INTO THE DARK CHAMBER: THE NOVELIST AND SOUTH AFRICA
Date: January 12, 1986, Sunday, Late City Final Edition Section 7; Page 13, Column 1; Book Review Desk
Byline: By J. M. Coetzee; J. M. Coetzee, whose most recent novel is ”Life & Times of Michael K,” teaches at the University of Cape Town.
WHEN a colony is founded, wrote Nathaniel Hawthorne in ”The Scarlet Letter,” ”among [ the ] earliest practical necessities [ is ] to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison.” Prisons – Hawthorne called them the black flowers of civilized society – burgeon all over the face of South Africa. They may not be sketched or photographed, under threat of severe penalty. I have no idea whether laws against visual representations of prisons exist in other countries. Very likely they do. But in South Africa such laws have a particular symbolic appropriateness, as though it were decreed that the camera lens must shatter at the moment it is trained on certain sites; as though the passer-by shall have no means of confirming that what he saw – those buildings rising out of the sands in all their sprawl of gray monotony – was not a mirage or a bad dream.
The same but better.
Robert Fisk, journalist and author of The Great War for Civilization, has died. Here he is, talking about that book. For those interested in anti-imperial politics and modern history, especially in terms of the Middle East, this is well worth your time.
Biden: “He thinks wind causes cancer. Windmills. It’s the fastest growing jobs…”
Trump: “I know more about wind than you do. It’s extremely expensive. Kills all the birds.”
You could do worse than watch The Outpost on Netflix as a way of thinking about the West and the Rest. Like most action war films, the filmmakers place the audience firmly in the position of the story’s protagonists. The obligatory hand-held camera work and high frame rate consolidate this perspective, producing a cinematically immersive experience. The dialog and characterization in The Outpost‘s opening minutes is equally familiar to anyone who has watched a few war movies. The soldiers are identified by surname and given a few seconds apiece in medium close-up, often with trivial yet character-establishing dialog. We hear accents, see facial expressions, and are given a name to attach to these minor details. The film wants us to care about its characters, though you can see even at this early point that it won’t direct our attention away from the coming fight to consider the lives of those they love back home. A succinct line of dialog confirms this when a seasoned enlisted man, Sgt. Romesha (Scott Eastwood) tells the younger soldiers not to think about their wives until they leave the outpost.Continue reading
This is what 21st century imperialism looks like.
On this date in 1969 Fred Hampton was murdered by Chicago police.