How it is, p.12
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       How It Is, p.12

           Samuel Beckett
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  for clear as day that similarly obstructed without exception each and every section of track or segment between consecutive couples consecutive abandons according as one considers it the track we’re talking of the track its sections or segments before the departures or during the journeys the panting stops and clear as day that similarly obstructed without exception each and every section or segment and for the same reasons our justice

  thus need for the billionth time part three and last present formulation at the end before the silence the panting without pause if we are to be possible our couplings journeys and abandons need of one not one of us an intelligence somewhere a love who all along the track at the right places according as we need them deposits our sacks

  ten yards fifteen yards to the east of the couples the abandoned according as deposited before the departures or during the journeys those are the right places

  and to whom given our number not unreasonable to attribute exceptional powers or else at his beck assistants innumerable and to whom in pursuance of the principle of parsimony not excessive at times ten seconds fifteen seconds to assign the ear which Kram eliminated our murmur demands otherwise desert flower

  and that minimum of intelligence without which it were an ear like ours and that strange care for us not to be found among us and the wish and ability to note which we have not

  cumulation of offices most understandable if it will be kindly considered that to hear and note one of our murmurs is to hear and note them all

  and sudden light on the sacks at what moment renewed at some moment in the life of the couples since it is while the victim journeys as we have seen and indeed see that the abandoned tormentor murmurs or else ring the knell while following the hearse it’s possible too there’s a poor light

  and to whom at times not extravagant to impute that voice quaqua the voice of us all of which now when the panting stops ten seconds fifteen seconds definitely the last scraps to have come down to us and in what a state

  there he is then at last that not one of us there we are then at last who listens to himself and who when he lends his ear to our murmur does no more than lend it to a story of his own devising ill-inspired ill-told and so ancient so forgotten at each telling that ours may seem faithful that we murmur to the mud to him

  and this life in the dark and mud its joys and sorrows journeys intimacies and abandons as with a single voice perpetually broken now one half of us and now the other we exhale it pretty much the same as the one he had devised

  and of which untiringly every twenty or forty years according to certain of our figures he recalls to our abandoned the essential features

  and this anonymous voice self-styled quaqua the voice of us all that was without on all sides then in us when the panting stops bits and scraps barely audible certainly distorted there it is at last the voice of him who before listening to us murmur what we are tells us what we are as best he can

  of him to whom we are further indebted for our unfailing rations which enable us to advance without pause or rest

  of him who God knows who could blame him must sometimes wonder if to these perpetual revictuallings narrations and auditions he might not put an end without ceasing to maintain us in some kind of being without end and some kind of justice without flaw who could blame him

  and if finally he might not with profit revise us by means for example of a pronouncement to the effect that this diversity is not our portion nor these refreshing transitions from solitary travellers to tormentors of our immediate fellows and from abandoned tormentors to their victims

  nor all this black air that breathes through our ranks and enshrines as in a thebaïd our couples and our solitudes as well of the journey as of the abandon

  but that in reality we are one and all from the unthinkable first to the no less unthinkable last glued together in a vast imbrication of flesh without breach or fissure

  for as we have seen part two how it was with Pim the coming into contact of mouth and ear leads to a slight overlapping of flesh in the region of the shoulders

  and that linked thus bodily together each one of us is at the same time Bom and Pim tormentor and tormented pedant and dunce wooer and wooed speechless and reafflicted with speech in the dark the mud nothing to emend there

  there he is then again last figures the inevitable number 777777 at the instant when he buries the opener in the arse of number 777778 and is rewarded by a feeble cry cut short as we have seen by the thump on skull who on being stimulated at the same instant and in the same way by number 777776 makes his own private moan which same fate

  something wrong there

  and who at the instant when clawed in the armpit by number 777776 he sings applies the same treatment to number 777778 with no less success

  so on and similarly all along the chain in both directions for all our other joys and sorrows all we extort and endure from one another from the one to the other inconceivable end of this immeasurable wallow

  formulation to be adjusted assuredly in the light of our limits and possibilities but which will always present this advantage that by eliminating all journeys all abandons it eliminates at the same stroke all occasion of sacks and voices quaqua then in us when the panting stops

  and the procession which seemed as if it must be eternal our justice the advantage of stopping it without prejudice to a single one among us for try and stop it without first closing our ranks and of two things one

  it is stopped at the season of our couples and in that case one half of us tormentors in perpetuity victims in perpetuity the other

  it is stopped at the season of our journeys and in that case solitude guaranteed for all assuredly but not in justice since the traveller to whom life owes a victim will never have another and never another tormentor the abandoned to whom life owes one

  and other iniquities leave them dark pant wilder one is enough last scraps very last when the panting stops try and catch them last murmurs very last

  namely first to have done with this not one of us

  his dream of putting an end to our journeys abandons need of sustenance and murmurs

  to the extenuating purveyances of every description that devolve on him in consequence

  without being reduced on that account to whelming us one and all even to the unimaginable last at one stroke in this black mud and nothing on its surface ever more to sully it

  in justice and the safeguard of our essential activities

  this new formulation namely this new life to have done with that

  sudden question if in spite of this conglomeration of all our bodies we are not still the object of a slow translation from west to east one is tempted

  if it will kindly be considered that while it is in our interest as tormentors to remain where we are as victims our urge is to move on

  and that of these two aspirations warring in each heart it would be normal for the latter to triumph if only narrowly

  for as we have seen in the days that word again of journeys and abandons a most remarkable thing when you come to think of it only the victims journeyed

  the tormentors as though struck numb with stupor instead of giving chase right leg right arm push pull ten yards fifteen yards lying where abandoned penalty perhaps of their recent exertions but effect also of our justice

  though in what this diminished by a general free for all one does not see

  involving for one and all the same obligation precisely that of fleeing without fear while pursuing without hope

  and if it is still possible at this late hour to conceive of other worlds

  as just as ours but less exquisitely organized

  one perhaps there is one perhaps somewhere merciful enough to shelter such frolics where no one ever abandons anyone and no one ever waits for anyone and never two bodies touch

  and if it may seem strange that without food to sustain us we can drag ourselves thus by the mere grace of our united net sufferings from west to east towards an inexi
stent peace we are invited kindly to consider

  that for the likes of us and no matter how we are recounted there is more nourishment in a cry nay a sigh torn from one whose only good is silence or in speech extorted from one at last delivered from its use than sardines can ever offer

  to have done then at last with all that last scraps very last when the panting stops and this voice to have done with this voice namely this life

  this not one of us harping harping mad too with weariness to have done with him

  has he not staring him in the face I quote on a solution more simple by far and by far more radical

  a formulation that would eliminate him completely and so admit him to that peace at least while rendering me in the same breath sole responsible for this unqualifiable murmur of which consequently here the last scraps at last very last

  in the familiar form of questions I am said to ask myself and answers I am said to give myself however unlikely that may appear last scraps very last when the panting stops last murmurs very last however unlikely that may appear

  if all that all that yes if all that is not how shall I say no answer if all that is not false yes

  all these calculations yes explanations yes the whole story from beginning to end yes completely false yes

  that wasn’t how it was no not at all no how then no answer how was it then no answer HOW WAS IT screams good

  there was something yes but nothing of all that no all balls from start to finish yes this voice quaqua yes all balls yes only one voice here yes mine yes when the panting stops yes

  when the panting stops yes so that was true yes the panting yes the murmur yes in the dark yes in the mud yes to the mud yes

  hard to believe too yes that I have a voice yes in me yes when the panting stops yes not at other times no and that I murmur yes I yes in the dark yes in the mud yes for nothing yes I yes but it must be believed yes

  and the mud yes the dark yes the mud and the dark are true yes nothing to regret there no

  but all this business of voices yes quaqua yes of other worlds yes of someone in another world yes whose kind of dream I am yes said to be yes that he dreams all the time yes tells all the time yes his only dream yes his only story yes

  all this business of sacks deposited yes at the end of a cord no doubt yes of an ear listening to me yes a care for me yes an ability to note yes all that all balls yes Krim and Kram yes all balls yes

  and all this business of above yes light yes skies yes a little blue yes a little white yes the earth turning yes bright and less bright yes little scenes yes all balls yes the women yes the dog yes the prayers yes the homes yes all balls yes

  and this business of a procession no answer this business of a procession yes never any procession no nor any journey no never any Pim no nor any Bom no never anyone no only me no answer only me yes so that was true yes it was true about me yes and what’s my name no answer WHAT’S MY NAME screams good

  only me in any case yes alone yes in the mud yes the dark yes that holds yes the mud and the dark hold yes nothing to regret there no with my sack no I beg your pardon no no sack either no not even a sack with me no

  only me yes alone yes with my voice yes my murmur yes when the panting stops yes all that holds yes panting yes worse and worse no answer WORSE AND WORSE yes flat on my belly yes in the mud yes the dark yes nothing to emend there no the arms spread yes like a cross no answer LIKE A CROSS no answer YES OR NO yes

  never crawled no in an amble no right leg right arm push pull ten yards fifteen yards no never stirred no never made to suffer no never suffered no answer NEVER SUFFERED no never abandoned no never was abandoned no so that’s life here no answer THAT’S MY LIFE HERE screams good

  alone in the mud yes the dark yes sure yes panting yes someone hears me no no one hears me no murmuring sometimes yes when the panting stops yes not at other times no in the mud yes to the mud yes my voice yes mine yes not another’s no mine alone yes sure yes when the panting stops yes on and off yes a few words yes a few scraps yes that no one hears no but less and less no answer LESS AND LESS yes

  so things may change no answer end no answer I may choke no answer sink no answer sully the mud no more no answer the dark no answer trouble the peace no more no answer the silence no answer die no answer DIE screams I MAY DIE screams I SHALL DIE screams good

  good good end at last of part three and last that’s how it was end of quotation after Pim how it is

  Translated from the French by the author

  About the Author

  Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906. He was educated at Portora Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1927. His made his poetry debut in 1930 with Whoroscope and followed it with essays and two novels before World War Two. He wrote one of his most famous plays, Waiting for Godot, in 1949 but it wasn’t published in English until 1954. Waiting for Godot brought Beckett international fame and firmly established him as a leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961. Beckett continued to write prolifically for radio, TV and the theatre until his death in 1989.

  About the Editor

  Édouard Magessa O’Reilly teaches French literature and culture at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and has edited various bilingual and genetic texts of works by Beckett in English French.

  Titles in the Samuel Beckett series


  Preface by Rónán McDonald


  Edited by Dirk Van Hulle


  Preface by S. E. Gontarski


  Edited by J. C. C. Mays


  Edited by C. J. Ackerley


  Preface and Notes by Everett Frost


  Edited by Shane Weller


  Edited by Magessa O’Reilly


  Edited by Christopher Ricks

  SELECTED POEMS 1930–1989

  Edited by David Wheatley

  Forthcoming titles


  Preface by Mary Bryden


  Edited by Cassandra Nelson


  Edited by Peter Boxall


  Edited by Steven Connor


  Preface by James Knowlson


  Edited by Mark Nixon


  Edited by Sean Kennedy


  First published in the United States by Grove Press in 1964

  First published in Great Britain in 1964 by Calder and Boyars

  This edition first published in 2009

  by Faber and Faber Ltd

  Bloomsbury House

  74–77 Great Russell Street

  London WC1B 3DA

  This ebook edition first published in 2012

  All rights reserved

  © The Estate of Samuel Beckett, 2009

  Preface © Édouard Magessa O’Reilly, 2010

  The right of Samuel Beckett to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

  The right of Édouard Magessa O’Reilly to be identified as editor of this work has been asserted in accordance with Section 77 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988

  This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised di
stribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly

  ISBN 978–0–571–26686–9



  Samuel Beckett, How It Is

  (Series: # )




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