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. Lead:
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.
Imperialism is hegemonic in the sense that the citizens of Empire are often shocked or angered by the assertion that they do, in fact, live in one– usually before they bother to define that term.
In honor of Fleet Week– which is clearly a symbol of American Empire– here are two speeches that have been supplemented with images.
First, a by-now viral video of Ellen.
I’d never heard of this next one until yesterday. I don’t know who originally made it.
Consider our discussions about hegemony and interpretation. What codes and values are invoked by these clips? How does form shape or undermine content? Do you live in an Empire? What evidence and arguments support your claim?
I haven’t screened this documentary yet but in his recent book Race, Class, and Marxism David Roediger writes that it is a striking account of the ways that race and for-profit policing intersect. Let’s watch it this weekend and talk about it next week.
This Spring’s Torturer’s Collection features a feminine look such as Gina’s black and red, belted floral print dress. This relaxed style also includes a practical touch: the quick-drying material allows the wearer to seamlessly transition from an interrupted drowning (water-boarding) session to a working lunch.