Esther’s Space- journey through my life

March 12, 2007

Fanon’s Ontology

Filed under: THEORY 330, Uncategorized — estherspace @ 7:00 am

Okay, I’m not sure if it will make sense to everyone else, but to me, it seems that my biggest challenge in literary theory is separating the argument being made from the theory that it is utilizing/is responsible for framing the argument. It’s a two-fold problem; when we worked with straight theory, it was difficult to understand due to the lack of examples, but now that we are working with something that is a bit more ‘real,’ it is easy to simply engage in an argument with the writer over a particular phrase. So, throughout this Fanon article, I struggled to look for the clues about his theory, instead of engaging my mind in a contemplation of the the state of the black (or colored or Negro or African American) man/woman today.

I think I found it: “not only must a black man be black, he must be black in relation to the white man (110)…I made myself an object (112)…the Jew is disliked from the moment he is tracked down (115-116)…I am overdetermined from without (116)…history that others have compiled for me (120)…total inability to liquidate the past (122)…I walk on white nails (126)…this is humanity at its lowest…aggression was in the stars (126)…negritude is the root of its own destruction (133)…it is not I who make a meaning for myself, but it is the meaning that was already there (134)…I am not a potentiality of something, I am wholly what I am (135)…Without a Negro past, without a Negro future, it was impossible for me to live my Negrohod (138)…I refuse to accept that amputation (140)”. See? No, you probably don’t, but I assure you that this is the essence of the article, in my mind. It is true not only for Fanon, but for literature, language, and theory as well. Theory represents something in its own right, but also is subject to the outside interpretations that are made in relation to it, it is based upon a past an future that must exist, or it would not be possible to create anything new, and it is always being subjected to criticism, but this criticism is necessary or there would be no growth in the effort to realize or understand truth.

I think that is naturally human, at least in the human society we currently have, to attempt to categorize any new information or situations that we encounter in an attempt to understand it. While this is actually very necessary in our efforts to integrate the new ideas into our lives and psyches, this categorization often leads to overgeneralization, misinterpretation, and even false conclusions. As Franz Fanon illustrates, the black man/woman has been subjected to this misrepresentation as a result of society attempting to understand the race.

Application: This struggle for the true identity for the black man continues today. As illustrated by the title of this video, the challenge, in many ways, is not overcoming the past, but in defining blackness without comparing it to whiteness:

Warning White Women About Black Women: Today we warn white women about self-hating racist black women stealing their white men.


1 Comment »

  1. Esther, I loved your whole post. I definitely am having the same problem of separating the argument being made from the criticism it uses. I did find it very easy to slip into an argument with Fanon over some of his dated views. I just couldn’t help it, he left it out there in the open for me to criticize. But I do find that doing this limits my ability to fully engage with the text as whole. I guess that’s one of my biggest problems, becoming personally invested in a text. Hmm. . . come to think of it, I should totally stop doing that. Good post!

    Comment by Keva Roberts — March 12, 2007 @ 7:44 am

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