Open Collections

UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Historical revisionism and the future of black literary theory Odjo, Aboudou-Lassissi 2003

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


831-ubc_2004-902420.pdf [ 16.3MB ]
JSON: 831-1.0058284.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0058284-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0058284-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0058284-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0058284-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0058284-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0058284-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

HISTORICAL REVISIONISM AND THE FUTURE OF BLACK LITERARY THEORY By Aboudou-Lassissi Odjo Graduate Certificate in English and Education, University of Leicester, 1974 B. A. (Hons.) Universite de Niamey, 1977 Postgraduate Diploma in Linguistics and English Language Teaching, Moray House College of Education, 1980 M. A. Universite du Benin, 1983 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department of English We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA December, 2003 c Aboudou-Lassissi Odjo, 2003  Abstract The future of the literary theories of Black Africa and the Black Diaspora lies in Africa's distant past. It lies in the discourses of origination, and in ontology that conceived subjectivity in significantly different terms from Hegelianism, Cartesianism, postmodernism, and Derridian deconstruction, for example. There is an ongoing crisis in Black critical theory regarding the parameters within which it should be articulated in order to remain responsive to its distinct historical consciousness. It is a twentieth-century problem, carried into the twenty-first, and it is mainly a crisis in philosophic discourse: This crisis of articulation is mainly a legacy of Western epistemological and political hegemony, and puts Black critical theory in the paradoxical position of being embedded in the very epistemological modality it seeks to overcome. In order for the crisis to be clearly seen as a philosophical one, a new Black subjective agency must emerge to elucidate the partiality of Western historiography, recast the history of philosophy, and formulate a more adequate metaphysics and art-theory. Such a theory will, for example, point out that the often nihilist horizon of subjectivity proffered by postmodernism is, in significant ways, inimical to the formulation or representation of this new Black subjectivity. For the first time in critical theory, the Black subject can see itself whole. It can now tell its story from the emergence of the first humans in Africa to the present, as a relatively unbroken continuum. The epistemological conditions for the emergence of a new Black subjectivity have never been better than in what I tentatively call the Dakar-Brazzaville-Stanford 'Conversation' (DBSC) about Black Africa and ancient Egypt. The DBSC stands for a number of major Black scholars (Cheikh Anta Diop, Theophile Obenga, Leopold Sedar Senghor, and St. Clair Drake) in those parts of the world, and the common denominator I identify in their historical, anthropological, and philosophic theorisations of Africa. My aim is to extend the 'conversation' by examining what it means for literary theory. The extent of Western historiography's misrepresentation of Africa's significance in civilisation is only now being openly acknowledged in Western intellectual discourse. It is, ultimately, a problematics that has to do with the status of language in relation to truth and history and, at a deeper level, embraces the ontological status of writing. African and Black foundational, philosophic, historical, and literary texts, shaped by particular systems of signs that are a clue to the African and Black mental worlds, require a particular kind of reading. Therefore, as part of the effort to represent Africa more adequately, a shift of perspective and form now enables Black fiction and literary theory to posit an alternative understanding of the idea and history of literature itself. And this involves recovering and redeploying ancient Egypt in its connection to Black Africa. Though there is increasing evidence in world scholarship that the first inhabitants of ancient Egypt were a negroid people, that their mystical beliefs laid the foundation for ancient Egyptian civilisation, and that philosophic speculation is, ultimately, Egyptian in origin, I do not know of any study that has systematically teased out the consequences of this flourishing scholarship for Black literary theory. The ultimate purpose of my thesis, therefore, is to deconstruct two figures (Hegel and Derrida) who have cast a shadow on Black literary theory. I do this by re-reading and, especially, re-contextualising them, to show that their philosophies are ancient Egyptian in origin. As a result of this re-  historicisation, I argue that Black African and ancient Egyptian philosophies remain the most viable paradigms within which Black literary theory has a bright future. But it is a future that re-places Hegelian and Derridian philosophies in their originary Egyptian contexts in order to pare them of the unhelpful accretions Hegel and Derrida brought to them.  cv  Table of Contents  Abstract ii Introduction 1  Human Evolution and the Rise of Philosophy 29 Black Africa and the Black Diaspora: the Necessary Complementarity 42  I.  Discourses of Africa in the West 60 Representations of Africa 60 Misrepresentations of Africa: the Essentialisation of the Concept of'Race' 70  II.  The Dakar-Brazzaville-Stanford 'Conversation' (DBSC) 78 A Brief Africanist History of Time 80 The DBSC as Philosophic Discourse 82 Archetypes of Egyptian Thought ('Deep Time', Liturgical Time, Historical Time) 93 From Descartes to Derrida: Reductive Deductions 94  III.  Connections Outside Africa: The Black Americas 122 The New Phase of Black Egyptology in African-American and Caribbean Cultural and Literary Theories 129  V/  IV.  Pan-African (ist) Narrative Intersubjectivity in Jean Toomer's Cane, Erna Brodber's Myal, and Ayi Kwei Armah's Osiris Rising  152  Redemptive Tragedy 191  V.  The Future of Black Literary Theory 202 Hegel and Literary Theory: A Black Egyptologist Perspective 207 Fictional Truth and the Future of Literary Theory 212 Interrogating the Torah and the Bible 216 Psychoanalysis and Egyptology 218 Time Scales: Africa in 'Deep Time' 228 Egypt in Eleusis: European Modernism Revisited 233 Definitions of Blackness and of Africa 245  Conclusion 253 Being Whole, Seeing Whole, in Fiction and Critical Theory: Jean Toomer 267 Mary Lefkowitz and the Other New Deniers 270 The Black Absence in Jean-Michel Rabate's Future of Literary Theory 274 The Egyptian Weltanschauung and the Future of Black Literary Theory 277 Notes 279 Bibliography 293  1  Introduction  The future of Black literary theory lies in Africa's distant past.  It lies in the  discourses of origination, and in ontology that conceived subjectivity in significantly different terms from Cartesianism, postmodernism, and Derridian deconstruction, for example. The current crisis in Black critical theory regarding the parameters within which it should be articulated in order for it to remain responsive to its distinct historical consciousness, is a twentieth-century problem being carried over into the twenty-first; and it is mainly a crisis in philosophic discourse. This crisis in the representation of Blackness and the prognostication of future trends in Black literary theory is mainly a legacy of Western epistemological and political hegemony, and puts Black critical theory in the paradoxical position of being embedded in the very epistemological modality it seeks to overcome. In order for the crisis to be clearly seen as a philosophic one, a new Black  subjective  agency  must  emerge  to  elucidate  the  partiality  of  Western  historiography, recast the history of philosophy, and formulate a more adequate metaphysics and art-theory.  Such a theory will, for example, point out that the  essentially nihilist horizon of subjectivity proffered by postmodernism is in significant ways inimical to the formulation or representation of this new subjectivity; and that even where ethnic double-consciousness regulates critical theory, as is indeed the case in much of the Black tradition, this ought not to mean the self-negation that some postmodernist or open-ended hybridist equivocations on race tend to suggest.  1  The  epistemological conditions for the emergence of a new Black subjectivity have never been better than in the Dakar-Brazzaville-Stanford Conversation (DBSC) about Black Africa and ancient Egypt.  What I loosely refer to as the Dakar-Brazzaville-Stanford  2  Conversation mainly refers to the Senegalese Cheikh Anta Diop, the other Senegalese Leopold Sedar Senghor, the Congolese (from what was formerly known as CongoBrazaville)  Theophile  Obenga, the  African-American  St.  Clair  Drake,  and  the  conversation one can establish between them on the Black Africa-ancient Egypt debate. The extent of Western historiography's misrepresentation of Africa's significance in civilisation is only now being openly acknowledged in Western intellectual discourse. It is, ultimately, a problematics that has a lot to do with the status of language in relation to truth and history and, at a deeper level, embraces the ontological status of Writing. African and Black foundational, philosophic, historical, and literary texts, shaped by particular systems of signs that are clues to the African and Black mental world(s), require a particular kind of reading.  Such a reading is part of the bigger effort to  understand or represent Africa more adequately. With the D B S C , a shift in perspective and form  now enables Black fiction  and literary  'emplotment' of the idea and history of literature itself.  theory to posit an  alternative  It is an alternative account of the  emergence of Writing, then of the birth of Literature, its first/foundational texts, the story of its evolution, which phases or elements are officialised or omitted, and which cultures are  deemed to  have  played  an  important  role  and which  ones are  thought  inconsequential; an account made possible only through the recovery and redeployment of ancient Egypt and its connection to Black Africa. After two millenia of the West's obsession with power and colonisation, and its manipulation of history, religion, and philosophy through the invention of a series of Others, a crisis in perception and philosophy has now set in. A s a result, such formerly occluded or discredited notions as "spirituality," "emotion," "mysticism," "occult history," "instability," etc., are now recuperable and can be invested with the status of thought and coherence to renew or enrich philosophic debate. The refamiliarisation or adjustment in perception this development requires leads, in the context of my thesis, to the necessary  and preliminary observation that Africa is a contested referent: there is the fierce local nationalist's and the foreign obscurantist's narrowly represented Africa, and there is the artist's or philosopher's Africa whose full meaning requires a much broder perspective on History and Truth. Somewhere between these two poles hovers the future of Black literary theory.  Given the current fierce debate on what constitutes Blackness, I would  like to specify and delimit, as a very necessary methodological precaution, my working idea of Black literary theory.  It refers to the theory that has as its object of study the  literature of the Black world that still sees (Black) Africa and (Black) African continuities in the diaspora as viable, fundamental paradigms from which to elicit a sense of self that is the basis for traditional and modern modes of existence. A s we will see, Michael Echeruo and Toni Morrison, among others, provide testimonies to the feasibility of this identitarian project.  Such an idea of self is not at all a manifesto that demands the  allegiance of those who do not feel they should designate themselves as Black. Kwame Anthony Appiah's deconstruction of the concept of race, particularly in "Illusions of Race" and, generally, in In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of  Culture, is one of the first close, postmodernist, examinations of this concept, and can be usefully seen as characteristic of a plural theoretic, mid- to late twentieth-century, period during which a multiplicity of theories - deconstruction and postmodernism in particular deprived  (or tried to deprive) minority philosophies and literatures (Black, feminist,  aboriginal, etc.) of a number of stabilising concepts.  Though on scientific grounds  Appiah makes a sensible case for the interrogation of "race", other critics have offered equally compelling ontological and socio-political arguments as to why Western High Theory's assault on such linchpins as truth, history, race, etc., if uncritically endorsed, can turn out to be a trap, set by a High Theory that is bent more on wantonly weakening race-based discourses than on candidly working towards an honest plurality of theories leading to genuine parity of identities. This debate is one in a string of crises of identity  4  and representation that Black critical theory has known.  In his response to Appiah,  entitled "Caliban's Triple Play," (381-395) Houston Baker frames the debate in terms of an inside and an outside, and expresses sadness at the realisation that Appiah has been surrounded by High Theory simulacra for too long to be able to appreciate the concrete and sad reality of race in everyday (American) life (385).  Baker sees a cynical game  unfolding, "a deceptive show filled with tricky mirrors", a catchy 'aberration' of our postmodernist  time  that  has  'afflicted'  Appiah's  ability  to  distinguish  between  'responsible' and 'sterile' academic eloquence. It is precisely this perception of the deracialisation of the concept of race as a bait placed by Appiah's Western "overseers" (Baker, 380) that other Black theorists have focussed on.  In his own response to the crisis of representing the Black subject in  philosophy, Charles W. Mills writes in Blackness  Visible: Essays on Philosophy  and  Race: Many white liberals (and, indeed, historically many white Marxists also), aware of the verdict of science on race, are puzzled at black intellectuals' retention of race as a significant social category; they wish to move from the falsity of racial realism to global claims about the unreality of race in general and the corollary political mistakenness of race-centered political discourse such as one finds in black nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and Afrocentrism. But part of the point of my taxonomy of metaphysical positions is to show that there is a conceptual room for a view of race as both real and unreal, not "realist" but still objectivist. This position is (47)  racial constructivism.  The combined effect of Appiah's essay and book, and Gates's book The  Monkey: A Theory of African-American  Literary  Criticism,  Signifying  especially the chapter on  Ishmael Reed's novel Mumbo Jumbo, read by some as Gates's endorsement of a gratuitous decentering of the Black subject, is seen by them as a hasty unwriting of essentialism and a derealisation of Blackness. Regarding how Africa is appropriated by the practitioners of textualism, Michael Echeruo's defence of an African ontology in a section of " A n African Diaspora: The Ontological Project" (8-9) emerges from an awareness of how transnational postmodernism has engendered a major crisis in  5  African (and Black) humanities.  He focusses on Africa to illustrate the transnational  character or effect of postmodernism and deconstruction. He does this, in order to draw attention to what he perceives as the unsettling practice whereby diasporic Black liberals (mainly Paul Gilroy) at times, indirectly through how they situate themselves in the African retentions/Blackness debate, enforce on Africa modes of inculcated by Western High Theory.  (self-)representation  Echeruo acknowledges the desirabily and  inevitabilty of theoretic pluralism - and Africans (and other Blacks) did not have to wait for poststructuralism to come along and show them its intellectual necessity - yet, he deplores the premature liquidation of an African ontology and subject-position.  Derek  Walcott discusses a related aspect of the issue: opportunistic criticism in white liberalism and in a mode of discourse that is characteristic of Afrocentricity: The liberal warms to the speech of the ghetto in a way quite contemptible to the poet, for the benignity of the liberal critic perpetuates the sociological conditions of that speech, despite his access to anger. What he really preaches again, but this time through criticism, is the old separate-but-equal argument. Blacks are different, and the pathos is that most blacks have been led to believe this, and into the tragedy of proclaiming their difference. The theories clash, for the radical seeks to equate the deprived up to the status of the privileged, while the liberal and his unconscious accomplices, the poets of the ghetto and of "revolutionary rhetoric," fear to lose "their own thing" if they let thought and education widen by materialist benefits. Often it is the educated and privileged poet who masks his education and privilege behind a fake exoticism of poverty and the pastoral. They write one way and speak another. There has been the treason of clerks, and now we have the treason of the intellectuals (55) 2  But, it is Manthia Diawara's formulation of the Black crisis of representation which rather neatly straddles the vast expanse my thesis tries to cover.  In  In Search of Africa,  he  offers the following observation on the current twists and turns of the Black theorist's search for the idea and reality of a continent, his/her inability to perceive daily reality and subjectivity in a coordinated manner.  It is, in essence, a stricture on the entire Black  critical and theoretic tradition. I will quote him at length: The dissociation of politics from culture makes me want to be a postcolonial subject who can make a virtue out of living in contradictory spaces, in the here and there at the same time, in the in-between and hybrid spaces—neither African  6  nor American, and African American at the same time. T o be able to say things like, "Africa does not exist," or "Africa is an invention." T o be able to make my "creolity" a pure poetic statement, where rootlessness becomes the only grammar. T o find the pleasure of the text in Deleuze, Foucault, and Barthes, and to be able to commit myself to denouncing' the essentialism of black people everywhere—their retrograde nationalism, sexism, and homophobia. I say hooray to the coalition of progressive forces, for the rainbow children. Cesaire says there is no second blackness without an original blackness. But my creolity is anti-essentialist. I prefer the blackness of black British, like Soul II Soul—it is more chic. But hard as I try, I cannot find peace and satisfaction in living in these contradictory spaces. I feel as if I am being forced to accept an exotic image of myself, to remain nonthreatening to the very logic that made a fixed stereotype out of me. It is like saying: "I cannot understand Africa, but that's alright because it is my postcolonial condition. I see people killed and maimed everyday by the dictator politicians backed by the West, and by multinational corporations, and I celebrate this as globalisation and the postmodern condition. I am an African who cannot understand Africa, so I enter into complicity with a small group of people who say that Africa does not exist anyway." Or I can try to find a solution to Africa's problems in Afrocentricity, or in nativism. Watch me go all the way back to Egypt, and show how we Soninkes descended from Assouan, where our ancestors were kings and queens—and neglect to add that the reason we came all the way to West Africa was to escape oppression at the hands of those same kings and queens. Watch me take pains to rediscover the Ashanti divinity system, the Sigi ritual as performed by the Dogons, and the meaning of the Orishas among the Yoruba. Never mind that my primary sources are Arabic and Western. I want to use ancient Mali as my antiquity, just as the Europeans use Rome as their antiquity. It is the only way out.... But in my frustration with Africa's failure to catch up with the modern world, I most want to be a conservationist [sic] like Richard Wright, Sekou Toure, Frantz Fanon, and Malcolm X. (218-219)  On the question of the excesses Black critical thought is itself prone to at times, one notes how the Harlem Renaissance petered out, and how Negritude, especially the Senghorian version of it, has fizzled, and may no longer be a truly viable intellectual paradigm.  Being fiercely anti-racist and anti-colonial, each of these two movements  unfortunately went somewhat too far by trying to control the image of Blackness and Africa, and ended up producing much that was stereotypical, thus confirming the tragedy Walcott speaks of above. The D B S C ushers in a new problematics; one that rethinks the issue of referentiality and the enunciation of subjectivity through the recovery of a number of often unexplored cultural codes that speak the Black self more adequately. It is a new attempt at representation that supplements strictly realist, modernist, and  7  materialist readings of history and Africa's significance in it with an alternative approach to time, and with a reconceptualisation of language as a vehicle of thought and medium for representing reality.  By questioning the modes of representation through which  Africa has been projected, the D B S C effects a more thoroughgoing epistemological mutation out of which my thesis will try to tease a corresponding mutation in Black literary theory. This thesis is, therefore, first about what  Black historians, philosophers,  scientists, and anthropologists have argued about Africa and ancient Egypt; and, secondly, it is about what I see as the literary applications of their insights. In the arguments I offer and that lead into two final chapters on literary theory, I also refer to comments made by Western theorists and observers (Michael Rice, Michael Hoffman, Paul Ricoeur, Margaret Anne Doody, and others) on the evolution of civilisation and literature which concur to a large extent with the positions taken by Black commentators. In the process, I, naturally, offer a reasonably detailed account of the nature and avowed objectives of the D B S C . For the first time in critical theory, the Black subjective agency can see itself whole. It can now tell its story from the appearance of the first humans in Africa to the present as a relatively unbroken continuum. A s I will try to show, formulating such a continuum will at times require intersecting the mystical and modern dimensions of subjectivity in order to extend the bounds of theoretic endeavour in the near future. The question of memory (or the lack of it) has always dogged Black critical and fictional discourses, arguably more insistently than it has any other literary and theoretic tradition. And so, according to the B D S C , human evolution and the history of philosophy are inseparable coordinates in any serious attempt to discourse's difficulties in formulating an identity.  understand Black intellectual  At present, Black critical theory can  resign itself to the truisms of postmodernist thought, or it can unmask postmodernism —  8  and even deconstruction — as ultimately a sophisticated reinscription of Western power that has far-reaching consequences for how various beleaguered minorities are allowed to theorise subjectivity.  Further, Black critical theory can initiate a methodological shift  whereby there is a material continuity between the augmentation of historical knowledge, a redemptive, non-nihilist phenomenology of consciousness, and a retheorisation of subjectivity in terms of an ethical construal of fictional narrative and critical discourse. To point out the insufficiency of materialist historiography's reductivist representations of Blackness, the D B S C redeploys memory in its conceptual grid. Against the modernist, postmodernist, and deconstructive relativisation or outright obliteration of ideas of origin and ontology, it advocates a diachronic understanding and enlargement of the process of self-apprehension and tries to map out the structure of a new Black ontology, or of a new general humanity tout court. Postmodernist and deconstructive thought still hold enough sway to cause any organic theory of history or of subjectivity to be doomed in advance. The process of sorting out the consequences of slavery and colonisation, and the identitarian challenges it poses, are compounded by the pervasive protocols of dominant theories of figuration which thrive on a suspect radical relativism or on a sophisticated form of absolutism that, in the end, do not really recover the various Others as real equals. An enthusiastic and unconditional endorsement of this same Western High Theory is, therefore, far from being proof of sophistication and original thinking.  3  The possibility of original thinking may be created instead through the process of relativising postmodernist indeterminacy itself - for example, by reminding ourselves that modernity  and its 'posts' are only very  history/genealogy of human thought. earliest  manifestations  of  recent developments in the total  Black memory now clears a path back to the  humankind's  speculations on  its  cosmic and  ethical  apprehension of itself in order to elucidate the history of spirituality and of philosophic speculation, with the ultimate purpose of drawing our attention to the questions that  9 preoccupied originary philosophy. It is a re-perspectivisation of thinking at a time when, to sceptics, High Theory may have outlived its usefulness. In the process of examining this renewal of theory, I, therefore, briefly discuss postmodernism and deconstruction, pointing out their effects (some of it unintended, because not primarily directed at Blackness) on the constitution of a Black identitarian theory.  Where Black theorists  seem to ally these same schools of thought to their causes — and there are not too many such instances- it has been a strategic use only, whereby one sees the necessity of reversing power-relations in discourse. Strategic only, because there is much in them that is incompatible with Black (and Black feminist) agendas. The DBSC discourse enters the philosophical and identitarian debate as a positively humanist intervention which interrogates in radical terms the West's monopoly on High Theory.  Such an  intervention, for example, re-presents Enlightenment rationalism, the modernist view of the writtenness of language, as overconfident. Descartes comes to mind here, as well as a similar thesis in Richard Rorty to the effect that we can completely describe the world (215).  In this same modernist-postmodernist genealogy, are such modes of  theoretic thought as the irremediably disseminated, free-floating nature of the subject, and the absolutist prioritisation of writing.  Such deductions are debatable, because  based on a sophisticated but flawed understanding of reality and the properties of language. Traditional, ancient African philosophy not only maintains that ontology is prior to and exceeds representation, but that subjectivity,  understood as full  consciousness, is not exhausted by ultrarationalist discourse. Undaunted by the current marginalisation of the metaphysics of presence, of referentiality, and of essentialism, the DBSC blends history and memory to reconstitute a set of issues in the history of philosophic representation without which a reassertion of a Black presence would be unintelligible to many modern Westerners, and even to culturally alienated Blacks. Endof-millenium efforts around the end of the year 2000 to take stock of the state of Western  10  philosophy produced enough scepticism to make one attentive to the D B S C ' s stance on theory.  For similar reasons, feminism believes it still has good reasons to keep High  Theory at arm's length, given the latter's allergy to the grounding of theory in any kind of essentialism. A s an epistemologic necessity then, the D B S C undertakes its rereading of human evolution and the history of ideas, by including as part of its critical or hermeneutic tools pre-modern modes of being and apprehension. The Conversation's search for a new, pluralist, and humanist meaning of History does not seek to escape the concrete, material burden of Black history. Rather, it seeks to affirm the possibility of a Black intellectual renaissance at a time when various forms of Western hypertheory seem to deny such a possibility. It seems understandable, then, that a good part of such a new Black intellectual affirmation be formulated in a discourse that is more than just solely materialist. Hence, the case for the intelligibility of myth, ritual, mysticism, etc. to complement the conceptual grid of materialist ontology. Here, then, hovers the future of Black critical theory and poetics: the possibility of outflanking the often inhibiting and flashy sterility of much of postmodernist and deconstructive thought, i. e., its impressive eloquence that, nonetheless, appears to lack an epistemological and ethical horizon. A quick word here on existing Black Egyptology and its orientation, as a way of clarifying my twofold objective which is the consolidation and extension of the D B S C theses. Black Egyptology produced by the theorists and academics I will later introduce (Cheikh Anta Diop, Theophile Obenga, St. Clair Drake, Jacob Carruthers, and others) barely preoccupies itself with the literary application of its theses, given the particular disciplinary thrust of these scholars.  4  More importantly, I note that when Egypt(ology)  does emerge in Black literary discourse as in Wole Soyinka's Myth, Literature and the  African World (MLAW), in Toni Morrison's essay "Unspeakable Things Unspoken: The Afro-American Presence in American Literature," ( discussed below), in Ishmael Reed's  Mumbo Jumbo, or in Edouard Glissant's Caribbean Discourse and, less directly, in Aime  11  Cesaire's Discourse on Colonialism, these major writers are not interested in (or capable of) offering a systematic, sustained, and coherent account of Egypt in Black art forms. Either they shy away from the chance to do so - as does Morrison ~ or they only offer a (very) distant echo of Egypt that they throw in here and there in what psychoanalysts might perhaps call fragments of discourse from the subconscious/unconscious. The result is that an organic account does not emerge. I try to overcome this lacuna as a background and prelude to my reading of fiction in Chapter 4 where I posit Egypt as a plausible unifying motif in Black fiction; and this chapter is itself a discussion leading into my speculation on the direction of Black literary theory in Chapter 5. All along, I also refer to recent Western Egyptology and to Western revisionist theory that, to my knowledge, previous studies do not mention. While scientific views of human evolution may change and compel us to modify our theories, in light of current knowledge, the DBSC makes a credible case for revisionism; for a reassessment of Africa's significance in the history of ideas. When this revisionist turn in theory is applied to literature, it means, among other things, the need to re-examine the appropriateness of the application of textualist theories to Black literature, given the particular genealogy of thought that produced such textualist modes of reading. By demonstrating the ultimately political intent of such readings through a re-presentation of the long history behind them, new Black literary theory will debunk their claim to a superiority of insight. The reexamination of ancient history as it enhances our understanding of the current state of critical theory is, therefore, what I attempt in chapters 4 and 5. As I hope the variety of African and non-African observers I draw on will show, a revisionist trend is gaining momentum in various disciplines that indicates a renewed interest in the Black Africaancient Egypt axis, and, therefore, a renewed interest in the true significance of Black Africa in the history of ideas.  12  In the closing chapters, then, the thesis attempts what, to my knowledge, has not been systematically done before: an examination of the literary consequences or applications of the D B S C . Existing scholarship has focussed on the historical, spiritual, and philosophic dimensions of the issues. My thesis, therefore, extends the debate by teasing out the literary implications of this D B S C alternative onto-epistemology. Much of Black literature has been reluctantly inscribed in the canon of world literature only as protest and 'race' literature.  While the attribution of such a label may not be entirely  inaccurate, the interpretation of how the labelling came about, the full story of the epistemological conditions that so framed Black literature, has seldom been fully told in Western literary history. A s I hope to show through my mobilisation of human evolution theory, Black literature became protest literature for reasons that can be traced back to turns or directions in very ancient history that certainly go beyond colonialism, and even beyond the Enlightenment and the Renaissance, the latter two being where most revisionist studies of the significance of Black literature in world poetics often begin. S o ancient and intractable are many of these issues that, because they have been banished from most official Western accounts of cultural evolution, the Black literature which draws attention to them is easily labelled wrongheaded and unsophisticated. This kind of admonishing is mainly what Soyinka refers to when, in MLAW, he explains his "concern to transmit through analysis of myth and ritual the self-apprehension of the African world" (IX). He writes: It has been with an increasing sense of alarm and even betrayal that we have watched our position distorted and exploited to embrace a 'sophisticated' school of thought which (for ideological reasons) actually repudiates the existence of an African world! Both in cultural and political publications, and at such encounters as the UNESCO Conference on the Influence of Colonialism on African Culture, Dar es Salam 1972, the 6 Pan-African Congress, Dar es Salam 1974, the preColloque of the Black Arts Festival, Dakar 1974 etc., etc., we black Africans have been blandly invited to submit ourselves to a second epoch of colonisation - this time by a universal-humanoid abstraction defined and conducted by individuals whose theories and prescriptions are derived from the apprehension of their world and their history, their social neuroses and their value-systems. (IX-X) th  13  In responding to what looks like a concerted assault on its humanity, Black critical theory, like most minority discourses, must necessarily posit some identitarian vantage point from which to articulate a countertheory. Yet, Black critical theory must walk the tightrope of formulating a corrective countertheory and the avoidance of the trap of making Black literature too predictable and, therefore, easier to stereotype. But again, the ability to theorise Black culture/literature equitably, to restore a natural sense of balance to it and reinstate it in world cultural history, requires a continuous sense of one's history.  A s a corrective to a truncated sense of history and of the self, the  emerging mode of Black theory I am interested in is, therefore, a new, organic, historical, and philosophic formulation of African civilisation and historical agency, as they gradually emerged from the southern hemisphere to the northern. It is a trajectory and dynamics that shows how Africa was once at the forefront of civilisation; and it might enable a new understanding and reformulation of (the history of) the Black novel itself. Such a new understanding and the new Black fiction which thematises it would be an augmentation of the identity and mandate of the Black novel, a new interpretation of .the object of its desire that goes beyond the simple thematics of postindependence strictly political contestations that is too fixated on the twentieth century.  It would pose this  desire as the understandable necessity to creatively refigure the ethnic self through a revamping of a tradition of theoretic thought which by itself (the restricted temporality within which it operates) is ill-equipped, since it is too often unconsciously dependent on Euro-American archetypes and paradigms. One way to fixate the conditions and nature of the new Black subjectivity, fiction, and literary theory I am arguing, is to point out here that they are underpinned by Stephen Jay Gould's "deep time," and Jacob Carruthers's "deep thought," two concepts that I will more explicitly refer to later. They are conceptparadigms which enable us to image and theorise (Black) Africa in considerably different terms.  14  When what was originally a Black culture followed human evolution and peaked in Egypt where geographic and climactic conditions were exceptional, it produced the spiritual, metaphysical, and scientific prototypes the rest of humankind would later try to emulate.  By identifying this prototype as essentially belonging in the same cultural  space as Black Africa, a new understanding of African and Black literature (and critical theory) can be enabled through an extension of their historicity and thematic range. The trajectory of Ayi Kwei Armah's novels certainly suggests the extent of the literary territory Black fiction can be made to cover. Such a potential is also latent in fiction produced by the Black diaspora. Works by Jean Toomer and Erna Brodber are amenable to such a reading of fiction as a retextualisation of the historical and metaphysical self. On alternative epistemologies and their impact on literature, Ralph Cohen writes: Many literary theorists, when they discuss change, rely on scientific models of paradigm change or cultural models of epistemic change or political models of social change, rather than on models appropriate to what takes place in literary theory and practice. (VII)  One interpretation of Cohen's point is that there is and should be a fecund imbrication of literature and other disciplines. Therefore, his view confirms the wrongheadedness of the discourse of extremist textualism which not only insulates literature from other concerns and disciplines but, through its often unavowed policing of the borders of Western letters, excludes other subjectivities - racial, feminist, etc. Placing literature in previously unauthorised or simply untried historical perspectives, therefore, enables richer interpretations. Thus, I offer a quick reading of three highly coded novels in the Black tradition and canon: Jean Toomer's Cane, Erna Brodber's Myal and Ayi Kwei ±  Armah's Osiris Rising.  I read them as they relate to historical/cultural amnesia and as  narrative/aesthetic constitutions and refigurations of subjectivity. I see them as the site of  racial memory,  and of  stereotypical ethnic consciousness in a  process of  metamorphosis. My Pan-African perspective does not artificially yoke the three novels  15  together  5  Instead, using a principle of intersubjectivity, it identifies structures of race  and desire which are then correlated into a kind of trans-Atlantic, 'call and response' ontological dynamic. I adapt the call and response notion to mean here a Pan-African dynamics of complementarity whereby a call went out before and after independence for a search for Africa, and how, as what I consider a response, a new type of literature may be pointing to where and what Africa is.  Intersubjectively speaking, it means, in the  novels, the diasporic desire for plenitude which leads to Africa, and the African search which is consummated in acknowledging and thanking the diasporic subject for being there.  In other words, given the particular mythic structure within which the plot and  Pan-African cast of characters are subsumed in Osiris Rising, I read the disjunctive texture of Cane and Myal as the (largely unconscious) disintegration of consciousness or the dismemberment of Osiris, as the transformative repetition of originary subjectivity as consciousness that is sundered but can be reintegrated.  Cane and Myal are, in other  words, thematisations of a desire for racial plenitude. Narrative in Toomer and Brodber is enabled as a rather inarticulate, unconscious, obscurity inhabiting and driving the Black novel, in this case, that of the Black diaspora. In Armah, narrative unfolds as the Black subjectivity's conscious new desire, its revelatory enactment of itself in the quest for originary meaning. The novel is a figuration of the sense that cross-Atlantic Black plenitude is at hand. In the relationship I establish with Cane and Myal, the liturgical lexicon and the African mythic structure (the Osiris myth) of Osiris Rising function as the conscious acknowledgement of that which is subconscious in Toomer's and Brodber's novels, and as the assertive concretisation or consummation (or the beginning of it) of the desired plenitude.  Osiris Rising is rebirth and transcendence, or the conscious  beginning of such a resurrection. A s a conscious figuration of the process of gathering the limbs of Osiris, Osiris Rising is an aesthetic representation of the subject as rising consciousness, a symbolisation of the rising body as the realisation of the telos.  As a  16  high, immanent, concept, this idea of the rising body serves as the unifying concept underpinning the various themes of Osiris Rising itself. It is in this sense a necessary prefiguration or locus of the rebirth of literary theory itself. Armah's ideological message is in his mystical revelation of the Black human agency's potential to determine the material conditions of its own ethnic existence. The argument that Black philosophy and fiction cannot prioritise a necrophiliac postmodernism rests on the contention that contrary to modernism's dismissal of traditional paradigms, Black cultural theory, while remaining open to newness in human thought,  insists that these paradigms, among the very first to have shaped  consciousness, are still too much part of human consciousness and psyche to be so hastily discarded . Modernity edited the fullness of reality by reducing it to the subjectobject polarity, a binarism that can produce only reductive truths.  The self-Other  variation of this compartmentalisation of reality in critical thought epistemologically made possible the later invention and essentialisation of race. For, from the mind/self and alterity thesis to the effect that what the subject knows is the only thing that counts, it was possible and convenient to construe the Black Other as particularly otherworldly and unredeemable, because it was outside the realm of the Western Self's or Same's empirical gaze. A race-conscious reading of Western historiography, therefore, exposes the discursive mechanisms through which discourse gradually became racialised as a result of becoming hegemonic in its rapport with its invented alterity. The different and very ancient subjectivity that now struggles to articulate and reassert itself is best apprehended in the revisionist diachronic intervention of the DBSC. Thus, addressing the pre-modern thematics as it relates to ancient Egypt and the Black Other, Drake, in Volume 1 of Black Folk Here and There, insists, "[t]he question of the race of the early Egyptians is bound up with the question of where predynastic movement toward civilization in the Nile Valley [ and the rest of the world ] began" (154).  17  On the critical exploration of the Black substratum of Egyptian civilisation (a Black problematics which, as I explain below, is not quite the same as the position Martin Bernal defends in Black Athena), only those Black theorists and academics whose interventions tackle or are potentially conducive to a new understanding of the history of literary archetypes and of the evolution of literary theory will be discussed. What I loosely refer to as the Dakar-Brazzaville-Stanford Conversation (DBSC) mainly refers to the Senegalese Cheikh Anta Diop, the other Senegalese Leopold Sedar Senghor, the Congolese (from what was formerly known as Congo-Brazzaville) Theophile Obenga, the African-American St. Clair Drake, and the conversation one can try to establish between them on the Black Africa-ancient Egypt debate. Educated in Senegalese and French universities, the late Diop held degrees and other qualifications in a variety of disciplines.  He took a Doctorat es Lettres at the  Sorbonne. In France, Diop studied under such scholars as Frederic Joliot-Curie and Marie Curie, Andre Aymard, Andre Leroi-Gourhan, Gaston Bachelard et al. He was a brilliant iconoclast, for at the time he brought physics and linguistics to bear on the rereading of African and world history, Egyptology was a forbidden (because considered sensitive) area of research to Black African students in France. And so, Diop had to overcome a considerable amount of resistance to his project.  Diop is the most  consistent, the most scientifically rigorous, and the most prolific participant in the conversation. I have divided his main works into two categories, though not all of them will be discussed. The division is also intended to indicate the breadth of his ceuvre: A. The Humanities: I.  Nations negres et Culture (1954)  II.  L'Unite culturelle de I'Afrique Noire (1959); translated as The Cultural Unity of Black Africa: The Domains of Patriarchy and of Matriarchy in Classical  (1978)  Antiquity  18  III.  L'Afrique Noire precoloniale (1960); translated as Precolonial Black Africa (1987)  IV.  Anteriorite des civilisations negres. Mythe ou verite historique? (1967); selections  from this book and from Nations negres et Culture have been compiled and translated as The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality (1974) V.  Civilisation ou Barbarie—Anthropologie  sans complaisance  (1981); translated as  Civilization or Barbarism: An Authentic Anthropology (1991)  B. Science I.  Physique nucleaire et chronologie absolue (1974)  II.  Parente genetique  de I'egyptien pharaonique  et des langues  negro-africaines  (1977) III.  Philosophie, Science et Religion (1985)  Diop's most significant contribution lies in his life-long research in physics at the Institut Fondamental  D'Afrique Noire (FAN) located at what was then Universite de Dakar, now  known as Universte Cheikh Anta Diop. Diop's obsession was to provide a scientific grounding and corroboration for his thesis of the Black origin of Egyptian civilisation. The late Senghor was an Africanist, Hellenist, classicist, poet, Nobel-prize nominee, former president of his country and, until his death, a member of the Academie Frangaise.  Among his works, Ce Que Je Crois: Negritude, Francite et Civilisation de  I'Universel is of particular interest. Unlike the other three participants, Senghor was a believer in Negritude. Ce Que Je Crois is an erudite account of human evolution in and out of Africa, and of the rise of spirituality, philosophy, and art. However, even here, Senghor does not appear to have completely shed what many of his critics (Fanon, Soyinka, Stanislas Adotevi, and others) see as a disturbing inferiority complex vi-a-vis Christianity and the West. The book also argues a passionate defence of poetry from the perspective of Negritude. Though the book re-states many of the arguments Diop already formulated, it is arguably Senghor's most enduring pronouncement on poetics  19  and literary theory.  Ce Que Je Crois's erudite defence of poetry owes its originality to  the fact that here, like other truly original Black thinkers, Senghor situates his discourse squarely above the purview of the average reader of French. The complexity of the issues discussed and the breadth of evolutionary time covered make necessary the intellectual standard of Senghor's discourse. He goes beyond the mediocrity and halftruths written about Africa and poetry.  He aspires to and, by and large, accomplishes  one particular Black Egyptologist objective: locate in incantations and spells, the stuff that much of The Egyptian Book of the Dead is about, a possible origin of poetic enunciation.  His reading, on page 120, of a section/'stanza' of this foundational text  which explicitly deals with the power of incantatory utterance, his comments elsewhere on the divine and creative Word, the fact that he reminds the reader of the etymological meaning of po'iesis as creation, and the way he keeps reminding his reader that poetry is what he believes in, "ce que je crois," very much suggest that this is Senghor's ultimate objective in this book.  Clearly, this sense of the nature and history of poetry, also  essentially proffered by Soyinka, is worlds apart from the simplistic and literalist pronouncements of a Chinweizu, in Towards the Decolonisation  of African Literature, on  what "responsible" African poetry should be about. In Ce Que Je Crois, Senghor seizes this opportunity to clarify what he considers as misunderstandings regarding some of his positions on the essence of Blackness.  He returns to these "misunderstandings" in  Pour Une Relecture Africaine de Marx where he denies having foregrounded intuition (instead of reason) in his characterisation of the essence of Blackness.  To him, it is  rather a question of balancing both concepts in a creative and intellectually rewarding complementarity. Theophile Obenga studied in Africa, Europe, and the United States, and has written extensively on Egypt and commented on Diop's works. His qualifications include a Doctorat d'Etat. Among his specific contributions are articles and books on linguistics,  20  philosophy, and mathematics in ancient Egypt and Black Africa.  Obenga also teaches  ancient Egyptian (the language). Two of his numerous books interest us: La Philosohie Africaine (1990) and Ancient Egypt and Black Africa (1992).  The late St. Clair Drake received his PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago.  His two-volume Black Folks Here and There: An Essay in History  Anthropology  and  (1987 and 1990) is a major Black diaspora contribution to the debate.  African antiquity was more than just intellectual curiosoty to Drake, for it went hand in hand with social activism in the United States and Africa where, like DuBois, he lived and taught for quite some time. Here now are some of the DBSC's main theses: A. The first humans emerged in Africa and were almost certainly Black. From Eastern and Southern Africa, they spread all over the continent and to other parts of the world. B.  Before the dynastic pharaohs, Egypt was a Negroid/Black - i. e., sub-Saharan -  culture.  These Blacks were the originators of the spiritual, ethical, philosophic, and  scientific ideas which constituted the foundation of the culture that would peak during the time of the dynasties, by which time non-Blacks had been integrated into Egyptian society. Many Pharaohs were Black. C.  Blood-type and language are reliable criteria when establishing cultural links. (As I  will show later, in the geographic areas immediately close to Black Africa - Northern Africa, the Middle East, Southern Europe - even today blood tests confirm a Black substratum (an underlying gene). This observation is similar to the one scientists have made about Africa and the history of human genes. Linguistics has established a link between ancient Egyptian and Black African languages. Spiritually (paganism, animism, mysticism), philosophically (cosmology), and linguistically, ancient Egypt is more linked to traditional Black Africa than to any other culture.  21  D. Plato, Aristotle,  Pythagoras, Thales of Miletus, and other  Greek thinkers  studied under Egyptian priests in Egypt. These priests initiated their Greek students into the enigma and mystery of life and death, the dynamics of the cosmic universe, alchemy, geometry, etc. The Greeks often misapplied these concepts, for they did not profoundly understand what the priests had taught them. (This less-than-perfect assimilation was the source of the tensions and inconsistencies in Western philosophy that Ricoeur, Derrida, and others, before and after them, would seek to rectify.) E. There is a lot about Greek thought, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam that is, in reality, of Egyptian provenance. Virtually all of their mythological, philosophic, and spiritual archetypes were borrowed from the ancient Egyptians.  6  F. Africa was at the forefront of civilisation before this devolved to the West through Greece and Christianity. Not only has the West denied the Egyptian connection, it has also made it epistemologically possible to invent and trivialise Africa (including Egypt, as we will see in Hegel below) and Blackness. As a result of this partial rendition of historical and onto-epistemological truth, Western philosophy seems to have run its course and hit an impasse. A truly sincere revamping will have to retell the story of philosophy, and reaffirm its wholistic ethics. This process of reconciling humankind with itself is incomplete without the reinstatement of Africa; i. e., including Black Africa. The DBSC is not the simplistic pronouncements of a group of misguided pseudoscholars. It is not an isolationist nativism. It does not even claim a superiority for Black culture. It only makes the simple proposition that humankind (through Europe and the West) fatally betrayed itself by truncating the full account of history and misunderstanding the full nature of reality.  In effect, the West has conspired to write  Africa (Blacks, most specifically) out of history.  The epistemological and ethical  22  reverberations of such a breach of the 'covenant' for a common humanity are being felt even at the beginning of the twenty-first century in the form of a belated willingness to take a second look at alternative and often discredited versions of truth. The "unequivocal blessings" of the ideality of modernity and its legacy are now being viewed with more scepticism than before. What I variously refer to as "subject", "subjectivity", "subjective agency", and "narrative subjectivity" is Africa and/or the Black person as historical agency, or as narrative subjectivity in literature. The modern Black person is the product of a particular historical process which began when the Judeo-Christian West highjacked and constructed History; and "agency" stands both for Black people and for that within them which impels them to freely determine the material conditions of their existence in their effort to grapple with conditions of forced exile and coloniality. I, therefore, propose the tentative terms and expressions "subject", "subjectivity" and "subjective agency". "Narrative subjectivity" is proposed as the literary version of this Black selfhood, will, or identity. What the historical and literary subjectivities and discourses have in common is their ability to disrupt and undo the stereotypical regime of Blackness constructed by the reductive menu of Western anthropological discourse. "Narrative subjectivity" could be said to enact a more subversive dynamics of this disruption.  This is because it  manifests itself as desire signified in language, it enacts an effect of free agency which problematises modernist discourse and even postmodernist fictional truth. This is so, because its effect enables one to sense the indirect but calculated ways modernism and postmodernism have of reinscribing a Judeo-Christian and Western idea of truth while appearing to be undermining it in the name of reason and a humanist universality. No minority identity has paid a heavier price for modernity than the Black.  7  Still, none of  this is a wholesale rejection of Cartesian and postmodernist thoughts; though there are indeed serious grounds for suspicion.  8  If philosophy is reinterpreted within a longer  23  stretch of historical time, a more genuine and sincere sense of humanism would emerge. Yet, a significant number of late twentieth and early twenty-first century Black and other minority counterdiscursive practices that have sought to articulate a more humanist idea of philosophy have been described as a regrettable relapse into spiritualist mystification. 9  Black historical revisionism shows that the genealogy of critical theory remains skewed  and myopic, and that representing Africa in a new perspective on evolution and on the history of ideas can help understand and resolve this crisis.  It can be done, by  refamiliarising ourselves with the early moments of theory and the significance of its African origins. In his recent book, The African Experience: From Olduvai Gorge to the 21 ' Century, Roland Oliver reads the future of theory back into ancient Africa by offering s  such a new perspective on the African factor in History: As Africa reaches the threshold of the third millenium, it seems right to ...discern which strands in the African experience show most signs of continuing relevance to the present. In this context, the long and distant period of man's evolution as a scavenger, hunter and gatherer may seem at first sight to be of marginal significance. Yet the primacy of Africa in human evolution is a recent discovery, which has so far had time to achieve only a fraction of its potential impact. Already scientists are learning to see Africa not as a quaint backwater but as the scene of man's acquisition of his deepest genetic characteristics. It seems likely that, as this knowledge spreads and is pondered by the next generation of scientists across the whole spectrum of intellectual disciplines, the outside world will learn to think of Africa with more respect and that Africans themselves will face their fellow humans with a new confidence. If the recent findings of molecular biology find acceptance, to the effect that the planet was not merely first colonized from Africa, but also largely recolonized by the first fully sapient humans spreading out again from Africa within the last 100,000 to 200,000 years, the general impact should be even stronger. Shorter-term by these standards, but still extending backwards at least ten thousand years to the early stages...and still today full of significance, is ...Africa's linguistic and cultural ethnicity. (301) Africa is a major factor in History for the much more pertinent reason that, again, it formulated before any other culture many of the main archetypes which underpin civilisation.  As we will see with C A . Diop, Michael Rice, and others, European and  Western civilisation owes its archetypes to Africa. To revisit such foundational concepts and early moments in intellectual and spiritual speculation is, therefore, not necessarily a  24  turning back of the clock of civilisation. Barry Kemp certainly suggests this necessity when he cautions: W e underestimate the intellectual grasp of reality in the ancient world if we take myth and symbol only at their face values, as curious images and odd fragments of tales that do not quite make sense. In rejecting the written and symbolic language of ancient myth as having no rational validity, we should not be too quick at the same time to throw out the ideas or sensations which [lie] behind. They, too, may well be part of basic thought, and universal. The survival in the modern mind of the same avenues of thought that were open to the ancients supplies part of the mental apparatus by which we can make sense of the past. We can rethink ancient [Egyptian ] logic. (4, emphasis added)  Thus, it is not enough to want to mine early human speculative endeavour for insight into the present; a different temporal perspective must also be brought to bear on ancient African phenomenology and on History as a whole. genealogy not familiar to many in the West.  Such a perspective reveals a  In the current fierce debate over the  genealogy of civilisation, Paul Ricoeur has not only shown that reality and even history can be articulated and read in different registers, he is also determined to fixate the Westerner on that which his or her culture has deliberately suppressed, because Western civilisation has a thesis to "prove", namely that Africa is inconsequential in world history. Thus, according to Ricoeur, Philosophy...has to do with the coming to being of an institution, a skill, and a power, lost in the dark past of culture and connected with Egypt, the cradle of religious wisdom. (Valdes, 332)  Such a shift in our understanding of the history of ideas has been perceived in some circles as a threat to the Westerner's sense of identity. one of the main themes of Tom Hare's Re-Membering  Word in Ancient Egyptian Representational  Systems.  This lack of self-confidence is  Osiris: Number, Gender, and the In the following remark, Hare  assesses the impact of the Black Athena controversy; an issue I will discuss in some detail later: What is difficult to imagine here is how a controversy like this could have garnered so much public attention and how it could have reached the level of intensity and acrimony it has exhibited, when the dispute is seemingly over such  25  small potatoes as the etymology of hiketis or the question of whether Euripides had visited Egypt. There is, of course, much more at stake, but in a curious way, neither Bernal nor Lefkowitz seems willing to acknowledge the fact outright. Greek philosophy is more than Plato and Aristotle, and Greek science made few of its celebrated "discoveries" in Athens (217). Mine is not a primarily Bernalian approach to ancient Egypt. Rather, it is PanAfricanist. Well before and after Martin Bernal, Black academics, artists, and theorists raised the issue of a Black factor in Greek civilisation.  Predictably, they have been  discredited, and so do not get any of the coverage now showered on Bernal - neither do Yosef ben-Jochannan and J. A. Rogers.  The issue, again, is that Black African  spirituality, mysticism, and mystical scientific knowledge and art-forms founded Egyptian civilisation, and that the Greeks owe the foundations of their own civilisation to Egypt where tmany of their greatest minds studied under Egyptian priests.  10  Senghor is  unequivocal on this latter point: In Ce Que Je Crois, he writes: C'est done aux Vile, Vie, et Ve siecles avant notre ere que les principaux savants, philosophes et ecrivains grecs sont alles prendre, des mains Egyptiens, le flambeau de la civilisation. Et I'Europe, malgre les apports majeur de I'Asie je songe aux trois religions revelees - I'a garde jusqu'ici, ce flambeau. Je citerai parmis ces pelerins de la civilisation humaine: Thales de Milet, qui rapporta, d'Egypte, les fondements de la geometrie, Pythagore, le philosophe et mathematicien, Eudoxe de Cnide, le philosophe et astronome. Je m'arreterai a Platon, disciple de Socrate, et a Herodote, Le Pere de I'Histoire. Ces deux genies ont joue un role primordial. C'est Platon qui a fait de la philosophie une science et un art en meme temps.(205, emphasis added) As I will later show, in addition to what African and Black commentators have said, such modern Westerners as Michael Rice and Michael Hoffman have, respectively, confirmed the Blackness of the original inhabitants of the Nile Valley and have pointed out the Black African origin of many Egyptian institutions and socio-religious practices. Rice's contribution to Egyptology is an approach which draws on psychology to re-theorise ancient Egypt for the late twentieth-century unconscious.  in terms of the conscious and the  The unconscious is Egypt and how, as the source of many archetypes  still regulating intellectual and spiritual discourses in the West, it keeps returning, in spite  26  of efforts by some to prevent its resurgence. Like Rice, Hoffman argues the Blackness of the original Egyptians. However, Hoffman is more specific in the way he establishes the connection with Black Africa. He mentions specific ritual practices and points to their probable origin in Black Africa. Egyptology.  His book is thus a single but valuable piece of  Four years before Rice's Egypt's Legacy, another Westerner, Gregoire  Kolpaktchy, had published his Livre des Mods des Anciens Egyptiens. Like the other carefully chosen Western contributions that interest me, Kolpaktchy's book is amenable to theoretic literary reflection.  The thrust of his book is religious, as it examines  theogony and traces the spread of organised religion from Egypt to the rest of the world. Though Kolpaktchy does not refer to Black Africa, the sheer depth of his exposition on religion and the nature and dynamics of the human soul is rather unique for the light it sheds on the genealogy of Western philosophy. Where religion is concerned, polytheism, Akhenathon's monotheism, the original Jews, the original Christians, all emerged from Egypt. Hegel's philosophy of history is, therefore, a travesty of history in its account of Africa's significance. Martin Bernal's strain of the current historical revisionism is, briefly stated, his argument that it was because the Jews were related to the "dark" Phoenicians and North Africans that, out of its determination to invent a Caucasian and Eurocentric version of history, Caucasian and anti-Semitic Europe suppressed Jewish and Black contributions to civilisation and extolled a Greek origin of it. Clearly, Bernal's is also an image of the West's genealogy it does not want to be reminded of.  Unlike Bernal and Lefkowitz (as viewed by Hare),  Gary Greenberg does not leave his present-day Western reader guessing what the acrimonious row is really about; unpacking the West from the slightly different perspective  of first interrogating  the  "uniqueness" of Judaism and Israel,  unequivocally enunciates it in the very first paragraph of his book:  he  27  Who were the earliest Israelites? Where did they come from, and under what circumstances did they rise to power in C a n a a n ? T h e s e questions, which bear on the intellectual origins of Western civilization, engage the finest minds in biblical studies.(1, emphasis added)  Greenberg goes on to ask a series of probing questions which help structure his arguments: How do we know, independent of the Bible, that Israel's presence in Egypt was preceded by an earlier presence in Palestine? Why is there no archeological record of Israel or the Hebrew people prior to the thirteenth century B . C . ? Why is there no extrabiblical evidence linking any Semitic tribes to the Hebrew people? And why did the so-called ten lost tribes disappear from history without an archeological trace of their existence? (2)  To some, Christianity itself is not as unique as generally thought for, according to Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy in The Jesus Mysteries: Was the Original Jesus A Pagan God?: W e have become convinced that the story of Jesus is not the biography of an historical Messiah, but myth based on perennial Pagan stories. Christianity was not a new and unique revelation but actually a Jewish adaptation of the ancient Pagan Mystery religion.... A s long ago as the Renaissance, mystics and scholars saw the origins of Christianity in the ancient Egyptian religion.... For 2,000 years the West has been dominated by the idea that Christianity is sacred and unique, whilst Paganism is primitive and the work of the Devil. T o even consider that they could be part of the same tradition has been simply unthinkable. Therefore, although the true origins of Christianity have been obvious all along, few have been able to see them, because to do so requires a radical break with the conditioning of our culture. (2-3 passim)  Though many of the above arguments are not new, to my knowledge they have seldom been advanced to show how (Black) Africa really counts in the emergence and evolution of spirituality. The conditioning of the Western mind, but as it applies to the history of the Novel, is what interests Margaret Anne Doody in The True Story Of The Novel (1997): What critics say about the Novel is related to what those critics think about history, psychology, sociology, and their analyses in turn will affect history-writing and the making of history, as well as theories of sociology, psychology, and so on. At present, the entire Western tradition is being overhauled and put to question - mainly, no doubt, because of Western contact with other nations and peoples, some of whom are not going to be subjugated to the West but already have some power over us....  28  Political events (in the broadest sense of "political") indicate that nation is going to speak unto nation more often than hitherto, and in a different way. If writers and critics who, like myself, are undeniably Western want to explain to ourselves and others who we are and what we in the West have been doing and thinking during our history - say in the past couple of millenia or so - we need to be ready to correct and amplify the story that we tell ourselves. Otherwise we will mislead ourselves and others. (4-5, passim,emphases added)  I will later draw attention to how Doody's re-reading of the birth and evolution of the Novel enables her to help us see present-day literary theory in clearer perspective. Doody's reading of the evolution of the Novel mentions Egypt's significance in it.  11  Given that Africa's true history (what would have been its normal trajectory) was disrupted by slavery and colonisation which ushered the continent into the sphere of influence and history of the West on terms other than its own, Black poetics and critical theory can be usefully seen as loose discourses in search of an anchor. They are discursive practices authored by a narrative subjectivity still shakily negotiating the topography of literature and theory. Western epistemology's refusal to countenance an African history and order of knowledge has a long history, as we have seen. A look at the West's main anthologies on world religions, philosophy, history, and literature shows either a Black absence, or a grudgingly brief inclusion which makes such a presence inconsequential. reflecting  An increasing number of schools of thought argues that far from  scholarly objectivity,  such canonic constructions  constitute  deliberate  hegemonic reductionism. In his preface to Volume I of the UNESCO-sponsored General  History of Africa, commenting on Eurocentric methodology, the Senegalese DirectorGeneral of UNESCO, Amadou-Mathar Mbow, writes: There[is] a refusal to see Africans as the creators of original cultures which flowered and survived over the centuries in patterns of their own making and which historians are unable to grasp unless they forgo their prejudices and rethink their approach. (XVII)  On the politics of historiographic discourse, the editor of this first volume, Joseph KiZerbo, observes that "discoveries about Africa, sometimes spectacular ones, call in question the meaning of certain phases in the history of mankind as a whole" (2). The  29  relevance of this debate to literary studies is suggested in Volume II of this UNESCCO project. Here, Cheik Anta Diop asserts that" Egyptian antiquity is to African culture what Greco-Roman antiquity is to Western culture.  The building of a corpus of African  humanities should be based on this fact" (49).  Ancient Egypt was the zenith of an  evolutionary process which began in what is, when all is said and done, Black Africa, where the first humans are believed to have emerged before climatic conditions and other factors caused them to migrate to the Nile valley.  Human Evolution and the Rise of Philosophy Roland Oliver's comments provide a useful point of entry into the specific debate on the plausible African origin of philosophy. To a considerable extent, Africa remains a missing link in Western art and literary history, an occluded factor in the history of ideas. Its (re) emergence as the source of many ideas inherited by the West, via ancient Greece, makes very real the idea of the continent as breast of the earth (Kofi Awoonor).  The post-slavery and postcolonial Black theorist's search for an authentic  order of knowledge comes, therefore, from a reading of Western epistemology-from late antiquity to the Enlightenment-as essentially a disciplinary failure. Africa's re-emergence in historiography as articulated by the DBSC is, then, the Black theorist's recommitment to articulations of explanation and causation which track with unprecedented rigour various silences and failures through an interrogation of Western historiographic thought, in order to expose its reductive metanarratives. The resulting necessary reintroduction of the elided African and Black subject also has the effect of bearing out Pan-Africanism's and DuBois's proposition in The Souls of black Folk decades ago that race is very much the key factor in the politics of linguistic representation and critical discourse. To DuBois, "The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line" (Souls, 23).  30  The DBSC's historical argument, as we have stated, is that Black Africa counts in evolution theory. Its theological argument is that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are not apprehended in proper perspective unless read chronologically vis-a-vis Egypt.  Its  philosophical argument is that ancient African philosophy was eudaemonistic in outlook, and wholistic in articulation.  Hence, Black phenomenology's reservations about the  prioritisation of the written utterance in Western philosophy, and its reification into a set of absolutisms. The unwitting or calculated reinscription of this logocentrism in what was supposed to be an undermining of it in Derrida's philosophy of language comes as no surprise.  12  To see why it is helpful to revisit the inception of philosophy for perspective on twenty-first century theory, it is important to recall how Descartes and Hegel have haunted Black critical theory from the beginning. Negritude- a controversial response to Descartes-, and Soyinka's rectification of Negritude's onto-epistemological infelicities in MLAW, involved engaging Descartes. My chapter on the philosophical basis of the DBSC elaborates on the implications of the Cartesian effect. On the subject of Africa in Western philosophy, Hegel's philosophy of religion and of history has nothing but a barrage of racist anti-African invectives.  In short, Descartes and Hegel have cast a  shadow on Black discourse by severely limiting the Black subjective agency's chances and the space within which to articulate itself.  To Descartes, history was/is Reason  unfolding and this trend would forever be immutable due to its solid rational foundation. From Cartesian thought, the West inherited a set of paradigmatic concepts and categories which have over time closed its mind. In his comment on the prisonhouse of the Cartesian legacy, John R. Searle writes: The vocabulary is not innocent, because implicit in the vocabulary are a surprising number of theoretical claims that are almost certainly false. The vocabulary includes a series of apparent oppositions; "physical" versus "mental," "body" versus "mind," "materialism" versus "mentalism," "matter" versus "spirit." Implicit in these oppositions is the thesis that the same phenomenon under the  31  same aspects cannot literally satisfy both terms. Sometimes the semantics and even the morphology seems to make this opposition explicit, as in the apparent oppsition between "materialism" and "immaterialism." Thus we are supposed to believe that if something is mental, it cannot be physical; that if it is a matter of spirit, it cannot be a matter of matter...But these views seem to me obviously false, given everything we know about neurobiology. (14)  Until recently, the tenacity of the Cartesian hold on the Western mind was difficult to loosen, mainly because long-held positions in academia were troubled by the encroachment of structures of reality that undermined the seductiveness and absolutism of Cartesian "rigour". Such an attitude baffles Searles: If one had to define the deepest motivation for materialism, one might say that it is simply a terror of consciousness. But should this be so? Why should materialists have a fear of consciousness? Why don't materialists cheerfully embrace consciousness as just another material property among others? Some, in fact...claim to do so. But they do this by so redefining "consciousness" as to deny the central feature of consciousness, namely, its subjective quality. The deepest reason for the fear of consciousness is that consciousness has the essentially terrifying feature of subjectivity. Materialists are reluctant to accept that feature because they believe that to accept the existence of consciousness would be inconsistent with their conception of what the world must be like (emphases a d d e d ) . 13  The Cartesian quest for foundations and absolute certainty made it increasingly appealing for materialists to see a gap between subject and object, between consciousness and material reality, between past and present; but it led to the failure to see the relatedness of different sets of ideas. This seventeenth-century subjectivist turn in philosophy worked when applied to science as it was practised in those days when science sought to establish its identity vis-a-vis religion. Hegel and Hume later came to see the supposed rigour of scientific procedure as the most important criterion according to which to rate the races.  In its reaction to this simplification of human nature and  reality, Negritude implied that consciousness, which it rather unfortunately often referred to as "intuition," was what the Black person (as compared to the rational Westerner) had; consciousness being, as Searle and others have argued, what Descartes, Galileo, and others had excluded from the realm of scientific enquiry.  In its hasty response to  Cartesian posturing, Negritude stated that "intuition" was as important as reason which  32  was said to characterise the white person. But at times, Negritude seemed to say that "intuition' was more important.  Negritude was trying, but awkwardly, to point out  something that late twentieth-century scientific research and art-theory (Searle, Damato, Nussbaum, etc.) would confirm. In the process, Negritude fell into the trap of at least implying that all the Black person had was intuition, emotion, etc.  Advances in  neurobiology and in the study of consciousness have since discredited the simplicity of Cartesian dualisms, though conservative scholarship still resists the idea that consciousness be raised to a new epistemological status. As many have noted, when a number of events, including two world wars, shattered the illusion of the rule of Cartesian reason by showing the scale of brutality the European was capable of inflicting on his fellow whites (and non-whites), not only were European philosophers and artists shaken to their core, ironically, they turned to "primitive" philosophies and art-forms for possible redemptive alternative insights into life and human nature. As we will see, Soyinka's Art,  Dialogue and Outrage is an informative source on this European crisis. Yet, Europe did not, as a result, proceed to acknowledge the racial Other as an equal. Even today, as a result of the variety of negative connotations attached to the concept of consciousness, academic conservatism has beefed up its policing of the borders of "reason." This observation brings us back to the effects in European modernity of the authority of Cartesian and Hegelian philosophies as metadiscipline (s) applied to Black subjectivity. In Prophesy  Deliverance!  An Afro-American  Revolutionary  Christianity, Cornell West  writes: The authority of science, undergirded by a modern philosophical discourse guided by Greek ocular metaphors and Cartesian notions, promotes and encourages the activities of observing, comparing, measuring, and ordering the physical characteristics of human bodies. Given the renewed appreciation and appropriation of classical antiquity, these activities are regulated by classical aesthetic and cultural norms. The creative fusion of scientific investigation, Cartesian epistemology, and classical ideals produced forms of rationality, scientificity, and objectivity which, though efficacious in the quest for truth and knowledge, prohibited the intelligibility and legitimacy of the idea of black equality  33  in beauty, culture, and intellectual capacity. In fact, to "think" such an idea was to be deemed irrational, barbaric, or mad (48). This, in turn, brings us to what, for us, Descartes and Hegel have in common. To fully appreciate Hegel's influence on the idea of Africa in Western discourse, it is important to note that along with the reason-intuition debate which carried on into the 19 century, was a systematic fabrication of Europe's profile. Hegel's own binarism - the th  dialectic of contending truths — begot the transindividual subject which, because touched by a sublime spirit, would bring about the accrual of only human progress - but not possibly a regression. Interpreters of Hegel's pronouncements came to see them as a call to enslave and colonise Africans and others. Though Hegel's idea of the moral superiority of the Judeo-Christian West has been disproved by history, he continues to stand on the shoulders of a Black critical theory which does not appear to be aware of what he owes Africa. This lack of appropriate perspective accounts for the fact that even very recent well-meaning strictures on Western epistemology remain essentially a valorisation of this frame of discourse.  They cannot explicitly identify what Hegel owes  Africa, though they readily cast aspersions on his status as a world thinker.  For  instance, due to the spiritual streak in his prolific socio-philosophical output, Cornell West at times cannot resist harnessing Hegelian notions and ally them to his cause. Fortunately, the realities of Black life in the United States and elsewhere always keep him in check. Hence, the following reservations: For those of us who take seriously the centrality of race, gender and class— not simply as phenomena to morally condemn but also as structures of domination to theoretically comprehend—it is one thing to side with...Hegel about the crucial role of reciprocal recognition in subject-formations and another thing to leave open-ended connections between the truncated public sphere in liberal societies to pervasive structures of racism, sexism and class that circumscribe the cultures of these societies, in this regard, my disagreement ...encourage[s]...[a]..downplay[ing ] of metaphysical conceptions of persons and [a] deepen[ing]...[of] structural analytical connections between the limited public space in liberal societies and the defects of the structures of racism, patriarchy and class.(232)  34  Black critical theory's task is to now take various regimes of philosophic theory, and rob them of their 'universality' by attacking Europe's account of the history of ideas. This interrogation will involve pointing out that such a core concept as consciousness or spirituality, which was fundamental to Hegel and Descartes, was not even JudeoChristian and European by provenance, to start with. Many of the experts on the ancient world I refer to below elucidate this issue.  Derrida's initial attempt to question the  prioritisation of the writtenness of language and what he ended up producing belongs to a long set of Western inconsistencies. This inconsistency is the almost unconscious aporia in critical thought which the University of Cambridge's Catherine Pickstock seeks to redress in After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy. Though Pickstock undertakes a very Christian interrogation of the West's extreme secularisation of philosophy and the divine Word (which my approach will often refer to simply as the mystical Word), her book concurs on many points with the essence of the series of lectures Soyinka gave at that institution more than twenty years earlier, and collected into MLAW.  (But I will discuss the serious flaws in Pickstock's unconditional Christian  perspective on religion and philosophy in the Conclusion to my thesis.) For now, her views on the inconsistencies and crises of Western philosophy are worth noting: ...on the one hand, postmodernism appears to have foreclosed the possibility of a benign, universal, rationalist humanism, while, on the other hand, it does not seem able to refute the suggestion that it is itself irredeemably nihilistic. Radical orthodoxy, however, has offered a third alternative: while conceding, with postmodernism, the indeterminacy of all our knowledge and experience of selfhood, it construes this shifting flux as a sign of our dependency on a transcendent source which "gives" all reality as a mystery, rather than as adducing our suspension over the void. This new, more widely disseminated theology insists that the secular postmodern is only the logical outcome of the rationalism of modernity, and in no sense its inversion. And whereas the postmodern indulges in "playful" recuperation of the premodern cultural inheritance, radical orthodoxy recovers certain premodern themes as once again viable, by showing how they were not so trammelled by a dogmatic "metaphysics" as both modernists and postmodernists have tended to assume. (XII-XIII) Pickstock is adamant:  35  [the Cartesian] self-identity of the object suggests that the superlative object is death itself, as conceived in modern Western, and postmodern thought. For this reason, there is a Cartesian element in postmodern "nihilism" of a Derridian kind. (71, footnote)  According to her, the solution involves a radical shift that liberates the quarantined dimensions of reality: A successful liturgical revision would have to involve a revolutionary re-invention of language and practice which would challenge the structures of our modern world, and only thereby restore real language and action as liturgy. (171)  To this effect, we note that there is a long African philosophical tradition on the two main notions of language (mystical writing and orality) from which Pickstock is formulating her counterdiscourse. Traditional (not modern) Africa and ancient Egypt prioritise orality (understood here as consciousness, memory, speech, but not as the exotic "intuition" now associated with Negritude) as a more authentic medium. Secondly, though liberal Western theory acknowledges Egypt as the inventor of writing, the idea of the grammata Thoth invented has been misunderstood by modernity, postmodernity, and Derridian deconstruction.  Authentic African philosophy, "deep  thought," therefore seriously contests even Derrida's pharmakon  (remedy) to the  logocentric idea of language, because Derrida unwittingly or deliberately elides from it a redemptive property I will discuss shortly. This, then, is the ground on which Pickstock faults Descartes and Derrida. But, my real point is that Pickstock is mistaken in thinking that the concept of the divine Word is itself an originally Christian idea. At some point she is forced to acknowledge the Egyptian origin of her major concept: Thoth's invention, without which her theory of liturgy would be incomplete. For example, her index lists Thoth/Theuth as "inventor of liturgy" (290), a concept which is central to her theory of language as liturgy. However, the haste with which she transitions back to an absolutist Christian reading shows either that this is a deliberate move to avoid giving a complete and satisfactory explanation; or that she is unaware of the inconsistency created by the  36  introduction  of Thoth.  In short, Pickstocke does not satisfactorily the sudden  appearance of African 'paganism' in her work. It is necessary to briefly discuss Derrida and deconstruction here only as a way of registering their effect, some of it possibly unintended, on Black theories of Black subjectivity. I am not interested in a detailed discussion of Derrida, but only in his effect on current Black critical theory.  I am interested in showing what most discussions of  Derrida, including Mark C. Taylor's purportedly diachronic intervention, omit, because they are unable to read the history of philosophy beyond Greece: the African origin of the problematics of postmodernism/deconstruction.  The privileged position, albeit a  waning one, Derrida has in High Theory and its ultimate effects on minority identitarian discourses, illustrate the very real consequences of theory. The deconstructive turn in philosophy was to be an interrogation of the logocentric obsession of Western critical thought. To many, Derrida ended up reinscribing many of the values he was thought to want to debunk. In the context of the African 'authenticity' I am trying to argue here, the Derrida problematics could be approached in the following way: Derrida, an African-born non-African, has tried to imitate and deploy the mystical logic of the ancient African Word to scrutinise Western logocentrism. He could not quite pull it off, because there was too much of the condescending, ill-informed, or very consciously biased Judeo-Christian and Westerner in him. Differently put, for a number of reasons, Derrida could at best only imitate the essence of ancient African gnosis, which is what he is drawing on without quite clearly acknowledging this African character. Such original thinkers as Soyinka (and Wilson Harris, in a Caribbean context) can more directly access this originary conception of language and reality; and what Soyinka and Harris find in it does not impoverish the referential capacity of their fictional and critical discourses on the twentyfirst century; it enriches it.  In the oeuvres of Soyinka, Harris, and others, we have  theories in actual praxis. Again, Soyinka's and Pickstock's theories of language have a  37  lot in common. Thanks to the DBSC and recent thematisations of Egypt in Black fiction, Black literary theory should now be able to save the Black text from deconstructionist overdetermination. By the same token, deconstruction can be shown to be ultimately a problematics of Egyptology, as I will try to demonstrate in the Conclusion of my thesis. For a start, here is Doody's comment on the nature and impact of Derridian philosophy of language on feminism. Clearly, her feminist position concurs with the Black one, though she is unable to carry the debate to a mystical, esoteric level.  Still, her  ideological punch is sincere and effective, for it unmasks Derrida's bourgeois liberal  double jeux.  After recapitulating Derrida's demarche to date and pointing out its  seductiveness, Doody registers her hard-hitting reservations: But I cannot be a true deconstructionist. If Derrida offers some help in getting rid of oppressive authority, he is oppressive in his turn - an owl of Minerva, a prophet of night. In him is reflected the West's tendency to see any swerve from traditional authorities as the End of Civilization, the descent into the Abyss. Derrida, however, likes the view from the Abyss and prefers dark holes to entities.(1997, p.307)  From the more specific standpoint of her gendered subjectivity, she observes: Some feminist crirics have met the deafness with (metaphorical) voicelessness; following Derrida they have made not language but ululating noise, wordless moans, the voice of Woman. T o fall into the trap of denigrating the Word (a trap baited by Derrida) is to give up the game, and to represent language as only and solely "male" is a pernicious and damaging fiction. Some structuralists became very conventional, reinforcing our notions of the civic in gloomy fashion, while the more serious deconstructionists left us little more than the Void to deal with, along with a general alibi for all moral action. They came on like Ezekiel, they exit looking like Harold Skimpole.(307, emphasis added)  Minority discourses see the overall demarche  of deconstruction not only as a  reinscription of while male power; they also point out that it has to operate like this because, as another form of (bourgeois) liberalism, it can only mask its own hypocrisy or genuine powerlessness in the face of the white male exploitation of all Others. What minorities perceive as deconstruction's antihumanism is its undermining of all identitarian enunciations.  Pickstock is right in pointing out that deconstruction is  essentially within the postmodern template of philosophising; and that, in fact, it has not  38  shed remnants of its distant modernist ancestry. From a specifically Black perspective, other minorities have been troubled by the ultimate failure of Derridian philosophy to avoid repeating rhetorical concealments of intents of power. Such is the essence of Cornell West's observation in Keeping Faith: The major shortcomings of Derrida's deconstructive project is that it puts a premium on a sophisticated ironic consciousness that tends to preclude and foreclose analyses that guide action with purpose. His works and those of his followers too often become rather monotonous, Johnny-one-note rhetorical readings that disassemble texts with little attention to the effects and consequences these dismantlings have in relation to the operations of military, economic and social powers. (22, emphasis added) African metaphysics grounds secular action in purpose which is itself subsumed within an infinity of possibilities. This infinity offers the subject or consciousness a mechanism for outliving or outwitting the limitations of Cartesian metaphysics and the disassembling and ultimately obliterating effect of postmodernist representation of Black agency. If this dynamics of being or consciousness is imaged in liturgical or mystical terms as is the case in the novels and literary theories I will be discussing, it is because this is a useful way of representing a fullness of reality in which Cartesian philosophy and its legacy are but elemental parts.  The subject's continuous coming-into-being (understood as  possibilities which exceed the empirical representation of the Cartesian sign and outwit the abstraction of deconstructionist dispersal), its will and determination, prevent it from being cast adrift.  The representation of consciousness and identity in this register  remains a viable alternative onto-epistemology against extremist High Theory and the price others pay for its dominance. Even when translated into existential terms, the depth of such a world-view is often best conveyed by drawing on ritual and liturgical metaphors to mirror its redemptive repleteness. Such is the case with the following comment by Soyinka in a context where he is clearly defending an African and Black metaphysics: Nothing rescues man...from loss of self...but a titanic resolution of the will....  39  On the arena of the living, when man is stripped of excrescences, when disasters and conflicts...have crushed and robbed him of self-consciousness and pretensions, he stands in present reality at the spiritual edge of [an abyss/void], he has nothing left in physical existence which successfully impresses upon his spiritual or psychic perception. It is at such moments that transitional memory takes over and intimations rack him of that intense parallel of his progress through the gulf of transition, of the dissolution of his self and his struggle and triumph over subsumation through the agency of will (1978, 149) Ritual drama is not the only medium where modern art, theory, and philosophy have tried to detotalise reductionism and nihilism. Speech, as I remarked earlier, can mirror properties which alert us to the limitations of sign representation. Such is the case in ethnic cultures and art forms where, while not completely rejecting writing (after all, according to Senghor, a non-Westernan civilisation invented writing), Man is still in awe at the power of utterance. Thus in Yoruba sacred art, speech acts can trigger and transmit that which cannot be adequately textured in spatialised representation. It is a dynamics of speech which supplements and outstrips the referential possibilities of mere writing. The same goes for other forms of representing human consciousness. In her exploration of the significance of Ogun in Yorubaland and Brazil, Margeret Thompson Drewal notes, "The power of utterances has been widely documented in Africa" (Barnes, 199), and, "That Yoruba acknowledge a relationship between the dynamics of speech and the dynamics of action is evident in their verbal characterizations of dance"(202). She points out, "If oral recitations possessing ase invoke supernatural forces, bring them into existence, and set them into action, then dance represents more literally the materialization of those forces in the world"(203). Dance, in Yoruba ritual, is yet another representation of consciousness that cannot be exhausted by empirical, spatialised figuration.  Drewal's theoretic concerns here regarding dance as 'consciousness in  motion' is intended to focus the reader on a structure of knowledge that enables us to see the body in sacred choreography as worthy of critical attention, though she realises  40  writing can only try to describe the dynamics of this other aspect of reality. According to her: Dance is an integral part of African ritual. Addressing metaphysical beings or powers, it is a poetic, non-verbal expression continually created and re-created by countless performers/interpreters over generations. In its formulations of time, space, and dynamics, dance transmits a people's philosophy and values; it is thought embodied in human action. A primary vehicle for communicating with the spirit realm, it is at the same time perceived to be an instrument of the gods through which they communicate with the phenomenal world. As such, ritual dance is an unspoken [unwritten] essay on the nature and quality of metaphysical power. Indeed, for the Yoruba, dance-in certain contexts-is metaphysical force actualized in the phenomenal world.(199, emphases added) Thus, the idea of language that Pickstock is trying to reinstate to Western theories of speech (and writing), minus its Christian bias, is one that has always been part of traditional Black Africa. In such a construal of language, especially in ritual, the gap between the signifier and the signified is not too wide.  This, then, is the same  problematics that Ricoeur is dealing with in the above-mentioned essay. Understanding language thus conceived is helpful in understanding the nature of poetry as Senghor and Soyinka see it. Hence Soyinka's remark in MLAW that: "The nature of Yoruba music is intensely the nature of its language and poetry, highly charged, symbolic, mythembryonic "(147). Music is also consciousness in a different register. And when the Yoruba say this, they are not just paying lip-service to the power of music as a phenomenon. Ritual music (African, aboriginal North- and South-American, Australian, etc.) is more than a cacophony of sounds. Modern theory needs the tool to completely decode its essence.  For example, Soyinka further states about the idiom of sacred  music: Language in Yoruba tragic music...undergoes transformation through myth into a secret (masonic) correspondence with the symbolism of tragedy, a symbolic medium of spiritual emotions....It transcends particularisation (of meaning) to tap the tragic source whence spring the familiar disruptive melodies. This masonic union of sign and melody, the true tragic music, unearths cosmic uncertainties which pervade human existence, reveals the magnitude and power of creation, but above all creates a harrowing sense of omni-directional vastness where the creative Intelligence resides and prompts the soul to futile exploration....(1978, 148, emphases added)  41  Writing in ancient Egypt and traditional Yoruba mythology/culture did not originate as a result of a Cartesian split of subject and object that goes on to reify the spatialization of reality into an absolutist self-sufficiency. This is the point Richard H. Wilkinson is making when he observes: the hieroglyphic signs form the very basis of Egyptian iconography, which was concerned with the function of making specific symbolic statements through pictorial rather than written means....Above all, the hieroglyphic script was associated with Thoth, the ibis-headed god of wisdom who was regarded as the patron deity of the art of writing....In fact, the Egyptian hieroglyphics far transcended a simple system of communication and were regarded as symbolic entities which could function magically not only within written texts, but also in many aspects of what we, today, consider artistic representations. (149-152, passim)  Wilkinson's comments concur with Gregoire Kolpaktchy's hermeunetics of the Egyptian sign that identifies levels of meaning: La comprehension de I'ecriture egyptienne, prise en elle-meme, ne mene nulle part. La sagesse de ce peuple etrange ressemble a un de ces chateaux forts du Moyen Age construits sous forme de fortifications concentriques superposees. La ceinture exterieure- les hieroglyphes - une fois conquise, on se trouve en presence d'un second mur, encore plus formidable :celui du chiffrage esoterique (35, emphasis added).  Derrida's inadequate understanding of originary African philosophy as alterity to be mobilised to rethink Western logocentrism is also observable in many Black intellectuals. For example, when original Black writers thematise speech or writing as new and challenging registers, metaphysically alienated Westerners and culturally alienated Blacks complain that the works are 'not Black enough,' meaning, not cheaply exotic enough, or not fiercely political enough. In other words, innovative Black literature is condemned by those who want to pigeon-hole it into stereotypical trivia, and by those who feel it departs from its 'normal' mandate as litterature engagee. The former is privately disturbed by the sophistication his delusion had caused him to hope Black artists did not have, while the latter is the product and victim of colonial education. The attempt by some to limit the Black writer to what they think Black literature should be is a  42  tactless and insincere move.  Thus, for example, in his Jean Toomer's Years with  Gurdjieff, Rudolph P. Byrd notes how "these assumptions have led to clashes in literary circles, the most famous of which is the thorough trashing that Irving Howe received at the pen/hand of Ralph Ellision" (56).  Besides Ellison's understandable indignation at  being patronised, Toomer himself often lashed out at such pigeon-holing. I will return to this issue in detail in the chapters on fiction and literary theory.  Black Africa and the Black Diaspora:The Necessary Complementarity The Black Diaspora's relationship with Africa is, at a deep level, an ontological one, so natural and necessary, in spite of its ups and downs, that it does not always have to be didactically posited. Africa will always 'sneak' into the texture of Black diaspora discourse, and African references to and acknowledgements of the Diaspora's importance in African affairs will always insinuate themselves into African writing. Since the two traditions complement each other in profound ways, one often surges in the other even if the author does not consciously intend this.  And so, Africa remains  implicitly or overtly a constant in the Diaspora's theories and narrativisations of the self, to some extent regulating the deep structures of its discourses in their search for an authentic and adequate order of knowledge within which to ground the ethnic self in exile.  The effect of the ambivalent status (citizen/non-citizen) of the Blacks in the  Americas threatens the subjectivity with disintegration, the way the disseminated sign frames subjectivity or the referent for obliteration.  Where most Black lives in the  Americas border on despair, memory (yet another medium for imaging and grasping reality) takes over through its refusal to evacuate its cultural past. It refuses to be denied continuity. The subjectivity's historicisation of itself through a genealogical re-insertion into time and space is here an existential affirmation that there is more to it as  43  subjectivity than conservative American discursive constructions allow. Recently, events in Cornell West's private life rekindled his awareness of discontinuities in his apprehension of himself across time. West wonders in Keeping Faith: How do I understand my African American tradition and sense of black homelessness in America? Who is the "I" or "me" that has emerged out of a particular black family, church and neighborhood, a white academy, a multicultural American mass communication network, and a set of progressive political organizations?.... Africa does have a special appeal to me that Asia or America lack....Rather it is a matter of whether one's exilic and experimental life as a New World African is worth living in the present-day United States. (X-XVI, passim)  And Paget Henry avers: If Caribbean existentialism is to be fully aware of itself and embrace its own historical formation [sjpecial attention must be given to the African roots of this discourse, as they have been grossly overlooked in the past. Stronger links need to be established with existential thinking in contemporary Africa. In my view, Afro-Caribbean existential philosophy will not achieve the self-consciousness it requires without a fuller coming to terms with its African roots. In doing so, it will not only creolize itself, but also the larger discourse of Caribbean philosophy. 4  The subjectivity enunciating each of these propositions searches for an adequate ontological grounding through the acknowledgement of an onto-epistemological lacuna in itself, and by heeding a voice which bids it seek authenticity and genuine fulfilment in discourses of origination.- It is a process that involves going back in time in search of one's self. If Pickstock is right in arguing that "the modern/postmodern debate is empty shadow-boxing, since nihilism is but the most extreme expression of a humanist rationalism" (48), such a paradigm (absolutist rationalism) is most suited to the articulation of an invisible man, of a subjectivity cast adrift in a sea of signs where Blackness equals nullity. This is not the ground on which to bring into being the new DBSC Black subjective agency as presence. Being cast adrift in time without an anchor in a sense of origins, or being forced to think this way, has not only unnerved some Black communities, it has degraded them. Original thought in Black philosophy will not come about necessarily through an endorsement of the latest developments in Western philosophy or High Theory. Generally, the Black critic is faced with a delicate equation  44  of grounding discourse: race, nation, etc. on the one hand, and universality and the latest Western High Theory, on the other. How a critic argues his or her way through this doublebind of ethnicity (essentialism) and tricky High Theory is often a measure of his or her intellectual maturity. What Sandra Adell has in common with West and Paget is precisely the ability to ground discourse in some ancient and time-tested essence. However, in her otherwise informative reading of the crisis in Black critical theory, Adell appears to have surmounted the doublebind only by mainly relativising (virtually evacuating it, really) tradition and urging innovation. She goes a little too far, for she seems to suddenly perceive an identitarian void at the core of her Double-Consciousness/Double Theoretical  Issues  in Twentieth-Century  Black Literature  .  Because  Bind:  she almost  completely displaces race and tradition, cultural situatedness is in effect de-emphasised in her project. She then almost reverses course, for she suddenly grounds the thesis of her book by anchoring it to Yoruba mythology. Adell devotes more than a hundred and thirty pages to a sustained stricture on tradition and essence. Yet, in the last two pages she posits an alternative theory of Black subjectivity through a recovery of the Yoruba mythic figure Atunda. Depending on how one reads her, this move could constitute a terminal antithesis that undermines her book. This observation is reinforced by the fact that she chooses not to really elaborate on the dynamics of Yoruba philosophy as it might redirect Black critical theory (136-137). Paget is relevant here, because his recent recuperation of philosophic debate in Africa for the Americas is a remarkably candid Caribbean instance of very recent intellectual efforts to structure of Black identity.  (re)formulate a Pan-African  By contrast, Sandra Adell is featured as a case of what  happens when Black critical theory too hastily endorses what is essentially a postmodernist decentering of identity, while at the same time suggesting the viability of ethnic ontology. It is possible to pull it off, though the effort can also quickly become  45  inconsistent.  Adell did not prepare the reader for her summative declaration of  belonging, because she does not appear to have invested the same amount of time (or interest) into researching authentic African orders of knowledge and being as she did in mastering high theory. As I hope to show later, in St. Clair Drake's reading of Egypt and Africa in relation to Black America, we see an example of the kind of revisionist intellectual work on which philosophic and literary debates can build. This thesis is not exclusively a reading of three novels either. Rather, mindful of the socio-philosophical grounding of discourse, it is a balanced evocation of a particular development in Black critical discourse, and of how such a development is amenable to literary prognostication. As such, the subjective agency it tries to theorise is one that even postcolonial theory does not adequately address. For example, this subjective agency is not Homi Bhabha's excessively disseminated urban (and postcolonial?) subjectivity which shows "how newness enters the world" (228).  15  Given the continued  legitimisation of high theory in spite of its now proven misreading of philosophy and history, the thesis attempts a theory of fictional and critical subjectivity, by first laying the historiographic and philosophic foundation for reading the novels, prompted by the kinds of concern which make Nancy Hartsock write in exasperation: Why is it that just at the moment when so many of us who have been silenced begin to demand the right to name ourselves, to act as subjects rather than objects of history, that just then the concept of subjecthood becomes problematic? Just when we are forming our own theories about the world, uncertainty emerges about whether the world can be theorized. Just when we are talking about the changes we want, ideas of progress and the possibility of systematically and rationally organizing human society become dubious and suspect. Why is it only now that critiques are made of the will to power inherent in the effort to create theory? (Nicholson, Feminism/Postmodernism, 163-164) My thesis also acknowledges recent efforts to problematise the concept of Blackness and the relevance of Africa to the politics of Black identity in the Black diaspora. However, its focus in the general area of Black critical theory is on that faction that still upholds the viability of an organic, cross-Atlantic racial discourse: Pan-  46  Africanism.  This is the genealogical framework the thesis defends, with special  emphasis on the perceived continuity between Negroid Africa and ancient Egypt. As I suggested in the opening statements of this dissertation, various pronouncements have recently been made about the illusion of a monolithic Black identity.  The authors of  these pronouncements are entitled to their views. I am interested in revisiting W.E.B. DuBois's, Marcus Garvey's, Padmore's, and Nkrumah's Pan-Africanism in the twentyfirst century, though, again, my interest is more philosophic and literary.  The  disagreements between the highly educated DuBois and the 'uncouth' and 'idealist' Garvey are rather unfortunate instances of divergence, but the ethnic agenda, at least at that particular time in the history of African-Americans, most Afro-Caribbeans, and Black Africans, was essentially the same, as would confirm (the irony of) DuBois's decision to relocate to Africa - the 'jazzy' and 'unsophisticated' Garvey being creditted as one of the originators of the Back-to-Africa idea. I will, therefore, try to avoid the kind of outright deessentialisation of Blackness that plays into the hands of conservative Western scholarship. Ideologically, my thesis will be mindful of an era of calculated and almost wanton problematisation which makes Toni Morrison, rather like Nancy Hartsock above, point out this hard, beautiful truth: For three hundred years black Americans insisted that "race" was no usefully distinguishing factor in human relationships. During those same three centuries every academic discipline, including theology, history, and natural science, insisted "race" was the determining factor in human development. When blacks discovered they had shaped or become a culturally formed race, and that it had specific and revered difference, suddenly they were told there is no such thing as "race," biological or cultural, that matters and that genuinely intellectual exchange cannot accommodate it. (Wonham, Desegregating, 16-29, emphasis added) The concept of the reawakening or the resurrection of the ethnic subject and of the Sign, as against the essentially necrophiliac signs which have so far represented Blackness, underpins my approach. As stated above, the liturgical or ritualistic modality or exploration such a concept will often require in order to really make sense is not an  47  obstacle here.  It is the appropriate register for my ultimately literary argument. The  artists and intellectuals who are trying to make a new sense of Africa and Blackness argue, in different registers, that Africa, like a historical Lazarus, now appears to have defied death. This is the essence of Armah's, Brodber's, Senghor's, Soyinka's works. Appropriately, therefore, Chapter 4, where I turn to literature proper, will draw significantly on the story par excellence of the will's victory over inimical forces: the story of Osiris and its cosmic as well as intellectual and ideological significance. The thesis is divided into five chapters, themselves sequentially indicative of the implications, and consequences of the DBSC discourse for critical theory.  orientation,  48  Chapter I: Discourses of Africa in the West is about the invented image that is Africa, as subjectivity, in Western discourse.  It describes a difference between the  concrete geographical and cultural entity that has always been there shaping and reshaping itself, and the variety of deliberately grotesque distortions.  I briefly read  modern critical race theory backwards. I begin by quickly rehearsing the argument for the non-existence of racism in antiquity, then refer to the favourable view in antiquity of "Ethiopians" as pious people associated with Egypt where Blackness was nothing unusual. I then show how a valence was introduced in the representation of Africa when classical authors resorted to grotesquerie in their efforts to figure the Blacks beyond Egypt (in sub-Sahara Africa). I quickly move on to the critical period of late modernity when, plotting the enslavement of Africans and needing a justification, a racist EuroAmerican cultural imperialism turned to its academics and produced a variety of theses to the effect that there was nothing African about Egypt. This development was roughly contemporaneous with the emergence in European philosophy of the extreme Otherness of the African which led to a systematic, intellectual 'whitening' of the NegroAfrican origins of Egyptian and Greek thought.  This indirect  invention  and  essentialisation of race was the epistemological condition that later made colonisation possible. I argue the centrality of Descartes, Hegel, and Kant to critical race theory. To  49  point out that humankind has progressed (and, at other times, dangerously regressed) over the millenia since its emergence in Africa is one thing no thinking person will deny; to deliberately erase Africa's contribution to this human civilisation, is a travesty of historical truth. Chapter II: The Dakar-Brazzaville-Stanford Conversation (DBSC) as I interpret it here is, ultimately, about the new Black subjectivity authoring the history of philosophy. I also provide clarification to the effect that the ultimate message of the DBSC discourse is the continuity and interdependence of cultures. This is what Senghor means when, quoting Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in Ce Que Je Crois, he advocates " la Civilisation de I'Universel". This interdependence is also the object of Soyinka's comment in MLAW that: " to ignore this simple route to a common humanity and pursue the alternative route of negation is, for whatever motives, an attempt to perpetuate the external subjugation of the black continent" (XII). Further, I suggest that the best that Africa has offered the world has yet to be fully formulated in writing, for it transcends this medium. Cartesian philosophy and its offshoots, aspiring to lAbsolu,  see writing as the medium par  excellence for representing reality. African philosophy, which actually invented writing (Thoth, Esu.), is far more circumspect.  I try to show the difficulty in appropriating  Descartes, Hegel, Kant, and Derrida to theorise the new Black subjectivity, by arguing that the life-affirming, liturgical, and doxological essence of eudaemonistic Egyptian philosophy is profoundly at odds with the cumulative product of Western philosophy: postmodernism and deconstruction.  The Cartesian subject-object split was the  precursor to the racist self-Other subtext of Hegel's philosophy of history and religion. Following Pickstock (Chapter 1, "The Mediations of Egypt"), I try to show that Derrida's entire philosophy of writing is based on his deliberate or unwitting distortion of the nature and role of Thoth in Plato's Phaedrus.  Hegel and Derrida are thus imbricated with  ancient Egypt, but for the wrong reasons: the distortion of originary myths in order to  50  posit the absolutism of the Geist and the Absolute Spirit  (absolutist, because both  concepts were formulated independently of Africa and Egypt; Africa and Egypt were inconsequential to their realisation in Hegel's Christology); and in order (for Derrida) to conceive of and deploy the written Sign as necessarily an unmitigated Fall. If the reader recasts, or restructures, Pickstock's and Hare's books (the sequence of the chapters) in his or her mind, a clearer mythochronology emerges which confirms the primacy of Egypt and Negroid Africa in the history of religion and philosophy.  I discuss Diop,  Obenga, Senghor, Soyinka, Malika Hachid, and others as a way of rethinking spirituality and philosophy. Chapter III: Connections Outside Africa: The Black Americas theorises the new psycho-cultural diaspora subjectivity in the intellectual redeployment of the Pan-African ideal which much of DuBois's writing and decision to relocate to Africa exemplified. Here, I discuss the psycho-socio-cultural nature of the Black diaspora's relation to Africa. To discuss this is not to patronise the diaspora'and dispute its own distinctness as a northern hemisphere community, but to highlight what is African in "Afro-American, " "Afro-Canadian," "Afro-Cuban, " etc, not only in name, but very much in substance as well.  This is, essentially, the view Angela Davis recently expressed in the following  remark: A s African-American literary, visual, and performing artists — and critics as well - would later realize, African-American religious practices based in the West African and especially Yoruba religion permeate the culture as a whole. The articulation of a specifically black aesthetic-the announced aim of the Harlem Renaissance-cannot locate itself in the living tradition of African-American culture without taking seriously [African belief-systems]. (159)  Again, the reality of having an ambivalent status that limits one's subjectivity in the Americas produces a degree of despair that threatens this Black subjectivity with disintegration. Where, for many, daily life continues to be desperate or brutal, memory palliates the debilitating  effects of this identitarian  ambivalence and economic  51  disadvantage in the knowledge that there is more to this subjective agency than the official texts of the white Americas claim.  Here, through a refusal to evacuate its  historical consciousness, subjectivity refuses to be denied continuity in time and space. This sense of continuity is present in some of the poems of the Afro-Cuban writer Nicolas Guillen: Yoruba soy, lloro en yoruba lucimi. C o m o soy un yoruba de C u b a , quiero que hasta C u b a suba mi llanto yoruba, que suba el alegre llanto yoruba que sale de mi. Yoruba soy, cantando voy, lloranto estoy, y cuando no soy yoruba, soy congo, mandinga, carabali.  (I am a Yoruba, I cry in Cuban Yoruba. Since I am a Yoruba from Cuba, I want my Yoruba tears to spread to Cuba, I want the happy Yoruba tears Emanating from me to spread, to rise. I am a Yoruba, I am singing, continually, I am crying, And when I am not a Yoruba, I am from the Congo, I am from C a l a b a r . 16  Lamentation, which is essentially what we are dealing with in Guillen's poem, is a response to homelessness, which produces a semiosis or poetics of exile. On why he found it irresistible to produce his informative two-volume work on ancient Egypt, St. Clair Drake argues the necessity of the Black subject's ability to insert itself in a genealogical continuity as a precondition for the ability to contest white America's manipulation of history and signs: Crucial in the Afro-Americans' coping process has been their identification, over a time span of more than two centuries, with ancient Egypt and Ethiopia as symbols of black initiative and success long before their enslavement on the plantations of the New World. Great myths are always part of group-coping strategies (vol. 1, XV)  52  Chapter IV: Pan-African(ist) Narrative Intersubjectivitv in Avi Kwei Armah's Osiris  Rising, Jean Toomer's Cane, and Erna Brodber's Myal In this chapter, I discuss and try to account for Africa's image in the fiction of the Black diaspora, and the image of this diaspora in African fiction.  I am particularly  interested in how Armah explicitly makes these two Black subjectivities interact with and acknowledge each other.  I try to see if these images can be explained in  phenomenological, psychoanalytic, and historical terms. The chapter briefly reads three writers who are not only fairly representative of the Black world but, more importantly perhaps, each of whom has written at least one classic in Black literature. They bring their craftmanship to the textualisation of the other, vertical, Black subjectivity - as against the horizontal, linear, modern, and truncated one.  Black cultural theory is  incomplete without an engagement of ancient Egypt. Thus Black Egyptology explicitly features in Armah's and Brodber's novels. Because these three novelists are among the few Black writers who completely understand Africa and/or Blackness - or come close to doing so - , in the specific context of my thesis I read their novels as allegories of African and Black history.  I discuss them as works of art which reconfigure and redescribe  Africa and Blackness with the paradoxical result that art/the Novel becomes more accurate than the 'reality' of (reductive) history. In addition to what I say in Chapter II about the ontology of spoken and memorised versus written representations, this chapter is where I mobilise the concept of liturgy, as used by Catherine Pickstock or Soyinka.  Against what  is now  increasingly seen as a deliberate  Western  misrepresentation of Africa, akin to Pickstock's " sophistic manipulation of language irrespective of truth" (40), I see the essence of fiction and creative imagination as a liturgical conception of the Word; one in which the still emerging alternative idea of Africa is inscribed within an open and optimistic  outlook.  This particular  modern  reconceptualisation of language based on originary African theories of the grammata is  53  what Pickatock calls "the ultimate character [of language] as an expression of liturgy" (46).  Jean Toomer's Cane (1923), published during the first phase of the Harlem  Renaissace, is a summa in his personal search for identity, a comprehensive statement and a harrowing quest, rightly rated as one of the finest works of the Harlem Renaissance, due to its particular lyrical and aesthetic representation of identity. Toomer brings to the representation of identity a rare talent and a haunting soulfulness. One would have been wrong in thinking that, by turning to experimental writing, Toomer had renounced his partly Black ancestry. One would be wrong in thinking this, because by somewhat stepping outside the template of poetics as most artists of the Harlem Renaissance practised it, Toomer was, ironically, being more Black and African in a specific sense that I will argue. This is because Cane ultimately enables other, richer, though disappearing, sites of Black agency in the vignettes the novel offers about life in the South before industrialisation. Toomer was groping for something more ancient and everlasting about Black people, but the structures or properties of mimetic narrativisation were inadequate to carry his new sensibility. Regarding the Surrealist suggestiveness of his 'novel', however, Toomer was only vaguely aware of Africa's contribution to Surrealism and the very long history behind this different way of harnessing the unconscious. Erna Brodber's Myal enacts a metamorphosis of Black consciousness by helping her protagonists find the ancient river of their lives and culture and letting themselves be carried by them, as Sharon Butala would put it. This process is narrated against a background of the collision between Christianity and Afro-Caribbean beliefsystems, an essentially Caliban-Prospero thematics. The metamorphosis is codified into the text, first by deconstructing, fragmenting, and putting back together reality for the protagonists in order to pare away layers of negative accretion and illusion in perception and, for the young Ella, by honing understanding of how language works. The novel's intricate pattern narrativises the protagonist's stratified identity by playing on an innate  54  spirituality and a wariness toward Christianity's universalist claims. Though Brodber's insight could be construed as transcending both systems of belief and values, it is the African continuities (philosophy, spirituality, dance, and other non-linguistic modes of imaging and apprehending reality which were difficult to erase from the slave's consciousness), brought to bear on a broader and deeper understanding of the dynamics of modern Jamaican society, which enable the protagonists to arrive at a heightened sense of consciousness. Myal, thus, brings innovative reenchantement  to  the Caribbean novel through its Surrealist meditation on consciousness. Further, there is a Caribbean tradition of Egyptology; and it finds its way into Brodber's novel together with such Black African religious rituals (drumming, ritual possession, etc.) as we see at Miss Gatha's tabernacle. What happens to a people when circumstances converge to induce amnesia and make it forget or underestimate the profound meanings of its own foundational myths and texts? In six demanding novels whose publication sequence narrates Africa backwards, Ayi Kwei Armah proposes an answer.  In the twentieth-  century, the African novel was revolutionised, innovated, at least four times (by at least four writers); and Armah was among those who practised this experimental writing. With the1968 publication of The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Armah thundered onto an African literary scene which needed an original innovation that would reconceptualise the territory of the novel. For example, African literature had not yet fully developed a novelistic tradition that could see the cultural relevance of ancient Egypt. Armah's first three novels -  The Beautyful  Ones Are Not Yet Born, Why Are We So Blest, and  Fragments - are collectively essentially an anatomy of neocolonial mentality.  By the  time Two Thousand Seasons was published (1979), Soyinka's The Interpreters (1965) had revolutionised the structure of the African narrative. But Two Thousand Seasons was a literary event in its own right, for here the socio-political observing author of the previous novels dons or assumes the stance of the dye// (the griot) and offers a broader  55  view of the historical causes of modern Africa's problems.  Two Thousand  Seasons  gives a vast panoramic view of the past and is narrated in an epical register that befits  djeli orature's primary concern with a people's, clan's, or family's genealogy and memory. As fiction written in modern Africa, it revolutionised the African novel by going, as it were, in the opposite direction from The Interpreters: it rethought the tone and language of the African novel by inflecting it to accommodate the vernacular of the oral tradition. It is another bold Africanisation of the Novel since Gabriel Okara's The Voice. With its ultimate focus on the mind and the soul but, in effect, beginning where Two  Thousand Seasons left off, The Healers rides on a set of somatic concepts and metaphors. Armah diagnoses social pathology and suggests a way out. Osiris Rising is yet another move to new pastures. Here, Armah, the djeli turned hierophant, thematises the divine, creative, and redemptive Word and Sign and helps the inscribed reader or theorist recover the profound meaning of originary ancient African signal and verbal representation, as urged by Blachere. As a fount to be tapped by Black literary theory,  Osiris Rising is a timely fictional intervention at a time when many, in the West and elsewhere, are tempted to speak of the death of High Theory. This perceived waning vitality of Euro-American High Theory is what Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in his contribution to Ralph Cohen's volume, means when he writes: As deconstruction and other structuralisms or even as a-racial Marxism, and other 'articles of faith in Euro-Judaic thought' exhaust themselves in a self-willed racial nevernever land in which we see no true reflections of our black faces and hear no echoes of our black voices, let us -at long last—Master the critical traditions and languages of Africa and Afro-America. (345) Each of Armah's novels could be usefully construed as the conjugation of the verb "to be" or "to be Black" in a different tense. It is a process which the (verb) tense in the title of the sixth novel is meant to indicate. My thesis considers Osiris Rising as Armah's  magnum opus, the life key in his mainly sombre symphony which began in The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born with a very unflattering portrayal of his native Ghana  56  and Africa.  Armah's ceuvre so far already inscribes all three moments of liturgy  (incarnation,  crucifixion,  and  resurrection)  in  its  narrativisation  of  Africa  as  consciousness in its harrowing encounters with the Judeo-Christian and Islamic worlds. The type of mythic structure within which this mainly modern story is subsumed requires that we grasp the cosmic significance of Asar's self-sacrifice as the triumph of good over local and foreign evil. Armah's sixth novel thus registers some sense of closure by deftly capturing and making the achievement of plenitude believable.  Again, it does this  through the deployment of an authentically African archetype that has inspired the world.  Osiris Rising is, thus, a liturgical consummation of the rise of the Black novelistic "I". More than in any of Armah's previous novels, characters in Osiris Rising slip in and out of different levels of consciousness, and novelistic narration is thus an imbrication, intersection, of various modes of onto-epistemological awareness and identity.  The  three novels I read, therefore, go beyond the predictions, territory, and depth covered by Shatto Arthur Gakwandi's The Novel and Contemporary Experience in Africa, Robert A. Bone's The Negro Novel in America, and Kenneth Ramchand's An Introduction to the  Study of West Indian Literature, to take just a few examples. Given that discussion of Armah's novel is only part of what is roughly a three-tiered thesis, what I offer here is not a detailed reading of Osiris Rising.  u  Also, I do not attempt a strictly balanced reading  of all three novels. I engage Cane and Myal rather tangentially, comparing and contrasting only particular sections of them with Osiris Rising; and I do so at very different points in my thesis.  My overall reading of Osiris Rising does not use this  contrapuntal approach. Instead, I read the novel first as epic, then as tragedy, - to be precise, as redemptive tragedy.  Chapter V: The Future of Black Literary Theory  57  By and large, Black African postcolonial theory has yet to satisfactorily respond to the challenge contained in Diop's observation that from the day the first Western coloniser set foot in Africa, the continent has been frozen in time and, as we will see, to Soyinka's remark that there has not been a lot of original thought in theorising Black African subjectivity. The language of current postcolonial theory in Africa and elsewhere simply lacks the phenomenological depth to describe the soul and consciousness of Blackness - and of Egyptian mysticism, for that matter. On a related note, there are passages in the Bible which even Christians do not properly understand: the Yoruba concept of ase helps understand the concept of the divine Word and the Eucharist cannot be fully understood without knowledge of Black African ritual meals and, later in the northward progression of Black African culture, in Osiris's injunctions to his followers, as we will see in my discussion of Diop later.  Understanding Judeo-Christian liturgy  requires familiarity with pagan Black African ritual and mysticism. The end of time that Carruthers, Stephen Jay Gould, and others speak of, could be adapted to mean the end of Western time, partly effected by the rise of 'African time.' Africa has yet to be fully philosophically restored to the normal temporality that had carried it from the beginning of time, through protohistory and prehistory, before this time was interrupted by slavery and colonisation. Of course, Gould and the others are not suggesting that we literally go back to the way we were; neither am I in my thesis. Yet the regime of language and thematics which still regulates most of African postcolonial theory is mainly sociopolitical. It falls short of the radical overhauling of critical perspective needed to enrich discourse and reposition Africa in history and philosophy.  If I read Madhava Prasad  correctly, he is acknowledging the epistemological inadequacy of postcolonial theory in general when he argues that: "A theory of (Third) World literature cannot be produced from any available position." In the book-length case he makes for postpositivism (also 18  58  an essentially postcolonial project),  Satya P. Mohanty comes closer to  the  phenomenological issue in the following comment: In the postpositivist realist perspective, for instance, plausible and empirically grounded theories about human nature or aesthetic and moral value are indeed attempts to trace the contours of our world, but they are not idealist speculations about the essence of nature. Instead, they are sober and reasonable attempts to explain the variety of causal relations and dependencies that define human reality. Thus they can provide suggestive hypotheses for social inquiry and textual interpretation. (252)  Though the prospect of formulating an African metaphysics - i . e., nommer le reel  africain — looks promising, Michael J. C. Echeruo still has reason to observe that: "We have yet to develop adequate theoretical tools by which to read our own writing" (7). Echeruo's essay is but a brief constatation de fait, i.e., it essentially only acknowledges the problem. The effort to theorise Black literature more adequately begins also with refamiliarising ourselves with our roots in language. Through this, a recentering of a Black contribution and specificity in world literary theory can be effected. The process has only gained momentum with what this thesis has pointed out so far. On this issue, Henry Louis Gates, Jr, made the following memorable assertion: The Eurocentric bias presupposed in the ways terms such as canon, literary theory, or comparative literature have been utilized is a culturally hegemonic bias, a bias that the study of literature could best do without. Europeans and Americans neither invented literature and its theory nor have monopoly on its development. (XIV)  By exploring the dynamics and archetypal figures of Yoruba and other Black sign systems, Gates, in The Signifying Monkey, indicates where promising research could be done. My thesis has been arguing that Yoruba culture is but a part of a cultural entity which reached its zenith in Egypt. This chapter tries to flesh out how literary theory is enhanced by such a broadening of cultural space and self-consciousness, thanks to a process of self-recovery and self-reinvention initiated by the DBSC. The recovery and rethinking of the archetypes and concepts involved can also help one think about issues of referentiality (fictional and theoretic) as part of identity-formation.  59  Conclusion By focussing on literary theory (instead of literary criticism as in previous chapters), my thesis reiterates, through a more concrete re-historicisation and deconstruction of Hegel and Derrida, its central argument that the ancient Egypt debate is indispensable to a reformulation of Black literary theory.  60  1. Discourses of Africa in the West  Representations of Africa A second but slightly detailed resituation of the DBSC and its figures may be in order at this junction before I go on to discuss the philosophical significance of this mode of Black discourse.  In fact, much of this resituating touches on the persistently  pernicious images of Blackness even today in the West. Due to the important role of the biblical tradition to its culture and thanks to its more extensive exposure and access to modern writing, the Black Diaspora raised the issue of a Black Egypt earlier than did Diop. However, it is mainly thanks to Diop that the topic has been inscribed in world historiography. As should have been expected, Diop's aspiration to nothing less than a complete decolonisation of historiographic discourse as regards, specifically, the origin of the first inhabitants of Egypt and the significance of their role in the glory of Egyptian culture, does not sit well with conservative Western historiography which has been unwilling to credit Diop's theses. I am referring to that school of historiography which persists in completely dissociating ancient Egypt from Black Africa and, as a result, placing Egypt in Oriental Studies.  The sheer extent to which conservative Western  critics have gone to systematically devalue Diop's work raises suspicion. The Sorbonne gave him his doctorate, but with a clause stating that he could not teach. Once he returned to Senegal, local and foreign forces are believed to have made sure he did not teach at what was then known as Universite de Dakar.  1  As a result, Diop did not have  the chance to point more students to alternative accounts of History.  61  Hamid Zayed's article "Egypt's Relations With the Rest of Africa" which appears in the same volume as Diop's "Origin of the Ancient Egyptians" makes for interesting reading; but its claim of the uniqueness of the ancient Egyptians does not satisfactorily address the question of the origin and colour of the original inhabitants of Egypt. effect then, Zayed's Egyptians 'happened' ex nihilo.  In  His own words are not very  reassuring: Whatever the thesis adopted concerning the ancient people of Egypt, there is apparently considerable chronological and technological discrepancy between the latter and its peripheral civilizations. Even though it is technically part of Africa, Egyptian culture detached itself from its western and southern environment. Egypt obviously distrusted its northern neighbours still more when they became a threat. Culturally, Pharaonic Egypt felt out of step with its neighbours. That it outpaced them is certain, but why it did so is difficult to see (Mokhtar, General History, emphases added, 137) Stephen  Howe's  Afrocentrism:  Mythical  Pasts  and  Imagined  Homes  is  fairly  representative of the virulent detraction of Diop. The problem with Howe is that he is unable to make a really cogent case as to why Diop is wrong about the earliest inhabitants of Egypt: Diop's work was evidently badly flawed by its reliance on but-of-date sources, a tendency which deepened, as he grew older. As Augustin Holl remarks, right up to his death Diop 'behaved as if nothing new had occurred in African archeology in general, and especially in West African archeology, history, linguistics, and social anthropology.' (167)  As I will later show when I contrast Mary Lefkowitz's and Frangois-Xavier Fauvelle's methodologies, a lot of new things have occurred... in our understanding of the politics of Western historiography. The work of another Westerner, Fauvelle, is instructive here for it pays close attention to ideology in historiography in general, a factor too often not rigorously examined by Diop's detractors. His LAfrique de Cheikh Anta Diop, a critique of Diop's entire oeuvre, is offered as " une approche critique globale," something which, Fauvelle argues, had been lacking. He points out the seminal importance of Diop's works by  62  observing that their total effect is to have brought about a serious rethinking of the African factor by historians.  Fauvelle confirms that though others have sporadically  argued the Africanness of Egypt, the credit goes to Diop for a sustained rehistoricisation which posits a new African identity that argues, as we will also see in Armah's Osiris  Rising, continuity where Western historiography maintains blindspots and discontinuities in the African historical agency (41). In addition to popularising this new historical vision Diop, according to Fauvelle, can be credited with enunciating, as does Osiris Rising, an African temporality in historical discourse; one which is significantly different from the Judeo-Christian and colonial temporality of African history: L'historicite retrouvee de I'Afrique n'est en somme pas autre chose qu'une mise en ordre du temps africain, sa soumission a une sequence passe-presentavenir....La colonisation est vue par Diop comme une suspension du temps qui a tout bloque (evolutions, echanges), tout fige (institutions)....Pendant la colonisation, les Africains n'existent plus la restoration de la verite sur I'Egypte «Negre» [est] un optimisme....une philosophie de I'histoire qui restitue a I'Afrique une historicite, une continuity, une temporalite propres; un regard qui modifie non seulement sa profondeur mais aussi son etendue ( 42-52, passim) To Fauvelle, besides systematising what others already but incoherently said about the Black Africa-ancient Egypt connection, Diop's very particular extension of the debate is his credible body of evidence establishing a link between Black African languages and ancient Egyptian.  What Fauvelle refers to as " le schema de pensee proprement  diopien" (56) is a set of historical continuities, at the core of Diop's oeuvre, establishing Africa's contribution to civilisation.  Hence, Fauvelle 's decision to touch on the  conspiracy theory in Diop's work, what Fauvelle calls "complot transatlantique." Fauvelle finds it difficult to disagree completely with Diop, again, because, unlike Lefkowitz and Howe, he realises that there is a real culture war for or against cultural and theoretic pluralism here between a conservative Western historiographic tradition which has no intention of relinquishing its hold on and hegemony toward African history, and a new generation of African and Black intellectuals equally set on ending this  63  monopoly. In other words, it is the site of enunciation - i.e., the question of who controls language and reality - that is at stake.  In Fauvelle 's words, it is about "exprimer  I'aspiration fort legitime [de jeunes intellectuels africains] a occuper (quitte a les creer) des lieux d'enonciation des savoirs concernant l'Afrique....Cheikh Anta Diop n'aura pas seulement contribue a decoloniser I'histoire, mais egalement I'institution academique" ( 86-87, passim). In Loose Canons, Gates, referring to the United States, candidly states the matter thus: Stated simply, the thrust of the this: Ours is a late-twentieth-century world profoundly fissured by nationality, ethnicity, race, class, and gender. And the only way to transcend those divisions - to forge, for once, a civic culture that respects both differences and commonalities - is through education that seeks to comprehend the diversity of human culture. Beyond the hype and high-flown rhetoric is a pretty homely truth: There is no tolerance without respect - and no respect without knowledge. Any human being sufficiently curious and motivated [i. e., sincere] can fully possess another culture, no matter how "alien" it may appear to be. (XV) It is highly illusory to seek to decolonise literary theory by leaving intact, uncontested, the Western (and Arab) version of the origin of religious wisdom, and without touching on the significance of The Book of the Dead's precedence over all three Abrahamic sacred texts and the literary significance of this book. This is why I am grounding my main chapter, on the future of Black literary theory, in a revisionist reading of ancient history. For it is simply impossible to properly situate and critique a figure like Derrida without pointing out his conditioned reading of ancient African myth and mysticism. Given how relevant his books are to this continent and to mysticism, Diop, more than any other commentator on historiography, is central to my project. This is why he deserves more coverage here than, say, Martin Bernal. As Fauvelle points out, whether it is deliberate or not, Diop never refers to Hegel. In Fauvelle's words, "II est important de noter que Diop ne se refere jamais, a notre connaissance, a Hegel, meme pas pour le citer comme example de falsification" (87). Yet the spectre of Hegel on Black historiography and  64  literary theory cannot be adequately situated without realising how the West has managed to eternalise him in literary theory, making him  incontournable.  Hegel's shadow on African and Black intellectual discourse brings us to some of Fauvelle's main reservations toward Diop. For according to Fauvelle, Diop may have fallen into an epistemological trap set by Hegel more than anyone else. To Fauvelle, Diop's attempt to rebut the West's (e. g. Hegel's) dissociation of Egypt from Black Africa achieves argumentative consistency mainly only at the "price" of postulating a racial essentialism and a homogeneity which are deployed to rehistoricise Africa organically. Fauvelle's objection is that a racial monolith forecloses an account of diversity of identity (skin colour and culture), i. e., the particularity of each African people. Fauvelle's real epistemological point is that monolithic essentialism makes each Black people or individual a representative bearer of what is characteristic (positively or negatively) of all Blacks. According to Fauvelle, this is unwittingly taking a bait set by a racist Western binarism (originating mainly in Hegel's black-white, Africa-Europe, savagery-civilisation postulates), a mere inversion of a racist Western bluff and oversimplification. Some of Fauvelle's main objections are themselves not immune from criticism. It is not quite accurate to say that Diop merely reversed a faulty binarism. Diop can be said to have taken the premise or terms of his counterdiscourse from a tradition of which Hegel is representative, only in the sense that, given the virulence of Hegel's racism against Blackness and his slight preferential treatment of Egypt, Diop's decolonisation of historiography (to the effect that Blackness is not historylessness and nothingness; that there was an African element in ancient Egypt; and that Greece did borrow crucial ideas from that Egypt) does not really show a lack of sophistication by redeploying race.  It  would seem that to Diop, race/Blackness is not a concept to be ashamed of. The same observation applies to Fauvelle's objection to monolithic essentialism. It is indeed very likely that there was a time when the entire population of Africa, including ancient Egypt,  65  was basically Black, or not Black but with unmistakable negroid features. In fact, this is what, below, Senghor states about the tetes rondes. Much more to the point, it is important to remember that Diop and others are referrring to the original inhabitants of Egypt.  The point is worth emphasising, because Diop's detractors often craft their  objections in a way that suggests Diop is referring to the colour of the Egyptians at the period when their culture peaked, by which time Egypt had been considerably racially (biologically) hybridised. The argument of those who are quick to point out that ancient Egyptians represented themselves as reddish-brown does not really invalidate Diop's argument either; it only reinforces his conviction of a double standard. Anyone in most Western countries today with just a drop of Black blood in him or her is categorised as Black, because it is convenient for the system to make the person feel how inadequate he or she is in relation to the white ideal.  The same Western sociology and  historiography argues that because at some time in the past Egyptians were reddishbrown or just brown, they were anything but Black! At any rate, Fauvelle's own level-headed approach compels him to essentially reinstate Diop by the end of his book. He does this to make sure that the reader realises that, unlike other researchers (e.g., Lefkowitz and Howe), he is simultaneously aware of his own Western biases. Like Bernal, Fauvelle believes it is naive to assume that academia — i.e. even science - is not ideologically tainted: [L] ideologie informe le discours sur la societe, pouvant par exemple se focaliser sur la dimension historique, et organise egalement les representations de celle-ci autour d'axes privilegies: orientation, progres ou decadence, debut et fin de l'histoire....Cette ideologie au sens politique est connexe d'une ideologie au sens large de conception du monde partagee par les membres de la collectivite. Cette conception du monde n'englobe pas seulement des images mais....des programmes de verit6, c'est-a-dire les cadres qui informent la maniere d'apprehender la verite et les conditions sous lesquelles il est legitime de remettre en doute un enonce. Ces programmes de verite peuvent etre multiples....on «croit» ce que dit son pere, son instituteur, la television, le scientifique, parce que cela ne «peut» pas etre faux. Mais cette «impossibilite» est de divers ordres, comme nos interets, traverses d'enjeux qui conditionnent, selon des registres multiples, ce qu'on «sait», ce qu'on «croit» et ce qu'on ne «croit» pas... .De tels programmes existent egalement dans les sciences. (24)  66  Specifically on the Diopian historiography and its avowedly Pan-Africanist intent, Fauvelle concedes in one last summative evaluation of the rhetorical and argumentative merit of Diop's discourse and legacy: C'est peut-etre la le sens de I'oeuvre de Diop. La contre-histoire qu'il ecrit ne communique pas que des savoirs, ne satisfait pas que la curiosite. Elle flatte certains sentiments. Et alors? Demandera-t-on. Qu'elle histoire serait assez desincarnee pour demeurer sans effet? Parce qu'elle trace, contre la raison coloniale, morcellante, les contours d'une nouvelle identite collective, parce qu'elle lisse des differences erigees en chaos par I'ideologie, parce qu'elle sonde la profondeur de ce qui n'etait parcouru qu'en surface, elle convoque la fierte, rehausse la dignite, entretient I'espoir. Elle est pourvoyeuse de mobiles, de morale, de mots d'ordre. C'est done autant une remise en ordre de I'histoire africaine qu'une reprise en main par les Africains (dont Diop veut etre le porteparole) du droit de parler soi-meme de soi, de s'administrer a soi-meme ses propres definitions, methodes, valeurs. Avec Diop, ce n'est pas forcement la verite qui a change de camp, c'est le privilege d'enoncer sa verite. Ce fait ne saurait etre diminue, il possede une valeur propre. (178, emphases added) Fauvelle is right to point out that one of Theophile Obenga's contributions to Egyptology is to have fleshed out in clear, easy-to-follow terms the theses of his mentor Diop by also reformulating them in light of recent understandings of the hidden politics of Western historiography. Dubbed by Elikia M'Bokolo (in his preface to Fauvelle's book) as the most faithful disciple of Diop and the most prolific heir and commentator of the Diopian historiographic tradition (9), Obenga has produced a steady number of books to demonstrate, arguably more systematically than Diop had time to do, the Black AfricaEgypt-Greece axis from a historian's perspective. Obenga's La Philosophie Africaine de la Periode Pharaonique: 2780-330 Avant Notre Ere radically re-historicises Black African  philosophic discourse by offering a new and comprehensive - because boldly diachronic - view of this tradition.  This detailed book goes some way to counter K. Anthony  Appiah's claim of the non-existence of a philosophic tradition in Africa.  2  Unlike Tom  Hare, Obenga does not foreclose the possibility of recreating, adapting Egyptian philosophy as an intellectual discourse. Such a possibilty is predicated on the ability to grasp the history of philosophy along the same trajectory as human evolution from Black  67  Africa, an approach Western anthologies of philosophy do not take. Geometrie  Egyptienne:  Contribution  Obenga's La  de I'Afrique Antique a la Mathematique  Mondiale  retells the history of mathematics. Both of Obenga's books (among many by him) can lay claim to a foundational status, to the extent that they reposition in time and space the history of African thought. Obenga, like Diop, has argued that you cannot acknowledge Egypt's Africanity without ultimately, going back in time, having to acknowledge the Black African character of its aboriginal inhabitants.  Western and Arab historiographies seem to have  anticipated this argument, and have gone to extraordinary length to separate Egypt from Black Africa.  Yet, in his eagerness to dissociate Obenga from Diop, Howe thinks  Obenga sounds less radical and less sweeping in his claims. In spite of this, even Obenga is not good enough to Howe. To him, Obenga should be extolling the "brotherhood" and "equality" of human beings, instead of seeking to give Black Africa (through Egypt) credit for anything: "Obenga is, on the whole, less nakedly polemical in approach than Diop, and more fully prepared to espouse universalist rather than nationalist conceptions...Yet he too could come out with totalizing claims on behalf of ancient Egypt" (180). In his obstinacy to globalise and deracialise historiography, Howe is, of course, oversimplifying Obenga's position. The tiltle of St. Clair Drake's two-volume work immediately suggests the PanAfricanist thrust of his work.  In Black Folk Here and There: An Essay in History and  Anthropology, Drake deploys anthropological Egyptology to make the point (also made from a different perspective by Randall Robinson, as I show below) that there is more to the African-American's identity and consciousness, in spite of periodic identity crises. His appropriately Pan-Africanist message has to do with the new African-American, diasporic, Black, historical agency that his new temporalisation of African-American subjectivity formulates.  Drake contributes to critical race theory by diachronically  68  situating and reformulating this recovered subjectivity through ridding it of accretions brought on by the register of mainstream American history and anthropology.  Kevin  Gaines's review of Black Folk Here and There situates in detail Drake's book in the context of the American Civil Rights movement, African history, and Black intellectual history: At one level, Black Folk Here and There was Drake's meditation on the doubleedged significance of what he called the "vindicationist" dimension of Black Studies. On the one hand, black scholars, confronted by segregation, exclusion, and the nonrecognition of their efforts, could not afford the luxury of detached scholarly inquiry. Accordingly, such vindicationism had served a necessary and valuable function as a critique of the illusory claims of objectivity and universalism made by American humanistic and social science scholarship, not to mention its outright racism. A "black perspective" was thus vital for the unmasking of the exclusionary and ideological biases of liberal academic canons. (2-9) Gaines really believes that Drake " was challenging the racial assumptions propounded by liberal academics" (6).  However, in his determination to achieve  "transracial coalitions" (6) in the civil rights movement and to deploy a less virulent discourse in Egyptology than Afrocentricity, Drake is said to have opted for the thesis that the Egyptians were a racially mixed people. By contrast, Wyatt Macgaffey's review article " Who Owns Ancient Egypt?" (515-519) which reviews, among others, Drake's and Diop's works, points to what he sees as flaws and partiality in Black Folk Here and  There. He argues that "Drake's knowledge of African history is now out of date, and the professional Egyptologist will find that he accepts many erroneous or at least dubious interpretations of historical events, Egyptian terms, and cultural influences" (518), and Macgaffey mentions how, according to Drake, DuBois had commented that impartiality is at times inevitable or desirable (518).  Interestingly, Macgaffey himself appreciates the  particularly unnerving position virtually all Blacks are in: The bulk of the scholarly work about Africa that burdens our shelves takes for granted a distinction between 'civilised' and 'savage' calculated to flatter the European and white audience for whom it was written; it appropriates as Caucasian achievements any aspect of African culture recognized as civilized,  69  and represents the residue as a collective failure on the part of black people, attributable to cultural or genetic incompetence. Although modern scholarship repudiates much of this work, its effects are still with us; for example in every newspaper report that explains African disturbances as the result of 'tribal' animosities, implying that they are motivated by traditional rather than rational politics. It is only since about 1960 that the possibility of writing any history of Africa has been generally admitted. Secondly, people of African descent living or travelling in other continents are constantly subject to slights based on the assumption that they are culturally, if not genetically inferior, and that the oppression to which they have been subject in Africa and elsewhere was somehow deserved. (517) Since even some of Drake's toughest critics appreciate the palpable effects of racism, devoting a lot of energy to finding out how the West might have misled the world about the significance of Black presence in ancient Egypt does not seem a misplaced endeavour. This is because the consequences of racism in historiography and critical theory are significant. Senghor's Ce Que Je Crois has the merit of bringing a poetic perspective on Egyptology, and a very careful reading of it to a significant extent makes us more sympathetic to Negritudinist discourse.  It makes us see Negritude in a broader,  transhistoric, and ancient perspective, and goes a long way to clarify the movement's intents. In spite of this, there is a lingering scepticism, for there are momemts in the book when one suspects that Senghor does have an inferiority complex. Written by a poet, Ce Que Je Crois gives a sense of what Carlyle had in mind when he wrote: The history of a nation's poetry is the essence of its history, political, scientific, religious. With all these the complete Historian of Poetry will be familiar: the national physiognomy, in its finest traits, and through its successive stages of growth, will be clear to him; he will discern the grand spiritual tendency of every period, (as quoted by Appiah, 52) Unlike Carlyle's project (as seen by Appiah), Senghor's collection of essays is not racist. The book is interested in how and where poetic enunciation originated.  Senghor  correctly argues that this originary conception of poetry, because unknown to many, cannot be understood without a prior understanding of human evolution in Africa, and the cultural evolution that went with it. When Senghor writes: " A bien reflechir, non  70  seulement I'Europe, mais encore I'Amerique et les autres parties du monde vivent encore, du moins en poesie, sur le modele negre," (219) he is giving an often unadmitted version of the history of art. Without what is generally referred to as "le modele negre," European modernism would not have been possible. And as I will later show, Soyinka's Art, Dialogue and Outrage (to be referred to as ADO) details many of the unadmitted ways European art is indebted to Africa. And Michael Rice, below, tells us how indispensable Egyptian culture was to the Renaissance. The sheer erudition of Ce Que Je Crois seems to have intimidated many reviewers, rather like the way they have not yet quite properly situated Osiris Rising in critical discourse.  Misrepresentations of Africa: the Essentialisation of the Concept of 'Race' The racialised image of Africa in the West, from late antiquity onward, conjures up a Black subjectivity which does not quite correspond to the real Africa as cultural entity. This is hardly surprising, for according to Soyinka, "Africa minus the Sahara North is still a very large continent, populated by myriad races and cultures.  With its millions of  inhabitants it must be the largest metaphysical vacuum ever conjured up for the purpose of racist propaganda." At the inception of the concept of Europe's Others, systematic 3  racism did not exist.  For though fantastic tales were told of a distant non-European  object called "Ethiopia" in the writings of Homer, Herodotus, Pliny, and other GrecoRoman authors, "Ethiopians" stood for wisdom and the ability to honour the gods, and the willingness to show the rest of humankind how to do so. Christopher L. Miller's Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French discusses this point in detail.  In ancient Egyptian, classical, and post-classical texts, as well as in the Old Testament, skin-colour did not trigger violent acts and value-judgements. For example,  71  slavery was not based on race, as most of the slaves in European antiquity were not Black. Blacks were not a rarity in North Africa and the rest of the Mediterranean world: Greeks and Romans encountered them in Pharaonic Egypt, on battlefields, in cities, and in iconographic art-works of ancient Europe. Precisely because Blacks were not an uncommon sight, and because the ancients did not attach a value-judgement to Black skin, there was no innate hostility expressed. Differences in physical characteristics did exist, but were not synonymous with superiority or inferiority. In fact, Homer's reference to Blacks in The Iliad is indicative of the Greek attitude at the time: For Zeus went to the blameless Aithiopians at the Ocean Yesterday to feast, and the rest of the gods went with him. (Lattimore, 70)  Generally, such an attitude persisted till the late classical and early Christian periods. The centrality of the Homeric poems to the beginning of Western literature was such that, due in large part to the neutral/favourable image of Blacks it proffered, there was no corresponding theorisation of race along Black-white oppositional lines.  In Homer,  Virgil's Aeneid, Herodotus, Diodorus, Blacks were common and their piety was in fact legendary (Snowden, Before, 10). The Greeks not only acknowledged their cultural indebtedness to Egypt, but also testified to the civilising spiritual effect of the "Ethiopians" on Egypt itself (Drake, 1991, 167). However, Herodotus, Plato, and Aristotle began to make a distinction between "civilised" Ethiopians and the headless, barbaric monsters that the "uncivilised" other Ethiopians (in sub-Sahara Africa) were. As a result, a structure was introduced into Greek discourse whereby the self-Other distinction emerged as culture, instead of race, and became the basis for differentiation. According to St. Clair Drake "This [new image] remained the essential basic element in Mediterranean appraisals of sub-Sahara Africans well into the fourteenth century A.D" (1990, 38). Closely associated with this  72  shift in image was the Greek philosophic and pseudo-scientific new thought that sought to explain skin-colour differences resulting from climatic regional differences. When the Romans later conquered Egypt, they played a crucial role in the evolution of what the image of Blacks was in antiquity to what it became in the JudeoChristian era.  For, out of the synthesis the Romans made between Greek  representations of Blacks and their own not-so-benign image of them, emerged a new image that would make it considerably easier for early Christendom to represent the Black as sensuous and sinful. The aesthetic and philosophic impact of this stereotyping on how the West would later theorise Black subjective agency has been devastating. This development is worth noting, for the Enlightenment's neo-classical recovery of Greek aesthetics and ethics will be the foundation on which a formidable theory will be epistemologically legitimised based, not on Greek mytho-historical discourse or Roman pseudo-science, but on the "infallible" authority of "rational" science: biology. Because this early Christian idea of Blacks as pagans and sinners was reinforced by pejorative representations of Blacks in the Mesopotamian tradition of Judaism, the universalist, 'raceless' discourse of Christianity found the retention of a racist philosophy too convenient to jettison. This was because the equation of Blackness with sin was all the excuse Christianity needed to justify an aggressive crusade to wash the "Ethiopians" and, later, sub-Sahara Africa, of "sin" (Drake, 1990 28-31). The process of rendering the Black subjectivity completely voiceless and invisible began with European modernity. For, having carefully edited its neo-classical heritage to pare it of positive images of Blacks in antiquity, modernity began to sound like an epistemological attempt to ground white supremacy.  In European modernity, the  Enlightenment was definitely the Black subjective agency's darkest moment; so dark that it would take this subjectivity about a hundred years to even begin to recover. For, more systematically than ever, the Black subject was not conceived as a discoursing agency,  73  but made into an object discoursed on, merely constructed, and stigmatised. It became transfixed, immobilised, and mute.  In the discourse of modernity, Descartes and the  German Enlightenment philosophers are of particular importance in any understanding of the genealogy of the issues to which modern critical race theory devotes so much intellectual energy.  The scientific norms of the epistemological shift initiated by  Descartes and the aims of Kant's physical geography and pragmatic anthropology were geared toward unpacking the subject "Man". The goal was to provide an exhaustive mapping through observation and classification. Basically, rational science set out to draw a line between humans and non-humans; between beauty and ugliness. In this new mode of knowledge-gathering, physical appearance became crucial. And so, in Kant skin-colour became equated with immutable racial essence and degree of intellect. (110-111) On that basis, Kant proceeded to rank mankind in the following order: -white -yellow -black -red Thus racial differentiation went from being cultural to being biological. J. D. Fague states that, "Although Hegel's direct influence on the elaboration of African history may have been small, the view he represented became part of the historical orthodoxy of the nineteenth century, and not without its adherents even today" (3). Recent "positive" minority appropriations of Hegel notwithstanding, the call in Black critical theory to renounce him is based on credible epistemological and moral grounds. Paulin Hountondji's observation that:"Hegel's philosophy of history...when all is said and done, is nothing but a celebration of the European spirit [at the expense of Europe's Others]" (11) is an acknowledgement of inherent racism in Hegel's normative gaze. The argument, that there is a racist subtext to such an apparently apolitical text as  74  Phenomenology of Spirit is based on how the Hegelian dialectic of self-realisation and its appropriations of the non-Westerner as knowledge, property, economic opportunity, lay down the structures to be replicated by slavery and colonisation.  It is the same  necessity to appropriate and organise into a hierarchy at the core of the self-Other dialectic that led to Europe's arrogation of the right to enunciate History (with a capital h). Thus, Edouard Glissant argues: ...History is a highly functional fantasy of the West, originating at precisely the time when it alone made the history of the World....Hegel relegated African peoples to the ahistorical, Amerindian peoples to the prehistorical, in order to preserve History for European peoples exclusively. (64) Here, Glissant is operating within a counterdiscursive tradition that seeks to debunk a number of Eurocentric biases, the same tradition that causes a liberal European like Jan Nederveen Pieterse fo concede that "the Occident only a nineteenth-century fabrication." (134) Such revisionist interrogations of Time, History, and the idea of Europe, are still considered heresy in certain circles of Western academia. This is so, even as, according to Glissant, it is now increasingly clear that: Only technical [sic] hegemony (that is, the acquired capacity to subjugate nature and consequently to intoxicate any possible culture with the knowledge created from this subjugation and which is suited to it) still permits the west, which has known the anxieties resulting from a challenged legitimacy, to continue to exercise its sovereignty which is no longer by right but by circumstance. (78) Hegel's view on Africa can be shown to be obsolete, and even dangerous.  Thus  Umberto Eco notes: The nineteenth century deified the idea of progress as infinite and irreversible improvement. Indeed, the Hegelian idea of cumulative progress is perhaps the great error of modern civilization. Our age has realized that progress is not necessarily continuous and cumulative. Progress can know phases....The nineteenth century marks both the moment at which this version of progress was widely celebrated and the beginning of a deep moral crisis. It brought forth a sort of fundamentalism about progress from which we must escape. (186-187) Hegel's philosophy of African history and religion is based on a number of falsehoods, all of which are racist. The image of Africa in his discourse is the result of a number of onto-epistemological fiats. From his basic premise that Africa is nothing but a  75  gigantic, mindless amorphousness at the undeveloped stage of consciousness, flow these corollary claims: - Africa equals rampant barbarism -  because Africa has no written historical tradition, the oral ontology that  regulates its history is so completely different from the Geist regulating History that Africa has not been touched by any lofty spirit - therefore, Africa is outside History This Africa cannot possibly be the birthplace of History.  Though Hegel could have  availed himself of alternative sources on Africa, he chose not to, mainly because in the Enlightenment recovery of classical ideas within which he was inscribing his discourse, the Africa-Darkness equation was already firmly entrenched in the Eurocentric prejudices of his time. Christian M. Neugebauer's remark that "with Kant we are indirectly listening (via Schopenhauer, O. Spengler and Nazibarbarism [sic]" is true (266).  Heidegger) to the  coming  racial mania of  For, the senseless violence inflicted on those who  were not Aryan/ white enough, was preceded by entrenched racism 'passing' as respectable historical and philosophical scholarship. Hegel's "African spirit" is the mind product of an intellectual who never set foot in Africa. It is important to point out the extent of Hegel's wrongheadedness and double standard. As revisionist theorists know, Europe itself is the sum of different cultural forms and trends. Christianity completed the apparent homogeneity of Europe by becoming the cultural umbrella for Europe's own already diverse peoples. As I hope to demonstrate below when I discuss Christianity, Western philosophy, literary theory, and the sets of archetypes and concepts which subtend all three, many of the elements in the constitution of Europe, turn out to be nonwhite. They are Egyptian after being Negroid African. It was the meeting and fusion of these diverse elements around the Mediterranean that produced the heritage that the  76  West has so conveniently whitewashed. It was crucial to Hegel's argument that Negroid Africa's opening onto other cultures be denied, in order that the epistemological conditions be created for the grounding of his "African spirit" theory. Equally pertinent are Neugebauer 's points on African ethnophilosophy and modern philosophy. According to him, ethnophilosophy in this context dignifies Hegel's falsehoods, for because it implicitly believes Hegel's Geist vs "African spirit" faulty dichotomy, it allows itself to be locked into Hegel's patently false premise. Secondly, ethnophilosophy is inadequate as a theoretical tool in refuting Hegel. Next, Neugebauer points out that Hegel's towering image as the Western philosopher par excellence is so intimidating that even some of Africa's most liberal modern philosophers have been taken in: "for example, P. J. Hountondji's scholastic manoeuvre to split Marx from Hegel, or the deep misunderstanding of the dialectical approach, as K. Wiredu demonstrates in his book (1980, p. 180-181) and last but not least E. A. Ruch's abuse and misuses of Hegel's concept..." [sic] (261).  What Neugebauer seems to be arguing here is that  Hountondji's inability to countenance a racist dimension to Marxism may not be a failure of individual intelligence, but a consequence of the canonisation of dangerously biased thinkers.  On Marxism and its genealogy, it is instructive to note Fredric Jameson's  observation, intended as a positive one, in Marxism and Form, that "Marxism includes Hegel" (XV). The DBSC enables one to have a new perspective on philosophy and race. Traditional Western philosophy's resistance to critical race theory, History's to the shifting of Africa to the center of intellectual inquiry, Literature's to the comparative redefinition of literary theory, can be explained in terms of the still largely closed mind of the West. This mind (as indicated by Doody, Hare, Gates, and, as we will see, Stephen R. Haynes, and others) has a particular sense of history and human destiny from which it does not intend to deviate. It is this kind of closure that makes it possible to produce at  77  the end of the twentieth-century such an epistemological aberration as The Bell Curve. This reinscription of biodeterminism could be intended to preempt any willingness on the part of the West to compensate Africa for past wrongs. From late antiquity and early Christianity, through the Enlightenment, to The Bell  Curve, Western representations of Africa and Blackness have been constructed by fantasy, supported by a biblical system of symbols, reinforced by the philosophical authority of Europe's greatest thinkers, and certified by the "empiricism" of science. This caricatured version of Africa as subjectivity is a racialised grotesquerie substituted for the real Black subjectivity that continues to outstrip and exceed such reductive essentialisations. Without lapsing into a gratuitous nativism, the DBSC uncovers traces of this other subjectivity by evoking the other history and philosophy of Africa. The next chapter will focus on the extent to which it has succeeded.  78  II. The Dakar-Brazzaville-Stanford Conversation (DBSC)  The  revisionist  elicitation  of  a  more  authentically  Black-African  onto-  epistemological subjective agency or sense of reality is best grasped through a prior look at a whole genealogy of antecedents and layers of identity.  The Hellenisation,  Romanisation, Islamicisation, and Europeanisation of Africa have all cumulatively conferred but a nominal status on the continent as discoursing agency.  It is in  successfully debunking this cumulative agency as invention that the DBSC, as rigorous intellectual intervention, registers its philosophic importance in Black critical theory; or in world philosophy tout court. The DBSC returns present-day world critical theory to its African origin, and brings it back in a process of remise en perspective that rereads the significance of traditional Black Africa and ancient Egypt in the history of spiritual and metaphysical thought. From  roughly  the  Renaissance  and  Descartes, to  Postmodernism  and  Deconstruction, Western critical theory can fairly be described as having argued itself into a quandary. The ethically sophistic character of the figuration of truth associated with these schools or moments in philosophy, one that affirms the absolute superiority of the observing mind, proffered what, according to Catherine Pickstock, has ended up "separat[ing] language from itself (46). In seeking to refute the grounding of knowledge associated with the first set of schools, deconstruction only articulated a new form of radicalisation. I am not interested in these evolutions of Western theory per se, but ony in the significance of this catalogue of reductiveness for Africa and Blackness in  79  philosophy and history. For, in each set of schools there is no serious attempt to engage Africa and Blackness.  Both are either completely outside the referential range of  Western philosophy, or the object of a perverse rhetoric of Otherness that displaces them through the deployment of a series of inherited constructivist and racialised images; or through the problematisation of the notions of essence and historical continuum. The genealogy of philosophical reflection within which a truer Africa can be theorised will have to be formulated very much independently of the intellectual inadequacy and ontological moorings of the current Western 'conceptual grid'. The last two sections of my thesis flesh out this argument, with particular reference to the need for new directions in literary theory. The thoroughgoing revisionist philosophy of history proffered by the DBSC has the combined effect of enabling a philosophic recovery of a pre-modern idea of language and of pluralising, as a result, the understanding and representation of Africa and Blackness. In both instances, the issue is the ontological status of the claims that have been made by others about what Africa really is. Predictably, this epistemological move has been misinterpreted by conservative scholarship as nativist and misguided pseudoscholarship. And so, it may help to quickly reformulate the intent of the DBSC. It is not a case of a destabilised and ineffectual Africa afflicted by various disasters, seeking an unearned glory in a distant and ancient Egypt. It is rather a question of suppressed historical and philosophical truths gradually surging, achieving momentum, consistency, and legitimacy, finally gathering into a counterdiscourse informed and significant enough to effect a radical rethinking of history and a number of philosophical assumptions. The DBSC is rather unlike other minority discourses that have forced a rethinking of historiography, because it rides on the added edge of an African origin of Man and of philosophic speculation. Critical theory's ability to formulate a more authentic idea of Africa is closely linked with the question of memory, of time and space. It is linked with  80  the question of an uninterrupted history that cuts across the crusts of forcibly inscribed layers of conferred identity.  A Brief Africanist History of Time Jean-Claude Carriere formulated this problematics recently in a series of reflections where, not surprisingly, Africa is concretely present as a temporal referent. To this extent, Africa can be said to help calibrate Carriere's reflections on temporality. In a long interview significantly entitled "Answering the Sphinx", Carriere recalls asking Oliver Sacks: "What constitutes a normal human being...I mean from the point of view of a neurologist [sic]." (113) To this, Sacks replies: For us, a normal human being is someone who can tell his own story....That is to say,....someone who knows where he's come from, who has a past, who is situated within time. He remembers his life and everything he has learnt. He has a present too, not just in the sense that he lives at a particular time, but in that he has an identity. The moment he speaks to you, he is capable of telling you correctly his name, address, profession, etc. (113)  Therefore, according to Carriere, "A normal human being is ...someone capable of telling his own story and, therefore, of situating himself in time" (113, emphasis added). I find Carriere pertinent to an Africanist cause, for his is the view of a Westerner seriously questioning the way the West has gone about making sense of history for too long. In addition to the epistemological limitations in self-apprehension Carriere points out, he raises a number of substantive epistemological issues which have a lot in common with the premise upon which the DBSC calls for a new understanding of philosophy, as a prelude to the emergence of a new Black subjective agency. Frantz Fanon has, of course, virtually exhausted the discussion of the psychiatric aspects and consequences of colonialism (amnesia, personality disorder, etc.); in short, with his detailed attention to the psychological toll of colonialism, Fanon wrote with insight on neurological issues having to do with what, in his own field, Sacks calls "the  81  mental disturbances caused by certain lesions of the brain" (113). Fanon has elucidated the complexity and effects of the psychodynamics of colonial victimisation through a deployment of clinical psychology. This approach and his application of the tools of psychoanalysis have enabled him to engage various insidious forms of colonial psychopathology. Yet, even Fanon's explanations, in spite of their view that Western psychology (e. g., Freudian) does not adequately explain phenomena associated with the colonial/racial condition, mainly focus on the twentieth-century, and at times border on Marxist analysis, a discursive thrust made necessary by the socio-political grounding of his psychological probes. And so, we are attentive to what Carriere says next: Our brain is equipped to cope with a certain historical unfolding, a certain 'time span'. Is that why perhaps some people still reject the principle of the evolution of the species? W e live for between fifty and a hundred years. At best we can hope to know our great grandparents and our great grandchildren. So from our own individual perspective we can contemplate up to 200 years of life either side of us, of visible, palpable life. ...Our study of history allows us to broaden this perspective, to go back in time some 2,000, 10,000 years. By a great effort of imagination we can go back as far as...32,000 years; that's not bad at all....And so now we are beginning to wonder about the extraordinary thickness of the ancient base upon which our lives are founded. If then we Lucy, it is quite clear that we run the risk of getting completely lost. How shall we conceive of the time in which that young woman lived, our distant cousin, discovered in Africa by Coppens and Johanson, who is 3.5 million years old? How are we to understand the evolution of a species that stretches from Australopithecus Afarensis, discovered in Ethiopia, to modern man?( And the history of man is so short compared with certain other species)....How are we to conceive of or apprehend a time span like that, given the organic limitations on our 'brain time'? (119)  The African subject's ability to situate itself in time, again, requires an epistemological shift made possible only by a new philosophy of history.  However, history is only an  indispensable temporal context within which to ground a metaphysical new agency. It is this increased and more rigorous engagement of the history of philosophy and of historiography that distinguishes the DBSC from such previous cultural and political antecedents or precursors as Cesaire's and Senghor's Negritude, DuBois's, Padmore's and N'Krumah's Pan-Africanism (a coalition of Africans and peoples of African descent around the world)  82  The DBSC as Philosophic Discourse In Anteriorite des civilisations negres, Diop makes a pertinent comment that points out a significant difference between African and Western philosophies of epistemological enquiry: It is the difference in intellectual attitude between African and European researchers that is often the cause of...misunderstandings about the interpretation of facts and their relative importance. The scientific curiosity of the European researcher toward African data is essentially analytical. Viewing things from the exterior, often not desiring to develop a synthesis, the European researcher essentially attaches himself to explosive micro-analysis that is more or less tendentious as regards the facts and indefinitely puts off the stage of synthesis. The African researcher mistrusts this 'scientific' activity whose goal seems to be to dissolve African collective, historical consciousness in the pettiness of details. (26) The dissolution of Africa as subjective agency in a mode of discourse which thrives on deferment is, unfortunately, what virtually all postmodernisms (including deconstruction) have in common.  And so, apart from how it has enabled minorities to challenge  totalising structures of power (and postmodernism was not the first discourse to enable this protest) postmodernism is a mode of enquiry Black critical discourse is wary of. The objection to dissemination and effective obliteration is really a riposte against the real erasure of Africa from the genealogy of spirituality and philosophy as articulated by Western critical theory. Such a theory does not make it easy to formulate Africa as a concrete geographic, historical, and philosophical entity; it makes it easier to undermine and discredit such efforts. Paul Osker Kristeller notes in Renaissance Thought and Its Sources that: Plato's influence on Western thought has been so broad and profound, and in spite of occasional voices of dissent, so continuous, that a great contemporary thinker has been able to state that the history of Western philosophy may be characterized as a series of footnotes to Plato. (50) What Kristeller goes on to say about the Renaissance is a typical conservative Western reading that does not acknowledge the full genealogy of Renaissance thought.  The  introduction of Plato at this point is helpful because, as a discussion of the history of  83  philosophy, it helps us see the possibility of reinstating Africa as or in philosophy. On the Plato-Christianity axis, Kristeller makes this comment: The most important representative of Platonism in ancient Latin literature was St. Augustine, who acknowledged his debt to Plato and Plotinus more frankly than most of his modern theological admirers. Typical Platonist doctrines, such as the eternal presence of the universal forms in the mind of God, the immediate comprehension of these ideas by human reason, and the incorporeal nature and the immortality of the human soul, are persistently asserted in his earlier philosophical as well as in his later theological writings, and they do not become less Platonist because they are combined with different Biblical or specifically augustinian conceptions or because Augustine rejected other Platonic or Neoplatonic doctrines that seemed incompatible with Christian dogma. Augustine's repeated assertion that Platonism is closer to Christian doctrine than any other pagan philosophy went a long way to justify later attempts to combine or reconcile them with each other.(55) In Augustine the Christian, we see, perhaps more concretely, a problematics he inherited from his Greek and Roman mentors; namely, the backgrounding or elision of the Egyptian antecedent (spiritual, philosophical, scientific) to Plato and Greece. This move to unhinge spiritual and metaphysical thought from its pagan prototypical, wholistic precepts will dog Christian and secular, Western, onto-epistemological practice for good. For according to Paul Ricoeur: The major failure of Augustinian theory is that it is unsuccessful in substituting a psychological conception of time for a cosmological [Egyptian] one, despite the undeniable progress this psychology represents in relation to any cosmological time. The aporia lies precisely in the fact that while this psychology can legitimately be added to the cosmology, it is unable to replace cosmology, as well as in the further fact that neither concept, considered separately, proposes a satisfying solution to their unresolvable disagreement. {Time, Vol. 3, 17)  It is really crucial for our argument to insist on the fact that St. Augustine was emulating Greek scholars who had only a partial understanding of what the Egyptians had said. To Ricoeur, Augustine did not refute Aristotle's basic theory of the primacy of movement over time, although he did contribute a lasting solution to the problem Aristotle left in abeyance concerning the relation between the soul and time. Behind Aristotle stands an entire cosmological tradition, according to which time surrounds us, envelops us, and dominates us, without the soul having the power to produce it. I am convinced that the dialectic of intentio and distentio animi is powerless to produce this imperious character of time and that, paradoxically, it helps to conceal it....In order to make apparent the time of the world, which the Augustinian analysis fails to recognize, let us listen to Aristotle, and also hear,  84  behind him, the echoes of more ancient words, words whose meaning the Staqarite himself did not master. (12-14 passim, emphases added) There is a fullness to reality that the Greco-Roman, the Judeo-Christian, and the culturally alienated ultramodernist African and Black denies or overlooks because of a lack of a continuous perspective on history. In Black critical theory, one of the effects of such a limited perspective is the claim that postmodernity is a condition that must be fully embraced instead of deploying what is seen as another ineffective, nativist, Black epistemological counterdiscourse.  Yet, Paul Ricoeur argues that Greek philosophy  comes from afar: In order to restore its fulness to physis, we must be attentive to what Aristotle retains from Plato, despite the advance his philosophy of time represents in relation to that of his teacher. Moreover, we must lend an ear to the invincible word that, coming to us from far beyond Plato, before all our philosophy, and despite all our efforts to construct a phenomenology of time-consciousness teaches that we do not produce time but that it surrounds us, envelops us, and overpowers us with its awesome strength. (17) What Ricoeur sees beyond the West, Aristotle, and Plato, is an ontology which predates the West by a staggering number of millennia. This ontology is best approached through a correlative reading strategy or method of apprehension which integrates cosmos, time, and language. In his discussion of language, Derrida offers an indication of how to read Plato diachronically, but does so in a very offhanded manner, displaying, in essence, the kind of intellectual attitude Diop deplores in his comparison of Western and African methods of enquiry. In Dissemination, he writes, and I quote him at length: Our intention here has only been to sow the idea that the spontaneity, freedom, and fantasy attributed to Plato in his legend of Theuth were actually supervised and limited by rigorous necessities. The organization of the myth conforms to powerful constraints [which] coordinate as a system certain rules that make their presence known, sometimes in what is empirically partitioned off for us as "Greek language" or "culture," and sometimes, from without, in "foreign mythology." From which Plato has not only borrowed, nor borrowed a simple element: the identity of a character, Thoth, the god of writing. One cannot, in fact, speak—and we don't really know what the word would mean here anyway—of a borrowing. That is, of an addition contingent and external to the text. Plato had to make his tale conform to structural laws. The most general of these, those that govern and articulate the oppositions speech/writing, life/death, father/son, master/servant, first/second, legitimate son/orphan-bastard, soul/body, inside/outside, good/evil, seriousness/play, day/night, sun/moon, etc., also govern, and according to the  85  same configurations, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Assyrian mythology. And others, too, no doubt, which we have neither the intention nor the means to situate here. In concerning ourselves with the fact that Plato has not merely borrowed a simple element, we are thus bracketing off the problem of factual genealogy and of the empirical, effective communication among cultures and mythologies.1 What we wish to do here is simply to point to the internal, structural necessity which alone has made possible such communication and any eventual contagion of mythemes. (85, emphases added) 1  In a footnote on the same page, Derrida refers his reader to a number of studies, including Serge Sauneron's Les pretes de I'ancienne Egypte. Indeed, Plato more than just briefly and temporarily borrowed from Egyptian mythology.  And Serge Sauneron  stresses that present-day traditional Africa, where traces of pre-modern Black Africa can still be found, is where to look today to truly imagine the minds of ancient Egyptians. Contrary to what one sees in the merely archeological remains of Islamicised, presentday Egypt, in this traditional Africa, this ancient cosmological worldview is still lived, and not merely theorised. As Sauneron correctly states, one will have to look beyond the hybridised Egypt of today: lorsgue le Nil, par ses sept embouchures, se deverse [dans la Mediterranee], il laisse derriere lui toute la civilisation egyptienne dans ce qu'elle a de plus original... [la Mediterranee] marque limite d'un monde - d'un monde africain ; aussi les revelations d'Ogotommeli, ou la philosophie bantoue apportent-elles de precieux elements qui nous aident a mieux comprendre certains aspects de la pensee religieuse egyptienne. (11) To substantiate its point on this real cultural link between Black Africa and Egypt, Sauneron's book shows the picture of a lanky Black Egyptian male(p. 12).  The  inscription under it reads: "Niankhpepi-le-npjr, pretre lecteur et chef des prophetes; Vie dynastie. (Musee du Caire)" (emphasis added). There are indeed traces and echoes of traditional Africa in ancient Egypt, in spite of heavy Islamisisation. The argument that the main trope of Phaedrus - i. e. Thoth -- is of Egyptian origin is essential as a way of clarifying for a modern history of philosophy the spiritual origin of philosophy, i. e., that the Greek Logos is the simplication and denaturalisation of the more complex Egyptian divine and creative Word. With Aristotle began a post-Platonist  86  tradition which inaugurated a metaphysical shift that will permeate discourse from Descartes, through  structuralism, to neo-pragmatism.  Thus the discourse of  dissemination extolled by Derrida has its origins in the eleventh-century discourse of mathesis which, by prioritising writing as the ultimate medium of knowledge, in effect abolished time and eternity. This onto-epistemology was intensified and carried to an extreme through the overationalisation and oversimplification of the complexity of reality into a set of positivisms which cannot suitably accomodate the kind of Black agency at issue here. Far from being the desired type of liberating objective knowledge, this shift became just another dominant discourse which succumbed to the temptation of overconfidence many such discourses are prone to. Therefore, to speak of a conscious Western conspiracy may not be an overstatement.  One of the arguments one often  hears in Black activist discourse (say, in Afrocentricity) is that Western intellectual history would not be so testy each time Black counterdiscourse claims a more significant African role in civilisation, if the accusation of a Western cover-up were completely unfounded. The elaborate measures the West has deployed to secure a monopoly on historiography is indeed suspicious.  When Tom Hare points out the acrimonious reaction of a  hysterical Western academic right wing (Lefkowitz et al), he is confirming what Black commentators have said for decades. Indeed, as we will see in his long interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Soyinka too speaks of suppression of evidence. From the  point  of view of the  DBSC,  what  characterises the above  epistemological evolution which the West has authorised and dominated, is an inducement of forgetfulness that in effect indirectly coerces Black subjectivity into consenting to its own manipulation. As my discussion, below, of E. San Juan, Jr.'s developing-world  ("Third World")  accelerated the process.  resistance-theory  shows, late  capitalism only  87  In response to the West's elision of an African agency from the history of philosophy, the DBSC proffers a macro conception of ontology, of Time, and of the history of the Word. The scale on which it conceives history is beyond the purview of conventional historical discourse. This approach is what Diop calls interruption."  2  "histoire sans  Such a continuum for the twenty-first century is a challenge to much of  academic dogma, to the extent that it changes the approach to history in a fundamental way. It shifts our perspective on what issues we raise, how we frame them, and which particular concepts we deploy. It clarifies for us and liberates us from the operations of reductive historiography, by showing how monumental history is a mnemonic for framing intellectual enquiry. This is what we should understand Diop to mean in Postcolonial  Black Africa, when he points out that: Up to the present day the history of Black Africa has been written with dates as dry as a grocer's invoice without hardly ever looking to find the key that opens the door to the intelligence, to the comprehension of African society. (XI)  To the DBSC, revisiting the earliest manifestations and contexts of the Word is helpful too, for it enables a world that is no longer used to thinking on such a scale to clearly see how reductive concepts and inadequate terminology directly and gradually resulted from the West's Hellenisation of language and its legitimisation of this form of Hellenism into universalism. This approach serves as an instructive corrective against the kind of 3  reductive and constructivist historical [and scientific] discourse(s) Ricoeur calls: artificially set by historians against the background of general history, which is the history of first-order entities ( actual communities, nations, civilizations, etc.), which are defined by their historical persistence, hence by the continuity of their existence. These special histories are those of art, science, and so forth. They gather together works that are by nature discontinuous, which are only connected_with one another by some thematic unity that is not given by life in society but rather is authoritatively defined by historians, who decide, following their own conceptions, what is to taken as art, science, etc. (Time, Vol. 3, 217218, emphases added)  The publication of Nations negres et Culture established Diop as an intellectual bent on submitting age-old assumptions to an iconoclastic re-examination. His thesis  88  about the original Blackness of Egypt raised eyebrows, genuine and feigned. Yet his critics were unable to effectively discredit him. This was mainly because these critics were often not really familiar with the range of issues he was raising and the vast expanse of time he was covering. As a result, they could not demonstrate in any definitive way that he was wrong. Those detractors who did realise that he was or might be right were irked nonetheless, for to them Diop was a nuisance who was determined to take another look at the "already settled" History Debate (if we may adapt Juliet Gardiner's title here). Black Africa's history has been truncated, he argues; it is crucial to reconnect this Africa with Egypt by retelling the history of human evolution. Only by articulating this revisionist episteme would Black Africa be enabled an intellectual renaissance.  In Anteriorite des civilisations negres: Mythes ou verite hystorique,  Diop  warned that history as science would not live up to the intellectual integrity that ought to motivate it until breaks and distortions in historiography have been addressed. The book was a riposte to the critics who were engaged in a campaign to discredit him. It drew on recent advances in science to substantiate his objection to academic dogma.  (Anteriorite  also prefigured the counter-Islamic identity demands of the Algerian  Berbers).  In Parente  genetique  de I'egyptien  pharaonique  et des langues  negro-  africaines, Diop engages the theme of genealogy (of peoples, and of the history of ideas) more explicitly. He draws on linguistics to cogently establish the link between Black African languages and ancient Egyptian, thus giving scientific solidity to the thesis of a common space for the two cultures. This book was the first ever to offer such a demonstration based on linguistics. L'Unite culturelle de lAfrique Noire, has the merit of tackling the issue of gender in antiquity. Its comparative approach was not a reckless and simplistic exercise designed to set one part of Africa against the other.  The  contrastive approach was a methodological decision made necessary by the thematics of incremental evolution and complementarity in how culture progressed, in order to  89  specify Africa's contribution. The accomplishment of L'Afrique Noire precoloniale can be gauged by the reaction it triggered: it is similar to what is happening to Bernal today in conservative circles. French academics were really resentful that Diop was breaking their monopoly on what the official version of Africa's history should be. It all makes sense if we try to read Bernal back into Diop. For according to Bernal in Black Athena: Naturally, the instrumental rise of Orientalism must - at least in England and France - be associated with the huge expansion of colonialism and other forms of domination over Asia and Africa taking place at the same time. Not only was a systematic understanding of non-European peoples and their spoken language needed to control these people but a knowledge of their civilisations, by seizing and categorising their cultures, ensured that the natives themselves could learn about their own civilisations only through European scholarship. This provided yet another rope to the colonial elites to the metropolitan countries, which has been an increasingly important factor in the retention of European cultural hegemony since the decline of direct colonisation in the second half of the twentieth century. (236)  Two points should be made here very quickly. before Bernal did.  Diop wrote about Egypt long  Secondly, in spite of his sympathy for the thesis of an African  contribution to Greek culture, Bernal could be construed as reading racism as it applied to Jews and Blacks. My thesis in more centered on Africa. Neither is my thesis based on what is now negatively referred to as Afrocentrism/Afrocentricity, as one can tell from the theorists I discuss in Chapter 3 and the reasons I give for my choices.  4  On the question of spirituality, we note that the idea of a dead god that rises, saves mankind, and ascends to heaven, is not an originally Judeo-Christian idea; and the concept of an autogenous God is not original to the three Abrahamic faiths either. The first formulation of this theogony was in the story of Ra, Osiris's father, the father on whose right-hand he sits in heaven.  5  Africa, including Black Africa, contributed these  archetypes (in the mysteries of Osiris, Ogun, etc.) to the history of ideas. The spiritual, philosophical, cultural, scientific and technological outbursts of thought and creativity which occurred in ancient Egypt were the peak of a process which had begun deep inside Black Africa with the emergence of the first humans.  Out of their gradually  90 evolving reflection and spirituality emerged Art, ethico-philosophical speculation, and science. As they spread over the continent, the exceptionally fertile soil and climate of the Nile valley created stable socio-economic conditions for deepening spiritual and speculative thought which, over several millennia, reached a zenith in the production of archetypes. The earliest and greatest spiritual centres were located not around the Mediterranean shores (Lower Egypt), but in that part of Egypt (Upper Egypt) that was in Black Africa. This is where spiritual wisdom was at its most intense. Fifteen hundred years before Christ, The Book of the Dead says: "This is the flesh itself of Osiris." (Diop,  Civilization, 312) Five hundred years before Christ, Dionysus (the name given to Osiris after he was incorporated into the Greek and northern Mediterranean pantheon) enjoins his followers: "Drink, this is my blood; eat, this is my flesh." (Diop, Civilization, 312) Also, the notion of the holy trinity predates Christianity; "I was one; I became three" (Diop,  Civilization, 312), refers to the Osiris-lsis-Horus (or Ra) triad. In his study of Yoruba hermeneutics and theosophy, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. locates a similar pre-Christian triadic notion. And then, we find in the story of the birth of the god Apis, a story which 6  is the prototype of immaculate conception (Diop, Civilization, 312). There are more instances of Christian borrowing.  7  Again, Egyptian philosophy itself did not emerge ex  nihilo. It must instead be understood as the culmination of an evolutionary process in philosophic speculation that went hand in hand with the evolution and migration of the first humans from southern to northern Africa. This trajectory also applies to the course of civilisation.  As I will show with reference to Senghor, this South-North African  continuum was severed when desertification pushed a section of the population North, and the other section South. Revisionist and reconstructionist critical theory seeks to reconnect this cultural and philosophical entity in order to authorise a new subjective agency as sujet parlant or philosophic self.  91  The claim that Egypt is the cradle of philosophy is based on the observation that it was this people who produced the first theorists in human history, in that it formulated the earliest myths, cosmogonies, and theogonies. It was the first culture to theorise the origin of the universe, and the origin and genealogy of the gods.  Out of myth,  cosmogony, and theogony will emerge philosophy, and according to Diop, [this archetypal] "Egyptian 'cosmogony' attested to by the texts of the pyramids (2600 B.C.) [and dates from].... the epoch when even the Greeks did not exist in history yet, and when the Chinese and the Hindu philosophers were [inconsequential]" (Diop,  Civilization, 310). Rice's and Kolpaktchy's books concur with Diop's on most of these issues. Again, Diop points out how important it is to historicise pharaonic philosophy itself in terms of the theory of human evolution I posited above: ...according to the quasi-unanimous testimony of the ancients, Nubian civilization preceded and might even have given birth to that of Egypt. This is quite logical if one considers the likelihood that the Nile Valley was peopled by a progressive descent of the Black peoples from the region of the Great Lakes, the cradle of Homo sapiens sapiens. But conclusive archeological facts to demonstrate this hypothesis were missing. The gap, it seems, has been filled, thanks to the excavations by Keith Seele, of the University of Chicago, conducted at the Qostul cemetery in Nubia, under the auspices of U N E S C O ' s international campaign of 1963-64, before the construction of the Aswan dam, and the flooding of the region by the filling of the reservoir. (103)  Michael A. Hoffman realises how crucial the pre-pharaonic era is. And so, in his Egypt Before the Pharaos: The Prehistoric Foundations of Egyptian Civilization, he sets out to  emphasise: the importance of the interpersonal, historical, and sociological circumstances surrounding...the period-by-period presentation of Egyptian prehistory in terms of a series of ongoing cultural processes stretching from the first entry of our human ancestors into the Valley of the Nile perhaps one million years ago, to the spectacular emergence of Egyptian civilization under the pharaohs of the first two dynasties, between 3100 and 2700 B.C. (10)  In Egypt's Making: The Origins of Ancient Egypt 5000-2000  this diachronic, modern elicitation of Egypt  BC, Michael Rice makes  much more comprehensive by squarely  tackling the race factor on which the DBSC insists. In Rice's estimation:  92  The culture which grew and flourished in the Nile Valley was wholly autochtonous. It grew out of the lives and preoccupations of the cattle-rearing African peoples (black Africans, it must certainly be acknowledged) who were the true ancestors of the Pharaohs, in all their majesty and power. The Egyptians long held on to the recognition of their essentially African character....Egypt's decline began when these essentially African characteristics became diluted by incursions from outside the Valley. (221) Rice has no good news for those engaged in such twists and turns as the Atlantis (hypo)thesis, or in the other thesis that extraterrestrials, or some mystic figure, emerged from nowhere and taught the Egyptians everything they ever accomplished. In his view, it is their denial of time, their truncated Western sense of history, that is deluding them into thinking that before Europe and the West, nothing worthwhile  was ever  accomplished by other cultures: The Egyptian society did not spring fully ordered and organized instantly into being. The point must still be made, for both the appearance and the reality are so extraordinary: in a matter of a few short centuries the Egyptian Kingdom was devised and formulated, to endure in all its essential characteristics for three thousand years, the longest lasting of all advanced human societies. Egypt's social sophistication was profound at a time when all the world, except for Sumer, was locked in a benighted barbarism which had been unchanged for thousands of years, since, indeed, Paleolithic times; if Egyptian society did not in fact emerge fully developed, a casual observer might be forgiven for thinking that it did, so far removed was it from any sort of human experience up to that time....But Egypt's emergence as a true nation state (she is the very first example in history of that dubious political entity) is well charted. (24) A credible case can, therefore, be made that Western philosophy is, in essence, not a footnote, but an appendage, to Egyptian and Black African philosophy. It is possible to make such a provocative claim, given the larger sense of Time and History, and the ultimately wholistic outlook of philosophic reflection I am defending in this dissertation. The imbrication of liturgical time and historical time is an approach strictly materialist readings of history resent. Yet, millenia ago the mystics of ancient Egypt came to the intuitive but infallible realisation that the history of time is a structure of knowledge which secular, modern historiography cannot exhaust. This is why modern history, philosophy, and even science, often looks back and stares at the inadequacy of its own paradigm.  93  At the very least, then, maybe one should also endorse non-empirical modes, if only as mnemonic devices we fall back on, instead of dismissing them outrightly.  Archetypes of Egyptian Thought ('Deep Time', Liturgical Time, Historical Time) With the above sketch of the history of Egyptian philosophy, I now propose to examine the nature, logic, and dynamics of this system of thought in order to try to represent a new idea of an African agency as Time, Being, and language. In order to go beyond appearances and understand the hidden essence of things, the Egyptians formulated roughly four main systems of philosophical enquiry: the  Hermopolitan  system, the Heliopolitan system, the Memphite system, and the Theban system, (Diop,  Civilization, 310).  These four provided a speculative, explanatory framework whose  very distinct characteristics was that it coupled the principle of rational explanation with mystical/divine anthropomorphism. To Diop, the basis of this explanatory approach was the primordial matter the Egyptians referred to as Nun, understood as "primordial waters". The Nun was a primitive, chaotic, archetypal non-being (not nothingness!) out of which emerged Ra, God (or Plato's demiurge). This was possible, because the Nun: Contained the law of transformation, the principle of the evolution of matter through time, equally considered as a divinity: Khepera. It is the law of becoming that, acting on matter through time, will actualize the archetypes, the essences, the beings who are therefore already created in potentiality, before being created in actuality. (Diop, Civilization, 310) Ra, the self-created god, takes the process of creation a step further by willing the world into existence through the power of the Word. Ra is the first self-created god in world cosmogony and the earliest one in world theogony. spirituality  This principle of Egyptian  and philosophy will also inspire such Greek and Latin Atomists as  Democritus, Epicurus and Lucretius, according to Diop (328). The Nun is prototypical in  94  that Ka, the Word by which Ra conjured beings into existence, will later be The Word of the three Abrahamic faiths, and "the objective idea" of Hegelianism (311). A set of principles regulates the dynamics of the Nun and nature. The philosophical importance of the Nun is that it is the origin of dialectical thought: Kuk and Kuket  = the primordial darkness and its opposite: darkness and light.  Nun and Nunet  = the primordial waters and their opposite: matter and Nothingness.  Heh and Hehet  = spatial infinity and its opposite: the infinite and the Finite, the unlimited and the limited.  Amon and Amonet = the hidden and the visible, the noumenon and the Phenomenon. Niaou and Niaouet  = emptiness and its opposite: the void and the  replete, matter. (Diop, Civilization, 313) Additionally,each human being is the sum of four principles: 1. the Zed or Ket, which decomposes after death. 2.  The Ba, which is the body's corporeal soul (the double of the body throughout Black Africa)  3. the being's shadow 4. the Ka + immortal principle that rejoins the divinity in heaven after death. (312)  From Descartes to Derrida: Reductive Deductions  95  The philosophic tradition which runs from Descartes, through Kant, to even Derrida has produced but a series of reductive deductions that simplifies the complex nature of reality. A postcolonial take on Derridian philosophy would be to say that it accelerated the process of decentering Western philosophy as metanarrative. Yet, as we will see in chapters IV and V a closer look shows that Derrida cannot forego his Eurocentric privileges; or that he is an intellectual  powerless against capitalist economy's  paradoxical erosion of intellectual authority and humanist values.  An Africanist,  phenomenological reading would be that Derrida brings to his modern philosophy of writing only a partial understanding of Egyptian philosophy of the spoken and written Word. Even where minority interests are concerned, deconstruction is not the first effort in the history of thought to have sought to cast doubt on our certainties. For example, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. believes Black Americans preceded Derrida in the practice of deconstruction.  By this, Gates means that Blacks have been deconstructing Euro-  American dominant discourses since slavery. Such an assertion can be construed as a 8  way of reining in deconstructionists who seem to suggest that deconstructionist insight is the most sophisticated paradigm for understanding all reality.  It is deconstruction's  conception of writing as nothing but unmitigated Fall and its nihilist suspension of all referentiality that seems to linger, that seems to be the dominant impression, in the minds of sceptical readers.  This nihilism is what Catherine Pickstock points out in  Derrida (103). Pickstock engages Derrida from a perspective that looks similar to the African: the theological perspective. Yet, her intervention is not radical enough, since she is still operating within a set of Judeo-Christian genealogical assumptions. The archetypal  concepts she deploys as an antidote  deconstructionist  to what she perceives as  and postmodernist shadow-boxing are actually pagan, mystical,  Egyptian and, ultimately, Black African.  Christianity is not the originator of these  archetypes or concepts. And Derrida himself is still too unconsciously imbricated with  96  the Judeo-Christian and Western tradition he seeks to interrogate and transform.  In  spite of its subversive potential, deconstruction now leaves the suspicious reader the rather disconcerting impression of being merely a freeplaying dissemination of reality. As  I will show in my discussion of recent African-American .perspectives on  deconstruction in Chapter V, Derrida is much that the DBSC is not. Mark C. Taylor's genealogical validation or restricted contextualisation of Derrida only confirms this observation. The crisis in Black critical theory is due in large part to the tendency of many critics to mistake what is in vogue for original and ethically sound thought. The ability to instantiate genuinely original thought in the Black tradition involves the ability to relativise Western philosophy in the overall history of speculative thought. Efforts, like Rodolphe Gasche's in The Tain of the Mirror: Derrida and the Philosophy of Reflection (1986), to  reinstate deconstruction on the grounds that it is not in the same tradition of excessively depoliticised discourses as postmodernism will have to do a little more to convince sceptical practicioners of minority discourses. Deconstruction has permeated all 9  domains of intellectual activity and acquired the formidable force of a particularly seductive dominant discourse, as can be seen in the fact that virtually all schools of critical thought seem to feel some need to situate themselves in relation to deconstruction. It is as though the ability to locate themselves vis-a-vis what is in vogue will legitimise whatever kind of identity they are postulating. And when some of these schools do not see the necessity of such a strategy, critics are quick to say that this is a lack of sophistication, an inability to see the benefits of the essentially aporetic philosophy deconstruction proffers as the thing. As we will see in my discussion of James Snead, to take just one example that is specifically pertinent to my ethnic position, the discrepancy between what iconoclastic theory professes and how it often leaves power-relations unchanged, reinforces the awareness of minority groups of the  97  very real consequences of philosophic theory. Even Richard Rorty's ingenious attempt to debunk philosophy is suspect to some who see it as a subtle attempt to exonerate Western high theory after it has done a good job of relegating various groups to the margins.  This is, very much, John McDowell's position in " Towards Rehabilitating  Objectivity," a contribution to Robert B. Brandom's collection on Rorty.  10  Raising this  issue enables me to sharpen my take on Derrida. At the end of Civilisation or Barbarism, Cheikh Anta Diop offers, among other things, a physicist's reading of the crisis in epistemology. Diop's inclusion of physics in his overall discussion of this crisis provides his argument with formidable cogency. He engages head-on the question of the epistemological status of language (i.e. writing as against speech). To him, scientific discourse as writing or spatialised figuration lacks some of the referential resources needed to articulate new phenomena.  In Diop's  opinion, "The incapacity of language to embrace exactly the contours of the real is often the cause of errors in philosophical, scientific, or even mathematical reasoning" (Diop,  Civilization, 365).  It is important to note that Diop is here referring to classical and  modern discourses. To him, therefore, "classical philosophy, as promoted by men of letters, is dead" (375), and with it, classical physics becomes obsolete since: classical physics is founded on three principles that quantum physics has proven wrong: determinism, objectivity, and completeness. The principle of determinism postulates that all the phenomena of nature obey rigorous laws, in such a way that by knowing the initial conditions of a system, namely its position and its momentum, one can rigorously determine its future evolution.(368) The verdict is unequivocal: Western classical philosophy is deeply flawed. To Diop, all this is the predictable outcome of an onto-epistemological contact, followed by a separation, between Egypt and Greece which began around the time the Greek materialist school of thought demythologised reality and reified determinism into an absolutism.  This development in Western thought was intensified during the  Renaissance when the decline in religious faith resulted in the ascendancy of modern  98  materialist philosophy. Egyptian world-view/philosophy posits the concept of the Nun as what Obenga refers to in Ancient Egypt and Black Africa as a "cosmic beforehand" (38), a transformative becoming that is before all "subsequent becoming." according  to  this  world-view,  situated  somewhere  between  However,  creationism  and  evolutionism, a second concept emerges: that of Kheper. In its varied derivatives, the concept denotes potentiality and metamorphosis. Together, both concepts constitute the expression of a philosophy of being in actu and in potentia.  Obenga is therefore  correct in observing: With the concept kheper, "to exist", "to become", the Egyptians had some notion of the development of beings and things in the immense cosmic movement of the universe. This concept kheper is written with a hieroglyth which is a sacred scarab. This sacred Egyptian scarab is present elsewhere on the African continent, with the same symbolic value, in an identical context.(42) Obenga emphasises the heuristic and transformative nature of this "Dialectics of the One and the Multiple"(42) by locating it within a diachronic racial and cross-continental spacio-temporality. He identifies it as "a cultural and psychological macrostructure easily identifiable between the Egypto-Nubian Valley of the Nile and the rest of the African continent" (43).  Kolpaktchy identifies a closely related dynamic concept as not only  uniquely Egyptian, but as a legacy Egypt gave the West, via Greece: L'idee de la metamorphose fut une des plus profondes elaborees par la spiritualite egyptienne.... le pouvoir de la metamorphose et de transformisme general etait, pour I'ancien Egyptien, la demonstration premiere de sa liberte, qui I'egalait aux dieux...le concept de la possibilite illimitee [est] un plan visionnaire des region de I'absolue Possibilite ; rien n'y est determine, delimite, fixe, stable; tout y subit la loi du mouvement; et ce qui s'y manifeste, apparait sous un masque symbolique (comme, par exemple, les masques des divinites egyptiennes. (48-47 passim) Several millennia later, Nobel-laureate (physics) llya Prigogine too speaks, in The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature, of "macroscopic  physics, chemistry, and biology" (6, emphasis added) in his discussion of the profoundly transformative impact of non-equilibrium thermodynamics. In his revisionist rereading of Western science and philosophy, Prigogine underscores the radical significance of the  99  discovery of what he calls the irreversibility of time. I am adapting Prigogine, because it seems to me that he fleshes out in scientific terms what is spiritually and philosophically expressed in ancient Egypt about the plausible future of the universe. This is what the concept of Nun is, as described by C. A. Diop and Obenga and, as we will see, also as thematised by Armah. Prigogine's work offers an additional angle of interrogation of Western philosophy. It is therefore important that I try to establish the pertinence of his arguments to the discussion at hand. According to him, classical science dealt with stable phenomena where the sense of certainty then enabled a prediction of the future. This was/is known mechanics"(73).  as  "the time-reversible  laws of  classical and  quantum  However, with the introduction of dissipative structures (associated  with non-equilibrium thermodynamics, instability, probability- instead of certainty-, etc.), an 'arrow of time' emerged whereby "the future is no longer determined by the present, and the symmetry between past and future is broken" (6). This is what Prigogine calls the irreversibility of time.  Prigogine drives home the ontological significance of his work  by arguing that "Time and reality are irreducibly linked. Denying time may either be a consolation or a triumph of human reason. emphases added).  It is always a negation of reality"(187,  Prigogine explains at some length how Western science (and  philosophy) were impoverished with the advent of materialist philosophy and its consolidation in Descartes.  From the certainty of Cartesian onto-epistemological  solipsism to the complete redundancy of the human knowing/observing subject, a radical shift has taken place at the beginning of the twenty-first century, a resurgence of an ancient construal of truth. Reality, we are now being warned, exists independently of the human observer.  It has its own mind and coherence.  Man is, thus, significantly  relativised. Thus, tracing the epistemological legacy from Descartes, Kant, Newton, Prigogine too arrives at the observation that though the initial motivations of these thinkers might have been noble, their deductions have robbed reality of crucial  100  coordinates and " seemed to end in alienation-a negation of everything that gives meaning to human life"(186). Referring to Pythagoras (who studied in Egypt, but did not completely understand his instructors) and Descartes, Diop points out that this misunderstanding can be traced to the way these two figures confused matter and space. The accomplishment of Diop the physicist and historian in Civilization or  Barbarism lies in his ability to substantiate his counterdiscursive claims with precepts in African philosophy and advances in modern science to which Africa has always contributed. He is thus perfectly consistent when he argues the profound ramifications of the introduction of chaos theory into the complacency of classical science. Classical philosophy and science became seriously flawed for having excluded uncertainty from their equations. The reality of a crisis in logical value was made even more concrete with the advent of quantum physics. What Diop calls "trivalent logic" (Civilization, 363) is a conceptual framework or reality that classical knowledge could not account for, due to the stable structure of its micro conceptual framework.  The disruptive effect of the  paranormal on logical discourse was such that if experiments in microphysics were conclusive, "by changing the referential, cause would become effect! Thus, it is the causality of physics in the classical sense that is at stake..."(370). Precisely on how what used to be absurd became scientific, and therefore, philosophic reality, Prigogine's explains: Over the past several decades, a new science has been born, the physics of  nonequilibrium processes, and has led to concepts such as self-organization and  dissipative structures ....The physics of nonequilibrium processes describes the effects of unidirectional time and gives fresh meaning to the term irreversibility. In the past, the arrow of time appeared in physics only through simple processes...This is no longer the case. We know that irreversibility leads to a host of novel phenomena, such as vortex formation, chemical oscillation, and laser light, all illustrating the essential constructive role of the arrow of time. [Illogicality and instability now]....lead to coherence, to effects that encompass billions and billions of particles. (3) In light of this insight, Prigogine reevaluates thoroughly the soundness of the Western philosophic tradition:  101  The problems of time and determinism have remained at the core of Western thought since the pre-Socratics. How can we conceive of human creativity or ethics in a deterministic world?....This question reflects a profound contradiction in Western humanistic tradition, which emphasizes the importance of knowledge and objectivity, as well as individual responsibility and freedom of choice as implied by the ideal of democracy.(6) Reality here seems to be three steps ahead of Western philosophy, for cosmic matter, or the universe, seems to have a logic, and an agenda of its own that make the human, the all-knowing Cartesian observer, rather redundant. Thus "This confronts us with the most difficult of all questions: What are the roots of time? Did time start with the "big bang"? Or does time preexist our universe?"(6) At the dawn of this new rationality, "[fjhese questions place us at the very frontiers of space and time," (6) for "[tjime is our most basic existential dimension....For philosophers, it remains the central question of ontology, at the very basis of the meaning of human existence" (13-14, emphasis added). If time is what has obsessed Prigogine all his life, physics has for similar fundamental ontological reasons guided Diop's faith in science allied to an African philosophic cause; for, Diop reminds his reader of the definition of physics: "the scientific knowledge of the real" (363).  This faith in science does not, however, mean the  jettisoning of mysticism, as is the case with classical science.  Mysticism works in  tandem with science as a mnemonics and heuristics that spurs the open-minded, knowledge-seeking consciousness. Such an attitude to the search for knowledge is what was known in ancient Africa and Egypt as the coupling of discourse: a rewarding imbrication of science and prognostic mysticism. This is the kind of sensibility that offered Prigogine and others precious insight into the difference between reason and reality. And so, again and again, the question of the ontological status of writing as one particular way of knowing cannot be ignored. Thus, we come up against one of the most controversial statements Senghor has ever made. It is regarding writing and orality:  102  C'est la chance de I'Afrique noire d'avoir dedaigne I'ecriture, meme quand elle ne I'ignorait pas. Et de fait, on peut compter de nombreux alphabets inventes par des Negres. C'est que I'ecriture appauvrit le reel. Elle le cristallise en categories rigides; elle le fixe quand le propre du reel est d'etre vivant, fluide, et sans contours....C'est qu'en Afrique noire, dans une civilisation non pas 'en deca' mais 'au-dela' de I'ecriture, I'art majeur est celui de la parole. La parole y exprime la force vitale, I'efre du nommant et, en meme temps, I'etre du nomme. Sunday Anozie's interpretation of this claim in his essay is rather unfair to Senghor. Contrary to what Anozie suggests, Senghor is not claiming that African culture does not see the usefulness of writing, but only that there is in Africa (and in other ancient cultures) a more authentic mode of self-apprehension. The problematics of the properties of language brings us briefly to Soyinka's essays in MLAW.  First, to engage Soyinka, it is important to be open-minded and  disposed to creatively understand Yoruba philosophy and the semantic properties of the language that articulates this worldview. Soyinka is not an impossibly difficult author as some have claimed.  It is rather that foreigners have for so long oversimplified their  understanding of Black Africa that a writer like Soyinka seems " out of place,"" not Black enough." Such a reaction to Soyinka is still possible today, for there are those who still cannot believe that there is more to Black Africa than Tarzan and Things Fall Apart - i. e., the supposed simplicity of Achebe's novel. The philosophy of language Soyinka practices cannot always be translated in straightforward terms into spatialised Cartesian European modes of thought. For example, some of his plays, such as A Dance of the  Forests, are almost unstageable, for