Elizabeth Costello in J.M Coetzee’s in relation to the theme of Kafka’s works

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 10 September 2016

Elizabeth Costello in J.M Coetzee’s in relation to the theme of Kafka’s works

Elizabeth Costello is a humane, ethical and uncompromising creation of Coetzee. In Coetzee’s book The Lives of Animals, Costello is used to describe her dislike and rejection of the rationality of the criteria justifying the unequal treatment of animals. Costello claims that the purpose of the book is to clarify that to differentiate beings with regard of their species is a form of discrimination, indefensible and immoral.

Costello also maintains that she had chosen the path not because she was not aware of the crucial kind of thoughts and sentiments of respect regarding other creatures, but because the reason was more universal and compelling to appeal. Costello maintains though she admired those who eliminated speciesism form their lives due to their compassionate regard for other creatures she did not believe a pressure to empathy and good-heartedness only would prove to majority of the people into the wrongness of speciesism.

Nevertheless, the messages Costello portrays are not from the invisible world although from the invisible of this world most cases the voiceless like animals that she can access by imagination. She is not worried with other earthly, disembodied voices, although this-worldly, embodied and embedded voices, dead or alive perpetrators fictional or historical. The human critics such as Costello are opposed to the authority of the world of other world as he is to the powers of this world. Costello proclaims that there is not any salvation to be brought into being in an afterlife in immortality.

Costello is midwife not to immortal Forms, although a mortal voices and to being of the voices. The power of imagination stays not only in its potential to stir up and listen to other voices and to enter into speaking for other including for the voiceless but also use narrative to depiction literature in the particular work of narrative that rationally is divine spark that raises mankind above the rest of nature therefore in showing our continuity with animal-kind which allows us to regain our death, our humanity and imperfectness. The similarities between Costello and Socrates are outstanding, and are more striking than their differences.

Similar to Socrates, Costello attempts to prompt persons to realize their humanity, to open their hearts, to the anguish of animals. Costello just like Socrates is faced by unfairness, which in her case is the discrimination of specialism, which she attempts to dispel with counter-illusions. “What does one choose the side of justice when it is not in one’s material interest to? The magistrates give the rather Platonic answer: because we are born with the idea of justice. ” (Paola, et al. , 95). In The Lives of Animals the disregarded has come to take account of non-human animals.

Costello is convinced that there is a crime regarding animals as stupid that is perpetrated towards animals. Costello challenge is to attempt to extend justice to animals especially to those that resemble humans. In Socrates, Plato’s mouthpiece in the Republic, spends the whole discussion arguing for justice suggesting that it is better to live rightly and show to be unjust than being unjust with all material rewards that come by and yet show to be just, Costello ends her speech by saying that proof points in the opposite direction and that individuals can do anything and get away with it that there is no reprimand.

In The Poets and the Animals Costello disapproves the ecological approach to animals suggested by Plato since Plato’s perception implies that only human beings can understand the position of living things in the entire picture of natural world and as a result solely have the right to manage animal populations not including human population. Therefore (Paola, et al.

, 102), might have valid point which is that a person should not enforce principled vegetarianism on a society but its misdirected as a disapproval of the position of Costello since she had gone to the great lengths to disapprove reason as decisive criterion of moral worth and as an only means to live an ethical life. Costello maintains that it is not right to construe the animal rights movement like imposing vegetarianism upon free citizens. Instead it appears as protecting the interests and the rights of nonhuman animals, guarding animals form exploitation, though this might as well lead to outlawing the eating of meat.

Nevertheless, is clear that just as Coetzee distrusts commitment to moral principles he is suspicious of certain notions of justice. Coetzee and Costello’s aim is to alter the heart of individuals through feeling, friction and compassionate imagination instead of enforcing a large-scale utopian changing of society as purportedly stated by reason. Costello is perceived as arrogantly superior and as heralding a foreign set of values that of fighting for animal rights in opposition to blindly anthropocentric culture, and both individuals made numerous enemies by courageously inquiring the prejudices of the people around them.

The arrogance of Costello can be demonstrated by certain members his audience anger having their discrimination and lack of knowledge exposed. In addition, Costello seems to be earnestly attempting to break through the shadows of ignorance and prejudice with the light of her imaginative sympathy and is ready to admit that she dose not understand that she could be correct “Am I fantasizing it all? I must be mad! ” (Derek, 69).

Costello might be ironically aware that some of her images might be imaginative for example when she gives anthropomorphic feelings to ape, Sultan: “In his deepest being Sultan is not interested in the banana problem. Only the experimenter’s single-minded regimentation compels him on it. The question that truly occupies him, as it occupies a rat and the cat and other animal trapped in hell f the laboratory or the zoo, is: where is home, and how do I get there? ” (Stephen, 69).

Costello was attempting to get her audience to think, feel and imagine that in new ways about something persons do not care to regard at all, specifically their use and abuse of animals: certainly she desires people to imagine how it would experience in the place of an exploited animal a state of powerlessness. Costello believes the mission will awaken individuals form their assertive sleep. Costello does not attempt to reject the reason for the infallibility and its assertion to make a distinction between animals and human beings and therefore doe not give good reason for the exploitation of animals.

In The Lives of Animals, Coetzee portrays Costello as a Socrates figure. The analysis starts with “What is Realism? ” since it was first in 1997, prior to its publishing in Elizabeth Costello in 2003. The Socratic and Platonic ideologies are clearly evident in this story strengthens the contention that Costello plays a role as Socratic figure in The Lives of Animals. Certainly, Coetzee refers to this story in his fist foot note of The Lives of Animals therefore further sustaining this perspective. In “What is Realism? ” Platonic ideas are crucial to the story.

Even though Coetzee keeps interrupting his realist mode and drawing attention to the fact that it is an undertaking therefore suggesting that realism and certainly all fiction deals with imaginations and there are times the power of fiction to attain immortality is asserted though always ironical. The depiction to the monkeys echoes Costello’s discussion of Kafka’s ape, suggesting that artistic creation is what differentiates humans from other animals. The story of Socrates might also illuminate other features of Elizabeth Costello, as described in The Lives of Animals, namely her reference to her embodiedness and her mortality.

A similar relationship takes place between Costello and Coetzee, and in spite of his undeniable intellectual contributions as a public thinker, Coetzee remains retiring and an imaginary figure. On the other hand Costello is depicted as heavily embodied throughout Elizabeth Costello and The Lives of Animals. Behind every dialogue of Plato Socrates emerges and there is a consciousness of the fact that Socrates will be executed by the Athenian democracy for impiety and corruption of the youth. The same feeling of Costello’s mortality, together with a declining sense of desire, accompanies all Coetzee’s works in which he is featured.

Therefore when Costello cannot be regarded as a martyr for her beliefs as did the Socrates there is nevertheless a feeing in which she is dying for her beliefs. Costello’s own mortality and feeling of her mortality heightens her compassion for animals that are being bred in numerous numbers and when still healthy and young are being exploited for experimentation, hunting testing and slaughter. “After a long flight, Costello is looking at her age. She has never taken care of her appearance; she used to be able to get away with it; now it shows. Old and tired. ” (Stephen, 3).

These illustrations continue in the beginning of the first paragraph of The Lives of Animals: He is waiting at the gate when her flight comes in. Two years have passed since he last saw his mother; despite himself, he is shocked at how she has aged. Her hair, which had had sneaks of gray in it, now was entirely white; her shoulders stoop; her flesh has grown flabby. In Costello’s speeches death is recurrent topic, in a sense The Lives of Animals reads like a memento mori for Coetzee himself. John (Costello’s son) guesses that his mother was about to talk about death.

John dose not enjoy Costello talking about death and in addition her audience who majority consists of young people do not want any talks regarding death. Costello goes ahead in comparing the mass killing of animals in abattoirs to the mass killings of Jews in Nazi death camps. All through her speech, Costello talk about and describes the Nazi death camps and she returns to discuss death while talking about Nagel’s bat-being. “What I know is what a corpse does not know: that it is extinct, that it knows nothing and will never know anything more.

For an instant, before my whole structure of knowledge collapses in panic, I am alive inside that contradiction, dead and alive at the same time. ” (Derek, 32). Costello’s talk about lives of animals can be more or less lessened to her own solitude, seclusion and awareness of her own human mortality and all that she required was compassionate interaction with other human beings. In Slow man Costello is illustrated as returning rejuvenated. In The Lives of Animals, when Costello starts her conversation, she returns to her use of Kafka earlier in another speech, “What is Realism?

” in which she identifies with Kafka’s ape, Red Peter. In both cases Costello points her similarity with Red Peter in that they are both salaried entertainers performing before a literate audience. Afterwards in her speech, Costello returns again to Kafka, and uses the terminology“ amanuensis” two times with reference to the association between Kafka and his imaginative creation, the ape Red Peter (Franz, 35). The meaning of “amanuensis” is a person employed to take dictation or to copy manuscripts. The use of the phrase is not usual since it implies that Kafka the author took dictation from Red Peters in his imaginative creation.

The same case applies in the relation between the writer Coetzee and Costello his imaginative creation. In the two cases, the normal causal association between the author and the character, creature and creator is interchanged. Costello and Red Peters are used by the authors as creatures that have an artistic reliability, a life of their own, which the authors have represented faithfully. The authors have respected the individual beings and voices of these creations. The two creations are required to come across as living animals and not just the ideal of animals. In “What is Realism?

” Costello disputes that the greatness of Kafka is that Kafka stays awake during the gaps when people are sleeping. ” WORKS CITED Derek, Attridge, J. M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading: Literature in the Event. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2004. Stephen, Mulhall, The Wounded Animal: J. M. Coetzee & the Difficulty of Reality in Literature and Philosophy. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. Paola, et al. , The Death of the Animal: A Dialogue, New York: Columbia University Press: 2009. Franz, Kafka, The Diaries of Franz Kafka 1910–23 . London: Vintage, 1999.


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