Horst Breuer. Ordnung und Chaos in Luckys 'Think'
Lucky's speech is probably the most spectacular part of "Waiting for Godot". It is not just nonsense, verbal chaos. It does not just symbolize the disorientation of the 20th century. C. Chadwick (Symposium, 1960, 257): "senseless torrent of words", "meaningless jumble of words". Also Werner Habicht in "Neueren Sprachen (1967, p. 59). But see A. Atkins, "Lucky's Speech in Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot', in: The Educational Theatre Journal, 1967.
Of course, on stage, Luchy's speech gives the impression of total dissolution of language and thought. Even before his speech, he gives the impression of an idiot (as Estragon observes).
Once put into action by an order and putting on his hat, this animal-man produces like a robot a string of words. Repetitions, nonsensical sounds stay in the mind of the listener. Then there are strangely ordered subordinate clauses and "big" words, enzyclopedic splinters of thought and cliches from different areas from life. It ends in a struggle between him and his three listeners until he is silenced by removing his hat.
Luckys' speech is not formlessness but dissolution of form, an entropic mixture of words.
Three dependent clauses which are the premise for a statement which never comes.
Part I: Given the existence ....
Part II: and considering what is more that as a result of the labours left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry ...
Part III: and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labours lost of Steinweg and Petermann ....
Lucky's thought remains a fragment. The result is - silence.
Part I contains the grammatical coherent statement (in bold), omitting the various inclusions: Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast
The speaker assumes a God as his premise, pictured as the benevolent grandfather with white beard about whom the children learn in Sunday school and who will be with them the rest of their lives - even if they rebel against him.
This father-picture is contrasted with the theological construct empty of real meaning: a being outside time without extension. Such a being is the opposite of a caring father. Even if it exists (and whatever it is supposed to mean), it is characterized by apathy, athamby, and aphasy. And if it cares, many are excluded of its care. For them, earth is hell. The contrast between the eternal blue, the calm, peace, and the actual suffering is so great that this suffering will engulf eventually the peace.
God (even if he did exist) has abandoned earth and humankind. He is only a projection.
Part I describes the absence of God.
Part II describes the consequences of this absence.
and considering what is more that as a result of the labors left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopomentry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation |is seen to waste and pine waste and pine / wastes and pines wastes and pines| and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicilline and succedanea in a word I resume |and concurrently simultaneously for reasons unknown to shrink and dwindle in spite of the tennis I resume /|flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell |to shrink and dwindle / fades away| I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per |caput / head| since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per |caput / head| approximately by and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there
Interrupted by parodies of scholars (Fartov and Belcher), repetition and catalogues of activities, the basic statement is that men is in a process of shrinking - in spite of physical exercise and technical progress. This process started with Bishop Berkeley (Voltaire/Gottsched).
This is the core of Lucky's speech. It refers to the enlightenment, the destruction of the picture of the Christian God. Men became increasingly unimportant. With the expulsion from the center of the universe, men lost security, lost the coordinates for life. Men becomes "a speck in the void" (Endgame).
This loss makes Beckett's people "homeless".
The third part describes this huge chaos:
and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labors lost of Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labors |lost / | of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and then the earth namely the air and then the earth |in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth / | abode of stones in the great cold alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something the air the earth the sea the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold on sea on land and in the air I resume for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull |to shrink and waste / fading fading fading| and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labors abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard (mêlée, final vociferations) tennis ... the stones ... so calm ... Cunard ... unfinished ...
Up to "the air is the same" the syntax is intact. Then there is stammering: repetition of phrases uttered before. "Skull" and "stones" become dominant, the earth as a stone desert full of skulls, death.
"Unfinished" is Lucky's last word. It refers to the unfinished speech and thought as well as the not yet complete shrinking process of mankind.
The process of formal deterioration of Lucky's speech and the expressed process of decrease of men is also shown in Lucky's life: At first he was Pozzo's teacher and possessed the mental capacities to the fullest extent as he was able to dance gracefully. Now his netdance resembles his speech: he is caught in the net of cliches. The next time, even this is gone and he is mute.