How it is, p.8
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       How It Is, p.8

           Samuel Beckett
 
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my voice is going it will come back my first voice no voice above none there either Pim’s life above never was never spoke to anyone never solo mute words no sound it’s possible brief movements of the lower great confusion no knowing

  if Bom never came if only that but then how end the hand dipping clawing for the tin the arse instead of the familiar slime all imagination and all the rest this voice its promises and solaces all imagination dear bud dear worm

  all that always every word as I hear it in me that was without when the panting stops and murmur it in the mud bits and scraps I say it once more every word always I’ll say it no more and now what to end is there anything left before going on and ending part two leaving only part three and last yes all alone there is left all alone alas

  all alone and the witness bending over me name Kram bending over us father to son to grandson yes or no and the scribe name Krim generations of scribes keeping the record a little aloof sitting standing it’s not said yes or no samples extracts

  brief movements of the lower face no sound or too faint

  ten yards one hour forty minutes six yards per hour or better it’s clearer one palm per minute I remembered my days an hand-breadth my life as nothing man a vapour

  struggles to open tin long struggles couldn’t see of what change our lamps gives up puts back tin and opener in sack very calm

  slept six minutes breathing fitful set off on waking six yards and an inch or two one hour twelve minutes drops

  end of seventh year of stillness beginning of eighth brief movements of the snout would seem to be eating the mud

  three o’clock morning starts muttering my astoundment then succeed in catching a few scraps Pim Bim proper names presumably imagination dreams things memories lives impossible here’s my first-born old workshop farewell

  monster silences vast tracts of time perfect nothingness reread the ancient’s notes pass the time beginning of the murmur his last day lucky devil be in on that what’s the use of me

  reread our notes pass the time more about me than him hardly a word out of him now not a mum this past year and more I lose the nine-tenths it starts so sudden comes so faint goes so fast ends so soon I’m on it in a flash it’s over

  no more motion than a slab and forbidden to take our eyes off him what’s the use of that Krim says his number’s up so is mine we daren’t leave him quick all numbers up it’s the only solution

  yesterday in grandpa’s notes the place where he wishes he were dead weakness happily honour of the family short-lived he stuck it out till his time was up whereas happy me tedium inaction don’t make me laugh question of character and the business in the blood

  I lie by his side happy innovation handier for keeping an eye on him not a quiver that escapes me than squatting on the little stool old style even papa and the state he’s in now less the eye than the ear if I may say so it’s obvious new methods a necessity

  Krim too straight as a die at his stand ballpoint at the ready on the alert for the least never long idle if nothing I invent must keep busy otherwise death

  one notebook for the body inodorous farts stools idem pure mud suckings shudders little spasms of left hand in sack quiverings of the lower without sound movements of the head calm unhurried the face raised from the mud or the left cheek or the right cheek and the right cheek or the left cheek laid there in its stead or the face or the right cheek or the left cheek or the face respectively a new development in my opinion a good mark for me what does it remind me of

  Kram the Seventh at his last gasp perhaps his face whiter than the pillow-slip and me still a shitty little chit can it be the end at last the long calm agony and me the happy witness elect one notebook for all that in any case entries such as sample eighth of May Victory Day impression that he’s sinking Krim says I’m mad

  a second for the mutterings verbatim no tampering very little a third this for my comments whereas up till now all pell-mell in the same blue yellow and red respectively simple once you’ve thought of it

  steeping sweating in the light of my lamps he murmurs of darkness can he be blind he must the great blue eyes he opens sometimes and of a companion I see none in his head the dark the friend

  forbidden to touch him we might relieve him Krim is all for it and be damned clean his buttocks at least wipe his face what do we risk no one will know you never know safer not

  dreamt of the great Kram the Ninth the greatest of us all up to date never met him more’s the pity grandpa remembered him raving mad before the limit brought up by force trussed like a faggot Krim vanished never seen again

  he the first to have pity happily to no effect honour of the family to eliminate the little stool regrettable innovation discarded and the idea of the three books set aside where’s the greatness it is there

  rich testimony I agree questionable into the bargain especially the yellow book that is not the voice of here here all self to be abandoned say nothing when nothing

  blue the eyes I see them old stone perhaps our new daylight lamps it’s possible I agree and in the head the dark and friend I agree but this voice the voice of all what voice I hear none and who all damn it I’m the thirteenth generation

  but of course here too no knowing our senses our lights what do they amount to look at me and even if I here thirteen lives I say thirteen but long before who knows how long how many other dynasties

  this voice yes the sad truth is there are moments when I fancy I can hear it and my lamps that my lamps are going out Krim says I’m mad

  two more years to put in a little more then back to the surface ah no lie down if I could lie down never stir any more I feel I could weakness for pity’s sake honour of the family if I could move on a little further if there is a further we only know this little pool of light there was a time he moved it’s in the book a little further in the mud the dark and drop my first-born dying to his grandchild your papa’s grandpapa disappeared never came up never seen again bear it in mind when your time comes

  little private book these secret things little book all my own the heart’s outpourings day by day it’s forbidden one big book and everything there Krim imagines I am drawing what then places faces loved forgotten

  that’s enough end of extracts yes or no yes or no no no no witness no scribe all alone and yet I hear it murmur it all alone in the dark the mud and yet

  and now to continue to conclude to be able a few more little scenes life above in the light as it comes as I hear it word for word last little scenes I set him off stop him short thump thump can’t take any more or he stops can’t give any more it’s one or the other opener instantly or not often not silence rest

  he has stopped I have made him stop suffered him to stop it’s one or the other not specified the thing stops and more or less long silence not specified more or less long rest I set him off again opener or capitals as the case may be otherwise never a word new instalment so on

  the gaps are the holes otherwise it flows more or less more or less profound the holes we’re talking of the holes not specified not possible no point I feel them and wait till he can out and on again or I don’t and opener or I do and opener just the same that helps him out as I hear it as it comes word for word to continue to conclude to be able part two leaving only three and last

  what land all lands midnight sun midday night all latitudes all longitudes

  all longitudes

  what men all colours black to white tried them all then gave up no worse too vague pardon pity home to native land to die in my twenties iron constitution above in the light my life my living made my living tried everything building mostly it was booming all branches plaster mostly met Pam I think

  love birth of love increase decrease death efforts to resuscitate through the arse joint vain through the cunt anew vain jumped from window or fell broken column hospital marguerites lies about mistletoe forgiveness

  out by day no by night less light a little less hid by day a hole a ruin land strewn with ruins all ages my spinal d
og it licked my genitals Skom Skum run over by a dray it hadn’t all its wits broken column in my thirties and still alive robust constitution what am I to do

  life little scenes just time to see the hangings part heavy swing of black velvet what life whose life ten twelve years old sleeping in the sun at the foot of the wall white dust a palm thick azure little clouds other details silence falls again

  what sun what have I said no matter I’ve said something that’s what was needed seen something called it above said it was so said it was me ten twelve years old sleeping in the sun in the dust to have a moment’s peace I have it I had it opener arse following scene and words

  sea beneath the moon harbour-mouth after the sun the moon always light day and night little heap in the stern it’s me all those I see are me all ages the current carries me out the awaited ebb I’m looking for an isle home at last drop never move again a little turn at evening to the sea-shore seawards then back drop sleep wake in the silence eyes that dare open stay open live old dream on crabs kelp

  astern receding land of brothers dimming lights mountain if I turn water roughening he falls I fall on my knees crawl forward clink of chains perhaps it’s not me perhaps it’s another perhaps it’s another voyage confusion with another what isle what moon you say the thing you see the thoughts sometimes that go with it it disappears the voice goes on a few words it can stop it can go on depending on what it’s not known it’s not said

  on what the nails that can go on the hand dead a fraction of an inch life a little slow to leave them the hair the head dead a hoop rolled by a child me higher than him me I fall disappear the hoop rolls on a little way loses way rocks falls disappears the garden-path is still

  can’t go on we’re talking of me not Pim Pim is finished he has finished me now part three not Pim my voice not his saying this these words can’t go on and Pim that Pim never was and Bom whose coming I await to finish be finished have finished me too that Bom will never be no Pim no Bom and this voice quaqua of us all never was only one voice my voice never any other

  all that not Pim I who murmur all that a voice mine alone and that bending over me noting down one word every three two words every five from age to age yes or no but above all go on impossible for the moment quite impossible that’s the essential nay folly I hear it murmur it to the mud folly folly stop your drivel draw the mud about your face children do it in the sand at the sea-shore in the country in the sandpits the humbler

  all about pressed tight as a child you would have done it in the sandpits even you the mud above the temples and nothing more be seen but three grey hairs old wig rotting on a muckheap false skull foul with mould and rest you can say nothing when time ends you may end

  all that the time it takes to say all that my voice a voice of mine not like that more faint less clear but the purport and back to Pim where abandoned part two it still can end it must end it’s preferable only a third to go two fifths then part three leaving only part three

  E then good and deep sick of light quick now the end above last thing last sky that fly perhaps gliding on the pane the counterpane all summer before it or noonday glory of colours behind the pane in the mouth of the cave and the approaching veils

  two veils from left and right they approach come together or one down the other up or aslant diagonal from left or right top corner right or left bottom corner one two three and four they approach come together

  a first pair then others on top as many times as necessary or a first one two three or four a second two three four or one a third three four one or two a fourth four one two or three as many times as necessary

  for what for to be happy eyes starting pupils staring night in the midst of day better the fly at break of morn four o’clock five o’clock the sun rises its day begins the fly we’re talking of a fly its day its summer on the pane the counterpane its life last thing last sky

  E then good and deep quick now the end above sick of light and nail on skin for the down-stroke of the Roman N when suddenly too soon too soon a few more little scenes suddenly I cross it out good and deep Saint Andrew of the Black Sea and opener signifying again I’m subject to these whims

  my life again above in the light the sack stirs grows still again stirs again the light through the worn thread strains less white sharp sounds distant still but less it’s evening he crawls tiny out of the sack me again I’m there again the first is always me then the others

  what age my God fifty sixty eighty shrunken kneeling arse on heels hands on ground splayed like feet very clear picture thighs aching the arse rises the head drops touches the straw it’s preferable sound of sweeping the dog’s tail we want to go on home at last

  my eyes open still to light I see each halm sounds of hammers three or four at least hammers chisels crosses perhaps or some other ornament

  I crawl to the door raise my head yes I assure you peer through a chink and so I would go to the world’s end on my knees to the world’s end right round it on my knees arms forelegs eyes an inch from the ground I’d smell the world again my laughter in dry weather raises the dust on my knees up the gangways between decks with the emigrants

  homer mauve light of evening mauve wave among the streets the serotines abroad already we not yet not such fools I’m the brain of the two sounds distant still but less its the evening air does that one must understand these things and later drawing near that it’s only a creaking of wheels drawing near iron felly jolting on the stones the harvest perhaps coming home but the hooves in that case

  no matter there I am again how I last on my knees hands joined before my face thumb-tips before my nose finger-tips before the door my crown or vertex against the door one can see the attitude not knowing what to say whom to implore what to implore no matter it’s the attitude that counts it’s the intention

  how I last some day it will be night and all asleep we shall slip out the tail sweeps the straw it hasn’t all its wits mine now to think for us both here come the veils most dear from left and right they wipe us away then the rest the whole door away life above little scene I couldn’t have imagined it I couldn’t

  thump on skull no point in post mortems and then what then what we’ll try and see last words cut thrust a few words DO YOU LOVE ME CUNT no disappearance of Pim end of part two leaving only part three and last one can’t go on one goes on as before can one ever stop put a stop that’s more like it one can’t go on one can’t stop put a stop

  so Pim stops life above in the light he can’t give any more me permitting or thump on skull I can’t take any more it’s one or the other and what them him me I’ll ask him but first me when Pim stops what becomes of me but first the bodies glued together mine on the north good so much for the trunks the legs but the hands when Pim stops where are they the arms the hands what are they at

  his right way off on the right axis of the clavicle or cross Saint Andrew of the Volga mine about his shoulders his neck I can’t see good so much for the right arms and their hands I can’t see it’s not said in keeping and the others the left the arms we’re talking of our arms full stretch before us the hands together in the sack good so much for the four arms the four hands but how together touching simply or clasped

  clasped but how clasped as in the handshake no but his flat mine on top the crooked fingers slipped between his the nails against his palm it’s the position they have finally adopted clear picture of that good and parenthesis the vision suddenly too late a little late of how my injunctions by other means more humane

  my behests by a different set of signals quite different more humane more subtle from left hand to left hand in the sack nails and palm scratching pressing but no always the right hand thump on skull claws in armpit for the song blade in arse pestle on kidney slap athwart and index in hole all the needful up to the end great pity good and the heads

  heads together necessarily my right shoulder overriding his left I’ve the upper everywhere but how together like two old jades harnessed together no but mine my h
ead its face in the mud and his its right cheek in the mud his mouth against my ear our hairs tangled together impression that to separate us one would have to sever them good so much for the bodies the arms the hands the heads

  what then became of us him me flop back into the past in this position when the silence when Pim stopped past giving any more me permitting or thump on skull past taking any more I’ll ask him but me me

  question if what he has said or rather I heard of that voice ruined from such long silence a third two fifths or every word question if there when it stops if somewhere there food for thought prayer without words against a stable-door long icy toil towards the too late all-forgiving what else night at dead water on the deep on the little sea poor in isles or else some other voyage

  there wherewith to beguile a moment of this vast season or just a drop of water for the thirst that you drink and goodbye answer just a drop of ditch-water I’d be glad of a sup at this hour

  and question what can I ask him now what on earth ask him further busy myself with that if only a few seconds they would be good seconds answer no they would not either question why answer because ah yes there’s reason in me yet because all the things I’ve asked him and don’t as much as know what but only know if as much that he’s there still half in my arms cleaving to me with all his little length that’s something to know and in that little ageless body black with mud when the silence falls again enough feeling still for him to be there still

  with me someone there with me still and me there still strange wish when the silence there still enough for me to wonder if only a few seconds if he is breathing still or in my arms already a true corpse untorturable henceforward and this warmth under my arm against my side merely the mud that stays warm as we have seen words my truant guides with you strange journeys

  merrily then once again push pull if only a herring from time to time a prawn they would be good moments alas wrong road we are not on that road any more the tins in the depths of the sack hermetically under vacuum on their dead for ever sealed the voice stops for one or the other reason and life along with it above in the light and we along with it that is what becomes of us

 
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