Saturday, 8 October 2011

Philipp Roth - The Counterlife

On the surface a book about being Jewish and potency and what it means – more fundamentally it raises the question of what makes us who we are. What is nature and what isn’t.

“As long as he was potent there was some give in his life between what was routine and what is taboo. But without the potence he feels condemned to an ironclad life wherein all issues are settled. “ (Roth, 2005, p.34).

“the humbling realization of what the affair with Maria had so painfully exposed: the fact that he was somehow not quite coarse enough to bow to his desires, and yet not quite fine enough to transcend them.” (Roth, 2005, p.52).

“Henry appears to have left his wife, his kids, and his mistress to come to Israel to become an authentic Jew.” (Roth, 2005, p.78).

“Then it wasn’t roots that he had unearthed (in Israel) (…) It was the opportunity to be uprooted, to depart from the path that had been posted with his ame the day he was born, and in the disguise of a Jew to cunningly defect.” (Roth, 2005, p.136).

“The treacherous imagination is everybody’s maker – we are al the invention of each other, everybody a conjuration conjuring up everyone else. We are all each other’s authors.” (Roth, 2005, p.149).

the pastoral:”at the core is the idyllic scenario of redemption through the recovery of a sanitized, confusionless life. In dead seriousness, we all create imagined worlds, often green and breastlike, where we may finally be ‘ourselves.’” (Roth, 2005, p.326).

“Well, that’s over. The pastoral stops here and it stops wth circumcision. (…) Circumcision makes it clear as can be that you are here and not there, that you are out and not in (…) Circumcision is everything that the pastoral is not and, to my mind, reinforces what the world is about, which isn’t strifeless unity. (…) To be born is to lose all that.” (Roth, 2005, p.327)

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