The Playgoer: Politician Admits to Reading Modernist Drama

Custom Search

Monday, May 03, 2010

Politician Admits to Reading Modernist Drama

Get ready to swoon.

Nick Clegg, the "third party" Liberal Democrat candidate for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, proudly pens for the Guardian a tribute to his favorite author.

Will he go with Jesus, like Bush?  Lincoln, like Obama? Try Beckett.

My first encounter with Beckett was when I was studying in Minnesota and I acted in a student production of Krapp's Last Tape. Back then I remember images of Beckett making as great an impression on me as his work. He always looked so impressive – that beak-like nose, eyes staring dead into the camera – and he had an austerity to him, even when he was young, that makes it very easy to connect the man to the words.
Since then I must have read Waiting for Godot – of course – a hundred times. Every time I go back to Beckett he seems more subversive, not less; his works make me feel more uncomfortable than they did before. The unsettling idea, most explicit in Godot, that life is habit – that it is all just a series of motions devoid of meaning – never gets any easier.

It's that willingness to question the things the rest of us take for granted that I admire most about Beckett; the courage to ask questions that are dangerous because, if the traditions and meanings we hold so dear turn out to be false, what do we do then?
I wonder if he takes it as a badge of honor when opponents call the Lib Dem policies "absurd."

No comments: