Cliché in the work of Samuel Beckett: stimulus or obstacle? Limit(e)Beckett Issue 2
Call for Papers for the second issue of Limit(e) Beckett :
Cliché in the work of Samuel Beckett: stimulus or obstacle?
Je connais ces petites phrases qui n'ont l'air de rien
et qui, une fois admises, peuvent vous empester toute une langue.
Bouche comme cousue fil blanc invisible
Cliché itself, the degenerative metaphor of everyday language, is, Beckett recognizes, expressive of fundamental desires, fears and truths
Elizabeth Barry, Beckett and Authority: The Use of Cliche
Cliché points initially to the imprint of a mold, the impression, and the mechanical reproduction of the identical. Sounds marks, photographic prints, ready-made snatches of discourse or of representation: the varied forms of cliché in Beckett's work evoke an entire formal and signifying network, like these stereotyped expressions, replayed or thwarted by a narrative voice of uncertain responsibility, or like the definition of bodies by their rigid posture, with the pieces for television and their static shots.
Between text and image, the Beckettian cliché is characterised by the repetition of motifs, large recurring themes or brief quotations, musical phrases, pictorial visions or photographic negatives, ritualised gestures or autobiographical reminiscence. Discursive and non-discursive, the cliché or stereotype becomes a many-sided issue in writing, at once rhetorical, enunciative, aesthetic and logical. It reopens an ethical interrogation that allows us to problematise the passivity of its reception (the Flaubertian idée reçue), and the value of its sporadic appearance. The writing of cliché is at once the experience of an obstacle specific to language and representation, and of an event that alters the vitality of an "original" poetic creation; and the experimentation of a paradoxical stimulus, giving rise to a complex practice that also brings into question the memory and the cultural and historical context of Beckett's work.
By the very fact of this creative ambiguity aroused by cliché, the possible approaches to this topic are necessarily diverse: unreconcilable, but rich in unexpected resonances and varied perspectives. Such perspectives include, but are not limited to:
- historical, including those that question Beckett's relationship with the tradition of the modern writing of cliché, and his development as a writer during the era of 20th-century mass culture
- linguistic (énonciation and bilingualism)
- critical (interrogation of genres and of academicism)
- intertextual (the status of poetic, Biblical and philosophical quotations present throughout Beckett's œuvre)
- aesthetic (between voices, postures, images, technologies, exhaustion, and the variation of media)
- anthropological or political (norms and identities)
- philosophical (from the binary distinction between copy and original, to the modulation of a writing of variation)
It is this question of the paradoxical energy of the cliché within Beckett's polymorphous writing that will be the focus of Issue 2 of Limit(e) Beckett: what is to be done with it, against it, in its folds, interruptions, bypasses, diversions, even in its reactivations, between blockage and relaunch? Can it therefore be said that cliché constitutes the primary material of this writing? If cliché is defined initially by its impression, is there a force of impression in the Beckettian writing of the cliché? The breadth of the field of exploration opened by the cliché makes it less a theme than a sort of arrest (of the image, of discourse), which causes paths of reading to diverge, and prevents the unification of its interpretation. A plasticity of the cliché therefore: between sense and sensation, that Beckett approaches with humour, grace or violence, in the game of writing as in a risk constantly renewed. Seemingly so ordinary, the cliché appears where writing falters, and remains sometimes the ultimate mode of continuing – on the edge of the abyss.
Limit/e Beckett is an international electronic journal, published by a team of Beckett doctoral candidates in partnership with two universities: Paris IV-Sorbonne and Paris VII-Denis Diderot.
Languages: French and English.
Format: Full articles (between 15000 and 35000 characters, spaces included).
Deadline for submissions: 30 January 2011.
We will contact the authors of the selected articles at the end of February 2011.
Online publication: Spring 2011, on the site Limit(e) Beckett : www.limitebeckett.paris-sorbonne.fr .