There’s so much pressure, in my head at least, on this first post. A very wise person and seasoned blogger, the wonderful Amber Regis (http://amberregis.com) thought a place to start would be explaining my blog-title.
So, why, ‘Absurd Lights’? And why my Beckett tagline?
It’s from a passage that’s become crucial to all of my research, stuck deep down in my head somewhere.
‘The night is strewn with absurd
absurd lights, stars, the beacons, the buoys, the lights of earth and in the hills the faint fires of blazing gorse’.
This moment comes from the end of Malone Dies, one of Beckett’s novels. (He’s more famous for his plays, but his novels are perhaps even weirder in the best sense). Malone is telling himself one of his many stories, the last of the novel, and he’s also dying (the clue’s in the title). And the novel is ending. Suddenly his bed-bound world opens up to this cosmic vision of the starry heavens and of the Irish landscape, a unity of macrocosm and microcosm. The repetition of ‘absurd’ tells us of the humour and the irrationality the Malone finds in this spectacle – and, crucially, it’s also the point where the narrative begins to break down and fragment. In fact, the difficulty, beauty and strangeness of light is made central to this moment as Malone lists different kinds of light (‘the beacons’, ‘the buoys’ and ‘the faint fires of the blazing gorse’); light is somehow what Malone or Beckett really ‘means’ at this moment of his death, perhaps throughout his narrative. This is a light that is mysteriously meaningful, away from the simplified idea of ‘the light of reason’. The art object becomes an astral object.
I’ve worked on this passage at various times, looking at Beckett’s note-taking from scientific sources about the difficulty of light. But to me, this moment is meaningful in a mysterious way, as it is for Malone. I take my inspiration from that, even though at times I’ll be dealing with less than cosmic questions.
I hope this blog will offer some absurdity, some illumination, some mystery.