April 19, 2014
Toni Morrison says in a Paris Review interview: “I always get up and make a cup of coffee while it is still dark—it must be dark—and then I drink the coffee and watch the light come.” It’s a ritual that conjures into being “a space that I can only call nonsecular . . . Writers all devise ways to approach that place where they expect to make the contact, where they become the conduit, or where they engage in this mysterious process.”
I don’t necessarily see The Bluest Eye as being written in this space. But Beloved has got to be.
It’s also the space, I think, where William Faulkner and Garcia Marquez become such resonant names for Morrison. “Nonsecular” isn’t necessarily the first word that I’d reach for when it comes to these three — it’s close, but not quite spot-on. But then no other word is spot-on either. How to describe that particular combination of the over-the-top and the matter-of-fact, outrageousness and everydayness? Garcia Marquez says that he himself is genuinely unsurprised by bizarre occurrences, but that Faulkner also makes out to be that way. Well, that could be, but as far as I’m concerned, the two of them are about even, and Morrison seems a little less extreme only because, in her racialized world, the “nonsecular” equivalence of the matter-of-fact and the over-the-top happens to be shared by other authors.