Monthly Archive for September, 2010

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“I’m not PC, but…”

Writing for the South African daily the Mail & Guardian, artist Khwezi Gule critiques Bitterkomix co-founder Anton Kannemeyer’s new book Pappa in Arika for perpetuating stereotypes of what he, with tongue-twisting élan, calls “the white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy.” Although I haven’t yet seen the book, I’m familiar with Kannemeyer’s work and since my pal Li Se has poked my interest, I want to add a few words to this debate.

Gule’s further point is that the racially and politically provocative art of the Bitterkomix group and others does not receive proper critical scrutiny by what one assumes to be the liberal intelligentsia, because these artists hide their racism behind a fig-leaf of subversiveness. What Gule doesn’t seem to grasp is that Kannemeyer’s being racist is essential to his art — of course he’s racist, that’s what his art is about. He is not merely exposing “white fear”, but a much more complex set of emotions held by many whites, African and otherwise, vis-à-vis their colonialist legacy and life in a multicultural society. He further extends his reach to fathom the situation of non-whites, in casu parts of the black political and coporate establishment which he “coons” in a bold move, tying their abuses to the history of Western imperialism through vicious stereotype. Continue reading ‘“I’m not PC, but…”’

On Murakami and Observing Reality

Last week, I got the chance to attend an afternoon of readings and on-stage interviews with Haruki Murakami in Møn, Denmark. Although the interviewers were fairly unimaginative and failed to probe below the surface or pursue any of the interesting points made by the author, Murakami was such a charming, unpretentious and earnestly thoughtful speaker that it nevertheless turned out a great session.

I’m fairly new to Murakami’s work, having only read a couple of his novels and short stories, but found it pretty compelling — if perhaps unsurprising — how his work process and whole approach to writing, as he described it, so closely mirrors the way his protagonists experience life and events. Murakami described the creative process as descending into the subbasement of a house and letting the darkness dictate the writing. He emphasised that he avoids research entirely when writing his first draught, only turning to source material and implementing factual corrections from the second draught onward.

He said that he starts with a word or an image, from which the story unfolds, but doesn’t plan anything out ahead. “When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta”, is the opening sentence of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Murakami described how his first question would then be, ‘who’s on the phone?’ and then he would go with the idea that came to him, worrying about who the anonymous woman he has talking sex to the protagonist is and what her call means later — or not at all, as the work may dictate. Continue reading ‘On Murakami and Observing Reality’