11 May

Warsaw lecture

*Samuel Beckett and “Border Thinking”*

A suspicion of unities marked the intellectual development of Samuel
Beckett, and his biography and working practices bear out the
boundary-crossing nature of his achievement: both novelist and playwright
in both French and English, his legacy increasingly crosses the global
landscape without much regard for political borders. Instead, in
geographic, linguistic, and philosophical terms, Samuel Beckett’s oeuvre
reveals the persistent and the porous nature of the boundary itself,
initiating a form of dialectic “border thinking” that marks his artistic
approach. Looking at histories of performance practices across different
cultures, this research examines the resulting tension in the work of
Samuel Beckett, especially his work for the theatre, between strict or
mathematically precise delineations — strips, striations, boxes, and
containers — and the rhizomatic profusion of possible meanings or
methodologies as actors, directors, designers, and dramaturgs read “between
the lines.” The philosophical dimension of Beckett’s affection for playing
along the boundaries of concepts and ideas — whether through parodies of
Pythagoras and Descartes, extensions of Dante and Schopenhauer, or through
an ongoing fascination with paradox itself — are also brought to bear on
whether a form of “border thinking” marks modernism itself. Finally,
drawing on the practice-as-research work of the Samuel Beckett Laboratory
in “Mapping Beckett,” a workshop that will be conducted at the 2018
between.pomiedczy Festival in Gdansk, Poland, this paper also initiates a
discussion of whether “border thinking” marks the development of a newly
“interwoven” intercultural dimension that may inform the next stage of
international Beckett Studies.

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