Digging Maoism

In a short review of Amiri Baraka’s collection of essays on jazz music and American culture, Digging, which I do very much recommend, there are these highlights:

Digging collects eighty-four essays and reviews in which the poet, playwright, and critic Amiri Baraka makes an impassioned case for jazz as a central achievement of American culture… Diggingoffers a generous selection of recent writing undertaken in the same spirit of intellectual engagement, political advocacy, and ardent fandom. … His sentences reverberate with puns and allusions, echoing the structure and style of jazz itself. He also displays impressive intellectual range-in an essay titled “The Blues Aesthetic and the Black Aesthetic,” he makes reference to Nietzsche, Michael Jordan, and Arthur Murray as part of a single argument. …Baraka’s outspoken and unconventional politics might also serve as a stumbling block for some readers. Although his commitment to Marxism lends him a powerful lens for examining the socio-cultural circumstances under which jazz music has been produced, his unfortunate penchant for quoting Mao Zedong sometimes detracts from the general perceptiveness of his criticism.

And here I would want to have a contest for any book worth reviewing: Can one not use that same sentence and insert another thinker to the same effect. Try this game with the home edition! ” … “Heidegger’s unfortunate penchant for quoting Aristotle sometimes detracts from the general perceptiveness of his criticism…” Or more the point, perhaps, to reverse the dig at Digging’s maoism: “X, Y, and Z’s work on jazz has an unfortunate penchant for quoting record sales as a mark of value, like a latter day Adam Smith, which sometimes detracts from the general perceptiveness of their criticism…” And why the use of “sometimes” here? I would love to read, then, the part of Baraka’s book where his quoting of Mao Zedong for this author did not detract from the perceptiveness of his criticism…