"Worse than the Pantomime ... The Circus ... The Music Hall": Spurious Freemasonry, Ritual Parody and Initiatory Trauma in Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot'.

By:
Lynn P. Brunet
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In the Masonic Order the terms 'true' and 'spurious' Freemasonry and 'regular' and 'irregular' practice serve to differentiate between those practices sanctioned by Grand Lodge and the many and various adaptations of the rituals that have proliferated alongside the Order since the 18th century. Spurious Freemasonry can range from a simple misrepresentation of the wording or actions in the rituals to a gross misapplication of the rites in clandestine and sometimes unethical contexts.

'Waiting for Godot' was said to spring "full-blown from Beckett's head in a very brief time." The discussion here will suggest that the unconscious elements that contribute to this intuitive, free-flowing creation are drawn from the Masonic degree of Holy Royal Arch and that his play represents a parody of the rituals such as may be found in a spurious form of the rites. It argues that traces of Masonic rites appear as a sub-stratum of ritual bodily actions throughout this play, and indeed all of his work. It suggests that the work is an aesthetic negotiation of the trauma, memory loss and confusion of an initiatory process that lingers in the artist's psyche as inexplicable and fragmented scenes and images, and speculates that Beckett has been exposed to the rituals in a form of puberty rites that today would be termed ritual abuse.


Keywords: Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot, Masonic Order, Ritual abuse
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies, Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication, Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness, Religion, Spirituality
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: "Worse than the Pantomime ... The Circus ... The Music Hall"


Lynn P. Brunet

Program Convenor for Fine Art, Ourimbah Campus, School of Drama, Fine Art and Music
Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle

Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Lynn Brunet is the Program Convenor for Fine Art at the Ourimbah campus of the University of Newcastle. She is a lecturer in Art History and Theory and a practising artist. Her research examines the co-existence of traumatic themes and Masonic content in the work of modern and contemporary artists. It examines these artists' works in the light of recent research into cult practices that suggests that Masonic rites have been incorporated into the ritual abuse of children. Her PhD thesis (still under examination) argues that these themes may be found within the work of some of the West's key artists. Currently, she is undertaking a comparative analysis between the art of Francis Bacon and the plays and novels of Samuel Beckett in the light of Masonic Royal Arch rites.

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