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Trash Lives--- J. M. Coetzee's Ethics of the Other
|Abstract:||科慈（J. M. Coetzee）近期小說中所關懷的對象常是游移社會邊緣內外的生命。以 這次計畫中所要研究的幾本小說來說，就包括單身獨腳的老漢、罹患絕症的老婦人、中 年酒鬼流浪漢、被任意槍殺的逃學少年、被剝除公民權的流民、和難以數計被虐待和殺 害的動物。科慈除了鉅細靡遺地呈現他們在日常生活中所面臨的生命窘境之外，同時還 從宏觀的倫理視野，反思國家機器操弄後人類科技文明，全盤掌控所有的生命型態所帶 來的自然生命的終結，不論是人類或是動物，都難逃精密科學理性的評估和計算，以及 在這種評估和計算之後的篩選、控制、監管、除籍、流放和任意殺戮。本次計畫擬分三 年實施，以老殘生命、赤裸生命和動物生命來分別標示一、二、三年的研究主軸，並姑 且以「垃圾生命」來囊括這三樣生命如垃圾般共同的屬性。而所謂的他者倫理，是挪用 列維納斯「朝向他者」的倫理運動，從主體性做為人質的責任朝向他者無法還原的異質 性。德希達和阿岡本的相關理論則放在這樣運動中來和列維納斯的倫理哲學相互詰抗、 拆卸和組裝。在文本方面，本計畫集中研究科慈的幾部近期著作，《緩慢之人》（Slow Man ）、《鐵器時代》（Age of Iron ）、《麥可˙K 的生命與時代》（Life and Times of Michael K ）和《動物的生命》（The Lives of Animals ），希望藉由列維納斯、 德希達和阿岡本對於他者倫理的哲學思辯，來探討在他世界裡面所呈現的父子關係、待 客之道、醫療體系、赤裸生命、例外狀態、和動物生命等議題。以下逐年分述： 第一年：老殘生命 在《整體與無限》（Totality and Infinity）的最後一章〈超越面貌〉（“Beyond the Face”） 中，列維納斯探討了愛慾、豐饒、父子等問題，並以「時間的無限」來總結這些問題。 這是頗受爭議的一章，多年來許多知名學者（如Kelly Oliver, Luce Irigaray）都已為文深 入抨擊列維納斯倫理哲學內隱涵的父權體制（也就是殘存的人本主義）。透過母親（或 戀人）的愛慾，父親與身為他者的兒子建立起豐饒的關係，這樣的觀念，在《緩慢之人》 中的老人Paul Rayment 身上表露無遺。Rayment 因遭受車禍切除右小腿，但堅決不願裝 上義肢。他對於女看護Marijana Jokič的愛戀和對她兒子Drago 超乎常情的照顧，假如 我們依照前述列維納斯對父子豐饒的關係來理解的話，那麼Rayment 其實是把Drago 當 成是義肢的替代物。不完滿的男人因為（他所認為的）兒子以他者的身份到來而得到完 滿。Rayment 拒裝義肢，同時也對現行醫療體系，尤其是醫療看護對於人體的馴化，大 加抨擊，認為人工義肢是將人體稼接到醫療體系的媒介，個人生命也因此會遭受行政權 力全面的介入，這一點應該和阿岡本的看法或有互補。Rayment 拒絕他的身體被馴化， 排斥意識型態國家機器的掌控，並且以看似無條件待客之道來歡迎Drago 和他的朋友。 事實上，這是種新自由主義的舊人文思想，反而暴露出Rayment 企圖以意識型態教育機 器來宰制他者收編異己的心態；Rayment 採取有條件式的待客之道，最明顯的例子，自 然是他將Elizabeth Costello 這個幾乎是全然陌生的絕對她者趕出住屋的情節。從另一方 面來看，Rayment 拒絕裝上義肢，似乎也可看成是他對於後人類人機合體（cyborg）的 深層恐懼。Rayment 是《屈辱》（Disgrace）中主角David Lurie 的老年版本，同樣的固 守在自己龜殼般堅硬頑冥的世界裡，絕不因任何情況任何因素而有所改變。不論是義 肢，或是Drago 為他裝配的可單腳操作的躺式自行車（recumbent bicycle），Rayment 一 概都不接受，如同他無法接受失去小腿的事實。對他來說，這個空缺必須被補滿，不是 被義肢或任何科技所填滿，而是以將別人的兒子當成自己兒子的方式來填滿。在這整情 況下，義子/他者變成了義肢的義肢。這是Lurie 或是Rayment 無法逃逸的僵局，有如陷 入黑格爾式的正反合辯證夢魘，也就是Rayment 自我嘲諷的thesis, antithesis, prosthesis。 第二年：赤裸生命 在第一年計畫中有些問題尚待進一步思考。在列維納斯倫理哲學的侷限下，面對國 家機器，個人似乎重新陷入臣服或抗爭的二元對立老路線，而這樣對立的窘境，更因為 政治例外狀態而被極端化。《鐵器時代》的歷史背景發生在南非宣布國家進入緊急狀態 的四年內（1986-1989），其中的酒鬼流浪漢Vercueil 和逃學叛逆的少年Bheki 分別採取 臣服和抗爭的態度。科慈除了延續之前作品對於殖民威權的猛烈抨擊外，同時也突顯在 國家緊急狀態下這些社會邊緣人如垃圾般的生命。一方面警察濫用國家賦與的職權凌虐 反抗勢力，另一方面社會異議狂熱份子利用無知青少年充當政治風暴的砲灰，雙方都認 定將敵人趕盡殺絕的斯巴達鐵律，對敵人絕對沒有任何例外可言，一律消滅殆盡。流氓 政治和政治流氓卻可擁有自我給予的權力來決定何時進入例外狀態，而其自身卻佔據例 外/正常無可區分的超越性位置。對科慈來說，這是國家病入膏肓的徵候，但面對個人的 癌症時，科慈讓罹患癌症的老婦人Elizabeth Curren 逆反霍布斯的國家想像，見證南非 傾頹腐敗的歷史。Curren 揭露新自由主義的迷思，以「愛不值得愛之人」、「因為不信任， 所以才去信任」這樣列維納斯式的非對等倫理關係，作為自己在死亡陰影下對待他者的 倫理座標。支撐起這個座標的基礎信念則和羞恥有關：Curren 相信，「只要有羞恥心， 就有榮譽感」。羞恥這個西方人類因為身體逾越律法而產生的自我檢視機制，標示出人 類之為（人文主義的）人的起源。 縱使Curren 對於他者滿懷哀衿憐憫之情，但仍囿限於人文主義的框架內。兩相比 較，在《麥可˙K 的生命與時代》中，Michael K 則完全毫無受到人文主義的影響，沒 有羞恥心，沒有榮譽感，但同時也完全被剝奪掉生為人「自然而然」擁有的各種公民權 利。就當權者的理解來說，他在故事後半段已經完全不具備可供官方辨識的公民身份， 在內戰爆發（1970-80s）的南非歷史背景下，沒有正當職業，居無定所，或躲藏山區， 或四處遊蕩，可說是阿岡本眼中的「牲人」（homo sacer），以「赤裸生命」（bare life） 的方式存在著。整本小說是關於Michael K 看似逆來順受的生命：不論是在槍管下苟延 殘喘，身上僅有一點財物被士兵洗劫一空，被監管在勞動營內，被迫在如人間煉獄般的 醫院接受治療，或是被迫與陌生女子發生性關係，Michael K 幾乎都是採取基進被動 （radical passivity）的姿態，對於所有發生在他身上的事件，都當作「彷彿」（as if）沒 有這具身軀來參與其中。不是卑奴屈膝的臣服（如Vercueil），也不是流血革命的抗爭（如 Bheki 和他的朋友），而是一種阿岡本所主張的，無法被賦與某種固定主體性的生命實 踐。這是一種非資本主義、非國家、非司法、非主權的政治姿態。相對於Curren 的女兒 逃離南非定居美國，Michael K 採取的是不逃往別處的逃離，在原有的情況下持續運動， 這是逃離可以真正具備政治意義的唯一逃離路線。 第三年：動物生命 動物的生命，就是殘存的生命，也是赤裸的生命。不用等到年老，也不必罹患癌症， 牠們的生命早就已經命定為有如活在納粹集中營的存在。這是Elizabeth Costello 在《動 物的生命》為動物請命的主要訴求。科慈對於動物的關懷也是不遺餘力，動物更是在 他作品中不可或缺的角色。和Lurie 一樣，Rayment 被比喻成陸龜，活在il y a 般的自 我封閉世界卻無法找到出路。在《鐵器時代》裡，民命賤如昆蟲，政客有如蹂躪大地 的過境蝗蟲，以及雞隻屠宰工廠血淋淋的描述，在在刻畫人性中獸性的恐怖面貌；在 《麥可˙K 的生命與時代》中，我們見證獵捕動物的需要，也目擊對濫食動物的抨擊， Michael K 則在眾多動物形象中，以埋身大地穿梭泥土的蚯蚓來理解自己的生命。這些 對於動物的零星想像成為《動物的生命》裡集中討論的焦點，似乎對於人性的思索終 究得回歸到對於動物的想像，這恐怕也是德希達和阿岡本的學術路徑必要的轉折。 Costello 抨擊西方哲學思潮對於動物形象的誤解和扭曲，導致現今世界合法地虐待、濫 用和殘殺動物，阿岡本在《開展性》（The Open）中所提出的「人類學機器」（anthropological machine）概念無疑可以提供清晰的歷史脈絡，釐清區別人類和動物必要性的法源，以 及該法源的誤謬缺失。而德希達在《故我在追隨的動物》（The Animal That Therefore I Am）裡所提出的「邊界」（limitrophy）和「字動物」（l’animot）的說法，則可以深化 Costello 和阿岡本所沒有觸及的，語言當作再現動物的工具的層次。對科慈，還有德希 達和阿岡本來說，動物問題一向是人的問題，而在考慮人的問題時，必須要將他者擺 置其中。|
Trash Lives: Coetzee’s Ethics of the Other The social outcast lives are the major concern in the later novels of J. M. Coetzee. These often-ignored lives include an amputated old man who lives alone, an old woman with cancer, an alcoholic middle-aged tramp, truant teenagers who got shot for political reasons, a homeless man entirely stripped off his civil rights, and countless suffering animals. Coetzee specifies lots of difficulties they have to face in their daily life, and moreover, from an ethical panoramic perspective, he examines the way the national apparatus manipulates all the life forms by means of the posthumanist technology, leading to the end game for all natural lives. All the life forms, human or animal, are constantly under the evaluation and calculation of the scientific discourse, and consequently subject to the mechanism of screening, controlling, excommunication, exile, and killing at will. This is a three-year project, focusing on the discussion of the decrepit life, bare life and animal life, provisionally under the umbrella topic of trash life. The so-called ethics of the Other refers to Levinas’s proposal of an ethical movement toward the alterity of the other through the responsibility of a subject as the hostage. The notions of Derrida and Agamben will be put into this movement of conflict, disintegration, and reassemblage. The chosen Coetzee novels include Slow Man (2006), Age of Iron (1990), Life and the Times of Michael K (1983), and The Lives of Animals (2001). In light of the philosophical speculations of Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben, this project purports to explore the following issues: paternity and sonship, hospitality, medical care, bare life, state of exception and animal life. I’ll elaborate as follows: I. The First Year: “The Decrepit Life” In the last chapter “Beyond the Face”of Totality and Infinity, Levinas discusses the issues of loves and eros, fecundity, paternity and sonship, and concludes the chapter with “the infinity of time.”This essay is highly controversial, and for many years lots of famous scholars, among them Kelley Oliver and Luce Irigaray, have published articles to criticize Levinas for the patriarchal thinking (residue of humanism) implicitly embedded in his ethical philosophy. By means of the mother’s/lover’s desire, the father gets to establish his fecund relationship with the son. This is exactly the notion explicitly demonstrated by Paul Rayment in Slow Man. Because of a car accident, Rayment’s right leg is amputated from the knee down, but he adamantly refuses to have a prosthetic leg. Later he finds himself deeply in love with his daycare nurse Marijana Jokič, and his unusual concern about Marijana’s son, Drago, is beyond normal comprehension. But if we try to understand him from Levinas’s notion of paternity, we would know that he actually regard Drago as the substitute for his prosthesis. The incomplete man thus becomes complete because of the coming of the (surrogate) son. Rayment’s refusal of the prosthesis represents his severe critique of the medical care system, which domesticates the human body. He thinks that the prosthesis is the media which integrates the human body into the medical care system, and as a result, the individual life will be compromised by the governmental biopower. This is where Agamben’s critique of the medicare system will be introduced. Even though Rayment is very resistant against the oppressing national apparatus, he nonetheless sides with the ideological educational apparatus, trying to buy Drago’s love into his life. His conditional hospitality is manifested in his throwing Elizabeth Costello out of his house. His refusal of the prosthesis, on the other hand, reveals his fear of his becoming a cyborg. Rayment is an older version of David Lurie from Coetzee’s another novel Disgrace. Both of them seclude themselves in their own tortoise-shelled world, refusing to make any change. Either the prosthetic leg or the recumbent bicycle, Rayment refuses them all, exactly the same way he refuse to accept the fact that he loses his right leg. To Rayment, the missing leg has to be replaced, not by any technological product, but by somebody else’s son, who shall become his son. The surrogate son becomes a prosthesis of the prosthesis. This is the dilemma from which Rayment cannot escape, a Hegelian nightmare of “thesis, antithesis, synthesis,”or as Rayment’s self-mockery goes, “thesis, antithesis, prosthesis.” II. The Second Year: “The Bare Life” Under the manipulation of the ideological national apparatus, Levinasian seems to expose its inevitable limitation, and the individual cannot help but fall into the dichotomy between submission and confrontation. The dichotomy is further polarized by the enforcement of the state of exception. The story of Age of Iron takes place during the four-year period of the States of Emergency, 1986-1989. Vercueil, an alcoholic tramp, takes up a submissive stance, while Bheki, a truant youth, takes up a confrontational stance. In Age of Iron, Coetzee continues to severely criticizes the cruelty of the colonial mentality, and he also shows that, under the state of emergency, the lives of the social outcasts are drastically reduced to trash lives. The police abuse their given rights by using forces on the innocent people, and the dissidents use innocent youth as the protective shield to take bullets for them. The police and the dissidents are determined to fight until the other is totally destroyed. No exception is allowed. The rogue state and the stately rogues have the power to determine a state of exception if the state is in danger, while occupying a transcendental position with no distinction of exception and normality. To Coetzee, this indicates the symptom of a deteriorating nation, but for Elizabeth Curren, an old woman who suffers from cancer, she has to witness the corrupted history of the South Africa. She demystifies the hypocrisy of the new liberalism; she believes such notions as “to love someone who is not worthy of love,”and “I trust him because I don’t trust him,”a Levinasian dissymmetrical relation with the Other on the basis of shame. Curren is convinced that her sense of honor comes from the sense of shame. The sense of shame, as a self-surveillance mechanism which is produced by the transgression of the body for the Westerners, lays down the foundation of the entire humanistic tradition of whereby man becomes human. Even though Curren is fully sympathetic with the Other, her mindset is still more or less framed by humanism. In contrast, Michael K, in Life and the Times of Michael K, is totally immune from the influence of either the sense of shame or the sense of honor, but he is also entirely stripped off the civil rights naturally granted to a human. To those men in power, Michael K doesn’t have any officially identifiable papers to indicate his status as a citizen in the latter half of the story. He doesn’t have a job, and he doesn’t have a place to live. Either he hides himself in the mountain area, or he roam the street in the South Africa, where a civil war (1970-80s) is going on; he becomes, from Agamben’s viewpoint, the homo sacer whose life is reduced to mere bare life. The entire novel is concerned with the seemingly subservient life of Michael K: his life is constantly threatened by being shot, he is robbed without apparent resistance by an awol soldier, he is put without his will into a work camp, he is coerced to receive medical treatment in a dehumanized hospital, and he is forced into a sexual intercourse with a woman he doesn’t know. In all these cases, Michael K accepts what happens to him with radical passivity, as if his body did not belong to him. Michael K’s subjectivity is not submissive (like Vercueil), nor confrontational (like Bheki and his friends), but unfixable. It’s an integral life practice in favor of non-capitalist, non-Statal, non-juridical, and non-sovereign politics. In contrast with Curren’s daughter who flees to the US, Michael chooses to escape by not escaping elsewhere. To Agamben, the true political meaning of the line of flight is exactly this. III. The Third Year: “The Animal Life” The animal life is a form of decrepit life, as well as a form of bare life. The animals don’t have to be old, and they don’t have to be sick. They are doomed to lead a life like in a Nazi concentration camp. This is the analogy Elizabeth Costello raises in The Lives of Animals. Coetzee is likewise concerned with the animal issue, and animals play an indispensible role in his work. Rayment, like Lurie before him, is compared to a tortoise in an il-y-a world without exit. In Age of Iron, people are like insects, corrupt politicians are as devastating as the locusts in the ten plagues, and we cannot forget the meticulous description of the bloody slaughter in the chicken factory. What Coetzee shows is the horrible animality inside the human. In Life and the Times of Michael K, we witness Michael K’s need to hunt animals for food, and we also see the abuse of animals as food. Michael is associated with various animal images, particularly with the earth worm, by which he realizes the meaning of his life. All these sporadic descriptions of the animal find their way into Costello’s lecture in The Lives of Animals. The thinking of the humanity has to return to our imagination of the animal, and this is the why Derrida and Agamben ultimately in their philosophical career turns to show their concern about the question of the animal. Costello launches a severe critique of the Western metaphysical tradition, which has twisted and misrepresented the image of the animal, leading to the animal’s miserable life nowadays; they are cruelly treated, unconsciously abused, and massively slaughtered, and it is done under the protection of the law. In his The Open, the “anthropological machine”Agamben discusses can no doubt re-orient Costello’s animal discourse in the context of the history of philosophy, leading back to the very (erroneous) legal origin where human and animal are divided. In his The Animal That Therefore I Am, Derrida provides the notions of “limitrophy”and “l’animot,”emphasizing language as the tool to re-present the animal, can extend what Agamben proposes to connect with Coetzee’s ethics of the Other. For Coetzee, as well as Derrida and Agamben, the question of the animal is always a question of the human with the Other in mind.
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