Monday, 11 July 2011
Roth The Humbling 2010
It is Roth’s book about an actor who loses the ability to act. “Instead of the certainty that he was being wonderful, he knew he was going to fail.” (Roth, 2010, p.1). “The worst of it was that he saw through his breakdown the same way he could see through his acting.” (Roth, 2010, p.5). “He was an artificial madman too. The only role available to him was the role of someone playing a role.” (Roth, 2010, p.6).
He is desparate and engages in a relationship with girlfriend that saves him form depression.
In their relationship he buys her more and more cloths and dresses her up – as if she was was to play a role, that he cannot do any more. “Wasn’t dressing her up in costume as though a costly skirt could dispose of nearly two decades of lived experience? Wasn’t he distorting her while telling himself a lie?” (Roth, 2010, p.66). Accordingly, for every person he meets, he asks himself, sooner or later, whether he or she is acting or not? He buys her more and more expesive cloths.
Later they pick up a girl in a bar for a threesome: “she’s a cat, he thought, before the cat pounces, the falcon before it soars from the falconer’s wrist. The animal you can control – until you let it loose. He thought, I am providing her Tracy the way I give her the clothes.” (Roth, 2010, p.110). “Three children got together,” he said, “and decided to put on a play,” whereupon his performance began.” (Roth, 2010, p.114).
When she leaves him, all possibility to act – on stage and in life – are gone and thus commits suicide: but he can only do it once he develops a plan to play it as a role in a play.
“And if it’s that hard to kill someone else, someone you have every reason to want to destroy, imagine how hard it is to succeed in killing yourself.” (Roth, 2010, p.42). “until finally it occurred to him to pretend that he was committing suicide in a play. In a play by Chekov. What could be more fitting? It would constitute his returen to acting.” (Roth, 2010, p.139).