Esther’s Space- journey through my life

March 14, 2007

Disgrace Rocks the House

Filed under: Uncategorized — estherspace @ 11:33 am

I am not sure that I’m even capable of expressing how happy I am to be working with a text that has characters, a plot, and accessibility. It also takes half of the previous amount of time necessary to prepare for class, too. For this reason alone, I can love Coetzee.


While I wholeheartedly feel that David is a dirty asshole, he deos make for an interesting conflicted character. He has many questions about who he is and what his place in life is that I can understand. I think that it is interesting that we all require definitions and positions for ourselves in order to understand ourselves, but at the same time, this definition that leads to understanding also leads to limitations of what we feel we are capable of or allowed to do. Oh no, I think I just used Derridian theory. Anyhow, David feels defined and limited by his role of professor, because he does fit the role and is knowledgeable on the subjects he is teaching, but at the same time, he is not just a teacher, he is also a writer, a poet, and an artist (at least in his mind).

In Disgrace there is an interesting pairing of roles and value. As an intelligent and artistic man, David feels that he has a value that exceeds his role as an educator. When he is talking with his ex-wife, Rosalind, the narrator writes, “Perhaps it is the right of the young to be protectede from the sight of their elders in the throes of passion. That is what whores are for, after all: to put up with the ecstasies of the unlovely” (44). This particularly struck me because David is clearly implying that in the role one plays as ‘young’ (for it is certainly a demographic group as well as an occupation), one has the right to be protected from certain pleasantries. However, if one gives up this role and instead takes on the responsibilities of a prostitute, he or she is no longer valuable enough to be protected from pleasantries. Sick man.

Another interesting ideology is David’s pairing of beauty, economy, and the perpetuation of the system. In an attempt to seduce Melanie, he states, “‘a woman’s beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.’ She does not own herself. Beauty does not own itself. ‘From fairest creatures we desire increase that thereby beauty’s rose might never die.'” (16) Why does there have to be ownership of beauty at all? It is because if someone owns it, there is an implication that someone else does not, thereby making it desirable. But, interestingly enough, the possessor of the beauty is not the owner of it. As Rubin would argue, beauty is not defined by the woman as an individual, but by society, and is used to give her a corresponding value in the effort to utilize her in the economic market. To incorporate Althusserian ideas, such a process is necessary in the effort to maintain the system that is in place and perpetuate it.


1 Comment »

  1. […] post by estherspace […]

    Pingback by salon » Disgrace Rocks the House — April 1, 2007 @ 4:55 am

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