Even if both phenomena are situated historically, neither can be glibly assimilated to the postcolonial as we know it to date.
The postcolonial label is still persistently and systematically applied to certain writers seen as representative of its main tropes, for both ethnic and aesthetic reasons, although a clear definition of the postcolonial aesthetic has yet to arise. As for Coetzee, he is grouped with writers such as Margaret Atwood and Peter Carey, who are members of white settler communities within colonised countries and thus apparently constituted by the conflicting relations between coloniser and colonised that obtain within those colonies.
Indeed the recent panel session dedicated to her latest novel at the MLA in January had recourse to this familiar paradigm. This double interpellation affects their performance as writers but also that of readers of their work. These three novels are seemingly ideally poised for analysis within existing critical parameters, but obstinately refuse to conform to the protocols laid out for them. For these novelists, concentrating on the centrality of the artist as a vehicle for the imagination and on the question of artistic originality and literary craftsmanship may be useful strategies with which to challenge homogenisation.
Weekly Book Discussion - J. M. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello II : AskLiteraryStudies
Furthermore, if possible, I should like to bypass the familiar binary of Postmodernism as an aestheticizing of the political and Postcolonialism as a politicising of the aesthetic. These texts certainly encourage and resist a certain type of referential illusionist reading in familiar postmodern fashion and deal in some measure with postcolonial themes such as migration and identity, but seek to situate themselves above and beyond such totalities in an unidentifiable elsewhere which makes it difficult to pin them down to any one location on the literary-critical map.
As in United States of Banana , the triumph of commodification is portrayed as total and the difficulty consists in finding a position outside the market from which to combat its mechanisms; both novels lament the fact that art has long ago lost its aura to a logic of mechanical and now virtual, reproduction.
Rather than assume the mantle of the exoticised postcolonial Other, she, like the narrator of Fury and, indeed, Elizabeth Costello, affirms the superiority of the elite cosmopolitan radical, exploring the new empire from a position of intellectual and economic privilege which allows her the luxury of informed dissent.
It is from this vantage point that she proceeds to demolish the American dream and its myths with the undiplomatic immunity of her poetry:.
- Elizabeth Costello / J.M. Coetzee ; read by Deidre Rubenstein - Details - Trove;
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- J.M. Coetzee: Elizabeth Costello.
- Eugenie Grandet (Classics).
I used to hear the voices of the people in taxi drivers—but now their voices are hooked up to cell phones, iPods, or Blackberries. If you talk to them—they disconnect only for a second—and return to their gadgets. What would happen if we snipped the wires of their busyness. Inspiration made an installation that day. However, unlike Baudrillard, and like Deleuze who encourages us to look for new forms of resistance, the writers under study here suggest that art may be used as a weapon of delegitimation of these ubiquitous structures of control and their universalising tendencies.
They move beyond the postmodern and the postcolonial to envisage the reinstatement of a different ethical? He too may become a product, celebrity or icon, in short be subjected to the process of reification in the same way that his art is doomed to become a consumer object.
Each of these texts is engaged in the refiguring of an ideal artist. In order to reaffirm artistic agency, they propose imagination and inspiration as an antidote to the bromide of contemporary pop culture, and construct counter narratives that gesture towards an elsewhere outside the immanence of the information order. In this imaginary space, revolt becomes a reality.
Like his protagonist, Elizabeth, an Australian who travels the world as celebrity author giving prize-acceptance speeches, only very tenuously related to the work for which she is being honoured, Coetzee, the Nobel laureate, seems to have turned a deaf ear to the possible demands of the very public who deemed him worthy of recognition. I was excited by the whole situation. We never spam.
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