Page 18

Bonaparte Austria. His lover, Julia, thinks otherwise. For her the man's tempo, keyed to the music, is just slow and in any case the activity is meaningless without any foreplay between the living lovers. Reflecting further, Julia suspects that John, who was otherwise adequate sexually, nonetheless suffered a kind of sexual "autism." Characteristically, she says, the autistic type treats other people as automata, mysterious automata. In return he expects to be treated reciprocally as the object of your desire. What the fictional John Coetzee could not achieve through his applied theory of sexuality through the ages, the author, J. M. Coetzee, accomplishes with his imagination, and he does this exclusively through written language. Specifically, he achieves not a dialogue but a potential thought continuum, in his imagination of words his lover might have spoken to a third party (the young biographer, who can explore these recollected intimacies now that "Coetzee" is dead and so can no longer feel insulted). In this way, the literary author overcomes the automatism of his earlier, entirely sensual communication, by imagining how his lover can have imagined him: [With John], I never had the feeling that he was with me, me in all my reality. Rather, it was as if he was engaged with some erotic image of me inside his head; perhaps even with some image of Woman with a capital W. Is this a narrative effect? Is it episodic? It shares with narrative, the creation of a continuity - but the continuity belongs all on the side of language, not life experience or the accumulation of knowledge. It is episodic in the same sense that any sexual encounter is an episode, not recoverable in memory in anything matching the momentary

New Media  

This remix essay by Joe Tabbi is in response to Mark Amerika's remixthebook. Tabbi writes: "This essay is also out of touch with the times b...

New Media  

This remix essay by Joe Tabbi is in response to Mark Amerika's remixthebook. Tabbi writes: "This essay is also out of touch with the times b...

Advertisement