December 22, 2013

"The matter of the dog."

In the novel Watt, by Samuel Beckett, Mr. Watt works in the home of Mr. Knott. Mr. Knott is served lunch and dinner daily, and whatever is left over from those meals is eaten every night by a dog. Mr. Watt considers, at length, how such an arrangement might have been arrived at, reviewing and rejecting various possibilities. He then presents his understanding of the current arrangement, in a single sentence (found on pages 78 through 80 of the Grove Press edition):

"Passing on then to the solution that seemed to have prevailed, Watt found it to be roughly this, that a suitable local dogowner, that is to say a needy man with a famished dog, should be sought out, and on him settled a handsome annuity of fifty pounds payable monthly, in consideration of his calling at Mr. Knott's house every evening between eight and ten, accompanied by his dog in a famished condition, and on those days on which there was food for his dog of his standing over his dog, with a stick, before witnesses, until the dog had eaten all the food until not an atom remained, and of his then taking himself and his dog off the premises without delay; and that a younger famished dog should by this man at Mr. Knott's expense be acquired and held in reserve, against the day when the first famished dog should die, and that then again another famished dog should in the same way be procured and held in readiness, against the inevitable hour when the second famished dog should pay nature's debt, and so on indefinitely, there being thus two famished dogs always available, the one to eat the food left over by Mr. Knott in the manner described until it died, and the other then for as long as it lived to do the same, and so on indefinitely; and further that a similar young local but dogless man should be sought out, against the day when the first local man should die, to take over and exploit, in the same way and on the same terms, the two surviving famished dogs thus left without a master, and without a home; and that then again another young local dogless man should in the same way be secured, against the dread hour of the second local man's dissolution, and so on indefinitely, there being thus two famished dogs and two needy local men for ever available, the first needy local man to own and exploit the two famished dogs in the manner described as long as he lived, and the other then, as long as he drew breath, to do the same, and so on indefinitely; and that lest, as might very well happen, one of the two famished dogs, or both the famished dogs, should fail to survive their master, and follow him at once to the grave, a third, a fourth, a fifth and even a sixth famished dog should be acquired and suitably maintained at Mr. Knott's expense in some convenient place in a famished condition, or that better still there should be at Mr. Knott's expense on some favorable site established a kennel or colony of famished dogs from which at any time a well-bred well-trained famished dog could be withdrawn and set to work, in the manner described; and that on the off chance of the second poor young local man's passing over, into the beyond, at the same time as the first poor local man, or even before, and stranger things are of hourly occurrence, a third, a fourth, a fifth and even a sixth poor young local dogless man or even woman should be sought out and by fair words and occasional gifts of money and old clothes as far as possible be secured to Mr. Knott's service eventually in the manner described, or better still that a suitable large needy local family of say the two parents and from ten to fifteen children and grandchildren passionately attached to their birth-place should be sought out, and by a handsome small initial lump sum to be paid down and by a liberal annual pension of fifty pounds to be paid monthly and by occasional seasonable gifts of loose change and tight clothes and by untiring well-timed affectionate words of advice and encouragement and consolation, attached firmly tor good and all in block, their children and their children's children, to Mr. Knott's service, in all matters touching this matter of the dog required to eat the food that Mr. Knott left, and exclusively in these, and that to their care the kennel or colony of famished dogs set up by Mr. Knott in order that there should never be wanting a famished dog to eat his food on those days that he did not eat it himself should be once and for all handed over, for the matter of the kennel was one that touched the matter of the dog."

December 21, 2013

(It's no wonder that camera sales are falling.)

On a recent visit to south Florida, I took some iPhone snapshots of waterbirds (and their reflections):

White Ibis.


Tricolored Heron.

(Click any image for full-screen.)

December 20, 2013

Perhaps something.

"To be together again, after so long, who love the sunny wind, the windy sun, in the sun, in the wind, that is perhaps something, perhaps something."

-From Watt by Samuel Beckett (p. 133 of the Grove Press edition).

December 14, 2013

"... greyen, redden, greyen, redden…"

"Watt saw, in the grate, of the range, the ashes grey. But they turned pale red, when he covered the lamp, with his hat. The range was almost out, but not quite. A handful of dry chips and the flames would spring merry in appearance, up the chimney, with an organ note. So Watt busied himself a little while, covering the lamp, less and less, more and more, with his hat, watching the ashes greyen, redden, greyen, redden, in the grate, of the range."

-From Watt by Samuel Beckett (p. 30 of the Grove Press edition).


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