Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Beckett: Literature and Philosophy?


I have seen Beckett's Watt referred to, a number of times, as a "critique of Cartesian rationality". This prompts some perhaps naive questions: Are we to take this claim at its word - should Watt appear on philosophy syllabuses? Is a novel like Watt doing something philosophically which can't quite be accomplished by conventional philosophical writing? Does literature operate in philosophy's blind spots? If Watt contains criticisms, new and interesting criticisms or Cartesian rationality, has it done this despite itself, almost accidentally - i.e. as a by product of doing something else?

As a prelude (hopefully) to a few thoughts on literature and philosophy via Beckett, a couple of quotes:
"Beckett's formulas are crystals of thought: they open up a world of thought, they jog us into thought.. they are Deleuzian philosophemes, temporary accretions on the plane of immanence that relay or relaunch the lines of flight of thought. We understand why they are the sites of encounter between philsosophy and literature." (Jean Jacques Leclercle)
".. from the beginning, Beckett worked to make his own poetics out of the idea of cogito and ego in Descartes and the implication for style in David Hume's scepticism". (Sidney Feshbach)




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