The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

October 2, 2013

October 2, 1943

We sidle into our subject today with a quote from Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past (2002) a book on culture by David R. Roediger:

"As the extraordinary research of David Dalby and others has shown, enslaved Wolof speakers carried hipi from what is now Senegal to the New World perhaps as early as the late 17th century. In Wolof the word hipi meant "To open one's eyes," to "be aware of what's going on." In the welter of African ethnicities that slavery and creative self-activity ...[transformed] into an African-American people, hip survived and prospered. Nearly three centuries later it was there for the white mainstream to pick up from the jazz subculture. Even the beatnik/jazz insider ideal of the hep-cat echoed the Wolof hipi-kat, which meant "someone with...eyes open." When the term hippie came to name the masses of young people who sought out eye-opening experiences in the 1960s it did so because these young people were steeped in African influences, however little they were aware of the origins of those influences."

Roedinger ties this in with a quote from Franklin Rosemont, the historian, because the name Bugs Bunny also has roots in Wolof. It is the'bugs', with it's meaning of annoy that ties the rabbit and the cat together since both have Wolof roots and are in mainstream phrases.  Rosemont observes, according to Roedinger, that the idea "a weak and vulnerable rabbit could be tough and tricky enough to menace those who would menace him" originated with the Brer Rabbit stories from West Africa, before the stories were "bastardized by white collectors such as Joel Chandler Harris." The last quote is not Rosemont but Roedinger. 

Franklin Rosemont (October 2, 1943 to April 12, 2009) was an artist with a strong orientation for scholarly exposition. He edited What is Surrealism?: Selected Writings of Andre Breton, (1978). Rosemont authored poetry collections like An Open Entrance to the Shut Palace of Wrong Numbers, (2003).  His biography of labor hero Joe Hill, titled simply with that name, was published in 2002. 

David R. Roediger, we learn from a Google books blurb:

"is Babcock Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics....; Working Class History (1994), The Wages of Whiteness.... the Making of the American Working Class (1991) and Our Own Time: A History of American Labor...; the Working Day (1989) and editor of Black on White: Black Writers on What It Means to Be White (1998)."

Roediger, was no hippie, being  born on July 13, 1953.

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