Spatiality in the Text and Intersectional Direction

Accident of Birth III by Lacey McKinney

Accident of Birth III by Lacey McKinney

I first encountered the topic of spatiality through literature. More specifically, though only briefly mentioned, in Dr. Valerie Sweeney Prince’s text, Burnin’ Down the House: Home in African American Literature. The topic of spatiality was only lightly touched upon though it reflected an ontological belonging to one’s present moment, occupation, family, and place in time. The larger topic of exploring the theme of home, thought by some to be the most commonly sought theme in all of literature, was later explored in the Toni Morrison novel, Home. I have often wondered if Morrison’s novel was inspired by Dr. Prince’s text, as I know from Dr. Prince’s stories that the two of them did meet at least once and had an extended conversation during a dinner (Dr. Prince was my advisor and I took three of her classes in one of the schools I attended during undergrad). 

There is a parallel between spatial envelopment and one’s or one’s character’s visitation with reality and invitation into a moment that eclipses definition. Representation does not hide from our sights, but beams on high for us to see where we are located in the cartography of the indices of realization. This is much like Dr. Prince’s accentuation of her character analyses in Burnin’ Down the House. Robert T. Tally, Jr., in his book, Spatiality (2013), drives into representation and the author, stating, 

The phrase “representation of reality” might be used to describe the goals of both literature and cartography, provided it is understood that both fields only represent reality through figurative means. If various genres, such as the epic or the novel, represent reality in particular, identifiable, and distinctive ways, then one might say that the literary cartography is determined, at least in part, by narrative form. (2013, 59)

Indeed, narratology is a distinct indicator of the fermenting truculent ontological struggle between reality and form; expression and indicators of recess of being. In Albert Murray’s celebrated work, The Hero and the Blues, he comments that “the writer who deals with the experience of oppression in terms of the dynamics of antagonistic cooperation works in a context which includes the whole range of human motivation and possibility” (1995, first published in 1973, 49). What is the “whole range of human motivation and possibility” other than an ontological recovery from crisis, to fermentation, to resolve through spatial difference. That which is figurative is wholly doctrinal. That which is doctrinal, through literary means, incites characterization into sublimity. That which is sublime is easily cross-referenced into an ontological discourse and is a production of space and place.

This production of space and place is inherent representations of reality as intersectional. Sharlene Mollett and Caroline Faria, in their Gender, Place, and Culture article, “The spatialities of intersectional thinking: fashioning feminist geographic futures” (2018) put forward that, “intersectionality was, at its inception, already a deeply spatial theoretical concept, process and epistemology, particularly when read through careful and serious engagement with Black Feminist Thought. In short, the interlocking violence of racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and capitalism constitute a spatial formation” (2018, 2). How does this reify an author’s deliberative representations in the context of feminist struggles in art as collaborative with reality? Mollett and Faria continue, and this is a very important point, 

The entire framework…must be rethought and recast’ (Crenshaw 1989, 140; Moraga and Anzaldúa 2015). Writing more recently, scholars argue that intersectionality serves as ‘analytic sensibility’ (Cho, Crenshaw, and McCall 2013). An analysis is not simply intersectional by employing the term, rather it ‘is the adoption of an intersectional way of thinking about the problem of sameness and difference and its relation to power […]’, making the point that it is ‘what intersectionality does, rather than what intersectionality is’ (Cho, Crenshaw, and McCall 2013, 795). (2018, 3)

The codices of analytic discussion is a process of discovery for the reader. It is narrative empathy to inquire towards both the deleterious direction and the entirety of one’s own representation of reality in a collaborative effort with the literary formations on the page. The word catharsis is not apt, but an extension of that working body of idealization in the term would be adroit. The author’s or critic’s representation of reality as an intersectional mode of direction towards a cartography of “analytic sensibility” codifies the indicators of education and praxis as motivations of direction. In that, we find a liberation of a thought through an ontological rhythm that has the potential to withstand and extend an invitation to a measurement of reality that the author or critic seeks to clarity. The emphasis on spatiality is a trajectory more than a concluding end and it’s shape is that which escapes relations to power in how it defines one’s ability to stand above it, identify, and name systematic power for the future. 

Painting: Accident of Birth III by Lacey McKinney