42 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2018
    1. I threw myself into a hammock, from which I could see Julius through an open window. He ate with evident relish, devoting his attention chiefly to the ham, slice after slice of which disappeared in the spacious cavity of his mouth. At first the old man ate rapidly, but after the edge of his appetite had been taken off he proceeded in a more leisurely manner. When he had cut the sixth slice of ham (I kept count of them from a lazy curiosity to see how much he could eat) I saw him lay it on his plate; as he adjusted the knife and fork to cut it into smaller pieces, he paused, as if struck by a sudden thought, and a tear rolled down his rugged cheek and fell upon the slice of ham before him. But the emotion, whatever the thought that caused it, was transitory, and in a moment he continued his dinner. When he was through eating, he came out on the porch, and resumed his seat with the satisfied expression of countenance that usually follows a good dinner.

      John is such a voyeur that this is very interesting.

    2. childish superstitions

      I wonder how and why Western superstitions aren't childish, but non-Western are.

      If it's childish, why are non-Western superstitions still seen to be frightening and dark but not their European counterparts...

      Isn't Annie practicing Western superstitions by her fragile Reconstruction Era spells of hysteria?

    3. Ef young Mistah McLean doan min’, he’ll hab a bad dream one er dese days, des lack ‘is grandaddy had way back yander, long yeahs befo’ de wah.”

      Look how Julius waits to speak just to make something magical. He gets the narrative going.

    4. But I had hardened my heart.

      Exodus/ slave reference when the Pharaoh doesn't appease the slaves - he "hardens his heart".

      A subtle jab that John is still acting like a slave owner.

    5. John, there has been a split in the Sandy Run Colored Baptist Church, on the temperance question.

      Julius is purposely "haunting" everything these two want. That gives "Magical Negro" a whole new meaning when Julius can control their supplies and movements by mystifying things.

    6. “Is goophered,—cunju’d, bewitch’.”

      I really enjoy how Julius creates definitions that will carry the story forward. This is really his story...

  2. Feb 2018
    1. exact copy:—

      Almost to the end of the narrative, Douglass still needs to affirm his existence with paperwork and supportive information. We never have to verify the existence and authenticity of non-colored writers in this way. But imagine if we did? I think there is a very interesting conversation on how blackness has to validate itself but whiteness can go on and create untruths about blackness (at this time think Edward Long, modern day - think James Frey or Margaret Seltzer)

    2. upon free land as well as with Freeland;

      Another dialectic!

    3. till I became my own master.

      Master-Slave dialectic but completely in control of himself. This is a good tie in to the "You have seen how a man has been made a slave..." quote. I think it's important how Douglass enjoys dialectic arguments and the relationships of words that can be taken different ways based on the context of the speaker.

    4. root

      Is this "Negro mysticism"? Is Frederick Douglass making fun of us?

    5. You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.

      My FAVORITE Douglass quote of all time. The power to push back on the physical and mental violence endured on him made him a man.

      Notice how he makes it clear that his manhood was taken from him as a slave, but it is reverse-able as the Douglass learns to manipulate the sign that warps his identity.

    6. , “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master—to do as he is told to do.

      This is pivotal. The reason why slaves aren't given the "inch" is because he will use that consciousness from reading in order to rebel and form his ideas of freedom on his own. He will gain autonomy through reading and writing.

    7. His mangled body sank out of sight, and blood and brains marked the water where he had stood.

      Demby was not only killed for not baring the lash, but demanding agency for his own body. His death was meaningless (he wasn't trying to run away) but he was killed to make an example.

    8. Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy.

      Black conciousness is multi-layered and not coded for voyeurism. Notice that they protect themselves from being swallowed by white consciousness by disorienting the tone of their songs and their own form of English.

    9. Why master was so careful of her, may be safely left to conjecture.
      • He doesn’t write the explicit sexual violence that his aunt has endured. He doesn’t write it because doing so gives a voyeurism and a power to the exploitation of black woman’s bodies in his narrative. That being said, notice that his introduction (narrative-wise)to slavery’s pain is through the sexual pain of a black woman.
    10. the slaveholder, in cases not a few, sustains to his slaves the double relation of master and father.

      This is much like the ideals of the master and slave for Hegel!

    11. witness and a participant

      Everyone reading this is a witness and a participant too.

    12. He was generally called Captain Anthony—a title which, I presume, he acquired by sailing a craft on the Chesapeake Bay

      I love how Douglass writes his masters. He participates in the master-slave ideals of writing them into existence but still seems to strip them of their literary power. “Captain” was a faux title given to this man - and Douglass knows that, he subtly exposes the faulty systems of inscription and name that the master puts in place for respect.

    13. They seldom come nearer to it than planting-time, harvest-time, cherry-time, spring-time, or fall-time.

      Slave child knows themselves in the terms of the master’s time frame. Their existence must be created through their bondage.

    1. Nothing, therefore, must be set down against this speech on the score that it was delivered in the presence of those who cannot appreciate the many excellent things belonging to our system of government, and with a view to stir up prejudice against republican institutions.

      It seems like Douglass is vetting for the British as the amanuensis have to do for him. A black man has to vet England for abolitionists. He has to invoke the names of republican renowned scholars to back him up. Interesting power structure there.

    2. When it was said to me, “Mr. Douglass, I will walk to meeting with you; I am not afraid of a black man,” I could not help thinking—seeing nothing very frightful in my appearance—“And why should you be?”

      We see this overcompensate to overcome prejudice even today - creating exaggerated support and sentiment for a cause that only reveals a deep-seeded prejudice (and sheepish ignorance) even more.

    3. In point of mental experience, I was but nine years old.

      Frederick Douglass is being snarky here.

    4. I employ a cab—I am seated beside white people—I reach the hotel—I enter the same door—I am shown into the same parlor—I dine at the same table and no one is offended. No delicate nose grows deformed in my presence.

      I'll admit I giggled at this. I get his point though. In a completely different place (under a monarchical society no less), the sign of "blackness" doesn't hold the same signified in America. Notice how inscription changes when the context is different.

    5. America will not allow her children to love her.

      Frederick Douglass sees himself as a child of America even though he fully knows his existence in America was due to someone kidnapping his ancestors. What does it mean for a black enslaved person to admit they love or were born of this country? Does calling yourself an American change how your oppression is seen?

    6. , the tears of my brethren are borne to the ocean, disregarded and forgotten, and that her most fertile fields drink daily of the warm blood of my outraged sisters;

      Frederick Douglass refers to the country as female and mentions the pain of black women here! Rare for one speaking about black pain to mention black women as a separate victim - but I highly believe FD was in the midst of the beginning of in sectional feminism (with his involvement with the Suffragettes) .

    7. t sticks to them wherever they go. They find it almost as hard to get rid of, as to get rid of their skins.

      Look how the mark of blackness has to control FD’s movements and space. There is power in the repetition in his storytelling - not just in the narrative, which makes the story even more frustrating but in the power of him repeating that he isn’t really allowed anywhere because his sign (his blackness, the n word) leads to a wicked, unjust signifier in American culture.

    8. The gentlemen so promptly snubbed in their meditated violence, flew to the press to justify their conduct, and to denounce me as a worthless and insolent Negro.

      I LOVE how FD categorizes the racist violation of black identity as violence. Very important for how we think about identity and space of oppressed people.

    1. Will America be poorer if she replace her brutal dyspeptic blundering with light-hearted but determined Negro humility? or her coarse and cruel wit with loving jovial good-humor? or her vulgar music with the soul of the Sorrow Songs?

      Black agency shouldn't be in the expansive inscription of the black folks' pain but in their resistance against the violence of white supremacy and the survival through it.

    2. he Canaan was always dim and far away.

      another literature figure cast off for blackness.

    3. The Nation

      I note the capitalization of abstractions here. "Nation", "Freedom", "Liberty" mean different things in white and black consciousnesses.

    4. This waste of double aims, this seeking to satisfy two unreconciled ideals, has wrought sad havoc with the courage and faith and deeds of ten thousand thousand people,—has sent them often wooing false gods and invoking false means of salvation, and at times has even seemed about to make them ashamed of themselves.

      I don't know if this is religious, but it seems to me Du Bois is saying that the black artisan selling his soul (betraying the black aesthetic that is part of him but "America" hates) to worship false gods (praise mainstream culture) is only doing it for acceptance and is betraying his soul. Thus, reminds me of the term "cooning" or "putting on for massa" - praising the white standard of beauty because you are afraid the black standard will scare away the mainstream audience is betraying the race and your soul.

    5. black men

      I don't know if the omission of black women is intentional. I wouldn't be shocked if it was.

    6. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world

      I love this statement. Too American for Home and too homely for America (a common West Indian saying). There's a resistance in this between ground. It's a creation of a new American culture, enriched by the touch of Africa that was stolen. I would like to argue that this is essentially, the petri dish for "black culture".

    7. Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?

      Why did God make me to suffer as an outcast? The same cry of other characters of literature who embody blackness, otherness, darkness. Milton's Satan and Shelley's Frankenstein.

    8. Do not these Southern outrages make your blood boil?

      Good transition to Walter Johnson's On Agency - between the world and the black body needs to exist some rage to express their oppression. If the black man (or woman) doesn't subscribe their agency when they are trapped in a rageful place - they aren't "reclaiming their agency" - this (forcing black folks to expose their souls for the benefit of letting their pain be known) is a form of good intentioned white supremacy.

    1. Presents from the ladies.”

      What is the role of the island’s women?

    2. Then the judgment is over, and we, the soldier and I, quickly bury him.”

      What is all this for if tinkwill just bury him after? Again, it reminds me of Nat Turner - the punishment is just a way to violate the body and make an example. Or to deny the body humanity - like how Vikings were disrespected if the dead were decapitated.

    3. The latter was even leaning out away from the harrow,

      If you are impressed by the torture device, you aren’t scared by it - you aren’t affected by it. The Traveler is feeling sympathy - which doesn’t work for this punishment.

    4. For his task is to stand up every time the clock strikes the hour and salute in front of the captain’s door. That’s certainly not a difficult duty

      This is why I called the abstractions timeless - this can be a metaphor for so many instances where an oppressed people refuse to honor their oppressors.

    5. for the Officer spoke French, and clearly neither the Soldier nor the Condemned Man understood the language. So it was all the more striking that the Condemned Man, in spite of that, did what he could to follow the Officer’s explanation.

      This, paired with the “cane chairs” and the heat donate to a fetishized, mystical theme to the (Non-European) setting that reeks of colonialism and anti-blackness.

    6. dog-like resignation t
      • our condemned is no longer human! Notice how he takes on animalistic qualities
    7. Condemned

      If everyone is defined by their role in life, imagine the religious, idolistic significance behind the “condemned”.