Tony Morrison, Amy Goodman Tony, Editor discussed on Democracy Now! Audio
The saxophonist. David Murray performing the memorial for Tony Morrison at Saint John The divine bovine in New York. This is democracy now. I'm Amy Goodman Tony. Morrison was the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature. She also won a Pulitzer Prize as we continue to bring you excerpts from her memorial we turn now to David Ramnik editor of The New Yorker magazine. Gene Toni Morrison's earliest work did not reach a wide audience. Not right away. But it's fair to say that with time the world caught on so you could talk a good sized warehouse with all the prizes and certificates and honorary degrees and medals. That came her way but she kept the very very best of it in her guest bathroom to frame documents. One near the sink and the other nearby the first was Nobel Prize Diploma as bestowed in Nineteen ninety-three by the Swedish Academy the the second the second was a letter dated nine hundred ninety eight from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Justice announcing that her novel Paradise had been banned from the State's prisons paradise the Texas authorities. This declared quote contains materials that any reasonable person could construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information mation designed to achieve a breakdown of prisons through inmate disruption such as strikes or riots. Think of it the idea that a novel could cause an uprising and Tony wants put it smiling. How powerful awful is that? Powerful is one way to describe. Tony Morrison her presence. Her talent her voice were and remain unforgettable powerful awful and as much as any artists of her time she shaped how we thought how felt what we read what we teach each how we see each other and how we see this troubled country it is as I say a very humbling thing to speak about her and her men's legacy galaxy it was certainly a humbling thing to call her on editorial business. I once ranked Tony to see if she might write something something for the magazine. She seemed not to care very much about my editorial desperation. I can't honey honey. She said I'm baking a cake. Now how long it takes to bake a cake was not something the thing I was prepared to ask her. She knew the score. Tony Morrison began her life and letters as an editor. She did it to to pay the bills but she also found a way to bring honor originality and political purpose to that job she respected protest. But she did not March. She edited and that was for a time. Her political work published a revolutionary ALMANAC called the black book. So the kind of family scrapbook of three Hundred Years of American black life and she brought to life in theology of contemporary African American and African African literature work that it helped to shape her and that she wanted you to read. She brought forward the work of Gail Jones. Tony Kate Bombard Angela Davis and a gifted and original young poet named Mohammed Ali. Aw Editing was a job but it was also her activism her community work and yet in those days Tony's most profound work was furtive. It took place at home in the dark beginning at four or five six in the morning while her young sons were fast asleep so she knew precisely what you wanted to do. She wanted to write about black people. Four black people in the language of the various languages which is up black people and this struck her as no more or less peculiar then tolstoy who wrote in Russian about Russians and four Russians and as a reader. She noticed long before. Most academics have black. People were barely visible in nearly all of the novels of the American Renaissance Po and in thought Hawthorne she was determined to assert the primacy the complexity. The specificity the the pain the beauty in the endurance of African Americans and not have to go about explaining it. All all the time to anyone else White readers were welcome of course just as French readers were welcome to tolstoy but as she told her good friend Hilton. All's my sovereignty and authority pretty as a racialist person had to be struck immediately and so on those stolen early morning hours she worked and reworked a manuscript about about a young girl who was consumed with tragic self hatred and her name. SPECULA- BREEDLOVE I. I wanted to read a book about the most Vulnerable Person In society female child black and it wasn't around so I I started writing it. She said and the result of course was the bluest eye then came Soula then came song of Solomon and it was at that point that the artists no longer had to work an office job. She was free Toni. Morrison's novel are not only about subjects about race in its construction about family and community friendship and love about all that human they are also exquisitely exquisitely built their like music. There is intricately structured as an Ellington sweet countless passages featured the crafted after chaos and the intentional dissonance indignity of felonious Monk Solo other passages or as purely melodic and and his fearless as something by her favorite singer. Nina Simone at a celebration of Nita Simone's life fifteen years ago at Carnegie Hall. Tony said a simone what so many readers have come to say of Tony Morrison. She saved our lives. She led us to believe with little true to life evidence to support it that we could do it. Fight injustice rather than suffer it survive loss come to terms with trail be brutally honest disarmingly tender have regrets minus apology and not just taste the fullness of life so but drink it down Tony. Morrison was also an invaluable thinker her capacity to see this country for what it is you to see our best and worst political actors for who they are was uncanny just after Election Day in two thousand sixteen the Editors of the New Yorker call on a number of writers and thinkers among others to make sense of the inexplicable. It was not an explicable to Tony. Any Morrison this time thank goodness she was not baking a cake she emailed back regarding the future. I am intellectually weaponized weaponized. Then she wrote this about the election of Donald Trump so scary or the consequences sort of a collapse of white privilege that many that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless As strength these people are not so much angriest terrified with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble as an editor as a thinker and a novelist. Toni Morrison refused to allow racism to overcome her racism. She said keeps you from doing doing your work. It keeps explaining over and over again. Your reason for being somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do somebody says your head is in shape properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art. So you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms. And you dredge that up. None of it is necessary there will always be one more thing. Tony Morrison struggled against the hate and she was fearless. Uh but she also refused to get lost to lose her sense of mission. She carried through on the promise and the mission that she embarked on a half a century ago with the bluest list. I great novelist illuminate worlds. We dimly no were they explore new realms of experience that had been sequestered from from the cannon that is great novels either. Open a door or they turn on the lights. Tony Morrison did it all. She opened the door. Hello and she turned on the lights. That was New Yorker editor. David remnant as we go back now to Oprah Winfrey who concluded the evening coming celebration of Toni Morrison's life. I'd like to close the evening with an expert from Song of. Solomon I have any favorite passages when it comes to Tony's body of work when that you just shared Kevin. She's a friend of my mind from beloved. I love that Momma Emma. Did you ever love us. And the mothers response in Soula but this one from Song of Solomon Solomon never fails to inspire off offer the and for that and so much else I say thank you to the singular monumental gallant brighter. He had come out of nowhere as ignorant as a hamlet and broke.