Saturday, October 8, 2011

Delta Dinge Blues

Delta Dinge Blues

“The past is never dead.
It’s not even past.”
—William Faulkner,
Requiem for a Nun

When I got to Oxford, Mississippi—I felt a rush of dinge déjà vu. It was easy as pie to figure out the place: “Post and tree, window and doorway, signboard, each in its ordered way.”

He turned to me & said, “See? This is how it is. Even an idiot can sense the order, the Southern order of things. The main square, the sun, the lethargic way nothin has changed.

Time passes here just like it did with Lucas Beauchamp, the black intruder in the dust. Climbing the stairs to the office of his lawyer, Stevens. The two dollars the attorney said his services were worth.

The downfall of the McCaslin and Compson families—really no different than the Sutpen dynasty in the pages of Absalom. It doesn’t take the innocence of an idiot—to sense it.

The slumbering, inescapable reality—looking down at me from the Confederate monument. I didn't want to know about Southern damnation and fatality—but here I was.

The trip outta Louisiana took some time—I didn’t really much wanna go. It wasn’t no Harvard, but the Kingfish University did put on a nice show. That’s where I met Bon the Beautiful—in the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell dormitory on campus. He was my roommate.

Louisiana was still a Thirties Banana Republic back then. Closer to the Caribbean culture of the Antilles—with its plantation system, exquisite Creole languages, French linguistic background and insistent Negro slavery.

I’d heard stories about families fleeing the Haitian & French revolutions, taking their retinue of slaves and belongings. The cooking, the spices, the gombo zheb, red beans & pork.

The same music—zydeco Acadian with a jazz & rock rhythm. Cajuns, Black Indians. The unstoppable Creolization of America—despite misery, oppression, up & down the sluggish Mississippi.

But I guess I wanted to know the source of it—the tumultuous menacing Yoknapatawpha home that gave Faulkner the urgency of all his novels. The violence, theft, rape, insanity, infirmity & misfortune—of a world squeezed down inside a tiny postage stamp for everybody in the world to see.

No Best of Bad Faulkner—could possibly get close to the oddly amorphous, distorting mood of Dinge Delta Blues. Imitations, intrusions from the outside—only caused something to withdrawal even further.

I preferred the torments of closetry and str8t refusal—a refusal that dared not speak its name. And yet Faulkner spoke it—time & time again. He spoke his name—and his name was Shame.

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