A) MASKS and PERSONAS: In his well-know song ?The Stranger,? Billy Joel declares:
Well, we all have some faces that we hide away forever
And we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone.
Some are satin, some are steel.
Some are silk and some are leather.
They’re the faces of a stranger–
But we love to try them on.
Please explain how the idea of masks/personas has become important for modern poets and musical artists. What masks/personas do they choose, and why might this matter? And what does this have to do with the theme of the ?stranger??
B) SPEAKING IN CODE: In his essay ?Negative Space,? Jay-Z states that ?Poets and hustlers play with language, because for them simple clarity can mean failure. They bend language, improvise, and invent new ways of speaking the truth? (3). Please take a look at some of our recent readings. Try to provide and explain examples of how writers often experiment with the language and forms they choose, and with ?strange? ways of ?speaking the truth.?
C) I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS (AND MAYBE YOU DON?T): Maya Angelou?s well-known poem boldly emphasizes her claim that ?I know? why a bird sings of rage and captivity and freedom. Some of our other readings make similar claims in which an artist writes of how he or she can ?know? or ?speak? for those who are considered ?strangers.? Yet as we discussed in class, artists also raise the issue of ?credibility? (or ?authenticity? or ?credentials? or other terms). That is, certain artists or groups may resist these claims, and say in effect, ?You don?t really know me–and you can?t really know me.? Please select and explain some relevant examples.
D) PROUD TO BE STRANGE?: The famous film-maker Orson Wells once said that,
?A good artist should be isolated. If he isn’t isolated, something is wrong.? In several of our readings, artists or writers depict themselves as ?strangers?–and they often are not looking to be made a guest of honor in the ?village.? How do they refer to their own ?strangeness? from the ?village?–and what might be their attitude about it? With humility, rage, humor, irony, confusion, some personal declaration of independence?
*Readings I have done in class*
?Negative Space,? Jay-Z states that ?Poets and hustlers play with language, because for them simple clarity can mean failure. They bend language, improvise, and invent new ways of speaking the truth? (3).
** "The Stranger In The Village" by James Baldwin
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