Trios and Trilogies
What visions in the dark of light!
In Company1 Beckett creates an impassioned biography in place of an imagined story, "by mere sound to plague one in need of silence." A self-conscious and highly self-reflective literary biography such as this, however, no matter how circumspect and molested by time, is fated to be a camouflaged fiction, as the conscientious reader of Proust might be "quick" to acknowledge. As early as 1932 Beckett asserted that the past always appears "in monochrome," poignant in the idealized way of a lost innocence remembered. The construct of memory is its own stylized figment, a fable as deceptive as any other, this one masquerading in lines that sound like truth: "The images it chooses are as arbitrary as those chosen by imagination, and are equally remote from reality." 2 And yet those bold and transgressive testimonies we read in Molloy and Enough, and Krapp "memorable equinox" that cannot be remembered, and that subversive act of confession captured forever on tape in Embers, and those haunting black-and-white frames crafted with televisual precision in Ghost Trio and . . . but the clouds. . . , and even those voices that, with such disarming poignancy, demand to be staged in That Time or Rockaby all like to say they rely on something more substantial than fiction, or worse still, "fancy." In these wholesale and discursive paradigms, mimesis plays strange tricks with illusion, verification, and perception, as it does when it urges us to imagine something that cannot properly be imagined, at least not until we encounter a prose challenge like Imagination Dead Imagine. Recuperating the past, but not necessarily for nostalgic purposes, the adaptation of biography that we call Company also reflects, like so many other Beckett enterprises, the strategies of its own production: