Blogpieces for Beloved, Jazz and Paradise

Entering into the emotional dramas and ancestral landscapes of Toni Morrison's novels can be daunting but also exhilarating, and sometimes sobering.  Vivid passages can lead us to discover new ways of being in the world as sheer, concrete descriptions rock us 

Although she has claim, she is not claimed.In the place where long grass opens, the girl who waited to be loved and cry shame erupts into her separate parts, to make it easy for the chewing laughter to swallow her all away.

This is Morrison's descriptive metaphor for how the character called Beloved disappeared from the house on 124 Bluestone Road.

What do you feel about this young woman after reading this?

no permission yet

You see, I want to know what you think. I want us to be able to share our responses to not only specific image-scenes, as in the above example, but to the emotional arcs of all of the characters; to the landscapes and ancestral territories, to the esthetic experiences of readers encountering dramatic arrangements of the parts of the story, the juxtapositions and oppositions.

Joy Deb /Pexels

That's why I've created what I call "blog-pieces": "blog" to retain the character of a short writing--with images, video links, musical links, and the like--and "pieces" to evoke what are essentially informal, reflective non-fiction pages that speak directly to the reader.

Blogpieces are Organized into 3 Sections:

FOUNDATIONS: Root Blogs, Reader's Participation & Emotional Story Structures

THE HEART OF THE MATTER: Time & Memory, Claiming Geographic Space, Music & Intermediality

LARGER CONTEXTS:  More on Aesthetics, Morrison's Intertextuality, & Race and Response-ability

9 BLOGPIECE "CLUSTERS": One way of going through these is to from the upper left to the lower right.  But you can browse as you wish!  Happy Reading and Responding!

ALTERNATIVE: A Chronological unfolding of the blogs--to see each blog in sequence

Talking Back to Aeschylus

“But when necessity’s yoke was put upon him/ he changed, and from the heart the breath came bitter/ and sacrilegious, utterly infidel,/to warp a will now to be stopped at nothing.” –Aeschylus, The Agamemnon Morrison’s art of the novel is rich with intertextual references to other works of literature.  There are several excellent studies you may know…

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“Human, All too Human:” Toni Morrison’s James Joyce. 

Jazz’ narrator is wily and temperamental, which is why she may be “talking back” to another narrator in another novel:  Molly Bloom at the end of James Joyce’s Ulysses.  The nameless narrator of Jazz   exemplifies a type of intertextuality that Morrison has developed between characters in different novels.  Toni Morrison’s Beloved Trilogy  considers whether or not…

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“Out Here in the Real”: Race and Response-ability

“When movements have been unable to clear the clouds, it has been the poets—no matter the medium—who have succeeded in imagining the color of the sky.” –Robyn Kelly, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination   All of Morrison’s works reflect values that have been forged through generations of African Americans since slavery began; values not only…

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Autobiographical Reflections on Race and Response-ability

  For four centuries, virulent and destructive racism against African Americans has deeply inflected the moral, ethical, and cultural networks of all Americans. Black men, women, and children have developed many forms of resistance to that racism, from political communities and activisms to artistic resistances that comprise freedom. It is through their courage and love for the…

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”More Work, Down Here in Paradise”: Backframing the Beloved Trilogy

Just as the sea’s rhythmic waves refresh two exhausted figures lying together on a seashore in the epilogue to Paradise, they wash over us as well, as we’re finishing not only an unresolved-but-hopeful novel, but an unresolved-but-hopeful trilogy.  My chosen language, “unresolved-but-hopeful” was not chosen to be glib; nor am I lazy in grabbing at…

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“Remembering Seemed Unwise”

  We read and reflect on Morrison’s characters’ senses of time and memory, as we explore in Rhythms of Memory in Beloved, Jazz, & Paradise  and Making Time.  But how will readers experience the time of reading the narratives? This blog will address this question: How do narrative elements such as flash-backs draw readers into experiencing…

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Making Time

“Black people . . . have been simultaneously deprived of time and fixed in it by the color of their skin”  —James Baldwin In Black Time: Fiction of Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States (1981), Bonnie Barthold states that in much African American literature, there is a practice of “making time” in the face…

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Rhythms of Memory in Beloved, Jazz, & Paradise

Memory is a highly-charged emotional experience for Morrison’s characters in the Beloved project, and it becomes a vast theme for readers to grapple with as well.  Questions of how much love is too much or not enough in Morrison’s trilogy project frequently intersect with another set of exigencies: how must the demands of remembering and…

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Jazz and Literary Improvisation

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According to lore, jazz was an amalgamation.  In 1894, New Orleans Creoles lost their separate status from African Americans, so Jelly Roll Morton and Sidney Bechet started mixing it up with Buddy Bolden, Joe “King” Oliver, and Louis Armstrong. The birth of jazz was a dialogue. The hallmarks of jazz—however one defines its origins—“are improvisation,…

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Toni Morrison’s Rhythmic Geographies: The Walking Men

Walking figures form a prominent motifs in Morrison’s trilogy.  There are many figures who are on treks, from the first few pages of Beloved (Sethe through the field of chamomile; Paul D across the country) through the story-endings of Paradise (Pallas’ ghostly figure float-walking through the walls of her mother’s house; Deacon Morgan’s barefoot walk…

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