How it is, p.7
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       How It Is, p.7

           Samuel Beckett
 
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  no the truth is this sack I always said so this sack for us here is something more than a larder than a pillow for the head than a friend to turn to a thing to embrace a surface to cover with kisses something far more we don’t profit by it in any way any more and we cling to it I owed it this tribute

  now at rest my left hand part two second half what is it doing grasping the sack beside Pim’s no more about this sack the opener the opener soon Pim will speak

  so many tins still remaining something there that escapes me I take them out left hand one by one in the mud till at last the opener put it in my mouth put back the tins I don’t say all and my right arm all this time

  all this time vast stretch of time all that beyond my strength truly with Pim my strength is ebbing it’s inevitable we’re a pair my right arm presses him against me love fear of being abandoned a little of each no knowing not said and then

  then with my right leg thrown crosswise imprison his two one can see the movement take the opener in my right hand move it down along the spine and drive it into the arse not the hole not such a fool the cheek a cheek he cries I withdraw it thump on skull the cries cease it’s mechanical end of first lesson second series rest and here parenthesis

  this opener where put it when not needed put it back in the sack with the tins certainly not hold it in the hand in the mouth certainly not the muscles relax the mud engulfs where then

  between the cheeks of his arse not very elastic but still sufficiently there it’s in safety saying to myself I say it as I hear it that with someone to keep me company I would have been a different man more universal

  no not there lower down between the thighs it’s preferable the point downward and only the little bulb protruding of the piriform handle there it’s out of danger saying to myself too late a companion too late

  second lesson then second series same principle same procedure third fourth so on vast stretch of time till the day that word again when stabbed in the arse instead of crying he sings his song what a cunt this Pim damn it all confuse arse and armpit horn and steel the thump he gets then I give you my word happily he is no fool he must have said to himself what is required of me now what is the meaning of this new torment

  that I should cry no sing no that’s the armpit lubricious ferocity no we have seen it is not that really I can’t imagine

  it is not aimless that is evident this creature is too intelligent to demand what is beyond my powers what then is not beyond my powers to sing to weep what else what else can I do could I do if I were put to the pin of my collar

  think perhaps at a pinch it’s possible what else am I doing at this moment and bless my soul there it comes again howls thump on skull silence rest

  no that’s not it either a possible thing no really I can’t imagine perhaps I should ask I’ll ask some day if I can

  no fool merely slow and the day comes we come to the day when stabbed in the arse now an open wound instead of the cry a brief murmur done it at last

  with the handle of the opener as with a pestle bang on the right kidney handier than the other from where I lie cry thump on skull silence brief rest jab in arse unintelligible murmur bang on kidney signifying louder once and for all cry thump on skull silence brief rest

  so on with now and then lest he get rusty return to the armpit the song ascends that’s working thump doused on the spot all this is killing me I’m about to give up when banged on the kidney one day at last he’s no fool merely slow instead of crying he articulates hey you me what don’t hey you me what don’t that’s enough I’ve got it thump on skull done it at last it’s not yet second nature but it will be something there that escapes me

  I put away the tool between his thighs take my right leg from off his two imprison his shoulders with my right arm he can’t leave me but I don’t trust him long rest saying to myself the words are there that too late too late indisputably but none the less what an improvement already how I’ve improved

  orgy of false being life in common brief shames I am not dead to inexistence not irretrievably time will tell it’s telling but what a hog’s wallow pah not even not even pah brief movements of the lower face profit while ye may silence gather while ye may deathly silence patience patience

  training continued no point skip

  table of basic stimuli one sing nails in armpit two speak blade in arse three stop thump on skull four louder pestle on kidney

  five softer index in anus six bravo clap athwart arse seven lousy same as three eight encore same as one or two as may be

  all with the right hand I’ve said this and the left all this time vast stretch of time it holds the sack I’ve said this heard it said now in me that was without quaqua on all sides murmured it in the mud it holds the sack beside Pim’s left hand my thumb has crept between his palm and folded fingers

  script and then Pim’s voice till he vanishes end of part two leaving only part three and last

  with the nail then of the right index I carve and when it breaks or falls until it grows again with another on Pim’s back intact at the outset from left to right and top to bottom as in our civilisation I carve my Roman capitals

  arduous beginnings then less he is no fool merely slow in the end he understands all almost all I have nothing to say almost nothing even God that old favourite my rain and shine brief allusions not infrequent as in the tender years it’s vague he almost understands

  a moment of the tender years the lamb black with the world’s sins the world cleansed the three persons yes I assure you and that belief the feeling since then ten eleven that belief said to have been mine the feeling since then vast stretch of time that I’d find it again the blue cloak the pigeon the miracles he understood

  that childhood said to have been mine the difficulty of believing in it the feeling rather of having been born octogenarian at the age when one dies in the dark the mud upwards born upwards floating up like the drowned and tattle tattle four full backs of close characters the childhood the belief the blue the miracles all lost never was

  the blue there was then the white dust impressions of more recent date pleasant unpleasant and those finally unruffled by emotion things not easy

  unbroken no paragraphs no commas not a second for reflection with the nail of the index until it falls and the worn back bleeding passim it was near the end like yesterday vast stretch of time

  but quick an example from among the simple from the early days or heroic then Pim to speak until he vanishes end of part two leaving only three and last

  with the nail then of the right index in great capitals two full lines the shorter the communication the greater the capitals one has only to know a little beforehand what one wants to say he feels the great ornate letter the snakes the imps God be praised it won’t be long YOU PIM pause YOU PIM in the furrows here a difficulty has he grasped no knowing

  stab him simply in the arse that is to say speak and he will say anything what he can whereas proof I need proof so stab him in a certain way signifying answer once and for all which I do therefore what an improvement how I’ve improved

  a special stroke indescribable a trick of the hand with the gratifying result one fine day vast stretch of time me Jim or Tim not Pim in any case not yet the back is not yet uniformly sensitive but it will be cheers none the less done it more or less rest

  simply try again not yet say die a good deep P and the apposite stab and inevitable one fine day should it mean his trying all the consonants in the Roman alphabet that he will answer in the end it’s inevitable me Pim which he does in the end it was inevitable me Pim clap athwart the arse opener between the thighs arm round his poor shoulders done it rest

  thus then no point in other examples he was a bad pupil I a bad master but fullness of time the little we had to say it was nothing

  I nothing only say this say that your life above YOUR LIFE pause my life ABOVE long pause above IN THE in the LIGHT pause light his life above in the light almost an octosyllable come to think of it a coi
ncidence

  I then nothing about me my life what life never anything hardly ever he nothing either unless driven never on his own but once launched not without pleasure the impression or illusion no stopping him thump thump all his fat-headed meatus in the shit no holding him thump thump

  the proportion of invention vast assuredly vast proportion a thing you don’t know the threat the bleeding arse the cracking nerves you invent but real or imaginary no knowing it’s impossible it’s not said it doesn’t matter it does it did that’s superb a thing that matters

  that life then said to have been his invented remembered a little of each no knowing that thing above he gave it to me I made it mine what I fancied skies especially and the paths he crept along how they changed with the sky and where you were going on the Atlantic in the evening on the ocean going to the isles or coming back the mood of the moment less important the creatures encountered hardly any always the same I picked my fancy good moments nothing left

  dear Pim come back from the living he got it from another that dog’s life to take and to leave I’ll give it to another the voice said so the voice in me that was without quaqua on all sides hard to believe here in the dark the mud that only one life above from age to age eternally allowance made for preferences ah that’s it allowance made for needs

  mine what I need that’s it most need changing aspects that’s it ever changing aspects of the never changing life according to the needs but the needs the needs surely for ever here the same needs from age to age the same thirsts the voice says so

  it said I murmur for us here one after another the same thirsts and life unchanging here as above according to the unchanging needs hard to believe it depends on the moment the mood of the moment the mood remains a little changeful you may say no sound there is nothing to prevent you today I am perhaps not quite so sad as yesterday there is nothing to stop you

  the things I could no longer see little scenes part one in their stead Pim’s voice Pim in the light blue of day and blue of night little scenes the curtains parted the mud parted the light went on he saw for me that too may be said there is nothing against it

  silence more and more longer and longer silences vast tracts of time we at a loss more and more he for answers I for questions sick of life in the light one question how often no more figures no more time vast figure vast stretch of time on his life in the dark the mud before me mainly curiosity was he still alive YOUR LIFE HERE BEFORE ME utter confusion

  God on God desperation utter confusion did he believe he believed then not couldn’t any more his reasons both cases my God

  I pricked him how I pricked him in the end long before purely curiosity was he still alive thump thump in the mud vile tears of unbutcherable brother

  if he heard a voice if only that if he had ever heard a voice voices if only I had asked him that I couldn’t I hadn’t heard it yet the voice the voices no knowing surely not

  I won’t either in the end I won’t hear it any more never heard it it said so I murmur so no voice only his only Pim’s not his either no more Pim never any Pim never any voice hard to believe in the dark the mud no voice no image in the end long before

  samples whatever comes remembered imagined no knowing life above life here God in heaven yes or no if he loved me a little if Pim loved me a little yes or no if I loved him a little in the dark the mud in spite of all a little affection find someone at last someone find you at last live together glued together love each other a little love a little without being loved be loved a little without loving answer that leave it vague leave it dark

  end of part two part one is ended leaving only part three and last they were good moments there will be good moments less good it must be expected but first a little frisk the last new position and effect on soul

  I let go the sack let go Pim that’s the worst letting go the sack and away semi-side left right leg right arm push pull right right don’t lose him round his head hairpin turn right right straighten up across his arm along his side close in and halt my head to his feet his to mine long rest growing anguish

  suddenly back hugging the flesh west and north with my right hand I seize his skin too big for him and pull myself forward last little frisk back to my place I should never have left it I’ll never leave it again I grasp the sack it has not stirred Pim has not stirred our hands touch long silence long rest vast stretch of time

  YOUR LIFE ABOVE no more need of light two lines only and Pim to speak he turns his head tears in the eyes my tears my eyes if I had any it was then I needed them not now

  his right cheek to the mud his mouth to my ear our narrow shoulders overlapping his hairs in mine human breath shrill murmur if too loud finger in arse I’ll stir no more from this place I’m still there

  soon unbearable thump on skull long silence vast stretch of time soon unbearable opener arse or capitals if he has lost the thread YOUR LIFE CUNT ABOVE CUNT HERE CUNT as it comes bits and scraps all sorts not so many and to conclude happy end cut thrust DO YOU LOVE ME no or nails armpit and little song to conclude happy end of part two leaving only part three and last the day comes I come to the day Bom comes YOU BOM me Bom ME BOM you Bom we Bom

  he’s coming I’ll have a voice no voice in the world but mine a murmur had a life up above down here I’ll see my things again a little blue in the mud a little white our things little scenes skies especially and paths

  and me see me catch a glimpse ten seconds fifteen seconds cowering quiet as a mouse in my hole or night come at last less light a little less hastening towards the next much better much safer that will be good good moments the good moments I’ll have had up there down here nothing left but go to heaven

  samples my life above Pim’s life we’re talking of Pim my life up there my wife stop opener arse slow to start then no holding him thump on skull long silence

  my wife above Pam Prim can’t remember can’t see her she shaved her mound never saw that I talk like him I do we’re talking of me like him little blurts midget grammar past that then plof down the hole

  I talk like him Bom will talk like me only one kind of talk here one after another the voice said so it talks like us the voice of us all quaqua on all sides then in us when the panting stops bits and scraps that’s where we get it our old talk each his own way each his needs the best he can it stops ours starts starts again no knowing

  Pam Prim we made love every day then every third then the Saturday then just the odd time to get rid of it tried to revive it through the arse too late she fell from the window or jumped broken column

  in the ward before she went every day all winter she forgave me everybody all mankind she grew good God calling her home the blue mound strange idea not bad she must have been dark on the deathbed it grew again

  the flowers on the night-table she couldn’t turn her head I see the flowers I held them at arm’s length before her eyes the things you see right hand left hand before her eyes that was my visit and she forgiving marguerites from the latin pearl they were all I could find

  iron bed glossy white two foot wide all was white high off the ground vision of love in it see others’ furniture and not the loved one how can one

  sitting on the foot of the bed holding the vase bile-green flute the feet dangling the flowers between the face through them that I forget what it was like except intact white as chalk not a scratch or my eyes roved there were a score of them

  outside the road going down lined with trees thousands all the same same species never knew which miles of hill straight as a ribbon never saw that toil in winter to the top the frozen slush the black boughs grey with hoar she at the end at the top dying forgiving all white

  the holly she had begged for the berries anything a little colour a little green so much white the ivy anything tell her I couldn’t find find the words the places she must have done it in summer July August find the words tell her the places where I had looked left foot right foot one step forward two back

  my life above what I did in my li
fe above a little of everything tried everything then gave up no worse always a hole a ruin always a crust never any good at anything not made for that farrago too complicated crawl about in corners and sleep all I wanted I got it nothing left but go to heaven

  papa no idea building trade perhaps some branch or other fell off the scaffolding on his arse no the scaffolding that fell and he with it landed on his arse dead burst it must have been him or the uncle God knows

  mamma none either column of jade bible invisible in the black hand only the edge red gilt the black finger inside psalm one hundred and something oh God man his days as grass flower of the field wind above in the clouds the face ivory pallor muttering lips all the lower it’s possible

  never anyone never knew anyone always ran fled elsewhere some other place my life above places paths nothing else brief places long paths the quickest way or a thousand detours the safest way always at night less light a little less A to B B to C home at last safe at last drop sleep

  first sounds feet whispers clink of iron don’t look head in my arms face to the ground macfarlane on top of all turn the head in the cover of the cloak make a chink open the eyes close them quick close the chink wait for night

  B to C C to D from hell to home hell to home to hell always at night Z to A divine forgetting enough

  did he think did we think just enough to speak enough to hear not even comma a mouth an ear sly old pair glued together take away the rest put them in a jar there to end if it has an end the monologue

  dream then that at least certainly not me dream me Pim Bom to be me think pah

  all alone Pim all alone before me his voice come back did he speak the way I do part three the way I murmur in the mud what I hear in me when the panting stops bits and scraps if only I had asked I couldn’t I didn’t know I didn’t speak not yet he wouldn’t have known YES OR NO I don’t know I won’t know I didn’t ask I won’t be asked

 
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