Blessings on Albert Murray, who died on Sunday.
He devoted a good part of his writing life to reminding us of the complexities of being an American and celebrating the culture, especially the blues, that makes our lives worth living. He repeatedly observed that though the emotion of the blues was potentially debilitating, the artistic deployment of them was generally life-affirming.
But of all the age-old ways of dispelling the ominous atmosphere that comes along with the blues, the one most people seem to have found to be most consistently effective all told also turns out to be essentially compatible with a great majority of the positive impulses, urges, drives, cravings, needs, desires, and hence definitive purposes, goals, and ideals of their existence. Nor should its identification come as a surprise to sufficiently attentive students of culture and civilization, and certainly not to students of the nature and function of aesthetics. The blues counteragent that is so much a part of many people’s equipment for living that they hardly ever think about it as such anymore is that artful and sometimes seemingly magical combination of idiomatic incantation and percussion that creates the dance-oriented good-time music also known as the blues.
That’s from his masterpiece Stomping the Blues.
He thought for himself, found his own language for talking about things, and said what was on his mind. I love that about him.