Thursday 11 April 2024

Working Title: The lyricist in the recording studio

 

Working Title:

The lyricist in the recording studio

This note is for my friends and colleagues in the Irish Diaspora Studies community, and elsewhere in academia...

We have just finished and released a second album of my songs.

All the lyrics are by me - the melodies are by various hands, including mine.

I am encouraging everyone to listen to both albums, to get a feel for the work.

I have made these 2 HearNow web sites for the 2 O'Sullivan albums...

 

Album 2

Harney Sings O'Sullivan

https://harneysingsosullivan.hearnow.com/harney-sings...

Tiny Url

https://tinyurl.com/y7txn4tp

 

Album 1

Hladowski Sings O'Sullivan

https://hladowskisingsosullivan.hearnow.com/hladowski...

TinyUrl

https://tinyurl.com/c5wkaptn

 

Note that the links to those web sites can be shared.

You can also see there the links to the main music platforms - people can move on to their usual music supplier.

But I have also set it up so that the full tracks can be listened to on the HearNow web sites. The audio quality seems good.

 

The album titles

Harney Sings O'Sullivan

Hladowski Sings O'Sullivan

Are distinctive enough and searchable...

So, two albums, 18 tracks - plus other odds and ends out there. For example, my song Salmon's Lament is on Soundcloud, The Train (Jill's Theme) is on YouTube. So, it should now be a bit clearer what it is I do - in song...

The Working Title for the overall project is: The lyricist in the recording studio

I come from the more literary end of the song lyric traditions, of course - but I have long argued that the lyricist needs to understand the microphone and the recording studio.

And that discussion takes place elsewhere...

My songs will be of interest to the Irish Diaspora Studies community, because...

1. I am myself an Irish Diaspora Study

2. The songs sit within Irish and English lyric traditions, and develop those traditions

3. Very often the songs begin as meditations on my academic work. For example, the Montparnasse Waltz, Album 2 Harney Sings O'Sullivan, arises out of my study of Sartre and diaspora.

But then, of course, they must earn their living in the song world.

4. Very often the songs are part of specific Irish Diaspora Studies projects, including theatre projects.  For example, Irish Night or May the Winds (the Holyhead Song), Album 1 Hladowski Sings O'Sullivan

5. Very often there are notes about specific songs on my blog - which develop these observations. A search will find these notes...

Thus, this is a note (much shortened) on Montparnasse Waltz...

https://fiddlersdog.blogspot.com/.../montparnasse-waltz...

This is a note which links the song, Darkness, with a line from Samuel Beckett...

https://fiddlersdog.blogspot.com/.../a-new-song-called...

And so on...

But don't get side tracked. Listen to the songs....

 

Patrick O'Sullivan

Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, London Metropolitan University

 

Saturday 30 March 2024

Harney Sings O'Sullivan REVIEWS

 

Harney Sings O'Sullivan

REVIEWS

Our fans have posted reviews on some music platforms...

This is the album on Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/music/player/albums/B0CXF8XMVY

And you can click through to a review...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B0CXF8XMVY/ref=rwp_desktopweb_adp_arp_redirect

This is the album on Apple/iTunes

https://music.apple.com/gb/album/harney-sings-osullivan/1734832801

We are told the review is there.  But Apple has its own rules about who can see what.  We have no control over that.  You might find you are not worthy...

Just to remind you...

These are the HearNow web sites, where all tracks can be heard - with links to other platforms...

Album 2

Harney Sings O'Sullivan

https://harneysingsosullivan.hearnow.com/harney-sings-osullivan

Tiny Url

https://tinyurl.com/y7txn4tp

 

Album 1

Hladowski Sings O'Sullivan

https://hladowskisingsosullivan.hearnow.com/hladowski-sings-o-sullivan

TinyUrl

https://tinyurl.com/c5wkaptn


Patrick O'Sullivan

Monday 25 March 2024


The second album of my songs is now complete.

I have made this HearNow web site for the album...
The web site links to the usual music platforms. But - for those who do not have a usual music platform - I have set it up so that complete tracks, not just samples, can be played via HearNow...

I am having trouble getting the YouTube link to work on HearNow. This is it...


Actually, that YouTube link is nice - you can see us bringing the album together.
Work in my other lives is a bit busy at the moment - but, in due course, I will put notes here on my blog, dealing with all your queries. Texts, sub-texts, turmoil, resolution...
Patrick O'Sullivan

PS
April 16 2024

I now have the YouTube links on the HearNow web sites working properly.

Album 2

Friday 15 March 2024

Friend of Heavy, sung by Shannon Marie Harney

 


We have released Friend of Heavy, sung by Shannon Marie Harney - track 9 of the incremental album, Harney sings O'Sullivan...

Friend of Heavy, lyric and melody by Patrick O'Sullivan...

Friend of Heavy, on YouTube...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzwXLdbKOoM

Friend of Heavy, on Spotify...

https://open.spotify.com/album/1P9UILvHsPOo9TeXfOfxh7?si=SPahCQakRZmJz2bEu3I3Lw

and, in due course, on every music platform...

1.

This song was sitting on the slipway, keel in place, with a partly built superstructure...

When Shannon Marie Harney decided she wanted to take it for a spin.  She said it matched her mood...

like what we, myself, Shannon Marie Harney and Danny Yates, have done with this song...

2.

This is most probably the most Robert Browning of my recent lyrics.  It is is part of my exploration of repetition and pattern -  in life, in art, in music.

Like, What is the Chorus for?  How does the Chorus work?  If a song has a good Chorus, we would want to take it to a live audience.

But this grim song, with that relentless A Minor...?  Would that work?  So many popular songs try to be upbeat, uplifting.  Let us go in another direction.  Be not afraid.  Heightened emotion, yes, but the emotion is depression - what the psychiatrists call a flat affect.

Note the patterned language of the verses, and the simple pattern of the Chorus.

The verses sound as if they rhyme - but, technically, by definition, I think, they do not rhyme.  They pretend to rhyme.  In rhyme, the connecting words have the same end sound.  Here the same words are simply, obsessively, repeated:  meet, god, meet, god;  might, door, might, door.

The narrative is clear - the quarrel has been horrible, horrible.  Does the narrator really believe that being a Friend of Heavy is sufficient explanation or excuse?  And...  What does that mean...  to be a Friend Of Heavy?

3.

My original plan was that the chorus would become more and more complex, musically, as the song progressed.  Maybe a cornet solo? - but would a Yorkshire brass band really want to play this dour melody?  A male voice choir? - where could we find so many depressed men?  Yes, really bad ideas... We did bring in a bit of cello, just to fill that space...

In the end, Shannon Marie Harney brought lovely harmony ideas to the Choruses.  The melody lines become - not dour - but intense...  

The melody should be easy to play on a standard chromatic autoharp.  This is the Chordify link, so that you can see the chords in place...

https://chordify.net/chords/friend-of-heavy-shannon-marie-harney-topic

It is still...  a very strange song.  

So, Track 9.  9 tracks is an album?

Patrick O'Sullivan

March 2024

 


Wednesday 6 March 2024

Thank you, Moniaive

Reading the annual report, 2024, of the President of UK Autoharps...

He gives due reverence to the work of Nadine Stah White and Ian White and Anja Lyttle, and their many helpers, in developing the Scottish Autoharp Gathering...

It looks as if Moniaive 2023 will be the last Scottish Autoharp Gathering in that formal format.

I have really enjoyed my visits to Moniaive and that special Scottish approach to Musicking...  In my other working lives, organising gatherings, we have met the Moniaive problem, which is simply one of accommodation.  If you build it, we will want to come - but where are we going to sleep?

Looking back at my notes from 2023...  Amongst the things that I thought worked ever so well in Moniaive 2023 were...


1

The music of John and Kathie Hollandsworth, a subtle and intelligent approach to a popular repertoire.

In UK Autoharps we follow the Autoharp, its strange adventures, in various niches - for example, its history as a parlour instrument or a schoolroom instrument.  It was in Virginia, USA, that the Autoharp became a folk instrument - because, as John Hollandsworth said, it got in there early, via the Sears Roebuck catalogue.  

I attach, below, a page from the 1902 Sears Roebuck, showing  Autoharps:  'one of the most popular of small instruments...  Thousands are in use and the sale keeps on increasing at a wonderful rate...  Never before has it been possible for the house to be graced with high class music at so small an expense.  The prices which we name enable the poorest to possess an instrument which will produce the sweetest music and gave just as much pleasure as would a high-priced piano.' 

Kathie Hollandsworth's historical presentation was very clear, and has been absorbed, seamlessly, into my own projects - like:  'Why the Autoharp Did Not Become A Folk Instrument in Ireland'.  More about that in due course...

 

2

A place for musicians new to the autoharp to come with their instruments - and learn and share.  The autoharp's special selling point - we get quickly to the bloody chords - means that isolated musicians find it and have fun.  

This really worked well in Moniaive 2023.  It was a pleasure to meet new people, new to the autoharp.  For...  Musicians can come to a UK Autoharps gathering to learn technique...  and vocabulary.  I remember the late, lovely, Judy Dyble saying, at her UK Autoharps presentation, 'But you have WORDS...  for THINGS...'

(Judy Dyble was, of course, not an isolated musician, singer or songwriter - but she was an isolated autoharper.  She had invented her own banjo-esque, clawhammer style.  It worked.)

For show and tell...  I brought along 3 autoharps from my autoharp petting zoo, and a selection of books from my autoharp library.

 

On that note...  Care and feeding of the neglected autoharp...  I showed my electric Richwood Autoharp - bought secondhand, at a good price.  It looks good, and ought to be good - but I have never got on with it.  

At Moniaive George Haig took the Richwood into his experienced hands (O those hands...), listened with his experienced ear, saw with his experienced eye.  George heard the buzzing B string and pointed out the skew-whiff chord bar holder.  I had heard but I had not seen.  This was the autoharp as it had left the factory and had been sold in a shop.  Back home in Yorkshire I arranged an emergency appointment with my luthier...

I guess, in summary, Moniaive has been kind to the Autoharp, and the Autoharp has been kind to Moniaive.  Thank you, both.  And thank you Nadine, Ian and Anja... 

Patrick O'Sullivan

March 2024


 

Thursday 22 February 2024

Montparnasse Waltz, sung by Shannon Marie Harney

 



We have released Montparnasse Waltz - lyric and melody by Patrick O'Sullivan.


1.

This is Track 8 of the incremental album, Harney sings O'Sullivan.  You can hear Montparnasse Waltz on the music platforms, and you can see the album coming together...

Montparnasse Waltz

On YouTube...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-X_h6oOYKo

On Spotify

https://open.spotify.com/track/0qfhsUDqK8CNwvaiNHU3b4?si=899254573c8a4bc3

YouTube Playlist Overview

https://studio.youtube.com/playlist/PL8CXHKXfP1sd8lyFLQLllhQm2KWZMVS1I/videos

Spotify Artist Overview

https://artists.spotify.com/c/artist/3z7aYsCGwhPh7mJ0apzu4u/profile/overview

And, in due course, on every music platform - wherever you find your music...


2.

My thanks to Shannon Marie Harney, who has doggedly stuck with this project.

And who, with this song, has delivered something delicate...

And, as ever, thanks to Danny Yates, City Sound Studios...

https://www.citysoundstudios.com/


3.

By happenstance (perhaps) we have now issued recordings of two songs whose lyrics connect with my academic work, and activities in my other lives.  Indeed, there is a danger that Montparnasse Waltz will turn into a song version of a roman-à-clef.  

(The coinage 'chanson-à-clef' does not really work - all songs have clefs, and we are always searching for the right key.  Which, in my case, is usually G.)

I am going to park all that for the time being.  In due course people who want the texts and stories can have them.  For now, as one poet friend, K. E. Smith, has put it, Montparnasse Waltz is about the shock discovery that our guru has feet of clay...  And, as ever, my thanks to Ken Smith for his careful readings of text...


4.

But I can tell you how this song, Montparnasse Waltz, found its shape.  The idea had waited in my notebook for years.  It was only in 2022 that I sat down - found the brain health and space - to decide where the lyric wanted to go.  In 2023 I worked it out.

I wanted to stay in a ballad structure - with really solid ABAB, hardworking rhymes, and stay in ballad metre.  The rhymes are in charge.

I took a first draft to Danny Yates, and said, I want to set this as a Waltz.

The second draft made more visible, and audible, the waltziness of the piece - we move from 4/4 time to 3/4.  The melodies are mine, but obviously pay attention to ballad melodies.  But in 3/4 time...

My reading at the time included Colm O Lochlainn, Irish Street Ballads - two lovely volumes, 1939 and 1965, now back on the shelves behind me.  O Lochlainn prints ballad texts, based on his own collection of nineteenth century broadside ballads, alongside melodies that these lyrics would have been sung to in his time...

These are links to the O Lochlainn collection at University College Dublin...

http://digital.ucd.ie/view-media/ivrla:6274/canvas/ivrla:6275

https://www.ucd.ie/specialcollections/print/olochlainnbooks/

I think that the balladness is still there in my lyric, Montparnasse Waltz - ballad simplicity...

'There came a young man from the east...'

...And in the melodies.  We are all dipping our toes into the great lake of ballad melodies.  But mine is a waltz.


5.

I will write a separate blog entry on the graphic design decisions that went into the making of the Harney sings O'Sullivan art work, album and singles.  You can see that, again with this album, we signal the approach of the complete album in the design - and occasionally we have added extra information in our choice of font.

The Montparnasse Waltz design signals Paris in its use of the original Hector Guimard Paris Metro font - this design, by Andrew Milne, makes use of the work of Luc Devroye, McGill University, Canada.

http://luc.devroye.org/fonts-43924.html

My thanks to Andrew Milne - who persuaded me to accept the brave decision to use that authentic, distorted, Guimard tall letter P in Parnasse...

And then - with voice and guitar, Shannon Marie Harney and Danny Yates - we took the song to Paris, to that Café.  You know the one?  No, not that one - the other one.  Half way up the hill...


Patrick O'Sullivan

February 2024


Thursday 8 February 2024

Sartre, that word 'diaspora', Links and References


Jean-Paul Sartre and that word, 'diaspora':  movement in time and space

Very pleased to be able to contribute, on Thursday February 8 2024, to the series of on-line seminars ‘Repositioning Ireland’s Place in the World: Old Configurations, New Realities’, part of the G.I.S EIRE research network, organised by Grainne O'Keeffe Vigneron, University of Rennes, and Anne Groutel, University of Paris 1...

Below, some of my notes...

I see this presentation as an exploration of interdisciplinary methods - of interdisciplinary problems and interdisciplinary solutions...

I assume no knowledge of the texts explored.

My very brief paper covers research areas where we have vast amounts of original source material, and vast amounts of further research and comment.  I give here only enough to track the train of thought...

My approach is personal and discursive.  The obvious links to the general guides and sources are easily available elsewhere.

But...  If you think that there are places where you would like to see more here, I am happy to revisit this blog entry and fatten it up.

In my other working lives we have recurring problems when people try to link on small devices to long web addresses, URLs.  So, here I have also given the TinyURL, when that seemed sensible.

 

1.

The main texts under consideration are...

The original Gallimard edition of Jean-Paul Sartre, L'être et le néant: essai d'ontologie phénoménologique, 1943, translated as Being and Nothingness.

The Hazel Barnes translation...

Sartre, Jean-Paul, and Hazel E. Barnes. Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. Edited by Hazel E. Barnes. Philosophical Library, 1956.

and the new Sarah Richmond translation...

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology. Edited by Sarah Richmond. London: Routledge, 2018.

We also need to be aware of Sartre, Jean-Paul, Réflexions sur la question juive,1945/1946 - translated as Portrait of the Anti-Semite, London, 1948, and Anti-Semite and Jew, New York, 1948.

And the Hazel Barnes' autobiography...

Barnes, Hazel E. The Story I Tell Myself: A Venture in Existentialist Autobiography. University of Chicago Press, 1998.


2.

The 2 background articles by Patrick O'Sullivan are...

O’Sullivan, Patrick. “Developing Irish Diaspora Studies: A Personal View.” New Hibernia Review 7, no. 1 (2003): 130–48.

https://www.mediafire.com/file/c760ub1xoac22cp/2003%252C_O%2527Sullivan%252C_Developing_Irish_Diaspora_Studies.pdf/file

Tiny URL

http://tinyurl.com/bdhkzj9s

O’Sullivan, Patrick. “On First Looking into Mercier’s The Irish Comic Tradition.” New Hibernia Review 8, no. 4 (2004): 152–57.

https://www.mediafire.com/file/pdv44q6atlon2tw/2004%252C_O%2527Sullivan%252C_On_First_Looking_into_Mercier%2527s_The_Irish_Comic_Tradition.pdf/file

Tiny URL

http://tinyurl.com/yd2x5h4k

There are a number of notes on blog, here at Fiddler's Dog, which consider further my approach to Irish Diaspora Studies - most recently this one...

https://fiddlersdog.blogspot.com/2024/01/visiting-professor-of-irish-diaspora.html

See also

Greenslade, Liam. “White Skins, White Masks: Psychological Distress among the Irish in Britain.” In The Irish in the New Communities, edited by Patrick O’Sullivan, 2:201–25. The Irish World Wide. London & Washington: Leicester University Press, 1992.

Which can be found here on my archive

https://www.mediafire.com/file/u1fra5u07609k3z/IWW2-9%252C_Greenslade%252C_White_skin%252C_white_masks.pdf/file

TinyURL

http://tinyurl.com/bdfpr4um

 

3.

That word 'diaspora'...

The 3 editions of Robin Cohen's book show the debate expanding over time...

Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas. London: UCL Press, 1997.

Cohen, Robin, Global Diasporas: An Introduction edition 2, illustrated, revised Publisher Routledge, 2008

Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas An Introduction 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2022. .

see also...

Dufoix, Stéphane, and William Rodarmor. Diasporas. 1st ed. University of California Press, 2008.

Dufoix, Stéphane. “Des Usages Antiques de Diaspora Aux Enjeux Conceptuels Contemporains.” Pallas, no. 89 (November 7, 2012): 17–33.

Kenny, Kevin. Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013.

and see...

Fitzgerald, Patrick, and Brian Lambkin. Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pages 275-276,

We can start thinking about diaspora as a 'type of consciousness' with Steven Vertovec - for example...

Vertovec, Steven. “Conceiving and Researching Transnationalism.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 22, no. 2 (1999): 447–62.

What is often forgotten are the obvious links between the word 'diaspora', now a word in so many languages, and the English word 'broadcast'.  One way to explore Diaspora Studies is through the parable of the sower and the seed (Matthew 13: 1–9, 18–23).

I have put that photograph of a farmer in Perthshire at the top of this page, to remind me not to forget... 


4.

This is the Perseus project at Tufts University

https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/

This link takes you directly to the paragraph in Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, cited by Kevin Kenny.

https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0200%3Abook%3D2%3Achapter%3D27

Tiny URL

http://tinyurl.com/5n8t5ufj

(Irish history specialists will notice that if, in that paragraph from Thucydides, we replace the word 'Athens' with the word 'England', and replace 'Aegina' with 'Ireland', the paragraph still makes sense - and becomes a summary of the history of these islands...)

Note that you can use the Perseus web site to explore all the uses and variants of the word 'speiro', including '(dia)speiro'...

This is Herodotus, Histories...

https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0126%3Abook%3D7%3Achapter%3D91

Tiny URL

http://tinyurl.com/4xkzemxn

There is, of course, a huge debate - and a fascinating, but delicately poised, research literature.  See, for example...

Thompson, Thomas L, and Philippe Wajdenbaum. The Bible and Hellenism: Greek Influence on Jewish and Early Christian Literature. Edited by Thomas L Thompson and Philippe Wajdenbaum. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014.


5.

Black Swans...

The examples I should reference properly include...

Spicer, Edward H. “The Yaqui Indians of Arizona.” Kiva 5, no. 6 (1940): 21–24.

Which helps us find...

Calloway, C G. The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800: War, Migration, and the Survival of an Indian People. The Civilization of the American Indian Series. University of Oklahoma Press, 1994

And see...

Lavelle, Michael. “Nationality and the Irish Abroad.” In Irish Man - Irish Nation Lectures on Some Aspects of Irish Nationality Delivered Before the Columban League, Maynooth, During 1946. Dublin: Mercier Press, 1947.


6.

This is a source for that G. K. Chesterton quote - but you will find it all over the place...

https://chesterton.wordpress.com/category/the-common-man/

'Philosophy is merely thought that has been thought out. It is often a great bore.

But man has no alternative, except between being influenced by thought that has been thought out and being influenced by thought that has not been thought out.'

(Here in Bradford, Yorkshire, the revived Bradford Irish Society is considering a project about the Right Reverend Monsignor John O'Connor, 1870–1952, Chesterton's friend, often considered the model for Chesterton's detective, Father Brown.  The Reverend O’Connor’s final parish was St Cuthbert's, Bradford – St. Cuthbert’s Church is a few yards from my home.)

On my blog is a brief note which also engages with the habits of the philosophical method...

https://fiddlersdog.blogspot.com/2022/06/a-shipowner-was-about-to-send-to-sea.html

As an example of thinking about this academic area - I remember liking the work of David Concepción...

Concepción, David W. “Reading Philosophy with Background Knowledge and Metacognition.” Teaching Philosophy 27, no. 4 (2004): 351–68.

 

7.

Reputation of Sartre...  Well...  Where to begin...

The key text for me is the brief mention in...

Magee, Bryan. The Great Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy. Oxford Paperbacks. Oxford University Press, 2000, pages 275-6

Originally published 1987, and based on a television series...

I see that the original television interview is available on YouTube...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4_Tsjmqxak&t=2432s

...key moment, at 37 minutes onwards, when the interviewee says that Heidegger described Being and Nothingness as 'muck', 'Dreck'...  And Magee says '...It is difficult to believe that Sartre will survive as a philosopher...'

See also

Manser, Anthony R. “Sartre and Le Néant.” Philosophy 36, no. 137 (1961): 177–87.

I will look at Hazel Barnes' comments on Sartre, and my own difficulties with Sartre...

 

8.

This is the web site of the Delancey Street Foundation, San Francisco, USA...

 https://www.delanceystreetfoundation.org/wwa.php

'We are a community where people with nowhere to turn, turn their lives around.

Delancey Street is the country's leading residential self-help organization for former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom...' 

and this link takes you to the restaurant...

https://www.delanceystreetfoundation.org/enterrestaurant.php

'Delancey Street Restaurant is a key training school of the Delancey Street Foundation, the country's largest self-help residential organization for people who have hit bottom to completely rebuild their lives. Like the immigrants who came through Ellis Island to Delancey Street on New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the century to start new lives, newcomers to Delancey Street Foundation are "immigrants" of all races, all ages, all backgrounds, who come together in this community of last resort...'

 

9.

I look briefly at the renewed interest in Réflexions sur la question juive, Anti-Semite and Jew...

Let me note the helpful work of Stuart Charmé...

Charmé, Stuart Z. Authentically Jewish: Identity, Culture, and the Struggle for Recognition. Rutgers University Press, 2022.

 

10.

Songs

We have recorded, and have released, one of my Sartre songs...  This is Pierre, on YouTube...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb5zeD6G3Ko

But you will find it on every music streaming platform.  Worth listening to on one of the better quality platforms, to hear the detail of the arrangement.

This is the link to the discussion on my blog...

http://fiddlersdog.blogspot.com/2024/01/pierre-sung-by-shannon-marie-harney.html

The important point here is that we have an explanation for the Duke of Wellington's appearance, or non-appearance, in Sartre's Being and Nothingness...

 

Patrick O'Sullivan

Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies

London Metropolitan University

February 8 2024


PS

Below my own outline, which became my road map through this research material...

Patrick O’Sullivan 

Jean-Paul Sartre and that word, 'diaspora':  movement in time and space

 OUTLINE January 11 2024

‘In the Ancient world, the term “diaspora” referred to the profound cohesion and dispersion of the Jewish people.  We can make use of this word…’

Sartre, J.-P. (2018) Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology, Translated by Sarah Richmond. London: Routledge, page 201.

On page 172 of the original Gallimard edition of L'être et le néant: essai d'ontologie phénoménologique, 1943, Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre becomes preoccupied with a new word, ‘diaspora’.  In my 1969 copy of the 1956 Hazel Barnes translation of Being and Nothingness the word first appears on page 136.  In the new 2018 translation, by Sarah Richmond, it is page 201.  The word ‘diaspora’ is there in Sartre’s thought for a further 80 pages – then disappears.

These uses of the word ‘diaspora’ by Sartre have not been much noticed.  The word does not appear in the standard works on Sartre.  And the name ‘Sartre’ does not appear in the standard works on Diaspora.  The word ‘diaspora’ does appear in Sarah Richmond’s index to her translation.

In this paper, I outline the place of Sartre in my own personal history, and in the history of my generation - and in my thinking as I developed Irish Diaspora Studies.  Through an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Sartre, I suggest a method behind a reading of Being and Nothingness (philosophy as genre).  I look briefly at the light thrown by that reading on a later work, Réflexions sur la question juive,1945/1946 - translated as Portrait of the Anti-Semite, London, 1948, and Anti-Semite and Jew, New York, 1948.  And I look at the few brief mentions of Sartre’s interest in the word 'diaspora’ that I have been able to find. 

I end with a summary of Sartre’s notion of ‘diaspora’, drawn from the book, Being and Nothingness.  The form of words that Sartre uses - ‘reflection is a diasporic phenomenon’ – seems to anticipate later developments in diaspora theorising.  The interdisciplinary approach would question any simple overlap – this paper thus becomes an exploration of interdisciplinary processes.  At the very least, Sartre’s use of the word ’diaspora’ must have a place in the history of uses of that disputed word.

This paper takes its place in the series of on-line seminars ‘Repositioning Ireland’s Place in the World: Old Configurations, New Realities’, part of the G.I.S EIRE research network, organised by Grainne O'Keeffe Vigneron, University of Rennes, and Anne Groutel, University of Paris 1.

 

Patrick O’Sullivan January 11 2024

© Patrick O’Sullivan 2024

Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, London Metropolitan University

 

 

Jean-Paul Sartre, page 172 of the original Gallimard edition of L'être et le néant: essai d'ontologie phénoménologique, 1943, Being and Nothingness...