived from Old English with the same spelling, the Old English word itself comes from the Proto-Germanic word "fukh"; the modern German word for fox is "fuchs".]

“Fox’s stream of words presents a series of puzzling images. Should the listener simply consider each of these – the soaping of the mole, his drying by the embers, the mention of a parasitic twin brother growing within him, a mother figure named Maud – as pictograms, which escape interpretation? Fox only speaks under duress. Does he represent the artist figure, forced by habit or vocation to express himself in a series of ever-repeating motifs despite not having a specific purpose or subject? Whether or not he has something revelatory to communicate … he lives up to his name by not divulging it. As a result, his silence gives him power over his captors and even his torturer, Dick.” [Branigan, K., ‘Glossolalies – Beckett And Artaud On Air’ in " [http://www.nuim.ie/publications/research/research_record_2004.pdf National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Postgraduate Research Record 2004] ", p 20]

Symbols are the method that the unconscious uses to communicate important information and guidance to the conscious mind. Fox’s speech from the day before talks about returning a dead mole to his womblike chamber (with food to last it), an image centred on insertion; the first of the new day concentrates on the mole (now miraculously alive – “Live I did… [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 117] ) moving through tunnels seeking the way out (in fact the text shifts to a first-person narrative) whereas the final section focuses on Fox’s awareness of his twin’s hunger driving his desperate need for extraction. “Taken together, Fox’s three utterances can be seen to construct a scenario of a self-birth attempted yet blocked.” [Lawley, P., ‘The Difficult Birth: An Image of Utterance in Beckett’ in Davis, R. J. and Butler, L. St J., (Eds.) "‘Make Sense Who May’: Essays on Samuel Beckett’s Later Works" (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1988), p 3] Maud says he needs to be “opened up” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 119] ; as he can’t ‘open up’ [ Phrasal Verb: Informal - To speak freely and candidly: "At last the frightened witness opened up and told the truth".] himself, someone needs to step into that rôle. In "Cascando" (1962/63) this is what the controller is called, the “Opener”, [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 137] after his function. His use of the term “passage” to refer to something Fox has said before emphasises that what we are hearing is the “, scrabble” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 119] of his “old twin” trying to find a way out. This culminates in the final cry: “Let me out!” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 121]

If Fox embodies the source of raw data available to the creative process, personified by the Animator and his team, what does Fox’s twin represent? Most likely his deepest, darkest memories, memories that he has repressed ["The difficulty is access to the voice and its veracity once trapped, but the too-obvious links between voice and repressed memory may account for SB's decision to jettison the work." – Ackerley, C. J. and Gontarski, S. E., (Eds.) "The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett", (London: Faber and Faber, 2006), p 615] (or at least suppressed). Aware that it may be these that the Animator is trying to reach Fox exercises his power over him by refusing to release them to him (“ah but no, no no” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 119] ); they look as if they may ‘die’ inside him.

The metaphorical image of an author giving birth to a work of fiction is not new, nor is the picture of the “tortured artist”, nor even the assertion that all fiction is thinly veiled biography; in Beckett’s case there are biographical elements [He explained that the main excitement in writing had always been technical for him, a combination of “metaphysics and technique. A problem is there and I have to solve it.”
"Why metaphysics?" I said.
"Because," he said, "you've got your own experience. You've got to draw on that." – Shainberg, L., ‘ [http://samuel-beckett.net/ShainExor1.html Exorcising Beckett] ’ in "The Paris Review" No. 104, Fall 1987
] embedded throughout all his work and if a writer’s task is to get something out of himself onto the page, that something, that part of himself, could quite poetically be referred to as the twin inside him. [Fœtus in fœtu is an extremely rare abnormality that involves a fœtus getting trapped inside of its twin. The trapped fœtus can survive as a parasite even past birth by forming an umbilical cord-like structure that leeches its twin's blood supply until it grows so large that it starts to harm the host, at which point doctors usually intervene.]

"Influential psychoanalysts Didier Anzieu and Bennett Simon as well as a number of Beckett critics hold that Wilfred Bion's 1950 paper on "The Imaginary Twin" is part of a fictionalised account of his treatment of Beckett some fifteen years earlier … The suspicion that the young Beckett is patient A of "The Imaginary Twin" is supported by Bion's description of his inventive analysand as a man who was adept at blurring the boundary between real and imaginary events, who made ambiguous statements that were open to multiple interpretations, who felt that he was inhabited by an unborn twin and imagined himself in a womb afraid to be born.” [Bion, W. R., "The Imaginary Twin", read to the British Psychoanalytical Society, Nov.1,1950. In "Second Thoughts", 1967, pp 3-11. Referred to in Uhlmann, A., Houppermans, S., Clément, B., "After Beckett", Rodopi, 2004, p 26 ] "The notion that Fox articulates – the me inside an I that can never be merged with the I – becomes the most dominant motif in Beckett’s [later] writing. [Ben-Zvi, L., ‘ [http://www.english.fsu.edu/jobs/num07/Num7Ben_Zvi.htm The Schismatic Self in A Piece of Monologue] ’ in "Journal of Beckett Studies" No 7, 1982, p 9-21]

“A fox is a crafty, reclusive creature, and Fox seems devoted to producing speech that dances away from any sort of devastating apprehension of meaning. On the other hand, Fox, as a ' [http://www.answers.com/fodient fodient] rodent', does seem to be trying to burrow towards some deep truth. He is remarkable interested in tunnels; not only does he soap a mole, but he also says at one point that he is taking to the tunnels, and the fœtal or ghost twin that Fox conceals in his belly is also suggestive of his preoccupation with the interior of things ... As a tireless explorer in the labyrinth of language, as an old mole trying to convey difficult insight to the public, Fox may indeed be speaking words worth scanning for hidden meaning.” [Albright, D., "Beckett and Aesthetics" (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p 118]

Fox speaks of tunnelling for his goal, ‘age upon age, up again, down again, little lichens of my little span, living dead in the stones’. [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett", p 119. This seems to echo Lucky’s “abode of stones” – Beckett, S., Waiting for Godot, "Complete Dramatic Works", p 42] The artist (or creator) as excavator or burrower is another Beckettian leitmotif. In "Proust" he speaks of ‘the labours of poetical excavation’ [Beckett, S., "Proust and Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit" (London: John Calder, 1965), p 29] and states that ‘the only fertile research is excavatory, immersive, a contraction of the spirit, a descent’. [Beckett, S., "Proust and Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit" (London: John Calder, 1965), p 65] He told the actress Elizabeth Bergner that he was ‘not looking for answers: I am only trying to dig a little deeper’; [Interview with Elizabeth Bergner, BBC Radio 3, July 1977] and he spoke to Lawrence E. Harvey ‘of the attempt to find [the] lost self in images of getting down, getting below the surface, concentrating, listening, getting your ear down so you can hear the infinitesimal murmur. There is a grey struggle, a groping in the dark for a shadow’. [Harvey, L. E., "Samuel Beckett: poet and critic", (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970), p 247] The decisive comment comes in "The Unnamable": ‘Are there other pits, deeper down? To which one accedes by mine? Stupid obsession with depth’ [Beckett, S., "Trilogy" (London: Calder Publications, 1994), p 295]

In "Rough for Radio II", Beckett represents the process of his own creativity as writer by an 'animator' and his secretary who takes down the utterances of a little man, who is usually gagged and blindfolded, but taken out each day and asked to speak ... [T] he monologue he utters, which is a stream of consciousness that forms the material of the writer, must be taken down according to strict rules." [Buning, M., Oppenheim L., "Beckett in the 1990s: Selected Papers from the Second International Beckett Symposium" (Amsterdam Rodopi, 1993), p 15] But the Animator breaks these rules and incorporates an idea of his own into the text. This represents the "slippage between what the artist wants to express and what he is capable of expressing. As Beckett says of Bram van Velde in the three dialogues, he was 'the first to admit that to be an artst is to fail.'" [Buning, M., Oppenheim L., "Beckett in the 1990s: Selected Papers from the Second International Beckett Symposium" (Amsterdam Rodopi, 1993), p 16] Bearing this in mind the oft quoted lines from "Worstward Ho" take on a greater significance: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." [Beckett, S., ‘Worstward Ho’ in "Beckett Shorts No 4", (London: Calder Publications [1983] 1999), p 7]

Animator

“The healthy man does not torture others - generally it is the tortured who turn into torturers.” - Carl Jung ("Return to the Simple Life", 1941)

Beckett’s interest in all kinds of psychoanalytical writing is well documented. And so, when one sees a name like Anima-tor, an obvious question to ask is: is this character a personification of the character’s anima? [Anima, originally from Latin, refers to passion, spirit, and "living essence." It may come from the Proto-Indo-European language root ane- ("to breathe"), from which animal and animation also originate. It may also refer to one's "true self" as well as the feminine side of a man's unconscious mind in the psychology of Carl Jung.] If that is the case then what we have in "Rough for Radio II", like "Rough for Radio I", is another of Beckett’s “mindscapes”. [Brown, V., " [http://etd.unisa.ac.za/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-03022006-154713/unrestricted/thesis.pdf Yesterday’s Deformities: A Discussion of the Role of Memory and Discourse in the Plays of Samuel Beckett] ", (doctoral thesis)]

Jung viewed the anima process as being one of the sources of creative ability (which would make Fox the wellspring of ideas, experiences and dreams). “A complex consists of two parts; an archetypal core … (Animator) … surrounded by a cluster or shell of images, memories, and feelings … (Fox) … that are the result of childhood experiences with human beings. It is as if the archetypal core acts like a magnet, around which events cluster that belong to that archetype. This core adds energy to the complex.” [" [http://uploads.pacifica.edu/gems/pgl/BasicJung.pdf Basic Jung] ", Lecture notes of Dr. Lionel Corbett, Pacifica Graduate Institute]

The Animator is a sensualist who imposes his grossness on his victims, Fox, an intuitive creature who lives by his senses and also his unfortunate female assistant. There is no doubt that Beckett had a sexual side to his nature though – understandably – little is on record as to how this aspect of him affected his work. His writing, although not primarily sexual, never shies away from it but one could never refer to it as ‘titillating’. That sexual urges might have distracted him from his writing is always a possibility. Anthony Cronin, in his biography, talks about the year when Beckett was struggling to complete "Murphy ". Some days he would go for long walks “from nine or ten in the morning until six or seven in the evening, scarcely seeing a soul. Telling MacGreevy about this, he said it saved masturbation.” [Cronin, A., "Samuel Beckett The Last Modernist" (London: Flamingo, 1997), p 233]

“The anima … holds in it an expression of a man's complex of feelings about women, gained as experience mostly from his mother [In its individual manifestation, the character of a man's anima is as a rule shaped by his mother. If his mother had a negative influence, his anima will often express itself in irritable, depressed moods, uncertainty, passivity, insecurity and touchiness. Dark 'anima moods' can therefore infect his life, taking on a sad and oppressive aspect. – [http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A653438 Jung's "Model of the Psyche" - Part Two, BBC article] ] – or lack of mother – but also from a synthesis of all his female contacts … A negative side to the anima that is “that of the woman/mother who poisons everything, whose … critical remarks hurt and constantly demean. This may live on in a man as self-criticism. A slight twist on this is the man who considers himself an intellectual, but actually is possessed by an anima that does not allow real creative thought, but expresses opinions and fears as clever words (“Have you read the "Purgatory", miss, of the divine Florentine?” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 118] ) or arguments (“What the devil are you deriding, miss? My hearing? My memory? My good faith?” [Beckett, S., "Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett" (London: Faber and Faber, 1984), p 124] ). This enables the person to feel [they are] always right, and actually avoid any real meeting with other people or life experience. Strangely, such men are often driven to pornography, [Beckett was once asked "to do an English translation of the Marquis de Sade's "Les Cenr-Vinght Jours de Sodom" ... Beckett had been interested in de Sade for some time ... [and] insisted there should be a preface [where] he could make his attitude and his motive as well as his admiration for de Sade quite clear. A number of commentators have suggested that there is a considerable amount of what is loosely called Sadism in Beckett's own work. – Cronin, A., "Samuel Beckett The Last Modernist" (London: Flamingo, 1997), pp 291,292] in a desperate drive to meet denied personal needs.” [Crisp, A., " [http://www.dreamhawk.com/anima.htm Archetype of the Anima] " ]

Beckett stipulates that the Animator has a “cylindrical ruler”, ["Samuel Beckett's father was a quantity surveyor, and such a ruler, 'a solid ebony cylindrical rod', Phil Baker discovered, was kept in the offices of Beckett & Medcalf – Ackerley, C. J. and Gontarski, S. E., (Eds.) "The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett", (London: Faber and Faber, 2006), p 116] clearly a phallic image. Dick is in no way a fully-fledged character in his own right, rather an extension of the Animator, a penis substitute [The expression has been absorbed into popular culture and it’s strict Freudian use sublimated. The most common examples of penis substitutes in modern society are arguably cars and guns.] (admittedly a Freudian term). The Stenographer only has a small pencil showing her place in the pecking order. (Although represented by a female she is nevertheless an aspect of a male character). There is a subtext of impotence however. The Animator is trying to get something from Fox that’s not there; he tries to read into it and, eventually, has to ‘spice up’ the text himself. “In the end it comes down to a question of bending the truth to get relief.” [McGovern, B., ‘Beckett and the Radio Voice’ in Murray, C., (Ed.) "Samuel Beckett – 100 Years" (Dublin: New Island, 2006), p 139]

Ultimately the creative process has not been faithful to the truth but does it have to be? More than most writers, Beckett plumbed the depths of his own life for source material. Some sections are transparently biographical (e.g. the scene in "Krapp’s Last Tape" where Krapp’s mother dies) but exactly how faithful to the truth only Beckett himself would know. But it is a work of fiction, not a psychological treatise and certainly not biography in the strictest sense; the facts are bent to fit the truth of the play.

References

External links

* [http://www.rte.ie/beckett100/rams/2006/roughforradio2_13april.smil RTÉ Audio file]


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