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Thread: What does this quote mean?

  1. #1

    Question What does this quote mean?

    In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness.
    - Samuel Beckett

    Not speculation, I would like to know for sure.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    The Lost One Wanders LostPrincess13's Avatar
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    I'm sorry to disappoint you sir, but if you desire 'precision', it would be best to ask the author himself. The best we can do is speculate, for the intention of the author may be unknown to us; his context, ideology, etc., may be different from ours.
    CARPE DIEM! Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary!
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    I SWEAR, BY MY LIFE AND MY LOVE OF IT, THAT I WILL NEVER LIVE FOR THE SAKE OF ANOTHER MAN, NOR ASK ANOTHER MAN TO LIVE FOR MINE.
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by LostPrincess13 View Post
    I'm sorry to disappoint you sir, but if you desire 'precision', it would be best to ask the author himself. The best we can do is speculate, for the intention of the author may be unknown to us; his context, ideology, etc., may be different from ours.
    Well the author is dead, so asking him is out of the question. What you are saying would only hold true if Beckett was an unknown, yet he is a historical figure. We study people like him in class. We know the ideologies of James Joyce. Why wouldn't we know the ideologies of Beckett!?

    Also, this is a famous quote! Are you saying the literary world does not know and cannot know the meaning of this quote, even though it's referenced quite often!?

    Google it, you'll see it's pretty popular.

    Or does somebody have a recommendation for a better forum site for my question?




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    The Lost One Wanders LostPrincess13's Avatar
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    I know he's dead, that's why I said that.

    You see sir, what I'm trying to point out is, if you think about it, everything taught in class is also speculations. The most precise would be from the author himself. And because he's moved on to the other life, that would be impossible.

    What would be offered to you here, I believe, are also speculations. Speculations from different kinds of people, with different points of view, some expert in Beckett, others experts in other fields; excellent speculations, but speculations nonetheless.
    CARPE DIEM! Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary!
    -Dead Poets' Society


    I SWEAR, BY MY LIFE AND MY LOVE OF IT, THAT I WILL NEVER LIVE FOR THE SAKE OF ANOTHER MAN, NOR ASK ANOTHER MAN TO LIVE FOR MINE.
    - John Galt, Atlas Shrugged

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pianoman1976 View Post
    In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness.
    - Samuel Beckett

    Not speculation, I would like to know for sure.

    Thanks.
    I suspect that you will never know for sure because I doubt if even Beckett knew what it meant. He pops up fairly often on these forums but as an exponent of the Theatre of the Absurd I don't think he can be taken seriously on any level. Similarly with Joyce, who was a friend of Beckett, it seems to me that much, if not all, of their writings have little to say to a majority of discerning readers who have no desire to tie themselves in knots when reading a novel or seeing a play. Both writers were born in Dublin and, even though Beckett won the Nobel prize for his work, the old saying " It's all Irish to me" would seem applicable in both cases.

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    Pianoman1976,

    Beckett placed enormous value on what he called "le mot juste". He wrote plays in French, his second language, to ensure that the words he used were not loaded with extraneous meaning as they might have been had he written them in his native English. I believe that he meant by the quoted remark that when former certainties are becoming obsolete and uncertain, precise use of language makes it easier to reach or express purity, in the form of truth.

    Or he may have meant more than that, or less than that, or nothing of the kind. I realise you want a definitive answer rather than speculation but, as other posters have said, short of necromancy it is unlikely that you will ever know exactly what he meant.

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    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mollie View Post
    Pianoman1976,

    I believe that he meant by the quoted remark that when former certainties are becoming obsolete and uncertain, precise use of language makes it easier to reach or express purity, in the form of truth.

    Or he may have meant more than that, or less than that, or nothing of the kind. I realise you want a definitive answer rather than speculation but, as other posters have said, short of necromancy it is unlikely that you will ever know exactly what he meant.
    Precisely.

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Hmm, that is a fascinating quote. I really can't even begin to speculate.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Registered User grotto's Avatar
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    Never mind speculation of what he meant, what does it mean for you? The wonder of quotes is applying them to your self.

    Maybe he was speaking of the loss of God, the loss of wonder or a commentary on war.

    As in, when you know for sure, due to your precision and diligence the exact nature of an ideal, you end up killing it. Then what? What is after the extinction?

    Just a thought

  10. #10
    Registered User Equality72521's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Hmm, that is a fascinating quote. I really can't even begin to speculate.


    Hahaha, well you know Virgil, it is probably a good thing that speculation is not what he is looking for. You are just useless in the world of precision
    Little one, Fate might miscarry.
    Little one, why do you tarry?
    Little one, When May I marry you?
    My little one.

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