Toni Morrison Sources for your Essay; Nobel Prize Lecture by Author Toni Morrison. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives" (Morrison) Toni Morrison\'s Sula & Feminism. then there'll be a little love left over for me." Critic Biman Basu, writing in College Literature (Basu, ), notes that that the paragraph above represents. The Rise to Miss Brodies Demiseassignments inflationhelp with best masters essay on hacking – help writing essay. toni morrison nobel lecture essay typer and examples essay style questions, esl business plan ghostwriters sites for school. An Analysis of Toni Morrison's Nobel Lecture WORDS View Full Essay. More essays like this: toni morrison. Not sure what I'd do without @Kibin - Alfredo Alvarez, student @ Miami University Sign up to view the complete essay. Show me the full essay. Show me the full essay. More essays like this: toni morrison. Not sure what I'd do. May 13, · Interpretion of Toni Morrisons Nobel Lecture in a Different Way and Comparison Between the Two (I Got a 70% on This ZAIN ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN 4(A) 09/17/ TONI MORRISON ASSINGMENT (QUESTION 4) You dont have to burn books to reduce a socialization. Toni Morrison Dispenses Writing Wisdom in Paris Review Interview. 7 Nobel Speeches by 7 Great Writers: Hemingway, Faulkner, and More. Toni Morrison, Nora Ephron, and Dozens More Offer Advice in Free Creative Writing “Master Class” Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.
My sincere thanks to the Swedish Academy. And thank you all for this very warm welcome. Fiction has never been entertainment for me. It has been the work I have done for most of my adult life. I believe that one of the principal ways in which we acquire, hold, and digest information is via narrative.
Toni Morrison – Nobel Lecture
Or a griot soothing restless children. Her reputation for wisdom is without peer and without question. Among her people she is both the law and its transgression. The honor she is paid and the awe in which she is held reach beyond her neighborhood to places far away; to the city where the intelligence of rural prophets is the source of much amusement. One day the woman is visited by some young people who seem bent on disproving her clairvoyance and showing her up for the fraud they believe she is.
Their plan is simple: They enter her house and ask the one question the answer to which rides solely on her difference from them, a difference they regard as a profound disability — her blindness. Tell me whether it is living or dead. She only knows their motive. Finally she speaks and her voice is soft but stern. It is in your hands. If it is alive, you can still kill it. For parading their power and her helplessness, the young visitors are reprimanded, told they are responsible not only for the act of mockery but also for the small bundle of life sacrificed to achieve its aims.
The blind woman shifts attention away from assertions of power to the instrument through which that power is exercised. Speculation on what other than its own frail body that bird-in-the-hand might signify has always been attractive to me, but especially so now — thinking, as I have been — about the work I do that has brought me to this company.
So I choose to read the bird as language and the woman as a practiced writer. Being a writer she thinks of language partly as a system, partly as a living thing over which one has control, but mostly as agency — as an act with consequences. So the question the children put to her: She believes that if the bird in the hands of her visitors is dead the custodians are responsible for the corpse. For her a dead language is not only one no longer spoken or written, it is unyielding language content to admire its own paralysis.
Like statist language, censored and censoring. Ruthless in its policing duties, it has no desire or purpose other than maintaining the free range of its own narcotic narcissism, its own exclusivity and dominance. However moribund, it is not without effect for it actively thwarts the intellect, stalls conscience, suppresses human potential.
Unreceptive to interrogation, it cannot form or tolerate new ideas, shape other thoughts, tell another story, fill baffling silences. Official language smitheryed to sanction ignorance and preserve privilege is a suit of armor polished to shocking glitter, a husk from which the knight departed long ago.
Yet there it is: She is convinced that when language dies, out of carelessness, disuse, and absence of esteem, indifference, or killed by fiat, not only she herself, but all users and makers are accountable for its demise. In her country children have bitten their tongues off and use bullets instead to iterate the voice of speechlessness, of disabled and disabling language, of language adults have abandoned altogether as a device for grappling with meaning, providing guidance, or expressing love.
But she knows tongue-suicide is not only the choice of children. The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge. Whether it is obscuring state language or the faux-language of mindless media; whether it is the proud but calcified language of the academy or the commodity driven language of science; whether it is the malign language of law-without-ethics, or language designed for the estrangement of minorities, hiding its racist plunder in its literary cheek — it must be rejected, altered, and exposed.
It is the language that drinks blood, laps vulnerabilities, tucks its fascist boots under crinolines of respectability and patriotism as it moves relentlessly toward the bottom line and the bottomed-out mind.
Sexist language, racist language, theistic language — all are typical of the policing languages of mastery, and cannot, do not permit new knowledge or encourage the mutual exchange of ideas. The old woman is keenly aware that no intellectual mercenary, nor insatiable dictator, no paid-for politician or demagogue; no counterfeit journalist would be persuaded by her thoughts.
There is and will be rousing language to keep citizens armed and arming; slaughtered and slaughtering in the malls, courthouses, post offices, playgrounds, bedrooms and boulevards; stirring, memorializing language to mask the pity and waste of needless death. There will be more diplomatic language to countenance rape, torture, assassination.
Underneath the eloquence, the glamour, the scholarly associations, however stirring or seductive, the heart of such language is languishing, or perhaps not beating at all — if the bird is already dead.
She has thought about what could have been the intellectual history of any discipline if it had not insisted upon, or been forced into, the waste of time and life that rationalizations for and representations of dominance required — lethal discourses of exclusion blocking access to cognition for both the excluder and the excluded.
The conventional wisdom of the Tower of Babel story is that the collapse was a misfortune. Whose heaven, she wonders? Perhaps the achievement of Paradise was premature, a little hasty if no one could take the time to understand other languages, other views, other narratives.
Had they, the heaven they imagined might have been found at their feet. Complicated, demanding, yes, but a view of heaven as life; not heaven as post-life. The vitality of language lies in its ability to limn the actual, imagined and possible lives of its speakers, readers, and writers.
It arcs toward the place where meaning may lie. It is the deference that moves her, the recognition that — that recognition that language can never live up to life once and for all — nor should it.
Nor should it yearn for the arrogance to be able to do so. Its force, its felicity is in its reach toward the ineffable. Be it grand or slender, burrowing, blasting, or refusing to sanctify; whether it laughs out loud or is a cry without an alphabet, the choice word, the chosen silence, unmolested language surges toward knowledge, not its destruction.
And how many are outraged by the thought of a self-ravaged tongue? That may be the meaning of life. But we do language.
That may be the measure of our lives. Who are they, these children? And what did they make of that encounter? What did they hear in those final words: A sentence that gestures toward possibility or one that drops a latch? What wisdom I have now is in knowing I cannot help you. The future of language is yours. Suppose nothing was in their hands? Suppose the visit was only a ruse, a trick to get to be spoken to, taken seriously as they have not been before?
A chance to interrupt, to violate the adult world, its miasma of discourse about them, for them, but never to them? Urgent questions are at stake, including the one they have asked: A straightforward question worthy of the attention of a wise one, an old one.
And if the old and the wise who have lived life and faced death cannot describe either, who can? She keeps her secret, her good opinion of herself, her gnomic pronouncements, her art without commitment. She keeps her distance, reenforces it and retreats into the singularity of isolation, in sophisticated, privileged space. Nothing, no word follows her declarations of transfer.
That silence is deep, deeper than the meaning available in the words she has spoken. It shivers, this silence, and the children, annoyed, fill it with language invented on the spot.
Through the education you have just given us that is no education at all, because we are paying close attention to what you have done as well as to what you have said, to the barrier you have erected between generosity and wisdom.
We have only you and our important question. When what you could say, could not mean? When the invisible was what imagination strove to see? When questions and demands for answers burned so brightly you trembled with fury at not knowing?
Your answer is artful, but its artfulness embarrasses us and ought to embarrass you. Your answer is indecent in its self-congratulation, a made-for-television script that makes no sense if there is nothing in our hands. Did you so despise our trick, our modus operandi you could not see that we were baffled about how to get your attention? We are young, unripe. You want us to have your old, blank eyes and see only cruelty and mediocrity.
Do you think we are stupid enough to perjure ourselves again and again with the fiction of nationhood? How dare you talk to us of duty when we stand waist deep in the toxin of your past? Is there no context for our lives, no song, no literature, no poem full of vitamins, no history connected to experience that you can pass along to help us start strong? You are an adult; the old one, the wise one.
Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world.
Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. We know you can never do it properly — once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and the light.
You, old woman, blessed with blindness, can speak the language that tells us what only language can: