In a letter to Cissie Sinclair written in 1937, Beckett wonders if he is avoiding going to see Jack Yeats on his Thursday “at-home” evenings because of the growing significance of Yeats’s work for his thinking about images. At least, that is one of the implications of the way Beckett talks about Yeats. Thomas McGreevy, one of Beckett’s most important sounding-boards about art, had taken up one of Beckett’s comments about Yeats–that he “gets Watteauer & Watteauer”–at a key moment in his book on the painter, but in the letter to Sinclair Beckett seems worried that he (or McGreevy) was making too much of the similarity (Letters I, 535). Beckett writes that
Watteau put in busts and urns, I suppose to suggest the inorganism of the organic – all his people are mineral in the end, without the possibility of being added to or taken from, pure inorganic juxtapositions – but Jack Yeats does not even need to do that. The way he puts down a man’s head & woman’s head side by side, or face to face, is terrifying, two irreducible singlenesses & the impassable immensity between. I suppose that is what gives the stillness to his pictures, as though the convention were suddenly suspended, the convention & performance of love & hate, joy & pain, giving & being given, taking & being taken (536).
The conventionless rhetorical games of Didi and Gogo, the constrained stillness of scenes between Hamm and Clov, the sedimented space between Winnie and Willie, but also the disorienting side-by-sideness of Molloy, Moran, Malone, and the Unnamable: the clearing of the throat that goes alongside the performance, neither part of it nor separable from what follows.