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Ralph Ellison, Temporal Technologist$
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Michael Germana

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190682088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190682088.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 November 2020

A Deep Pocket for the Truth of the Times

A Deep Pocket for the Truth of the Times

Ellison’s Other Groove of History

(p.195) Chapter 5 A Deep Pocket for the Truth of the Times
Ralph Ellison, Temporal Technologist

Michael Germana

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 treats Ellison’s music criticism as an expression of his commitment to durational time and a critique of cultural forms like bebop that, in Ellison’s estimation, lend form to a discontinuous present. Rather than suggest, as many critics have, that Ellison was simply nostalgic for danceable swing music or hostile toward emerging musical forms, this chapter shows that Ellison’s primary criticism of bebop is that it formalizes a discontinuous sense of time and thereby affirms an historical view of the past structured by an analogous, sequentially static sense of time. Ellison’s problem with bebop, in other words, is neither musicological nor sociological, but temporal. Folk jazz and the blues, by contrast, affirm a durational view of time in the form of a “pocket” or groove entirely unlike the spatialized groove of history described in Invisible Man. In short, Ellison finds in musical grooves antidotes to the groove of history.

Keywords:   Ralph Ellison, blues, jazz, bebop, duration, groove, pocket, rhythm, William James, Henri Bergson

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