Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner

By William Faulkner

“Read, learn, learn. learn everything—trash, classics, strong and undesirable, and notice how they do it. similar to a wood worker who works as an apprentice and reports the grasp. learn! You’ll take in it. Then write. whether it is reliable, you’ll discover. If it’s no longer, throw it out the window.” —William Faulkner

Absalom, Absalom! is Faulkner’s epic story of Thomas Sutpen, an enigmatic stranger who involves Jefferson, Mississippi, within the early 1830s to wrest his mansion out of the muddy bottoms of the north Mississippi desert. He was once a guy, Faulkner stated, “who sought after sons and the sons destroyed him.”

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To me, the shimmering, shaling succession of twentieth-century pop audiotopias confounds the experiential horizon by which belonging and citizenship have traditionally been asserted, and thus becomes a necessary object of study in itself. For me, then, it comes down to an issue of identities versus forms, or, rather, a politics of the marginal versus a politics of the modal. But I believe that the modality of form makes room for the marginal as a contingent gesture or stance within an open field of play.

Indd 35 2/19/13 4:11 PM 36 chapter one time, the paternalistic order of the Old South gave way to the impersonal reign of the “rural factory,” highly efficient and micromanaged in all respects. “A central office,” Harold Woodman explains, “made all major management decisions, determining hours of work, the amount and kind of fertilizer and seed used, the maintenance and improvements required, the tools, equipment and mules to be used, the boll weevil poisoning to be applied. ”5 Indeed, by the early twentieth century, the region was gaining international attention not for its picturesque landscape or its tortured music, but for its modern business techniques.

In fact, the modernity of Weheliye’s Afro-modernity lies in its connection to the mediations affected by sonic technology. The invention of the phonograph marks the origin of sonic Afro-modernism proper, insofar as it exposes the gap that already exists between identity and its sonic mediation. The phonograph generates an audio-visual break in black culture, not only dissociating “blackness” from the body, but also providing a new forum by which “blackness” may be articulated (7). Modern identity, then, becomes neither its essential expression nor its technological manipulation, but a “chain of singular formations integrally linked” to the modern sphere, a “modernity otherwise” that, in its affectively charged repetitions and displacements, “disrupts and displaces the grand narratives of reason and technological progress by incorporating those who fall outside the mix” (23).

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