Will Try Again

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.

Morrison and the Other

“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”

“The Songs are Free”: Black Oral Tradition and the Classroom

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”

Purple Rain

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?”

 

 

Writing the Deceased Back to Life: A Sin or an Honor

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”

Retelling the Slave Narrative

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”

The Holy Damned

I’ve been told many times that the Bible is the greatest book ever written, from a purely literary standpoint, I might even be inclined to believe this. The correlations to biblical figures or stories to modern day literature is a prevalent subject of discussion that I have with myself. In class when we discussed the Holy Trinity, I realized there are many biblical aspects of Beloved, that I may have previously overlooked. Though I must admit, some of the distinctions drawn and conversations roused in class escape me in meaning, and I often feel as if I am only getting a general idea of what is being said. And to that point I might be diverging from the path of discussion traveled in class. Consider yourself forewarned. Continue reading “The Holy Damned”

Sense and Sexuality: Foucault, Wojnarowicz, and Biopower.

I’m taking this blog in a bit of a different direction; rather than the explorations of novels I said would come next, I’m using this post to share part of my current annotated bibliography.  My reasoning for doing so is twofold:  first, I’m struggling a bit with writing my post about Apex Hides the Hurt, and I’m hoping that by rehashing the ideas I’ve worked with, I’ll be able to better articulate what I’m trying to communicate (after writing and editing this post, this proved true).  And second, this post will give readers a better idea of what exactly I’ve been doing since the beginning of the semester.  I found writing this post incredibly helpful, so I think moving forward I’ll be sure to do annotated bibliography posts for the essay I’ve read/will read in addition to my posts about the literature.  Continue reading “Sense and Sexuality: Foucault, Wojnarowicz, and Biopower.”

Was There Another Way?

As we finished up the reading for Beloved in class, there was an almost overwhelming amount of content to discuss not only within the book, but outside the book as well.  One of the discussions that Dr.McCoy urged us to look into outside of class was about Bresha Meadows and Marissa Alexander.  Not being familiar with either of these names or the conversations taking place because of them, I decided to look into them in order to help aid our own conversations and discussions within the class and the blog.

Both Meadows and Alexander are victims of domestic violence, but at a glance it almost would not seem so because they are being charged with aggravated murder and aggravated assault respectively. Continue reading “Was There Another Way?”

Churning Thoughts on Possession

As we discussed in class, Toni Morrison’s Beloved is in conversation with many different texts, including John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government. Dr. Beth pointed out Locke’s preoccupation with the protection and regulation of property, and also his law of nature which mentions that people own a property in themselves. This makes it a crime to harm, not only others, but also oneself.

Ever since I took Dr. Beth’s African American Literature course, I have been rolling over in my mind the ideas of both property and possession. The object and the action. Beloved, in a complicated web-like fashion, engages in this conversation, especially in the last several chapters. Continue reading “Churning Thoughts on Possession”