“The Signification of Silence” Revisited: African American Art and Hermeneutics

  • James A. Noel
Part of the Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice book series (BRWT)


In this chapter I argue that African American art is one of the most productive sites for excavating the “archaic” in African American consciousness. It is only in this sense that African American art can function as “text.” Perhaps we should substitute the term “site” instead. “Archaism,” according to Long, “is predicated on the priority of something already there, something given. This ‘something’ may be the bodily perceptions, as it is for Alfred North Whitehead and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, or a primal vision of aesthetic form, as it is for the artist” (my emphasis).1


Black Community Black Church Black Culture Black Experience Black Folk 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 3.
    Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (New York: Signet Books, 1966), pp. 174–175.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    James Weldon Johnson, God’s Trombones (New York: Viking Press, 1965), p. 6.Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    Richard J. Powell, Homecoming: The Art and Life of William H. Johnson (New York: Rizzoli International, 1991), pp. 77–78.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Gayraud Wilmore, Black Religion and Black Radicalism (New York: Anchor Press, 1973), p. 188.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    In Phyllis Rauch Klotman, ed., Humanities through the Black Experience (Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 1977), p. 179.Google Scholar
  6. 16.
    Susan Buck-Moss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), p. 219.Google Scholar
  7. 19.
    Alain L. Locke, “Values and Imperatives,” in Philosophy Born of Struggle, ed. Leonard Harris (Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt, 1983).Google Scholar
  8. 20.
    Nicolai Berdyaev, The Destiny of Man (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1948), p. 127.Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    John Dewey, Art as Experience (New York: Capricorn Book, 1958), p. 21.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James A. Noel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Noel

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations