This German space rock group's sixth album, from 1976, one of their greatest achievements. Blissfully clangy/reverbed out guitars that are precursors to the sounds of Television and Sonic Youth. Beauty of the ethereal Orient. Serene invocations, otherworldly power and tranquility.
"Last Days, Last Nights" is how you would say this title in English.
We know a sort special optics which these sort of last times can throw upon a world: a lens of holy twilight. For example, when a stay of some duration comes to an end, and, against the backdrop of their imminent disappearance, the things of one's world are cast in a glow that must be a glimmer of that which covered the earth the day that its creator came to rest.
That's why so often when I have made somewhere my home for a season, the last one or two weeks are inevitably suffused with this kind of light, tinged by melancholy, by innocence, joy, and by the fading warmth of unrealized promise.
In the world of men, this light only shows up around the edges: during beginning and ends, and those moments of grand interruption. It is forever dimmed by engagements, projects, the "yeas and nays of busy people."
But the epic fade-out is not the only way things can end. There are countless ways. Another way something can end is when its participants have no idea which way this is, or even finally if it is a way at all, or if the end is really happening. This is the case of Beckett's Endgame, which I saw recently at BAM Theater, with John Turturro as Hamm, the central character.
It is characteristic of Beckett's writing that it always circuits between great metaphysical intensity and the banal preoccupations of the profane world. This is how allegory works, by moving between two dimensions without ever reconciling them, without ever fully carrying out a translation between them.
In other words, while Endgame confronts grand concerns of human significance and the depths of metaphysical nihilism, it is also about a couple breaking up. In exactly the same way that "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" by The Clash is about a break-up.
One exemplary passage of this:
- So you all want me to leave you.
- Then I'll leave you.
- You can't leave us.
- Then I won't leave you.
- Why don't you finish us?
- I'll tell you the combination of the cupboard if you promise to finish me.
- I couldn't finish you.
- Then you won't finish me.
- I'll leave you, I have things to do.
Clov never leaves. The play ends with Clov, having retreated to his room to dress himself, reappearing in the door dressed in his travel clothes, which in their formality appear all the more out-of-place considering he's about to venture into a "The Road"-type post-disaster world of endless gray where all nature has been extinguished. My friend pointed out that this final scene strikes an ambiguous tone, because as the curtain falls, from the standpoint of sheer gesture it seems like Clov could also be returning from a long voyage, and that the scene is actually a beginning instead of an end.
What doesn't come into play in this play is the problem of afterlife, which would be like a ghostly inversion of Endgame's scenario: this would be when you think you've made an end of something, but it stays around, the end is not an end but it persists, it has a life of its own, it has a story of its own, an afterlife, to be explored and borne forward.
In this case however, Endgame's insistent dialogic refrain still holds weight:
- HAMM (anguished):
- What's happening, what's happening?
- Something is taking its course.