Sobriquet 56.13

I've had a fairly productive few days since I last posted anything. On Tuesday, I finished the mini-section I'd been working on since before my hard drive crashed, which was a nice little personal triumph. Now, at the outset of the penultimate mini-section of my chapter on Disgrace, it seems the end has finally popped into view.

On Wednesday, I read Alan A. Stone's sympathetic review of Elizabeth Costello for The American Journal of Psychiatry. In it, Stone recounts how he, like Coetzee's fictional poet Abraham Stern in The Lives of Animals, initially baulked at Costello's likening of contemporary slaughterhouses to the death camps of Hitler's Third Reich. The "infuriatingly memorable" lectured "stuck in [Stone's] craw" and he began reading more deeply in Coetzee's oeuvre, ultimately concluding that Both Costello and Coetzee are admirable in their "unblinking search for truth."

Other than read and write, I spent some time combing through my notes in preparation for the next mini-section, which I intend to begin rather soon.

For tomorrow: Read, write, or plan.

Work Cited

Stone, Alan A., M.D. Rev. of Elizabeth Costello, by J. M. Coetzee. American Journal of Psychiatry 161.12 (2004): 2336-2337.


minxy said…
YAY!!!!!!!!!! The end of the chapter is near. That's so awesome for you...and I'm so proud. YAY!!!!!11
Mattias said…
On a somewhat unrelated note: What do you make of Summertime, Coetzee's pending conclusion to his autrebiographical trilogy?

Do you buy into the discursive violence, if you will, of the media - if one is to use so nebulous and worn out a term as the media - which makes Coetzee out to be "almost pathologically private", as one blog put it? Aren't the routine rehashings of one - one single - colleague's (I think it was colleague; the details tend to dissipate in the constant retelling of the same anecdote) account of having seen Coetzee smile only once over a period of several years? Is such an account at all helpful as an interpretation of the man, or is it rather an instance of discursive practices revelatory of the agents enacting them rather than of the obscure object of desire - how odd it seems to consider Coetzee as an object of desire - at which they are aimed?
Hi, Mattias!

I tend to read the frequency with which the anecdote you mention appears in the media as indicative of a desire to construct a "Public Coetzee" as sullen and cantankerous. I have probably encountered more accounts of a friendly, good-natured Coetzee than of an unsmiling one, but those do not get the same level of airplay. So, yes, I would agree with your assessment of such reports telling us more about the desire of the agents than the object.

Still, Coetzee has contributed to this image by presenting the eponymous central figure in both Boyhood and Youth in such a way as to encourage such readings, which is likely an intentional gesture. The intent, however, is up for interpretation.

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