BLACK MAGIC by LeRoi Jones


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Those of us who remember the vibrant and moving early work of LeRoi Jones, both in poetry and fiction, can only regret the programmatic posture he has more recently and so relentlessly assumed. ""Our brothers are moving all over, smashing at jellywhite faces. We must make our own World, man, our own world, and we cannot do this unless the white man is dead. Let's get together and kill him my man. . . . "" It is hard to imagine what these slashing, blustering, pseudo-primitive incantations are meant to prove, or for whom they speak. Here is LeRoi Jones as the Saint-Just of black liberation or revanchism, talking of Christ (""The Fag's Death/ they gave us on a cross""), or of Jews (""the little arty bastards/ talking arithmetic they sucked from the arab's/ head""). Jones' rage is deeply nihilistic, a redundant rhetoric (Black Magic covers six years of work, but all the poems sound alike, all have that same deadening air of manic fulminations). It is said that only the most extreme statements or positions can politicize the black people, or that the Armageddon of race relations is inevitable, or that whites fully deserve the black man's hatred and contempt. True or not, all these points make up Jones' perspective, and make, of course, aesthetic judgments irrelevant.

Pub Date: May 26th, 1969
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill