Express Press

Amiri Baraka is an interesting person. Interesting people will write interesting things from time to time, and an essay by Baraka has found its way onto my computer screen. "Expressive Language (1963)" was first published in the magazine Kulchur and later in his book Home: Social Essays (1966). In this essay, Baraka claims that all cultures are profound simply by the fact of being cultures, that speech displays culture directly, and that culture is the end point for speech and is what makes it expressive: "Words’ meanings, but also the rhythm and syntax that frame and propel their concatenation, seek their culture as the final reference for what they are describing of the world."

The essay is not long, but the first several paragraphs had to be reread two or three times before I felt comfortable moving on. Words like "hegemony" and references to Pascal and Wittgenstein should be expected, but reading "Expressive Language" will reinforce notions about the strength of culture in our reading today and is insightful.

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