I’d like to share an incredibly prescient article written by Toni Morrison in 2015 in which she expresses her belief that art is a form of defiance and healing. Considering the outcome of the presidential election last week, I think we might benefit from reading Morrison’s thoughts on using art to fight back. She concludes her article by writing:
“I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”
Allow me to preface this post by mentioning that is was mostly inspired by Alpha’s post from last week, “Humanities for the Hood,” where he discussed Morrison’s purpose in writing alongside Dante.
Reading Dante beside Morrison has focused my attention on the collaborative nature of writing. As I discovered connections between Morrison and Dante, I was reminded of the Ted Talk “Creativity is a Remix” by Kirby Ferguson. At risk of turning this blog into a Ted Talk repository, I’ve embedded the video below. Ferguson posits that essentially no art is original, in the sense that all art is in conversation with other art. Ferguson focuses on music in his talk, but I think the same applies to writing, more or less. The video also discusses “ownership” of creative works.
In class today we spent some time discussing contradictions and dichotomies, and how the concept of “both/and” subverts the concept of “either/or.” The short film, “Rochester: A City of Quality” that Professor McCoy showed us in class today was filled with contradictions. Here are the links to the specific ones I noticed in the short film:
Earlier this week, Professor McCoy mentioned that Beloved often makes appearances on banned books lists. Though Professor McCoy only made brief mention of this, I think its worthy of further discussion. As such, I decided to do some research on book banning, and coincidentally discovered that National Banned Book Week begins on September 25. So let’s talk about banned books. According to the American Library Association:
“By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.”
In class this week we discussed the interpretations made by characters within the text. While working in small groups on Wednesday, we tried to find instances wherein these interpretations were either supported or unsettled by the conclusion of the novel. As I was considering the implications of interpretation and misinterpretation, my thoughts began to steer towards the role that the structure of the novel plays in the unfolding of the readers’ own interpretations of the text. As Julie mentioned in her post, the novel is divided into chapters which belong to different characters. This division of chapters only lets the reader understand one slice of the story at a time. These glimpses into different characters’ perspectives reveals how each character understands their position and the position of others. By imposing blinders on readers, Morrison is compelling them to come to terms with their misinterpretations at the end of the novel. Continue reading “On Structure and Interpretation”
I thought I’d use my first blog post to express my hopes and concerns for this course for the upcoming semester. Normally, I would go into a new course thinking about what I will “gain” from it, or how my study of the various assigned texts will be “useful” to myself. But something feels wrong about this method of thinking with this course. Continue reading “How to Read Texts Not Written for You?”