Sobriquet 37.10

Since it is approaching 3:00 in the morning, I will keep today's entry brief. I did read the one article I had planned to read, but I did not manage to get the extra-curricular work done, so I will have to work doubly hard tomorrow to do so. Still, I am not too disappointed because this evening afforded me the opportunity to spend time with friends, eating gumbo and playing Apples to Apples...just the sort of re-energizing activity I need every so often to keep plugging away at this beast of a project.

For today I read Geoffrey Baker's "The Limits of Sympathy: J.M. Coetzee's Evolving Ethics of Engagement," a rather pedestrian consideration of sympathy and compassion in Lives of Animals, Age of Iron, and Disgrace. Seeking to situate his discussion within the context of a preexisting philosophical debate, Baker arrives at precisely the same conclusion as many of Coetzee's critics: that there are no easy answers to complex questions in the author's fiction. Ultimately, Baker concludes that Coetzee aligns himself more closely with Jacques Derrida and Theodor Adorno than with Jean-Paul Sartre by attempting to effect change on "the level at which meaning and the structure of meaning that inform political praxis take shape" rather than issue "a clear call to arms, an uncomplicated recommendation for practical [political] action" depicted in "a mimetic realism" (44). This argument, essentially, taps into a dynamic related to the one Lidan Lin identifies as a "rhetoric of simultaneity": Coetzee's fiction does not overtly discuss the problems of South Africa or offer a remedy to the nation's social ills, focusing instead on deeper, more universal epistemological concerns.

For tomorrow: Read two more essays and work on the article I didn't work on today.

Work Cited

Baker, Geoffrey. "The Limits of Sympathy: J. M. Coetzee's Evolving Ethics of Engagement." ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature. 36.1-2 (2005): 27-49.


minxy said…
What, praytell, is Apples to Apples?

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