Theme of Sexuality in Andre Brink ‘s Other Lives

Brink’s Other Lives: A Rewriting of history through eroticism The dissident writer’s preeminent role, as Brink sees it, is to “explore and expose the roots of the human condition as it is lived in South Africa: (.. ) With the fundamentals of human experience and relationships”(Mapmakers 152).
That is to say, he aims, through narrating and referring to kinships, mainly sensual ones, at unveiling the racial practices of the past apartheid system which is, according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary and thesaurus, defined as “a former policy of segregation and political and economic discrimination against non-European groups in the Republic of So. Africa” in doing so, he makes use of erotic scenes between black and white people of both sexes. This essay tackles Brink’s choice to make use of erotic fiction as an inventive way of writing history.
Also, it deals with sexuality, in this particular novel, which stands as an epitome for racial, colonial and political relationships between black and white people, as well as the numerous interpretations of the coitus either through symbolism or feminism or psychoanalysis. According to Brink “the author’s reinvention of history would involve a choice between two kinds of concepts, two ends on a sliding scale: namely, history as fact and history as fiction. He opts for fiction in this novel to rewrite the history of South Africa: “In forthcoming novels I shall be trying to get more and more of an imaginative grasp on reality, to invent history”, so that he lays naked the remainders of the post-apartheid system in an innovative style, skillfully inserting here and there several incidents, including sexual relations, that may be real or even personal, encompassing and resuming the aftermaths of the colonial experience. Brink’s answer to the inevitable question:” Why re-sort to fiction?

Why reduce history to storytelling? ” is summarized in Russell Hoban’s famous dictum:” We make fiction because we ARE fiction. “Brink elaborated on this idea explaining that “Whether one composes a c. v. for a job application, or reviews a day or week or year or a life traversed, or relates a crucial experience to someone else, or writes a letter, or describes an event-however one sets about it, it is inevitably turned into narrative. ” The will to power, to dominate the other race and prove oneself to be superior has its links with sensuality and chauvinism.
At first reading, some sexual acts in the novel seem to be scenes of pure passion, but then, they turn out to be mere longing for annihilation. For instance, In the second part Mirror, when Steve, a black man, is provoked by the utterances of the seductive young white woman named Silke telling him “your skin, I like very much how it feel, how it look” he becomes infuriated since he considers her words as a racial Remarque that echoes past memories of racial insults that he heard earlier in the novel such as “jou ma se swart poes” (=your mother’s black cunt) and “these kaffirs think they own the bloody place”.
Consequently his reaction may be depicted as an attempt to free the rein of his wrath and avenge himself on the white race embodied in Silke, by conducting violent sexual intercourse saying that “for the first time I become aware of what is happening inside me. Not passion, not lust, not ecstasy, but rage . A terrible and destructive rage. ” Moreover, racism is deeply rooted in social institutions such as marriage. As A. J. Hassall argues:” In Brink’s South Africa blacks and whites are seen as natural equals separated only by the uncompromising racism of the whites.
In all his books Brink explores sexual relationships between blacks and whites and he portrays them as natural sexual partners who might be natural political and social partners if only the Afrikaner establishment would allow it. ” This is perfectly illustrated in the example of the love relationship between a white man and a black woman in the first part The Blue Door, David Le Roux and Embeth, which is, even after the apartheid regime, still considered as a taboo kinship, completely rejected by David’s family; “why should we allow our lives to be dictated by the unreasonable reasonableness of my family?
If we love each other.. ” as David puts it. Added to its consideration as a racist attitude, Steve’s degradation of the white woman Silke may be read, as an act of political defiance, nevertheless, it fits only too well into the traditional master narrative of colonialism (“Natives have a rape-utation,” says Modisane, 1986), as well as the master narrative of sexism: the male who, in order to justify his aggression against and his “possession” of the female, blames her for provoking the attack, and for “deserving what she gets” ecause of her innate libidinal provocation. This is best illustrated in Steve’s words to Silke “if this is what you’re after, this is what you’re going to get. Fucking little white bitch. ” Speaking of colonialism, Mellor suggests that men are attempting to penetrate mysterious foreign regions where they do not rightfully belong.
Nina’s hair color turning into black, and the repetitive use of the words “dark” and “black” in the final paragraph depicting Derek “press[ing] [his] face into the fragrant and fatal darkness between her legs” calls to mind the notion of the exotic land reduced to the symbol of the female pubic hair which testifies for the mysterious south African jungles which should be discovered by white colonizer Derek. Feminists object to the depiction of women, in any respect, as a degraded sex, Objectified and reduced to serve the basic function of shoring up a man’s ego.
This machismo attitude is evident in Derek’s utterances:”Come what may, Nina Rousseau, you’re going to end up in my bed. ” Symbolically speaking, it is widely known that white women represent power, so the more that you have of them the more you absorb that power into yourself. They also, of course, represent repression, so the more that you defile them the more you are fighting the battle and winning as Nicol puts it.
This idea brings to mind Steve’s state of mind when copulating Silke, putting it into words: “now it is turning into pain, she becomes terrified … while I feel myself growing in strength and rage. ” This is further illustrated in Modisane’s words:” Through sex, I proved myself to myself. I am a man… When the trance of sex had passed and the pleasure exhausted itself out of my system there remained only the anger and the violence to repeat and indulge myself into a more lasting satisfaction… Furthermore, the stereotypes of the “chaste white woman” and the “potent black man” who acts violently, with or without a reason, are challenged by Brink. The recurrent image of the black male is that of a virile man including the assertion of one of the crudest myths of sexist racism, the size of the black penis and his manhood to which it is alluded in Steve’s discourse: ”bloody black stud (=virile)”. This racial cliche is set off in contrast with that of the white woman’s spiritual superiority and “absolute pureness” as Steve puts it.
The terms in which the white woman is broadly described are based on an archetypal image borrowed from Camoens: “the symbol of purity and light, saintly flesh, raped, violated by the brutal force of a dark continent”. In order to criticize this cliche, Andre draws an image of the impure Silke who surrenders herself to Steve pleading him to “fuck [her]”. Psychologically speaking, Lacan perceives the other as the creative force in shaping the consciousness of the “I”.
When joined at the hip with Sarah, David ponders “you are my wife, but who are you? Who am I? ” He feels compelled to know her in order to know himself and apprehend his existence, in other words, as feminists assert, sexuality is the keystone of identity. To elaborate on this idea, “Man’s desire,” according to Lacan (1977), “finds its meaning in the desire of the other, not so much because the other holds the key to the object desired, as because the first object of desire is to be recognized by the other. Steve is inventing himself through the Other, Silke, who is, herself, a projection of his consciousness: his own identity, the raison d’etre of his actions and of his life, depends on the girl’s approval and affirmation. Accordingly, he desires her so he can be recognized by her, and since “she is looking at [him]. She is seeing [him]. As [he is] now. As [he is]. But there is no shock or disapproval in her face”, meaning that she does acknowledge him, he realizes his true identity.
Contrary to Silke’s sexual attraction to Steve, he notices his cat’s repulsion. The widely known meaning of the hissing or scratching cat in dreams, is that this person “feels rejected by women or that his current relationships with women are strained or that he feels the women in his life are unappeasable, not to be trusted, overbearing, or just downright mean in which case the dream may mean it is time to reassess his relationships. ” This is exactly the case with Steve and the female cat Sebastian which “draws her slender back into an arc and hisses at [him]. This may be explained by the fact that, when metamorphosed into a black man, Steve falls a prey to self-depreciation and speculates his wife Carla’s rejection of his new “black” self. So, when he realizes the impossibility of achieving any human or even nonhuman connectedness, he chooses to seek release through the powerful emotion created by the suffering of Silke, an emotion which simultaneously produces his sexual arousal. This can be proved psychoanalytically in Bersani’s work analyzing Freud’s “Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality” in which he dentifies a counter argument running through Freud’s essays that “sexuality [is] not…originally an exchange of intensities between individuals, but rather a condition of broken negotiations with the world, a condition in which others merely set off the self shattering mechanisms of sadomasochistic jouissance” Regarding Derek’s unsatisfied and unstoppable longing for the sadistic Nina, The last erotic scene of the novel, when he gets stuck between her thighs, seems to be quite predictable, inasmuch, death will be the consummation of his passion.
Bersani explicates Freud’s theory of the death drive by arguing that “if sexuality is constituted as masochism, the immobilization of fantasmic structures can only have a violent denouement… masochism is both relieved and fulfilled by death”.
Isidore Diala refers to Andre Brink’s viewpoint about the writer’s role in the post-apartheid South Africa, saying that:” The dissident writer must awaken the Afrikaner to a sense of his potential for greatness and struggle aiming at liberating the blacks from oppression by whites, but also a struggle for the liberation of the Afrikaner from the ideology in which he has come to negate his better self. ” Main References: -“Reinventing a Continent (Revisiting History in the Literature of the New South Africa: A Personal Testimony)” By Andre Brink 2-“Constructing Connectedness: Gender, Sexuality and Race in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by Jessica Hale 3-“CONCEPTUALIZING SEXUALITY: FROM KINSEY TO QUEER AND BEYOND” 4-“An Ornithology of Sexual Politics: Lewis Nkosi’s Mating Birds” by Andre Brink 5-“Andre Brink and Malraux” by Isidore Diala -“PORNOGRAPHY ( VS) EROTIC FICTION (aka Why I Continue To Do What I Do)” By Jess C Scott, 9 Mar 2011 ——————————————– [ 1 ]. In her article “PORNOGRAPHY VS. EROTIC FICTION”, Jess C Scott gives a definition of erotic literature saying that: ” it comprises fictional and factual stories and accounts of human sexual relationships which have the power to or are intended to arouse the reader sexually. The emphasis of each is quite different.
Porn’s main purpose is to make money via adult entertainment; erotic literature tells a story. Stories that are realistic. Stories that make one think. Stories that “dive into the depths of navigating gender, sexuality, and the lines of desire” (blurb from my first erotic anthology, 4:Play). She illustrates her viewpoint by referring to Nabokov in the same Article explaining that “Mr. Vladimir Nabokov said so succinctly in an essay on Lolita, “. . . Lolita has no moral in tow.
For me, a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall call aesthetic bliss. . . “He also writes that “in pornographic novels, action has to be limited to the copulation of cliches. Style, structure, imagery should never distract the reader from his tepid lust. The novel must consist of an alternation of sexual scenes. ” Ultimately, She draws this conclusion: Lolita is more than a pornographic novel. Erotic literature is more than pornographic writing. ”

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