Academic Article (Your Choice)

Haney, William S. “Beckett out of His Mind: the Theatre of the Absurd.” Studies in the Literary Imagination, 2001.

In this highly confusing article about a highly confusing play, Haney explores the metaphysical, of which I know nothing, and how metaphysics play through in Waiting for Godot. From what I can gather, Haney tries to shed light on the fact that Waiting for Godot’s seeming emptiness goes to show how vast it is, in a Zen-like way. He also talks about the hazards of trying to critically categorize a play as nebulous as this, saying:

To say that Waiting for Godot presents a totalizing modernist view in an infinite postmodernist world is therefore to intellectualize it, to (mis)identify consciousness with the activity of the thinking mind, and to belie the impact of Beckett’s play as an aesthetic vehicle for transcending thought in the expansion of consciousness (Haney 47).

In his essay, Haney returns several times to the point that this play cannot and should not be “intellectualized,” citing a notable successful performance of it at a prison as supporting evidence. And yet, by analyzing the metaphysical aspects of the show and scrutinizing the meaning of every possible symbol, Haney seems to be performing the very action he condemns. Perhaps he is spending so many pages discussing these examples simply to show other academics’ thoughts and research on the matter, or maybe his statement cautioning against the intellectualization of the play is more of a suggestion than a rule. Either way, Haney dives into the subconscious, or perhaps unconscious, part of the mind to try and understand all Godot has to offer about the act of understanding (or not understanding).

Source: Academic Article (Your Choice)

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