Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Sad Soul, Cheerful Disposition

"I’ve always viewed myself as a person with a deeply sad soul but a cheerful disposition."
--Cornel West, in conversation with Toni Morrison, "Blues, Love and Politics," The Nation, May 6, 2004

I came across this ^ article, spending the past three days working on the Wikipedia article for Toni Morrison. I was surprised how incomplete and imprecise her entry was. 
Wikipedia famously lacks women editors and therefore articles about things women editors are interested in, but I'd have figured some literary type interested in Nobel Prize–winners would have done a crackerjack job on Morrison.
But no.

I'm not a particular fan of Morrison, but it struck me as near calamitous that her entry be so paltry. 

It still needs work, but it's a lot better now––more Oprah!––(you know I love pop + academic blends), and I got a lot of satisfaction from another wiki-editor's note, "thank you Fresca for your much more substantial work!"

Anyway, Cornel West.
I relate to how he describes himself as sad and cheerful. I'm not sure how I come across on this blog, but generally people seem to have a hard time conceiving of me as sad or suffering, because I'm pretty peppy.

I like that West is clear these are not contradictory states.

This is West's quote in a little more context. He and Morrison are talking about "how you would characterize our historical moment."
"I’ve always viewed myself as a person with a deeply sad soul but a cheerful disposition. So that when you say you feel terrified and melancholic, that describes my situation too, but it’s just that I always believe that struggle and the unleashing of moral energy in the form of moral outrage can make a difference no matter what the situation is.
And it may have something to do with just having a blues sensibility, a tragic orientation, a sense that no matter how mendacious elites may be, they can never extinguish the forces for good in the world.
And if that’s true, then they’re mighty but not almighty."
Morrison usually looks dignified, even regal in photos--I love that she's cracking up here, with West in 1996, following her Jefferson lecture:


Michael Leddy said...

Toni Morrison and Oprah! I used to include a brief exchange on a page that I gave to students about how to do well:

OW: “Do people tell you they have to keep going over the words sometimes?”

TM: “That, my dear, is called reading.”

Frex said...

I know, yeah! They're great together. They're my favorite thing I've discovered so far in editing the article.
Like "Umberto Eco Guest-Stars on Starsky & Hutch"!