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These quotes come from an excellent piece by Malea Powell, “Blood and Scholarship: One Mixed-Blood’s Story.” I read the spirit of Harlot throughout these lines . . .
The only way for the mixed-blood to survive is by ‘developing a tolerance for contradictions, a tolerance for ambiguity,’ and by turning those contradictions and ambiguities into ‘something else’ (Anzaldua 79). Anishinabe writer and theorist Gerald Vizenor would have Indian scholars/mixed-bloods play trickster, to use our knowledge of the language and structure that compose the narratives that bind us as instruments to cut away those same oppressive stories.
Vizenor celebrates the humor and play room that are made available to crossbloods (what I’ve been calling mixed-bloods) in the simultaneity of our positions on the margins of American culture combined with our iconographic centrality against which much ‘American-ness’ is imagined. Sharp humor (yes, sharp like a weapon) and radical temporal figurings (we are always at the past and the future in the present, and visa versa) help Vizenor to posit the trickster as a space of liberation.
For me, the trickster is central to imagining a ‘mixed-blood rhetoric.’ The trickster is many things, and is no thing as well. Ambivalent, androgynous, anti-definitional, the trickster is slippery and constantly mutable.
I find the trickster in every nook and cranny of daily life as a mixed-blood. But, more important, I see the trickster at work outside of Indian-ness as well, in the contrarinesses that inhabit the stories that tell, and un-tell, America and the Academy. The trickster isn’t really a person, it is a ‘communal sign,’ a ‘concordance of narrative voices’ that inhabits the ‘wild space over and between sounds, words, sentences, and narratives‘ (Vizenor 196).
Trickster discourse does ‘play tricks,’ but they aren’t malicious tricks, not the hurtful pranks of an angry child; instead, the tricks reveal the deep irony that is always present in whatever way we choose to construct reality. Trickster discourse is deflative; it exposes the lies we tell ourselves and, at the same time, exposes the necessity of those lies to our daily material existence. Trickster discourse asks ‘Isn’t the world a crock of shit?,’ but also answers with, ‘Well, if we didn’t have this crock of shit, what would we do for a world?’ The trickster asks us to be fully conscious to the simple inconsistencies that inhabit our reality” (9).
More trickster rhetoric to come . . .