Nothing Left but the Core of Murmurs? Attacks on Linking as
Communication in Beckett’s The Unnamable

By: Paavo Manninen 

Abstract: Literary studies have usually interpreted Samuel Beckett’s The Unnamable (1959) to reflect an area void of meaning and inaccessible to representation. The present article, by contrast, argues that Beckett experientially communicates archaic psychic reality where certain contents develop in an interpersonal relationship. The article offers psychoanalytical close readings of a few key passages in the text, where the function that is integrated in the narrative voice and actively destroys connections manifests itself on different textual levels. Using the psychoanalyst Avner Bergstein’s interpretation of Wilfred Bion’s concept, “attacks on linking”, as a paradoxical form of communication, the article argues that the narrative voice wishes to communicate – at a (non-symbolic) primitive level of projective identification – exactly the theme that is central to his psyche, that is, his tendency to destroy any link that connects an object to another object. The article opens up questions on how interpretations of a certain kind narrow the other’s psychic experience rather than give it liberty of movement. Beckett’s work brings to the fore the question what possibilities exist to meet the other from within the inner world when the other specifically tries to destroy this attempt at meeting.