February 22, 2006

Did a search for the word colonialism in Modernism/Modernity on ProjectMuse.

Found Ann Douglas, "Periodizing the American Century: Modernism, Postmodernism, and Postcolonialism in the Cold War Context."

"DuBois said of Belgium in 1921 that the startling size of the Congo, then its colonial possession, was 'destined to make Belgium but a physical fraction of its colonial black self'" (DB, 663).

Over last weekend, finished Charles Pollard's New World Modernisms: T.S. Eliot, Derek Walcott, and Kamau Brathwaite. Really solid research. A huge help. Felt stupid for not reading it before I wrote Brathwaite talk for Poets House. (Had it on my shelf as if that was helping.) Yet once done felt overwhelmed by the limitations of genre in lit crit after reading it. Which sometimes happens to me when reading something that is well done.

From reference in Pollard, then read David Chinitz, "T.S. Eliot and the Cultural Divide." (PMLA 110:2, 1992). "One can only imagine the effect of a long poem called He Do the Police in Different Voices beginning, 'First we had a couple of feelers down at Tom's place.'" (243)

From this article made note on need to read Eliot's essay "Durkheim" and Tom Henighan article on the primitive in modern poetry.

Again from Pollard reference, read Linda Hutcheon's "Colonialism and the Postcolonial Condition." (PMLA 110:1, 1995). Too introductory to help much.

And also from Pollard, David Spurr's "Myths of Anthropology: Eliot, Joyce, Levy-Bruhl" (PMLA 109:2). Super helpful.

Note to get Eliot's The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism.

And also, Christopher Miller's Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French.

Somewhere in all this, remembered Masao Miyoshi's "A Borderless World? From Colonialism to Transnationalism and the Decline of the Nation-State." (Critical Inquiry, 19: 1993). (Might have been citation in Hutcheon article.) Reread that. Remembered again that the first two paragraphs were useful and again got lost in analysis of TNCs. But the question/complaint of the first two paragraphs was what I wanted: why attention to colonialism doesn't happen in the humanities wing of the academy until 1978, years after the end of what he calls "formal colonialism" which he gives as 1945-70.

Then because I was at the Critical Inquiry website, remembered that Sianne Ngai had that article on cuteness that I hadn't read yet. "The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde" (31:4, 2005). And figured that might help get rid of the Eliot infection (reading so much about Eliot in last week made me want to swear off Eliot again because there is so much and it is such an industry, so many men and so many issues and so many... still, even after the age of Eliot might be over). And it did. Right there at the beginning, figures 1a and 1b, there was a frog shaped bath sponge showing "how much the aesthetic depends on a softness that invites physical touching--or, to use a more provocative verb, fondling" (815). A totally unnecessary figuration of complete and total cuteness. So perfect. And, not only that, Eliot shows up again. As not cute at all.

Now I keep thinking to myself--frog shaped bath sponge, frog shaped bath sponge--in attempt to get something interestingly Aware into this writing that feels like pulling teeth right now.

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