Blog Question 11/2

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What is the difference between Funkiness (83) and Nastiness(13, 92, 181, 189 (this list is not exhaustive) in the text? If not physical cleanliness, what terms seem to oppose them? How does the context, character using the term(s), and who or what the term(s) is being used to describe help to shape our readerly understanding?

8 Responses to Blog Question 11/2

  1. amthomas says:

    I’m looking at Nastiness on pg. 13 as signaling immorality and betrayal. As for Funkiness on Pg. 83, I’m thinking through the meaning of ” In short, how to get rid of the funkiness. The dreadful funkiness of passion, the funkiness of nature, the funkiness of the wide range of human emotions.” Placing it within the context of the privileged thin brown girls that Morrison is writing about at that point, it is interesting to look at the multiple meanings of “Funky.” In African-American vernacular, “funky” means groovy, chill, dope, rhythmic, while it also means off, odd, “something’s up with them,” etc. This double-meaning interests me because it seems to signal the ways in which the politics of respectability may remove “funkiness” (being black in a way that does not meet white standards) while it also removes the “funkiness” (blackness as it pertains to feeling, style, resistance). `

  2. Abigail Gardener says:

    “Funkiness”, as it seems to me, signifies the essence of life. Emotions are messy, nature is messy, passion is messy, and these are all things that Morrison tells us girls like Geraldine look to clean up, to push away or shove down, in an effort to make their world as clean and perfect (and, in my opinion, as close to what they see as the “white” ideal of life) as possible. I believe this because the definition of nastiness on page 92 stood out to me. Morrison describes what seems to be an entirely different group of black people. They are not well-off, as Geraldine and girls like her are. Rather, they are the group of people Geraldine despises, the ones that hovered and settled “like flies” (92). Geraldine calls Pecola a “nasty little black bitch” (92) which to me was an interesting choice of insult, considering Geraldine is also black. However, this made it clear to me that Geraldine (and therefore probably also the other girls like her) see this certain type of blackness as dirty, as below them. Children and people like Pecola are, presumably, the group of black people that give people like Geraldine a bad name and mess up their perfect image. If Pecola is black, how can Geraldine be the same type of black? So she separates herself in every way possible from girls like Pecola by being meticulous in every other aspect of her life, by keeping the “nastiness” of the life Pecola lives away and in doing so keeping the “funk” out of her life as well.

  3. Michaela Cabral says:

    It seems as though funkiness refers to something natural. Funkiness is antithetical to productivity and conforming to society. This can be seen when it funkiness is referred to as “The dreadful funkiness of passion, the funkiness of nature, the funkiness of the wide range of human emotions” (83). It seems to be something white people want to erase in as a method of exercising control. Nastiness, on the other hand, seems to refer to something despicable and unclean. It is is used to reference Claudia’s puke, the man who left his wife, and what Mr. MacTeer believes the girls are doing in the bushes. It is something that they would rather be without. This perhaps references, especially with funkiness, the way the white population is controlling, by saying what is unfavorable and what should be changed, instead of respecting what black people believe is unfavorable, in their own right.

  4. Ryan Spencer says:

    I agree that funkiness seems to be something natural. In ridding themselves of “funkiness” Morrison says they are ridding themselves of “the funkiness of the wide range of human emotions.” Therefore it seems that they are ridding themselves of something natural which makes them human or, at least, makes them themselves. Funkiness seems to lack the rudeness of “nastiness.” Claudia’s mother’s friend calls Henry Washington’s actions “nasty” as an insult just before another friend calls him a “dog.” Therefore I think that “nastiness” is tinged with insult while “funkiness” is not meant to be insulting in any way.

  5. Conor says:

    I agree with Michaela’s point of how the two words relate to the attempts of white people to exercise control over the black community and their self-perception.
    I also think it is interesting to note the various connotations of the words “nasty” and “funky”. Funkiness can also refer to the physical body in reference to one smelling “funky”, usually used in a negative or comical sense. It is also interesting to see how this intersects with the idea of cross-culturism. In America, members of the nation expect people to smell a certain way. To be accompanied by various pre-ordained scents; those deemed to smell “good”, like lavender, vanilla, etc. It is encouraged to suppress the natural odors of the body because they are considered “nasty” to the American nose. This same idea can be applied to nastiness versus funkiness. “Nastiness” is based on a negative perception of natural behavior, while “funkiness” relates to this naturalness to personal culture.

  6. Conor says:

    I agree with Michaela’s point of how the two words relate to the attempts of white people to exercise control over the black community and their self-perception.
    I also think it is interesting to note the various connotations of the words “nasty” and “funky”. Funkiness can also refer to the physical body in reference to one smelling “funky”, usually used in a negative or comical sense. It is also interesting to see how this intersects with the idea of cross-culturism. In America, members of the nation expect people to smell a certain way. To be accompanied by various pre-ordained scents; those deemed to smell “good”, like lavender, vanilla, etc. It is encouraged to suppress the natural odors of the body because they are considered “nasty” to the American nose. This same idea can be applied to nastiness versus funkiness. “Nastiness” is based on a negative perception of natural behavior, while “funkiness” relates to this naturalness to personal culture.

  7. LaShawn Simmons says:

    In this context, cleanliness is not only a physical concept but a social construct. Cleanliness is associated with properness or elegance and inevitably linked to social class. But as we see in the lives of Geraldine and Soaphead, they are “clean” in physical terms but possess unattractive character traits. Considering the context on page 83, funkiness doesn’t have much to do with physical dirt. Funkiness equates to individuality or anything out of the standard set in place by a higher institution/ Funkiness is anything that deviates from what is perceived as normal. In the context of page 83, funkiness is anything not practiced/accepted by the dominant culture. The affluent black neighborhoods described in this context are seen as polished, homogenous and “cultured” and the funkiness is anything that deviates from its purity. Ultimately, funkiness is unrefined and unsophisticated. On the other hand, nastiness can be synonymous with ugliness which unravels deeper meanings of perversion as evident in Mrs. Macteer’s comment “I’d rather raise pigs than some nasty girls” and when Pecola is called a “nasty black bitch.” Nastiness is essentially the absence of sexual innocence or overt sexuality that is meant to be preserved and expressed in secrecy.

  8. Gilberto Rosa says:

    The use of “funkiness” serves to indicate the nonphysical yet emotional violence that erupts from racism. In this specific passage, funky is also used as a metaphor for blackness. That one thing that white people hate about black people that they simply cannot name but we all know it to be the fact that they are black. I think Morrison is sort of playing with that idea with the reader. It does bring up the concept of the double veil as well. If we choose to see it, or are black, we are able to name it and see into her work.

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