Dear Samuel Beckett,
How are you doing? I am doing well. Or at least, I was…then I read Endgame.
Beckett, seriously, does this play even mean anything? You originally wrote the play in French, right? Then translated it to English? Do you even speak French? Or were you the kid in class that only memorized key phrases and made it seem like you spoke French? Because, after reading Endgame, it seems like you only knew the words “finished” and “window.”
At the beginning of the play, Clov wonders at what point individual grains make up a heap. After I finished Endgame, I wondered at what point individual words make up a play. Have you seen a play before, Beckett? This was nothing like the play (sic) I have seen in the past. It didn’t even have an old, Jewish man trying to cut off a pound of flesh from a Venetian merchant. And yes– the only play I have seen is The Merchant of Venice.
People want to break out of their own cycles, so they pay good money to go out to the theater for a night. And what do you do? You write a play about the cyclical nature of life. That’s a real dick move.
Audiences want Zookeeper and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 because Kevin James doesn’t force us to think about our place in the world. The only thing Kevin James forces is himself into his clothes. But since you didn’t write Zookeeper (or its much anticipated sequel), I was forced to think about some things.
Is it all cyclical, Beckett? Have I just been living the same day over and over again within my own, two-windowed version of life? Have I really accomplished anything? How often have I come close? How many times have I dressed to leave, only to stay? Clov and Hamm accomplish nothing in the time we see them. Yeah, they talk to each other and Clov occasionally carries something, but no work is done; neither Clov nor Hamm apply force to anything outside of their shelter to create change. They are just waiting for the end.
I guess that’s all they can do: wait. There is no suicide in a chess match, only waiting for your opponent to take you. But after that, a new game starts. Is that the only way something new can start? By ending? Hamm ponders out loud, “Perhaps I could go on with my story, end it and begin another.” I find that line interesting, even though (much like the rest of the play) I am not entirely sure what he means by it. Can we end our current stories to start fresh ones? Is one person capable of leading multiple stories? Are stories the same as lives? Are you getting any of this down there, Beckett?
Another line that supports the necessity of finishing one thing before starting something else comes at the beginning of the play. Clov stands on stage and states, “Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished.” So after Clov says “finished” about ten times (reinforcing my theory that it was one of the only French words you knew), the play starts. It quite literally can’t start until Clov is finished with his finishing.
One of the last things Hamm says is, “The end is the beginning, and yet you go on.” What does he mean here? Life is fairly short. Is he saying that despite the fleeting nature of life, we still persevere and continue on with it? It also could mean that since life is so short, what we choose to do with it is actually extremely important. If our lives had no end, our choices wouldn’t be nearly as important. If we didn’t die, our endless, individual days would continue. Only after we die do they finally become a little heap.
I’ve got a lot of questions in there for you. Like I said, I was doing fine until I read Endgame. But the unexamined life is not worth living, right?
P.S. I loved you in Quantum Leap. It was cancelled too soon.