Discussion of Samuel Beckett’s First Love at the parish book club prompted a revisiting of Waiting for Godot and, tangentially, a rereading of the full text of Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
Guildenstern speculations on chance and probability include a reflection on the rationalization of the abnormal,
A man breaking his journey between one place and another at a third place of no name, character, population or significance, sees a unicorn cross his path and disappear. That in itself is startling, but there are precedents for mystical encounters of various kinds, or to be less extreme, a choice of persuasions to put it down to fancy; until – “My God,” says the second man, “I must be dreaming, I thought I saw a unicorn.” At which point, a dimension is added that makes the experience as alarming as it will ever be. A third witness, you understand, adds no further dimension but only spreads it thinner, and a fourth thinner still, and the more witnesses there are, the thinner it gets and the more reasonable it becomes until it is as thin as reality, the name we give to the common experience… “Look, look” recites the crowd. “A horse with an arrow in its forehead! It must have been mistaken for a deer.”
Do Guildenstern’s words offer an insight into spiritual things; that in trying to make things accessible and comprehensible, we take so much of the exceptional and unusual out of them that they are reduced from unicorns to horses?