Builder of worlds

He introduces himself, he explains the format of the conversation, he reads from his last unpublished work, Seven moral tales. He fills the atmosphere with calm. This feeling contrasts deeply with those born out of the images in the book. Talking about Becket (and thus about himself), he says: “to answer some of the philosophical questions surrounding man it´s necessary to descend into the depths of the irrational and the immoral”.

Seven moral tales will be released first to spanish readers. In the book Coetzee steps into an exploration of man expressing his relationship with other species and opposing the mode of being of humans, which is thinking, to the bodiness and pure sensation of being characteristic of animals. But the name comes from another recurring topic, which is the struggle between parents and their adult children, both moral issues the author regards as important. 

“Ever since childhood I´ve written in English, says Coetzee; access to the English language liberated me from the narrow world view of the Afrikaner.” But that does not mean it feels like his language. He confesses he dislikes the way English is taking over the world, and the arrogance of its native speakers. The audience gives him a round of applause. 

He then talked about literatures of the south, which is the name he gives to a group of writings that come from different geographies and languages but have strong affiliations regarding history and their relationship to the land. He avoids the term ‘global south’, which is a concept invented by social scientists, who find fit to place North Korea in the ‘southern hemisphere’ and South Korea in the ‘northern hemisphere’.

All in all he´s critical of globalization, which goes hand in hand with neoliberal economics. But he´s committed to spending his time on Earth on more constructive projects. Surely one of them is bringing together the poets and writers of the south to contravene northern hegemony. Choosing words carefully is an essential task to move forwards. “There are certain words that are no longer constructive in rational debate, he says, genocide is one of them; apartheid is the other”.