Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for March, 2007

Foucault

Foucault is stressing the inclusion of sex as a discourse that needs to be addressed more frequently. He first addresses the church and its place with the inclusion of sex. Then the sexualities of children and adolescents, the role of sex in school and the rules of marriage, in the home and all around you in every part of your day. It seems as though Foucault is really stressing its importance but why?

It seems that Foucault is trying to stress that sex is everyone and the need to extract sex from everyday life should be stopped. Foucault states, “sex was taken charge of, tracked down as it were, by a discourse that aimed to allow it no obscurity, no respite” (1650). Perhaps sex as a discourse was aiming to destroy its presence? Foucault seems to address the “Christian pastoral” as seeking to detach sex from religion?? He often addresses the idea of having to avoid saying certain things or making certain references that lead to thoughts about sex, as if its something disgraceful. I feel that to a certain extent when it comes to each of the things he addresses, church, children, school, marriage… that if it is spoken of with respect to explicit detail its a normal thing that shouldn’t have to be constantly avoided. Foucault addresses this idea, “one had to speak of it as of a thing to be not simply condemned or tolerated but managed, inserted into systems of utility, regulated for the greater good of all, made to function according to an optimum” (1652).

Foucault also touches on the idea of sex as a multiplicity. I’m not sure if I completely understood this but, it was addressed after the issue of population and men using their sex. At the heart of this problem with population and men as a multiplicity was sex. Things like birth rate, marriage, and the frequency of sexual relations were what contributed to sex being the heart of the problem. Things that can bring happiness to life for many or something that is a personal preference to someone is judged as a problem of population. Sex is a problem because it populates the world…I find this interesting and disturbing at the same time, but I guess everyone has an opinion.

What was also interesting with going back to the issues of sex in schools was “the question of sex was a constant preoccupation” (1654) and all the rules of the school were formed around avoiding any reference to sex or the discussion of sex. This was interesting to me because in today’s schools health class is something required of students and the middle school and secondary school levels and it is seen as important for students to have a basic knowledge of sex and important facts related to sex. Not only is it stressed in schools but it is something that parents are pushed to discuss with their child/children.

Many of the things Foucault addresses are interesting in the sense that the idea of living life without mention of sex or any type of reference to sex would really make things very restricted and different. It is something that is every where. Any type of action or comment/statement can be turned into sexual context and its odd to imagine a world without it. There are so many people in this world that would never be able to restrain from the topic of sex in their lives.

Read Full Post »

Disgrace…The End

What I’ve noticed most throughout this novel is David’s out of control obsessions. From what we read last class to the end of the novel I noticed his new found obsession with relating himself and others to a dog. He often comments about whether people can smell is thoughts and the last page of the novel really made me think that last dog left, the one who would drag its back leg, was really just what David had become by the end. I often wondered while reading this why David would never take one of the dogs as his own. I always got the feeling he grew an attachment with the ones that looked helpless, probably because he felt he could relate. He immediately grew an attraction to Katy, the only dog in the kennels that looked sad and alone, and the only dog he really becomes attached to from Bev’s is the one that can’t walk right. It’s almost as though they are depictions of what he really feels like and when he wonders if another woman can “smell his thoughts” (which only came up with Lucy and the stripper at the end of the novel) hes really placing himself in a female dog to male dog relationship.

His sexual obsessions is another thing that is extremely clear throughout the entire novel, but what I found most interesting at the end was this tie in with Teresa and Byron to himself. At the end of this novel he tries to make a lot of connections to other people. What I found most interesting was the comment made about what Teresa does and its relation to David and his women,

My Love, sings Teresa…A woman in love, wallowing in love; a cat on a roof, howling; complex proteins swirling in the blood, distending the sexual organs, making the palms sweat and voice thicken as the soul hurls its longings to the skies. That is what Soraya and the others were for: to suck the the complex proteins out of his blood like snack-venom, leaving him clear-headed and dry (185).

I’m not sure whether he is referring to this as a good thing or not, but it seems as though he is saying he needs these sexual encounters and attractions to live.

Another thing I found interesting towards the end of the novel was Lucy’s attitude towards her pregnancy. She is yet again just letting things go as they are as if now that shes pregnant, the men have really left their mark. For example, when the young boy is peeking through the window at Lucy and David begins yelling at him, she wants to help the boy, clean him up, almost as though she is attending to him like a mother. I found it interesting that she would have even come out when this was happening considering when she first laid eyes on him and Petrus’ party all she wanted to do was leave. I’m still left with the question of why she does this to herself. I think it is because she wants to stay where she is, and if she makes herself believe that she is owned by them it makes it easier for her to justify staying, or perhaps it is simply the fact that she is unaware of any other way to handle the situation. She is having one of their child’s, it could even be the young boys, and she is perfectly ok with possibly letting Petrus marry her and take care of her and the child.

In a way I wish the novel would continue because I’m curious as to what will come of this child and the fact that David is agonizing over being a grandfather and possibly not getting the young ladies anymore, but at the same time I’m afraid if it did continue only more bad would come to them.

Read Full Post »

Disgrace

This section of the book was outrageous for me. I couldnt put it down after the chapter when the three men attack David and Lucy. As for what happens after that I begin to get extremely frustrated…

For starters, the way Lucy is handling being raped is really surprising me. For being a woman not interested in men or having sex with them, why is she letting it control her so much?! She states on page 158, “I think I am their territory. They have marked me. They will come back for me’. She makes this statement as though that is ok. When David suggests that they leave the farm she thinks that idea is ridiculous. I can’t understand why in the world she would ever think staying there would be a good idea. Naturally the first theorist I thought of after reading this was Gayle Rubin. At first I thought Rubin would be on Lucy’s side, but after the comment Lucy makes above I’m getting a feeling that Rubin would be outraged. To think that a woman would let a man take her over like that is really amazing me, especially in the case of rape. This connects to Rubin’s discussion about the trafficking of women. According to Rubin’s essay, “Women are given in marriage, taken in battle, exchanged for favors, sent as tribute, traded, bought, and sold…Women are transacted as slaves, serfs, and prostitutes, but also simply as women” (1673). If Lucy made that comment to Rubin I could see Rubin straightening Lucy out. She needs to be convinced of that fact that those men that raped her did not win and they she is not marked by them.

This trafficking of women also made a connection for me to Petrus. It is repeated more than once that ‘He has two wive, or a wife and a girlfriend’ (77). When I first read this I thought, well its normal for where they are. But then I thought of Rubin and how this too is connected to the trafficking of women and this idea of men having the power over women, “‘Exchange of women’ is a shorthand for expressing that the social relations of a kinship system specify that men have certain rights in their female kin, and that the women do not have the same rights either to themselves or to their male kin” (1673). Apparently Petrus has this control over his women being that it is ok for him to be with his wife for a period of time and then move to his girlfriend whenever convient. I guess in relation to Rubin’s essay Petrus has two gifts of women.

One last connection to the theorists would be David’s comment about Bev Shaw followed by Lucy saying, ‘You think Bev is part of the repressive apparatus?’ (91), which made me really happy to see the words repressive apparatus. According to Althusser, “…the state is explicitly concieved as a repressive apparatus…a ‘machine’ of repression which enables the ruling classes to ensure their domination over the working class, thus enabling the former to subject the latter to the process of surplus-value extortion” (1487). Now beyong the sharing of the words repressive apparatus, I dont really know how Bev Shaw represents the state or vice versa, but the connection between the words repressive apparatus and Althusser was enough for me.

Read Full Post »

The Man Whore!!

Disgrace

*First let me say this cover is waaayy better!

I really like the fact that every outside reading we do is so interesting to me. This book really grabs the reading and hooks you right in to the saga. You have David, the multiple Soraya’s, Melanie, the jealous boyfriend, and the college faculty/staff; all pulling together for this novel/soap opera that can be predictable at times but really getting the reading thinking. Well got me thinking anyway.

David sucks you in and makes you think he’s a creepy sexual, old man, who enjoys his alone time and fancies one specific whore. He tends to stalk any woman he is involved with only pushing anything that could be, to failure. At the same time he falls for this whore who he knows isn’t really the person he’s with and has a completely different life and she slips right out of his hands. He also makes you feel bad for him when, after trying to trap a young girl into a one night stand, he falls into the trap himself.

Then he simply pleads guilty to the charges he faces at the end of chapter six, instead of any attempt to try and keep his job or make a deal with the rest of the faculty and make a statement as they wish. He holds his ground which gave me the feeling that he was trying to cover her in a way. He refrained from telling the entire story of how she turned it around and went to him. He didn’t question any of the charges he believed he father forced her to report and left it as her being completely innocent.

Melanie who is presented as an innocent student turns out to be really questionable. She’s almost really hard to figure out because she’s described as turning away when he takes off her clothes or approaches her in any way. But as soon as she turns to him and asks to spend a few nights at his place it comes back around to hit him in the face. Then all of a sudden she has a jealous boyfriend that starts following her around and commanding her actions. It’s hard to determine her true character at this point.

The first and most important Soraya that David becomes truly attached to leaves as soon as anything personal is revealed about her. The discomfort of one of her clients knowing anything about her personal life completely destroys her entire job. When she lost the control she had over him not knowing anything personal about her, she lost control of the entire situation. As for the second Soraya things didn’t last very long in that situation and I think it’s because he was looking for a quick replacement and didn’t get the really connection he was actually looking for.

He mentions how his week is complete when he sees Soraya every Thursday and that he’s not a man that needs much and essentially doesn’t need a woman to go home with him. I got the feeling that as soon as Melanie gained this closeness to him and asks to spend the night at his place his tone completely changes from certain of what he was doing with his student, to completely unsure of what was going to happen next.

The characters in this novel are so misleading and show so many different sides I really find it very interesting. I’m looking forward to reading on to see what’s going to happen next!! And it really leaves me thinking why Coetzee wrote such a novel and whether or not this is a story about himself.

Read Full Post »

Fanon

Fanon focuses on racial differences in his essay, and what I enjoyed most was how conversational his piece is. When he the racial difficulties he’s faced his attitude never sinks to a lower level. He states on pg. 109, “I was indignant; I demanded an explanation.” Throughout Fanon’s essay he presents various difficulties, stereotypes, and even the connection with Jews, all in an attempt to work towards an explanation for this break in society.

I found it interesting how Fanon describes the “negroes” place in various countries, “In America, Negroes are segregated. In South America, Negroes are whipped in the streets, and Negro strikers are cut down by machine-guns. In West Africa, the Negro is an animal” (113). It seems to me he ties these different situations to show how not only is the “negro” discriminated against and abused but they continue to strive for a place in every society that they deserve. No matter the situation they may be in, they will continue to fight for what they deserve.

Fanon then goes on to point out who the enemy of such discrimination is: “all this whiteness that burns me…” (114). His defense against this enemy is identifying with the enemy. This pointed out the presence of stereotypes. Stereotypes are probably the largest issue with this racial separation because its easy for people to quickly judge people of the same race or ethnicity by comparing he/she to others of that same race or ethnicity. In my opinion this poses a real problem and I see Fanon addressing this issue when he says, “I resolved, since it was impossible for me to get away from an inborn complex, to assert myself as a black man” (115).

While I thought I understood what Fanon was getting at with having to behave as a black man that all seemed to change when he introduced the concept of the Jew. “His actions his behavior are the final determinant. He is a white man, and, apart from some rather debatable characteristics, he can sometimes go unnoticed” (115). At first thought I expected Fanon to use the Jew as a relation to the black man in their struggles but he describes the Jew as blending with the white man. The Jew has the ability to escape the criticisms they may face simply because they are white, but the blacks are stuck in an “infernal circle” (116). They have a difficulty breaking away from these forced stereotypes related to something as simple as their skin color.

Fanon makes a lot of good points in this essay and it was easy to follow along with. He presents many interesting ideas on the things negroes face, their struggles, their place in different societies, and the myths many people hold of them. He relates all of this back to something as simple as color prejudice. It’s something that is and will always be constantly justly fought for but will continue to be an endless cycle. One race was hated and constantly put down because their skin was a different color. How absurd?!!

Read Full Post »

Taking Stock

Reading

The first time I read through the essays for this class I attempt to make realizations and connection to what the theorists are explaining/saying. After reading through a first time I try my hardest to go over the reading a second time and skim the things I underlined in an attempt to better understand what is being said. I work on soaking in as much as I possibly can and try to make sense of the reading. I make my own conclusions about what I think the theorists are getting at and write my blog post from there.

Writing

Often times when I start writing my blog a lot of other points start running through my head. I try to pull together whatever I grasped from the reading, like a puzzle in my head, and work on finding examples that will best support my interpretations. Sometimes I try and write them down in a scattered way and then go back and dwell on things I found most interesting and rewrite the blog so that it makes sense. Other times I forget what I wanted to say and completely lose the idea I had because the content can become very overwhelming at times. I find that a lot of what I’m trying to get out becomes unclear to me once I need to put it in writing. I know what I’m thinking and trying to make sense of, but writing it down and having it make sense is difficult at times.

Conversation

Our class conversations are very helpful a majority of the time. Someone usually brings up one of some of the things I understood in the reading to discuss in class and I find it a lot easier to listen to what everyone get from it and compare it to how I grasped the same concept. There are also times when at the start of a discussion I have the feeling I’m beggining to understand what was unclear and then suddenly I completely lose it. I try and bring the content of these theories to my roommates or in the middle of reading an essay I’ll walk into the room and read them the most confusing line ever. I think the fact that other people get the HUH?!? feeling after reading a complex line from Derrida, for example, makes me feel a littler warmer inside and give me another burst of faith to continue reading.

Group Work

The class group work is helpful to me because it breaks up the reading and gives each group a chance to analyze one point and put it in their own words. Not only is this helpful in focusing on one aspect of the reading, but it is just as helpful to hear everyone elses interpretations of their groups piece of the reading. I try to take notes on each break down of the reading and then pull it all together. At times, I must say, I don’t fully grasp what is trying to be said and then at the same time it makes it much easier to summarize the reading.

What else Can be Done

After the first few reading for this class I start to get a hold of what was needed from me in order to really attempt to understand what these theorists are saying. Sometimes it helps to look at a picture of the author(s) or skim through the bibliography when its offered. Peter Barry is really helpful to review before begginning a reading or even looking through what he says in the middle of the reading. The way he phrases the concepts of these theories makes it much easier to understand the main concepts these theorists are trying to get across but in much more familiar language.

Read Full Post »