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J.M. Coetzee quotes (showing 61-90 of 344)

“Since I was in flight from religion, I assumed that my classmates had to be in flight from religion too, albeit in a quieter, savvier way than I had as yet been able to discover. Only today do I realize how mistaken I was. They were never in flight at all. Nor are their children in flight, or their grandchildren. By the time I reached by seventieth year, I used to predict, all the churches in the world would have been turned into barns or museums or potteries. But I was wrong. Behold, new churches spring up every day, all over the place, to say nothing of mosques. So Nietzsche's dictum needs to be amended: while it may be so that only the higher animals are capable of boredom, man proves himself highest of all by domesticating boredom, giving it a home.”
J.M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year
“His mouth opens. From inside him comes a slow stream, without breath, without interruption. It flows up through his body and out upon me; it passes through the cabin, through the wreck; washing the cliffs and shores of the island, it runs northward and southward to the ends of the earth. Soft and cold, dark and unending, it beats against my eyelids, against the skin of my face.”
J.M. Coetzee, Foe
“Hatred . . . When it comes to men and sex, David, nothing surprises me any more. Maybe, for men, hating the woman makes sex more exciting. 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 killing? Pushing the knife in; exiting afterwards, leaving the body behind covered in blood - doesn't it feel like murder, like getting away with murder?”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“The truth is, he tired of criticism, tired of prose measured by the yard."

--Disgrace”
J.M. Coetzee
“Do you hope you can expiate the crimes of the past by suffering in the present?”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“If only we could eat our sunsets, I say, we would all be full.”
J.M. Coetzee, In the Heart of the Country
“There is no position outside of reason where you can stand and lecture about reason and pass judgment on reason.”
J.M. Coetzee, Elizabeth Costello
“Not only may you not enter the state without certification: you are, in the eyes of the state, not dead until you are certified dead; and you can be certified dead only by an officer who himself (herself) holds state certification. The state pursues the certification of death with extraordinary thoroughness—witness the dispatch of a host of forensic scientists and bureaucrats to scrutinize and photograph and prod and poke the mountain of human corpses left behind by the great tsunami of December 2004 in order to establish their individual identities. No expense is spared to ensure that the census of subjects shall be complete and accurate.

Whether the citizen lives or dies is not a concern of the state. What matters to the state and its records is whether the citizen is alive or dead.”
J.M. Coetzee, Diary of a Bad Year
“The Empire does not require that its servants love each other, merely that they perform their duty.”
J.M. Coetzee, Aspettando i barbari
“هناك ما أطلق عليهم الارضيين، أولئك الذىن يقفون وأقدامهم مغروسة فى الأرض التى ولدوا فيها، وهنالك الفراشات، مخلوقات الضوء والهواء، سكان مؤقتون، يحطون هنا وهناك ، تزعم أنك فراشة، تريد ان تكون فراشة، وذات يوم تقع وقعة مفجعة، تُصدم وتسقط على الأرض ، وحين تلتقط أنفاسك تجد انك لم تعد تستطيع الطيران مثل كائن أثيرى ولا تستطيع المشى، لست سوى كتلة من اللحم الجامد، إنه بالتأكيد درس واضح لا يمكن أن تغمض عينيك وتصم أذنيك أمامه .”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man
“The jackal rips out the hare's bowels, but the world rolls on.”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“She does not reply. She would rather hide her face, and he knows why. Because of the disgrace. Because of the shame. That is what their visitors have achieved; that is what they have done to this confidant, modern young woman. Like a stain the story is spreading across the district. Not her story to spread but theirs: they are its owners. How they put her in her place, how they showed her what a woman was for.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“That was why, later on, he began to lose interest in photography: first when colour took over, then when it became plain that the old magic of light-sensitive emulsions was waning, that to the rising generation the enchantment lay in a techne of images without substance, images that could flash through the ether without residing anywhere, that could be sucked into a machine and emerge from it doctored, untrue. He gave up recording the world in photographs then, and transferred his energies to saving the past.”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man
“What I did not know was how longing could store itself away in the hollows of one's bones and then one day without warning flood out.”
J.M. Coetzee
“Perhaps it does us good to have a fall every now and then. As long as we don't break.”
J.M. Coetzee, Boyhood
“There are people who have the capacity to imagine themselves as someone else, there are people who have no such capacity (when the lack is extreme, we call them psychopaths), and there are people who have the capacity but choose not to exercise it.”
J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
“Maybe. But 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.’ Like falling in love. Do the young still fall in love, or is that mechanism obsolete by now, unnecessary, quaint, like steam locomotion? He is out of touch, out of date. Falling in love could have fallen out of fashion and come back again half a dozen times, for all he knows.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“Space is space,life is life,everywhere is the same. But as for me, sustained by the toil of others, lacking civilized vices with which to fill my leisure, I pamper my melancholy and try to find in the vacuousness of the desert a special historical poignancy. Vain, idle, misguided! How fortunate that no one sees me!”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“It seemed to me that all things were possible on the island, all tyrannies and cruelties, though in small; and if, in despite of what was possible, we lived at peace with another, surely this was proof that certain laws unknown to us held sway, or else that we had been following the promptings of our hearts all this time, and our hearts had not betrayed us.”
J.M. Coetzee, Foe
“Craniul,si apoi temperamentul:cele mai solide parti din corpul omenesc.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“Schmerz ist Wahrheit; alles andere wird angezweifelt.”
J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians
“For, seen from the outside, from a being who is alien to it, reason is simply a vast tautology.”
J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
“You told me," I said, "that I should turn this house into a boardinghouse for students. Well, there are better things I could do with it. I could turn it into a haven for beggars. I could run a soup kitchen and a dormitory. But I don't. Why not? Because the spirit of charity has perished in this country. Because those who accept charity despise it, while those who give give with a despairing heart. What is the point of charity when it does not go from heart to heart? What do you think charity is? Soup? Money? Charity: from the Latin word for the heart. It is as hard to receive as to give. it takes as much effort. I wish you would learn that. I wish you would learn something instead of just lying around."

A lie: charity, caritas, has nothing to do with the heart. But what does it matter if my sermons rest on false etymologies? He barely listens when i speak to him. Perhaps, despite those keen bird-eyes, he is more befuddled with drink than I know. Or perhaps, finally, he does not care. Care: the true root of charity. I look for him to care, and he does not. Because he is beyond caring. Beyond caring and beyond care”
J.M. Coetzee, Age of Iron
“..., según mi experiencia la poesía te habla y te llega a primera vista o no te llegará nunca. Hay un destello de revelación y un destello reflejo de respuesta. Es como el rayo. Como enamorarse.”
J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace
“I return one last time to the places of death all around us, the places of slaughter to which, in a huge communal effort, we close our hearts. Each day a fresh holocaust, yet, as far as I can see, our moral being is untouched. We do not feel tainted. We can do anything, it seems, and come away clean.

We point to the Germans and Poles and Ukrainians who did and did not know of the atrocities around them. We like to think they were inwardly marked by the after-effects of that special form of ignorance. We like to think that in their nightmares the ones whose suffering they had refused to enter came back to haunt them. We like to think they woke up haggard in the mornings and died of gnawing cancers. But probably it was not so. The evidence points in the opposite direction: that we can do anything and get away with it; that there is no punishment.”
J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
“How many of the ragged workingmen who pass him in the street are secret authors of works that will outlast them: roads, walls, pylons? Immortality of a kind, a limited immortality, is not so hard to achieve after all. Why then does he persist in inscribing marks on paper, in the faint hope that people not yet born will take the trouble to decipher them?”
J.M. Coetzee, Summertime
“To be full of being is to live as a body-soul. One name for the experience of full being is joy.”
J.M. Coetzee, The Lives of Animals
“Restoration is a skilled profession. You might even call it an art in its own right, except that it is frowned on to be original. First rule of restoration: follow the intention of the artist. Never try to improve on him.”
J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man
“But most of all, as summer slanted to an end, he was learning to love idleness, idleness no longer as stretches of freedom reclaimed by stealth here and there from involuntary labour, surreptitious thefts to be enjoyed sitting on his heels before a flowerbed with the fork dangling from his fingers, but as a yielding up of himself to time, to a time flowing slowly like oil from horizon to horizon over the face of the world, washing over his body, circulating in his armpits and his groin, stirring his eyelids. He was neither pleased nor displeased when there was work to do; it was all the same. He could lie all afternoon with his eyes open, staring at the corrugations in the roof-iron and the tracings of rust; his mind would not wander, he would see nothing but the iron, the lines would not transform themselves into pattern or fantasy; he was himself, lying in his own house, the rust was merely rust, all that was moving was time, bearing him onward in its flow.”
J.M. Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K
“If i were pressed to give my brand of political thought a label, I would call it pessimistic anarchistic quietism”
J.M. Coetzee


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Disgrace Disgrace
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Life and Times of Michael K Life and Times of Michael K
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Foe Foe
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