Arthur Nortjie

1435 Words6 Pages
In response to Annie Gagiano’s statement concerning Arthur Nortjie’s exile status I find her description to be fairly accurate. From his poetry, Nortjie explains himself as an outcast well before leaving the country of his birth. In relation to Gagiano’s quote, I find Nortjie’s, ‘My Vacant Self’ to be the most relevant to her synopsis. In the following essay I will respond to the validity of Gagiano’s statement, using ‘My Vacant Self’ as the central correlative text as well as, ‘Autopsy’, and ‘Humour Quota’. Arthur Nortjie is inexplicably a poet of exile. As a child of parents of different races, he felt like an outcast from early in life. Nortjie’s style and socio-political content appears to be directly influenced by his early awareness of his own hybridity. Furthermore, Nortjie implores the reader to acknowledge the insanity of governing ideologies drawn along racial lines. As a poet of exile, Nortjie not only feels betrayed and separated from the homely illusion of the nation state, he also lacks any sense of cultural belonging-this being patently obvious in much of his work. What Nortjie explores in, ‘The Vacant Self’, explains his contempt for, and awareness of the alienation of the self within the confines of the state; this realisation, once achieved, is maintained by the individual across borders. Nortjie, thereby experiences isolation as an exile within his skin, his home nation and within human society in general. In, “My Vacant Self”, Nortjie finds himself in conflict with the reality imposed upon him. The ‘rain’ seems to represent the constant rhetoric being heaped on the individual from not only the state, but family and friends-all those remaining silent in the face of such blatant ideological abuse. C... ... middle of paper ... ...ing equality, identity construction and ideological conditioning pertaining to all of mankind. As a coloured in South Africa, his conceptualization of identity could not assimilate alongside established dogmas but rather his sense of alienation was heightened because of it. As a hybrid, the work of first shedding inherited values and mores was somewhat bypassed, and his development as an individual would have therefore been accelerated. For this reason, Nortjie’s role as an exile becomes less of a choice but more of a prerequisite for his inherited condition, as other. The ‘white colossus’ has rejected him and instead of disregarding the absurd theatre that is world politics, he instead appears to long for some form of acceptance by it. At times, Nortjie appears liberated while at others, he seems rather trapped by such artificial concepts as place and origin.
Open Document