Abstract

Abstract:

This essay explores the politics and aesthetics of the mouth in Amos Tutuola's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1954) and argues that the novel reflects on the speculative logic of finance capitalism. The essay departs from the scholarly consensus that views My Life in the Bush of Ghosts as a novel about the slave trade and its traumas and instead argues that it engages with the capitalist economies generated by slavery. These economies are revealed in Tutuola's representation of the mouth as a site for the production of abstract value, a production enabled by the mouth's ability to mimic and enact the logic of destruction. Building on Ian Baucom's insightful readings of the slave trade and finance capitalism, in which he suggests that destruction is indispensible to the rise and success of finance capitalism and thus productive of more lasting and tangible benefits, the essay reads the recurring image of the mouth as an instrument that converts loss into gain. For this conversion to be possible, one needs to see consumption as a productive process I call "mouthwork." Tutuola's novel renders the relationship between consumption and production more complex and less polarizing than it might initially seem and casts redemption as capitalism's underlying and galvanizing sentiment.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1920-1222
Print ISSN
0004-1327
Pages
pp. 23-51
Launched on MUSE
2018-11-23
Open Access
No
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