Memory, haunting, ready to die

From Marisa Parham‘s Haunting and Displacement in African American Literature and Culture (2009) “Haunting is not compelling because it resonates with the supernatural, but rather because it is appropriate to a sense of what it means to live in between things – in between cultures, in between times, in between spaces – to live with various kinds…

Langston Hughes, race, memory

Happy 112th birthday to Langston Hughes. A few items in memory: one video of Gary Bartz’s interpretation of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (thanks to Chike Jeffers for the link), a reading of “The Weary Blues” to jazz accompaniment in 1958, and a passage from Haunting and Displacement on Hughes’ complex relation to Africa and…

Baldwin, language, blackness

In “Letter on Humanism,” a letter written to French theorist Jean Beaufret in response to the claim that his book Being and Time did not contain an ethics, Martin Heidegger famously remarks that “language is the house of Being.” This is a signature moment in Heidegger’s work, one that (roughly) shifts his work from the…

Trouble and Death

I’m writing and thinking about two passages. The first is an old 1920s blues and string band lyric, one that has many variations, but comes down to this turn of phrase: If trouble don’t kill me I believe I’ll never die The lyric comes up a lot in profoundly sad and mournful songs, of course,…