A serious shrug, everything seems untouchable and incomprehensible at this point (surely a modernist anxiety). Winkiel does a good job of not being too prescriptive in her analysis of the anthology. Locating identity, history, and perspectives on race becomes increasingly difficult (considering how many are included in the anthology). In many ways, this seems to be beneficial to the discussion of race and social identity (of course over determination is always bad). I think the anthology is struggling with its position and determination of race in modernism. For instance, “The intention of the anthology, Cunard claims, is to speak from within and to a newly visible collective (“coloured people”) who announce their presence and engagement in modernity. (522) Note: I am confused initially by the use of the term modernity. Is this use of the word equating modernity with relevance? Winkiel aptly addresses the problems of romanticism and the otherwise suspicious editorial positions in the anthology. Her reading nonetheless exacerbates the problem (it must), even when her perspective and criticism is productive.
Winkiel repeatedly questions Cunard’s romanticism but instrumentation is equally dangerous. Her assessment of the anthology places it within the scope of modernism or counter-modernism (they seem very similar). She suggests that the incomplete and failed representation of coherent (ideal) black national perspective, identity, and voice is implicit in Cunard’s anthology, which in some way represents counter-culture. Trying to distill this perspective, consider “This politics of reading is not straightforward. Rather, it is angled, asymmetrical, and refracted through black relations to the white world. (522) The anthology’s deconstruction of black identity stems from a diverse list of topics and contributors. While I am fully aware, that text enmeshed in an ideology can nonetheless be used to subvert or deconstruct the dominant narrative. What I am trying to get at is that a text Like W.E.B. Dubois’s Black America, the task of deconstructing narrative is not explicitly a modernist behavior; rather his position and clarity elicit the anxiety of modernism. Identity, power and narrative is actually diffused throughout society it not just a characteristic of literature and a text.
I do appreciate Winkiel reinterpretation of productivity (I am swerving a bit). It becomes the duty of the reader to establish a better more productive reading. “These disparate pieces build a sense of unity in difference, a transnational allegiance against racism. Moreover, its “accumulative force” of meaning depends upon its readers’ experiential encounter with it. Nowhere is this more evident in Negro than in its diverse musical scores…that demand its readers’ participation to make meaning. One needs to “play” or “hum” Negro. By “arrangement,” each article, photo, and poem contributes to a heterogeneous, fissured understanding of the black diaspora. (522) Nonetheless, It is still through traditionally productive narratives that meaning and value is established. We need productive readers, who are intelligent enough to arrive at this same critical perspective. The problem most readers should face is Cunard’s conception racial identity and politic. This is a failure to recognize privilege. Fractured social identity takes precedent as a literary concept rather than a real lived condition.
I am trying to express in mild terms my anxiety about Winkle’s evaluation of the anthology and its place in modernism. In many cases, fracturing perspectives (seeing what is absent) contributes to a more comprehensive and critical perspective. One perspective may destabilize, challenge, or reinforce another, this is good. Yet, Winkle’s assessment minimizes the problem of Cunard’s editorial stance. The work of modernism can be done aside from the anthology. Winkle’s criticism does not fully grasp the problem of the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist agenda that is lends to the anthology. The material and social reality of life is bound by capitalist ideology, there is not a place outside of it, even in writing. What trouble me is that Winkiel’s reading cannot be reconcilable by a writer like Dubois who is largely concerned with the advancement of his people, whose well being depend on material conditions of living as well and intellectual advancement. That being said, I do feel that my position is produced more from anxiety inspired from modernism rather than any actual failure in Winkiel’s criticism. Everything feels so unstable, especially counter-modernism, where do I stand?