Sunday, March 27, 2011

What We Mean When We Say...

...Weary Blues or Ask Your Mama.

We think much on Ellison's definition of the blues, and &sad's observation that it is an assertion on which much of the 20th century's interpretation of African American literature/culture rests. When we read Professor Santos's wrap up of Hughes in her section of The Cambridge History of American Literature (it is an unfair but true observation that she sits the brother at the back of her bus), we hear both of them whispering in our ear. But it's bigger than that and what she says is true, so we'll put id down here.

[It]...opens up all of the contradictory meanings that are the high-water mark of Hughes's poetry: on the one hand, the half hopeful, half threatening tension between the aspiration of African Americans to their rightful place in culture -- which they, too, help to shape with their specific contribution; on the other hand, the racism that prevents the dominant culture from fully acknowledging African American specificity as a vital part of itself. What this acknowledgment implies is the recognition that the American white poet, no less than the black poet, is also sandwiched [where was your editor on this verb choice?] between two worlds. To speak of the pressure of two worlds, "white" or "black" (regardless of whether such categories continue to be at all operative), or male and female, popular and erudite, political and aesthetic, old and new, or even "real" and "mythical," is ultimately to point to the variety of experience that informs all poetic performance worthy of the name.

Our addition to this thought is less burdened with the need to strike up a phenomenology of poetry, or even the blues, but it still depends on what we have learned by thinking down those lines. Ellison's reading of the blues is correct: it is the mediation of opposites and the joyful realization that that's it. This is the substance at the end.

We're all so digga digga do by nature.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a stone on the pile.