Like Bacon, Beckett had no illusions about the future, either of the world or of art. And at that moment in the last days of illusions, both men show the same immensely interesting and significant reaction: wars, revolutions and their setbacks, massacres, the imposture we call democracy – all these subjects are absent from their works. In his Rhinoceros (1959), Ionesco is still interested in the great political questions. Nothing like that in Beckett. Picasso paints Massacre in Korea 1951. An inconceivable subject for Bacon. Living through the end of a civilisation (as Beckett and Bacon were or thought they were), the ultimate brutal confrontation is not with a society, with a state, with a politics, but with the physiological materiality of man. That is why even the great subject of the Crucifixion, which used to concentrate within itself the whole ethics, the whole religion, indeed the whole history of the West, becomes in Bacon’s hands a simple physiological scandal. “I’ve always been very moved by pictures about slaughterhouses and meat, and to me they belong very much to the whole thing of the Crucifixion. There’ve been extraordinary photographs which have been done of animals just being taken up before they were slaughtered; and the smell of death…” To link Jesus nailed to the cross with slaughterhouses and animals’ fear might seem sacrilegious. But Bacon is a non-believer, and the notion of sacrilege has no place in his way of thinking; according to him, “man now realises that he is an accident, that he is a completely futile being, that he has to play out the game without reason”.