Voodoo Hermeneutics/the Crossroads Sublime: Soul Musics, Mindful Body, and Creole Consciousness
Cartwright, Keith, The Mississippi Quarterly
The presence and vitality of this marvelous real was not the unique privilege of Haiti but the heritage of all of America, where we have not yet begun to establish an inventory of our cosmogonies.
--Alejo Carpentier (1)
In these countries, the god Eleggua carries death in the nape of his neck and life in his face. Every promise is a threat, every loss a discovery. Courage is born of fear, certainty, of doubt. Dreams announce the possibility of another reality, and out of delirium emerges another kind of reason.
What it all comes down to is that we are the sum of our efforts to change who we are. Identity is no museum piece sitting stock still in a display case, but rather the endlessly astonishing synthesis of the contradictions of everyday life.
--Eduardo Galeano (2)
Does the regeneration of oneself and one's civilization, one's uncertain age, lie through new translated rhythms of well-nigh unbearable counterpoint to complacent symmetry?
--Wilson Harris (3)
As NEW WORLD KNOWLEDGES BORN OF double consciousness, creolization, and border thinking bring us all to globalizing crossroads of transition, repertoires emergent from "the plantation complex" offer some of the most deeply tested and flexible means for navigating a world of multiple origins and dislocations. (4) In contrapuntal resistance to white supremacist modes of power, Afro-creole cultures have forged repertoires of polyrhythmic consciousness based in a creolizing aesthetics of assemblage that incorporates "diversalities" most fundamentally encountered in multiple pathways of the creole saints (orishas or loa) and their soul musics that shake folk free from monocultural zombifications. (5) Open-eyed (hippikat) readings of these counter-canonical New World forces may show that North America's clearest historical routes to the composite Kingdom of This World emerge from the plantation South--from points where the Dixie Pike intersects "the other America" in a deeply immanent spiritual vision embodied at crossroads of creole muses and musics.
While Afro-New World music has met with highly visible success, creole religious systems have grown quietly under constant opposition. Though we cannot speak of Atlantic creole religion as a single totalized thing, we may begin to speak of a core santeria-vodou aesthetic, which--in the manner of jazz or contemporary hip hop--works from a polymetric base to reassemble the most disparate inheritances, and in its sampling and remix envisions (and "versions") much that colonizing universalism cannot admit. (6) My proposal of a voodoo hermeneutics calls us to take the religions seriously, but even the word "hermeneutics," which, as Walter Mignolo notes, "has been recast in secular, rather than in biblical terms" (p. 9), underscores a gap in Western scholarship that has distinguished rationality from more dubious forms of knowledge, and signals grounding in Book religions and their canonical base, a base that tends to exclude "undisciplined forms of knowledge that were reduced to subaltern knowledge by colonial disciplined knowing practices" (p. 10). Thus, any effort to articulate the subalternized knowledges of a voodoo hermeneutics faces a doubled (fractally dangerous) crossroads of dubiousness if we indeed are to fall on our knees there--like bluesman Robert Johnson--seeking "new loci of enunciation" (Mignolo, p. 13).
Despite the doubled dubiousness of proposing a "voodoo hermeneutics" emerging from "undisciplined forms of knowledge," there is simply too much visionary New World contemporaneity, too much of what Northrup Frye called "a third order informing power" in creole ritual knowledge to avoid engagement with the saints' "informing powers." (7) By stepping into the perimeters of a voodoo hermeneutic circle--a zone of orientations shared between practitioners "who serve the spirits" (of vodou, santeria, rootwork) and shared to some extent in the practice of those who serve the Spirit via Afro-Christian worship patterns--we may seek a countercultural creolizing vision of the world, one that, with its polyrhythmic consciousness, self-possessing rites of spiritual embodiment, extended ritual families, and agglutinating reassemblies of new source material, has navigated zombifying horrors of white supremacy and bequeathed soul musics that guard something of a "crossover" hermeneutics even in the most secular commodifying realms. The apparent irony in Paul Gilroy's recognition that black musics "produced out of the racialized slavery that made modern civilisation possible, now dominate its popular cultures" (8) is no real irony at all. Enslaved Africans were so violently dislocated that they birthed the first cultures and identities forcibly relocated in the New World's creolizing frontiers. This Africa-informed Omni-American attentiveness to a re-grounding ritual practice moves practitioners to repossession of mind and body and multiple sources of soul (or self) in rites that are in fact "the opposite of zombification" as epitomized by plantation slavery and rechanneled via consumer capitalism. (9)
Afro-creole religions acknowledge and minister the highly differentiated flow of a numinous energy or ashe, "the power to make things happen." (10) In Cuba as Eleggua or as Haiti's Legba we meet the Master of Crossroads, opener of the roads of ashe: the saints' pathways of disclosure by which our multiple transculturations may be read. We may recognize Eleggua in the "unstoppable conjunctions" that mark for Edouard Glissant the process of creolization and "the damnation of those who fight it." (11) And if we are to read the South as a creole frontier connected to an extended Caribbean, then attentiveness to some of the South's own creolizing frontiers (located in the Sea Islands, New Orleans, Florida, Virginia foundations, and the Bible Belt) may offer much-repressed, resurgent crossroads means to remove damning stones from our passways.
The Sea Island Creole cultures surrounding Charleston and Savannah test the waters that would separate the plantation South from the West Indies. Recent writing of this "virtual Caribbean" grounds narratives of psychic reassembly in sacred possessions (inheritances of property, language, music, rootwork, and Christianity) that work points of maximal Afro-creole authority. Founded from Barbados, Carolina has its roots in the Caribbean and served with Georgia as an important source of population of the Bahamas. As the low country's Gullah/Geechee cultures developed along West Indian patterns, its creolized Afro-Christianity served as a locus for conversions of ancestral spirits and Holy Spirit, especially via initiatory patterns of "seeking" vision and via polyrhythmic ring shouts that sustained resistance to zombifying white supremacist materialism. An initiating practitioner of a homegrown marvelous real, Toni Morrison emplotted the writerly seeking in Song of Solomon (1977) with Gullah folkways transposed to a Virginia mountain setting--where a member of the materially successful but zombied Dead family seeks revivification through previously maligned second sighted or "country" authorities and through the incorporating re-memory of a children's ring dance. In Paule Marshall's exemplary text of a voodoo hemeneutics, Praisesong for the. Widow (1983), this daughter of Barbadian immigrants uses Barbados's old colony and its Gullah culture as a bridge towards the reassembly of its main character's zombified head. As Praisesong brings Avey Johnson to become a loa's avatar in the Caribbean, the narrative of her transitions moves fluidly through the breaks in a polyrhythmic mix of "voodoo" (the Carriacou Big Drum rites, ancestral spirit guides, and path-opening work of Legba), Afro-Christianity (the ring shout, initiatory dreamwork, Easter sermons), and a subaltern soul secularism's blues-based jazz of grounding and flight. (12) In MamaDay (1988) Gloria Naylor offers an orisha-informed response to The Tempest through a Gullah island's rootworking counter-Prospero--Miranda Day--whose repertoire dips into practices shared with Afro-Cuban santeria. Julie Dash's film Daughters of the Dust also chooses the Sea Islands as a charged location from which to remix core Afro-Atlantic images, musics, and rites with Christian, Islamic, even astrological systems; her major characters double as orishas trying "to give you something in track your spirit with." (13) These works nourish openings for women's ministration of "endangered wisdom," which as Karla Holloway has written, has found creative coalescence from "whatever smacks of survival, be it African or Christian, white or Black, male or female." (14) This Sea Island marvelous real, a rooted (and largely composite) vision of reality that is neither merely fantastic nor magical, feeds its practitioners with an authority that exceeds Euro-American canons, disciplines, historical and cosmological inventories.
New Orleans, solidly connected to the Caribbean (particularly Haiti), provides an early model for a cosmopolitan multiculturalism. As Leroi Jones argued in Blues People, "New Orleans, with its co-existing complex of social, cultural, and racial influences, predated the modern, post-World-War I, Northern city in many ways. French, Spanish, English, African, and Caribbean cultures existed simultaneously within New Orleans and all were thriving." (15) In nineteenth-century New Orleans writing (Victor Sejour, Le Spiritualiste, Charles Testut, Alfred Mercier, George W. Cable, and Alcee Fortier) we find an agglutinating voodoo rising from crossroads of Haitian vodou, catholicism, Senegambian "nyama," Kardecian spiritism, masonic rites, revolutionary romanticism, and carnivalesque performance in a manner divining the birth of jazz. (16) Cable's The Grandissimes treats voodoo's musicating rites, noting "a frightful triumph of body over mind" (17) but also observing physical education drawing a dancer to "turn, posture, bow, respond to the song, start, swing, straighten, stamp, wheel, lift her hand, stoop, twist, walk, whirl, tip-toe with crossed ankles, smite her palms, march, circle, leap--an endless improvisation of rhythmic motion to this modulated responsive chant" (p. 306). Karen McCarthy Brown has described how practice of Haitian vodou works past "the mind/body splitting that has characterized Western thought and, further, assumes that an appreciation for the embodied minds of human beings--or better, their mindful bodies--is crucial if one is to understand what it means to be human in the world." (18) Voodoo resistance to white supremacist inflexibility comes across in powerful counterpoint as Cable's white center, Frowenfeld, reacts with dread to "the weird, drowsy throb of the African song and dance [that] had been swinging drowsily in his brain for an unknown lapse of time" (p. 96). Swinging in spite of himself to voodoo pulsings, he senses that "different sense of time.... its nodes, those points where time stands still or from which it leaps ahead" that Ralph Ellison found in the New Orleans bounce of Louis Armstrong, (19) a "Neo-HooDoo" that, as Ishmael Reed put it, "is the Now Locomotive swinging / up the Tracks of the American Soul" from "8 basic dances of 19th-century New Orleans." (20) Reed's Mumbo Jumbo went on to trace this loa--Jes Grew--through its "entrance into the Govi of New Orleans" (21) to Chicago, New York, and beyond. While voodoo didn't fully cross over, its secular offspring, jazz, did emerge from the old polyrhythmic contrapuntal rites, from funeral second lines, masonic orchestras, and jukes to become the soundtrack of modernity, its creolizing art shaping a global vernacular gathering energy from Caribbean diasporas, sampling and reassembling a mix of found and invented sounds from swing to Afro-Cuban bop, rock, funk, and hip hop.
Florida, governed through Cuba (256 years) longer than it has been under Anglo governance, is North America's most longstanding frontier--a frontier revitalized since Miami has become the crossroads that New Orleans once was. Fittingly, it was El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's history, La Florida (1605), that gave the word "creole" definition, noting that "the Negroes designate all persons criollos who have been born in the Indies of either pure Spanish or pure Negro parents." (22) Signaling a new orientation first forged by enslaved Africans forced to ground themselves in New World reality, creolization marks processes of conversion beyond anything the priests first imagined. Escobedo's epic "La Florida" (1605), Francisco Pareja's Confessionario (1613), Florida-born Alonso de Leturiondo's petition to King Philip V (1701), Africa-born Francisco Menendez's petition to the King (1740), and Zephaniah Kingsley's unusual Treatise defending slavery (1828) underscore a process by which colonial confidence was shaken as the Florida frontier demanded new border thinking. (23) Adrian Castro, a contemporary Miami-Cuban santeria poet-priest, calls us back to witness these frontier birthings of a new people, "Crio-o-o-o-o-ollo!" (24) and relies on a vanguardist Miami mix of Englishes, Spanish, and Lucumi to handle the difficult continuing narratives of "who they be where / they come from" (p. 15). As Mignolo writes, "'not being able to be [ser] where one is [estar]' becomes the fundamental condition of border thinking," which might "overcome the limits and violent conditions generated by being always able to be where one belongs" (p. 334). Inheriting systems forged out of horrific dislocations and finding possession in polyrhythmic gaps and multiple selves, Castro embraces this difficult crossroads, and--as in a poem to Chano Pozo (Dizzy Gillespie's drummer)--ritualizes a new we. "pulling the muse / from the drum / the muse that is we" (p. 42). A more recent Cuban emigre to Miami, Daina Chaviano, also draws upon santeria to open her roads in El hombre, la hembray el hambre (1998), in which the main character is a medium whose santeria-spiritist guides lead readers through her ancestral, colonial Havana streets. These guides answer her recognition that "to have faith in the future, one needs the past; but her past had been stolen, altered, repressed." (25) The egun of ancestral Floridas can still inform the navigational skills needed for current cross-cultural frontiers. As Jane Landers insists, after Florida became a U.S. territory, Indian removal policies and Afro-Floridians' "loss of legal personality" enabled a situation by which "Florida's past was bleached and homogenized until it looked less disturbingly Caribbean and more comfortably southern. But immigration has once again made Florida a part of the Afro-Hispanic Caribbean, changing the way it looks and sounds" in "a return to a more historically 'normal' state of affairs, and a move toward the future" (pp. 250, 253).
Virginia's Anglo-foundational frontiers emerge from violent intercourse with heathen virgins, "the art of colonialism" by which, as Wilson Harris's Jonah Jones says of his son's heathen mother, "when I fuck her I save you Francisco from taint. I recruit you in her into the Church" (p. 123). In Cortes's "go-between," La Chingada (the Fucked), we meet that mother of hybridities whose "taint is constitutional." (26) Virginia's own Pocahontas, a "well-featured but wanton yong girle ... of the age of eleven or twelve" (27) served John Smith as the go-between who, "next under God, was ... the instrument to preserve this Colonie from death, famine, and utter confusion" until "rejecting her barbarous condition," she became "the first Christian ever of that Nation, the first Virginian ever spake English, or had a childe in marriage by an Englishman: a matter surely, if my meaning bee truly considered and well understood, worthy a Princes understanding" (p. 27). John Rolfe, whose hybrid tobacco founded Virginia's plantation system, married the rechristened Lady Rebecah, in
no way led ... with the unbridled desire of carnall affection: but for the good of this plantation, for the honour of our countrie, for the glory of God, for my owne salvation, and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, an unbeleeving creature, namely Pokahuntas. To whom my hartie and best thoughts are, and have a long time bin so intangled, and inthralled in so intricate a laborinth, that I was even awearied to unwinde my selfe thereout. (28)
More occulted illegitimacies join Thomas Jefferson with Sally Hemings. An erotic border gnosis informed and undercut his life (working against his confidence in encyclopedic education and dreams of agrarian democracy) though never more evidently than in an 1815 letter to Francis Gray wherein Jefferson elaborately calculated the white crossings it would take to cleanse the taint of (his own blood's) black blood: "[since] the estimate of their compound in some cases may be intricate, it becomes a mathematical problem of the same class with those on the mixtures of different liquors or different metals." (29) His literary interlocutors (from William Wells Brown to Faulkner and Ellison) have been more clear-sighted than the historians. But the most open-eyed vision of occulted pornographies in our Jeffersonian patrimony rises from the frontier banjo-cats and rhyming dance-callers who pioneered the border crossings of a carnivalesque Virginia real. Their music stepped along and through the breaks of old oppositions (virgin/whore, pure/impure) towards a third order, creolizing gnosis (modeled in santeria's Oshun or vodou's Erzulie-Freda--often depicted as erotic mixed-race creoles, empowered with dance, beauty, wealth, high fashion, occult power; and represented via the Virgin's iconography). Musicating openings to subaltern female powers have been moving (via a Bessie Smith or Madonna) the passive voice of "the Fucked" to active revalorization of the verb, and call us now to recognize in female openness the penetrable eros required of anyone who would move to be "mounted" and possessed by true soul powers.
The Bible Belt, "where belief is still believable," as Flannery O'Connor insisted, (30) presents what Etienne Balibar has called a central border area "where secular and religious cultures confront each other." (31) Attentiveness to this increasingly central border reminds us that counter-creolizing resistance to subaltern confluences enacts its own creolizing forces. As Christine Leigh Heyrman has forcefully argued, the evangelical Protestantism that swept the South through the Great Awakening, offering liberating fellowship to "southern society's most subordinated groups--the poor, the young, the female, the black" (32)--was by the early nineteenth century converted to existing Southern forms of mastery and hierarchy, though it still managed to impart its Puritan ascetic code (opposition to worldly sins such as fiddling and dancing). Wielding a central scriptural authority, antebellum black writers called attention to the nation's degenerative dealings with the Devil and often used scripture to expose white churches as agents of Satan in Christ-face. Frederick Douglass describes anti-Christ-consciousness at work: "between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked." (33) Harriet Jacobs added, "No wonder the slaves sing--Ole Satan's church is here below; / Up to God's free church I hope to go." (34) With the end of slavery, racial terror found entrenchment in "the most churchified communities in the South," (35) from spectacle lynching to civil rights era church bombings. When a few Southern writers finally answered the call to step out of white supremacist orthodoxy, they used a familiar "language of religious conversion." (36) White "racial conversion narratives" sought escape from the solid South's zombifying singlemindedness--by which, as W.J. Cash put it, "dissent and variety are completely suppressed and men become, in all their attitudes, professions, and actions, virtual replicas of one another." (37) Lillian Smith sought remedy for segregations that work "until one's mind and heart and conscience are blocked off" (38) and described how blockages that "split my body from my feelings and both from my 'soul,' taught me also to split ... Christianity from southern tradition" (p. 27). Fighting constitutional illness, the civil rights struggle worked, according to Pat Waters, via "cultural integration" and a charged spirit "not unlike the best ecstatic experience in the fundamentalist churches of the white South." (39) Indeed, the South's performative traditions of belief (as in the Pentecostal traditions that helped produce Elvis) offer more possibility for "conversion" than anything in more polite or ascetic Christian theology. Speaking truth to power, Dr. King directed his most righteous rage at moderate religious leaders, accusing the church of being "archdefender of the status quo." (40) King saw how defense of the Lost Cause led to an "otherworldly religion, which makes a strange, unbiblical distinction between body and soul, between the sacred and the secular" (p. 253), how white churches inherited a plantation legacy that lives "in monologue rather than dialogue" (p. 246), that "substitutes an 'I-it' relationship for an 'I-thou' relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things" (p. 248), bound in "paralyzing chains of conformity" (p. 254). Even the staunchest high church Southern defender, Andrew Lyde, acknowledged we've reached Christendom's (the West's) "Satanic phase" (41) in which "nothing matters but money" (p. 168), "a world with the habits of Puritanism without a belief in God" (p. 182).
In conclusion, as we face globalizing crossroads deep into Christendom's Satanic phase, which both Andrew Lyde and Bob Marley refer to as Babylon, we can return to no old Eden and must cultivate our gardens amidst the "Concrete Jungle." But crossroads-tested means emerge from creole frontier zones. We find possession of soul landscapes in a Gullah marvelous real authored out of the "endangered wisdom" of a tenacious folk culture and the lives and language of women who've sustained it. New Orleans offers model prefigurations of urban crossculturalism and our most authoritative sources of "modern time." Spanish Florida holds diverse egun (ancestral guides) and powerful divinations of our futures. Jeffersonian articulations of democracy and Bible Belt habits of belief (both accompanied by a "Dirty South" sexual border gnosis) constitute part of the bedrock of King's Dream, a "politics of fulfilment" that calls "society [to] live up to the promises of its own rhetoric" (Gilroy, p. 37). But exceeding this familiar dream is a third order informing power, the black Atlantic's "politics of transfiguration [that] strives in pursuit of the sublime ... pushes towards the mimetic, dramatic, and performative ... to the formation of a community of needs and solidarity which is magically made audible in the music itself" (p. 37). Since well before Jamestown, diasporic creole knowledge of soul possessions and transfigurations has enabled negotiation of multiple rhythms and life paths, creation of new ritual families and ancestries, new creolizations of consciousness in freshly mindful spirited bodies. This polyrhythmic antiphonal "poetics of becoming" (Glissant, p. 226), simultaneously postmodern, pre-modern, and interior to all that modernity is built upon, answers continually emerging local/global needs for traditions and repertoires of countercultural resistance to monocultural forces of university, monotheistic canons of scriptural authority, monologic patterns of identity and being plantationed in us.
(1) Prologue to The Kingdom of This World (1949).
(2) The Book of Embraces (1991).
(3) Jonestown (Boston: Faber and Faber, 1996).
(4) Philip Curtin situates "the plantation complex" (The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History [New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990]) as the most sweeping force behind a long process of modernizing globalism, as C.L.R. James initially argued. The term "creolization," long descriptive of languages and cultures of New World plantation zones, is increasingly used to speak of dislocations and diasporas of contemporary global economies. D.N. Rodowick writes of "the increasing hybridization or creolization of cultures" ("Introduction: Mobile Citizens, Media States," PMLA, 117 , 15), while Iain Chambers notes "the increasingly creolized conditions of metropolitan life" ("Citizenship, Language, and Modernity," PMLA 117 , 25).
(5) See John Miller Chernoff on WestAfrican pluralistic polyrhythmic sensibility (African Rhythm and African Sensibility: Aesthetics and Social Action in African Musical Idioms [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979], pp. 155-160); Donald Cosentino's Vodou Things: The Art of Pierrot Barra and Marie Cassaire, on assemblage as the aesthetic base of Afro-creole cultures (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1998); Walter Mignolo on subaltern "diversalities" working in excess of colonial universality (Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000]); and George Lipsitz on diasporic popular music's "immanent critique of contemporary social relations" (Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music, Postmodernism and the Poetics of Place [New York: Verso, 1994], p. 17).
(6) Here, I am summarizing material presented by Donald Cosentino (Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou, ed. Donald Cosentino [Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1995]) and Deborah Wyrick ("Divine Transpositions: Recent Scholarship on Vodou and Santeria Religious Art," Jouvert, 3 , October 22, 2002
(7) The Critical Path: An Essay on the Social Context of Literary Criticism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 1971), p. 170.
(8) The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 80.
(9) Joan Dayan, "Vodoun, or the Voice of the Gods," in Sacred Possessions: Vodou, Santeria, Obeah, and the Caribbean, ed. Margarite Fernandez Olmos and Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1997), p. 34.
(10) Katherine Hagedorn, Divine Utterantes: The Performance of Afro-Cuban Santeria (Washington: Smithsonian, 2001), p. 118.
(11) Faulkner, Mississippi, trans. Barbara Lewis and Thomas C. Spear (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999), p. 30.
(12) See Homi Bhabha's call for a "subaltern secularism" in his essay "Unsatisfied: Notes on Vernacular Cosmopolitanism" (in Postcolonial Discourses: An Anthology, ed. Gregory Castle [ Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 2001], pp. 39-52). I would argue that a subaltern secularism has long existed in Afro-creole communities, particularly as maintained by active countercultures nourishing a soul sublime not altogether divorced from spirituality--as we can see in the hunger with which black soul musics have been embraced on the world's dance floors.
(13) Julie Dash, Daughters of the Dust: The Making of an African American Woman's Film (New York: New Press, 1992), p. 75.
(14) "On Morrison and Black Female Memory," in New Dimensions of Spirituality: A Biracial and Bicultumi Reading of the Novels of Toni Morrison, ed. Karla F. C. Holloway and Stephanie A. Demetrakopoulos (New York: Greenwood Press, 1987), p. 152.
(15) New York: William Morrow and Co., 1963, p. 138.
(16) Victor Sejour's "Le Mulatre" (1837) addresses Haitan vodou (Sejour was the New Orleans-born son of a free man of color from St. Domingue) in the first short story published by a black North American. Le Spiritualiste is a New Orleans journal that attests to the vitality of Kardecian spiritism (and its spiritist "New Age" precursors) in New Orleans. Testut's novel, Le Vieux Salomon (1872), treats an international spiritist/Masonic/abolitionist society's activities to free slaves in Louisiana and Guadeloupe. Mercier's L'Habitation Saint-Ybars (1881) deeply engages Louisiana's Senegambian-informed Creole culture and language in an innovative novel deserving of translation. Cable treats voodoo and Marie Lavean quite directly (The Grandissimes, 1880), while Alcee Fortier presented Louisiana's Creole fables (Louisiana Folk-Tales in French Dialect and English Translation , featuring Brer Rabbit as a voodoo trickster).
(17) 1880; New York: Hill and Wang, 1968, p. 40.
(18) "Serving the Spirits: The Ritual Economy of Haitian Vodou," in Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou, p. 217.
(19) Invisible Man (1952; New York: Vintage, 1972), p. 8.
(20) Neo-HooDoo Manifesto," in The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, ed. Henry Louis Gates and Nellie Y. McKay (New York: Norton, 1997), pp. 2301, 2297.
(21) New York: Atheneum, 1972, p. 6.
(22) The Florida of the Inca, trans. John Grier Varner and Jeanette Johnson Varner (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981), p. 106.
(23) Fray Alonso Gregorio de Escobedo's epic "La Florida" (1605) moves from narration of Afro-Cuban rebellions and a large-scale Guale revolt to provide confident commentaries such as this one on pagan Indios: "They adore the Devil and, when they die, go to Hell. Meanness abides within them and they have no knowledge of Jesus. These people are without natural reasonable thinking; in fact, they are irrational" (Pirates, Indians and Spaniards [Father Escobedo's "La Florida"], trans. A. F. Falcones, ed. James W. Covington [St. Petersburg, Florida: Great Outdoors Publishing Co., 1963], p. 142). A work more deeply conversant with "La Florida," Fray Francisco Pareja's Confessionario en Lengua Castellana y Timuquana (1613) served priests as a bilingual text for giving confession to Florida's indigenous peoples for sins such as divination, carnal desire, and harboring the Spaniards' escaped African property. Of particular interest is Florida-born Leturiondo's petition to King Philip V (1701), which provides an important textual landmark in the development of a truly creole consciousness. Menendez's petition to the King (see Jane Landers, Black Society in Spanish Florida [Urbana: University, of Illinois Press, 1999], pp. 37-41) is a remarkable textual testimony to the possibilities for an African to carve out a life in Spanish Florida. Kingsley, a planter who had long resided in Spanish Florida, where he married and freed Anta Majigeen N'diaye (one of his Havana-purchased Senegalese slaves), wrote an unusual defense of slavery that advocated racial mixing and called the white South into cross-racial alliances.
(24) Cantos to Blood and Honey (Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1997), p. 15.
(25) Barcelona: Editorial Planeta, 1998, p. 186.
(26) Octavio Paz, El laberinto de la soledad (Mexico: Fundo de Cultura Economica, 1964), p. 72. Paz writes that La Malinche (La Chingada) is the counterpoint of the virgin and represents "the violated Mother" whose "passivity, open to the outside world, causes her to lose her identity: she is the Fucked" (p. 72). My language and vision of the "go-between" here is indebted to Stephen Greenblatt's Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), which intersects at interesting crossroads with Olmos and Paravisini-Gebert's Sacred Possessions: Vodou, Santeria, Obeah, and the Caribbean.
(27) John Smith, Proceedings of the English Colonie in Virginia (1612), in Southern Writing 1585-1920, ed. Richard Beale Davis, C. Hugh Holman, and Louis D. Rubin, Jr. (New York: Odyssey Press, 1970), p. 24.
(28) John Rolfe, "His Letter to Sir Thomas Dale on Pocahontas" (1614), in Southern Writing 1585-1920, p. 36.
(29) "What Constitutes a Mulatto?" Letter to Francis Gray (March 4, 1811), in The Complete Jefferson, ed. Saul K. Padover (New York: Duell, Sloane and Pearce, 1943), p. 1022.
(30) "The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South," in The South in Perspective: An Anthology of Southern Literature, ed. Edward Francisco, Robert Vaughan, and Linda Francisco (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001), p. 942.
(31) "World Borders, Political Borders," trans. Erin M. Williams, PMLA, 117 (2002), 71.
(32) Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt (New York: Knopf, 1997), p. 254.
(33) Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), in The Classic Slave Narratives, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York: Mentor, 1987), p. 326.
(34) Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861), in The Classic Slave Narratives.
(35) Leon F. Litwack, Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow (New York: Knopf, 1998), p. 297.
(36) Fred Hobson, But Now I See: The White Southern Racial Conversion Narrative (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999), p. 2.
(37) The Mind of the South (New York: Knopf, 1941), pp. 90-91.
(38) Killers of the Dream (1949; New York: Norton, 1994), p. 29.
(39) Down to Noun: Reflections on the Southern Civil Rights Movement (New York: Pantheon Books, 1971), pp. 412-413.
(40) Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," in Critical Thinking, Reading & Writing: A Brief Guide to Argument, 2nd ed., ed. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau (Boston: Bedford, 1996), p. 254.
(41) From Eden to Babylon: The Social and Political Essays of Andrew Nelson Lytle (Washington: Regnery Gateway, 1990), p. 229.
University of North Florida…
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Publication information: Article title: Voodoo Hermeneutics/the Crossroads Sublime: Soul Musics, Mindful Body, and Creole Consciousness. Contributors: Cartwright, Keith - Author. Journal title: The Mississippi Quarterly. Volume: 57. Issue: 1 Publication date: Winter 2003. Page number: 157+. © 1998 Mississippi State University. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
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