NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 36

p In his effort to quarry the narratives generated by the traumas and celebrations of migratory dislocation of Blacks from the fields of the South, where they were embattled with the forces of nature that wreaked havoc on crops, the inequities of sharecropping and Jim Crow laws, and later disillusioned by the lack of opportunity promised by the Industrial Revolution, when resettling in the industrial North, where they were faced with the inequitable social forces of low wages, poor housing, industrial discrimination, and self-fragmentation, August set himself to the task of discovering universal themes of love, honor, duty, and betrayal embedded in the Blues. In the Preface for his first published collection of plays in 1991, August stated the mission: I turned my ear, my heart, and whatever analytical tools I possessed to embrace this world. I elevated it, rightly or wrongly, to biblical status. I rooted out the ideas and attitudes expressed in the music, charted them and bent and twisted and stretched them. I tested them on the common ground of experience and evidence and gave my whole being, muscle and bone and sinew and flesh and spirit, over to the emotional reference provided by the music. I learned to read between the lines and tried to fill in the blank spaces. This was life being lived in all its timbre and horrifics, with zest and purpose and the affirmation of the self as worthy of the highest possibilities and the highest celebration. What more fertile ground could any artist want?*** A Blues narrative is not simply a plaintive cry for sympathy, but rather a heroic attempt by the balladeer to reconstruct a dismembered self by identifying the problem, firstly, then constructing a vision of self that permits survival in chaos. It is akin to the mythic paradigm of the dreadful journey of Ogun, the mythic protagonist of Yoruba tragedy who, as described by Nobel Prize laureate, Wole Soyinka in his essay, “The Fourth Stage,” stared down into the vast abyss of transitional essence where the chthonic forces threatened to destroy him, yet “plunges straight into the chthonic realm, the seething cauldron of the dark world will and psyche, the transitional yet inchoate matrix of death and becoming.” Analogously, while the Great Migration was psychically and spiritually disruptive and not nearly as brutal and dehumanizing as the Middle Passage, the protagonist in the Blues experiences a sense of self-disintegration and great suffering during his confrontation with the antagonistic forces of the dark journey, requiring an act of will to become reassembled, much like Ogun who overcomes disintegration by spiritually “channeling the dark torrent into the light of poetry and dance” to emerge reassembled, as if born again. Closer inspection below the surface of what appears to be the Western dramaturgical tradition of realism in August’s work, one discovers many tacit symbolic insinuations of African mythologies, as is the case in his 1910 drama, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, the title appropriated from an old Blues song, but inspired by Bearden’s Mill Hand’s Lunc ՍиU٥ݥ)ѡ ɑ]ͽɕ)͕ͭq]݅́ѡ́ɔ)ѡЁͥѥɔ)а٥)ЁݡЁյ)хлt!ѡѼɥє)ɑ͔ݡɔѡ)ɽха1̰Ёѡ)啅͕́ɍȁ́ݥݡ)͕Ʌѕɽɕѕ)ȁѡѡɔ͕)͕ݥѠѥɔ)ɥՅեѡЁͥ́ѡ)=ͥɥ̽%ͥ́Ѡ)ɥ́Ʌȁݱ)՝ЁɕݥѠѡ)Սѽɥ́)ɝ1ե́ ɝ̰)ѡ9Aɥ锁ɝѥнѥٔ)ͅЁݡ͕ٕ܁ѡ)ѡѥ䁽ѡ-Ʌɥѕ)5ٕ݅́ȁՉа)ѡ՝ѡ-ɅɅѼ)ѡхѥ́Ʌ́)ɅѥаЁՑ)ͥɕɕѼ̰ѡɕ)ɵȁѡЃqݡЁ݅)ձ䁹ѥٔѕ)͔ݥѠˊtٽ) Օ́ɕ̴̧ɝ)ɝѥ́Ѽձє5)qٔѡͥ䁽)ɝѥݥѡЁչ)Ȼt՝Ёɽ ɝ̰)ݡɕɕѼ́( ̰qѡЁԁ́Ѽ)ѥձɔѥ)ٔѡݽɬɕͽєݥѠѡ)չٕͅѡ́ٔȰ)Ʌ兰t)QѡȁՕ́Ցɤ) Ʌեɍѡ )́5ٕЁɽݡq$ɹ)ѡЁЁ́ѥѡ՝$e)ɥєѥϊtIɔ) ɑɽݡq$ɹѡ)ѡձ́ɥٕ́呅)ɕɕݥѡ)ɽ͔ȁ͕ѥх今t)ѡ՝ѕȁѕ́) ́ѼՑ)́ ݥ) ձ̰ݡمՕȁѡ)ѡɥЁɕɕ͕хѥٕ́呅) ݥѡхѡ)ս͕́ɽѡ ́)ѡѥ̰ѥե͡!݅ɐ)Uٕ͍ͥȰɥѥа)Mѕɱ ɽݸݡ͑)ȁɥɕ̤́)ɵՕ݅́ѡ Օ̰)չɽͥɍمٕ͕ѡ)ɥձɅɅѥٕ́)ѡɥɥɥ)٥ɽЁɅյѡЁ٥ݕ)̃qɕȁ͕ѥ)ɥՅեЁѡЁٔх)ɕͥѼѡɥЁѡЁ݅́)Ё٥ͥ܁Ʌѕ)ȁɝ)͕t) 䁹ܰӊéЁѡ)՝ӊéɵՍѥ݅)ѕѕ́ѕȰݡե)͍͔́ѕȁ͕)ɥ饹ፕЁ)ՉѕIѡȁѡɥ)ͱѡɽ՝Ёѡaѡ)́ݽձٔЁ́ݕɔ)ͽɉѡɅݡɔ)ɵ䁉͕ѽɕ)ѡͥ́ɽɥ)ɥɥѕɅɔ)!ɕ́)́ ݥȁɥ)Ѽ́ѕѥѡqȁ)ɽչѥձѥѡ)Ʌѥtݡ͍݅́ɥ́ѡ+q́ɥՅѕɍ͔)ѡЁхé)́ѡˊé͔tQхѕ)͕݅ɕ́ѡЃqݡ)ԁЁѼѡݽɱѡЁԁɔ)ձ䁍ѡ́݅䁽)ѡЁ́չՕ䁅ѥձɱ)̰ѡЁѡɗéѡͥ)ȁɥѡЁ䁥)х䁉t)ɕ]Ё]M她