African-American Racism in 21st Century America

All modes of inquiry correlate with each other due to their tendency to coalesce in their emphasis on ethical questions, which raise issues on autonomy, justice, and politics. The differences of literary theories, for example, merely spring from their construal of the relationship between the exercise of power and the text. However, differences in discursive procedures do not overshadow the fact that these theories give emphasis on their analysis of the political and institutional structures within society. A concrete example of this can be seen in the opposing theories of constructivism and essentialism.

Although adhering to competing narratives of oppression and resistance [constructivism opts for multiple characterizations whereas essentialism opts for singular characterization] both theories show interest on the subject’s position within society and how this position can affect the development of his or her identity. In fact, if one isolates the discussion of identity and narratives of oppression in both discourses, one will notice that the ultimate commitment of the theories they adhere to gives emphasis on the idea of political justice.

Politics within these discourses is seen as a collective action of resistance, which aims for change in the hopes of attending to the problems evident in the formation of identity and agency. Literature as a repository of human experience has always been influenced by politics. Exercise of power within society is associated with and dependent on the mass production of certain kinds of literature, which allows the cultural qualification of ideas.

The relation between literature and politics can also be seen in literary theory’s assessment of the formation of consciousness and unconsciousness, which is related to the maintenance, and transformation of the predominant modes of power made possible by literary output (Eagleton 210). It is also dependent upon the ahistorical positioning of the literary text, since this allows the continuous creation of meaning for a particular text. This mode of relationship invokes the aesthetic character of literature. Literature as a form of discourse enables the perception of aesthetics as a process of communicating while remaking a work.

The aesthetic act becomes the incarnation of meaning rather than a demonstration of truth. This is possible since in the process of reading a text, the subject [which can be both the reader and the author] produces another text which is the same as the earlier text yet entirely different from it. Perceived within the dialogic process, the interconnectedness of completion and fragmentation can be understood by recognizing that it is in fact the fragmentation of the text that allows the completion of the text itself.

Within this perspective, the aesthetic act becomes political through the social interaction necessitated by the creation and continual recreation of an artistic work. Literature, in this sense, becomes the locus of a condensed and social evaluation. Intersubjectivity precedes subjectivity wherein the production and repression of meaning is seen as a socio-ideological process rather than an individual process. In this scheme, the text is allowed the character of fluidity.

No permanent theoretical stipulation and ethical meaning can be attached to it since to do so is tantamount to denying the ahistorical character of the text. This character is invoked since in the end when one considers a text, what is given importance is not necessarily the historical reading of the text but the current reading made available by the predominant literary theories and ethical standpoints. There is an emphasis on the reassessment and creation of new ethical standpoints since the interpretation of the text involves the consideration of both the act of writing and reading the text.

The re-conceptualization of a literary text through reading enables the individual to undergo a process of analyzing the truth connected with the discourse in which the text is situated, while at the same time reassessing its connection to his or her self. Due to this, assessing a text becomes a personal and political act wherein the common adage “the personal is political” can be phrased into an equally influential counter notion that “the political is personal”.