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    Sobriquet 43.14

    Saturday, June 14, 2008
    Again, since it's quite a bit later than I had hoped it would be when I finished my reading for the day, I will have to keep this entry on the briefer side of things.

    When I began seriously working on the dissertation in December, I made it a point to look back at my years in college and graduate school, analyzing what has and has not worked for me in terms of academic success and personal satisfaction. As an undergraduate, I learned that one ultimately has the choice of whether or not to succeed. For someone like myself, this meant restricting my extracurricular activities to my weekly two-hour punk rock radio show and postponing socializing until I had finished whatever homework I had to do. Often, I would be in the library for ten hours a day. When I did hang out with my friends, though, I had the benefit of knowing that I had not left anything undone, so I enjoyed myself more than I would otherwise have done.

    I have since revised this approach, partly because I have come to realize that some semblance of a social life really improves one's mood and often makes working considerably easier to get through. Now I try to prioritize my friends and family whenever possible, which occasionally disrupts my study patterns. After all, their lives do not revolve around the same academic calendar as mine does. Likewise, my friends no longer live in the same building or dine at the same eateries as I do. So, when the opportunity to socialize comes up, I put down my books and head out to wherever it is that my friends and I have decided to spend time. The problem, of course, is that I have to ensure that I do not neglect my work, either. In other words, I have my cake and I want to make sure that I also eat it. Thus, I must work before and/or after having fun.

    Today was one of those days. I was to spend some time with friends, but had not finished reading the article that I'd set aside for the day. So, I had to stay up late reading.

    Fortunately, I only had to reread Derek Attridge's "Age of Bronze, State of Grace: Music and Dogs in Coetzee's Disgrace" today. I say that I am fortunate not only because I have already read the essay but because Attridge is one of the absolute best Coetzee critics out there. His articles are always comprehensive, extremely readable, and often, among the handful of "definitive" studies of the work in question. This essay focuses primarily on David Lurie's time in and around his daughter's smallholding outside of Grahamstown, attempting to identify and locate what might be considered the former professor's attainment of grace. Recalling his earlier essay on The Master of Petersburg, in which the Derridean concept of the arrivant plays a central role, Attridge suggests that grace "is the arrival of the unexpected in unexpectedly beneficent form" (112). Like many of his fellow commentators, Attridge devotes significant attention to Lurie's work with the doomed canines at Bev Shaw's veterinary clinic. It is here, among the unwanted dogs of the Eastern Cape, Attridge suggests, that Lurie's grace descends upon him. As the former professor composes his quirky chamber opera about Lord Byron and cares for the dogs about to be euthanized, Lurie senses a change in himself that, for lack of a better word, may well be described as "grace."

    There is, of course, a great deal more in the essay, but I will call it a night and stop here.

    For tomorrow: Either do library work, bibliographical work, or read an essay or review on Disgrace.

    Attridge, Derek. "Age of Bronze, State of Grace: Music and Dogs in Coetzee's Disgrace." Novel 34.1 (2000): 98-121. Also available online.

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