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Other: From Noun to Verb

Author(s): Nathaniel Mackey

Source: Representations , Summer, 1992, No. 39 (Summer, 1992), pp. 51-70

Published by: University of California Press

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From Noun to Verb


CULTURAL DIVERSITY HAS BECOME amuch-discussed topic. Iwould

like to emphasize that cultural diversity is cultural, that it is a consequence of

actions and assumptions which are socially-rather than naturally, genetically-

instituted and reinforced. The inequities the recent attention to cultural diversity

is meant to redress are in part the outcome of confounding the social with the

genetic; so we need to make it clear that when we speak of otherness we are not

positing static, intrinsic attributes or characteristics. We need instead to highlight

the dynamics of agency and attribution by way of which otherness is brought

about and maintained, the fact that other is something people do, more impor-

tantly a verb than an adjective or a noun. Thus, I would like to look at some

instances of and ways of thinking about othering-primarily othering within

artistic media, but also othering within the medium of society, touching upon

relationships between the two. Artistic othering has to do with innovation, inven-

tion, and change, upon which cultural health and diversity depend and thrive.

Social othering has to do with power, exclusion, and privilege, the centralizing of

a norm against which otherness is measured, meted out, marginalized. My focus

is the practice of the former by people subjected to the latter.

The title “Other: From Noun to Verb” is meant to recall Amiri Baraka’s way

of describing white appropriation of black music in chapter 10 of Blues People. In

that chapter he discusses the development of big-band jazz during the twenties

and thirties by Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Jimmie Lunceford, and

others and the imitation and commoditization of it by white musicians like Jimmy

and Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Charlie Barnet, and Benny Goodman (who

became known as the “King of Swing”). He calls the chapter “Swing-From Verb

to Noun.” Typical of the way he uses the verb/noun distinction is this remark:

“But for most of America by the twenties, jazz (or jass, the noun, not the verb)

meant the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (to the hip) and Paul Whiteman (to the

square).”‘ Or this one:

Swing, the verb, meant a simple reaction to the music (and as it developed in verb usage, a way of reacting to anything in life). As it was formalized, and the term and the music taken


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further out of context, swing became a noun that meant a commercial popular music in cheap imitation of a kind of Afro-American music. (212-13)

“From verb to noun” means the erasure of black inventiveness by white

appropriation. As in Georg Lukacs’s notion of phantom objectivity, the “noun,” white commodification, obscures or “disappears” the “verb” it rips off, black agency, black authority, black invention. Benny Goodman bought arrangements from black musicians, later hired Fletcher Henderson as his band’s chief arranger, and later still brought black musicians Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Christian, and Cootie Williams into his band, but for the most part black musicians were locked out of the enormous commercial success made of the music they’d invented. The most popular and best-paid bands were white, and the well-paying studio jobs created by the emergence of radio as the preeminent medium for disseminating the music were almost completely restricted to white musicians.

“From verb to noun” means, on the aesthetic level, a less dynamic, less improvisatory, less blues-inflected music and, on the political level, a containment

of black mobility, a containment of the economic and social advances that might

accrue to black artistic innovation. The domain of action and the ability to act

suggested by verb is closed off by the hypostasis, paralysis, and arrest suggested by noun, the confinement to a predetermined status Baraka has in mind when he writes: “There should be no cause for wonder that the trumpets of Bix Beider- becke and Louis Armstrong were so dissimilar. The white middle-class boy from Iowa was the product of a culture which could place Louis Armstrong, but could never understand him” (153-54). This confinement to a predetermined status

(predetermined stasis), the keeping of black people “in their place,” gives rise to the countering, contestatory tendencies I’ll be talking about as a movement from noun to verb.

My topic, then, is not so much otherness as othering, black linguistic and musical practices that accent variance, variability-what reggae musicians call

“versioning.” As Dick Hebdige notes: “‘Versioning’ is at the heart not only of reggae but of all Afro-American and Caribbean musics: jazz, blues, rap, r&b, reggae, calypso, soca, salsa, Afro-Cuban and so on.”2 When Baraka writes of John Coltrane’s recording of Billy Eckstine’s “I Want to Talk About You,” he empha-

sizes what could be called Trane’s versioning of the tune, what I would call his othering of it:

Instead of the simplistic though touching note-for-note replay of the ballad’s line, on this performance each note is tested, given a slight tremolo or emotional vibrato (note to chord to scale reference) which makes it seem as if each one of the notes is given the possibility of “infinite” qualification . .. proving that the ballad as it was written was only the begin- ning of the story.3


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Trane himself spoke of his desire to work out a kind of writing that would allow

for “more plasticity, more viability, more room for improvisation in the statement

of the melody itself.”4 His lengthy solos caused some listeners to accuse him of

practicing in public, which, in a sense that is not at all derogatory, he was-the

sense in which Wilson Harris calls one of his recent novels The Infinite Rehearsal.

Such othering practices implicitly react against and reflect critically upon the

different sort of othering to which their practitioners, denied agency in a society

by which they’re designated other, have been subjected. The black speaker, writer,

or musician whose practice privileges variation subjects the fixed equations which

underwrite that denial (including the idea of fixity itself) to an alternative. Zora

Neale Hurston writes of the gossipers and storytellers in Their Eyes Were Watching


It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and

talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths.5

Hurston is one of the pioneer expositor-practitioners of a resistant othering

found in black vernacular culture. In her essay “Characteristics of Negro Expres-

sion,” published in the thirties, she writes: “What we really mean by originality is

the modification of ideas…. So if we look at it squarely, the Negro is a very

original being. While he lives and moves in the midst of a white civilization, every-

thing he touches is re-interpreted for his own use.”6 Baraka’s valorization of the

verb recalls a similar move on Hurston’s part thirty years earlier, her discussion

of “verbal nouns” as one of black America’s contributions to American English.

She emphasizes action, dynamism, and kinetics, arguing that black vernacular

culture does the same: “Frequently the Negro, even with detached words in his

vocabulary-not evolved in him but transplanted on his tongue by contact-must

add action to it to make it do. So we have ‘chop-axe,’ ‘sitting-chair,’ ‘cook-pot’ and

the like because the speaker has in his mind the picture of the object in use.

Action.” She goes on to list a number of “verbal nouns,” nouns and adjectives

made to function as verbs, and “nouns from verbs,” verbs masquerading as

nouns. Funeralize, I wouldn’t friend with her, and uglying away are among her exam-

ples of the former, won’t stand a broke and She won’t take a listen among those of the


The privileging of the verb, the movement from noun to verb, linguistically

accentuates action among a people whose ability to act is curtailed by racist

constraints. I prefer to see a connection between such privileging and such curtailment than to attribute the former, as Hurston occasionally does, to

black primitivity. Language is symbolic action, frequently compensatory action,

Other: From Noun to Verb 53

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addressing deprivations it helps its users overcome. The privileging of the verb,

the black vernacular investment in what Hurston calls “action words,” makes this

all the more evident. The sort of analysis found in the passage from Their Eyes

Were Watching God that I quoted is brought to bear on the movement from noun

to verb in a piece which Hurston published in the early forties, “High John de

Conquer.”7 The High John the Conqueror root that plays so prominent a role in

African-American hoodoo is here personified and figured as a key to black

endurance and resilience, “the secret of black song and laughter.” In the title and

throughout the piece, Hurston elides the last syllable of conqueror, as is frequently

done in black speech. In doing so, honoring the vernacular in more senses than

one, she changes conqueror to conquer, noun to verb, practicing what she expounds

upon in “Characteristics of Negro Expression.”

Hurston presents High John de Conquer as an inner divergence from out-

ward adversity, the ability of enslaved Africans to hold themselves apart from

circumstance. “An inside thing to live by,” she calls it. She relates High John de

Conquer to a propensity for laughter, story, and song, to black liberties taken with

music and language. He embodies mastery of sound and mastery through sound,

“making a way out of no-way.” High John de Conquer moves quickly, as mercurial

as he is musical: “His footsteps sounded across the world in a low but musical

rhythm as if the world he walked on was a singing-drum…. He had come from

Africa. He came walking on the waves of sound.” He embodies music, story-

telling, and laughter as a kind of mobility, a fugitivity that others the slaves’


He walked on the winds and moved fast. Maybe he was in Texas when the lash fell on a slave in Alabama, but before the blood was dry on the back he was there. A faint pulsing

of a drum like a goat-skin stretched over a heart, that came nearer and closer, then some-

body in the saddened quarters would feel like laughing and say, “Now, High John de

Conquer, Old Massa couldn’t get the best of him….”

Hurston writes of the song High John de Conquer helps the slaves find: “It had

no words. It was a tune that you could bend and shape in most any way you

wanted to fit the words and feelings that you had.”

The bending and shaping of sound, black liberties taken with music and lan-

guage, caused Lucy McKim Garrison, one of the editors of Slave Songs in the United

States, to write in 1862:

It is difficult to express the entire character of these negro ballads by mere musical notes

and signs. The odd turns made in the throat, and the curious rhythmic effect produced

by single voices chiming in at different irregular intervals, seem almost as impossible to

place on the score as the singing of birds or the tones of an Aeolian Harp.

Another of its editors, William Allen, likewise wrote:

What makes it all the harder to unravel a thread of melody out of this strange network is that, like birds, they seem not infrequently to strike sounds that cannot be precisely rep-


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resented by the gamut, and abound in “slides from one note to another and turns and

cadences not in articulated notes….” There are also apparent irregularities in the time, which it is no less difficult to express accurately.

Henry G. Spaulding wrote in 1863: “The most striking of their barbaric airs it

would be impossible to write out.” The compilers of the Hampton spirituals, M. F.

Armstrong and Helen W. Ludlow, wrote similarly a decade later: “Tones are fre-

quently employed which we have no musical characters to represent…. The

tones are variable in pitch, ranging through an entire octave on different occa-

sions, according to the inspiration of the singer.”8 One could go on and on with

similar statements. Western musical notation’s inability to capture the tonal and

rhythmic mobility and variability such quotes remark upon confirms the fugitive

spirit Hurston identifies with High John de Conquer. “It is no accident that High

John de Conquer has evaded the ears of white people,” she writes, punning on

while poking fun at the use of accidentals by Garrison, Smith, and others to

approximate the flatted or bent notes of the African American’s altered scale.

Fugitive spirit has had its impact upon African-American literary practices as

well. As fact, as metaphor, and as formal disposition, the alliance of writing with

fugitivity recurs throughout the tradition. One recalls that in 1829 George Moses

Horton hoped to buy his freedom with money made from sales of his book of

poems, Hope of Liberty. One thinks of the role played by literacy in Frederick

Douglass’s escape, of Harriet Jacobs’s denunciations of the Fugitive Slave Law, of

the importance of the slave narratives to the antislavery movement. W. E. B.

DuBois referred to the essays in The Souls of Black Folk as “fugitive pieces,” and the

impact of fugitive spirit can also be found in the work of William Melvin Kelley

(the mass exodus in A Different Drummer, the bending and reshaping of language in Dunfords Travels Everywheres), Ishmael Reed (Quickskill in Flight to Canada), Toni

Morrison (the flying African in Song of Solomon, the “lickety-split, lickety-split” at

the end of Tar Baby, Sethe’s escape in Beloved) and others. Ed Roberson, for

example, in a recent poem called “Taking the Print”:

See night in the sunlight’s starry reflection

off the water darkening the water

by contrast.

The dark hiding in the water

also hid us in the river at night

Our crossing guided by the internal sight

on our darkness

the ancient graphis

and -from this passage of abductions and escapes-

this newer imprimatur of the river

cut deep in the plate.

see in the river the ripples’

picture on the surface of the wind the lifting of the

Other: From Noun to Verb 55

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has taken at the deeper face

the starry freedom

written in the milky rivery line that pours

the brilliance of that image from a depth only black

night fleeing across this land

has to voice.9

An especially good example of the movement from noun to verb’s identifi-

cation or alliance with fugitive spirit is Aime Cesaire’s 1955 poem “The Verb

‘Marroner’ / for Rene Depestre, Haitian Poet.”‘” Written in response to Louis

Aragon and the French Communist Party’s call for a return to traditional poetic

meters and forms, which Depestre supported in the journal Presence africaine, the

poem insists upon openness, experimentation, and formal innovation:

Comrade Depestre

It is undoubtedly a very serious problem

the relation between poetry and Revolution

the content determines the form

and what about keeping in mind as well the dialectical

backlash by which the form taking its revenge

chokes the poems like an accursed fig tree

The poem announces and enacts its poetics under the sign of a neologistic verb.

Cesaire invokes the history of fugitive slaves in the Caribbean, the runaway Afri-

cans known as maroons who escaped the plantations and set up societies of their

own. The French noun for this phenomenon, marronage, is the basis for the word,

the verb marroner, Cesaire invents, an act of invention exemplifying the indepen-

dence for which the poem calls. The coinage has no English equivalent. Clayton

Eshleman and Annette Smith translate it “escape like slaves”:

Is it true this season that they’re polishing up sonnets

for us to do so would remind me too much of the sugary

juice drooled over there by the distilleries on the mornes

when slow skinny oxen make their rounds to the whine

of mosquitoes

Bah! Depestre the poem is not a mill for

grinding sugar cane absolutely not

and if the rhymes are flies on ponds

without rhymes

for a whole season

away from ponds

under my persuasion

let’s laugh drink and escape like slaves


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Such invention in Cesaire’s work, such othering of and taking of liberties with French, has been referred to as “a politics of neologism.”‘ A similar practice can be found in the work of another Caribbean poet, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, who writes of Cesaire: “His fabulous long poem Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (1939) evolved the concept of negritude: that there is a black Caliban Maroon

world with its own aesthetics (sycorax), contributing to world and Third World consciousness.”‘2 Brathwaite’s recently completed second trilogy, comprised of Mother Poem, Sun Poem, and XISelf, is characterized by a versioning of English he calls “calibanization,” a creolization “which comes into conflict with the cultural imperial authority of Prospero.”’13 One of the remarkable features of the work,

one of the features any reader will come away from it unable to forget, is its linguistic texture-not only what’s done with words but what’s done to them. Brathwaite makes greater use of West Indian nation-language (the term he puts in place of “dialect” or “patois”) than in the first trilogy, The Arrivants, but what he’s doing goes farther than that. In his use of “standard” English as well he takes his cue from the vernacular, subjecting words to bends, breaks, deformation, ref-

ormation-othering. Brathwaite concludes the next-to-last poem in The Arrivants with the lines “So

on this ground, / write; / . .. on this ground / on this broken ground.”’14 Nation- language, what some would call broken English, partakes of that ground. “Cali- banization” insists that in West Indian folk speech English isn’t so much broken as broken into, that a struggle for turf is taking place in language. “It was in language,” Brathwaite has written, “that the slave was perhaps most successfully imprisoned by his master; and it was in his (mis-)use of it that he perhaps most effectively rebelled. Within the folk tradition, language was (and is) a creative act in itself.”‘ 5 This tradition of black liberties taken with language informs Mother

Poem, Sun Poem, and XISelf with the weight of a history of anti-imperial struggle, a weight felt in so small a thing as the word. As in the anagrammatic “derange- ment” Shakespeare had recourse to in fashioning Caliban from cannibal, the puns, malapropisms, odd spellings, neologisms, and strained meanings Brathwaite resorts to speak of disturbances outside as well as inside the language, social dis- ruptions the word is thus made to register.

Changing militia to malitia is one small instance of this.’6 As in this instance, most of Brathwaite’s “calibanisms” underscore senses of malice and malaise, emphasize the hurt put on the land and on the people by slavery, the plantation system, colonialism, capitalism. The words partake of that hurt. It shows in the language both as referent and as a telling misuse inflicted on English, an abuse which brings that referent more emphatically to light. The panes of his eyes becomes the pains of his eyes, the games we played becomes the games we paid, landscape becomes

landscrape, the future becomes the few- I ture.’7 Huts becomes hurts and hillsides turn into hillslides:

Other: From Noun to Verb 57

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but those that drone their lorries all day up the sweating

hill to the factory of mister massa midas

those mindless arch

itects that cut the cane

that built their own hurts on the hillslide’8

Brathwaite avails himself of and takes part in a revolution of the word that has

long been a part of Caribbean folk culture, a reinvention of English of the sort

one hears in Rastafarian speech, where oppressor gets replaced by downpressor, liv-

icate takes the place of dedicate and so forth.

But a revolution of the word can only be a beginning. It initiates a break while

remaining overshadowed by the conditions it seeks to go beyond. The shadow

such conditions cast makes for a brooding humor that straddles laughter and

lament, allows no easy, unequivocal foothold in either. Oppositional speech is only

partly oppositional. Cramp and obstruction have to do with it as well. In Brath-

waite’s recent trilogy we not only get the sorts of pointed, transparent wordplay

I just quoted, but something more opaque and more disconcerting, not resolved

as to its tone or intent. Brathwaite revels in a sometimes dizzying mix of parody

and pathos, embrace complicated by a sense of the bizarre and even bordering

on embarrassment here and there. His otherings accent fugitive spirit and imped-

iment as well, the predicaments that bring fugitive spirit into being:

but is like we still start

where we start/in out start/in out start/in out start/in

out since menelek was a bwoy & why

is dat & what is de bess weh to seh so/so it doan sounn



flatts nor hervokitz

nor de pisan cantos nor de souf sea


nor like ink. le & de anglo saxon



a fine

a cyaan get nutten


a cyaan get nutten really


while a stannin up here in me years & like i inside a me



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like de man still mekkin i walk up de slope dat e slide

in black down de whole long curve a de arch



Brathwaite helps impeded speech find its voice, the way Thelonious Monk makes

hesitation eloquent or the way a scat singer makes inarticulacy speak. This places

his work in the New World African tradition of troubled eloquence, othered elo-

quence, I’m here sketching. Here, that is, trouble acts as a threshold. It registers

a need for a new world and a new language to go along with it, discontent with

the world and the ways of speaking we already have. A revolution of the word

can only be a new beginning, “beating,” as Brathwaite puts it, “its genesis genesis

genesis genesis / out of the stammering world.”20

My reference to Monk, as Hurston would say, is no accident. Indeed, had

Hurston written “Characteristics of Negro Expression” later, she might have

included “Rhythm-a-ning” and “Jackie-ing,” two Monk titles, in her list of “verbal nouns.” In her section on asymmetry (“Asymmetry,” she begins it by saying, “is a

definite feature of Negro art”), she might have quoted Chico O’Farrell’s com-

ments on the advent of bebop in the forties:

It was such a new thing, because here we were confronted for the first time with phrases that wouldn’t be symmetrical in the sense that string-music phrasing was symmetrical. Here we were confronted with phrases that were asymmetrical. They would come in into any part of the phrase they felt like, and, at first, also the changes threw us off completely because it was a complete new harmonic-not new, but we’ll say unusual harmonic concept that was so alien to what we had been doing. To us it was such a drastic change that I think anything that came afterwards wasn’t as drastic as that particular first step from swing to bop. I think in a sense bop probably marks the real cut-off point of the old concept of swinging. I don’t mean in the sense of swinging-we were still swinging-but the concept of the square structure of the music as to this new particular way of playing and writing.2′

The bebop revolution of which Monk was a part-Ellington called it “the Marcus

Garvey extension”-was a movement, in its reaction to swing, from noun to verb. It was a revolution that influenced a great number of writers, Brathwaite

included, as can be seen, among other places, in his early poem “Blues.”22 Its

impact upon Baraka’s work and thought can be seen not only in Blues People but

also in the poetics, the valorization of the verb, in the 1964 essay “Hunting Is Not

Those Heads on the Wall.”23 There he espouses a poetics of process, arguing:

“The clearest description of now is the present participle…. Worship the verb,

if you need something.” Halfway through the essay he mentions Charlie Parker,

having earlier remarked: “I speak of the verb process, the doing, the coming into

being, the at-the-time-of. Which is why we think there is particular value in live

music, contemplating the artifact as it arrives, listening to it emerge.” The sense

Other: From Noun to Verb 59

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he advances that “this verb value” is an impulse to “make words surprise them-

selves” recalls the popular description of jazz as “the sound of surprise.”

The white appropriation and commercialization of swing resulted in a music

that was less improvisatory, less dependent upon the inventiveness of soloists. The

increased reliance upon arrangements in the Fletcher Henderson mold led to a

sameness of sound and style among the various bands. In Blues People Baraka

quotes Hsio Wen Shih’s comments regarding the anthology album The Great Swing

Bands, a record Shih refers to as “terrifying” due to the indistinguishability of one

band from another. It was against this uniformity that bebop revolted. “Benny

Goodman,” Howard McGhee recalls, “had been named the ‘King of Swing’….

We figured, what the hell, we can’t do no more than what’s been done with it, we

gotta do somethin’ else. We gotta do some other kind of thing.”24 (“Some other

stuff,” a common expression among black musicians, would become the title of

an album by Grachan Moncur III in the sixties.) Mary Lou Williams said of her

first meeting with Monk in the thirties: “He told me that he was sick of hearing

musicians play the same thing the same way all the time.”25 Monk himself summed

up his music by saying: “How to use notes differently. That’s it. Just how to use

notes differently.”26 It is no accident that bebop was typically performed by small

combos rather than big bands, as was the case with swing. It accentuated indi-

vidual expression, bringing the soloist and improvisation once more to the fore.

Baraka emphasizes nonconformity in his treatment of bebop in Blues People,

stressing what he terms its “willfully harsh, anti-assimilationist sound” (181). The

cultivation of a unique, individual style black music encourages, informs, and inspires his attitudes toward writing. In his statement on poetics for the anthology

The New American Poetry, 1945-1960 Baraka echoes Louis Armstrong’s ad-libbed

line on a 1949 recording with Billie Holiday,27 calling it “How You Sound??” The

emphasis on self-expression in his work is also an emphasis on self-transforma- tion, an othering or, as Brathwaite has it, an X-ing of the self, the self not as noun

but as verb. Of the post-bop innovations of such musicians as Albert Ayler and

Sun Ra, he writes: “New Black Music is this: Find the self, then kill it.”28 To kill the self is to show it to be fractured, unfixed. The dismantling of the unified

subject found in recent critical theory is old news when it comes to black music.

I’ve seen Bukka White break off singing to exhort himself: “Sing it, Bukka!”

Charles Mingus’s autobiography begins: “In other words, I am three.”29 A recent

composition by Muhal Richard Abrams has the title “Conversation with the Three of Me.” Craig Harris remarks of the polyrhythmicity of one of his pieces: “It’s

about cutting yourself in half.”30

Our interest in cultural diversity-diversity within a culture as well as the

diversity of cultures-should lead us to be wary of hypostasis, the risk we take

with nouns, a deadend that will get in the way of change unless “other,” “self,” and such are “given the possibility of ‘infinite’ qualification.’ Wilson Harris, whose novel The Infinite Rehearsal I referred to earlier, has written of “qualitative


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and infinite variations of substance clothed in nouns,” arguing that “nouns may

reveal paradoxically when qualified, that their emphasis on reality and their inner

meaning can change as they are inhabited by variable psychic projections.”32 In

his new novel, The Four Banks of the River of Space, he speaks of “the instructive bite

of music” on the way to suggesting that “breaking a formula of complacency”

consists of “becoming a stranger to oneself.”33 As Monk’s tune “Jackie-ing” tells us, even a so-called proper noun is a verb in disguise-present-participial, pro-

visional, subject to change. John Gilmore, tenor saxophonist with Sun Ra’s band

for some thirty years, tells a story about the time he spent with Art Blakey’s Jazz

Messengers in 1965. After about a month, he says, the music was at so inventive a level that one night in Los Angeles, following one of his solos, trumpeter Lee

Morgan looked over at him and asked: “Is that you, Gilmore?” Morgan then took

a solo that caused Gilmore to ask the same thing of him: “Lee, is that you?”34


The “nounization” of swing furthered and partook in a commoditiza-

tion of music that, as Jacques Attali points out, had been developing in the West

since the 1700s. “Until the eighteenth century,” he writes in Noise: The Political Economy of Music, “music was of the order of the ‘active’; it then entered the order of the ‘exchanged.’ 13 The process was completed in the twentieth century, he

argues, with the birth of the recording industry and its exploitation of black musi- cians: “Music did not really become a commodity until a broad market for pop-

ular music was created. Such a market did not exist when Edison invented the phonograph; it was produced by the colonization of black music by the American

industrial apparatus” (103). The transition from “active” to “exchanged,” verb to

noun, reflects the channeling of power through music it is the point of the book

to insist upon:

Listening to music is . .. realizing that its appropriation and control is a reflection of power, that it is essentially political…. With music is born power and its opposite: subversion…. Music, the quintessential mass activity, like the crowd, is simultaneously a threat and a necessary source of legitimacy; trying to channel it is a risk that every system of power must run. . . . Thus music localizes and specifies power, because it marks and regiments the rare noises that cultures, in their normalization of behavior, see fit to authorize. (6, 14, 19-20)

Attali is at all points alive to the shamanic roots of music, its magico-prophetic role, no matter how obscured those roots and that role tend to be by the legal, technological, and social developments he goes to great lengths to analyze and describe.

The idea of music as a conduit of power, a channeler of violence, a regulator

of society, is particularly visible-unobscured-among the Carib-speaking Kala-

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palo of the Upper Xingu Basin in Brazil. Ellen B. Basso, in her study A Musical

View of the Universe: Kalapalo Myth and Ritual Performances, deals with their ideas

regarding sound and what she terms “orders of animacy,” a hierarchic taxonomy

at the top of which the Kalapalo place entities known as “powerful beings.” These

beings are nonhuman, though they sometimes appear in human form, and, Basso

points out, “they are preeminently and essentially musical”:

Powerful beings are different from concrete historical figures because they and their acts

are “always” and everywhere. . . . This multiplicity of essence or “hyperanimacy” is cou-

pled on the one hand with a multiplicity of feeling and consequent unpredictability and

on the other with a monstrous intensity of some feeling or trait; hence powerful beings are dangerous beings… Their hyperanimacy and multiplicity of essence are perhaps what is deeply metaphorized by their association with musical invention.36

Music represents the highest degree or level of animacy, hyperanimacy, and in

their musical performances the Kalapalo model themselves upon their images of

powerful beings, aspiring to the condition of powerful beings. They seek both to

endow themselves with and to domesticate hyperanimate power. Basso writes:

Music (or more exactly, musical performance) is identified by the Kalapalo as having con-

trolling force over aggressive, transformative, and wandering power; it is also a manifes- tation of that power. The ability of music to control and channel aggression, to limit

hyperanimacy in ways that are helpful to people, has further consequences for under-

standing its importance within ritual contexts. This is because in such contexts of use,

political life-the relations of control that some people effect over others-achieves its

most concrete and elaborate expression. (246)

I would like to highlight two features of Kalapalo thought and practice con-

cerning music and bring them to bear, by way of analogy, upon the minstrel show,

a form of theatrical performance unique to the United States that emerged

during the 1820s and reached its apex between 1850 and 1870. An appropriation

of the slave’s music and dance by white men who blackened their faces with burnt

cork, going on stage to sing “Negro songs,” perform dances derived from those

of the slaves, and tell jokes based on plantation life, the minstrel show is an early

instance of the cannibalization of black music to which we saw Attali refer. “Min-

strelsy,” Robert C. Toll observes in Blacking Up: The Minstrel Show in Nineteenth-

Century America, “was the first example of the way American popular culture

would exploit and manipulate Afro-Americans and their culture to please and

benefit white Americans.”37 The first of the two aspects of Kalapalo thought and

practice I would like to highlight is the fact that powerful beings are associated

with darkness and with the color black, that for ritual performances the Kalapalo

shaman darkens himself with pot black as a way of becoming, Basso explains, “less

visibly human and appearing more like a powerful being” (248). Blacking up, the

white minstrel practice of donning blackface makeup, amounts to a pseudo-


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shamanic performance in which the power of black musicality is complimented

yet simultaneously channeled, caricatured, and contained. As is not the case for

the Kalapalo shaman, for the white minstrel “less visibly human” means less than

human, even as the appeal and the power of the music are being exploited.

Minstrelsy reveals the ambivalent, duplicitous relationship of nineteenth-

century white Americans not only to black people but to music and language as

well. The second aspect of Kalapalo thought and practice I would like to highlight

relates to this, having to do with the distinctions the Kalapalo make among calls,

speech, and music and among degrees of animacy. Human beings share with

entities of lesser animacy the ability to emit calls and with entities of greater ani-

macy, powerful beings, the ability to speak and to make music, but it is speech

that is regarded as quintessentially human. Speech is the form of sound by which

humans are characterized and symbolized in the taxonomic order, music the form

with which powerful beings are identified. Interestingly, calls as well as music are

considered more truthful, more trustworthy than speech:

Human beings can express truthful and empirically motivated feelings best through itsu [calls]. Pain of varying degrees of intensity, deep sadness, shame, joy, sexual passion, frus- tration with oneself, indeed, the entire range of human emotion is expressed most suc- cinctly (and by implication as truthful feeling) this way.

Human beings are distinguished from other ago [living things], however, by their ability to speak, and it is through language that they are most commonly symbolized and distinguished from other categories of entities…. But language allows people to do some- thing very different from animals. Human beings were created by a trickster, whose name “Taugi” means “speaks deceptively about himself”…. Hence human beings are in essence deceitful beings because of their ability to speak. Therefore, people are capable not only of truthfully expressing their feelings, but-and this is the unmarked understanding of human speech for the Kalapalo-of creating an illusory screen of words that conceals their true thoughts. (67-68)

Music, the Kalapalo believe, is more to be trusted than speech because, rather than masking the mental, powerful beings “in J. L. Austin’s sense . .. are perfor-

mative beings, capable of reaching the limits of awareness of meaning by con-

structing action through a process that is simultaneously mental and physical”


Calls and music both put sound in the service of sentience. In this they differ

from speech, which valorizes the sentence, the humanly constructed realm of

meaning, grammaticality, predication. The minstrel show, in its recourse to music

(the slave’s music, moreover, in which calls, cries, and hollers played a prominent

part) and in its “translation” of that music into songs of sentiment (Stephen Fos-

ter’s “Old Folks at Home,” “Massa’s in de Cold, Cold Ground,” and so forth),

critiqued even as it exemplified the deceptiveness of language. The implicit cri-

tique, the recourse to music and to sentimentality, to songs that advertised them-

selves as innocent of ambiguity, insincerity, or circumlocution, was accompanied

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by an explicit critique. This took the form of the stump speech and its malaprop-

isms, the heavy reliance upon word play and puns in minstrel humor and such

routines as the following, called “Modern Language”:

BONES: How things have changed of late. A man can’t depend on anything. A man must

discount his expectations by at least 80 percent.

MIDMAN: In other words, “never count your chickens before they are hatched.”

BONES: That sort of language is not up to the four hundred. You should say that this way:

Never enumerate your feathered progeny before the process of incubation has been thor-

oughly realized. MIDMAN: That does take the rag off the bush.

BONES: Wrong again. You should not say that. You should say: That removes the dilapi-

dated linen from off the shrubbery.38

While the stump speech poked fun at black people’s alleged insecure hold on

language, such humor as this poked fun at language itself, at language’s-espe-

cially elevated language’s-insecure hold on the world. Minstrelsy, under cover

of blackface, was able to vent apprehensions regarding the tenuousness of lan-

guage, even as it ridiculed its target of choice for a supposed lack of linguistic

competence. In regard to language as in other matters, the minstrel show allowed

its audience to have it both ways.

One of the reasons for minstrelsy’s popularity was what Alexander Saxton

terms “the flexibility of standards which flourished behind the fake facade of

blackface presentation.”39 That facade made it permissible to refer to such topics

as homosexuality and masturbation, which were taboo on the legitimate stage, in

the press, and elsewhere. Sentimental songs and female impersonation, as did

the blackface facade, allowed performers and audience alike access to a world of

emotion that was otherwise held to be off limits. Minstrelsy’s wide appeal had

largely to do with the illusion of escape from conventional strictures it afforded,

the degree to which it spoke to a white, predominantly male imaginary. Minstrel

star George Thatcher’s description of his feelings after seeing his first minstrel

show as a boy alerts us to the deep psychic forces at work (and also, incidentally,

sheds light on the title of John Berryman’s Dream Songs, which, dedicated to

Thomas D. Rice, the “father” of blackface minstrelsy, makes use of the minstrel

figure Bones): “I found myself dreaming of minstrels; I would awake with an

imaginary tambourine in my hand, and rub my face with my hands to see if I was

blacked up…. The dream of my life was to see or speak to a performer. “40

The influence of blackface minstrelsy extended well into the present century,

having an impact upon vaudeville, musical comedy, radio, movies, television, and

other forms of popular culture. It tells us a great deal regarding the obstacles in

the way of a genuine multiculturality or cross-culturality, a genuine, nonexploi-

tative cultural exchange. Toll recounts that in 1877 Bret Harte and Mark Twain

wrote a minstrel play based on a poem of Harte’s about the “heathen chinee.” On


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opening night, Twain explained to the audience: “The Chinaman is getting to be

a pretty frequent figure in the United States and is going to be a great political

problem and we thought it well for you to see him on the stage before you had to

deal with the problem.” Toll goes on to remark that Twain’s is a clear and accurate

statement of one of minstrelsy’s functions: “Although on the surface they just

sang songs and told jokes about peculiar people, minstrels actually provided their

audiences with one of the only bases that many of them had for understanding

America’s increasing ethnic diversity” (169). This base, however, was an impedi-

ment rather than an aid to cultural diversity, a strategy of containment through

caricature designed to consolidate white privilege and power. The minstrel made

use of music to channel power in the service of “orders of animacy” in which

whites came out on top, to uphold unequally distributed orders of agency in

which violence, albeit under control, was never out of the picture. Saxton remarks

of a minstrel song: “This ‘comic-banjo’ piece, as it was described, appeared in a

songster published in New York in 1863. Geographically and emotionally, it was

only a block or two from a song such as this to the maiming and lynching of blacks

on the sidewalks of New York during the draft riots of the same year” (23).

The subject of cultural diversity and the goal of a healthy cross-culturality

are haunted by the specter of such appropriation as the minstrel legacy repre-

sents. We should not be surprised that not only pop-cultural but also high-cultural

and avant-garde venues number among its haunts. I’m thinking, for example, of

Gertrude Stein’s early piece “Melanctha,” described by her in “Composition as

Explanation” as “a negro story.” Katherine Mansfield, reviewing the book in

which “Melanctha” appears, Three Lives, heard sentences overwhelmed by sound

and sentience, much to her alarm. Moreover, she heard it as a minstrel band, a

channeling of black musicality into prose:

Let the reader go warily, warily with Melanctha. We confess we read a good page or two before we realised what was happening. Then the dreadful fact dawned. We discovered ourselves reading in syncopated time. Gradually we heard in the distance and then coming uncomfortably near, the sound of banjos, drums, bones, cymbals and voices. The page began to rock. To our horror we found ourselves silently singing “Was it true what Melanctha said that night to him” etc. Those who have heard the Syncopated Orchestra sing “It’s me-it’s me-it’s me” or “I got a robe” will understand what we mean. Melanctha is negro music with all its maddening monotony done into prose; it is writing in real rag- time. Heaven forbid Miss Stein should become a fashion.4

The analogue to what Mansfield misapprehends as black-musical monotony,

Stein’s notorious use of repetition advances a critique of language that is not unre-

lated to the one we see in the minstrel show. Under cover of blackness, she issues

an avant-garde caveat regarding the trustworthiness of the linguistic sign and of

the discursive, ratiocinative order it promotes. The search for and the nature of

“understanding” are pointedly at issue in the story, especially in the relationship

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between impulsive, sensation-seeking Melanctha and reflective, respectability-

minded Jeff:

“Yes I certainly do understand you when you talk so Dr. Campbell. I certainly do under-

stand now what you mean by what you was always saying to me. I certainly do understand

Dr. Campbell that you mean you don’t believe it’s right to love anybody.” “Why sure no,

yes I do Miss Melanctha, I certainly do believe strong in loving, and in being good to everybody, and trying to understand what they all need, to help them.” “Oh I know all about that way of doing Dr. Campbell, but that certainly ain’t the kind of love I mean when I am talking. I mean real, strong, hot love Dr. Campbell, that makes you do anything for

somebody that loves you.” “I don’t know much about that kind of love yet Miss Melanctha. You see it’s this way with me always Miss Melanctha. I am always so busy with my thinking about my work I am doing and so I don’t have time for just fooling, and then too, you see Miss Melanctha, I really certainly don’t ever like to get excited, and that kind of loving hard does seem always to mean just getting all the time excited. That certainly is what I always think from what I see of them that have it bad Miss Melanctha, and that certainly would never suit a man like me.”42

On a typical page of dialogue between the two, the word certainly occurs as often

as twenty times. Such repetition undermines the word, underscoring the uncer-

tainty in which the two of them are immersed. Words are treated as though,

rather than sticking to the real, as Jack Spicer put it, they were continually

slipping from it. Repetition compulsively moves to make up for that slippage,

accenting all the more the words’ insecure grip on the world. Not unlike the Kala-

palo, Jeff at one point complains that “the ordinary kind of holler” would offer

“much more game,” much more forthright expression (127). The story strongly

suggests that the order of what the Kalapalo term itsu is where “understanding”

most unproblematically resides:

And now the pain came hard and harder in Jeff Campbell, he groaned, and it hurt him so, he could not bear it. And the tears came, and his heart beat, and he was hot and worn and bitter in him.

Now Jeff knew very well what it was to love Melanctha. Now Jeff Campbell knew he was really understanding. (145)

“Melanctha” recalls minstrelsy in that Stein uses one form of marginality,

blackness, to mask another, to mask two others in fact-the avant-garde linguistic

experimentation that we just noted (experimental writing being relegated to the

fringes by middle-brow, if not outright philistine American predilections) and, albeit much less evident, lesbianism. Janice Doane and Carolyn Copeland argue

that “Melanctha,” as the latter puts it, “is not really a story about the ethnic reality

of Negroes,”43 that the story reworks material from the earlier novel Q.E.D.

“Melanctha” can be said to be Q.E.D. done in blackface. Doane writes that “the

lesbian affair of Q.E.D. is converted into the heterosexual affair of the ‘Melanctha’

story.”44 Copeland says the same at greater length:


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It will be recalled that Q.E.D., written in 1903, concerned three homosexual women involved in a triangle. When one considers the trouble Theodore Dreiser had with Sister Carrie during that same period, it is not surprising that Gertrude Stein dropped the homo- sexual elements from her story before using the material again. Some very important elements of Q.E.D., however, would have become problematic in a simple shift from homo- sexual to heterosexual in the story, and these elements must be discussed briefly.

In Q.E.D. Adele and Helen together undergo a full and complete series of sexual expe- riences, and obviously they are not married when they experience them. It is important to Adele’s full realization of how completely “out of rhythm” she and Helen are that they not

be married. Adele must be able to walk away from the experience with no ties such as marriage to complicate it. At the turn of this century in America the only background

against which a writer could portray premarital sexual relationships without having an out- raged white, middle-class public to contend with was one dealing with Negroes. It was part

of the white man’s view of the black man that they were sexually promiscuous. If Gertrude Stein wished to drop the homosexual elements and make them heterosexual, her choice of Negroes instead of whites allowed her to retain as much as possible of the important extra- marital elements involved. And this is exactly what she did. (24-25)

Orders of marginality contend with one another here. It is instructive that black-

ness is the noun-mask under whose camouflage two other forms of marginality

gain an otherwise blocked order of animacy or agency, an otherwise unavailable

“verbness.” We are at the sacrificial roots of the social order, the ritual murder of

which music, Attali argues, is the simulacrum. Under cover of scapegoat black-

ness, the otherwise marginal cozies up to the center.45

I say this not to encourage turf wars among marginalized groups or individ-

uals, but to raise a question. Wilson Harris writes of marginality in a way that is

as promising as it is challenging. “Extremity or marginality, in my view,” he writes,

“lifts the medium or diverse experience to a new angle of possibility…. It

involves us in a curiously tilted field in which spatial pre-possessions and our pre-

possessions are dislodged…. Marginality is a raised contour or frontier of habit

in the topography of the heart and mind.”46 I think of this tilt as arising to contend

with another form of tilt-that of unevenly allotted orders of agency, the unfair

playing field, as it’s commonly put.47 I think of the tilt of Edgar Pool’s tenor sax-

ophone in John Clellon Holmes’s novel The Horn:

Edgar Pool blew methodically, eyes beady and open, and he held his tenor saxophone almost horizontally extended from his mouth. This unusual posture gave it the look of some metallic albatross caught insecurely in his two hands, struggling to resume flight. In those early days he never brought it down to earth, but followed after its isolated passage over all manner of American cities, snaring it nightly, fastening his drooping, stony lips to its cruel beak, and tapping the song.48

The idiosyncratic tilt of “isolated originality,” modeled on Lester Young:

It was only one of many bands he worked those years, the tireless jumping colored bands that flourished like a backwash after the initial wave of swing. But already he was blowing strange long lines, rising out of the section, indrawn and resolute, to stand before the

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circling dancers, tilt the big horn roofward from his body, and play his weightless, sharply veering phrases over the chunking of unsubtle drums. In those days, no one heard. (89)

I also, however, think of another tilt we see in the novel, that of a whisky bottle

“tilted into the coffee as he [Pool] spiked it generously” (194) during the last night

of an alcoholic binge, the last night of his life. The tilt of entropy, exhaustion,

disillusionment. Hence, my question: Which tilt will it be? In order that the latter

not prevail, the discourse on cultural diversity will have to acknowledge both.

By this I mean that we need more than content analyses based on assumptions

of representationality. The dislocating tilt of artistic othering, especially as prac-

ticed by African-American artists, deserves a great deal more attention than it’s

been given. While the regressive racial views of white writers like Stein and Ezra

Pound tend to be regarded (if they’re regarded at all) as secondary to their artistic

innovations, black writers tend to be read racially, primarily at the content level,

the noun level, as responding to racism, representing “the black experience.”

That black writers have been experimentally and innovatively engaged with the

medium, addressing issues of form as well as issues of content, tends to be

ignored. The ability to impact upon and to influence the course of the medium,

to move the medium, entails an order of animacy granted only to whites when it

comes to writing. The situation with regard to music is a bit better, black musicians having been acknowledged to be innovators, even though their white imitators

enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim greatly disproportionate to their musical contributions. The nonrecognition of black artistic othering is sympto-

matic of the social othering to which black people are subjected, particularly in

light of the celebration accorded artistic othering practiced by whites. This is a

disparity the discussion of cultural diversity should be addressing. Perhaps we can increase not only the quantity but also the quality of attention

given to African-American art and cultural practices. Perhaps we can make it possible for the music of Henry Threadgill or David S. Ware to be as widely known as that of Wynton Marsalis; Ed Roberson’s Lucid Interval as Integral Music

or Will Alexander’s The Black Speech of the Angel to win the sort of acclaim accorded Rita Dove’s Thomas and Beulah; Amiri Baraka to be as well known for The Dead

Lecturer as for Dutchman. If we are to do so, we must, ‘a la Cesaire, confront the

neotraditionalism that has taken hold of late with a counter-tradition of mar-

ronage, divergence, flight, fugitive tilt. Henry Dumas put it well in “Black Trum-

peter”: “The wing praises the root by taking to the limbs.”49


This essay was first presented as a lecture as part of “Otherness: A Symposium on Cultural Diversity” at the Detroit Institute of Arts, March 1991.


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1. LeRoi Jones, Blues People: Negro Music in White America (New York, 1963), 143. 2. Dick Hebdige, Cut ‘n’ Mix: Culture, Identity, and Caribbean Music (London, 1987), 12.

3. LeRoiJones, Black Music (New York, 1967), 66. 4. Liner notes, Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard Again! (Impulse! AS-9124). 5. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (Urbana, Ill., 1978), 9-10. 6. Zora Neale Hurston, “Characteristics of Negro Expression,” in The Sanctified Church

(Berkeley, 1981), 49-68. 7. Ibid., 69-78.

8. Lucy McKim Garrison, William Allen, Henry G. Spaulding, M. F. Armstrong, and Helen W. Ludlow, quoted in Eileen Southern, The Music of Black Americans: A History

(New York, 1983), 191-94.

9. Ed Roberson, “Taking the Print,” Hambone 9 (Winter 1991): 2. 10. Aime Cesaire, The Collected Poetry, trans. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith

(Berkeley, 1983), 368-71. 11. James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and

Art (Cambridge, Mass., 1988), 175-81. 12. Edward Kamau Brathwaite, XlSelf (Oxford, 1987), 129-30. 13. Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Mother Poem (Oxford, 1977), 121. 14. Edward Brathwaite, The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy (Oxford, 1973), 265-66. 15. Edward Brathwaite, The Development of Creole Society in Jamaica, 1770-1820 (Oxford,

1971), 237. 16. Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Sun Poem (Oxford, 1982), 56. 17. Ibid., 6, 19, 55, 87. 18. Ibid., 61. 19. Brathwaite, XlSelf, 85-86. 20. Brathwaite, Sun Poem, 97. 21. Ira Gitler, Swing to Bop: An Oral History of the Transition in Jazz in the 1940s (New York,

1985), 153.

22. Edward Brathwaite, Other Exiles (London, 1975), 12-16. 23. LeRoiJones, Home: Social Essays (New York, 1966), 173-78. 24. Gitler, Swing to Bop, 314. 25. Liner notes, The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Thelonious Monk (Mosaic MR4-10 1). 26. Liner notes, Thelonious Monk Live at the It Club (Columbia C2-38030). 27. “My Sweet Hunk O’ Trash.” 28. Jones, Black Music, 176. 29. Charles Mingus, Beneath the Underdog (New York, 1980), 7. 30. Liner notes, Black Bone (Soul Note SN 10550). 31. Artistic othering pertains to intracultural as well as intercultural dialectics. The will to

change whereby African-American culture reflects critically upon the dominant white culture is intertwined with its impulse to reflect critically upon itself, the will to change whereby it redefines, reinvents, and diversifies itself. Bebop, for example, was a reac- tion to the datedness of the music played by black swing musicians as well as to its appropriation by white musicians. No last word, no seal of prophecy, bebop in turn became dated, subject to the changes initiated by Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, and others during the late fifties and early sixties. An aspect of intracul- tural dialectics that we should not overlook is the role of eccentric individuals whose contributions come to be identified with the very culture which may have initially rejected them. Think of Ornette Coleman being beaten up outside a Baton Rouge dancehall in 1949 for interjecting “modern” runs into an R&B solo; A. B. Spellman, Black Music: Four Lives (New York, 1970), 101. The recent ascendancy of cultural

Other: From Noun to Verb 69

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studies in academia tends to privilege collectivity and group definition over individual

agency and self-expression, to see the latter as a reflection of the former. In relating

the two, however, we should remember that in matters of artistic othering individual

expression both reflects and redefines the collective, realigns, refracts it. Thus it is that

Lester Young was in the habit of calling his saxophone’s keys his people. Bill Crow

reports that when the keys on his horn got bent during a Jazz at the Philharmonic

tour Young went to Flip Phillips for help. “Flip,” he said, “my people won’t play!”;Jazz Anecdotes (New York, 1990), 272.

32. Wilson Harris, Explorations: A Selection of Talks and Articles, 1966-1981 (Mundelstrup, Den., 1981), 139.

33. Wilson Harris, The Four Banks of the River of Space (London, 1990), 140-41. 34. Art Sato, “Interview with John Gilmore,” Be-Bop and Beyond 4, no. 2 (March-April

1986): 21.

35. Jacques Attali, Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Minneapolis, 1985), 57.

36. Ellen B. Basso, A Musical View of the Universe: Kalapalo Myth and Ritual Performances (Philadelphia, 1985), 69-70.

37. Robert C. Toll, Blacking Up: The Minstrel Show in Nineteenth-Century America (New York, 1974), 51.

38. Complete Minstrel Guide (Chicago, n.d.), 49-50.

39. Alexander Saxton, “Blackface Minstrelsy and Jacksonian Ideology,” American Quarterly 27, no. 1 (March 1975): 12.

40. Toll, Blacking Up, 33.

41. Quoted in Elizabeth Sprigge, Gertrude Stein: Her Life and Work (New York, 1957), 124-


42. Gertrude Stein, Three Lives (New York, 1990), 85-86. 43. Carolyn Copeland, Language and Time and Gertrude Stein (Iowa City, Ia., 1975), 24. 44. Janice Doane, Silence and Narrative: The Early Novels of Gertrude Stein (Westport, Conn.,

1986), 52.

45. For a discussion of Stein’s racist view of black people and of “Melanctha” as “the sign- post of modernism’s discourse on the nonwhite,” see Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Reading Race: White American Poets and the Racial Discourse in the Twentieth Century (Athens, Ga., 1988), 21-28.

46. Wilson Harris, “In the Name of Liberty,” Third Text 11 (Summer 1990): 15.

47. Hurston, in “Characteristics of Negro Expression”: “After adornment the next most striking manifestation of the Negro is Angularity. Everything that he touches becomes angular.”

48. John Clellon Holmes, The Horn (New York, 1988), 8.

49. Henry Dumas, Play Ebony Play Ivory (New York, 1974), 52.


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  • Contents
    • p. 51
    • p. 52
    • p. 53
    • p. 54
    • p. 55
    • p. 56
    • p. 57
    • p. 58
    • p. 59
    • p. 60
    • p. 61
    • p. 62
    • p. 63
    • p. 64
    • p. 65
    • p. 66
    • p. 67
    • p. 68
    • p. 69
    • p. 70
  • Issue Table of Contents
    • Representations, No. 39 (Summer, 1992) pp. 1-133
      • Front Matter
      • Race, Breed, and Myths of Origin: Chillingham Cattle as Ancient Britons [pp. 1-22]
      • Love and Theft: The Racial Unconscious of Blackface Minstrelsy [pp. 23-50]
      • Other: From Noun to Verb [pp. 51-70]
      • Theses on Intellectuals [pp. 71-79]
      • Representing a Relationship: Notes on a Beethoven Concerto [pp. 80-101]
      • The Harmony of the Tea Table: Gender and Ideology in the Piano Nocturne [pp. 102-133]
      • Back Matter

How it Works

  1. Clіck оn the “Place оrder tab at the tоp menu оr “Order Nоw” іcоn at the bоttоm, and a new page wіll appear wіth an оrder fоrm tо be fіlled.
  2. Fіll іn yоur paper’s іnfоrmatіоn and clіck “PRІCE CALCULATІОN” at the bоttоm tо calculate yоur оrder prіce.
  3. Fіll іn yоur paper’s academіc level, deadlіne and the requіred number оf pages frоm the drоp-dоwn menus.
  4. Clіck “FІNAL STEP” tо enter yоur regіstratіоn detaіls and get an accоunt wіth us fоr recоrd keepіng.
  5. Clіck оn “PRОCEED TО CHECKОUT” at the bоttоm оf the page.
  6. Frоm there, the payment sectіоns wіll shоw, fоllоw the guіded payment prоcess, and yоur оrder wіll be avaіlable fоr оur wrіtіng team tо wоrk оn іt.

Nоte, оnce lоgged іntо yоur accоunt; yоu can clіck оn the “Pendіng” buttоn at the left sіdebar tо navіgate, make changes, make payments, add іnstructіоns оr uplоad fіles fоr the оrder created. e.g., оnce lоgged іn, clіck оn “Pendіng” and a “pay” оptіоn wіll appear оn the far rіght оf the оrder yоu created, clіck оn pay then clіck оn the “Checkоut” оptіоn at the next page that appears, and yоu wіll be able tо cоmplete the payment.

Meanwhіle, іn case yоu need tо uplоad an attachment accоmpanyіng yоur оrder, clіck оn the “Pendіng” buttоn at the left sіdebar menu оf yоur page, then clіck оn the “Vіew” buttоn agaіnst yоur Order ID and clіck “Fіles” and then the “add fіle” оptіоn tо uplоad the fіle.

Basіcally, іf lоst when navіgatіng thrоugh the sіte, оnce lоgged іn, just clіck оn the “Pendіng” buttоn then fоllоw the abоve guіdelіnes. оtherwіse, cоntact suppоrt thrоugh оur chat at the bоttоm rіght cоrner


Payment Prоcess

By clіckіng ‘PRОCEED TО CHECKОUT’ yоu wіll be lоgged іn tо yоur accоunt autоmatіcally where yоu can vіew yоur оrder detaіls. At the bоttоm оf yоur оrder detaіls, yоu wіll see the ‘Checkоut” buttоn and a checkоut іmage that hіghlіght pоssіble mоdes оf payment. Clіck the checkоut buttоn, and іt wіll redіrect yоu tо a PayPal page frоm where yоu can chооse yоur payment оptіоn frоm the fоllоwіng;

  1. Pay wіth my PayPal accоunt‘– select thіs оptіоn іf yоu have a PayPal accоunt.
  2. Pay wіth a debіt оr credіt card’ or ‘Guest Checkout’ – select thіs оptіоn tо pay usіng yоur debіt оr credіt card іf yоu dоn’t have a PayPal accоunt.
  3. Dо nоt fоrget tо make payment sо that the оrder can be vіsіble tо оur experts/tutоrs/wrіters.


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