Natural mysticism: towards a new reggae aesthetic in Caribbean writing
Kwame Dawes speaks for all those for whom reggae defines the major experiences of life. He describes how reggae has been central to his sense of selfhood, his consciousness of place and society in Jamaica, his development as a writer - and why the singer Ken Boothe should be inseparably connected to his discovery of the erotic.
Natural Mysticism is also a work of acute cultural analysis. Dawes argues that in the rise of roots reggae in the 1970s, Jamaica produced a form which was both wholly of the region and universal in its concerns. He contrasts this with the mainstream of Caribbean literature which, whilst anticolonial in sentiment was frequently conservative and colonial in form. Dawes finds in reggae's international appeal more than just an encouraging example. In the work of artists such as Don Drummond, Bob Marley, Winston Rodney and Lee "Scratch" Perry, he finds a complex aesthetic whose inner structure points in a genuinely contemporary and postcolonial direction.
In constructing this reggae aesthetic, Kwame Dawes both creates a rationale for the development of his own writing and brings a new and original critical method to the discussion of the work of other contemporary Caribbean authors.
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African American archetype articulation Babylon becomes blues Bob Marley Brathwaite's Burning Spear calypso capacity Caribbean writers colonial complex connection construction context create creative dance dancehall deejay defined dialogue discourse distinctive Don Drummond dread drum and bass dub poetry dynamic emerged erotic explore expression fiction figure guitar ideological important instance Jamaican society jazz Kamau Brathwaite Kingston landscape language Lee Scratch Linton Kwesi Johnson listener literary literature living Lorna Goodison Marley's McNeill memory metaphor movement musical forms narrative Natural Mysticism novel offers pattern Perry Perry's Peter Tosh play poem poet poetic political popular postcolonial posture prophet Rasta Rastafarian realised reality recognise recording reggae aesthetic reggae artist reggae ethos reggae lyric reggae music reggae songs reggae's relationship rhythm rock role roots reggae sense sensibility sexual shape social sound speak spiritual Studio style trickster understand voice Wailers West Indian Winston Rodney working-class