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These insights will accumulate to not only reveal the improvisational inventiveness with which Morrison crafts the narrative world in, but will furthermore illustrate how embodiment intertwines with what she expresses thematically: the nature of absolute beauty being equated with the physical characteristic of blue eyes (or more “whiteness” more generally, which the blue eyes symbolically represent) is obviously damaging to Black Americans who cannot escape the pursuit of this “ideal” through their own sense of beauty and truth as constructed from the locus of a blues aesthetic or attitude, which is an understanding of the world rooted in the bodies, experiences, and culture of Black Americans.Ultimately, is about the violence done to the psychic and spiritual lives of Black Americans who are forced to operate in the world with a faulty worldview—one focused on the Western-centric, whiteness driven, abstract ideals of beauty and truth and reality itself—rather than a more universally accurate worldview of embodiment, being rooted in one’s embodied experiences, sensations, and understandings.
Moses goes on to say that this blues aesthetic also contributes much to the characterization of Claudia and her mother: “The cultural values and knowledge in the blues and transmitted orally to Claudia enable her to develop what would much later come to be called a black aesthetic.
Claudia does not, however, passively absorb this body of cultural knowledge and draw strength from it.
Next, I discuss the jazz structure of the novel in terms of an embodied understanding of the world—how embodiment as a guiding principle for text construction impacts point of view, characterization, and what format the language takes on the page.
Then, I parse out the specific uses of metaphor as aspects of the text that display a tremendous reliance on the mind’s inherently metaphorical cognitive processes of creating an understanding of environment and social reality through constructions that are rooted in bodily, physical experiences.
Indeed through this process of text production, Morrison thinks of herself a jazz musician, hitting the right notes and scales in sparsely, formally controlled bursts within a larger framework of the narrative, the point of view, the style, and the characterization.
In the last few decades after the heyday of post-structuralism, literary studies has begun to borrow insights from harder sciences, namely evolutionary theories of human development in sociology and anthropology (often called biocultural theory or sociobiology) and cognitive neuroscience (often referred to as cognitive linguistics or psycholinguistics).
Then they go on to make their confrontation directly, stating “these three findings from the science of the mind are inconsistent with central parts of Western philosophy” (3).
In Neal’s article on the Black Arts movement, he quotes part of a poem called “Black Art” by Leroi Jones (later Amiri Baraka), which underscores the visceral embodiment of the Black Arts movement and the Black aesthetic: Poems are bullshit unless they are teeth or trees or lemons piled on a step.
Or black ladies dying of men leaving nickel hearts beating them down.
Fuck poems and they are useful, would they shoot come at you, love what you are, breathe like wrestlers, or shudder strangely after peeing.