Thursday, July 26, 2007

Ralph Ellison

I love that, since Arnold Rampersad's biography of Ralph Ellison just came out, everybody's posting articles online about ol Ralph. (I especially like that this one's called "One Hit Wonder," like Ralph Ellison's the goddam Toadies.)

I'm not sure why I've been so attracted to Ralph Ellison for so long- it's not like I've read and re-read his work, and it's not like I'm likely to read that whole biography; I'll probably get it from the library, be bored in a couple days, convince myself that I'm gonna read it, hang onto it for a couple months and then have hella* late fees. I remember that Invisible Man was super formative for me like my senior year in high school, the way the prose went from pinpoint grit to fevery magic realism and back; it felt like Sonic Youth, but less, I don't know, fun? Playful? Willing to let you in? And I loved the hell out of Flying Home, which I sort of suspect was a cash-in posthumous collection of stuff he'd rather not have seen collected, just because nobody ever talks about it.

But his politics- basically 1. I hate everything and 2. Black people's problems are black people's fault and 3. I'm a fuckin genius, love me- are kind of problematic. And not even stuff that I relate to much any more, although there was a point where points one and three resonated pretty hard for me. I guess I'm just fascinated by what a conflicted, headstrong jerk he could be? Plus I love the image of him yelling at Amiri Baraka. (I almost typed "Barak Obama." Different guy.)

Just like- Ralph Ellison was brilliant, and wrote brilliantly, and he was a total dick. And I'm fascinated by the way those intersect and interact- basic, obvious stuff to be fascinated by, I know, but I'm still excited that I've been able to read about it lately. It's nice when there's a cultural moment that intersects with stuff I like- now I am ready for people to discover they were dicks for ignoring Garbage so hard for so long. Maybe Arnold Rampersad will write a biography of Shirley Manson.

*or: hecka

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

having never actually read anything by the gentleman you describe there is only so much i can say. but having grown up in california i can say that... are you saying hella now? but the east coast wicked is so superior! alas, geography doth make silly dandies of us all.