Emancipating Pragmatism: Emerson, Jazz, and Experimental by Michael Magee

By Michael Magee

Emancipating Pragmatism is an intensive rereading of Emerson that posits African- American tradition, literature, and jazz because the very continuation and embodiment of pragmatic suggestion and democratic culture. It lines Emerson's philosophical legacy in the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to find how Emersonian concept keeps to notify problems with race, aesthetics, and poetic discourse.

Emerson's pragmatism derives from his abolitionism, Michael Magee argues, and any pragmatic suggestion that aspires towards democracy can't forget about and needs to reckon with its racial roots. Magee seems to be on the ties among pragmatism and African-American tradition as they appear themselves in key texts and pursuits, corresponding to William Carlos Williams's poetry; Ralph Ellison's discourse in Invisible guy and Juneteenth and his essays on jazz; the poetic works of Robert Creeley, Amiri Baraka, and Frank O'Hara; in addition to the "new jazz" being solid at golf equipment just like the 5 Spot in big apple.

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Extra info for Emancipating Pragmatism: Emerson, Jazz, and Experimental Writing

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Eclecticism is the 42 democratic symbolic action word. Like a jazz musician who creates his own style out of the styles around him” (CE 364). This is, incidentally, the way Ellison approaches Eliot. Ellison, who chose epigraphs from Eliot’s work for both his novels, was always fond of pointing out just how “full of American folklore” was Eliot’s work (a much more subversive method of critiquing Eliot’s privileging of classical tradition, it seems to me) and felt free to take this or that from Eliot without anxieties about agreement or disagreement, love or hatred.

The sand clings to my lips— Which shore? Agh, petals maybe. How should I know? Which shore? Which shore? I said petals from an appletree. 32 democratic symbolic action The poem is an assault on English metaphor through dialogic interruption, though even before the irritating questioner (who I would like to read as the “Lady” herself) begins her obstruction, one is struck by the visual inadequacies of the metaphor and, soon, by its arbitrariness: “The sky / where Watteau hung a lady’s / slipper”—Williams has gotten his paintings mixed up (the speaker is thinking of Fragonard’s The Swing), but the nonchalance, the seeming randomness, of his answer suggests that it doesn’t matter much.

For my money, “Portrait of a Lady” is Williams’s most explicitly feminist poem (it may have helped that he had appetizing targets in James and, particularly, Eliot to play off of). The American woman speaks, but more importantly, she is entangled with the other speaker in the poem—it is impossible to unravel who states the ¤nal two questions. ”52 At the conclusion of “Portrait of a Lady,” we cannot call the two characters identical, but they are, as I say, entangled—and the poem is prolegomenon to some future expression of their intersubjective identity.

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