Drawing the Divine Seed

India, Alterity and the Real in the Works of J.M. Coetzee

In: Matatu

Abstract

This article connects the disparate references to India in Coetzee’s writings to his core debate on ethics. Coetzee’s novels are in dialogue with the Western philosophical and psychoanalytic tradition that privileges an intersubjective reality over the reality of the objective world. This tradition sees the common Indians, and the natives of colonies, indifferently poised at the threshold of humanity. Being barely human these indifferent multitudes are seen as dispensable objects devoid of ethical claims. Coetzee’s metafiction highlights the ways in which the intersubjective community uses language and signification to produce a closed consensual reality against the open truths of the objective world. Coetzee’s snippets from India interweave the reality of a world oblivious to Western sentience and cognition. His efforts at pulling the obscure into the divine light of the rational community becomes comparable to drawing the divine seed to fertilize an abandoned and banished version of the Eternal Feminine.

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  • Coetzee J.M. Boyhood (London: Vintage 1998).

  • Coetzee J.M. Disgrace (London: Penguin 2000).

  • Coetzee J.M. Youth (London: Vintage 2003).

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  • Walker Michelle Boulous. Philosophy and the Maternal Body: Reading Silence (London: Routledge 1998).

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