April 15 2015

Hegel and Cassandra Wilson

A marvelous paragraph from a marvelous "Talk of the Town" in The New Yorker:

"Jazz musicians in Jackson, Mississippi, introduced me to [Billie] Holiday's music," [Cassandra] Wilson said.  "I grew up in Jackson, and I went to Millsaps College there in the seventies, but I didn't graduate. I was studying philosophy, and when we got to Hegel's dialectics I thought, This is the perfect time for me to get out of here.  Hegel was driving me crazy."

Cassandra Wilson's new album is an homage to Billie Holiday.  It's called Coming Forth by Day, which is the more accurate translation of the title of the ancient Egyptian funerary text usually known as The Book of the Dead.  As Wilson says,

The Greeks called the people from Kmt the Aegyptos.  "Kemetic" is how you refer to the culture.  The Kemetics didn't believe in death.  They believed that you were always coming back and forth from the unknown to the actual.  Going to the afterlife they referred to as "westing," since the sun set in the west.  For me the thought of Billie Holiday's spirit being reinvented in the twenty-first century connected with the concept of returning, of coming forth by day.

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