On Thursday, March 29, 2012, Rebecka Rutledge Fisher spoke on "The Poetics of Black Being: Metaphor, Desire, and Doing".
African American literary metaphors have long demonstrated a penchant for voicing being or consciousness, and thus they have consistently participated in a genealogy of African American and, more broadly, Western philosophical thought whose historiography largely excludes them. These might be such metaphors as “I’ll make me a world,” which James Weldon Johnson uses in his 1927 poem, “The Creation.” Johnson’s metaphor carries at least two senses: in the first sense, the poet indicates an intention of creating a world around him or her; in the second sense, the poet collapses the distinction between self and world by articulating his/her intention to remake him/herself as a world, as a viable sphere of habitation for the spirit, soul, and mind. Philosophical metaphors are said to accomplish this world-making process through such modes as resemblance, deviance, and analogy. In my talk, I will focus on those modes that are described as epistemological and ontological, those that, like Johnson’s metaphor, are specifically concerned with the nature and meaning of being, the possibilities and desire inherent to notions of freedom, and the agency required to actualize concepts and radical, visionary intentions.