الجمعة، 9 يناير، 2009

The Etymology of 'Macon' and ‘Cacon’ in Waiting For Godot

The Etymology of 'Macon' and ‘Cacon’ in Waiting For Godot


               Beckett, in his Waiting for Godot, employs two strange terms – the “the Macon Country and the Cacon Country”. These terms are, of course, fictional regions. The question is: Have they got any sense? If so, why does Beckett use them here? Have they got any relation to Prophet Mohammad (PBUM)?
Below is my point of view. I tend to the etymology of the two terms in order to understand their sense. 'Macon' is a Middle English form etymologically derived from two sources; the first one is a variation among more than 50 others of the name of the Prophet Mohammad.


               There are other variations of the Prophet's name such as ' Mahound, Mahum, Mahun, Mahoune,. Mahown,.Macon, Mahount, Mahownde, Machound, Manhound, Maumet, .Mahom, .Mahum, Mahu, Maho '.etc. See also the entry for "Mahu" and "Maho". (See the enteries of "Mahound"and "Mahu" in The Oxford English Dictionary, 1970 Repr.VI.)


                 All these .variations of the Prophet's name, according to the Medieval populace and writers as well, stand for the meanings of 'the devil', 'the infidel', 'the idol' or 'the dictator of Hell'. 'Macon', for example, was used by Harrington in 1591 and by Faifax in his Tasso in 1600.


                 To Beckett, 'Macon' in Waiting carries the nuances of the two etymological sources. 'Macon' alludes to the USSR since for the 'Christian' West the 'Soviets' at a time were the most abhorred materialist Infidels of Europe who dominated the Eastern part of the Continent where 'horror and disbelief' spring from a "decayed Unreal "City ... over the mountains", to quote Eliot, the poet of The Waste Land (1922) who, "being hypocrite .. .mon semblable, avoids mentioning, among a list of other unreal cities as he enumerates Jerusalem Athens Alexandaria / Vienna, London', the name of the City which 'is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality'. The name of the decayed Unreal City that is meant is Moscow. In his essay Thoughts After Lambeth (1931), Eliot concludes that ' the experiment (i.e., the October Revolution) will fail' ". So, as Eliot many years ago indirectly disparaged in his poem this experiment, Beckett in W F G throws at the same experiment some vitriolic remarks, and, the study has so far shown only two – the first is "the knook", the second " the Macon Country". Still there are other ones and to spot light on them lies out of the scope of this study the aim of which is not to set a political reading of the play since such a reading dictates a certain approach to deal with the text. Martin Esslin, as setting the historical background for the Absurd movement in drama, though he does not recommend a political interpretation of any sort of the play, writes that "there is no doubt that a sense of disillusionment with the hopes of radical social revolution as predicted by Marx after Stalin had turned the Soviet Union into a totalitarian tyranny ... is but one characteristic feature of our own times ..[and] of the plays that we have classed under the label of me Theatre of the Absurd". And I Beckett may have been aware of this feature.

                The second term “Cacon” was derived from an Italian word for 'machine'. There are other variations for the etymology of this word such as 'Machun, Machoun, Masun, Mazoun, Macon, Masowne, Machio, Machina' etc . (See "Mason," in The Oxford English Dictionary, 1970Repr. VI.)

                 The 'Cacon' Country, in the Play, alludes to the disgusting and contemptuous image of the West itself after relapse into barbarism, mass murder and genocide ... during the Second World War and in the aftermath of that War" and the spread, among sensitive minds, of such a belief that their Western World "of the mid twentieth century has lost its meaning and has simply ceased to make sense". The West, hence, becomes represented in the play as the 'Cacon' Country.

               Moreover, the word 'Cacon' is "a pun on the French child's word for excrement 'cach'". While in the 'Macon' Country Big Brothers, as Vladimir and Estragon narrated, controlled the whole scene with firm grips and iron heels; in the 'Cacon', Vladimir and Estragon would see a similar image of despotism - a multi-master world; Vladimir and Estragon would meet masters like those hostile "others", the invisible "Godot" and the cruel Pozzo. Vladimir and Estragon who were two dissidents or ' non - conformists', fled from one bloody vassalage to another more horrible in the new stash - the Free World itself! And both the phases of their vassalage (paradoxically contradicted with each other and intermingled with horror and death) are invisible to the external observer!

               As such, Beckett's Waiting comes to mockingly vituperate, in one stroke, both the Free World and the Eastern Block; the play, in this case, neither pays lip service to the West nor regards it animated and dynamic and free of horrors as Gunther Andres wishfully thought, when he wrote in a 1954 article "Being Without Time: On Beckett's Play Waiting for Godot", under, of course, the obsessions of the Cold War between the then two big powers, that Pozzo and Lucky are:

              “the motor of time: for time is history; and history in the eyes of dialectical philosophy, owes its movement exclusively to antagonism (between man and manor class and class); so exclusively that at the moment when these antagonisms came to an end, history itself would cease, too”.

              Gunther Andres considered “Pozzo and Lucky as the Hegelian symbol of history steps onto the stage.... on which, so far, nothing had reigned but 'being without time'.... It is quite understandable that the entrance of this new pair intrigues the spectator. First for aesthetic reason: the stagnation which, at the beginning, he had rejected as hardly acceptable, but finally accepted as the 'law of the Godot world', is suddenly disturbed by the intrusion of characters that are undeniably active. It is as though before our very eyes a still photo turned into a movie”.

               But 'the law of the Godot world' under the hold of which Vladimir and Estragon came after their flight from the 'Macon' Country, is only one, among other corpuses juris that govern all regions of the Free World! They in their new habitat witnessed once again ages of incessant anxiety and blood-cuddling awe and exhaustive illusion. They were deceived by the recurrent message that "Godot will not come today but surely he will come tomorrow". It is due to this deception that whenever they saw a new comer, they were moved and put to alert thinking their 'saviour-bogle' has arrived: their passions, startled, would come to spontaneous ascendancy.

For Full Reading of the This Study, Press The Invisible Vassalage




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dom violeto يقول...

Very helpful analysis. Congratulations.