Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African American Culture between the World Wars

By Joel Dinerstein | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
BODIES AND MACHINES

“They got all this machinery, but that ain't everything; we the machines inside the machines.”

Lucius Brockway to the narrator of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man

When the preeminent modernist architect Le Corbusier visited New York, the preeminent modern city, in 1935, he marveled equally at the skyscrapers and at African American music and dance. “Jazz, like the skyscrapers, is an eventrepresent[ing] the forces of today. The jazz is more advanced than the architecture. If architecture were at th[is] point it would be an incredible spectacle.” By “the forces of today, the architect meant industrialization and mass production. Many European observers considered jazz and skyscrapers the most significant vernacular cultural productions of the United States, but Le Corbusier must be considered an expert witness on the aesthetic impact of machines in modern society, as he had based his artistic revolution on calling the home “a machine for living.” He made a crucial connection at the crossroads of American music, machine aesthetics, modernism, and architecture. “I repeat: Manhattan is hot jazz in stone and steel.” 1

Le Corbusier perceived that African Americans had successfully integrated music and technology: “The Negroes of the USA have breathed into jazz the song, the rhythm and the sound of machines.” The architect's analysis of this relationship took up seven pages of a memoir of his first trip to the United States, appearing under the title “The Spirit of the Machine, and Negroes in the USA.” He rhapsodized over Louis Armstrong's ability both to reflect and to contain the chaotic rhythms of the urban, industrial soundscape. “He is mathematics, equilibrium on a tightrope, Le Corbusier exclaimed. “Nothing in our European experience can be compared to it.” He was amazed by the continuous rhythmic flow of tap dancers and how they embodied precision on the body. “The popularity of tap dancers shows that the old rhythmic instinct of the [African] has learned the lesson of the machine.” These

-3-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African American Culture between the World Wars
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 415

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.