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READ PDF Ø Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship Õ JM Coetzee presents a coherent, unorthodox analysis of censorship from the perspective of one who has lived and worked under its shadow The essays collected here attempt to understand the passion that plays itself out in acts of silencing and censoring He argues that a destructive dynamic of belligerence and escalation tends to overtake the rivals in any field ruled by censorship From Osip Mandelstam commanded to compose an ode in praise of Stalin, to Breyten Breytenbach writing poems under and for the eyes of his prison guards, to Aleksander Solzhenitsyn engaging in a trial of wits with the organs of the Soviet state, Giving Offense focuses on the ways authors have historically responded to censorship It also analyzes the arguments of Catharine MacKinnon for the suppression of pornography and traces the operations of the old South African censorship system dry and dense. Dear GR management GRM in this review I assert my right as the author of this book to write what I consider to be relevant by way of a review Please don t delete it Dear GRM, occasionally I write reviews for a shelf called pairs I copy the same review to the two different books I discuss Please don t delete either or both how would you decide though I appreciate it breaks your new rules Reviewed as a pair with Fair Play or Foul the earl Dear GR management GRM in this review I assert my right as the author of this book to write what I consider to be relevant by way of a review Please don t delete it Dear GRM, occasionally I write reviews for a shelf called pairs I copy the same review to the two different books I discuss Please don t delete either or both how would you decide though I appreciate it breaks your new rules Reviewed as a pair with Fair Play or Foul the early nineties I wrote a book this book which examined various high profile cheating scandals in bridge In a nutshell I suggested that maybe the people accused of cheating hadn t been, that the chiefly American accusers might be wrong as a consequence of strong cultural differences between their understanding of bridge and those of other nationalities I also suggested that Ely Culbertson might have deliberately destroyed a competitor for the big money at stake in the 1930s by creating the idea that he was cheating I sent this book to several publishers and was prepared for polite declinations I was not expecting what actually happened which was that I received vitriolic angry rejections My book was being censored by mainstream publishers their problem wasn t whether it would sell, but they hated the ideas in it What could I do I thought I d produced a good book that would sell, but I put it in a drawer and moved on One day, however, I mentioned it to a top Australian player who asked if he could look at it He took it home and brought it back first thing in the morning Damn, I thought It wasn t any good after all, if he hasn t even bothered reading it But in fact what had happened was that he sat up all night with it and we now spent some hours talking about how wonderful he thought it was He thought I should keep trying to get it published I sent it to the editor of a UK magazine who serialised it Then I self published it.Although it received nice reviews, soon after its release, the editor of the influential magazine Bridge World wrote a hostile editorial about it A reader sent in a meek attempt to defend the book and that attractededitorial anger Wow, two hostile editorials I could rest assured that I really had written something that was worthwhile at that point Nobody else wrote to Bridge World to support me after that Meanwhile the edition quickly sold out and I started getting feedback from people which was unexpected and completely the opposite from the tone of criticism that appeared in Bridge World More than one person said it had been life changing for them and they really meant it It let them betolerant to others, to be less paranoid and angry about other people Many people read it in a night Somebody wrote to say he d stayed up all night reading it and went down to a shop to buy threecopies to give people the next day A bridge partnership stayed up all night reading it aloud to each other Non bridge players read it I was invited to present a talk to a magicians convention in Vegas Ten years orlater I still occasionally received these mails.Lots of people wrote to say that they agreed with what I d said.But not one person wrote in public that they agreed with it.Who could blame them when they saw what had happened to the first poor devil who made a stab at it in Bridge World Some years later came another development One of the ex world champion US players who was a prominent accuser of others being cheats, published an autobiography in which he presented various evidence to support his case Trouble is, some of his evidence was factually incorrect Whether by mistake or not, he had materially changed the stories of played hands in ways that made it look worse for those accused I collected together both his stories and, from official records, what actually happened in each case, wrote it up and sent it to Bridge World It may not surprise you to hear that it declined to publish my article, but it surprised me Now, this was surely an intrinsically interesting story world champ lies in book, were the Italians REALLY cheating and yet he claimed that people weren t interested Please consider this If all those people who wrote privately to me to support me had done it in public, the editor would most certainly not have been able to use this as his excuse Meanwhile it has gone into history, this false evidence used to accuse some truly great players of cheating Silence has consequences.This was brought back to my mind recently, reading of a small business called booklocker.com It filed a class action lawsuit againstwhich was attempting to force POD publishers to agree that they had to payto print their books Her brave story is available online She fought on her own It could have been a victory for many Instead nobody else joined her They were too scared to speak up We were basically thrown to the wolves, and had to publicly fight on our own, with many publishers whispering to us in the background, but not publicly joining us on the front lines Silence has consequences It is not neutral And speaking where nobody can hear you or where the people who need to hear you won t that might as well be silence So this review is addressedthan anything to people who may be in doubt about what is going on here at Goodreads, but are scared to speak, nervous to speak, or perhaps simply don t understand why it might be important SPEAK Don t be bullied Not by GR management Not by the protesters Say what you think If you disagree with GR management they will be unfailingly polite, whereas the free speech advocates can say what they like, how they like, where they like And some of them do Okay Still speak They are maybe a bit sharper with a pen than you are So what Still speak Does free speech have any worth, does it really exist, without interaction Here you can still do that I have no idea if speaking up is ever a right, but it is surely sometimes a duty and I really think this is a case where it is a duty How you are treated when you do, doesn t really matter Those who disagree with you might tell you to fuck off, call you toxic that s their definition of free speech But live by yours In the end that is all free speech can be what YOU think it is Not what GR managment thinks Not what Manny thinks What YOU think That is, it is what we all think, which makes it, of course, a right dog s breakfast.But if you are doing that, exercising your right to free speech in a closed room on your own with the lights off, either through fear, or because other people have told you that you can say what you like but NOT where it counts, I assure you that this is not free speech, even if the free speechers tell you so If that was free speech, well, Soviet Russia was its most loyal supporter There, after all, you weren t stopped from saying what you thought, only from saying it where anybody was listening There is no difference between a bureaucracy telling you where you can say something and a bunch of people on GR telling you that The effect is the same.I am reminded of what happened recently in the much publicised situation of Colin McGinn A group of academics stated in a public letter that We recognize Dr McGinn s right to free speech but then went on to describe the ways in which it should be circumscribed He was at perfect liberty to talk about anything that didn t actually matter to him At the moment, you haverights to free speech than this, and a great duty to use them This ad appears onat the moment Forum ModeratorWe like to think of our forums as a Free Speech Zone.And freedom works best at the point of a bayonet or a Delete Post button As Forum Moderator, it llbe your job to keep the forums safe and sanitary, whilehighlighting the posts that actually have something valuableto say You ll slap the bad guys hands and the good guys backs.If you are tired of Hydra, if you are thinking it doesn t really matter if such and such is deleted, keep in mind that this is really what you are fighting about Safe and sanitary scares the bejesus out of me I can t distinguish it from something you d see in a Soviet Russia or Communist China re education camp But that s just my opinion PLEASE HAVE YOURS And please remember that it doesn t really count if nobody can hear it BEEP BEEP I would have gottenout of this book if I readof the works that Coetzee discusses.However, this book is extremely interesting because of the analysis of censoring on the writer.The above review has been pre empted to bring you the following review The review below was written by Ruby Has Been Censored She gave her permission for the below to be reprinted Thank you Ruby Ruby s Most Wonderful and Brillant ReviewHYDRA ALERT The full review is available here on my blog, sin BEEP BEEP I would have gottenout of this book if I readof the works that Coetzee discusses.However, this book is extremely interesting because of the analysis of censoring on the writer.The above review has been pre empted to bring you the following review The review below was written by Ruby Has Been Censored She gave her permission for the below to be reprinted Thank you Ruby Ruby s Most Wonderful and Brillant ReviewHYDRA ALERT The full review is available here on my blog, since the original was deleted by GoodReads for being off topic I wouldn t want THIS book review to be deleted for being off topic, so to that end, I ve provided a few hundred words on the book Stay with meI read this book from beginning to end This is a bloody awesome book about dissent What I liked most about this book about dissent were the examples Haha Fooled you That s actually all there is Examples Starting with an example of dissent from around 1800BC, and illustrating how dissent has been with us throughout the ages Well, up until about 2010 when the book was published I m guessing they couldn t go in and add the future examples of dissent, because that would just be silly And involve bending time and space and shit If they could have, I m sure they would have included an example of the Hydra, which is, in my humble opinion, the best example of dissent yet If you haven t heard about Hydra, you need to go and see Manny Rayner Right now I ll wait I have not ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER read a better one Book about dissent, that is Because that s what we re here to talk about A book about dissent You should totally buy this bloody awesome book about dissent, perhaps from , since they have been so nice in ensuring that all the reviews we see have been filtered of any off topic content So I read this book about dissent, which is, as I may have mentioned, a bloody awesome book about dissent Okay, our captors have hopefully stopped reading by now, so I can probably get away with typing some random words bookety, bookety, book about dissent Opinion, opinion, opinion, opposing opinion, rebuttal, butt s a funny word, conclusion Oh Conclusion Are we there already Right So in conclusion, this is a bloody awesome book about dissent even if it doesn t mention Hydra So yeah My original review was censored for being off topic Not because it was critical of GoodReads censorship policy at all, apparently, but because it talked about other things besides the actual book Deleted for digression I take this to mean GoodReads is intending to evaluate all of our book reviews from now on, in order to make sure they don t digress After all, we wouldn t want a review that wanders into homage, satire or flash fiction now, would we Just the product ahem book review for us So that s why I suggest that along with backing up our original reviews and re posting them with the Hydra when they get deleted, we also help out poor old Kara Co., by trawling through as many reviews as we can and flagging any that go off topic At all In any way Now here s my original review, so you can see what GoodReads is attempting to save us from Giving Offense Essays on Censorship, by J.M CoetzeeWould GoodReads Censor A Review On A Book About Censorship Let s find out, shall we I ve been an active GoodReads contributor for a couple of years now I review every book I read, I run a discussion group, I m a GR Librarian I spend countless hours every week, well, they are probably countable but I can t be arsed , on this site creating content for GoodReadsI won t pretend I m happy about that last bit When I first joined GoodReads, I spent a lotcountable but not presently counted hours up to my eyeballs in administrative tasks associated with the book data we all use I stopped doing that when the mountains of data and content that I had created was sold towithout my seeing a cent of the profits Sincehave been here they ve done some pretty shitty things, and they really don t seem to value the hard work I ve done for them They seem to be quite content making out that they are doing us all a favour, providing us with a free albeit dripping with advertising service rather than acknowledging that they re making a fortune from our content and data.Now it seems GoodReads has decided to go hard with a policy of deleting reviews and bookshelves they don t like I really can t be muchspecific than that, because that s about as specific as GoodReads has been From what little they have communicated to us, it seems to be anything anyone working for GR thinks could offend anyone else or could potentially be perceived by anyone else as an insult to a writer There is no way of knowing what that might be We ve been told that any posts or shelves focussing on the author s behaviour will be deleted This includes authors who harass GoodReads users, and presumably precludes us from even discussing something likeMein Kampf This is censorship, as if you need me to point that out, and that is a very slippery slope.The author of this book, J.M Coetzee is a famously reclusive, reportedly humourless bloke Am I allowed to mention that any GoodReads made these policy changes sneakily no emails to us, no warning or notification of any kind for the people having their reviews deleted, no response to our reasonable concerns Reviews and shelves are quietly being deleted, and there have been plenty of screenshots around to prove it So now I am not only outraged by the knowledge that our posts are actively being policed and censored, but I m quite frankly creeped out by the whole thing Who is making the decisions What are their criteria Why do they refuse to talk to us about it Why are they doing it so stealthily Why can t they notify someone who s about to have their content deleted Most importantly of all where will it end That last question I CAN actually answer A site where the bulk of the reviews are positive and critique free whether or not that book deserves it Where any negative reviews are limited to it s my fault for not picking a book which issuited to my peculiar tastes A site where people can t talk about the elephant of author behaviour in the room A site where all reviews are suspect.The whole value of GR has been that we can see honest reviews from people we trust If people can t write an honest review about their experience with the book and its author , then that review has no value GOODREADS Please just do the right thing People have invested a lot of time and effort in this site They will cooperate with you IF you treat them respectfully Censorship, though obviously that s going to go down like a tonne of bricks on a literature site For the benefit of people who don t use GoodReads bookshelves on GoodReads aren t just used to sort our lists of books, they are a tagging function They are what we use to comment succinctly on a range of issues relating to that book They are also what we use to warn each other about spammers, abusive authors, sock puppet fake accounts, and anything else that a potential reader reviewer may need to know before they engage with that book I say engage because even shelving a book as want to read , alerts the author that you have shown interest and can open the door to that author targeting you edit Postscript What annoys me no end, is that the media and some other commentators are portraying GR users as if we re simply refusing to accept the corporate reality of a free service thatare providing us with What they don t seem to be aware of is that, unlike many other sites, it s the users that created this database, including the book data, as well as all the content, as well as taking care of a lot of their administration, as well as a big chunk of their help functions etc etc I don t think it s unreasonable for us to have certain expectations of the site we built maintain edit Please also see Carol s excellent summary of ways you can help spread the word about this issue edit Must Read Ceridwen s Brilliant Analysis of the Deleted Review Data shows the authors associated with the deleted reviews bookshelves as well as showing the real target of GR s censorship The comments threads Updated 13 Oct 13 Just to be absolutely clear Other GoodReads users have my permission to repost this content freely Coetzee s prose is clinical, incisive, scintillating with the hard edges and clear gleams common to his narrative work also, but here he allows himself a direct access to political questions and theoretical discourse With characteristic patience he traces censorship s relation to pornography, madness, apartheid, South Africa, and in the work of a select few writers D.H Lawrence, Catharine MacKinnon, Erasmus, Osip Mandelstam, Zbigniew Herbert, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Geoffrey Cronje, andre bri Coetzee s prose is clinical, incisive, scintillating with the hard edges and clear gleams common to his narrative work also, but here he allows himself a direct access to political questions and theoretical discourse With characteristic patience he traces censorship s relation to pornography, madness, apartheid, South Africa, and in the work of a select few writers D.H Lawrence, Catharine MacKinnon, Erasmus, Osip Mandelstam, Zbigniew Herbert, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Geoffrey Cronje, andre brink, and Breyten Breytenbach Across these essays Coetzee s reach is capacious, his mind keen.The most law abiding countries are not those with the highest prison populations but those with the lowest offender rates The law, including the law of censorship, has a dream In this dream, the daily round of identifying and punishing malefactors will wither away the law and its constraints will be so deeply engraved on the citizenry that individuals will police themselves Censorship looks forward to the day when writers will censor themselves and the censor himself can retire It is for this reason that the physical expulsion of the censor, vomited forth as a demon is, has a certain symbolic value for the writer of Romantic geneology it stands for a rejection of the dream of reason, the dream of a society of laws founded on reason and obeyed because reasonable.With such demonstrable echoes of Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, and Michel Foucault, Coetzee s theoretical filiations are clear However so too is his embattled position as a writer in a politically and ethically hostile climate, which lends additional heft to aesthetic and political asides, such as the following Writing does not flourish under censorship This does not mean that the censor s edict, or the internalized figure of the censor, is the sole or even the principle pressure on the writer there are forms of repression, inherited, acquired, or self imposed, that can begrievously felt There may even be cases where external censorship challenges the writer in interesting ways or spurs creativity But the Aesopian ruses that censorship provokes are usually nothan ingenious while the obstacles the writers are capable of visiting upon themselves are surely sufficient in number and variety for them not to invite.In that last line, perhaps, might even be heard the echoes of a mocking laugh Coetzee s book is not just well researched and persuasively argued, after all It also bears the sense of mild amusement which any writer might bear the earnest or repressive censor who, as Coetzee argues, misjudges the very nature of writing and representation itself Giving Offense is notable for a number of reasons but for none as good as this last, the laughing celebration of creativity itself in the face of censorship and its cultures