Today in class Dr. McCoy brought up the town Nicodemus. This really sparked my curiosity, what did it have to do with Paradiso, with Paradise?
Nicodemus is a region of land that is not governed by its own local government but rather by larger administrative divisions. It was founded in 1877 and was named after Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a name of two people a biblical figure and an African slave prince. Nicodemus, the biblical figure, after the crucifixion brought the customary spices to prepare Jesus’s body. Nicodemus also had a discussion with Jesus about being born again. Because of this conversation with Jesus he was a model of rebirth to African Americans after the civil war. Nicodemus was also the name of a legendary figure who came to america on a slave ship and then later was able to purchase his freedom.
Nicodemus Kansas was settled by free slaves after the civil war. Most of the slaves that came were from Kentucky, and their goal was to establish the first all black settlement of the great plains. The town thrived in the beginning but then rough winters that killed crops led them to decline in their population. Today the population of Nicodemus Kansas is only 52 people, which was surveyed in 2000. Clearly a small town, but it is very cool to see that the first ever town created by freed slaves still exists.
On Monday Dr. McCoy put us into groups and asked us to discuss any remaining questions we had about Jazz, after we had finished reading the last chapter in class and finishing the novel. We began talking about who/ what the narrator was in the story, we came to the conclusion that the narrator was actually the book talking to us. At one point in the beginning of the novel when the narrator is introducing itself to us it says something along the lines of being used to not being used until after dinner, and when it is used the person often falls asleep before they can finish using it (I can’t remember the exact page we found this evidence on). Also when we finished reading the final chapter aloud it finishes with the words ” But I can’t say that aloud; I can’t tell anyone that I have been waiting for this all my life and that being chosen to wait is the reason I can. If I were able I’d say it. Say make me, remake me. You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.” (pg. 229). As a group we believed that this was the book telling us that we are the ones with the power to change who we are the book will forever ever the same words it can never be changed, but the book can change us as people. Alpha had the thought that Toni Morrison writes black humanities. She puts stories that can help to show us the defaults in humans, and what we can do to change it. She is the modern day Sophocles, Dante.
Because Morrison wrote her Trilogy based on Dante’s divine comedy, I decided to do some research on how Dante’s Divine Comedy has been related to humanities. I found an article in the Wall Street Journal titled ” The Ultimate Self-Help Book: Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, written by Rod Dreher. The author said that calling “The Divine Comedy” a self- help book “is almost the point of blasphemy”, but he goes onto say that Dante believed this himself which was shown in a letter he wrote to Can Grande Della Scala, in the letter he said “to remove those living in this life from a state of misery and lead them to a state of bliss.” How Dante does this according to the author is he makes us reflect upon our own life’s when reading it, which I believe can also be said about Toni Morrison’s Trilogy.
In class today we watched a video of prince singing purple rain and had the lyrics along side to read. I have heard of the song purple rain, but have never listened to it. While reading the lyrics and listening to the song, the question “What does Prince mean by purple rain” popped into my head. So I did some research on it. Prince once answered this question by saying “When there is blood in the sky red and blue , purple. Purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith , God, guide you through the purple rain.” His answer was still mysterious and vague but, it gives us some idea of what Price was thinking when he wrote the famous song.
Having never seen the movie Purple Rain, I decided to look into the story of the movie and how it compares to Prince’s answer about the meaning of the song Purple Rain. In the movie Prince is in an abusive relationship with his father and his mother, his father is abusive physically and verbally and his mother is emotionally abusive. Which I think helps explain why Prince said “this song is dedicated for my father” before he sang Purple Rain. In princes answer “he says it is about the end of the world and being with the one you love”. Prince’s family relationship/ world was ending, and he was able to celebrate it with the people that appreciated his music and believed in him.
this is where I found the information for the blog:
What exactly is “purple rain?”
In high school my band played The Divine Comedy composed by Robert W. Smith. Robert W. Smith composed the three different parts of the Divine Comedy; Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso as all separate movements. He told Dante’s story through music, and for me it really brings Dante’s story to life. Listening to Inferno you can almost imagine yourself entering Hell. The lone oboe solo in the beginning may represent Dante’s long journey into Hell. The loud percussion and brass throughout the movement really have a way of making you feel scared, and vulnerable. As Dante keeps making his way into the depths of Hell, Robert W. Smith adds human moans of agony and whipping sounds. This interpretation that Robert W Smith allows the listener to really understand the pain and harshness of Hell and the way Dante was feeling as he encountered it.
Here is Robert W. Smiths Divine Comedy I.- The Inferno
As I put the word flesh into the google search bar various things related to flesh popped up, on that was particularly instructing to me was “Flesh in the bible”. I read an article on the word “flesh” being in the bible. The author stated that in many ways when flesh is mentioned it is often referring to the physical body flesh. But when the word flesh is followed by the word, it takes on a whole new meaning. “The Flesh” refers to the part of us that is isolated from God. It is the part of us that rebells and doesn’t want to do what we are told, the teenage rebel of our inner self. According to the article I found it is the part of us that wants something even though we are not allowed to have it. The flesh follows its on desires and thoughts rather than the ones that are “morally” righteous.
So what does this have to do with the way Toni Morrison used the word flesh in her writing. Most likely she used the word Flesh to mean the physical sense. Jacob not wanting to trade with flesh because that wasn’t following his Morals. But technically Jacob was rebelling against D’Ortega’s way of doing things and not wanting to do something because an authority figure told him what to do. Back when slavery was a thing the norm was to trade with flesh humans. Jacob was going against the traditional idea and following his own ideals and desire. For me both definitions of “flesh” and “the flesh”, seem to explain the character of Jacob in Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.