Archive for the Black Studies category

Black mystic in hyperspace

As a teenager I learned that the mathematics and philosophical exploitation of four-dimensional geometry (hyperspace) became a fad in the late 19th century. Following the development of the mathematics of the fourth dimension, the popularization of the concept manifested itself in literature, most notably in the works of Charles Howard Hinton and Edwin Abbott Abbott […]

McCarthyism, American Philosophy, & Black philosophers

About a decade ago I received this list at a conference of the American Philosophical Association and uploaded it: The Honor Roll: American Philosophers Professionally Injured During the McCarthy Era by John McCumber Following this conference I investigated various writings of McCumber and summed up my reactions in a section of my web page New […]

Existential America (6): Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, C.L.R. James

Cotkin was wise to include Black American appropriations of existentialism, as this gives me an opportunity to test my hypothesis that their perspective was different from white people’s investment in existentialism, and particularly that Wright used Kierkegaard for different purposes than his white contemporaries. Chapter 8 features Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison. Sartre unwittingly and […]

Existential America (5): C.L.R. James, Richard Wright, & Kierkegaard

I knew Richard Wright very well indeed. I may have mentioned this to some of you. Dick fancied himself as a cook. He would cook rice and chicken or something in some Southern way and say, “Come over, I’m going to cook today.” I used to eat it. But he was a remarkable man. One […]

Existential America (2): Richard Wright on Albert Camus

The Stranger. Translated from the French by Stuart Gilbert. New York: A. A. Knopf, 1946. “It [The Stranger] is a neat job but devoid of passion. He makes his point with dispatch and his prose is solid and good. In America a book like this would not attract much attention, for it would be said […]

Existential America revisited

Cotkin, George. Existential America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003. Contents: Acknowledgements Chapter One Introduction 1741-1949: American Existentialists before the Fact Chapter Two The “Drizzly November” of the American Soul 1928-1955: Kierkegaardian Moments Chapter Three Kierkegaard Comes to America Chapter Four A Kierkegaardian Age of Anxiety 1944-1960: The Era of French Existentialism Chapter Five The […]

John Coltrane on the edge of the culture industry

Written June 4, 2011 at 9:00 am Thinking about how Coltrane is poised on the very edge of acceptability & could fall on either side of it. Pre-1965 Coltrane, of course, since his last phase is too threatening to the mainstream to be assimilable. Wynton Marsalis could not deny Coltrane as he denies everything following […]

Ralph Ellison in Progress: 2010-1970

Bradley, Adam. Ralph Ellison in Progress: From “Invisible Man” to “Three Days Before the Shooting”. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010. viii, 244 pp. In 1999, an abbreviated selection from Ralph Ellison’s notoriously unfinished second novel was published. [1] Last year, a more extensive version, based on the entire extant corpus, was published, co-edited by […]

Farewell to Margaret Burroughs, Co-founder of DuSable Museum

This obituary appeared this year: Margaret Burroughs: Co-founder of DuSable Museum, prominent artist By Kristen Schorsch, Chicago Tribune “She started Chicago’s renowned African American history museum in her living room nearly 50 years ago” Commemorating another milestone in black achievement and saying farewell to one of the greats . . .

The Boondocks (2)

I began July by taking A Right To Be Hostile: The Boondocks Treasury (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003) out of the library. (How I envy that title!) This collection repeats some of the strips published in The Boondocks: Because I Know You Don’t Read the Newspapers, but I did not mind having my memory […]