Sunday, August 4, 2019

Tradition and Ancestry in Ishmael Reeds Mumbo Jumbo Essay -- Ishmael

Tradition and Ancestry in Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo      Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   In the Western industrialized world, time is seen as a progression of events, the present building on the past as civilization becomes more "advanced." However, in the African conception of time, "the human being goes backward ...he is oriented toward the world of the ancestors, toward those who no longer belong to the world of the living" (Zahan 45). Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo problematizes the relationship between past and present. Rejecting both the ideas of "progress" and of strict adherence to tradition, he advocates instead improvisation--responding and adapting to immediacy without uprooting one's connections to the past.    For the inhabitant of the Western industrialized world, the paradigm of progress dominates his or her conceptions of birth, death, time, and history. Tradition is part of a construction of history that shows the causal progression of events from the past to the present. Time is linear. An individual progresses forward in life, socially and materially advancing himself or herself as much as possible within one life-span. Old age denotes the approach of death--the end of individual progress and the barrier of human progress. Consumerism, materialism and scientific empiricism are the mechanisms of Western progress. They presuppose a separation between man and woman, his body, and his environment, and the ability of the ormer to control the latter three, assumptions which can ultimately wreak "havoc among cultures that are not organized around the pursuit of material abundance" (Diamond 138). According to anthropologist Dominique Zahan, tradition, for the African "is above al l the collective experience of the com... ...Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart New York: Astor-Honor, Inc., 1959. Badomo, Andre. "Tradition and Modernism on Horseback." Ness 99-107. Bernard, Bouba. "Reflections on the Life of the European." Ness 27-41. Desmangles, Leslie G. The Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina Press, 1992. Diamond, Irene. Fertile Ground: Women, Earth, and the Limits ofControl Boston: Beacon Press, 1994. Ness. Philip A. Grafting Old Rootstock: Studies in Culture and Religion of the Chamba, Duru, Fula, and Gbaya of Cameroun. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc., 1982. Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo. New York: Atheneum, 1972. Zahan, Dominique. The Religion, Spirituality, and Thought of Traditional Africa. Trans. Kate Ezra Martin and Lawrence M. Martin. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1979. Tradition and Ancestry in Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo Essay -- Ishmael Tradition and Ancestry in Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo      Ã‚  Ã‚  Ã‚   In the Western industrialized world, time is seen as a progression of events, the present building on the past as civilization becomes more "advanced." However, in the African conception of time, "the human being goes backward ...he is oriented toward the world of the ancestors, toward those who no longer belong to the world of the living" (Zahan 45). Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo problematizes the relationship between past and present. Rejecting both the ideas of "progress" and of strict adherence to tradition, he advocates instead improvisation--responding and adapting to immediacy without uprooting one's connections to the past.    For the inhabitant of the Western industrialized world, the paradigm of progress dominates his or her conceptions of birth, death, time, and history. Tradition is part of a construction of history that shows the causal progression of events from the past to the present. Time is linear. An individual progresses forward in life, socially and materially advancing himself or herself as much as possible within one life-span. Old age denotes the approach of death--the end of individual progress and the barrier of human progress. Consumerism, materialism and scientific empiricism are the mechanisms of Western progress. They presuppose a separation between man and woman, his body, and his environment, and the ability of the ormer to control the latter three, assumptions which can ultimately wreak "havoc among cultures that are not organized around the pursuit of material abundance" (Diamond 138). According to anthropologist Dominique Zahan, tradition, for the African "is above al l the collective experience of the com... ...Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart New York: Astor-Honor, Inc., 1959. Badomo, Andre. "Tradition and Modernism on Horseback." Ness 99-107. Bernard, Bouba. "Reflections on the Life of the European." Ness 27-41. Desmangles, Leslie G. The Faces of the Gods: Vodou and Roman Catholicism in Haiti. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina Press, 1992. Diamond, Irene. Fertile Ground: Women, Earth, and the Limits ofControl Boston: Beacon Press, 1994. Ness. Philip A. Grafting Old Rootstock: Studies in Culture and Religion of the Chamba, Duru, Fula, and Gbaya of Cameroun. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, Inc., 1982. Reed, Ishmael. Mumbo Jumbo. New York: Atheneum, 1972. Zahan, Dominique. The Religion, Spirituality, and Thought of Traditional Africa. Trans. Kate Ezra Martin and Lawrence M. Martin. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1979.

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