Friday, May 5, 1995

Q&A Stanley Crouch: Democratic Morale

Originally appeared in The Boston Book Review

 . . . the charismatic relationship Afro-Americans have to this society can be as irresponsibly decadent as it can be high-minded, joyous, soberly critical, and cautionary. We have as much responsibility for the health of our democracy as anyone else.

"The All-American Skin Game, or, The Decoy of Race, The Long and the Short of It, 1990-1994"

HB: You use jazz as a metaphor for democracy in "The Skin Game."

SC: It seems to me to be an aesthetic realization of the checks and balances system, and the idea of individual contribution to mass reality. In a jazz band, you'll often have the same thing happen that happens when a person wants to convince other people that his or her policy idea should be embraced. The great bassist Ron Carter said that in a band whoever is playing the strongest idea will convince everybody else to come his way. In a sense it reflects the democratic process.

The constitutional structure is based on periodically reinterpreting the relationship that the people have to the government, to the laws, to the business sector. In a jazz band, we know the songs -- "My Funny Valentine," "Stella by Starlight," etc. -- but they are remade by improvisations improvisations. Improvisation allows you to reconsider the way you've approached something before, to see it over and over.

Monday, May 1, 1995

Interview: The Casebook of Oliver Sacks

The Casebook Of Oliver Sacks
The Boston Book Review

We are in strange waters here, where all the usual considerations may be reversed -- where illness may be wellness, and normality illness, where excitement may be either bondage or release . . . It is the very realm of Cupid and Dionysus.
"The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"

OS: People ask, are you still a doctor, do you still see patients, or are you just a writer? As you just saw for yourself [when a man in a wheelchair left Oliver Sacks's hotel room] I see patients. It is my life and I never want to stop.

HB: In "A Leg to Stand On," you write, "If my attention is engaged, I cannot disengage it . . . It makes me an investigator. It makes me an obsessional. It makes me, in this case, an explorer of the abyss . . . "

Do you have a neurological disorder that compels you to examine neurological disorders?

OS: I feel very distracted much of the time, darting from one thing to another but I think there is some sort of consistency or tenacity to it.