The Being Of Nothing

January 17, 2014 § 10 Comments

An irresistibly beautiful paragraph from ‘Watt’, Samuel Beckett (Grove Press, 1959).

Courtesy Wikiquote


        The long blue days, for his head, for his side, and the little paths for his feet, and all the brightness to touch and gather. Through the grass the little mosspaths, bony with old roots, and the trees sticking up, and the flowers sticking up, and the fruit hanging down, and the white exhausted butterflies, and the birds never the same darting all day long into hiding. And all the sounds, meaning nothing. Then at night rest in the quiet house, there are no roads, no streets any more, you lie down by a window opening on refuge, the little sounds come that demand nothing, ordain nothing, explain nothing, propound nothing, and the short necessary night is soon ended, and the sky blue again all over the secret places where nobody ever comes, the secret places never the same, but always simple and indifferent, always mere places, sites of a stirring beyond coming and going, of a being so light and free that it is as the being of nothing.

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§ 10 Responses to The Being Of Nothing

  • exiledprospero says:

    A fairytale cabin nestled in a fairytale forest.

    I thought of this:
    Life … full of sound and fury Signifying nothing. Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      So pleased you enjoyed it! I wish I could come up with a clever quotation by way of response, but I can think of nothing bar some obscure Zen aphorism which I will not bore you with.
      Nevertheless, thank you for responding – it is greatly appreciated – and something I have not yet said – but will now – is that I so enjoy the sheer density of your writing, and the wonderful command you have of our dear language.

      • exiledprospero says:

        It’s really very nice of you to say that. I think it’s important for writers to encourage each other (and I’m sure there’s a Zen maxim about that too). I find writing so impossibly hard and never feel that I’m getting anywhere with it. Every three days or so I completely renounce all literary aspirations–you are probably on the same rollercoaster. Pat Metheny, the American jazz guitarist and composer, once said that the closer you are to something, the further away it seems (I’m paraphrasing). Maybe that’s true. At any rate, with your glowing endorsement, I will probably last for a whole week without again throwing in the towel! Thank you, Rachael.

        • Rachael Charmley says:

          I can mirror all that you say. As one of my writing teachers once said – if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Take heart!
          Pat Metheny (whom I greatly admire) is absolutely right. I cannot explain in a few words, but I am intensely aware when I get close to penning something that is crucial to my development as a writer, that I will want to give up. Time and time again I decide I cannot do it, and so will slip back into the old ways, producing work that others like, but I don’t. I have been doing this for over a year, and it is a painful process – but normal, I suspect.
          I think I may have cracked it… I literally stood on the edge of the abyss, and jumped. What appears to be emerging is the next stage of my writing, and not a void as I thought. It is both frightening and exciting, but who knows…
          I write this because it may be of help. Needing approval is normal for us writers – and although a torrid clique – I know I have to learn to need it rather less, and simply value what I’m doing at the time.
          I hope this makes some sense…

  • Miranda Stone says:

    This is a beautiful paragraph, and one I’ve not read before. Thanks for sharing, Rachael!

  • NEO says:

    Lovely, as usual, and as usual it also reminds me of other (perhaps better) days. It’s hard to say how much I’ve missed your writing the last week when I was so severely curtailed, in what I could get to.

    • Rachael Charmley says:

      Thank you for your kind words. I did wonder why it had gone a little quiet…
      Being without modern technology, after the initial panic, can be a useful reminder of how life used to be. In some ways it was better, inasmuch as it was gentler. I like that reminder, being a Luddite at heart. But I imagine it made it extremely taxing trying to get work done.
      On a lighter note, I’m so pleased, as John is, that you enjoyed reading his book.

      • NEO says:

        Yes, it can be quite a pain, especially when unexpected, the silly thing died at 3 in the morning.

        There’s some Luddite in all of us, I resisted the Kindle till my nieces gave me one, now I wouldn’t be without it, I guess I like instant gratification as much as anyone !

        Luckily, I didn’t have much I couldn’t do on the phone for a while, anyway.

        It won’t be the last of his appearing in my reading list, a wonderful read.

        • Rachael Charmley says:

          I’m pleased you’re enjoying your Kindle. It does have its uses, but will never replace that deep, deep peace that comes when settling in a comfortable chair with a much loved book.

          • NEO says:

            No, it surely won’t. that is one of the most comfortable things in the world, I think. But there is something to be said for portability, I suppose.

            I find that I read on the Kindle, and if I like something I want the paper version even more. It’s either comforting or I’m hopelessly old fashioned. 🙂

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