Arthur Rose on “Dwelling in Triomf; or Building the Infrastructure for Postapartheid Dasein”

triomf The next seminar in the Philosophy and Literature stream of Finding Africa entitled, Dwelling in Triomf; or Building the Infrastructure for Postapartheid Dasein will be given by Dr. Arthur Rose.

Rose recently completed his PhD thesis, Cynical Cosmopolitans? Borges, Beckett, Coetzee, at the University of Leeds. It argued that the integration of politics, aesthetics and subjectivity in the late works of these writers may best be understood through the lens of Ancient Cynicism. He is currently thinking about the thematic and structural use of strike in English, French and Spanish mining literatures.

The seminar will be at 6pm in the BS/008 seminar room of the Berrick Saul Building at the University of York on 8 June 2015. Entrance is free and all are welcome.

Abstract

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Dr. Arthur Rose (University of Leeds)

What is dwelling for the Benades of Marlene van Niekerk’s 1994 novel, Triomf? They occupy a house in Triomf, the whites-only suburb built on the ruins of multi-ethnic Sophiatown. But do they dwell in this house? Is it possible to ‘dwell’ in Triomf? And if it is not possible for the Benades to dwell, what might be said for ‘dwelling’ in the wider context of Postapartheid South Africa?

The paper I propose will address these questions in three stages. First, it will reread Martin Heidegger’s seminal essay, ‘Building, Dwelling, Thinking’, using the Benades’ house as a case example of a Heideggerian ‘locale’. Since my juxtaposition of this house to Heidegger’s Black Forest farmhouse evidently parodies the Heideggerian ‘locale’, the second stage of the essay will consider two sets of issues that arise from this coterminous reading. The first set of issues directly detracts from the possibility of a Heideggerian dwelling as raised by Heidegger in his essay (the ‘plight of dwelling’ that arises when mere housing, whether in Triomf or in RDP settlements, is prioritised over the need to learn to dwell). The second set arises from inherent problems for Heideggerian dwelling as such: when its locale has been established to replace an existing locale, when the fourfold (earth, sky, divinities, mortals) it houses are disruptive rather than cohesive and when, instead of sparing this fourfold, the locale evicts them. In the final stage, I will consider how van Niekerk’s departure from Heideggerian dwelling provides the auspices for considering a Postapartheid Dasein that reconstitutes what it means to dwell in South Africa twenty years after the publication of Triomf.

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