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robertogreco : aimécésaire   3

Verso: "The Funeral of C.L.R. James"
"C. L. R. James, the pioneering Trinidadian socialist historian and writer, died on this day 30 years ago in London with his funeral held a few weeks later at Tunapuna Cemetery, Trinidad. On the arrival back in Trinidad of his body, his long-time comrade John La Rose read passages of Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal - the great Caribbean poem of exile and return. In this article, Jackqueline Frost investigates the continental connections of James and Césaire, and the politics of return."



"In James’ systematic determinism, the return to the Caribbean for political intellectuals takes on the dimensions of a prophecy. This is the logic at work in the final paragraph of “Fanon and the Caribbean,” where James considers what the Algerian revolutionary would be doing in 1978 were he still alive. Though at the end of his life Fanon no longer considered himself Caribbean, James’ goal in this short text is to show that Fanon’s upbringing in Martiniquan society inescapably made him the political actor and thinker he was. In abandoning the West Indies for Africa, as part of a generation of Caribbean militants whose major political engagement took similar forms, Fanon affirms rather than negates his Caribbean identity. James claims here that “the moment Fanon heard that in the Caribbean Cuba was free and the other countries were gaining independence, he said then he would go back to struggle there with them.” Whether Fanon’s promise to return to the Caribbean can be considered authentic or apocryphal, the tendency of return permitted these sorts of thought-experiments. The ugly outcomes of James’ own return to Trinidad and Tobago and 1958 and his mid-60s venture into electoral politics, did not dissuade him from singing the accolades of West Indians and their society in advancing world civilization through their specific “creative contributions.” As James writes in Beyond a Boundary, he had discovered that what mattered was “movement: Not where you are or what you have, but where you have come from, where you are going and the rate at which you are getting there.”[xx] These are some of the words carved into his gravestone in Tunapuna, Trinidad. While returning to the place one comes from has a specific meaning for West Indians in the second half of the 20th century, James reminds us that no cultural object is ever disconnected from the society which produced its author. On the 30th anniversary of James’ death, his epitaph and the passages read at his Ceremony of Return caution us against ignoring the social worlds that we often hold in isolation from the political and poetic acts they generate."

[See also (referenced in the essay): https://www.marxists.org/archive/james-clr/works/1978/11/fanon.htm ]
2019  clrjames  caribbean  culture  franzfanon  aimécésaire  jackquelinefrost  cuba  trinidad  haiti  johnlarose  jorgelefevretavárez  decolonization  latinamerica  africa  claudiajones  jacquesstephenalexis  elsagoveia  géraldbloncourt  saragomez  jacquesroumain  nancymorejón  renédepestre  andrewsalkey  suzannecésaire  mikeysmith  walteriocarbonell  nicolásguillén  alejocarpentier  negrismomovement  negrismo  race  negritude  cam  sociology  orlandopatterson  wilsonharris  georgelamming  art  literature  politics  marxism  aubreywilliams  altheamcnish  stuarthall  1999  martinique  algeria  1978 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Spiralism: Haiti’s Long-Lost Poetics of Protest | Public Books
"Kaiama L. Glover’s choice to translate—brilliantly—this particular work may be seen as a gesture toward reconnecting Spiralism with the broader literary history of the Caribbean, a field largely dominated by Martinican thinkers such as Aimé Césaire and Édouard Glissant.

What is Spiralism? The novel opens with lyrical flights that lay bare the movement’s objectives:
More effective at setting each twig aquiver in the passing of waves than a pebble dropped into a pool of water, Spiralism defines life at the level of relations (colors, odors, sounds, signs, words) and historical connections …

Re-creating wholes from mere details and secondary materials, the practice of Spiralism reconciles Art and Life through literature, and necessarily breaks with the hypocrisy of the Word … Spiralism uses the Complete Genre, in which novelistic description, poetic breath, theatrical effect, narratives, stories, autobiographical sketches, and fiction all coexist harmoniously …


These first pages are not set off from the main narrative as paratextual commentary; instead, they are woven directly into the fabric of the text they foretell."



"Unlike other Franco-Caribbean genres such as Négritude or Créolité, Spiralism does not announce a geopolitical project, but its social dimension is made explicit in Ready to Burst. Like Jean-Paul Sartre’s notion of Total Literature2—a genre that would be legible to both the oppressor and the oppressed, and that would be the synthesis of destruction and construction—Spiralism’s Complete Genre is meant to be accessible to all. As Paulin, the writer and Frankétienne’s fictional alter ego, explains, Spiralism must tailor its shape to the needs of proletarian readers: “Our age doesn’t lend itself to reading literary works, boring in their too often useless length. … Between the fatigue of the night before and that of the day after … the laboring classes only have limited time—if they have any at all—to read printed characters. … And so, it’s a question of stating things quickly.” Spiralism aims to cleanse the written word of its bourgeois nature by freeing it from the conventional sentence. Thus unshackled, Paulin explains, the word acquires velocity and magnitude. It becomes “Inflated with meanings. Swollen with allusions.”

Spiralism is, perhaps above all, a state of mind in the face of life’s absurdity. “Whirlwinds. Vertigos. Storms. My life beats to the rhythm of turbulences,” declares Paulin. “I am a Spiralist. … It’s not that I’m looking to be scandalous. But because life itself emerges from the cry of blood. Wayward child of pain. Of violence. And that, too, is Spiralism.” On the one hand, these semantic splinters perform the feeling of insularity, of oppression, of restlessness, and of fragmentation that characterized the life of the Haitian people under the Duvalier regime; on the other hand, the resistance they stage against traditional literature symbolically punctures all forms of dictatorships.

Spirals are intrinsically infinite, incomplete. Paulin never finishes his novel and eventually vanishes into thin air, having perhaps been a figment of Raynand’s imagination all along. And much as the spiral gives and takes, Frankétienne reminds the reader that his work’s self-proclaimed aesthetic allegiance matters less than the sheer fact of writing: “I no longer worry about what I write. I simply write. Because I must. Because I’m suffocating. I write anything. Any way. People can call it what they want: novel, essay, poem, autobiography, testimony, narrative, memory exercise, or nothing at all. I don’t even know, myself.”"
2015  spiralism  haiti  poetry  poetics  protest  frankétienne  kaimaglover  aimécésaire  édouardglissant  literature  form  corinestofle  jean-paulsartre  canon  legibility  renéphiloctète  jean-claudefignolé 
november 2018 by robertogreco

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