Saturday, September 23, 2023

“Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order.”

Prodnose: The title above is one of these secret message things I suppose, intelligible to a select coterie, possibly resonant for you when revisited in some tranquil future, yet opaque to the great unwashed? 

Myself (settling into armchair and lighting pipe): It could be. Unless of course, rather than a reference to my circumstances, it is reminding us that a new film 'Dance First', directed by James Marsh and starring Gabriel Byrne as Samuel Beckett will be with us on November the third.

ESTRAGON: Il pourrait peut-ȇtre danser d'abord et penser ensuite? Si ce n'est pas trop lui demander.
VLADIMIR [à Pozzo]: Est-ce possible?
POZZO: Mais certainement, rien de plus facile. C'est d'ailleur l'ordre naturel. [Rire bref.]

Myself: But Beckett himself renders it in English as follows:

ESTRAGON: Perhaps he could dance first and think afterwards, if it isn’t too much to ask him
VLADIMIR [to Pozzo]: Would that be possible?
POZZO: By all means, nothing simpler. It’s the natural order. [He laughs briefly.]

Prodnose: Someone comes along, and scoops the first phrase out of its deontic modality (which the infinitive prevents one from doing in the French). Thus reduced to the imperative mood, it is paired it with the second phrase and a shitty Beckett-as-Fred-Astaire quote is born.

Myself: Yes. “Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order.” as an arch reference to my life is already reduced to a mistranslation; a forgotten redaction. You are putty in my hands.


Looking through my old version (Icons passim) of the panache speech from Cryano I noticed I was a vowel short in the penultimate line. Thus, given my mood, it has had a little rejig to emphasise my defiance.

What now? It is not practical I know.

To cast a loaded dice for one more throw.

No, no; a beautiful, a hopeless stand

What is this horde? I shall not stay my hand.

I know you now, old foes, old enemies!

Dissembling, Prejudice and Treacheries!

Deception! Here's my sword's point, ask no truce.

I fight and will die fighting. No excuse.

Take what you will, you send me to repose

Beyond the prize, the laurel and the rose.

You've done your worst and yet I still retain,

Respect you cannot strip me of or stain.

And when I leave tonight to meet my Lord

If heaven's azure vault's not my reward,

And all I left behind on earth was ash.

Despite you all I kept, and keep still my .... panache!

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