Thursday, February 21, 2008

Toni Morrison and The Boondocks

I suppose only in my brain can Toni Morrison and Aaron McGruder can be connected. Last night I finally got some sleep and I dreamed that I was having a reading for Aaron McGruder in my store, but no one told me so that I didn't get my Boondocks books signed but everyone else did. When I woke up I couldn't figure out why I had such a dream. Now it is so clear. Riley, my cat, was named after a Boondocks character. I miss the little guy. I hope that one day it won't hurt so much.

I've been listening to Toni Morrison's acceptance speech for the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature. I'm not sure that it is comforting. Maybe it is the sound of her voice that soothes me. Her slow, careful, eloquent words remind me of the days when school teachers read to me. Their words would stick somewhere in my soul. What she has to say has resonance even more than it did back when she originally said them.

She is convinced that when language dies, out of carelessness, disuse, indifference and absence of esteem, or killed by fiat, not only she herself, but all users and makers are accountable for its demise. In her country children have bitten their tongues off and use bullets instead to iterate the voice of speechlessness, of disabled and disabling language, of language adults have abandoned altogether as a device for grappling with meaning, providing guidance, or expressing love. But she knows tongue-suicide is not only the choice of children. It is common among the infantile heads of state and power merchants whose evacuated language leaves them with no access to what is left of their human instincts for they speak only to those who obey, or in order to force obedience.


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