What We're Reading08-11-2019
By Samantha Hill
This week marked Theodor Adorno’s 50th Todestag. Adorno died on August 6, 1969 on a Berg tour in Switzerland. Ultimately, a mountain hike was too much for his heart. He died amidst controversy, engaged in a heated debate over student protest movements. In the New York Review of Books, Peter E. Gordon, wrestles with Adorno’s legacy.
Toni Morrison died this week. She was 88.
The first time I read Toni Morrison I was twelve, on the cusp of high school. The Bluest Eye was listed as an optional summer book for my nearly all-white school. I read it in one sitting in the treehouse my father built for me in the backyard. The juxtaposition was striking. Being invited into this world from a distance. I remember letting the language and story wash over me. I didn’t understand anything. Let alone how complicated the form was. Or, the history of how she published it. It was one of those formative reading experiences that lingers in the imagination. An experience I try to share when I can. I often assign Morrison novels in my political theory courses, but I don’t teach them. Morrison is an author you experience alone, and then together. She was a “we” writer, and intentionally invited her audience into her work and world, expanding the imagination, making us more empathetic. In an Arendtian spirit, Morrison understand what it meant to embrace difference. Her passing is a tremendous loss.
You can read a number of tributes to her life and work here, here, and here.