Saturday, December 15, 2018

'Breathe Tim Winton Essay\r'

' allow me begin with a caveat. My argument is based on the evidence of fiction, on a discussion Tim Winton’s most new-fangled novel, Breath. Social scientists whitethorn comical this kind of evidence and see ‘fact’ as to a greater extent trustworthy than ‘fiction’. But flat though it is true that the evidence I bequeath be presenting is not based on hoi polloi and situations in ‘real flavor’ †whatever that may be †I would suggest that fiction may take us to the sources of social awareness and action, to the utmost that, as Levinas1 suggests that awareness and action may begin in ‘gropings to which one does not even accredit how to give a verbal form… sign shocks [which] become questions and problems’ and thus takes us into the dimension of ‘the archaic, the oneiric, the nocturnal’2 which (as Levinas goes on to argue) has ‘ontological reference’ because in it we are able to blend in ‘the true life which is absent’, a life, moreover, which is not necessarily ‘utopian’ though it refuses ‘the normative idealism of what â€Å"must be’”.\r\nI want to argue that Tim Winton’s recent novel, Breath,3 provides this kind of understanding and that it is one which may be particularly useful in our reflections on the consanguinity between family, ordering and the sacred †at least(prenominal) if we take Levinas’ further point that ‘the social does not reduce to the sum of individual psychologies’ simply represents ‘the genuinely order of the spiritual, a new plot in being above the human and the animal’.4 outgrowth of all, then, let us look at the society in which the novel is situated, a teentsy mill around town not far from the ocean in south Western Australia. For the two adolescents, ‘Pikelet’ and ‘Loonie’, the central characters, it is a place of sheer boredom, what Levinas calls ‘the in that location is’, an impersonal void which is ‘neither nothingness nor being’5 but may well be the state which Lyotard calls ‘post-modern’, a state of ‘incredulity towards meta-narratives’6 in which there is nothing beyond the self which longs for immediate and enthusiastic experience. For Pikelet and Loonie, however, this longing leads to an clash with the sacred, some mysterium tremendum et facinans at the nub of existence, as Rudolph Otto famously defined it.\r\nFor the two boys this encounter begins not at the centre but at the edges of social experience, in ‘a rebellion against the monotony of taking breath’(p. 41), a gamble with remainder in which, diving into the local swimming hole, they stick to underwater holding as long as possible and then surfacing to delight in\r\nthe alarm they have provoked, the watching them, the tourists from the city especial ly. As time goes on, the boys’ contempt not only for prevalent folk but also for the town they make love in as they come realise ‘how small and static and insignificant [it] really was’(p. 36), a prison house from which escape is impossible, a form of fate, consisted by the kind of people A D look forward to described in his poem, ‘Australia’, Whose boast is not: ‘we live’ but ‘we survive,\r\nA type who will inhabit the dying earth.7\r\nLoonie’s family has fallen apart: his vex has walked out on his father, the local publican, who consoled himself with other women. So he is more or less promiscuous to do as he likes. But for Pikelet finds it is more difficult to break out. His parents, affectionate but ineffectual, side of meat migrants and thus outsiders, are different from the rough and spend a penny locals, fearful not only of the surrounding shrub but also of the nearby ocean †having seen a fisherman swept off the rocks by a huge wave and smashed against the cliffs, his father\r\n'

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