Sacral Grooves, Limbo Gateways
Travels in Deep Southern Time, Circum-Caribbean Space, Afro-creole Authority
Publication Year: 2013
Drawing from Haitian Vodou and New Orleanian Voudou and from Cuban and South Floridian Santería, as well as from Afro-Baptist (Caribbean, Geechee, and Bahamian) models of encounters with otherness, this book reemplaces deep-southern texts within the counterclockwise ring-stepping of a long Afro-Atlantic modernity. Turning to an orphan girl’s West African initiation tale to follow a remarkably traveled body of feminine rites and writing (in works by Paule Marshall, Zora Neale Hurston, Lydia Cabrera, William Faulkner, James Weldon Johnson, and LeAnne Howe, among others), Cartwright argues that only in holistic form, emergent from gulfs of cross-cultural witness, can literary and humanistic authority find legitimacy. Without such grounding, he contends, our educational institutions blind and even poison students, bringing them to “swallow lye,” like the grandson of Phoenix Jackson in Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path.” Here, literary study may open pathways to alternative medicines—fetched by tenacious avatars like Phoenix (or an orphan Kumba or a shell-shaking Turtle)—to remedy the lies our partial histories have made us swallow.
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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Parts of the introduction will appear in a diff erent version in “To Wash Our Calabashes in the Sea of Ndayaan,” in The American South and the Atlantic Wo rl d , edited by Brian Ward, Martyn Bone, and William A. Link (University Press of Florida, 2013), reprinted with permission of the University Press of Florida. Parts of chapter 1 appeared in an earlier version in “Notes Towards ...
A Note on the Illustrations
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Invocation: To Bust Your Shell
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INTRODUCATION: Reborn Again: Orphan Initiations, Motherless Lands
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I say that this water is what will defeat your deliriums. I say that this water will extinguish the nuclear fuse you train on the world. I say that this water is the voice —René Depestre, A Rainbow for the Christian West: Vaudou mystery- poem“Voodoo,” as Hollywood and the humanities have combined to present it, almost always seems to come from another time, another space, and from ...
CHAPTER ONE: Down to the Mire: Travels, Shouts, and Saraka in Atlantic Praise-Housings
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From W. E. B. Du Bois to Jean Toomer, several key early authors of African American modernity turned southward to Gullah/ Geechee terrain—the Alta-maha, the Georgia rice fi elds, the shout- driven rhythms of the Charleston—to dip their art into living waters of a folk authority more complex and transfi g-uring than they could know. Their texts bear poignant, often opaque witness. ...
CHAPTER TWO: Lift Every Voice and Swing: James Weldon Johnson’s God-Met Places and Native Lands
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...— Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., closing his fi nal address to the Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee;— Rev. Joseph Lowery, quoting from “Lift Every Voice and Sing” There is a remarkable set of tensions between God and native land in the ...
Part Two: Les Invisibles
CHAPTER THREE: Fe Chauffe, Balanse, Swing: Saint-Domingue Refugees in the Govi of New Orleans
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When objects are taken off an altar to be introduced into ritual action, or when they are moved from one ritual arena to another, they are fi rst swung from side to side, or the people carrying the objects turn around and around themselves, often with the sacred pots or bottles perched on their heads. When the yams were cut and ready to be cooked, Madame Jacques’s daughters were told to pick them up and balance, ...
CHAPTER FOUR: Making Faces at the Sublime: Momentum from within Creole City
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Peanut- vendors, fl ower- sellers, organ- grinders, chimney- sweepers, And then, at the end, bone- rattling skeletons and fl ying ghosts.New Orleans has been America’s Creole City of the Sublime: a city both part and apart, a collection, a conglomeration that assembles ritually, seasonally, and as need or desire calls, to shake its parts together into an “I” (or Creole ...
Part Three: Sangre y Monte
CHAPTER FIVE: “Come and Gaze on a Mystery”: Zora Neale Hurston’s Rain-Bringing Authority
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I was to walk with the storm and hold my power, and get my answers to life and things in storms. The symbol of lightning was painted on my back. — Zora Neale Hurston on her initiation as “Rain- Bringer,” Oya, strong wind who gave birth to fi re while traversing the mountain“What is the truth?” Zora Neale Hurston was asked while doing what her ...
CHAPTER SIX: “Vamonos pa’l Monte”: Into Florida’s Repeating Bush
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American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defi ned as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration —from Act Relating to Education, signed by Governor Jeb Bush (Tallahassee, 2006)There are occurrences that are not included in written history, they escape people’s ...
ENVOI: “White Women Have Never Known What to Do with Their Blood”: Gulf Carriers and Sanguine Knowledge
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When Governor George Wallace took his infamous doorway stand to block a descendant of enslaved Africans from admission to the University of Ala-bama, he doubtless felt he was serving the intent of the state’s and nation’s founding fathers. He was not wrong in that conviction. Even America’s most liberal colleges of humanistic studies have yet to grapple meaningfully with ...
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Page Count: 308
Illustrations: 4 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: The New Southern Studies