Saturday, July 2, 2022

The enigma of the hither isles


The Princess of the hither isles is an allegory that titles a chapter of Darkwaters, a book from W. E. B.  Du Bois; it is also a chapter in a biography of the Black suffragette Adella Hunt Logan, written by a granddaughter of hers[1]. The interesting is that Adella and Du Bois were contemporaries, sharing cause and correspondence; both converging in the universe of Tuskegee University, she as a member and the other as a critic of its president, Booker T. Washington.

This confluence helps to understand, with the mediation of Logan, the relationship of Washington and Du Bois; which is complex, because it is not a direct confrontation, but about interests that still affect humanity. Everything is even more complex, when it is known that the hither isles is as the same university was known; becoming thus a complete world, capable of generating its own allegories, and to creates its own founding legend, with its own and sufficient consistency; and its effect, in this sense, will somehow reproduce that of the eastern islands on North America, with its Gullah Geechee culture.

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At some point, and as an allegory within the allegory, the hither isles is what reality is called; at least in the opening chapter of that biography, in what seems like a Cherokee legend[2]. It seems easy to establish this link, of Tuskegee University with a reality of value and consistency of its own; but in that legend, this reality has the same perverse nature as evil in Christian Manichaeism.

That makes sense, if the hermeneutic universe of black existentialism is born in Protestant denominations; that recovered with their rigorism that Manichaean sense of morality, relativized by Catholic pragmatism as its corruption.  However, beyond all that –and paradoxically– these hither isles acquire another connotation of their own; this time of extreme pragmatism, in that non-legendary foundation of the political contradiction that was the Tuskegee universe.

This would be imprinted by the cordiality of Frederick Douglass toward the Logan, like the people of these isles[3]; making of them not a conceptual abstraction, like reality itself, but a concrete and punctual reality. It would be the Tuskegee universe, with everything and the ambiguity of that Cherokee imaginary, on which it is founded or not; because it would work as well as the dasein in which the (black) Being is realized, in the tension that relates those contradictions of his.

If the original legend is deeply Manichean, Du Bois's allegory is not, with all its moral sense; even less so is the extreme experience that Douglass recognizes in Tuskegee, as the people in which this reality is performed.  Ofcourse, with this perspective, Du Bois's allegory would refer to the Logan as the princess of these hither isles; which is not important, because her function –as an allegory– is reflective, not historical but ontological in its punctuality.

In Du Bois, the (absolute) ideal of this princess is contradicted by the vulgar pragmatism of the prince of there; in whom it is not difficult to recognize the president of Tuskegee, also allegorical and in his reflective function, also because his punctuality.  However, not even Du Bois manages to reduce this contradiction to this direct tension of them, even in that moral sense; but it becomes pragmatic in its own sufficiency, by alluding to that dramatic personality of the Logan, who was not only black but much more.

Du Bois —pretentious in his idealism— can present himself as the beggar of his allegory; who enigmatic mediates between the princess as reality and the prince as effective power, which he assumes is pretentious.  However, both of them —the beggar and the prince— are related by her, who subtracts their absolutism with her own scope; this would be the spectacular function of the new black thought —figured in Logan as the reality—, as a reorganization of the hermeneutic universe of the West.

It is a correction of the reductionist vice, with which the West fails to illustrate the grace as a possibility with realism (pragmatic); which is the problem of the idealistic tradition, becoming like neo-Christian humanism, from the Apotheosis of enlightenment. The problem then goes to the root of the West, redeemable in this New Black Thought as transcendental realism; just because of the pragmatism with which it manages to reconcile the problems of reality in their punctuality, not in the abstractions of their elitism.

[1] . The princess of the hither isles, Yale University Press/ 2019

[2] . The people who can fly, chapter one (Ibdem)

[3] . The hither isles, chapter six (Ibdem)

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