Tuesday, October 13, 2009

bell hooks in Morehead

African-American feminist author bell hooks is speaking at Morehead State University in Morehead, KY. Some quick notes to put hooks in context.

1. The period from the end of WWII to the present has been one of the most exciting periods of world intellectual history--every bit the equal of Classical Greece, the first bloom of modernism, and the "long Victorian century" from the 1840's to Moses and Monotheism. One of the privileges of my life was growing up intellectually in an era when such fundamental things were being done.

2. Much like Freud can be seen as the last intellectual giant of the Victorian century, bell hooks can be seen as one of the last of the great pioneering figures of the post WWII era. Claude Levi-Strauss still lives, but bell hooks is one of the last figures from that era who is still creating at a high level. Born in 1952, hooks started publishing in the late 1970's and has relentlessly pushed forward. Lacan, Foucault, and Baudrillard all died. Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva couldn't sustain their initial bursts of creativity. However, the fire in bell hooks kept burning and has gotten brighter over time.

4. African-American thought has had universal significance at least since the slave narratives of Olaudah Equiano and hooks has built on African-American traditions of thinking about love, redemption, and transformation in profound ways. Her The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love is a fundamentally important in her sympathetic critique of patriarchy and her books on love serve as a standing refutation to Plato's warnings about love in the Republic. Her rejection of Plato is just as decisive as the rejection of Plato in Machiavelli. In addition, her rejection of Machiavellian virtu is just as important as Machiavelli's isolation of masculinity as a foundational concept in The Prince.

5. W. E. B. DuBois wrote that he sits "with Shakespeare and he winces not." Of course, that comment was always overdrawn in a way. I'm sure Shakespeare sat in London taverns with any number of farmers, tradesmen, and small-time actors and didn't wince any more than Karl Marx. Still, it will be good to hear a talk by someone who's in the same league as DuBois and Shakespeare--bell hooks.


Ric Caric said...

It appears that another stalker has begun trying to make comments to this blog. It's pretty sad that some people have so little of interest in their own lives.

James said...

Just got home after seeing bell hooks and really enjoyed it, glad I decided to stay. I would have like to have heard more about her ideas on being a product of culture and reconciling that with a feminist perspective.

Scottye said...

I thought bell hooks made some interesting comments and some of her arguments were persuasive. However, I felt she was a little unclear on some things and wish she had spent some more time clarifying her statements. Guess I should have asked her a question.