In “Wisdom of Plato Negro,” Marvin teaches by stories, ancient devices of instruction that appeal to a non-literate as well as a semi-literate people. (Fables differ from parables only by their use of animal characters.) The oldest existing genre of storytelling used long before the parables of Jesus or the fables of Aesop, they are excellent tools, in the hands of a skilled artist like Marvin X, in that he modifies the genre for a rebellious hip hop generation who drops out or are pushed out of repressive state sponsored public schools at a 50% clip. Marvin X is a master of these short short stories. Bibliographies, extended footnotes, indexes, formal argumentation, he knows, are of no use to the audience he seeks, that 95 percent that lives from paycheck to paycheck.
These moral oral forms (parables and fables), developed before the invention of writing, taught by indirection how to think and behave respecting the integrity of others. Marvin explained to his College of Arts audience, “This form [the parable] seems perfect for people with short attention span, the video generation… The parable fits my moral or ethical prerogative, allowing my didacticism to run full range” (“Parable of a Day in the Life of Plato Negro,” 147). But we live in a more “hostile environment” than ancient people. Our non-urban ancestors were more in harmony with Nature than our global racialized, exploitive, militarized northern elite societies.
—Rudolph Lewis is the Founding Editor of Chickenbones.com, A Journal. (Click here to read the full review).
This latest piece from Marvin X offers a peek into his soul and his psyche. He lets the reader know he is hip to the rabid oppression the West heaps upon people of color especially North American Africans while at the same time revealing the knowledge gleaned from his days as a student radical, black nationalist revolutionary forger of the Black Arts Movement, husband, father lover, a dogger of women did not spare him the degradation and agony of descending into the abyss of crack addiction, abusive and toxic relationships and family tragedy.
Perhaps because of the knowledge gained as a member of the Nation of Islam, and his experiences as one of the prime movers of the cultural revolution of the ’60, the insights he shares In The Crazy House Called America are all the keener. Marvin writes candidly of his pain, bewilderment and depression of losing his son to suicide. He shares in a very powerful way, his own out of body helplessness as he wallowed in the dregs of an addiction that threatened to destroy his soul and the mess his addictions made of his life and relationships with those he loved. But he is not preachy and this is not an autobiography. He has already been there and done that. In sharing his story and the wisdom he has gleaned from his life experiences and looking at the world through the eyes of an artist/healer…”
—Junious Ricardo Stanton
Tell us what do you think about The Wisdom of Plato Negro: Parables/Fables.