Citizen Part Three

Posted in Book Reports, Library of Congress, Race by chamblee54 on January 22, 2019

PG had been putting this off. A while back, he took a copy of Citizen: An American Lyric. The idea was to produce a response to it. There would be a live show, that would include these responses.

PG started to read CAAL. He quickly realized that this was not his kind of book. The author, Claudia Rankine, is a college professor. The tone of CAAL is academic. The topic of CAAL is racism. Reading academic prose poems about microaggressions is not likely to change black/white America. PG might learn a thing or two, but can also expect to be insulted. When it comes to what reading material PG am going to invest with his precious time, he prefers a story. It might not make PG a better person, but he will enjoy the time spent reading it. Reading a Yale professor talk about microaggression will be prove to be neither transformative nor enjoyable.

Then there was a meme on facebook.. “Pick up the nearest book to you. Turn to page 45. The first sentence explains your love life.” The book nearest to PG was CAAL. The first sentence on page 45 is also the only sentence on page 45. It is that kind of book. The sentence: “And when the woman with the multiple degrees says, I didn’t know black women could get cancer, instinctively you take two steps back though all urgency leaves the possibility of any kind of relationship as you realize nowhere is where you will get from here.” How this explains a love life is a mystery best left unsolved. It will, however, motivate PG to write part three of the CAAL series.

Page 45 does not speak to PG. He has had experiences where people say preposterous things to him. The idea is to just ignore it, and be happy for your life. And mostly that is what happens. The consequences of speaking up are too severe. You have to pick your battles. You cannot go off every time your feathers get ruffled. PG would also be interested to talk to the woman with the multiple degrees,” and hear her side of the story.

CAAL is full of episodes like this. Obviously, some people enjoy this sort of thing. It might get people to listen to each other, and get along better. Or it might just make people tune out, and wait until it is over. CAAL does not tell PG anything he has not heard before. It is not, to his way of thinking, especially well written. CAAL is not enjoyable to read. Is CAAL supposed to be swallowed like medicine, to make you a better person?

Putting race aside, lets look at page 45. There is one sentence on page 45. Page 44 has a two sentence paragraph, and five lines of dialog, each separated by a blank line. CAAL is supposed to be an *art* book. It is sponsored by several foundations. The back cover has a list of awards harvested by CAAL. Is this a book to be admired, or a book to be enjoyed?

Part one and part two of this series are online. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

3 Responses

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  1. Citizen: An American Lyric | Chamblee54 said, on January 23, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    […] is to go off on an authority figure. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. Part two and part three of this series are now available at an internet near […]

  2. […] at Fourth of July celebration, St. Helena Island, South Carolina” July 1939. Part one and part three of this series are now available for your viewing […]

  3. Pretty Monsters Part One | Chamblee54 said, on December 10, 2019 at 9:08 am

    […] to the big read. CAAL, a rambling art book, was not a good fit for PG. (Part one Part two Part three) When the lady from 7 Stages turned up with a box of books, PG was wary. PM is presented as a […]

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