Friday, August 14, 2020

Review of "'Every Man His Specialty': Beckett, Disability, and Dependence" by Michael Davidson

 Michael Davidson, "Every Man His Specialty: Beckett, Disability, and Dependence (2007) 14 pages. On The Free Library.

Originally, I struggled with Beckett and his (obviously important) portrayal of the disabled. Was Beckett ableist or was he satirizing the (at that time, popular) pseudo-science of eugenics (which includes all the disgraceful, harmful, hateful -isms). Was he for eugenics or against it? My initial reaction to Beckett was simply that I was triggered. In the real PTSD sense. Reading his work caused me to have chills, break out in a sweat, and become physically nauseous. It seemed on the surface to be the most blatantly ableist material I've ever come across. After reading this I have made peace with Beckett. I still have issues with his methods, but I no longer question his intentions and end game (pun intended). This also includes an interesting and much-needed discussion of the ableist worldview that independence and accomplishment are what make people worthy of life and participation in society to the exclusion of disabled people who require external assistance to survive, whether that be from assistive technology or other more able people. This view of what makes a human worthy to participate in society and to have life seriously needs loudly challenged and changed. This paper argues that Beckett is highlighting these so-called "codependent" and dependent relationships to do just that. Okay then. I can definitely live with that, Beckett, and on behalf of the disabled people trying to survive and even be (a different but equally important kind of) productive within the ableist worldview - thank you!

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