Monthly Archives: May 2011

Nick De Genova

I should post this on my other blog; perhaps I will cross post it. I am writing it so I can clear out the journal issue in which the article in question lies: Gangster Rap and Nihilism in Black America. Some Questions of Life and Death. I do not know Nicholas de Genova and I was struck by his piece long before he had all of these problems.

You can see the epigraph from Richard Wright on the first pace of this piece, to which I linked in the paragraph above. At the time I read this I thought it useful in several ways; years have passed since, so we will see.


– “creative nihilism” in Wright – from this idea we will study gangster rap
– this article will critically engage Cornel West and his “facile sermonizing” (89)
– “There is little merit in criticizing a complex … cultural field for its political inconsistencies in light of some ideal political agenda to which it has absolutely no conscious relationship.” (90)
– Wright and the entanglements of life and death – creativity and destruction, life under terror
– Wright does not romanticize and idyllic space of African American racial community
– Ellison recognizes about Wright that the experience of violence is key
– Gilroy suggests this is why Wright is only partially canonical – he is ambivalent about Black community because of violence and the ideology of the family
– West, the moralizer, says nihilism is Black America’s problem
– for West nihilism is not a struggle with death; it is death, and the violence of everyday life is a result of it (very Christian of West, I must say)
– but what Wright sees is the complicity of (older) Black people with terror [N. Ed.:  note Anne Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi; the narrator’s struggle against her parents’ fears is a significant aspect of the narrative]
– Wright’s “nihilism” is a refusal to go under to that terror … he is willing to cross over to freedom even if the price is death (95)
– Wright’s blind spot, if you will is machismo
– Morrison’s Beloved is actually “nihilistic” from De Genova’s point of view
– In Native Son transgression is the only way to expression
– rebellion and madness (connected according to Wright, for sociological reasons, but West does not allow for this)
– Nihilism is the expression of undaunted yearning
– Angela Davis has questioned West’s notion of nihilism
– West is kind of in the position of the colonial elite – doubling himself, lamenting the lack of civilization among the savages
– Gangster rap is the expresion of an urban American “culture of terror” and “space of death” (106) [cf. Taussig, Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man – the colonizers conjure mythology about the “savagery” of the colonized, which the colonized people use to manipulate the delusions of their enemies
– 106-107: Toni Morrison on the idea of the jungle: it is what “whitefolks” project onto people of color … so in gangster rap Black realism and white enchantment (with the “jungle”) converge
– Gangster rap serves up white America’s most cherished gun slinging mythologies in the form of its blackest nighmares … while  empowering Black imaginations to negate the existential terror of ghetto life [N. Ed. et les femmes? – but he does address this]
– [I understand de Genova’s  argument but I am still not pleased with justifications of criminality, or idealizations of it, whether the criminals be Black, French (Genet), or whatever…]
– the reality of violence; death as a reward
– West’s essential defense of capitalism; gangster rap as the reply
– de Genova looks at [destruction] not as meaningless nihilism but as “the inpulse … which is our only hope of new life”


So I was interested in that article, then, and saved it all of this time, because it went against the West-style preachiness and was able to conceive of destruction as a source of growth.


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Filed under Bibliography, Da Whiteman


This old or perhaps permanent song came on the radio this afternoon, taking me by surprise.

Here you can see the fascinating 1973 performance of the censored version of this song.

This is how the (uncensored) song ends; note the play on words:

Pai! Afasta de mim esse cálice
Pai! Afasta de mim esse cálice
Pai! Afasta de mim esse cálice
De vinho tinto de sangue…

Talvez o mundo não seja pequeno, (Cale-se!)
Nem seja a vida um fato consumado. (Cale-se!)
Quero inventar o meu próprio pecado. (Cale-se!)
Quero morrer do meu próprio veneno. (Pai! Cale-se!)
Quero perder de vez tua cabeça! (Cale-se!)
Minha cabeça perder teu juízo. (Cale-se!)
Quero cheirar fumaça de óleo diesel. (Cale-se!)
Me embriagar até que alguém me esqueça. (Cale-se!)

This video has English subtitles, and a complete English translation (minus the play on words) below the fold.


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Filed under Movement, Songs

On Walking in the Spirit

Gil Scott-Heron (foi poeta, porra).


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Filed under Arts, Movement, News, Songs

El look del verano

This look involves Kiehl’s tinted moisturizer SPF 15, Burt’s Bees lip gloss, Almay brow defining pencil, and some type of mascara, perhaps Almay intense i-color. That is all I am willing to keep track of in this heat. I am also resigning from the use of heels of any type until 21 September.

The look will be finished with OPI Suzi Sells Sushi nail polish and Mountain Ocean Skin Trip coconut moisturizer. If any of these companies would like to pay me for product placement, they are welcome to do so.

I am taking suggestions for swimwear and bicycles (a fashion item, too, you know). I seek a one speed bicycle with a hand brake in front and coaster brakes as well, and there are no budget ones. I also seek an inexpensive yet sturdy bistro set, ideally a little less ornate than this one, made to be outdoor furniture but that would also work well indoors.

I would suggest clothes by Bee Rio and, for the brave, some of the things the Urban Socialite wears. The sunglasses I recommend are by Native. I cannot think of anything else to recommend except some expensive, but very good perfume by Hové.


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Aaron Neville

This blog has gone somewhat old-timey in the past few days because I am convincing myself to go to this passion play they are putting on at Angola.

I will go for the sakes of some of the players, although I would like to boycott this event given my objection to the fact that, in the prison where our state conducts its executions, the play which has been allowed past the censors is a passion play. I will go.

The most interesting thing to me about having become an academic is that it brought me to my present region, which I would not otherwise know. Here is where the music starts, and I am glad to hear it every day.

“You can’t hate your neighbor with your mind stayed on freedom.”


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Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Songs

Read It Slant (On Baldwin)

Minority writers who write about being minorities generally aren’t treated very well in America: too often they are offered up in high school and college courses merely as ritual sacrifices to the gods of multiculturalism. Yet the reason to read James Baldwin, and any good writer regardless of color or creed, is that he can teach us how to be more human. “Pain is trivial except insofar as you can use it to connect with other people’s pain,” Baldwin observed in 1963, “and insofar as you can do that with your pain, you can be released from it, and then hopefully it works the other way around too; insofar as I can tell you what it is to suffer, perhaps I can help you to suffer less.”

Elias Altman


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On Doing Things Right Four or Five Times (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)

The discovery of this swinging video is the result of thinking about James Baldwin. He has a novel, Just Above My Head, whose title naturally makes one want to look at Sister Rosetta Tharpe, that great, possibly rock guitarist.

My favorite YouTube comment of all time is on her Strange Things Happening Every Day. “If it were not for the Church of God in Christ, there would be no rock and roll as we now know it.” But this is blues.


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