Nothing to be done

When I was seventeen I stumbled across a copy of Waiting for Godot at my favorite bookstore. I had heard of the play, but didn’t know much about it. The cover featured laudatory words from Norman Mailer (I had just read several of Mailer’s books, and was very impressed) so I bought it. That night, instead of writing the paper that was due in a few days, I sat cross legged on my bed and read Godot straight through. I got to the end, after the repeated bit about hanging themselves, unless Godot comes (and the echoes there of the thief saved by Christ from earlier in the play) to those final lines:

Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes. Let’s go.
They do not move.

I sat the book down and started to wonder why I was weeping. I picked the book up and opened it and read it through again. I spent that entire night trying to decipher what the play could mean, and why it effected me so strongly. This was before I discovered Existentialism and Sartre and Camus (and Kierkegaard for that matter) and before I read any Ionesco. It would be years before I found Celine and even longer before the films of Luis Bunel infected my brain.

On some base level I got that the play was saying that life is absurd, and boring, and weird, and terrible. But those things seemed to be just too obvious. I wanted to hold the book up in front of my face and scream “Don’t you think I know that!” but Beckett had slipped something else in there. He had hit me over the head with an insight that my depressive, teenage mind hadn’t been ready for:

Sure: life is boring, and absurd and meaningless and terrible. But it is also beautiful and wondrous. It is a puzzle to be solved and the joy is in the work of trying to solve it. That was why I wept. Beckett taught me a lesson that has served me both in my writing and in my living. I love that play.

I tend to discard most critical interpretation of Godot. I think that Beckett wanted it to be a puzzle without a key (on a side note, the moronic but popular suggestion that since “Godot” spells “God” plus an OT then we can assume that the character Godot is a metaphor for God can be discarded out of hand. Beckett wrote the damn thing in French and in French God is not spelled G-O-D. There are other, better reasons to think that Godot is, in fact, meant to be God. The discussion in the play of Christ saving one of the two thieves then being echoed by Vladimir and Estragon’s belief that if Godot comes they will be saved – or at least one of them will be saved, speaks to that. This parenthetical is getting out of hand, though).

I told you all of that so that I could tell you this: I want to raise some cash to rent a hall and put on a production of Waiting for Godot. I have two ideas of how to do it, and I don’t know which is better. Please tell me which you think is the superior idea:

1. Sell tickets. Then on opening night the audience learns that there are no actors. Five people from the audience are randomly chosen and forced to perform the play by reading their lines from cue cards.

2. Cast actors. Rehearse them for two weeks, but don’t sell any tickets. Then, on opening night make the cast perform to an empty house.

The second option is more befitting the play, but option 1 involves actually recouping some of the cost of my joke. What do you think?

On an unrelated note, I dreamed last night that I was fucking Lucy Van Pelt from behind in her psychiatry booth. Marcy and Peppermint Patty were making out in the corner and Woodstock was perched on my shoulder. I could here some modern jazz in the distance. My brain isn’t right.


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