Samuel Beckett's body of work is a literature committed or, more accurately, given over to nonsovereign states of being. Taking as a point of departure the prominence of choicelessness in Beckett's writing — along with the difficulties it introduces for character (which hardly develops), plot (that hardly accretes), and agency (which is hardly efficacious) — this essay examines how contemporary accounts of economic and affective precarity theorize the subject's (compromised) relationship to choice. Turning attention to the institution of the zero-hour contract and to Michel Foucault's analysis of “environmental” power, a form of intervention that he contrasts to the direct subjugation of individuals, this article suggests that neoliberalism manufactures prolonged states of precarity and choicelessness and does so, oddly, by creating conditions for the steroidal amplification of decision's renewal. This phenomenon, along with the curtailed temporalities that it engenders, is crystallized, though in a different register, in Beckett's 1981 play for television, Quad.
Michelle Ty; Beckett and the Character of the Unchosen; Or, the Time of Precarity. the minnesota review 1 November 2015; 2015 (85): 132–143. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00265667-3144690
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