dead brought into an antiphonic
dialogue with the living.
The fact that objects talk to us has to be explained by a deep anthropological disposition: Human beings exist in an antiphonic
relationship to their environment.
For if Dostoevsky is the master orchestrator of polyphony, then Mailer is the master conductor of the antiphonic
novel in which the voices of different characters act as a Greek chorus by repeating the same basic themes from different stances.
This distinction particularly obtains in performances of black music that fundamentally rely on the antiphonic dynamics between the crowd and musicians, on the expressive release of musical improvisation, and on the signifyin' on other songs and traditions.
To count these traditions among the "musical" sources of blues and jazz seems justified if one takes into account that the oral tales have always been firmly rooted in the context of communal events of antiphonic performances.
Her "call" in the Clearing adheres to the typical features of antiphonic sermonizing.
Justifiable claims have been made for it as a peculiar version of moral drama, a typological historical epic, a sacred legend, and even a kind of psychological travel book.(1) It has also been described as a very early kind of cultural history, and the anxiety which was felt in the 1970s about whether it was, legitimate, history has given way to a more open acceptance of Its unorthodoxy and the recognition that within a fairly ordered structure, there exists a pattern of several discourses which are essentially antiphonic
The themes and motives examined are those which have been studied by critics--the relation to the past, the uses of myth, love, passion, and possession, naming and unnaming, loss, violence and excess, stereotypes and taboos, cultural and biblical references, the dramatic role of the community, the body as text or jazz as metaphor for writing, the creation of voices, of antiphonic
structure--but in her own explorations of these and many other aspects of Morrison's works, Raynaud offers new insights into the singularity of the writer's artistry and craft.