This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Mumbo Jumbo By Ishmael Reed Essay

3580 words - 14 pages

Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed

Mumbo Jumbo is a novel about writing itself ? not only in the figurative sense of the postmodern, elf-reflexive text but also in a literal sense? [It] is both a book about texts and a book of texts, a composite narrative of subtexts, pretexts, posttexts, and narratives within narratives. It is both a definition of afro American culture and its deflation.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Author of The Signifying Monkey

Mumbo Jumbo is Ishmael Reed?s third novel and by many critics, it is considered as his best. The novel is about a large set of characters, and in the center there is a neo-hoodoo practicer, Papa LaBas. The book is in fact about the struggle between the Christian Ethics and Afro-American Aesthetics. The book?s story is based on this main idea, and it was presented as the struggle over the ?Jes? Grew? and the characters? pursuit for key book to it: ?The Book of Thoth?. As stated above by Gates, Mumbo Jumbo is a significant piece of art in the postmodern literature. With its style and themes, it carries all the important aspects of a postmodern book. If we are to understand why this book has an important place in the American literature we have to study this novel through these aspects: Its style, and more important, the all familiar themes which are taken up through a new vision successfully by Reed.

The first aspect that makes Mumbo Jumbo a postmodern novel is its style. First of all Mumbo Jumbo is an experimental novel that actually employs more textbook than novelistic conventions. It contains illustrations, footnotes, and a bibliography. In many pages you can find Reed jump from the main story to a radio reporter?s voice and back to the conversation again and places an anagram of the word SATAN in the page:

               S     A     T     A     N
               A     D     A     M     A
               T     A     B     A     T
               A     M     A     D     A
               N     A     T     A     S     (Reed, 33)

Even a poem is placed among the pages of the novel (Reed, 158-159). No one can say that Mumbo Jumbo carries the characteristics of a conventional novel style.

Another important sign of postmodernism in literature is the abandonment of strict time lines, sometimes called discontinuous time. Often an author will construct a sequence of events that have no time relationships to each other. In the novel, we see this discontinuous use of time in many places: At one point it talks about how WW (Woodrow Wilson) leaves his hometown and in another section Reed carries us to a bombing scene. But in one point this break in the timeline is very obvious when without any implication of a flashback or anything that warns you that is a reference to the past events, the scene changes and we are carried to the past. On page 44, we see the murder scene of Schlitz ?The Sarge? who plans and carries out the bombing murder attempt of Buddy Jackson, days after the bombing which actually...

Find Another Essay On Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed

The Perception of Jamaican Expats through reggae music

1020 words - 5 pages home in Jamaica. This taught the Jamaican people how to survive in a society that has been capitalized by Anglo Saxons. It also has brought the community of Jamaicans to serve one purpose, the purpose to seek opportunity and fortune. However, on the other hand, reggae music heard by outsiders saw this music as mumbo and jumbo. For example, dancehall artist Bounty Killer is seen as a Robin Hood in a society where poor people are suppressed by the

Juror 3 Essay

1001 words - 4 pages , Juror Three employs a Red Herring fallacy by essentially providing a distractor for the other jurors. He tries to draw attention away from the fact that he acted way out of line and instead states that anybody would have done what he did, therefore taking no responsibility for his actions. Similarly, Juror Three attempts to distract his opponent from the argument by utilizing an Ad Hominem attack on another juror: “You’re giving us a lot of mumbo

Supernatural in Shakespeare's Macbeth - Purpose of the Witches

967 words - 4 pages a message over to us the interpreter that we should not follow our desires and we should repress them because no good can come of them.   Another function of the witches in Macbeth is as an embarrassment they wander into this otherwise serious play and mutter mumbo-jumbo about toads and liver. They are like an uninvited guest who keeps on reappearing. I believe that if we took the witches out of Macbeth not only would it make no sense it

Mad Cow Disease

816 words - 4 pages . Mad cow disease is a neurological disease of cows but results from infection by an unusual “agent” called a prion. BSE is an extremely fatal disease that you cannot get rid of even by heat. So far there is no cure for BSE other than killing the cow. The main gist of mad cow disease without getting into all the medical mumbo jumbo is the prion turns the cow’s brain into a sponge like object that has holes in it and eventually kills them. Mad cow

The History of Apple

881 words - 4 pages ability to create products that will catch the interest of the people is what Apple thrives on. Knowing that most people aren't great with programs and don't understand all the electronic "mumbo jumbo" behind the product leads Apple to make their product simple and easy to use yet at the same time functional and powerful. To top all this off, the product looks amazing. It is sleek and very appealing to the eye. With a great product

Sleep and Sleeping Disorders

699 words - 3 pages with a pattern showing frequent spindle-shaped tracing on the EEG, called sleep spindles, a 13 - 15 cyclessec, and certain high-voltage spikes known as K-complexes. Soon to follow is the third stage of sleep that begins the appearance of delta waves. Eventually, in stage four these delta waves occupy the major art of the record.Dreaming SleepIf the EEG mumbo jumbo loses you then here the dreaming states will clear things up for you.The stages that

The Things They Carried Symbolism Final

793 words - 4 pages mind was done. Any ritual, superstition, tradition, or any other mumbo jumbo did the trick: if it made you feel nice and safe then it is critical for combat. For Dobbins it is to wrap his ex-girlfriend’s pantyhose around his neck for a goodluck charm, Lavender went heavy on tranquilizers to make him not feel the stress and anxiety, and everyone else did there outrageous thing. To the rest of the world superstitions are just childsplay, however to a

The Breakdown of Community. Speaks of Ray Oldenburg's 'The Problem of Place in America' and Ishmael Reed's 'My Neighborhood'

566 words - 2 pages . In Oldenburg'sessay the suburbanite fears the unknown, his neighbors. People feel threatened by the sizeof the communities and they do not know anyone. These is due partly to consumerism,which keeps people indoors. Reed was feared because of the color of his skin. Dogswould bark at him as he walked by, cops would enter his own home to harass him, peoplewould yell racial slurs, and he was even watched closely to make sure that he did notabduct a

Dot com crisis

1243 words - 5 pages Manhattan skyscrapers like confetti in 1929.Crises in securities markets (eg in 1873 and 1929) may however have a wider impact and reflect underlying problems in national/international economies. Literature about causation and appropriate responses has embraced grand theory (eg the Kondratief Cycle) about macroeconomic changes, astrological mumbo jumbo and discussion of 'herding behaviour' in financial markets. Thomas Helbling and Marco Terrone

Schitzophrenia

5313 words - 22 pages Mental DisordersThe term mental disorder means psycological and behavioral syndromes that deviate signicantly from those typical of human beings enjoying good mental health. All that mumbo jumbo means that a person with a mental disorder was a few cards short of a full deck. This is probably not the persons fault that they are like this they were just born this way. These people are not all a like. They are not even in exact classes because all

Compare Contrast Paper

1133 words - 5 pages and became a very popular ride at fairs and carnivals. Today, there are roller coasters in which they ride sitting down, hanging, or even standing up! A roller coaster named Mumbo Jumbo, located at Flamingo Land in the UK, is the record holder the steepest drop at 112 degrees! As time has progressed, roller coasters have been modified to today’s versions. People may think that the term ‘lovesick’ is overused, but it’s pretty accurate. It seems

Similar Essays

Analyze How Ishmael Reed Is A Prophet And Oracle

558 words - 2 pages to insist that Ishmael Reed is in no way indulging in a gratuitous put-down of black writers and writings; rather, he is engaged in a project of emancipating an artistic heritage from predictable or predetermined forms and norms imposed by those who fail to fully comprehend the depth and complexity of that heritage, including its inventiveness, hilarious undercurrents, and seasoned extravagances. Ishmael Reed, in short, uses tradition to

Review Of John Blassingame's "The Slave Community". Rather Specialized, I'm Afraid. Review Of A Book On Slavery In The South

610 words - 2 pages " are in actuality African. "Goober," meaning peanut, comes from the African word "gooba". Other African words incorporated into the English language include cooter, okra, gumbo, okay, cola and mumbo-jumbo, among others.Another key cultural retention, one still observable today, was music. Slaves made instruments in the New World as they and their ancestors did in Africa, producing drums made from wood and skins and wooden banjos. Much leisure time

"Little Green Men Or Just Little Microscopic Organisms? The Question Of Life On Mars"

699 words - 3 pages mumbo jumbo word-- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. That pretty much means that there once was a warmer climate and maybe even lakes or oceans. Life on Mars is now a real idea. The climate of Mars about 3.8 billion years ago was much similar to the young Earth. Microbes and bacteria probably sprouted everywhere in the warm and wet climate. Although now we only see a cold red planet, which was probably due to a collision of an astroid that

Writings Worth Reading Essay

984 words - 4 pages led in the right direction is a little bit of patience and some devotion to the that top to bottom, left to right mumbo jumbo. Give it a chance and it will never stop giving. They may have a last page but the possibilities to come from there are endless.