Tag Archives: literature

Another important European conference for Afrikaans-speaking philosophers

About two years ago I wrote a piece for this site on an important conference for Afrikaans in Europe, which was held in Gent, Belgium, by the NAWG (Nederlands-Afrikaanse Wijsgerige Vereniging, or the Netherlands-Afrikaans Philosophical Society). We are at this biennial conference again, this time in Leiden, Holland, from where it will rotate to South…

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Poetry and diversity

Usually, when the term, ‘diversity’ is mentioned anywhere in South Africa, it denotes racial and/or cultural diversity, and it carries strong overtones of obligatory political correctness. This is also true elsewhere, if ‘diversity’ is a reference to multiculturalism, one of the most powerful ideologies of the current era (as demonstrated and critiqued by Slavoj Žižek…

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The world has not learnt anything from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s ‘Gothic’ (proto-)science fiction novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was published when the author was only 20 years old. It was the fruit of a contest among herself and two other literary figures — her future husband, the poet Percy Shelley, and another poet, Lord…

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Kingsolver’s narrative indictment of colonisation: The Poisonwood Bible

I have written about Barbara Kingsolver’s (and other figures’, such as Salman Rushdie’s) novelistic art here before and even referred to The Poisonwood Bible cursorily — but recently the effect of colonisation on the inhabitants of certain continents (in this case Africa) has occupied my attention afresh. Hence this post, specifically on Kingsolver’s masterpiece, The…

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The allure of Louisa Punt-Fouché’s poetry

Poetry is alluring. Who is there so insensitive among us that evocative poetic phrases would not move us? Yes, I know – there are indeed such people, but I believe that even they, when given the opportunity to learn from a gifted teacher, would develop a modicum of receptivity to poetry. Blake’s “He who binds…

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Literature, art, space, and the secret of life

It never ceases to amaze me that the arts – foremost among them literature, sculpture, architecture, music, painting and cinema – are able to capture in their respective medium(s) virtually everything that makes life worth living; in a phrase, the ‘secret of life’. My recent re-reading of all my favourite John Fowles novels is what…

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Language: An emotive issue

Why is language such an emotive issue? Primarily because it goes to the heart of what we are as speaking beings, as Jacques Lacan would no doubt retort. Language is what differentiates between humans and other animals insofar as it is a symbolic system where every signifier (word, image, or gesture) corresponds with a signified…

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John Fowles’ beguiling literary art

Undoubtedly one of the great exponents of the novel in English, recently deceased John Fowles, wrote novels that, in addition to gripping narratives, integrated many insights and elements from disciplines such as natural science and psychoanalysis, sometimes in such a manner that these elements functioned as drivers for narrative action. A case in point is…

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‘A River Runs through It’

The film by the name, ‘A River Runs through It’ (Redford 1992) is based on an autobiographical novella by Norman Maclean, similarly titled ‘A River Runs through It and Other Storie’s (Maclean 2017; Kindle edition). He was the older brother in the Maclean family, living in Western Montana – one of the most beautiful states…

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A stream of consciousness: Art, consciousness, self-consciousness and the unconscious

What is a ‘stream of consciousness’? This presupposes that one knows what consciousness is, and how it differs from the unconscious, and from self-consciousness. Briefly, consciousness means an awareness of something, most broadly your environment. In this sense, even plants are conscious, as shown by the phenomenon of phototropism. Self-consciousness, by contrast, denotes not just…

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