NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire V. 16.1 - Page 105

Here and elsewhere, Dent exhorts himself, first and foremost, to overcome his own repression, as well as that of the country, to cultivate the anger that is dissipated in social mechanisms, in the normalizing or sublimation of the senses, in the circulatory systems of a dominant culture. Not to let sleeping dogs lie, in other words, but actively to shake them awake, bring them to the surface, to bloom rather than fester. Like the whispering currents of a river, language lulls us to sleep, and against that we must turn over the soil of history, till that soil until it yields. It was precisely this cultivation I was thinking about, navigating those red-asphalt roads through the flat, gray fields of the Delta. We passed slowly through that floating world. I had slowed almost to a stop at a random intersection when we saw the sign. Small white lettering on a brown background that, like protective coloration, disappeared easily into the landscape. The sign said simply, “Emmett Till Museum,” with an arrow pointing to the right. The arrow led us along railroad tracks and into the village of Glendora. There was a single main street, parallel to the tracks, with a line of ramshackle bungalows and a strip of almost-abandoned looking storefronts. In the overgrown yard of one of the bungalows sat the hulks of old cars, a Plymouth and a Chrysler and a DeSoto, a derelict history of the European explorers. I pulled over so Lady could photograph the village, and while she shot the cars I walked down the strip to its end. As I passed, the door to a small market and pizza parlor popped open, and a woman’s head emerged. “Jesus, ain’t it cold out here,” she said, head shaking at the folly of my walk, and the door slammed shut. It sure is, I thought. BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE lead back to the idea that it is a hidden history, the hidden unacknowledged history that I am talking about, and this is what has me angry. Because I have to have that anger, that has to be there somewhere. The hidden unacknowledged anger, that this is the history of oppression, etc. all related to the river, the forced journeys of the river, related, strung together history of the river, attempt to control the river, attempt to bring the river under machine control, this history, where we are a kind of machine, attempt to justify all that & call it efficient, this hidden exploitation that still exits [sic], this is what I want to try to get. I want to draw a parallel between the hidden nature of our history in Louisiana & the river. The mud of the river. The recalcitrance of the river. The unpredictability of the river? The defiance of machines of the river?… a slowly moving chariot, the unseen chariot….. storm, rain on the chariot. The storm of events. One thing I want to do is develop a particular sensory thing. The river relating to the blk people, an imaginative, very specific kind of thing. the problem I have is it’s not too general. But I think I want to look at the image of a boat. A traveling boat, which is moving territorially & chronologically. Or driving. River road journey. The locked in history. Use senses. 103 The temporalities of Dent’s own southern journey mark a longer voyage through entwined histories, personal, national, and global. As early as the mid-seventies, in unpublished typescript notes that I read through in the Amistad, Dent reflected on his own writing and its relationship to the conflicted histories — particularly the black counter-history — embodied physically by New Orleans. All roads, he writes,