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    Sobriquet 46.26

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008
    If there were any doubts that an advanced degree in the liberal arts appeals to employers, I suggest you read the following announcement sent to the English graduate student listserv at my university this afternoon under the title "Job Opening":
    JOB POSTING: [Company name removed for privacy] has an immediate opening for a full-time receptionist/administrative assistant. The successful applicant need not have knowledge of the window tinting industry, but must be willing and able to learn the company's trade. This position requires a personable and responsible employee with a professional attitude and outstanding phone etiquette. An understanding of scheduling, invoicing, and accounts payable is required for this busy, rewarding position.
    When headhunters looking for "a full-time receptionist/administrative assistant" begin targeting people with MAs and PhDs, one cannot help but reflect upon his or her decision to attend graduate school. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a receptionist position in the window tinting industry, but from a certain jaded perspective, one has to wonder what this says about the relative value of a decade of post-secondary education in an economy like ours . . . I mean, theoretically one need not attend college to qualify him- or herself for a career in the service industry or in retail, yet many people I know with fancy-sounding degrees end up working in fields they need not have spent so much time and money in school to enter. Obviously, the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual value of an education should be enough of an incentive for an individual to attend post-secondary schools, but the reality of the situation is that the vast majority of people in the United States who attend college and graduate school with the explicit goal of obtaining a particular type of job and lifestyle theoretically only possible with an expensive and time-consuming education. And, sadly, it seems, many of these dreams will go unfulfilled despite the best efforts to succeed. This, too, is another throbbing anxiety in the mind of many a graduate student: will all this work pay off and position me for a satisfying career in academia? The answer in all its painfully unsettling glory: maybe.

    And speaking of emails, I received this message yesterday:
    A request you have placed:

    Cape Argus
    10 August 1999
    Title: Coetzee thinks publicly about new SA
    Author: Michael Morris

    TN: 339109

    has been cancelled by the interlibrary loan staff for the following reason:

    We have exhausted all possible sources.

    There is no library who can supply this item.
    I have a hard time believing that no library has a copy of the Cape Argus from less than a decade ago, so if there's anyone who might have a copy of this brief newspaper article, I would be elated if you could contact me.

    As far as reading goes, I finished two articles since yesterday evening, both of which deal heavily with poststructural theory. Of the two, the essay I read this afternoon -- Zoe Wicomb's "Translations in the Yard of Africa" -- struck me as most relevant to my dissertation. In her discussion of the correlations between the act of cultural transformation and literal and figurative translation, Wicomb cuts to the heart of one of the central issues in postcolonial studies: the palimpsestic nature of cultural production. Indeed, the traces of apartheid-era society is never fully erased and, in Coetzee's book, they often foil attempts at translating experience. This, in Wicomb's estimation, can be shown to reveal "the failure of transition as a crossing over to democracy" (Wicomb). The essay I read last night, Lucy Graham's "'Yes, I am Giving Him Up': Sacrificial Responsibility and Likeness With Dogs in JM Coetzee's Recent Fiction," like so many others, deals with the connections between The Lives of Animals and Disgrace. Although Graham is one of the Coetzee scholars I most enjoy, I wasn't as impressed by this essay as I normally am. This is not to say that her essay is not very good -- it is -- but I feel that the weight of the theory she brings into the article detracts from her astute reading of the novel. Jacques Derrida, Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault, Emmanuel Levinas, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, among others, each make an appearance in this brief (eleven pages!) essay. Although many academics are quite familiar with what amounts to a who's who of postmodern thought, Graham's tightly-packed essay demands a certain readerly vigilance not to get lost in the waves of complexly-wrought theoretical language running throughout the text. That said, Graham reads against the Mike Marais's Levinasian interpretation of Disgrace, arguing that Coetzee's texts "challenge the limitations of autrui and dissociation implicit in notions of transcendence," providing a slightly different (yet valuable) interpretation of the oft-cited "sympathetic imagination" at work in both Disgrace and The Lives of Animals / Elizabeth Costello (4). While I do not wholly agree with Graham's reading, I applaud her focus on the body as a site of suffering as well as the negative presence of silenced suffering in the two texts.

    For tomorrow: Read another article.

    Works Cited

    Graham, Lucy. "'Yes, I am Giving Him Up': Sacrificial Responsibility and Likeness With Dogs in JM Coetzee's Recent Fiction." scrutiny2 7.1 (2002): 4-15.

    Wicomb, Zoe. "Translations in the Yard of Africa." Journal of Literary Studies 18.3-4 (2000): 209-33.

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    ____________________________________________
    Saturday, September 13, 2008
    Written on 9/13/2008; posted 9/22/2008:

    Well, my internet connection isn't working again, so I am typing this in my computer's word processing program and will cut and paste it into my blogging software when I can get online. Ironically -- I swear this isn't intentional -- I am listening to Face to Face's "Disconnected" while I write. Weird.

    As I have mentioning repeatedly over the past few days, I have really been struggling to get through the final dozen or so articles on Disgrace. At least three-quarters of them have underlining or highlighting on the first page or two from my aborted attempts to read them. This isn't to say that the articles are poorly written or anything. It's just that I find myself saying "yeah, I know" to quite a few of the critics I have been reading lately because, to be honest, I have not been encountering much in the way of new information. You see, I've already encountered quite a few analyses of, say, Coetzee's critique of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the role of animals in stoking David Lurie's sympathetic imagination -- and, more often than not, I have already read the arguments presented in a given article two or three times in other criticism.

    Of course, there have been some very fine exceptions, articles that do shed new light on the novel and I appreciate them a great deal. This, though, sounds like more complaining, which is not my aim. If anything, I am trying to document my frustration. I want to share this with those of you who have been kind enough to share your own experiences as dissertation writers with me in case you ever find yourself in a similar predicament. I also want to write my way through the frustration. I want to be able to look back on this experience and, with the aid of these notes of exasperation, keep the distortions of memory to a minimum. That way, I can realistically say I have been here, done this and have written proof of it.

    That said, I did make my way through another essay this afternoon. Admittedly, had I not had plans for dinner, I mightn't have finished my reading so early. Fortunately, I ended up having a nice time with some really wonderful people and I now have the energy to write a bit, so I will try to discuss a few of the essays I have been meaning to mention. As a caveat, I should mention that I will only discuss certain elements of the essays. Each one is considerably more complex and broader in scope than my brief entry could possibly convey and should be sought out by serious students of Coetzee.

    The essay I went over this afternoon, Margot Norris's "The Human Animal in Fiction," only deals briefly with Disgrace. With particular attention to sexuality and the use of bestial metaphors to express human sexuality, Norris's study will prove quite useful to readers interested in broader issues of materialism as well as to those wanting to locate Coetzee within a tradition of human-animal representations. In a similar vein, I also read Kennan Ferguson's "I [Heart] My Dog," which like Norris's essay, considers Coetzee's treatment of animals as part of a larger trend in literary history. Consistent with what may be the orthodox interpretation of dogs in Disgrace, Ferguson views the canine presence in Coetzee's novel as a catalyst in the reformation of David Lurie's character.

    Among the other articles I read over the past week, only Jane Poyner's "Truth and Reconciliation in JM Coetzee's Disgrace" deals exclusively with the novel. Typical of many essays concerned with the theme of reconciliation, Poyner reads the character of David Lurie as representative of the white male figure in post-apartheid South Africa. Where she deviates from the pack is in her refining of that reading from the general to the specific: David Lurie represents not only the while male but the white male writer. Accordingly, Poyner sees the failure of David's musical project as analogous to the white writer's difficulty in finding an appropriate voice for expressing his angst, guilt, and desire for an unobtainable closure in post-Apartheid South Africa. Similarly, Johan Jacobs discusses the ways in which the increasingly comic Byron in Italy mirrors the many reversals taking place in the novel as well as in South African society, including Petrus's displacing of the Luries' on the Eastern Cape smallholding purchased by the latter.

    Works Cited

    Ferguson, Kennan. "I [Heart] My Dog." Political Theory 32.3 (2004): 373-395.

    Jacobs, Johan. "Writing Reconciliation: South African Fiction After Apartheid." Cross Cultures 71 (2004): 177-196.

    Norris, Margot. "The Human Animal in Fiction." Parallax 12.1 (2006): 4-20.

    Poyner, Jane. "Truth and Reconciliation in JM Coetzee's Disgrace." scrutiny2 5.1 (2000): 68-77.

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    ____________________________________________
    Saturday, August 23, 2008
    Today was one of those days where I ended up sleeping in until, like, five in the afternoon. To make matters worse, I actually went to bed at -- get this -- 6:30 last night, so I lost about a day. Admittedly, I did wake up a few times and I did use the three or four waking hours to read and eat and such, but I still slept at least eighteen out of the past twenty-four hours! Save for a few exceptionally rare instances of extreme illness or travel-induced fatigue, I haven't come close to that sort of percentage in a quarter century. Oddly, those precious few hours of wakefulness proved to be among the most productive I have had all summer in terms of reading.

    Speaking of reading, I recently returned to the indexing services I'd used when I first began collecting the criticism on Coetzee. Expecting to find perhaps two or three additional articles, I plugged in the familiar keywords ("Coetzee" and "Disgrace") and was stunned to find that, in the three months since I started the reading, another dozen or so articles have made the indexes and, as a result, my reading list has grown longer. I'd be lying if I said I was ecstatic. I have been really looking forward to a change of pace from reading so much academic writing, even if it meant beginning the equally challenging and trebly stressful process of chapter writing. But I have consoled myself with the knowledge that, when I teach Disgrace later on this semester, I will come across as fairly well-prepared. I have also been allowing myself the luxury of reading Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life just to remember what it feels like to pick a book up, buy it because I want to read it and read it because it interests me. I'd almost forgotten what a joy it can be to read a book when motivated solely by the desire to learn about a topic, without having to worry about deadlines, note-taking, cross-referencing and the like.

    Although it may seem obvious, I really want to emphasize the importance of reading for fun, especially for those of us who have become, for lack of a better classification, professional readers. Often, what had once been solely a source of joy has become toil. It's important to remember what it was like to want to read when you feel like you have to read. The other night, I caught myself sitting up well past my bedtime, thoroughly exhausted but unable to stop reading Azerrad's book. And there was a moment when I sat there and realized that I had not felt so compelled to read in a long time (though, admittedly, there was a similar sense of not wanting to put the book down when I was reading Life & Times of Michael K). Forgetting that feeling, I think, would be a tragedy.

    When I wasn't reading for pleasure (or preparing for a new semester or entertaining family or fixing up my home or sleeping way more than I should have), I continued reading the seemingly endless pile of criticism on Disgrace.

    The essay I found most interesting, Elleke Boehmer's "Coetzee's Queer Body," doesn't actually discuss Disgrace at length. Perhaps because the subject matter Boehmer tackles has not figured into nearly any of the essays I have read on Coetzee, I found her exploration of the homoerotic undertones of the author's work refreshingly original. Beginning with the "provocative" fascination the young John Coetzee of Boyhood feels towards the legs of his male classmates, Boehmer traces an undeniably homoerotic streak throughout much of Coetzee's writing and address many of the important questions such content raises for readers of "a writer usually assumed to be unquestioningly heterosexual." For Boehmer, Coetzee's characters, seem to be drawn to a Grecian ideal of bodily perfection privileging the male body and viewing the female form as "soft."At the heart of her reading, therefore, is what Boehmer perceives as Coetzee's misogynistic inability or refusal to identify with the female other, especially apparent in Disgrace (when David Lurie cannot understand Lucy's perspective) and Elizabeth Costello, though Age of Iron also figures in her discussion. Since Boehmer's essay is merely an early attempt at addressing "the relative paucity of queer readings of [Coetzee's] work," the critic cannot be expected to do much more than scratch the surface of what may well provide the groundwork for someone else's dissertation or monograph. Still, readers of Boehmer's essay will surely benefit from a reading that immediately encourages us to consider several themes in Coetzee's oeuvre in a new light. Think, for example, of the sheer dissatisfaction of heterosexual intercourse in Waiting for the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Disgrace, and Slow Man. Likewise, the Magistrate's fascination with the barbarian girl's legs in Barbarians may be worth revisiting.

    I also read Michael Marais's "Very Morbid Phenomena: 'Liberal Funk', the 'Lucy-Syndrome' and JM Coetzee's Disgrace," in which the critic reads against the "orthodox response to the novel" as "exemplifying whites' acceptance of their peripherality in the 'new' South Africa" (32). Drawing on G. W. F. Hegel's understanding of power relations, affirmation, and recognition between the dominant and subservient, Marais views Coetzee's novel as an attempt to halt the historical "cycle of domination and counter-domination" in which Lucy Lurie finds herself (35). Thus, where many critics view Lucy's response to her rape as a disturbing acquiescence, Marais attempts to show how strongly self-aware Lucy deliberately cultivates a sense of community and equality in her relationship with Petrus by treating her rape as she does. Still, like Magda's tumultuous relations with Hendrik and Klein-Anna in In the Heart of the Country, Lucy's relationship to Petrus does not gel the way she hopes it will. Instead, "what Coetzee sketches out in this text is a failed dialectic of recognition" in which Petrus continues the cycle Lucy attempts to halt (36). Despite this failure, however, Marais believes Disgrace raises questions about the "endless struggle for affirmation" and recognition "that determines colonial and post-colonial history" and encourages readers to "think beyond conventional antinomies" and "imagine possibilities of being and belonging with difference that are excluded by these dualisms" (38).

    Works Cited

    Boehmer, Elleke. "Coetzee's Queer Body. Journal of Literary Studies 21.3-4 (2005): 222-34.

    Marais, Michael. "Very Morbid Phenomena: 'Liberal Funk', the 'Lucy-Syndrome' and JM Coetzee's Disgrace." scrutiny2 6.1 (2001): 32-38.

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    ____________________________________________
    Wednesday, July 30, 2008
    Lately, I have been a bit down on myself for taking as long as I have to work on the dissertation. I know that some people are capable of breezing through the process, churning out passably good scholarship on their way to finishing the dissertation, their degree, and their education in what often seems like no time at all. I'm not one of those people. I am rather deliberate with my research, painstakingly ensuring that I read each and every word of criticism on Coetzee, even when it seems repetitive and more than a little pointless. Likewise, I try to do a small amount of work each day, concentrating as intensely as I can rather than cram as much work into as short a time period as possible, figuring that I will retain more information that way.

    And, still, it's frustrating.

    I mean, I know some people turn in work that is of poorer quality that that I am aiming to produce and I know that many of those people pass and receive their doctorates, but I cannot bring myself to accept that sort of work from myself. Instead, I keep plugging away and I keep trying not to allow the doubts creep into my consciousness and find purchase there. The truth of the matter is that no two dissertations are the same just as no two individual scholars are the same. Some subjects are easier to research than others, some people are far more prolific writers than their colleagues, and some people simply possess certain talents that their peers lack and that will give them an edge. And, of course, some people work their way through graduate school while others take loans or receive grants.

    The funny thing is that all this was prompted by some fellow graduate student's inadvertent announcement to the entire list-serv that, though he is not yet an A.B.D. student, he will finish his dissertation in less than a year. I thought to myself, "shit, Erik, why can't you work that fast?" I realize that dissertation-writing is not a race, that one does best when one focuses on meeting his or her own needs rather than fulfilling the expectations of others, but, man, I wanna be done, like, six months ago.

    At any rate, the three articles I've not yet discussed on the blog are sitting atop my desk and I'd like to address them briefly. Of the trio, Vilashni Cooppan's "National Literature in Transnational Times: Writing Transition in the 'New' South Africa" had the least to do with Disgrace since, as its title suggests, the article deals with a mode of writing rather than a single work. Still, in situating Coetzee's novel within a transitional mode, Cooppan raises some interesting points. Since "[a]partheid in Disgrace," Cooppan argues, "is an action not yet carried through to its conclusion," we may read the novel as a snapshot of a "moment that lives the difference between the apartheid 'then' and the postapartheid 'now' as a break, a discontinuity between states rather than an either/or choice between the preconfigurative fulfillment of an anticipated identity and the burial of an obsolete one" (363). Thus, "Disgrace ends by oscillating between times and states, death and birth, the past of the completed perfective and the unknown yet hopeful future to come," precisely the focus of so many recent critical discussions of the novel (363).

    The other two essays I read -- Ariella Azoulay's "An Alien Woman/a Permitted Woman: On JM Coetzee's Disgrace" and Georgina Horrell's "JM Coetzee's Disgrace: One Settler, One Bullet and the 'New South Africa'" -- focus largely on Lucy Lurie's role in the novel. The novel, for Azoulay, poses a challenge for the reader: to find a connection between Lucy's attack and David's assault on Melanie Isaacs. Backed by psychoanalytic notions of trauma, Azoulay reads Disgrace as an exercise in "adopt[ing] a nomadic point of view . . . which is capable of looking at reality from contradictory viewpoints" in order to perceive the complex layers of pain, retribution, and healing omnipresent throughout the novel and in places like South Africa (37). Horrell's essay also deals with trauma, though she focuses on the ways in which "an inscription of [colonial] guilt is performed upon gendered flesh" (32). In other words, Horrell scrutinizes Coetzee's use of Lucy Lurie as the canvas upon which the accumulated anger underlying generations of racial tension in South Africa is violently expressed.

    For tomorrow: Read another essay, work on the bibliography, or read some of Coetzee's essays or interviews.

    Works Cited

    Azoulay, Ariella. "An Alien Woman/a Permitted Woman: On JM Coetzee's Disgrace." scrutiny2 7.1 (2002): 33-41.

    Cooppan, Vilashini. "National Literature in Transnational Times: Writing Transition in the 'New' South Africa." Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation. Sandra Bermann and Michael Wood, eds. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2005. 346-369.

    Horrell, Georgina. "JM Coetzee's Disgrace: One Settler, One Bullet and the 'New South Africa.'" scrutiny2 7.1 (2002): 25-32.

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    ____________________________________________
    Friday, July 18, 2008
    Of the three essays I've read since I last discussed the critical writing on Disgrace, only one really stands out as what I would consider "required reading." I should emphasize that the other two essays, both taken from boundary2's "Symposium on Disgrace," are not poorly written; they're just not likely to figure into my own work and do not add much to my understanding of the novel.

    The first of the pair, Louise Bethlehem's "Pliant/Compliant; Grace/Disgrace; Pliant/Compliant," as one might infer from the title, devotes a fair amount of space to linguistic analysis while exploring the author's modes of representation. Hannan Hever's "Facing Disgrace: Coetzee and the Israeli Intellectual," the second boundary2 article I read (which was, coincidentally, translated by Bethlehem), uses Coetzee's depiction of the unanticipated cultural milieu of post-Apartheid South Africa to embark upon a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, focusing specifically on the intellectual's role in the tumultuous region upon realizing that the "Messianic" solutions hitherto envisioned do not account for the fact that "the resolution, the 'end,' of the struggle is only a point along a continuously unfolding trajectory" (45).

    The essay I most enjoyed and which genuinely contributed a good deal to my own thinking about Coetzee's novel is Susan Smit-Marais and Marita Wenzel's excellent "Subverting the Pastoral: The Transcendence of Space and Place in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace." Taking a cue from Rita Barnard, the authors convincingly show how Coetzee inverts the conventions of the South African plaasroman in Disgrace. With as thorough a reading as any student of Coetzee could hope for, Smit-Marais and Wenzel reveal Coetzee's intricate weaving of pastoral conventions into an extremely complex critique of colonialism and its long-reaching socio-political aftermath. While virtually every sentence of the essay rings true, I was most impressed with the authors' brief discussion of Coetzee's use of nature (traditionally a reflection of the white settler's psychological satisfaction, it usually emphasizes "pureness, growth and life") to foreground the exhausted, barren state of South African society after a "history of colonial exploitation and dispossession" (214). And this is only one of many extremely good discussions in thiss exceptional essay.

    For tomorrow: read an article or a bit more of Youth.

    Works Cited

    Bethlehem, Louise. "Pliant/Compliant; Grace/Disgrace; Pliant/Compliant." scrutiny2 7.1 (2002): 20-24.

    Haver, Hannan. "Facing Disgrace: Coetzee and the Israeli Intellectual." scrutiny2 7.1 (2002): 42-46.

    Smit-Marais, Susan and Marita Wenzel. "Subverting the Pastoral: The Transcendence of Space and Place in J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace." Beyond the Threshold: Explorations of Liminality in Literature. Eds. Hein Viljoen and Chris Van Der Merwe. New York: Peter Lang, 2007. 209-21.

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    ____________________________________________
    Monday, June 30, 2008
    The article I read today, Mike Marais's "The Possibility of Ethical Action: JM Coetzee's Disgrace," only superficially addresses the Booker Prize-winning novel. Despite its title and Marais's lament that "[w]hile the novel has been widely discussed, nothing much has been said about it," the essay is more of a theoretical treatise on the other than an analysis of Coetzee's novel. Still, since Marais is an important Coetzee scholar and the author of many texts central to the critical discussion surrounding his fiction, researchers may find this brief essay to be a useful supplementary reading when approaching the ever-expanding body of Coetzee criticism.

    For tomorrow: read another essay.

    Work Cited

    Marais, Mike. "The Possibility of Ethical Action: J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace." scrutiny2 5.1 (2000): 57-63.

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    ____________________________________________
    Sunday, June 29, 2008
    One of the more rewarding aspects of this dissertation, for me, has been learning a decent amount about South Africa and that nation's social and political history. As I have mentioned before, I had not initially planned on writing a dissertation specifically on J. M. Coetzee. In fact, I had assumed he would not be the subject of much more than a fifth of the project. Not surprisingly, then, my interest in the author had little do do with his status as a South African writer. As the focus of my dissertation has narrowed into a single author study, however, I have had to read quite a bit of material related to a place and an epoch to which I hadn't paid as much attention as I have to those a bit closer to home. And this has been surprisingly fulfilling. I have always had a predilection for Scandinavian history and culture and have more than a passing interest in the sociological aspects of circumpolar studies, so shifting my attention to a country like South Africa has certainly been a wholly new as well as enlightening and enriching experience.

    Of course, as a literature graduate student, I have spent a significant amount of time reading postcolonial literature and theory and I have even pursued those studies beyond the confines of the classroom in my own leisure reading, so I am well acquainted with much of the critical and philosophical language one finds in the criticism surrounding J. M. Coetzee's fiction. Words like alterity, the other, and liminality (and the concepts they signify) have long been part of my academic vocabulary, but this project has given my understanding a much more nuanced texture, which I appreciate.

    Of the central concerns of postcolonial studies, not surprisingly, is the concept of the border, the subject of the essay I read yesterday afternoon. As Grant Farred asserts, "the border [is] the meeting of difference," the site of hybridity and conflict, a physical or metaphysical plain in which the familiar mingles with the foreign (16). Farred, like several other commentators, views Disgrace as a novel problematically situated "on the historical frontier" of the Eastern Cape, the "site where race, racism and race relations are most deeply embedded, most resistant to being reconstructed" (17). The "psycholandscape" that comes into being in such a historically-contested region (the indigenous population, Afrikaner Trekkers, and British colonists have a long history of bloody conflict in the area) is one in which "change - the dominant rhetoric in post-apartheid South Africa - comes last, not first" (17). It is here that David Lurie, arguably an embodiment of pre-apartheid white privilege, comes into direct conflict with the cultural and social reconfigurations of the "new South Africa," as embodied by the increasingly powerful figure of Petrus. Of course, Lucy, David's daughter, also figures prominently in Farred's essay. Consistent with the negative (which should not be confused with "poor") reading of the novel that he articulates elsewhere, Farred argues that "Disgrace transforms the frontier into a site that is even more disturbing because it functions not through confrontation but complicity . . . the novel leaves the women with no option but to exchange the violation of their bodies for a minimal safety," a particularly dismal version of "post-apartheid white acquiescence" (18):
    At the borderlines, at the fringes of the new society, subjects rely not on new inscriptions for and of the land, but on older forms of exchange: the tacit compact: violence is endured, vague safety is expected. Life at the border works not because of the regognition that the language of both liberation and reconciliation has failed. Historical changes can be absorbed and transformed into new racial codes, new forms of enfranchisements, reinstating older forms of violence. (19)
    Though his reading is decidedly bleaker than most, Farred's analysis of Disgrace is consistently intelligent and thought-provoking and, for readers interested in understanding why so many South Africans found Coetzee's version of the Rainbow Nation so difficult to swallow, an extremely useful resource.

    I also read an interesting review of Andre Brink's The Rights of Desire in the Norwegian journal Vinduet. I don't know if Norwegian literary criticism is inherently clearer than its anglophone counterpart, but despite it being written in my second language, Kristen Skare Orgeret's essay is an extremely lucid example of literary criticism. Although Orgeret focuses on Brink's novel, she devotes a significant amount of attention to Coetzee's novel (from which Brink draws the title for his book). Although her reading of Disgrace is not quite as bleak as Farred's, Orgeret does view the novel as an extremely dark portrait of contemporary South African society. She does, however, conclude that "[s]elv om baade Vanaere og Attraaens rett er moerke, brutale og paa mange maaater pessimiske fremstillinger av regnbuenatsjonen som gikk tapt, handler de ogsaa om haap og om muligheten ti aa leve ansvarlig med andre," echoing the sentiments of many anglophone critics. Of her many insightful comments on both novelists, readers interested in a comparative reading of the two books may find Orgeret's assertion that while Brink's Ruben Olivier represents the Afrikaner's position in the new South Africa, David Lurie embodies the British-descended part of South African society to be most valuable. There is, however, much more to be found in the essay (for those readers who can read Norwegian, at least).

    For tomorrow: Read another essay.

    Work Cited

    Farred, Grant. "Back to the Borderlines: Thinking Race Disgracefully." scrutiny2 7.1 (2002): 16-19.

    Orgeret, Kristin Skare. "Der Smaafugl skjelver." Vinduet 18 March 2002. Available online.

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