The Being-together in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2021)
Title: The Being-together in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies and Theory
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Michiko Tsushima, University of Tsukuba, Japan


Beckett’s works express the being-together of human beings revealed at the extreme limits of humanity. For example, in Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Happy Days, his characters are tied together in a peculiar way after surviving catastrophic disasters of sorts, and they continue living together while often cursing the situations they find themselves trapped in. Beckett himself writes that in Endgame he is interested in stating the predicament of being-together which he thinks refuses any interpretation. It can be argued that in Endgame Beckett seeks to expose the being-together as non-appropriable co-existence. This being-together can be understood not as the "relation" between self-same individuals but as the "relation" similar to Jean-Luc Nancy’s idea of "being-with". This play opens the horizon of “co-” that precedes the existence of an individual. By focusing on the "relation" between two characters, Hamm and Clov in Endgame, I will show how the being-together is revealed in their experience of the imminence of "nothing". Not only the characters but also the audience remain exposed to the imminent approach of "nothing" (e.g., the engulfment of "infinite emptiness" or "the end"), which forms the core of this play. "Nothing" here is inseparable from what Georges Bataille calls "reality in a pure state" or the "basis of being". Additionally I will argue that in this shared exposure to "nothing" their "relation" appears as resemblance. This motif of resemblance will be discussed in light of Nancy’s observations on “resemblance” and "community", as well as Maurice Blanchot’s idea of "cadaverous resemblance".

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