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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: June 2019

Chapter 9 - Beckett’s Queer Art of Failure

from III - New Hermeneutic Codes


Worstward Ho’s injunction to repeatedly but somehow amelioratively fail has shown up in a number of scenes of writing since the last time I trotted it out as an epigraph to one of my own discursive failures. The words are tattooed on the inside left forearm of Swiss tennis champion Stan Wawrinka, for example, and they appear as part of the title of a recent book by the American Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chödrön.Perhaps more pertinently, Worstward’s words twice grace the pages of Judith Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure, “a book about failing well, failing often, and learning, in the words of Samuel Beckett, how to fail better,”a book that engages a number of queer artists with its admirably “low theory” but that recurs to the peppily animated character SpongeBob SquarePants more frequently than to any of Beckett’s barely animated “gallery of moribunds,”and a book that, perhaps intentionally, fails even to cite Beckett properly, assigning the “fail better” line to Murphy rather than to Worstward Ho.