Tag Archives: Toni Morrison

Between The World And Me, And Every Other Black Man.

ta-nehisi-coates-new-york-magazine

 

More times than others, I read books that compliment my moods. If I am happy, I will not even think to touch a Toni Morrison, but rather consider some work from Maya. When I want to feel hopeful, Ill grab Zora Neale. And on a rainy day, shade is usually being thrown from Richard Wright and Audre Lorde.

But I didn’t get a chance to choose this book, it just happened. And I realized that I not only read the book at the right time, but so did everyone else. And that was because we had no choice.

I took my seat on the Ta-Nehisi Coates’ bandwagon and I don’t think that I will ever get off. In fact, I might have to bully someone for their front seat  because his new book, Between The World and Me, helped heal my temporal fury.

The overall purpose, a letter to his son, was more than I can bare. The thought of constructing a letter that contained all the problems to Black male existence and not even giving a solution, because there is none that you can possibly provide, shows me all the revolutionary steps needed in the awakening  process.

images-160

The idea of the body; existing physically, biologically, politically, and socially, was extremely necessary to digest. The consequences of not living  causes disembodiment. Both self-inflicted and inflicted, in which you have no control over. The tennis game of Coates analyzing his manhood versus raising a child to challenge manhood was extremely striking.

And the responsibility of mustering up a narrative that share Black America’s grief has already been acknowledged by one of the finest American writers ever, Toni Morrison.

‘The modern-day James Baldwin’ comparison straps this author with an extreme high award of valor, because someone has to fill the shoes. And Coates, with his blunt references and his bold opinions does nothing less than remind you of our Uncle Baldwin himself.

aac3dea5-857c-4dc9-918b-171d187d9737_800

This is no ordinary book review, because this is no ordinary book. I usually include fancy quotes and witty remarks, but it is nearly impossible to choose quotes that are more important than others.

I found myself in a salsa of emotions during my time reading because it is reflective of the current happenings in the world. This book does not put you in some kind of fairy tale land that you are able to get away from once you close the book. The reality is, the book is just as dark as the world we share.

Go ahead, it is safe to pick up.

Love: An Essential Nutrient.


945x1280.png.fb828aa22f7b4fbaa559bd6c21fe2e78.large

Messages in mass media today give love a bad name. Switching on the radio, you’ll hear songs of either bitterness in regards to love or of heartbreak, which give off the impression that love is a scarring experience as opposed to an essential component for survival, sanity, and growth. Common sentiments about not needing love, primarily in this age, have turned us away from the free-spirited lovers of the 60’s flower child era singing The Beatles’ hit song “All You Need Is Love” (1967) to the jaded individuals who choose success, independence, and capital over love. Could this new impression of love be a reaction to ignorance of the idea’s actual definition? What is love, anyway?

American psychiatrist and notable author, M. Scott Peck, defines love in his 1978 novel The Road Less Traveled, as “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth”. In this sense, love is a selfless act. In her novel Paradise (1997), literary laureate Toni Morrison proclaims, “Love is not a gift. It is a diploma,” asserting that love is something to be earned, a benefit reaped as a result of hard work and dedication. These are two interpretations of love we rarely hear about anymore. Instead, love is commonly associated with acts of possessiveness, jealousy, obsession, and straight up emotional instability. Misconceptions of loves true meaning have led to the current demonization of this concept. In ignorance, lovelessness has become normalized in our day-to-day interactions with one another.

http%3A%2F%2F24.media.tumblr.com%2Ff9e3563bfae27d59567a9994507b92ea%2Ftumblr_mq83ssvSqJ1s9qjnuo1_500

Believe it or not, we need love. Without care/nurturance, one of the several components that make love, we can die, whether in a metaphorical, spiritual sense, or a very literal, physical death. According to PsychologyToday.com researchers have discovered infant mortality rates are 30%-40% higher among babies in orphanages who lack nurturance during infancy. Those who don’t perish grow into persons who struggle with empathy, fearing physical touch and having trouble establishing connections with other people.. As a species who is dependent on one another to navigate through the world, this is a prime example of how necessary it is to have love at one’s foundation. Also, love is literally in the mind. Recent studies haves mapped out about 12 areas of the brain that function to convey our expression of love. Some of these areas release various chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, commonly known as “the love hormone,” proving, for the skeptics, that love is not a myth.

http%3A%2F%2F24.media.tumblr.com%2Fb12bc94dcd6eb7f6693a56742095cfe5%2Ftumblr_n1mtfo1X9Y1qhwwpdo1_500

Earlier I mentioned care as one aspect of love. Amongst care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect, and trust are all components that function to create love, according to bell hooks in her radical book All About Love: New Visions (1999). We typically think of love as being just one of the aforementioned, when love is the work of using all in conjunction in order to add to your own and/or another’s growth & development. By these different definitions it’s safe to see love as enrichment, a safe space for us as humans to freely develop into the empathetic, sentient beings we were meant to be. Put simply, love is a tool of freedom not an excuse to seek ownership over another person. Being controlling hinders growth, which is in the way of love’s goal.

http%3A%2F%2F37.media.tumblr.com%2F200da25135597b5fd6b40c0636d8b923%2Ftumblr_mpajf6hjIx1rn398zo1_500

In conclusion, we could all use a little more love in our lives, especially now with the many crises occurring globally. As these innovative author’s and psychiatrist have clearly stated, love is an act of selflessness, extending parts of you for the benefit another person and in turn, becoming, also, a benefactor. We are losing fellow beings, brothers, sisters, and friends, whether literally by physical death, or spiritually via a diminishment of sanity and feelings of loneliness in a fully occupied world because of love’s lack. I propose a rerouting of the newly popular lovelessness through a mass reteaching of love’s true meaning in a world that seems to have forgotten the benefits of what it means to bathe in the richness of love.

Beloved: Week 2 Synopsis.

photo 2

“Good for you. More it hurt, more better it is. Cant nothing heal without pain, you know,”

This week the plot thickens with the appearance of Beloved and many more themes and additions to the book. Here’s some things that we’ve covered, and some things we missed: 

1. The flesh aspect of this segment was very well exposed, with Beloved coming out of the swamp to start her new life in a physical body, and the physical characters throughout the text reacting to a new person in the house. The character dynamics between Paul D relationship with Denver and Sethe; Sethe and Denver’s newfound relationship with Beloved; and company to Denver as she finally felt the spirit’s physical presence.

2. Paul D and Sethe’s relationship seems to become more prominent, realizing that their storytelling of slavery is necessary in their relationship. Paul D’s disclosure on his experience as a slave to Sethe is what is bringing them both together, as Paul D brings another piece to Sethe’s story about Halle and his existence. Sethe cannot continue to think that Halle might be somewhere still alive, when this entire time she coped with the fact that he might be dead. Sethe’s openness to hearing Paul D’s stories is vital in the continuation of him remembering the past. Thus, having this couple feel as if their relationship is vital in hashing out their experiences.

3. Baby Suggs community scene in the middle of the woods was very important in the healing process for the characters in the story. Toni Morrison did a great job in vividly show a flash back and connecting it to the solution of the problems within the text, and the solution to loving Blackness in general. Loving ourselves and protecting the things that we cannot change. Such a beautiful and very important part in the text.

4. We also see that Beloved has some unfinished business with her mother. Whether it is positive or negative, Denver is beginning to realize that her sister’s visit isn’t to merry after all. Few scenes show how Beloved begins to get very territorial over Sethe and the things she has planned to ask and do to her mother. Is Denver beginning to become isolated all over again? 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Things that were not discussed:

Unknown-39

The significance of Mister, the rooster.

In Paul D’s recollection of biting an iron, his grand memory of a rooster seemed to be very interesting. He states,

“Mister, he looked so..free. Better than me. Stronger, tougher. Son a bitch couldn’t even get out the shell by hisself but he was still king and I was…”

“Mister was allowed to be and stay what he was. But I wash;t allowed to be and stay what I was. Even if you cooked him you’d be cooking a rooster named Mister. But wasn’t no way I’d ever be Paul D again living or dead. Schoolteacher changed me. I was something else and that something was less than a chicken sitting in the sun on a tub.”

In this text, concepts of freedom, racism, identity,and self-worth bled through this paragraph. What was Paul D really trying to say? Was his being less than a rooster on a plantation? How did that rooster make him see hisself as a slave? Something to think about…

This Sunday our discussion continues covering our third segment of the text, (pg. 125-198 in hard copy, 205-317 in pdf) followed by another synopsis of Beloved!

Beloved: Week 1 Synopsis.

photo 2

This past week, we finally kicked off our reading and discussion, and we must say that our first dialogue was a success! The best way to dive into the beginning of a great book! Breaking down themes that were clearly noticeable and helping others to see different perspectives was definitely needed and we wanted to highlight some things that we did discuss, along with some ideas that we didn’t. We also have some tweets for reminding and acknowledgement!

Points to remember:

1. Morrison’s common theme in this first segment is a plethora of emotions around adversity. Desperation, grief, guilt, isolation, evil, heavy, sad, lonely, rebuked, etc. All these words lay the groundwork of how unfortunate our scenes are set, but in fact very powerful. 

2. Each theme or unsuitable situation is not only a reflection of the book’s time period, but the reality in our current events as well. Trauma from slavery, gender issues, motherhood, Black womanhood, truth-telling, spirituality, etc also bleeds through the world we live in today. 

3. Denver’s character is very interesting to observe. Not only does she manage the Beloved spirit in the house, but she is the realist in Paul D’s and Sethe’s relationship, along with the after effects of Sethe’s parenting. 

4. “Its not evil, just sad.”

5. “Anything dead coming back to life hurts.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Things that were not discussed:

Each week we have a small segment of something that was not mentioned on Sunday. This column is very important to us, as it attempts to shed more light and perspective to the book, providing us with a new angle in understanding the text. 

The Symbolism of the Chokecherry Tree

photo3

Photo Credit: Kelsey Otocki

We read in the text about Sethe scars on her back being her “Chokecherry tree”. Could this depiction of a tree be symbolism of the family baggage that she carries throughout “Beloved”? Besides the flashbacks of her experience in Sweet Home and the casual talks and conversations about Baby Suggs, could each scar have a meaning behind Sethe’s real story and truths? Moreover, can the idea of taking off the tough shell (her clothes) to reveal the horrible past and her current situations be the rhetoric behind the Black Woman and the reason for the pain and suffering in the Sethe character? What do you think?

Stay tuned for our sunday discussion followed by another synopsis next week covering our second portion (68-124 in hard copy, 97-205 pdf version) of Toni Morrison’s Beloved!