On Wednesday, I failed to be clear as I struggled to weave together what I wanted us to think about and through “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” as a way into Morrison’s Jazz.
I was trying really hard for reasons I’ll explain when we meet again after break, but the fact is that I failed. Trying again may only lead to my failing (better? worse?), but we’ll loop back, try to make lemonade out of the confusion-lemon.
“I am the speech that cannot be grasped.
I am the name of the sound
and the sound of the name.
I am the sign of the letter
and the designation of the division.”
Toni Morrison utilizes this excerpt from “The Thunder, Perfect Mind” from the Gnostic manuscripts in the Nag Hammadi Library as the epigraph of her novel Jazz. The entire poem is made up of paradoxical statements by a first person identifier, such as “[…] I am the first and the last” and “I am war and peace.” The poem is believed to be the voice of the divine, which would explains its all-encompassing assertions. Continue reading “Morrison and the Other”
I was especially moved by Bernice Johnson Reagon’s articulations about the oral tradition within Black churches and Civil Rights movements and later our unique dynamic in the classroom. Bill Moyers jokingly comments that his experience with the Southern Christian (white) churches is vastly different from Bernice’s. He jokes that “This Little Light of Mine” was taught to him via the church as a song about humility and submissiveness to god. Conversely, Bernice Johnson Reagon emphasizes that the song in the black oral tradition emphasizes the exact opposite and that the usage of the song, in Civil Rights movements and elsewhere, is actively undoing the oppressive expectation for black people to be silent and unseen. Continue reading ““The Songs are Free”: Black Oral Tradition and the Classroom”
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 class yesterday we talked about the concerns around narrating the lives of those who have died. More specifically, we talked about what it means to give life to those who traveled on the Middle Passage. In Hartman’s “Venus in Two Acts,” we read about double-edged sword that Hartman struggles with every day; she wants to tell the stories of the slaves in the archives, but claims they have “impossible stories to tell.” This desire to tell someone’s story, but worry which constrains that desire, is something I constantly find myself struggling with. This leads me to further question what it actually means to narrate the lives of those who have passed away. Hartman writes how we, writers, could never do the lost lives justice. While I believe this claim to an extent, I think that writers may write in a way that commends the lives that were lost. Continue reading “Writing the Deceased Back to Life: A Sin or an Honor”
I just finished reading “Venus in Two Acts” and I have to say this essay really struck a chord with me. Since elementary school, the African American literature I’ve been exposed to was almost exclusively about slavery. I can’t think of any specific titles right now, and my memory could be skewed, but it seems as though once a year growing up we read our one token African American novel in reading group (the lack of diversity in the kinds of books we read is a problem in and of itself that I’ll save for another post) and it was always about slavery in a historical sense.
Continue reading “Retelling the Slave Narrative”