West and Torgovnick: Manichean Ideologies Both Cornel West and Marianna De Marco Torgovnick discuss the idea of supremacy, Manichean theologies, and authoritarian behavior in their essays. However, they deal with these ideas differently and for different reasons. In Wests essay, Malcolm X and Black Rage, he explains Mal colm Xs views on how to transfer black rage in such a way that it would reject supremacy. In Torgovnicks essay, On Being White, Female, and Born in Bensonhurst, she writes how her hometown held supremacist ideas and how this af felted her. West is still pursuing the goal of black free dom by looking into the past, especially Malcolm Xs writ ings. Whereas, Torgovnick kind of runs away from things and refers to living in Bensonhurst as having simultaneously choking and nutritive power.
This difference is mainly due because West wants to try to make things better, while Torgovnick leaves her hometown feeling that she needs to start things over. Torgovnick writes about supremacist ideas in her cul tural background. For example, she says, Italian Americans in Bensonhurst are notable for their cohesiveness and pro vinciality; the slightest pressure turns those qualities into prejudice and racism (Torgovnick 123).
In other words there is a lot of racism and prejudice, especially towards Hawash 2 blacks, in Bensonhurst. Torgovnicks father also held supremacist ideas. Her father reacted with indifference to the death of a black man in Bensonhurst.
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As Torgovnick writes, Oh, no, my father says when he hears the news about the shooting… He has no trouble acknowledging the wrongness of the death… The explanation is right before him but, Yeah, he says, still shaking his head, yeah, bu what were they doing there (Torgovnick 125).
Even though, he recognizes the wrongness of the death, he says the blacks werent supposed to be there.
His reason for his death holds supremacist ideas, because here he is being a racist. To say that blacks dont belong in a cer tain neighborhood, is just like saying that they arent good enough. Thus, Torgovnick father is being a racist. Torgovnicks hometown also holds Manichean ideologies, which means to see things only as black and white, right and wrong. In other words people who hold Manichean ideologies usually dont see things in between.
She writes, Bensonhurst is a neighborhood dedicated to believing that its values are the only values; it tends to towards certain forms of inertia (Torgovnick 124).
Thus, the people of Bensonhurst believe that any other values are wrong, and their values are right. Here you can see how Torgovnicks hometown held Manichean ideologies because the people feel Hawash 3 that there values are the only right values. Any other values would be viewed as unacceptable to the people of Bensonhurst. Authoritarian behavior also exists in Bensonhurst. For example, when she was entering high school, her parents and counselor recommended a secretarial track despite her high scores.
Torgovnick writes, Although my scores are superb, the guidance counselor has recommend the secretarial track… My mothers preference is clear: the secretarial track… My father also prefers the secretarial track (Torgovnick 128).
This is authoritarian behavior because rather that asking Torgovnick which track she wanted to follow, they wanted to choose it for her. Just because she is a girl, they wanted to put her in a track that is below her standards. Cornel West uses Malcolm Xs writings to explain su premacy, Manichean ideologies, and authoritarian behavior.
West agrees with most of Malcolm Xs ideas, however he disagrees with Malcolm Xs rejection of black church and music. West argues by using the metaphor of jazz that, an improvisational mode of protean, fluid, and flexible disco sition’s toward reality suspicious of either / or viewpoints, dogmatic pronouncements, or supremacist ideologies (West 119).
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In other words, to West the black church and black music represents freedom, something that Malcolm X does not realize. Hawash 4 In order to explain Manichean ideologies and author tari an behavior, one must look at Malcolm Xs fear of cul tural hybridity.
West writes, Malcolm Xs fear of cultural hybridity rests upon two political concerns: that cultural hybridity downplayed the vicious character of white supremacy and that cultural hybridity intimately linked the destinies of black and white people such that the possibility of black freedom was far-fetched (West 117).
Meaning that if blacks and whites are to share things (cultural hybridity) whites will always have the advantage. Therefore, blacks will never achieve total freedom. Malcolm X saw this as a weakness, which does seem understandable. However, Malcolm X fails to realize that if blacks are to go off on their own, this would lead to supremacy and Manichean ideologies. West says, Furthermore, the cultural hybrid character of black life leads us to highlight a metaphor alien to Malcolm Xs perspective…
If blacks are to go off on their own, this would lead to Manichean ideologies; blacks against whites. As a result, there will be no change in terms of racist views by whites and suprema cist behavior as each group begins to fight for control. One can see how some of Malcolm Xs views can lead to su premacy, and Manichean ideologies.
West feels that Malcolm Xs best view is his notion of psychic conversion. He writes, … we must preserve and Hawash 5 expand his notion of psychic conversion… These spaces… -beyond the best of black music and black religion- reject Manichean ideologies and authoritarian… (West 119).
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West explains that Malcolm Xs notion of psychic conversion will channel black rage to black humanity and love. Both West and Torgovnick deal with supremacy, Manichean ideologies, and authoritarian behavior. However, they have different ways of dealing with things. Cornel West uses Malcolm Xs writings to deal with these ideologies, while Marianna De Marco Torgovnick does so by referring to her hometown of Bensonhurst..