While many scholars touch on the theoretical underpinnings and the historical deployment of self-interest, I will try to track the many selves and interests of the marginal writer and painter in exile, in prison, and beyond up to the alienation that comes with liberation. As seen through the prism of my personal trajectory, self-interest is more one of cohesion, coherence, and integration than the tyranny of self-fulfillment.
Breyten Breytenbach is a distinguished South African poet, painter, novelist, playwright, essayist, and human rights activist. A committed opponent of apartheid, Breytenbach established the resistance group Okhela. In 1975 he was imprisoned for his political activities; he was not released until 1982, after serving two terms of solitary confinement. His most renowned nonfiction work is the four-volume cycle of his South African odyssey, A Season in Paradise (1973), The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist (1983), Return to Paradise (1991), and Dog Heart: A Memoir (1999). Known as one of the finest living poets of the Afrikaans language, Breyten Breytenbach has also written the English-language volumes The Iron Cow Must Sweat (1964), Footscript (1976), and Lady One (2002), a selection of love poems. Breytenbach continues to be a political activist, to which his peace and human rights work at the Gorée Institute in Dakar, Sengal testifies as much as his collection of essays Notes from the Middle World (2009). His paintings portray surreal human and animal figures, many of whom are shown in captivity. He has had solo exhibitions of his artwork in several cities around the world including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Paris, Brussels, and Edinburgh as well as at the Einstein Forum, Potsdam. He has been honored with numerous literary and art awards, including the APB Prize, the CAN Award (five times), the Allan Paton Award for Literature, the Rapport Prize, the Hertzog Prize, the Jan Campert Award, and the Jacobus van Looy Prize for Literature and Art. Breyten Breytenbach has taught creative writing at the University of Natal, New York University, Princeton University, and the University of Cape Town.