It's not often that I come across an author who summarizes my views on several trying quandaries in one teeny 230 page novel. It was, to me, life chan...moreIt's not often that I come across an author who summarizes my views on several trying quandaries in one teeny 230 page novel. It was, to me, life changing. This is not a book you should approach without some sort of foreknowledge about the subject matter or about Coetzee himself. "A steely intellect" they say, and it is true. So steely that it can be trying at times. That is why some sort of mental preparation is required. It is written in almost an essay format, switching from internal points of view to external wherever Coetzee saw fit. Each chapter confronts one of the many innumerable issues that plague humanity: animal rights, the identity and functions of an author, evil (in the broad sense), divinity, and realism. I wish I could wax eloquent on these subjects but alas I would only detract from the beauty of what Coetzee has to say.
The truth of the matter is that writers are entertainers. It seems vain that the value of ones work should hinge on the yea or nay of another. Does it not matter more what your own opinion is? In the end beliefs prove inconsequential, faulty, and unreliable; they are not our only support system nor should they be our principle support system. Our heart, that is to say our conscience, should be the basis of our morality. This is at least the standpoint of Coetzee. A quote, perhaps, would clear this up: “Death to reason, death to talk! All that matters is doing the right thing, whether for the right reason or the wrong reason or for no reason at all.” Words to live by. (less)
The primary premise of the book is that nearly all of the education system (govt. based, religious based, private) fail our children. These systems ed...moreThe primary premise of the book is that nearly all of the education system (govt. based, religious based, private) fail our children. These systems educate children to be good at techniques or skills, but do not educate them to know themselves.
Without knowledge of oneself, children will grow to be conflicted between the reality of their true nature, and the constrictions of conforming to civil society or religious doctrine.
An educational system that truly sought to benefit the children would be staffed by adults who were continually studying themselves, and striving to deepen their own awareness, not just conformists seeking the safety of job, income and leisure. Only when open-minded, self-aware adults teach with true love can children learn to know themselves, and so lead dignified, effective lives.
We are far from this vision, but it is worth it for each of us to walk along this path. (less)