WINTER Webinar Series:
‘Words Sculpted Out of Grief: Unritual in Édouard Glissant, M. Nourbese Philip, and
Jason deCaires Taylor’
Date: 12 February, 2021 (Friday)
Title: Words Sculpted Out of Grief: Unritual in Édouard Glissant, M. Nourbese Philip, and Jason deCaires Taylor
Speaker: Valérie Loichot (Emory University)
This talk focuses on a paradox: in the aftermath of what the author calls the unritual (Water Graves, 2020) poets, like sculptors, use words like rocks; conversely, sculptors let their statues disintegrate. Unritual, the book demonstrates, “is a state more absolute even than desecration or defilement, since the latter imply the existence of a previous sacred state or object—a temple, a grave, a ceremonial. Unritual … is the obstruction of the sacred in the first place.” Focusing on Martinican writer Édouard Glissant’s Philosophie de la Relation, Trinidad and Tobago poet M. Nourbese Philip’s Zong!, and Scottish-Guyanese Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater sculptures, this talk will examine ways in which artists provide aesthetic rituals, hard as rocks or unpredictably nebulous, in the aftermath of water deaths caused by massive human-made events such as the Middle Passage, environmental racism, and climate change.