"Race" and hermeneutics: paradigm shift - from scientific to hermeneutic understanding of race.
In the following pages, I shall examine those investments as they pertain to theories of interpretation. Beginning with the premise that race is one of several" communities of meaning" existing "|out there' in the world," and that its effectivity in the production and interpretation of culture belongs in "the province . . . of hermeneutic understanding," I will argue that, as systems of understanding, hermeneutic theories also stand in need of interrogation from the point of view of the ideology of race and the practices of racial discrimination (Appiah, "Uncompleted" 21-37). I will also argue that, contrary to Henry Louis Gates's position, African peoples have several systems of interpretation; that, though each may have certain similarities to others, they are not the same; and, finally, that any comparison between these systems and a European model must point out not only features of similarity or equivalence but also those of contrast, contradiction, and difference.
Studies which restrict themselves to pointing out similarities between the strategies of deconstruction, say, and Yorubaderived "New World" Signifying overlook the ideology of race. Even after we have disposed of the melanin, we cannot dispose of ideology. The ideology of race may or may not, in its operations, rely on biology. But, as the experience of our daily lives shows, and as examples from interpretation theories (Mailloux; Gates, Signifying; Gadamer), essays on curricular change in post-independence Kenya (Ngugi) and literary criticism reveal, it does make its presence felt.
I have derived the premise outlined above - i.e., that it is in ideology rather than in biology that we may find the meaning of race - from Kwame Anthony Appiah's essay "The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race." The essay's objective, Appiah writes, is to discuss "the way in which . . . Du Bois . . . came gradually, though never completely, to assimilate the unbiological nature of races." (22) The phrase gradually, though never completely, to assimilate is a signpost to the conclusion Appiah intends to draw, by the end of his essay, from Du Bois's work: that races are "unbiological."
To arrive at this conclusion, Appiah undertakes a systematic and critical explication of Du Bois's thoughts on race as recorded in "The Conservation of Races" (1897), "Races" (1911) and Dusk of Dawn: An Essay toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept (1940). The evidence, he contends, points to a reluctance on Du Bois's part to dispose entirely of the belief that there is an essence of race (34). Du Bois's work was "a pretext for adumbrating the argument he never quite managed to make" (35):
The truth is that there are no races . . . .
Talk of "race" is particularly distressing for those of us who take culture seriously. For, where race works . . . it works as an attempt at a metonym for culture; and it does so only at the price of biologizing what is culture, or ideology. . . . What exists "out there" in the world - communities of meaning, shading variously into each other in the rich structure of the social world - is the province not of biology but of hermeneutic understanding. (36; emphasis added)(2)
Thus the paradigm shifts from the science of race to the hermeneutics of the implications of race in culture. For Appiah, race is part of the meaning-making machinery of that world rather than a synonym for culture, and the principles of structural linguistics are, like those of science, not of much value in the explication of race.
His assertion (with which I most certainly agree) that "there are no races" does not indicate a denial of the existence of racism - behavior subtended by a "series of falsehoods" ("Conservation" 50). Nor, for that matter, does it mean that racist practices have no effect on subjects(3) or consequences in the realms of cultural production and their interpretation. Surely his writings in cultural theory and philosophy prove otherwise. At his most polemical, as in "The Conservation of |Race,'" Appiah makes quite explicit the reason for his intervention in the discourse of race: "Sticks and stones may break bones, but words - words that evoke structures of oppression, exploitation, and brute physical threat - can break souls" (43). Thus it is that we may disregard Houston A. Baker"s characterization of "The Uncompleted Argument" as an "instructive" but "ultimately, unhelpful" piece of academicism ("Caliban's" 385).
At the same time, however, Baker does sound an important cautionary note against excessive formalism and the air of olympian detachment from the racial murk which pervades formalist criticism. For him, such criticism is often lacking in" |real side' referentiality and present-day political sensitivity" (387). And, if we overlook the latter, we imperil not only bones but souls. With this note ringing in our ears, then, we take up the matter of hermeneutics and race where Appiah left them.
From the outset we must note that our task is multilayered. One aspect of this task is to determine the significance (or insignificance) of race in the interpretive act. The second aspect, which I call the validational, entails a shift of focus. Here it is not race but hermeneutics that is the object of inquiry. If we can ask of hermeneutics the methodology for explicating race and charting its intelligibility in cultural practices, we can also reverse this order and interrogate hermeneutics from the standpoint of race.
The questions to be addressed, not necessarily in the order presented here, are the following: Are hermeneutic systems race-identifiable? And how effective is any hermeneutic philosophy which excludes ideology for the explication of race, racial relations, and the effectivity of race in cultural practices? In dealing with the questions which I call metahermeneutical, I will focus on Henry Louis Gates's "The Blackness of Blackness." In conclusion, I shall advance the following, very unoriginal argument: Hermeneutic systems, no matter how identified, formulated, structured, and codified, are concerned not only with the explication of cultural symbols but with questions of power as well.
Hermeneutics and Race
Hermeneutics, as is widely known, is concerned with the "phenomenon of understanding and the correct interpretation of what has been understood" (Gadamer xxi). Beyond those traditional questions of hermeneutic theory - understanding, translation, explication, interpretation, and their mechanics - HansGeorg Gadamer is preoccupied with the problem of interpretation theory in the age of science. His aim is to demonstrate the limits of the tools of scientific inquiry - the amassing, examination, and explication of empirical data - for theorizing the process of human understanding.
The truth of any understanding of human experience is, for him, a truth in the world. But the world is neither static nor stable; it is in flux. Confronted the constant overstimulation of "our historical consciousness," some of us invoke" the eternal orders of nature" and appeal "to human nature to legitimize the idea of natural law." But, continues Gadamer,
It is not only that historical tradition and the natural order of life constitute the unity of the world in which we live as men; the way we experience one another, the way we experience historical traditions, the way we experience the natural givenness of our existence and of our world, constitute a truly hermeneutic universe, in which we are not imprisoned, as if behind insurmountable barriers, but to which we are opened. (xxiv)
Clearly, Gadamer does not reject outright any appeals to "historical tradition" and "natural order." What he stresses, in a theory he calls an "event effective" model of understanding, is that the diverse experiences which together constitute our "hermeneutic universe" are inclusive, and that the human subject is open to rather than incarcerated within that universe.
If we accept this view, we can certainly consider race - the notion that individuals having a particular skin hue belong to a group which shares "important inherited characteristics" - as an element of our hermeneutic universe (Appiah, "Race" 276). Within this universe skin is constituted as both an index of identity and difference, thus making possible the experience of those of "other skin" as our Others-of-kin. Therefore, to say that "there are no races" is not to deny that race, or race consciousness, is a significant element in the constitution of the universe of which Gadamer speaks.
What assertions such as Appiah's do is to push us past blunt, untested claims about race in general and race and interpretation in particular. Aside from drawing attention to the fact that the "inherited characteristics" associated with race are themselves interpretations, they challenge us to determine whether or not the interpretive act is affected by or indifferent to race and, if so, to specify the level of significance or lack of it.
Meeting this challenge is not easy. Not only are race and interpretation, our key concepts, individually complex, but, taken together, they constitute an even more formidable challenge. Furthermore, a discussion of race and interpretation would be barely meaningful without an engagement with ideology. These three - race, interpretation, ideology - are fundamental concepts to be dealt with by anyone wishing to meet Appiah's challenge. But rather than deal with the problem of the effectivity of race in interpretation by engaging each concept individually, I propose to deal with them collectively by analyzing Steven Mailloux's essay "Interpretation." Given the constraints of space, this analysis will be selective rather than exhaustive.
Mailloux's approach to interpretation is etymological." In its etymology," he writes," 'interpretation' conveys the sense of a translation pointed in two directions simultaneously: toward a text to be interpreted and for an audience in need of the interpretation." Interpretation is, therefore, an in-between act, an" acceptable and approximating translation." Associated with each term in the last phrase are the questions, "to whom?" "what?" and "how?" to which Mailloux provides answers (121-22). He does not make race a central concern in his answers. But, in his attempt to answer the question - "ACCEPTABLE TO WHOM?" - race enters the picture, courtesy of an episode in Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
In the episode Huck Finn returns to the raft after being separated from (Nigger) Jim in a fog. Jim, happy to see Huck" |back agin, live en soun'" and "jis de same ole Huck,'" gives "thanks to goodness!'" Huck, however, sees the reunion as an opportunity to play a racist prank. He denies having been lost, and claims everything that happened was dreamed up by the "tangle-headed old fool, Jim." Seeing the "dream" as a warning, jim interprets it, only to be challenged to explain the empirical evidence - damage to the raft, debris - of the accident. Realizing Huck's duplicity, Jim identifies the evidence as "trash" and, in so many words, calls him trash.
Commenting Mailloux writes: "If we saw Jim's interpretation as a mis-reading, we certainly see nothing wrong with his allegorical reading of the trash. We get the point and so does Huck" (125; emphasis added). But who is the We, subject of the last sentence? A unitary, racially neutral, interpretive subject? A generic, "average-(wo)man" reader? If none of these - and it is none, since these are all fictitious - then, surely, Mailloux's We who gets "the point" is itself a rhetorical construct. With his We, Mailloux invites his readers to share his reading of the episode as another attempt by Twain to confront Huck "with his racist upbringing" (125).
This reading is certainly warranted by the text. Yet, for all that, it is limited. Its premise is that the episode has one purpose - Huck's deracination - and that all readers (We) would make this interpretation. But to do so, every single person who picks up the book must accept that this is the purpose of the episode. All must assume that Huck's enlightenment is Twain's ideological project. They must make Huck the centerpiece of their reading. But what if some do not? Indeed, why should a critic, a Zimbabwean, say, not make Jim rather than Huck her interpretive point of departure? The answer, I suggest, is there is no textual reason that she should not.
Several years ago, when I first read Twain's novel in Nigeria, it was not Huck's enlightenment, in which Jim is figured as an instrunent, that was foremost in my analysis; rather, it was Jim's deference to Huck, unusual in my community, tbat I found remarkable. The point' of his allegorical reading of trash was not lost on me; what was lost was Huck's assumption that Jim cannot distinguish dream from reality, and the fact that in reacting to the insult Jim takes recourse in allegory. Whatever elge is claimed about race relations in late twentieth-century Nigeria, it cannot be said that a Huck-Jim "friendship" is likely. Anyhow, I have since my reading come to understand Huck's assumption and Jim's response. I have come to understand not merely that Twain was representing the social conditions of race relations in nineteenth-century America, but that the conventions of the novel, a process-of-maturation narrative, call for both the boy's initial assumption and the man's response to it.(4)
If it is true that Huck Finn champions "the autonomy of the individual," as a critic quoted by Myra Jehlen alleges (265), then we can safely say it is not Jim's autonomy that is being championed. Huck Finn inscribes an ideological contradiction. If, as Mailloux argues apropos of Huck's later apology to Jim, Huck's "respect and affection for Jim work to undermine his society's ideology of white supremacy" (126), the very process by which personal respect and affection inspire Huck to reject racist ideology, the instrumentation of Jim's subjectivity, reproduces the relations of subjection put in place by racism. Thus, we may say, an episode which signals a transformation in Huck's consciousness about race does so by reinforcing the very demeaning subjection of Jim which made Huck's prank possible in the first place.
It seems to me this contradiction cannot be disclosed within the terms set by Mailloux's etymological approach. For this approach leaves out the question TRANSLATED FROM WHOM?'With this question we confront the critic or translator, and thus must come to terms with the ways in which, in racialized societies such as the United States, race affects the consciousness and interpretive practices of the critic.
Mailloux's theory of interpretation is grounded in philosophical redism. Standing between text and audience, the critic objectively decodes the one for the other. Criticism, then, separates text from audience. We niay visu- ahm this scheme thus:
TEXT - [critic] - AUDIENCE
Text and audience are the exegete's phenomenological "others." Reading Interpretation," one is oddly, and perhaps unfairly, reminded of Georges Poulet's "Criticism and the Experience of Interiority." The dimishment of the critic as an agent of interpretation in the former bears an ancanny resemblance to a similar diminishment in the latter, wherein it is postulated that, in reading human consciousness, reduced to passive recording of its own thought, defers to an "active and potent" consciousness "inherent in the work' 'Criticism' 47).5
Neither Nailloux's philosophical @m nor Poulet's ideahsm can account for the actively wiuftd and purposive agency of Ngilgi wa Thiong'o, Henty Owuor-anyumba, and Taban Lo Liyong in scuttfing the Enghsh Department in their university. This event, r-ecorded by Ngogy in the essay "On the Abolition of the Englu De- partment," demonstrates the effectivity of a racial memory on interpretive activity.
Quite briefly, Ngfigi and his colleagues object to the phrase historic continuity of a single culture th?vughout the period of emergence of the modem west in an address by the Head of DenBYpartinent 5-46). They contend that the phrase assumes 'that the English tradition and the emergence of the modern west is the central root of our consciousness and cultural heritage" (146; emphasis added). But while valid, their deduction singles out only one of several assumptions in the statement. For example, the statement also assumes that "the period of the emergence of the modemrn west" can be reconstructed in the form of a continuous teleological narrative, and that ethnic Englishness ("a single culture") hes at the thematic core of the story.
Given these assumptions, and assuming Ngugi was aware of them, one may ask: Why did Ngugi "translate" the offending text as he did? Here what Gadamer's explicators call the "effective history" of the text being read, the period of decolonization, provides a clue (Baynes, Bohman, and McCarthy 319).
Historic continuity of a single culture reiterates the familial myth of shared cultural origins of colonized and colonizer under Pax Brittanica. Such myths allude to or gesture toward an originary, historical presence, a "prior, archaic image or identity" emanating fmm the "mother country" (Bhabha 169). But this very gesture which ostensibly unites conqueror and conquered affirms the absence of the latter at the inauguration of "a single culture." The modern west, like jingoistic phrases such as civilized nations of the west, is laden with overtones of (among other things) racialism. Ngugi's interpretation of the offending text is, therefore, partly a response to these unstated overtones.
Now, returning to the question TRANSLATED FROM WHOM? we may conclude from this example that consciousness of race does play a part in interpretation. But to say this is not yet to show that a given hermeneutic system is race-specific. Nor is it to outline the similarities or differences between these systems, especially as they pertain to history and ideology, two of the most significant issues in any analysis of race. Completing these tasks is the objective of the next section.
Esu-Elegbara and Esu-tufunaalo:
Gates's "Myth of Origin"
There are several theoretical models of interpretation in the field of African-American literary criticism. Most of these models are appropriations of one or a synthesis of several Euro-American interpretive theories and critical methodologies - Marxism, American New Criticism, Structuralism, Psychoanalysis, and, lately, Feminist Theory and Criticism. Henry Louis Gates's theory of interpretation, "the Signifying Monkey" or Signifyin(g), is unique among these theories for its claim to derive from "within the black cultural matrix." In the context of his theory, "the black cultural matrix" refers both to the African-American "vernacular tradition," to which the literary tradition is a "parallel universe" (Signifying xxii), and to the Yoruba trickster figures Esu-Elegbara (Nigeria) and Legba Repubhque du Benin) ("Blackness" 286).
As Gates defines it, Signifyin(g) "is a theory of formal revision; it is tropological; it is often characterized by pastiche; and, most significantly, it turns on repetition of formal structures, and their difference" (285). Like the Saussurean concept of signification with which Gates compares it (repeating in his writing the inside/outside doublevoicedness of African-American discourse), the Signifying Monkey is a complex of tropes. Located 'at the margins of discourse," it reverses the "received racist image of the black as simianlike," the Signifying Monkey, by ironizing it. It is "our trope for repetition and revision, indeed ... our trope of chiasmus itself, repeating and simultaneously reversing in one deft, discursive act" (286; emphasis added). Our in Gates's theory is doubly weighted: At once invoking a collective racial identity ("black"), our refers more specifically to the tropological forms subsumed in the Monkey and deployed in black art. Thus, in his Introduction to The Signifying Monkey, Gates writes:
Repetition and revision are fundamental
to black artistic practice.... I
decided to analyze the nature and
function of Signifyin(g) precisely because
it is repetition and revision, or
repetition with a signal difference.
Whatever is black about black American
literature is to be found in this
identifiable black Signifyin(g) difference.
Using Hegel's master-slave dialectic as a structural paradigm, Gates identifies the tropes of Vico, Burke, Nietzsche, Paul de Man, and Harold Bloom as the "master tropes" against which "signifying, . . . the slave's trope,- may be juxtaposed and in light of which it can be understood. Thus he compares Signifying with the Bloomian trope of metalepsis," |a trope-reversing trope, figure of a figure.'" Signifying is a metatrope, and its discourse, like that of its African antecedent Esu-Elegbara, "is a metadiscourse, a discourse about itself" (xxi). Signifyin(g) subsumes "metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche and irony (the |master' tropes), and also hyperbole, litotes and metalepsis, ... aporia, chiasmus, catachresis" ("Blackness" 286).
Esu-Esegbari, the primordial cultural archetype of the Signifying Monkey and other New World incarnations, is a "trickster figure of Yoruba mythology." He is an intermediary between divinity and humanity. In mediating between deities and humans Esu-Elegbara and his New World incarnations rely on tricks. Gates claims that these "versions of Esu are all messengers of the gods," interpreting their will "to human beings" and conveying human desires back to the gods, but he does not explain if Esu indiscriminately applies his tricks to humans and divinities. Whatever the case, Esu, Gates continues,
is known as the divine linguist, the
keeper of ase (|logos') with which
Olodumare created the universe.
Esu is guardian of the crossroads,
master of style and the stylus, phallic
god of generation and fecundity,
master of the mystical barrier that
separates the divine from the profane
world. In Yoruba mythology, Esu
always limps, because his legs are of
different lengths: one is anchored in
the realm of the gods, the other rests
in the human world. (286-87)
Again resorting to the inside/outside, double-voiced discourse noted earlier, Gates compares Esu to Hermes. But unlike the definition of the Signifying Monkey, in which the basis of the distinction between Black Signifyin(g) and European signifying tropes is the master-slave dialectic, here the basis of comparison is not socioeconomic power relations but the filiative bond of family relations.
Hermes, Gates writes, is Esu's "closest Western relative." Like Hermes, who in his "role of interpreter" lent "his name readily to'hermeneutics,' the study of the process of interpretation, so too the figure of Esu can stand for the critic of comparative black literature, as our metaphor for the act of interpretation itself (287; emphasis added). In Yoruba, the immediate source of Gates's theory, interpretation can be expressed "either as itumo ('to untie or unknot knowledge') or as iyipada ('to turn around' or 'to translate')." In etymological terms, iyipada is strikingly similar to interpres, the European Classical etymology for interpretation fiom which Mailloux distilled his essay. But similarities between Gates's African-American (supposedly Black) and Euro-American (or "White"?) theories of interpretation abound. For every concept in the latter (we must begin with the latter, since Gates admits - and the admission is reftected in his literary style, which consists of a constant sliding back and forth between exposition and comparison - that it was by stepping "outside" his culture that he was able" defamiliarize" the concept of signification in Afro-American culture' ), gates presents a parallel concept from the former. Thus for Yoruba "Oda fa (reading the signs')" (Signifying 11), we have the Euro-American "close reading"; for "ariyemuye" ('that which no sooner is held than slips through one's fingers')" we have "indeterminacy, the sheer plurality of meaning," of which Esu, the "Black Interpreter," is the Yoruba god, and for "Esu-|tufunaalo (|bringing out the interstices of the riddle')" we have hermeneutics ("Blackness" 287). For Gates, then, Hermes and P-sit- Elegbara (Legba) are mythological kin, the one Euroean and the other African, which have given rise to two interpretive modalities.
So close are these parallels, so striking the conceptual similarities between them, that one would be justified in suggesting that Gates's theory of interpretation sometimes reads like a Black version of Euro-American hermeneutic theories. By saying that Gates's theory reads like a black version I do not mean to suggest that comparisons between Black Signifyin(g) processes and their European counterparts are invalid. As Gates's work shows, there not only are enough areas of similarity to warrant comparison - on referential indeterminacy and double-voicedness, Gates's explication of the discourses of Esu-Elegbara, poststructuralism, and Mikhail Bakhtin's narrative theory are mutually illuminating - but such comparisons are themselves sources of enlightenment for us ("Blackness" 286; Signifying 22, 39-42). Having granted this, we must still ask if Hermes/hermneutics and Esu/Esu-|tufunaalo, the two mythological figures and interpretive systems in Gates's work, are really so similar as to be kin? Without a careful and systematic analysis of Yoruba and Greek mythologies, it would be impossible to resolve this question conclusively. Yet what we need is not a conclusive resolution so much as a recognition of clangers inherent in juxtaposing Esu with hermeneutics.
Consider, for example, the following passage, in which Gates describes the network of textual layerings which readers must explicate as they work toward an understanding of an Ifa oracular performance:
The reading of the propitiate of
Ifa can occur only within a system
of differences and traces, wherein
the text of Ifa functions as a text in
relation to Esu, who is never present
at a reading, and in relation to
other, larger cultural texts of
which the Ifa oracle is merely one
sign. Esu's indeterminacy can only
be grappled with by reading the
densely ambiguous language of lfa
against a system of meaning and interpretation
that includes all of the texts
that comprise the system of being
Yoruba. (Signifying 39; emphasis
If the point of this passage is that a full understanding of the meaning of a specific Yoruba text - an Ifa divination performance, for example - requires a reading practice that contex s that text, then such a proposition could hardly be considered novel. Reading Gates's statement one is forcefully reminded of Fredric Jameson's "three concentric frameworks' within which the semantics of the "inert givens and materials of a particular te-t' are progressively enlarged and enriched: political history, society, and history (75-76). But there is more to this statement than the generally accepted idea of contextualization found even in poststructuralist theories that celebrate the indeterminacy of the sign.(6) Since part of my project is with the question of the referentiallty of the literary sign, I now wish to focus on this excess over contextualization; that is, Gates's description of the process by which exegetes wrestle with semantic indeterminacy.
In the passage quoted above Gates describes that process as one that entails the explication of "the densely ambiguous language of Ifa against a system of meaning and interpretation." Against is a key term in this passage. If understood as meaning 'in full view of' or 'being in motion toward and establishing contact with something'(The Oxford Universal Dictionary), then the relationship between the two levels of interpretive activity involved here (close textual analysis -corresponding with Jameson's first concentric framework - and broader signifying economy and hermeneutic system) would be merely sequential. But in addition to the idea of sequentiality, against also implies the notion of con%-sequentiality. To be against is to be in a relationship of nonconformity or mutual antagonism with, to be opposed to. In this second sense, we may understand Gates as suggesting that explication of Esu indeterminacy entails a critical articulation of the ambiguities in his language with that "system of meaning and interpretation" derived from all of the texts which constitute Yoruba ontology.
Unless, like Esu himself, against is also marked by undecidability, Gates could be understood as using it in both senses outlined here. And this, perhaps, is the case. For whether the levels of interpretation necessary for decoding the indeterminacy of Esu texts sequentially follow or similtaneously interrogate each other, the outcome remains the same. In either case meanings generated at each level lead not to meanings beyond language but to language itself. Language, one might say, is self-referential. Meanings point us to other possible meanings, texts to other texts, in much the same way that the provisionality of Ifa's pronouncements point us, ultimately to Esu that fickle and treacherous divinity who may "confirm or condemn" his meaning (Signifying 9). Confounding the division between speaking and writing, Ifa's texts mark the space of an aporia in, rather than a resolution of, the tension between the spoken and the written. Doubling the aporia Iof the location of meaning," Ifa's rhetoric invokes "the always absent figure of Esu." It is the combination of the aporetic in Ifa's rhetoric and the absent presence of Esu the god of indeterminacy, that assures that closure is always circumvented:
Hence all that is left is a series of
differences, the relationship among
which the reader (propitiate) must
ponder to begin,to produce some
sort of meaning. Esu's often stated
dwelling at the crossroads is, in
this sense, at the crossroads of
differences; there is no direct access,
or contact, with truth or meaning,
because Esu govems understanding
and even the speech of the
babalawo is a form of writing, according
both to the system's own code
and to the absence of presence, immediacy,
and transparency in the
rhetoric of the Odu. (4041; emphasis
What is, perhaps, most remarkable about Gates's radical skepticism toward any claim of a direct purchase on truth or meaning is not that it procribes the social real. Rather, it is that this skepticism is sustained by the rigorous denial that, in any speech act, meaning maybe determined as much by intention as by the plurisemic reference of utterances. Gates's hermeneutic system is driven, in short, by a thoroughly hostile antipathy toward an subjective principles (God, the human, etc.), these being suspect as epistemological appeals to transcendental absolutes. Being divested from the moment of birth of agency in the explication of texts, the Yoruba must repeatedly 'return to the text of Ifa," knowing even as they do so that the Ifa's interpretation is only provisional and that the process of explication is unending (41).
But we must note, at this point, a paradox. Even within an interpretive system so hostile to epistemological guarantees of truth or meaning Gates relies on Esu to guarantee the claim that truth and meaning are indeterminate. If truth and meaning were undecidable, why should the same undecidability not apply to the truth of indeterminacy itself.? As the god of indeterminacy, Esu suffices as proof not only of the truth or meaning of his own divinity and divine texts but - being Ultimate Interpreter - of the semantic indeterminacy of language. Esu's divine intention performs precisely that function denied God, Man, Author, etc.
By this reckoning all language belongs in the realm of divinity just as all meaning by virtue of this belonging, is sacred and undecidable (or undecidable because sacred?). If this indeed is the case, we may well conclude that, for the Yoruba at least, arguments about the in/correctness of interpretations and the acceptability of correct interpretations (Mailloux) are at best prolix. For what such arguments presuppose is not just that communities are, as Mailloux puts it, "historical," but also that the historicity of the community - the product of a complex interweave of infrastructural processes and relations of production, socially symbolic practices, differential power relations - is in a constant state of flux. In Gates's hermeneutic this sense of community is denied the Yoruba propitiate through a grand collusion between Esu, Ifa, and the babalawo, whose effect is to make his text and reading derivative and secondary:
Ifa consists of the sacred texts of the
Yoruba people, as does the Bible for
Christians, but it also contains the
commentaries on these fixed texts, as
does the Midrash. Its system of interpretation
turns upon a marvelous
combination of geomancy and textual
exegesis, in which sixteen palm nuts
are "dialed" sixteen times, and their
configurations or signs then read and
translated into the appropriate, fixed
literary verse that the numerical signs
signify. These visual signs are known
in the Yoruba as "signatures of an
Odu," and each signature the babalawo,
or priest, translates by reading or reciting
the fixed verse text that the
signature signifies. These verse texts,
whose meanings are lushly metaphorical,
ambiguous, and enigmatic, function
as riddles, which the propitiate
must decipher and apply as is appropriate
to his or her own quandary.(10)
What we have, then, is not a direct encounter between Citizen A and (Primary) Text 1 - Ifa's sacred texts - as happens when one reads Gates's book, Soyinka's Death of the King's Horseman, or The New York Times. Two texts separate Citizen A from Text 1: (Secondary) Text 2 - the "fixed literary verse" signified by the configurations of sixteen palm nuts dialed sixteen times - and (Tertiary) Text 3 - babalawo's recitation of the "fixed verse text" of Text 2. It is only at this point that Citizen A enters the process as a recipient of Text 3, which then he can decode. Until this stage, Citizen A remains passive and does not read. And there is no indication that he ever contests the validity of babalawo's readings of Texts 1 and 2. Texts 1 and 2, unlike Huckleberry Finn or Kunene's Emperor Shaka the Great, are sacred, private, numerological. Citizen A, then, can only approach them as a "propitiate." As a propitiator Citizen A is, obviously, not even a reader in Mailloux's sense. His relationship to Texts 1 and 2 is overmediated, and this by a superordinate divinity and/or a cleric. Prior readings to which he is not privy, and prior intentions whose validity he cannot contest, precede his reading. Gates's reader explicates antecedent explications.
To appreciate the distance separating Texts 1 and 3, on the one hand, and the social dynamic of the hermeneutic which defers Citizen A reading to Text 3, I wish to compare this social dynamic with that between divinities and humans in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. It is to be noted that the analogy here is broad rather than exact, and its utility for us inheres only in what the incident in the novel discloses about alternative social relations in another African theological system.
The incident to which I allude occurs during Okonkwo's visit to Nwakibie, one of the most successful farmers in Umuofia. Not having inherited any yams fiom Unoka, his musicloving but lazy father, Okonkwo approaches Nwakibie with some palm wine. Nwakibie invites his friends Ogbuefi Idigo and Akukaha to join him and his sons in his obi. As they drink the wine, the conversation turns, as is often the case among elders concerned about the future, to the younger generation. The behavior of Obiako, a palmwine tapper, is the focus of the conversation. Obiako has given up his trade, and not knowing why, the men can only speculate:
"Some people say the Oracle warned him that he would fan off a palm tree and kill himself," said Akukalia.
"Obiako has always been a strange one," said Nwakibie. "I have heard that many years ago, when his father had not been dead very long, he had gone to consult the Oracle. The Oracle said to him, Your dead father wants you to sacrifice a goat to him.' Do you know what he told the Oracle? He said, |Ask my dead father if he ever had a fowl when he was alive.'" (Achebe 15)
Obiako's conduct is possible within what may be called an egalitarian theology; that is, a religious teaching in which communication between the dead (Obiako's father) and the living, though not unmediated, follows the protocol of intra-familial dialogue between humans. Obiako's father's message is decoded, or translated, and then rendered in indirect speech: Your dead father wants. . . ." However, his reply, "Ask my dead father . . . " also in indirect speech, is rendered in a tone that imphcates the Oracle in the father's demand. Obiako, in other words, not only defies his father, but he by implication also questions the Oracle's translation of his father's statement.
Nwakibie's story presupposes a world in which the reading of sacred texts by oracles can be questioned by the audience, a world, in short, in which Citizen A (Obiako) actively participates, even if at some risk to his own welfare, in the production of meaning. One can hardly imagine Obiako as a quiescent exegete accepting uncritically an explication by a babalawo. Yet, if we concede that Obiako's world possesses its own hermeutic system, and that this system is, like Esu-'tufunaalo, African, then it becomes difficult to justify Gates's view that Esu-'tufunaalo is a paradigmatic African theory of interpretation.
To be sure, Gates is not unambiguous in his claims for Esu-'tufunaalo. Sometimes - as in phrases such as "Esu's role in this African myth of origins of interpretation" - he seems cognizant of the ethnic provenance of his theory (Signifying 11). At other times, however, he is not. At such times Esu-Elegbara becomes the ur-text of African hermeneutics, and Gates, disregarding ethnic multiplicity, seems to find Esu-Elegbari everywhere. As examples of the ubiquitous presence of Esu-Elegbari, and its paradigmatic function in his theory, consider the following statements:" The Fon, once removed from the Yoruba antecedent, even more extensively employ the figure of writing to name the nature and function of interpretation. . . ." (xxiii), and "Esu is the indigenous black metaphor for the literary critic" (9). It may well be the case that the Fon do actually employ Esu as a figure of writing by which they name or describe the interpretive process. It is also probable that this figure derives from a Yoruba precursor. But is the cultural relationship between the Fon and the Yoruba merely that of antecedence? And, with respect to the second statement, is it actually the case that Esu is "the indigenous black metaphor for the literary critic"? Gates gives no answer to such questions, and well does he not.
To prove that Esu is black, it is necessary to identify for whom blackness is of some relevance. Surely neither Esu nor his/her Yoruba devotees would be self-motivated to delineate a racial identity for the divinity. The need for racial identification arises in situations where race is at issue; where it is not, as among the Yoruba,the identification of Esu as the figure of a black hermeneutic indicates that its blackness is a blackness for, an extraverted blackness. Further, if blackness also indicates racial self-awareness, then it is unlikely that Esu as a divinity straddling the abyss separating humans from deity, is necessarily black, for the consciousness of the divine self as being a racial self is far from being demonstrated in Gates's work. Any identification of the hermeneutic Self as black would have to know of the existence of a Not-black, Not-Same, hermeneutic Other. Until such knowledge can be demonstrated, it cannot be taken for granted.
Gates is quite obviously an enthusiastic pan-Africanist. In these days when ethnic strife, nationalist schisms, intra-national repression, and European cultural imperialism make the ideals of pan-Africanism seem like the remote and tattered dreams of ancestral figures (Du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah, Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, and Ahmed Sekou Toure), Gates's enthusiasm, and the intellectual integrity of its expression, could be infectious. But we must be cautious. Sometimes, Gates suggests that a few examples of etymological similarities in several African languages confirm the universality of a particular meaning. An example occurs in his etymology of nganga, a word which appears in Teofilo Radillo's poem "The Song of the Jigue." But unlike its Kikongo, Kiswahili, Cuban, and Zairoise homonyms, the Igbo word nganga has nothing to do with interpretation.(7) Nganga (as in the statement: O na-akpa nganga) or its derivative inyanga (as in the epithet inyanga torotoro) means 'showing off,' 'teasing' 'being conceited or unduly proud of oneself or of one's appearaance.' This exception is certainly significant enough to invalidate any claim to etymological universality for jigue.
To desire a linkage between an African theory of interpretation and its New World progeny, or to identify African cultural retentions in the New World, is one thing.(8) Here Gates is quite right in rejecting the thesis that the Middle Passage completely erased all traces of African languages, values, and customs from the consciousness of the "captive body" (Signifying 4; Spillers 67). But to claim that Esu-Elegbara, the Signifyin(g) Monkey's myth of origin, is black is quite something else. For reasons of clarity, it is important to observe that what is at stake in the latter claim is not so much cultural kinship as it is racial identity, and evidence for the racial identity of Esu-Elegbara cannot be found in the Signifying Monkey.
Given these problems, how convincing is Gates's claim that the Monkey and its New World figurations "speak eloquently of the unbroken arc of metaphysical presuppositions and patterns of figuration shared through space and time" by all black cultures? If one resists being persuaded by this claim, it is not, again, because one wishes to deny that there is a cultural continuity stretching through space and time between Old and New World African cultures. Rather, it is Gates's appeal to metaphysics that inspires the suspension of belief. Fortunately, this appeal to metaphysics notwithstanding, Gates does rely on documentary data to substantiate his "myth of origins." But the source of that data - Leo Frobenius, William Bascom, Melville J. Herskovits - calls for cautious reflection, as even those committed to ethnocriticism readily admit.(9) Unfortunately, it is precisely such a consciously critical engagement with anthropological texts of this (and other) periods that one finds lacking in Gates's myth. Indeed, one senses in Gates a selective application of his own precept against readings of black texts which valorize" the social and polemical functions of black literature" at the expense of their structure. Does this precept not apply to those who read Euro-American Africanist anthropology ("Criticism" 5-6)? The point being made is not that such data, especially those dealing with languages, are inaccurate. Rather, I wish to suggest that what Gates ignores here is the problem of ideology; that is, the sort of cultural vision of Africa which Africanists like Frobenius evolved for themselves and their European readers. While the portrait of African hermeneutics that emerges in Gates's myth of origins is most assuredly not identical with the edenic, pre-lapsarian Africa of Frobenius's imaginings, it is nevertheless quite romantic.
Far from the Monkey's mythic origins, other criticisms of Gates's theory of interpretation have been made. Of these, Baker's critique has been the most cogent. Baker, for whom Fredric Jameson and Hayden White are the model practitioners of ideological critique, identifies two "frame(s) of reference" crucial to the explication of Afro-American narrative: the economic and the literary-critical (Blues 25-26).(10) It is Gates's reconstructionist bracketing off of the economic, an exercise presented as an objection to sociological criticism, that Baker objects to:
The critic who attempted to pattern his work on Gates's model would find himself confronted by a theory of language, literature, and culture dot suggests that "literary" meanings are conceived in a nonsocial, noninstitutional manner by the "point of consciousness" of a language and maintained and transmitted, without an agent, within a closed circle of "intertextuality." (101)
This objection is also valid for Gates's hermeneutic theory, from its Old World mythological origins to its New World offspring. To say this is not to suggest that Gates is unaware of slavery or sharecropping or, for that matter, the proletarianization of African-American labor in the United States. Nor is it to suggest that he is ignorant of similarities between the colonial experience of Old World African peoples and the subjection of New World Africans in alien economic systems (Baker, "Caliban's" 385).(11) It is, on the contrary, to suggest that in his theory and criticism Gates's brackets off the economic sign as extra-textual activity that has minimal import for Afro-American letters. He seems persuaded that criticism which addresses the economic conditions of the possibility of art, or which addresses itself to questions about the social referent of the literary sign, belongs in the suspect if not discredited field of sociological criticism.
Yet Gates can, when the need arises, resort to sociology. The claim that Hermes is Esu's "most direct Western kinsman" is a good example. Commenting on this earlier, I distinguished between two forms of kinship: the cultural and the racial. Now I wish to point out that the trope of kinship exacts a methodological cost on Gates's formulation of the relationship between Esu and Hermes.
For an illustration of this problem, let us return to Gates's description of the Signifyin(g) Monkey. In 1984 Gates had argued that "Signifying is a trope that subsumes other rhetorical tropes ...," including those tropes identified by Paul de Man and Harold Bloom as " 'master tropes.'" Thus, for Gates, the Signifyin(g) Monkey, Esu's hermeneutic progeny in the New World, encompasses Western tropes. But by 1988 when 7he Signifying Monkey was published, the Old World myths of origin for Western and Black theories of interpretation as well as their methodologies had become kin. Gates, it seems, had decided that the metatropological relationship between the Signifyin(g) Monkey (qua ironist and qua trope of tropes) and the "master tropes" of Euro-American discourse no longer applied to the myth of origins of hermeneutics and Esu-'tufunaalo. Thus this later description disallows at the methodological and nominal levels what, earlier, it had allowed at the systemic - namely, a contradictory or even adversarial relationship between African and European systems of signification. With this change in place, it becomes easier for Gates to realign Esu-'tufunaalo away from an adversarial posture towards hermeneutics and to substitute, in its place, a posture of kinship.
To characterize Esu as Hermes' kin is, therefore, to deploy a sociological trope which encourages readers to regard that relationship in terms of consanguinity. That in some respects there might be conceptual or ideological consanguinity in the theoretical structures of these hermeneutic systems is not to be discounted. And we shall soon see that there is. But to conceive of this relationship, at this point in the theory, in terms of kin relations is to place considerable stress upon systemic similarities and to disregard the possibility of contradiction between the two. In other words, the stress is upon theology and metaphysics rather than upon history. But it is necessary to ask if, given the often violent context of European capitalist expansion within which the need for these comparisons arise, kinship is the most appropriate way to characterize the relationship between hermeneutics and Esu-'tufunaalo. Gates's analogy must, therefore, be questioned on the basis of its historical validity.
Looking again, at the analogy we may notice that it allows for only one form of characterization, namely, the filial. The phrase Western kinsman runs two things together: Western, the name for a hegemonic economic and political alliance, and kinsman, literally' a man of one's own kin,- a relative by blood (or, loosely, by marriage).' By so doing it suggests that Esu-'tufunaalo is related (by mythological blood? by mythological marriage?) to hermeneutics. The concept kin thus characterizes the relationship between Western and African theories of interpretation in f(am)ilial, organic terms. But this characterization is contradicted by the modifier Western, which, unlike black, does not designate a race. Had he wished to designate a racial kinship, white would have been the more appropriate modifier. But Gates prefers to use Western, a geopolitical concept. Why? One reason, I think, is that the juxtaposition of black with Western transforms both terms. Blackness attains to the status of a designation for a regionally rather than a biologically defined aggregate of cultural formations, just as Western stands in for a non-biologically defined racial culture. Blackness and Western are thus placed at par. But the effect of this parity is to elide the political value of Western, so that the hegemonic dimension in the relationship of Western to African-Hermes to Esu, and hermeneutics to Esu-'tufunaal - is lost sight of.
Ironically, Gates's use of kinship relations as the basis of comparison between Esu and Hermes has a heuristic value. By making them symmetrical and equal entities, he facilitates a comparison between his theory and the hermeneutics of Hans-Georg Gadamer, thereby providing, as we shall see, the basis for a simultaneous critique of both.
Gadamer's Truth and Method opens with a statement about the "truth" of art that reminds us of Appiah's statement about race:
The fact that through a work of art a truth is experienced that we cannot attain in any other way constitutes the philosophic importance of art, which asserts itself against attempts to rationalize it away. Hence, together with the experience of philosophy, the experience of art is the most insistent admonition to scientific consciousness to acknowledge its own limits. (xxii-xxiii)
Art, like race, does not yield its truth to scientific methodology largely because scientific knowledge presupposes a subject/object distinction between the "subjectivity of the interpreter and the objectivity of the meaning to be understood" (311). For Gadamer, the subjective consciousness of the interpreter is itself historical, and it is on account of this historicity that, as we soon shall see, the historical consciousness of the subject comes to fuse itself with, rather than transcend, the object of interpretation.(12)
For Gadamer, hermeneutic understanding is both universal and constitutive of our very beings as subjects in history. This claim, which endows hermeneutics with an "ontological primacy," rests on the persuasion that, as Richard J. Bernstein puts it, "we are 'thrown' into the world as beings who understand; and understanding itself ... may properly be said to underlie all activities" (274).(13) We do not come to artistic texts shorn, as at birth, of all "prejudices and prejudgments" (276). Because our prejudices and prejudgments are constitutive of our consciousness as subjects in history (Gadamer 360), when we read we enter into a tension-filled but productive, open-ended dialogue with texts and traditions. "Every encounter with tradition that takes place within historical consciousness," Gadamer writes, "involves the experience of a tension between the text and the present" (306). This tension is precisely what hermeneutics attempts to disclose. But it is not this disclosure which leads to the fusion of historical consciousness with tradition. Rather, it is historical consciousness which, in the interpretive act, dissolves itself into and "acquires" (Gadamer's word) tradition.
The process by which historical consciousness resolves the tension between its cognitive horizon and the experience of tradition Gadamer calls subtilitas applicandi. This, the last of three elements of traditional hermeneutics - the first two are subtilitas intelligendi 'understanding' and subtilitas explicandi 'interpretation' - is the process of application (307). Here is Gadamer's argument regarding application:
We have seen, I think more correctly, what is involved in reading a text. Of course the reader before whose eyes the great book of world history simply lies open does not exist. But neither does the reader exist who, when he has his text before him, simply reads what is there. Rather, all reading involves application, so that a person reading a text is himself part of the meaning he apprehends. He belongs to the text that he is reading. The line of that the text manifests to him as he reads it always and necessarily breaks off in an open indeterminacy. He can, indeed he must, accept the fact that future generations will understand differently what he has read in the text. (340; emphasis added)
It must be noted that the distinction in this argument is not between reader and text but between a reader and his meaning. It is from the latter pairing that indeterminacy arises.
Unlike Gates, for whom indeterminacy inheres in the very texture of the linguistic sign, for Gadamer indeterminacy inheres in the process of understanding. Since our meaning is constituted in part by our historicized consciousness, and since both those selves and the prejudices and prejudgments that constitute them are themselves finite, it follows that our meanings do not exhaust the meanings of the text. The text survives us, not as a closed artifact waiting to be grasped and opened anew, but as an always read, always open practice. Its meaning therefore, will always be in process just as it is itself always being set in motion at the moment of reading. And, for Gadamer, the same openness of the text also defines the canon of "world literature." (162)
While in social philosophy and theory Gadamer's notion of "truth" and the social conditions necessary for hermeneutic understanding have provoked criticism,(14) in literary theory almost every aspect of his theory has inspired dissent. While commending him for "recapturing history for textual interpretation," Frank Lentricchia complains that what he has "to say about authority, the power of tradition, knowledge, our institutions, and our attitudes" is largely uncritical (153-54). Terry Eagleton also disputes his conception of history as a" 'continuing chain,' an ever-flowing river" which admits of the existence of differences in the experience of history only to sweep them away in the current of understanding (Literary 73). Because understanding is, for Gadamer, an activity by which temporal distances (between past and present, for example) and historical differences are effectively bridged and negotiated, he is unable to comprehend"the idea of a failure of communication' that is "built into the communication structures of whole societies" (Literary 73). In as much as he is aware of differences between Afro-American and Euro-American discursive tropes, Gates could be said to be conscious of the possibility of failure of communication. Not only is this awareness restricted only to the racial divide, but it is also envisioned exclusively in terms of culturally distinctive tropological forms. Thus Eagleton's charge that Gadamerian hermeneutics cannot come to terms with " the problem of ideology" would apply as well to Gates's Signifyin(g) Monkey. When Gates reflects upon blockages of communication across the racial divide, what he sees is just language. Ideology, it seems, has no place in the scheme of language and the composition and explication of narrative. Eagleton observes that ideology entrenches power within communication systems in such a manner as, sometimes, to render" the unending 'dialogue' of human history" either a "monologue by the powerful to the powerless" or a dialogue between the more and the less (or even least) powerful. This observation points the way to an understanding of the significance of race in the heremeneutic process (Literary 73).(15)
Happily, the problem which ideology poses for Gates is satisfactorily met by Houston A. Baker in "Caliban's Triple Play," and even more exhaustively in Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature. In his work Baker does for African-American interpretation theory what the Italian film-maker Guilo Pontecorvo (Battle of Algiers, Burn) does for our understanding of colonial conflicts: He reinstates ideology as a component of the systems of power and discourse spawned by the "economics of slavery" and imperialism (Blues 26).
(1) For the notion of racial formations, see Outlaw, "Toward" 77 and Omi and Winant (2) For a similar study, see Jaoquard. Scholars in places as far apart as the United States (Outlaw, "Toward" 62-68) and South Africa (Boonzaier 61-63) have reached similar conclusions on the basis of genetic research carried out by scientists other than those mentioned by Appiah. For historical studies and theoretical reflections on race, see Poliakov, Juan 65, Barker, and Lukacs 667-761. However, it would be naive to assume that interest in the science of race has waned, or that biological theories of racial difference are no longer being put forward. For a recent example of such pseudoscientific theories, see Rushton 1009-24. (3) For a seminal theory of racial subjectification, see Goldberg, "Social" 308-12. He argues that "corporeal properties" provide racist discourse with "the metaphorical medium for distiguishing the pure from the impure." (306) (4) Myra Johlon describes the novel as the "story of an adolescent who undergoes a series of trials on the rocky road or the river voyage to adulthood" (265). (5) See also Poulet, The Interior Distance. (6) For Analyses of the notion of indeterminacy, see Graff, Culler, and Norris. (7) Igbo is a Nigerian language with which I am fairly familiar. But I was born in Ikom, a town which belongs in the Elk-Ejagham linguistic zone. One would, therefore, expect me to be familiar with the word jigue. Unfortunately I am not, having fled with my family to "Biafra" at the onset of the Nigerian Civil War, 1967-70. (8) For examples of literary theory and poetic composition inspired by recognitions of shared cultural values between continental and diasporic Africans, see Soyinka and Brathwaite. (9) See Miller 286-91. For responses to Miller's theory and criticism, see Esonwanne 107-26 and Mudimbe. (10) For a critique of Baker, see Carby 126-27. Carby assumes that vernacular expressive forms are fixed in and identifiable with specific historical epochs, economic systems, and cultural areas. Such forms are not however, so easily localized. Ong associates such forms with cultures that are "still dominantly oral," and so finds them in "the United States, the Caribbean, and elsewhere .... "While African-American culture may not be "dominantly oral," its expressive forms rely upon features that are associated with oral discourses (44). (11) See also Retamar 56-73 and Betts, The False Dawn and "The French Colonial Empire." (12) For another Gadamerian view of the hermeneutic process, see Outlaw, "Philosophy" 25. (13) For expositions of Gadamer's hermeneutics, see Bemstein, Palmer, and Weinsheimer. (14) See Misgeld and Bernstein. (15) See also Eagleton, Idelogy 128-29.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. London: Heinemann, 1958. Appiah, Kwame Anthony. "The Conservation of 'Race.' "Black American Literature Forum 23 (1989): 38-60. _____. "The Uncompleted Argument Du Bois and the Illusion of Race." Gates "Race" 21-37. _____. "Race." Lentricchia and McLaughlin, 274-87. Baker, Houston A. Jr. Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1984. _____. "Caliban's Triple Play." Gates, "Race" 381-95. Barker, Martin. "Biology and the New Racism." Goldberg 18-37. Baynes, Kenneth, James Bohman, and Thomas McCarthy, eds. "Hans-Georg Gadamer: Introduction." After Philosophy. End or Transformation? Cambridge: MIT P, 1987.319-24. Bernstein, Richard J. "From Hermeneutics to Praxis." Hollinger 272-96. Betts, Raymond F. The False Dawn: European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1975. _____. "The French Colonial Empire and On French World-View." Ross 65-77. Bhabha, Homi K. "Signs Taken for Wonders: Questions of Ambivalence and Authority under a Tree Outside Delhi, May 1817." Gates, "Race" 163-84 Boonzaier, Emile. "Race' and the Race Paradigm." South African Keywords. The Uses & Abuses of Political Concepts. Eds. Boonzaier and John Sharp. Cape Town: David Philip, 1988. 58-67. Brathwaite, Edward Kamau. The Arrivants. Now York: Oxford UP, 1973. Carby, Hazel. "Ideologies of Black Folk: The Historical Novel of Slavery." Slavery and the Literary Imagination. Ed. Deborah E. McDowell and Arnold Rampersad. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1989.125-43. Culler, Jonathan. On Deconstruction. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1982. Eagleton, Terry. Ideology. An Introduction. London: Verson, 1991. _____. Literary Theory. An Introduction. London: Blackwell, 1983. Esonwanne, Uzo. "The Madness of Africa(ns): Or, Anthropology's Reason." Cultural Critique 17 (1990-91): 107-26. Gadamer, Hans-Georg. Truth and Method. Trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. New York: Crossroad, 1990. Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., ed. Black Literature and Literary Theory. Now York. Methuen, 1984. _____. "The Blackness of Blackness: A Critique of the Sign and the Signifying Monkey." Gates, Black 285-321. _____. "Criticism in the Jungle." Gates, Black 5-6. _____. ed. "Race," Writing, and Difference. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1986. _____. The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. Goldberg, David Theo, ed. Anatomy of Racism. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1990. _____. "The Social Formation of Racist Discourse." Goldberg, Anatomy 295-318. Graff, Gerald. "Determinacy/Indeterminacy." Lentricchia and McLaughlin 163-76. Hollinger, Robert, ed. Hermeneutics and Praxis. Notre Dame: U of Notre Dame P, 1985. Jaoquard, Albert. "Science and Racism." Racism, Science and Pseudo-science. Paris: UNESCO, 1983. 15-49. Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1981. Jehlen, Myra. "Gender." Lentricchia and McLaughlin 263-73. Juan, E. San, Jr. "Problems in the Marxist Project of Theorizing Race." Rethinking Marxism 2.2 (1989): 58-80. Lentricchia, Frank. After the New Criticism. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1980. Lentricchia, Frank, and Thomas McLaughin, eds. Critical Terms for Literary Study. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1980 Lukacs, Georg. The Destruction of Reason. Trans. Peter Palmer. Atlantic Highlands: Humanities, 1981. Mailloux, Steven. "Interpretation." Lentricchia and McLaughin 121-34. Miller, Christopher L "Theories of Africans: The Question of Literary Anthropology." Gates, "Race" 281-300. Misgeld, Dieter. "On Gadamer's Hermeneutics." Hollinger 143-69. Mudimbe, V. Y. "Letters of Reference." Transition 53 (1991): 62-78. Ngugi, wa Thiong'o. "On the Aboliton of the English Department." Homecoming: Essays on African and Caribbean Literature, Culture and Politics. London: Heinemann, 1972.145-50. Norris, Christopher. Deconstruction. New York: Methuen, 1982. Omi, Michael, and Winant, Howard. Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1980s. London: Routledge, 1986. Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Routledge, 1982. Outlaw, Lucius. "Philosophy and Culture: Critical Hermeneutics and Social Transformation." Philosophy and Cultures. Ed. H. Odera Oruka and D.A. Masolo. Nairobi: Bookwise, 1983. _____. "Toward a Critical Theory of Race." Goldberg, Anatomy 58-82. Palmer, Richard E. Hermeneutics: Interpretation Theory in Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Heidegger, and Gadamer. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1969. Poliakov, Leon. "Racism from the Enlightenment to the Age of Imperialism." Ross 55-64. Poulet Georges. "Criticism and the Experience of Interiority." Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism. Ed. Jane P. Tompkins. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 1980. 41-49. _____. The Interior Distance. Trans. Elliot Coleman. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1964. Retamar, Roberto Fernandez. Caliban and Other Essays. Ed. and trans. Edward Baker. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1989. Ross, Robert, ed. Racism and Colonialism. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 1982. Rushton, J. Phillipe. "Race Differences in Behaviour: A Review and Evolutionary Analysis." Personality and Individual Differences 9 (1988): 1009-24. Soyinka, Wole. Myth, Literature and the African World. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1976. Spillers, Hortense J. "Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book." Diacritics 17.2 (1987): 65-81. Weinsheimer, Joel C. Gadmer's Hermeneutics: A Reading of Truth and Method. New Haven: Yale UP, 1985.
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|Publication:||African American Review|
|Date:||Dec 22, 1992|
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