Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘J.M. Coetzee

Women can shatter your Autistic perception of love…

Note: I have posted a review of a book by J.M. Coetzee https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/the-summer-of-a-life-by-j-m-coetzee/ Mainly, it is about how girlfriends perceived men’s forms of “falling in love”.  The exciting main characters are the women in the life of the author.  I decided to give the post a more grabbing title:  this post should not be viewed as a simple review. 

When women talk frankly about their relationship you should expect excitement and hilarious different perspectives on the nature of falling in love and sexual intercourse…

Julia says: “I had dropped two rolls of Christmas wrappings in the supermarket.  This utterly non-handsome guy, skinny, and inelegant picked up the one-meter large rolls. It was obviously an accident, but one of the rolls stabbed one of my breasts. As I arrived home, I removed my bra and looked at my breasts.  I could feel the touch on my nipple for a week…

I invited John for a light dinner a few weeks later. I made it a principle to look the same as during the supermarket incident and refused to beautify my face, do my hair, or wear fancy clothes. The dinner was super light, and John arrived without his father. My little 2 year-old Chrissie was on my lap and she didn’t like John, and never did. My Chrissie was as blond as her father with his blue eyes. I had the sensation that I was to her an intruder, more like our colored house helper, though my husband Mark barely was home to taking care of her…”

“The Afrikaner father of John spoke English passably: He used to underline with a finger gesture the English idioms he told me..”  The father said: “John is pouring concrete around the perimeter of this humid house. We are witnessing less humidity inside.  This is a huge undertaking, isn’t John?”  From the tone of the dad’s voice I felt how he was trying hard to find any kind of merit in his 30 year-old eldest son…

“This week-end, my husband Mark made love to me with ardour, all the time and almost everywhere. Mark had this idea that I sensed on him the odor of his girlfriend in Durban and that I was out doing my erotic performances because of my acute woman smell…Mark had no idea that I cheated with John a couple of days ago, just for revenge. I felt a huge pride and excitement in thinking: “Wow, I am behaving like a slut, and I am discovering new horizons in my erotic abilities…”

“I spent seven consecutive nights with John as my husband Mark left to Hong Kong with his girlfriend. John would leave early in order not to meet with the house servant. My diagnostic of John’s love-making is that he was autistic in that matter.  An autistic regard the person he is in love with as an automaton, an entity created to his own desires. To John I was a Woman. Like the time he came extremely excited and asked me to make love on the adagio of Franz Schubert, on the ground that only music expresses the eroticism of the period. Like if I could care less how Mrs. Schubert felt with Mr. Schubert in Vienna of the 19th century…I think a sexual autistic person prefer to masturbate instead of having real rapport with a human being…”

“The Afrikaners of the period (1970-1975) liked to be viewed as the “Afrikan” Israelite, cunning, unscrupulous, hard as leather, and attacking their prey overtly…In fact, the apartheid male Afrikaners were more like a pack of babies abandoned in a forest, a tribe of little kids with slaves to care for them…

“John could never be my charming Prince. Only once did John opened up his heart to me at the sight of my predicament of not knowing where my Chrissie was.  This is the only night I reached climax with John. He must have awakened at night and saw my beatific face and got scared.  I didn’t see him when I awoke. Do you think that I will ever forgive John for abandoning me after that night?…

Another woman, originally from Brazil, ended up in south Africa, after fleeing first to Namibia, an African State speaking Portuguese as Brazil.  Her loving husband was a victim of a horrible attack when working as night guard, and the hospital maintained this person in permanent coma alive in order to experiment with their panacea of electrical shock therapy method. The mother of the two daughters suspected that the Afrikaner teacher was wooing her younger girl of 15.  

The mother invited the teacher home to have a face to face interview.  The teacher fell in love with the mother, who resembled the young girl in the looks, and kept sending her love letters, and the mother refused to reply or even open the letters, which made no sense to this practical woman. The mother had finally to threaten the teacher and pressure the school to fire him, or at least not to teach her daughter…Looks like the utopia-type teacher was impressed with this pragmatic woman and needed someone to protect him from going overboard with his dream imagination…

Note 1: J.M. Coetzee received Nobel Award of literature in 2003, mostly based on his two autobiographical books “At the age of a man”, and “Scenes of the life of a young man”

Note 2: I liked the sexual autism part. I recall slapping the behind of a girlfriend once.  She was bewildered and demanded: “Why did you do that?” I replied: “I read in books that women like to have their behind slapped occasionally. This piece of intelligence is obviously not quite correct…” Enough of my dark humour for today.

How many books have You Finished reading? Is the problem with the author?

“Juggling words with talent is not sufficient to be a great author: You have got to be a great man first…” wrote J.M. Coetzee.  

Indeed, if what you write does not break a few ices in the readers’ heart and give them a meaning to their lives, why publish in the first place?

For example, if the passion that informs the writing is obscure, how can we be convinced that the author is genuine and means to open up his heart to the readers?  For example: “I read the novel as an essay on cruelty, cruelty inherent in all forms of conquests. But from where does cruelty emanates? Cruelty is located in the author’s mind and heart, an auto-therapeutic enterprise: An endless cathartic exercise for a vast auto-reform…”

I am interested in my topics and I am engaged.  I have choices:Either works that express true feeling (the youth first productions) or works offering “learned feelings” from experiences and hard work to open up… Any books in between is hard to read, except if you are interested in just light novels and very well researched topics.

Many times I write a review before I even finish a book: The essence is in the first few chapters.  I can always finish the book leisurely once I got the gist of it.

Leigh Anne of “Eleventh Stack” blog posted “Books You Read, Books You Finish” and suggested

1)  It’s okay not to finish a book.

2)  It’s okay not to like a book your friends like.

3) Reading droughts can be tough, but stick to your principles.

Leigh Anne post reads:

” I read a lot of books, but I don’t finish many.  A lifetime of reading has made me somewhat picky, and the feeling has only intensified with age:  if I’m not 150% pleased by a book, I return it and move on to the next one on my list.  It is, after all, a very long list, and life is rather short.  Who wants to waste time with a bad book?

The only time I question my choice is when I enter a “book drought” like the one I just survived.  About a month ago, at Wes‘ suggestion, I picked up Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, a fast-paced, sci-fi adventure about the quest to save the OASIS (a Facebook-like virtual world) from corporate domination by finding the easter egg its creator hid somewhere inside the game.  I loved it so much I ran around the library recommending it to everyone of the geek persuasion I could find.

If you are keen on 80’s pop culture, gaming, computers, or the band Rush, I highly recommend it for reasons I can’t explain without spoiling the plot.  It’s also got short, action-packed chapters, quirky-lovable characters, and a story arc that cries out to be filmed.

The only problem was that I loved the book so much, everything I tried after that seemed…dull, by comparison.   I spent the next month dutifully reading the first chapters of many, many, many books, then returning them, dissatisfied.

This included the critically acclaimed The Art of Fielding, which was recommended to me by Tony.  While it’s extremely well-written, and I would recommend it to anyone fond of baseball and highbrow literature, it simply didn’t thrill me the way it did Tony.  Interestingly enough, he tried Ready Player One on for size and didn’t like it, which serves as a good reminder that not every book is for everybody, and that’s perfectly okay.

However, the inherent “okayness” of the situation didn’t solve my book drought, and I was starting to get antsy.

Relief came from an unexpected quarter: Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers.  I put myself on the list for it because it was touted in several media sources as a hot new book, and while I’m somewhat skeptical of that sort of thing, I also have a professional obligation to keep up with popular fiction.  When my copy finally arrived, it sat on the floor in my kitchen for a while until, desperate for a good story and willing to look anywhere, I finally dived in.

Sweet, sweet relief.  Diffenbaugh had me from page one, when her prickly, misanthropic heroine, Victoria Jones, ages out of the foster care system.  Victoria’s struggle to build an independent adult life for herself is interwoven with flashbacks to her most important foster care placement.

Elizabeth, who teaches Victoria the “language of flowers,” seems all set to adopt the difficult, frightened child…but something goes awry, and Diffenbaugh’s masterful weaving of the flashback explanation through the contemporary story-line was suspenseful enough to keep me burning through the pages.

Make no mistake:  this is a sad, difficult book, and if you are tender-hearted, and want your endings easy and sweet, you will probably not enjoy it.  Victoria, however, is well-worth getting to know, and if you can open your heart to her as she struggles to overcome years of abuse and disappointment, you will be well-rewarded at the final page.

I am about to plunge into Michael Moorcock’s The Warlord of the Air, thanks to the cheerful efficiency of the interlibrary loan staff” End of post.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
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