suggested, Hamm is playing against a superior player; chess is also obscurely present in the gradual disappearance – not of pawns, bishops, knights, etc. – but of bicycle-wheels, pap, nature, sugar plums, tide, navigators, rugs, pain-killer, and coffins.
In fact, in Endgame, everything outside and inside is dying. Beckett paints a picture of desolation, lovelessness, boredom, and sorrow. He leaves no hope, no chance. The play opens into nothingness. The play and the game both come to an end leaving the reader with an image of the futility of any human action, whether malicious or tender and loving. Through the savagely parodied logic of the dialogues, Beckett, suggests metaphors which are stripped down to their bare concept in order to provide the reader with a vision of unnamed entropy (entropy means the rising disorder of energy operating within certain isolated systems which are directed toward total inertia).
4.2 Endgame and Body without Organs ( BwO)
Nomos seems to be the place where one is free to roam about, to travel. This space is a space in which nothing belongs to anyone. The great nomad hunter follows the flows, exhausts them in place, and moves on with them to another place. He reproduces in an accelerated fashion his entire filiation, and contracts it into a point that keeps him in a direct relationship with the ancestor or the god. The necessary process for nomadism is represented in various conditions that one of these conditions is body without organ (BWO). The body without organs is nonproductive; nonetheless it is produced, at a certain place and a certain time in the connective synthesis, as the identity of producing and the product: the schizophrenic table is a body without organs. The body without organs is not the proof of an original nothingness, nor is it what remains of a lost totality. Above all, it is not a projection; it has nothing whatsoever to do with the body itself, or with an image of the body. It is the body without an image. This imageless, organless body, the nonproductive, exists right there where it is produced, in the third stage of the binary-linear series. It is perpetually reinserted into the process of production. The catatonic body is produced in the water of the hydrotherapy tub. The full body without organs belongs to the realm of antiproduction; but yet another characteristic of the connective or productive synthesis is the fact that it couples production with antiproduction, with an element of antiproduction. First we need free ourselves of organs. The order and fixity are limiting forces imposed upon us. The body ruled by organization represents integrity and wholeness, which indicates stable and fixed selfhood. To get rid of this, we must strip ourselves of organs, to become naked and light enough to follow lines of flight. BWO is the beginning of desire. It’s massive flowing through values and vessels. Rejecting one’s body amounts to rejecting one’s identity. BWO opens the body to new connections, territories and distributions of intensities. In fact, it is a liberating force against subjectification and organism. One can reach the possibilities of desubjectification, the lines of flight and deteritorialization.
The dissolution of the logical identity of the subject has as its correlate the physical disintegration of the organic body. Deleuze finds its biological model in the egg, which is an intensive field, literary without organs, defined solely by axes and vectors, gradients, and thresholds, displacements and migrations. The body without organs is the model of life itself, a powerful nonorganic and intensive vitality that traverses the organism. But for Deleuze, the body without organs is not something that exists before the organism. It is the intensive reality of the body, a milieu of intensity that is beneath or adjacent to the organism and continually in the process of constructing itself.
In Beckett’s theatre, the body is considered with minute attention. He approaches it—just as he approaches space, objects, light and language – as a genuine raw material which may be modified, sculpted, shaped and distorted for the stage. Whereas the actor’s body is usually a ‘given’ which does not vary—aside from that part which contributes to the ‘composition’ of the role (costume and make-up)—in Beckett’s theatre the body undergoes metamorphoses. It is worked, violated even, much like the raw materials of the painter or sculptor, in the service of a systematic exploration of all possible relationships between the body and movement, the body and space, the body and light and the body and words.
The body may be deprived of movement, immobilized like a statue, hidden from the spectator’s view, fragmented to the viewer’s eye. The body may be hidden and unveiled, the unveiling being a condition of the play. Thus, at the beginning of Endgame, Clov must take off the sheets which cover Hamm and the trash cans. The unveiling in Endgame takes place in two stages: once the sheet is taken off, the spectator does not yet see Nagg and Nell, who must in turn lift the covers of their trash cans to become visible. Furthermore, one perceives but partially the outline of Hamm’s body, for his face is covered by a handkerchief—an extension of his body—a kind of veil. The body appears but it may also disappear, as in the case of Nagg or Nell. The body is not exposed once and for all; we might almost say that it is never presented in its totality, only fragmentarily. The body here is not only fragmented to the viewer, eroded by shadows, covered and closed in, annulled or annihilated; it is also, in its most typical manifestation, deprived of the faculty of movement. Beckett never takes the attribute of movement for granted. The attribute is characteristically exposed or explored only in relationship to the difficulty or impossibility of moving. The bodies of characters always exist in a state of lack or negativity: unable to be seen, or to move, or to see (Hamm is blind) or to hear. And yet it is precisely this lack which gives the body its existence, its dramatic force and its reality as a working material for the stage. The body in good health, with the conventional beauty of the conventional stage, does not really exist. As in life, so in this play, one’s body exists all the more strongly when it begins to suffer. Rather than regard Beckett’s theatre as a portrait gallery of cripples, one must understand it as a deliberate and intense effort to make the body come to light, to give the body its full weight, dimension, and its physical presence. In putting physical defects on the stage, Beckett, as we might say, kills two birds with one stone. Not only does he show and render visceral for the spectator the physical and metaphysical defects of man, but he also uses these defects to systematically explore theatrical space, to construct a physical and sensory space, filled with the presence of the body to affirm cruelly a space invested by the body.
It is noteworthy that the one irreducible component of dramatic tension is conflict. In Beckett, this tension no longer stems from a psychological conflict, but rather from a conflict which is genuinely physical (for example, Clov wants to leave Hamm, physically, so as to return to his kitchen). On the one hand, stage movement is seen in terms of the resistances against which it must struggle: Clov, for example, ( the only mobile character in Endgame) has difficulty moving (he can no longer sit down), he walks in a curious manner, with a ‘stiff and staggering walk.’ On the other hand, movement is continually being contrasted with immobility: Clov’s rapid and difficult movements are set against the helpless immobility of Hamm and the two old people in the trash cans. Theatrically speaking, the lack of movement has the function of bringing out, through contrast, the movements undertaken by a single character, Clov. His smallest gesture is thereby invested with immense significance; the most minute movement in spaces becomes an event. Movement and immob
ility operate reciprocally and dynamically, each enhancing the dramatic effect of the other. Just as there is an intrinsic tension between silence and words, so there is an intrinsic tension between immobility and movement. Words emanate from silence and return to it; movement emanates from immobility and returns to it. All movements, all gestures move, so to speak, within immobility, and are considered as a victory over immobility and have value only in the tension they maintain in relationship to immobility:
There I’ll be, in the old shelter, alone against the silence and . . . (he hesitates) . . . the stillness. If I can hold my peace, and sit quiet, it will be all over with sound, and motion, all over and done with. (78).
The relationship between words and the body is at its most intriguing when the body is reduced to the place where words are articulated, and brought back to its vital organ: the mouth in a face which utters words. There is an implacable logic in the progression from Hamm’s paralysis. Here, physical disappearance and total immobility are made subservient to the appearance of the movements pertaining to the articulation of words. And yet the dialectic between movement and stillness, disappearance and manifestation, is reaffirmed even here, in what would seem to have been the most unpropitious dramatic circumstances. For immobility in Beckett’s theatre is always active, dynamic, moving and theatrical; it enables us to perceive another body, even to the movements of articulating words; Beckett’s aim is not, in other words, to reduce the stage to words alone, but rather to concentrate upon those words that are incarnated and pronounced by the body. His is a theatre of elementary things, of words and bodies, words in a body, words expulsed by a body, words epitomized by a body. The immobility peculiar to Beckettian stage is, then, paradoxical: in eliminating all