Like Beckett, Nauman was obsessed with the absurdity of ultimately solitary human existence, the recognition that you're born alone, die alone, and in between are absolutely mystified by the experience of being here.

Molloy by Samuel Beckett

The sucking stones sequence

I took advantage of being at the seaside to lay in a store of 
sucking-stones. They were pebbles but I call them stones. Yes, on 
this occasion I laid in a considerable store. I distributed them 
equally between my four pockets, and sucked them turn and turn 
about. This raised a problem which I first solved in the following 
way. I had say sixteen stones, four in each of my four pockets these 
being the two pockets of my trousers an
d the two pockets of my 
greatcoat. Taking a stone from the right pocket of my greatcoat, and 
putting it in my mouth, I replaced it in the right pocket of my 
greatcoat by a stone from the right pocket of my trousers, which I 
replaced by a stone from the left pocket of my trousers, which I 
replaced by a stone from the left pocket of my greatcoat, which I 
replaced by the stone which was in my mouth, as soon as I had 
finished sucking it. Thus there were still four stones in each of my 
four pockets, but not quite the same stones. And when the desire to 
suck took hold of me again, I drew again on the right pocket of my 
greatcoat, certain of not taking the same stone as the last time. 
And while I sucked it I rearranged the other stones in the way I 
have just described. And so on. But this solution did not satisfy me 
fully. For it did not escape me that, by an extraordinary hazard, the 
four stones circulating thus might always be the same four. In which 
case, far from sucking the sixteen stones turn and turn about, I was 
really only sucking four, always the same, turn and turn about. But 
I shuffled them well in my pockets, before I began to suck, and
again, while I sucked, before transferring them, in the hope of 
obtaining a more general circulation of the stones from pocket to 
pocket. But this was only a makeshift that could not long content a 
man like me. So I began to look for something else ...


© Harriet Grace Abbott, all rights reserved