Multiple choice on Beckett’s famous line

Yesterday, in silence, I heard someone say the line from Waiting for Godot: “Nothing happens. Nothing comes, nothing goes. It’s awful.” The line saw something, but I don’t know what. There are a few options: 

1.) The line is a dated period piece. It was an insightful look at 1950’s boredom. Civilized man had more free time than he ever had and it succeeded in only making him bored and depressed. Life has always been basically the same for those with too much free time on their hands, and people wrote about it for a few years in the ’50’s before we all got sick of it. 

2.) No, the line marks something new. Some awful event was consummated some time before the ’50’s, and Beckett is speaking about it. The world around him became incoherent and could only be represented by gibberish. Occasionally, a moment of clarity breaks out. The awful event is World Wars I and II, nationalist movements, basic historical stuff.

3.) No, the war was as much a response to the event Beckett wrote about as the play itself.  We went from an incoherent world where people carpet bombed each other to an incoherent world where they were too bored to carpet bomb.

4.) Enough about boredom already! It’s like an old man complaining about all the pills he has to take. Yuck! 

5.) No, the 1950’s was the last moment where people let themselves be bothered by absurdity. Our present romp is just as absurd, but we took the absurdity to its logical conclusion. They called life empty and meaningless. We countered: if its empty and meaningless, then there’s no reason to be bothered about it. Nietzsche looked at absurdity (or something like it) and called it “the abyss”. But why bother giving it such a dramatic name? Put it in a kid’s film. Put a roller coaster next to it. Sell tickets. Put a billboard for toothpaste or mufflers next to it. Call it “my sweet abyss-ee-poo” and put it in a pop song. Make it the sort of thing the cool kids talk about in high school. If life is really absurd, then let’s make a buck off of it. And stop complaining that the art is low. Life is absurd, remember? 

6.) Other. 

7.) All of the above.

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1 Comment

  1. peeping thomist said,

    April 29, 2009 at 9:54 am

    I love #5. Pop music and culture is at its best when it at least acknowledges something like this. Happy face nihilism…what’s wrong with that again, exactly? HAH. Explains a bit about what I find amusing about certain aspects of pop culture from time to time–often when the artist makes clear that they understand this point, and are forcing it, or coming close. In general, the following lyrics from three very simple but also somewhat distilled and representative songs from a modern (’90s, mostly) rock band, at the risk of polluting your blog, make an excellent low brow fodder for discussion related to your post above:

    I hate my generation
    I offer no apologies
    I hate my generation, yeah

    I hate my generation
    I picked it up and threw it away
    I hate my generation

    It’s alright
    It’s alright

    I hate my generation
    Now that I said it
    I feel liberated
    I hate my generation now

    I hate my generation
    I offer no apologies
    I hate my generation now

    It’s alright
    alright
    alright

    I hate my
    I hate my
    I hate my

    I hate my generation.

    I don’t know what the world may need,
    But I’m sure as hell that it starts with me.
    And that’s a wisdom
    I’ve laughed at.

    I don’t know what the world may want,
    But a good stiff drink it surely don’t.
    So I think I’ll go and fix myself a tall one.

    Cause, what the world needs now
    Is a new kind of tension.
    Cause the old one just bores me to death.
    Cause, what the world needs now
    Is another folk singer
    Like I need a hole in my head.

    I don’t know what the world may need,
    But a v8 engine is a good start for me.
    Think I’ll drive to find a place,
    To be surly.
    I don’t know what the world may want,
    But some words of wisdom could comfort us.
    Think I’ll leave that up to someone wiser.

    Cause, what the world needs now
    Are some true words of wisdom
    Like la la la la la
    Cause, what the world needs now
    Is another folk singer
    Like I need a hole in my head.

    I don’t know what the world may need,
    And I never grasped your complexities.
    I’d be happy just to get your attention.
    And, I don’t know what the world may want,
    But your long, sweet body lying next
    To mine could certainly raise my spirits.

    Cause what the world needs now
    Is a new frank Sinatra
    So I can get you in bed.
    Cause what the world needs now
    Is another folk singer
    Like I need a hole in my head.

    Where ya going to?
    If you want me let me take you
    Where ya going to?
    If you want me let me take you

    ‘Cause in my life
    I got nothing to believe in
    except for you
    I got nothing to believe in

    Whatcha looking for?
    If you want it I will find it.
    Yeah, whatcha looking for?
    If you want me let me find it.

    ‘Cause in my life
    I got nothing to believe in
    except for you
    I got nothing to believe in

    And I feel fine
    I feel fine
    Yeah I feel fine
    I feel fine

    ‘Cause in my life
    I got nothing to believe in
    except for you
    I got nothing to believe in
    except for you
    I got nothing to believe in

    I feel fine
    Yeah I feel fine
    I feel fine
    I feel fine
    Yeah I feel fine
    Yeah I feel fine
    I feel fine
    Yeah I feel fine


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