Saturday, March 3, 2012

Still Words to Live By

The latest issue of The New York Review of Books has John Banville’s review of the second volume of the letters of Samuel Beckett, covering the period between 1941 and 1956.  Banville chose to begin with one of Beckett’s most famous passages, from the beginning of Worstward Ho:

Ever tried.  Ever failed.  No matter. Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.

Banville called this Beckett’s “negative aesthetic.”  I am sure that it how it struck those who read it when the book first appears.  On the other hand how many Silicon Valley evangelists are out there who have pretty much made their careers by flogging that “Fail better” principle.  Could it be that Beckett was the prophet for the century he never lived to see, or has Silicon Valley simply appropriated the frustrations of the artist and turned them into the motivating force for the entrepreneur?

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