McSweeney’s: My Grading Scale for the Fall Semester, Composed Entirely of Samuel Beckett Quotes

4 09 2012
TIMOTHY MCSWEENEY TAKES HIS COOKIES STRAIGHT.

MY GRADING SCALE FOR THE FALL SEMESTER, COMPOSED ENTIRELY OF SAMUEL BECKETT QUOTES.

BY 

– – – –

A

There is a little of everything, apparently, in nature, and freaks are common. Yes, there were times when I forgot not only who I was but that I was, forgot to be. Nothing matters but the writing. Each must find out for himself what is meant. It means what it says. I cannot imagine a higher goal for today’s writer. What is that unforgettable line? If I do not love you I shall not love.

– –

B

The earth makes a sound as of sighs. To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. Not to want to say, not to know what you want to say, not to be able to say what you think you want to say, and never to stop saying, or hardly ever, that is the thing to keep in mind, even in the heat of composition. The absurdity of those things, on the one hand, and the necessity of those others, on the other. You must say words, as long as there are any. Be reasonable, you haven’t yet tried everything. Any fool can turn a blind eye but who knows what the ostrich sees in the sand.

– –

C

We wait. We are bored. Confusion amounting to nothing. Despite precautions. The confusion is not my invention. You must not think of certain things, of those that are dear to you, or rather you must think of them, for if you don’t there is the danger of finding them, in your mind, little by little. A disturbance into words, a pillow of old words. All life long, the same questions, the same answers. The churn of stale words in the heart again. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. This tired abstract anger; inarticulate passive opposition. I pushed and pulled in vain, the wheels would not turn. How hideous is the semicolon.

(Full Story)

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