miércoles, 4 de junio de 2014

27 fragments of Disgrace (J.M Coetzee)

      I read this book and I felt I could be David Lurie, I felt – just as he did- that I didn't want to be better, nor I wanted to be prudent and that probably all I've ever wanted was to keep my right to just remain silent (always quiet, always withdraw) and especially  the right not to justify any of my actions. It is true, we do not have to justify anything, to adjust the appearances of our existence and disgrace (because disgrace will always come) to the public eye to make sure we look better to others. The question is, regardless our isolation and careless attitude towards society, do we still have to pay a price? It seems, we're all heading to disaster either way.

The subject of time intrigues me. The picture of decline as time passes, is frightening. Though saving the honour of the dogs’ corpses give David a sense of purpose. It is curious, throughout life we’ll try our best but we’ll always make too many mistakes, at some point, perhaps, people will dislike us and will also feel for us, we’ll even dislike ourselves and time will only serve to remind us all that, but still, we will always find a purpose. Why haven’t we chosen death otherwise? J

What I loved the most? Animals always take out the best part of ourselves. With them you only need to feel.
I also loved the stubbornness, strength and real pigheadedness of his daughter.

These are 27 fragments I’ve noted down.



 He has toyed with the idea of asking her to see him in her own time. He would like to spend an evening with her, perhaps even a whole night. But not the morning after. He knows too much about himself to subject her to a morning after, when he will be cold, surly, impatient to be alone.

‘You are a man, you ought to know. When you have sex with someone strange – when you trap her, hold her down, get her under you, put all your weight on her – isn’t it a bit like killing? Pushing the knife in; existing afterwards, leaving the body behind covered in blood – doesn’t it feel like murder, like getting away with murder?’

Wine, music: a ritual that men and women play out with each other. Nothing wrong with rituals, they were invented to ease the awkward passages.

… In my experience poetry speaks to you either at first sight or not at all. A flash of revelation and a flash of response. Like lightning. Like falling in love.

- you’ve got a lot of Byron books […]
- I’m working on Byron
- Didn’t he die young?
- Thirty six. They all died young. Or dried up. Or went mad and were locked away.

She does not own herself. Beauty does not own itself.

[…] He doesn’t act on principle but on impulse, and the source of his impulses is dark to him. Read a few lines further: “His madness was not of the head, but  heart.” A mad heart. What is a mad heart?

Does seriousness make it better or worse? After a certain age, all affairs are serious. Like heart attacks.

There are more important things in life than being prudent.

Confessions, apologies: why this thirst for abasement? A hush falls. They circle around him like hunters who have cornered a strange beast and do not know how to finish it off.

- That’s very philosophical
- Yes. When all else fails, philosophize.

‘Well’, says Lucy, ‘you have paid your price. Perhaps, looking back, she won’t think too harshly of you. Women can be surprisingly forgiving.’

‘All right, I’ll do it. But only as long as I don’t have to become a better person. I am not prepared to be reformed. I want to go on being myself. I’ll do it on that basis.’ His hand still rests on her foot; now he grips her ankle tight. ‘Understood?’
She gives him what he can only call a sweet smile. ‘So you are determined to go on being bad. Mad, bad and dangerous to know. I promise, no one will ask you to change.’

‘Will your insurance cover it?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t know whether insurance policies cover massacres. I will have to find out.

[…] ‘You keep misreading me. Guilt and salvation are abstractions. I don’t act in terms of abstractions. Until you make an effort to see that, I cannot help you.’

This is not what he came for – to be stuck in the back of beyond, warding off demons, nursing his daughter, attending to a dying enterprise.

She is stubborn, and immersed, too, in the life she has chosen.

The disgrace of dying.

Why has he taken on this job? […] For himself, then. For his idea of the world, a world in which men do not use shovels to bat corpses into a more convenient shape for processing.

He saves the honour of corpses because there is no one else stupid enough to do it. That is what he is becoming: stupid, daft, wrongheaded.

Two blankets, one pink, one grey, smuggled from her home by a woman who in the last hour has probably bathed and powdered and anointed herself in readiness; who has, for all he knows, been powdering and anointing herself every Sunday, and storing blankets in the cabinet, just in case. Who thinks, because he comes from the big city, because there is scandal attached to his name, that he makes love to many women and expects to be made love by every woman who crosses his path.

Again the feeling washes over him: listlessness, indifference, but also weightlessness, as if he has been eaten away from inside and only the eroded shell of his heart remains. How, he thinks to himself, can a man in this state find words, find music that will bring back the dead?

The ageing is not a graceful business.

Though distracted by Isaac’s back- and – forth, he tries to pick his words carefully. ‘Normally I would say;, he says, ‘That after a certain age one is too old to learn lessons. One can only be punished and punished. But perhaps that is not true, not always. I wait to see. As for God, I am not a believer, so I will have to translate what you call God and God’s wishes into my own terms. In my own terms, I am being punished for what happened between myself and your daughter. I am sunk into a state of disgrace from which it will not be easy to lift myself. It is not a punishment I have refused. I do not murmur against it. On the contrary, I am living it out from day to day, trying to accept disgrace as my state of being. Is it enough for God, do you think, that I live in disgrace without term?’

No matter, he thinks: let the dead bury their dead.
Out of the poets I learned to love

Two sensualists: that was what held them together, while it lasted.

The shocks of existence: he must learn to take them more lightly.

 - J.M Coetzee

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