Apr 302012

Poet Kevin Young’s book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press, 2012), reviewed in The New York Times Book Review last Sunday (“Race, the Remix,” by David Shields, April 22, 2012, p. 15) is not a Pagan book per se. Rather, it is about Black Cultural-Life in the United States- with the idea that Blacks have been forced to adopt the stratagems and postures of the Trickster, in order to navigate and manage an oppressive White Culture, intent upon controlling and exploiting Black art, literature, and music. The theme of the Trickster (an Archetypal figure seen in Deities such as Loki, Coyote, Hermes, Puck, and Elegba) is hit with such regularity in the review as to stand out with particular force: “The trickster, Kevin Young says, is central to black culture”; “Young places the trickster near the axis of black American culture”; “Condescended to, suppressed, effaced, ripped off and covered, black artists have resorted throughout American history to subversive styles of artistic expression largely revolving around the ‘trickster’ as mask and music. How much of Young the Author is in the trickster tradition?”; “The curatorial trickster claims American language as black music,” with the “African-American trickster tradition” often ignored or downplayed. In the end, Mr. Young’s, and “the trickster’s desire,” is not to “replace white America (which, after all, the trickster’s black America helped construct),” but rather, to “remix” the music of America.